Saturday, 23 April 2016

Showtime in Springfield...

Today, as a guest of James Finnister, I went to the Spalding Model Engineering and Hobby Show.
I was thinking the Hobby bit might be a nose curler, but there was nothing of the kind there.

In fact there was a huge selection of model boats and a fair bit of model engineering.  Most of the boats were very good, with model lifeboats VERY good.  I just can't get wound up about model lifeboats!  Surprisingly few warships, fortunately.  Hovercraft, which is very unusual.
The Gauge 1 mob had their usual oval test track with beautifully built model locos, in steam.  But they don't chuff. In fact they make no noise at all, less than an electric, which begs the obvious question......

Equipment was a bit sparse, but I suppose one mini mill from China looks pretty much the same as another and has just as much backlash in the screws, rendering it useless for serious purposes.
The 3D pushers were there too. One of them had a laser cut wooden framed machine!  That's gonna be accurate, ain't it!?  It sat producing perfectly useless truncated pyramids.  His comment when I said about all the lined, stepped junk it inevitably produces was, "just put a load of filler on it", was so typical of the arrogance that these people have.  When their ghastly machines can do what Modelu's machines can do I'll treat the 3D printers with some respect.

The price of raw materials is frightening.  I bought some copper tube for a central flue and cross tubes for a boiler I want to build.  Damn all really. £4-80!!  I picked up a piece of nickel silver, 1mm, 3"x3"...£2-80. I put it back!  Ye Gods, all this game is just so ridiculously expensive these days.

Once again, model flyers were infinitely friendlier and more pleasant than model boaters.  Inviting me to far flung clubs I shall never see, but warmly encouraging.  I wish they were not so expensive to join.  Actually many model boat clubs are just as pricey, but I can put a model yacht on the river up the road and that's all it costs, nuttn, but to fly costs membership and insurance, as does model engineering.

Absent, from this model-fest, were model yachts, unfortunately as I was hoping to see how they're rigged, and slot racing.  I mention this last as there is a new part of the Springfields complex which has installed a huge King slot track and which is flogging Scalextric and a lot else besides.  Surely they should have been there with a stand.  But what WAS there of a car nature and you won't see these many places, was round the pole cars with diesel, glow and petrol engines.  I realised it was here in Linclonshire because a wee bit up the road is England's one and only tethered car track.  Once upon a time, the land was dotted with them, but we're down to just one and that's in somebody's private garden.  The guy had wanted a car, but couldn't afford the collectors' money asked for them now, so he made a furnace, made some casting boxes, melted some old car parts, made the patterns, made the moulds in foundry sand and cast the aluminium in the sand moulds of major model car parts.  Then sanded and polished them until they looked like those in my copies of Model Car News from the '40s.  A remarkable endeavour.

So, there we are.  A fair attempt at a general model show.  All old farts of course and like so many other hobbies it will all fall by the wayside when the current crop of practitioners die off or become incapable.

Thanks to James for a drive of his 7 1/4" gauge petrol/electric loco and to Issy for the ride to the show and back.

Day rounded off with tea and cake at the Fenland Aero Club nearby.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Full steam ahead, Mr. Bates....

I may have mentioned a while back, that I had acquired a Stuart Turner Double 10 steam engine for, frankly, a song.  It was intended as a "pension pot" item. I would clean it up, add reversing gear, add value generally and flog it when it seemed sensible so to do.

Well, I took it apart very carefully, keeping the front cylinder's bits in a labelled box and the same for the rear.  I cleaned the bits and painted them in a very fetching Rover Teal Blue.  When I went to re-assemble it, I found the crankshaft wouldn't turn and the piston rod wouldn't move.  Now I don't know why that happened.  I have no idea and frankly problems like that don't intrigue me...they infuriate me.  They defy logic, like computers do.  And if machining was needed I couldn't do it as my lathe is too small.  So, being a problem of that kind it became a metaphoric case of "out the window".

I've had a chum for a few years who has grown from a Mamod toy steam fan to being a sometime dealer/restorer of model engineering.  He has gathered by luck and judgement a nice collection of engines and workshop equipment.  I approached him about the D10's problems and he invited me round to see if we couldn't come to some arrangement.
Well, we did!  To both our satisfactions I think, which is always an excellent result.

I have no idea exactly what I have, but both engines run beautifully on a merest whisp of air.
Both are very attractive items.  The vertical was in a GRP tug hull, with a decent boiler.  I have little to no interest in tugs, so I think the engine and boiler (or a newer, bigger one) will be put in a suitable river launch hull.  The problem is, I cannot find out what the engine is.  It's built from several castings, so must have been a published design.

And no, it isn't a Reeves Trojan, despite certain similarities.

Here's the rather elegant 1882 horizontal, which can be much better displayed to show that elegance even better.
This one will run if you blow down the pipe!

I think I've done well here.  Two engines (and a very good GRP 30" tug hull!) which I can put to use straight away and, when cleaned up, are worth about the same as the D10 with far less work.  If I hadn't have done this deal, a D10 will have sat on a shelf gathering dust and 2 very sweet engines will have been unused and unloved.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Elementary, my dear Watson...

Said the Great Detective, but I've just gone one better than his large magnifying glass.  I rarely buy something as a pure self-indulgence, but I couldn't resist this when I realised I'd missed it for a while and it was being "bumped" on a forum.

So I told Chris about it and she admitted she'd always wanted, but never got, a microscope as a kid. And I was just the same.
But this one is special. It is a product of S.E.L.....Signalling Equipment Limited.

Something special I did get as a kid was a steam engine.  It was also an S.E.L.  I had it until we moved afloat in 2003, which pissed me off BIG time.  A colleague sent me the two cylinder version recently which was really nice of him and I have found an S.E.L. electric motor, mint and boxed and a marine steam engine in similar condition, but the single cylinder machine has eluded me since my original went missing in the move.  I will find one some time, I'm sure, but meantime, this will do very nicely.
The strange thing is that those oddly shaped tweezers were already a part of my childhood and I don't know where they came from or when they disappeared, but a pair just like those oddly shaped things accompanied my slot car and model railways days and the oddness of the shape used to fascinate people and here we are with them in a mint, unused S.E.L. microscope set!

Life is strange.