"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Model Engine Builder

Cover Issue 23

This is not a paid advertisement. Mike Rehmus has no idea I am making this recommendation. I have been reading this magazine since Mike and his wife Toni started publishing. If you are a real machinist and love to make small engines, this publication is for you. But then you would probably already know that. It is also THE publication to get arm chair machinists back into their shops or to get their dream shops assembled.

And… If you really just like reading about the construction of model engines, this is still the publication you need to have in your library. You will definitely save this magazine.

Low volume high quality publications are very expensive to produce. The $10.00 issue price is not someone making a fortune. Oh and I almost forgot, each issue contains a  set of CAD plans for the engines presented in the issue. I get model airplane magazines too and the plans are always an extra cost addition. So an MEB subscription and the plans are well worth the investment and a wonderful contribution to building your library of full documented projects.

The website is www.modelenginebuilder.com. From there you can order your subscription or purchase back issues. Remember, this is a publication full of real construction plans and know how. Tell them THMS sent you! It won’t do anything for me except make me a fan-boy.

Where’s the Beef!

The “beef” is in the bun. Some of my readers sort of ask me that question.

I have received a number of emails wondering what my latest project might be of if I still like or use such and such a tool that I published in my now aging website. I think it is mainly because I have not made any major updates in the old style web pages for awhile.

The truth is I still report rather actively but not in the same way as I have in the past. I started my THMS web page before there were such things as dynamic web site Blogs and CMS (Content Management Systems) like Joomla. There is actually quite a bit of work building a pure static HTML web site.

I still like the old format when I want to publish a full article with lots of pictures. The total control is awesome. But I am finding more of a liking with the high level presentation format available in dynamic publishing.

Most of my web pages now have both a URL identified server where the management code is stored and lives but also requires the services of an SQL database server to hold and provide the dynamic data. It sounds complex and it is. My several blogs (WordPress), one Bulletin Board (TEDEX), and multiple Joomla sites all require two remote computer servers to provide the viewer the content you see, like this very page.

The result is that publishing content is 10 times easier once the website is set up. I love the design complexities and that creative exercise, but when I want to post something like this, it only takes five minutes or less, just the time to log in and upload, and the world can read it fully… Continue reading


I decided I should move back on topic here in the THMS Blog. One perfect part at a time is a hard challenge. I am the first to admit I am far from perfect. How boring life would be if everything was perfect. That’s why I doubt heaven or whatever that great place you want to be in the next life is as perfect as it is cracked up to be. If it is, it might be a place for a short visit but I wouldn’t want to live there forever. But then it all boils down to the definition of perfect, doesn’t it? Perfect could be just enough frustration to keep life interesting. A need to make enough bad parts to make the good parts enjoyable.

Wow! No wonder metalwork is such a perfect hobby!

Note the heading doesn’t say, “One Perfect Part EVERY time.”

The Toolmaker

I just watched an interesting video over on the Tormach Blog site, copied here. It is a simple little YouTube video talk about toolmakers by a man named Bishop “Bud” Wisecarver. He has done a series of these, a look back at his career as a machinist. I have viewed them all and this is the one where he really makes an interesting point about toolmaking. I found it interesting to explore what he has to say before this point. There is a link on the bottom of the viewer that will take you to the other chapters in his story.

<Video no longer available>

Toolmaker is an important title and one of which to be proud. Bud sheds a renewed light on what it really means. If you make useful things from raw materials, then you too are a tool maker.

Do You Need The Balls?

There is a common conception in the amateur machinist world that ball or roller bearings are always the preferred selection to bushing or solid surface bearings. That is not always the case. Machine engineers, of all people, should know it always depends on the application. There are many applications where ball bearings are contra indicated, meaning they should not be used. Some of those reason can be as simple as cost over performance, excessive noise or the possibility of bearing contamination in harsh environments.

The primary benefit of using a ball bearing over other types is the greatly reduced drag due to its small rolling surface contact point. Their use is preferred when low friction is a high priority and other factors like low noise is not. They will reduce power requirements, help reduce friction heat and provide long periods of operation. If they are properly sealed, they will reduce maintenance. The best, high quality ball bearings can reduce run out and take thrust loads. These are worthy goals but sometimes are higher goals than necessary.

To quickly get to my point, I’ll examine the bearing needs for the lead screws on all the axis of a small manual mini lathe. First, do radial ball bearings “increase machining (position) accuracy” on any of the calibrated axis including the Z axis main feed screw over a bushing type bearing? The answer is an absolutely no.

This is because the linear slide position accuracy is a function of axial (not radial) screw loads affecting the amount of compression/expansion of the lead screw, drive nut thread engagement, drive nut mounting rigidity, thrust surface material and screw shaft bearing end play. This as combined is commonly called backlash. Minor drive screw side play (run out) is not a factor.

 Radial bearing loads… Continue reading

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