Sunday, 28 November 2010

Two engineering fairs for London

You might be aware there there's two model engineering fairs comming up in the near future. They are headed up by rival magazine companies so I was amused to read in the editorial for one of them some hair splitting on the number of stalls / suppliers. Put it this way, unless you are planning to spend all three days there you will be pushed to make it to see all of the stands for either. I've been to both and enjoyed my visits, both are good for buying tools, equipment and materials, both have a good selection of club stands and models.

My top recommendations for a successful trip are:
  • If you are interested in a particular item, contact the suppliers in advance to ensure that they can bring one along for you so you can save on posting.
  • Bring your own lunch, exhibition food is typically expensive and outlets can be busy
  • Save some money by buying tickets in advance
  • Plan your visit, what do you really want to buy/see?
  • Budget and shop around

To help you make your minds (on which you want to attend) up I've put together a comparison. Some people will of course attend both.

NameLondon Model Engineering Exhibition
Dates21-23rd January 2010
Opening Times10.00am - 5.30pm Friday and Saturday 10.00am - 4.00pm Sunday
VenueGreat Hall, Alexandra Palace,
Alexandra Palace Way, London, N22 7AY
Venue LayoutOne large hall, all on one level
WebsiteMeridienne Exhibitions
Advanced price£8.50
Sponsoring MagazineEngineering in Miniature
Working modelsYes
Trade StandsYes
Talks/Demos/LecturesModel Activ Zone, 2 workshops from the British Horological Institute, demos from clubs
Nearest StationAlexandra Palace Station (free bus to exhibition)
Parking2000 spaces, free parking
FoodProvided by venue or bring your own

NameModel Engineer Exhibition
Dates10-12th December 2010
Opening Times10.00am - 5.00pm Friday and Saturday 10.00am - 4.00pm Sunday
VenueSandown Park Racecourse Sandown Park, Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey KT10 9AJ
Venue LayoutMultiple rooms and levels, lifts and disabled access to all locations. Outdoor pool and exhibits
WebsiteModel engineer show
Advanced price£8.00
Sponsoring MagazineModel Engineer, Model Engineer's Workshop
Working modelsYes
Trade StandsYes
CompetitionsModel Engineer Competition, Duke of Edinburgh Challenge Trophy
Talks/Demos/Lectures8 Lectures a day and demos from the Society of Model & Experimental Engineers and Clubs, Cove School Robot demo
Nearest StationEsher station (free bus to exhibition)
Parkingfree parking
FoodProvided by venue or bring your own

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Edmund Dohnert - Mechanical Curiosities

Edmund Dohnert can't decide if he's an artist or an engineer. Having looked at his mechanical curiosities, I'd conclude that he's both and more.

His wonderful selection of devices are made from brass and wood. There is a Heath Robinson style to the functionality but the craftmanship is up there with a cabinet maker. All the pieces are finished to a very high standard and materials have been carefully selected with difference colours and grains of wood to complement the metal components.

The website provides a great selection of pictures and details of the technical challenges of each item.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Self-Repair Manifesto

I've previously mentioned my joy in repairing and mending things and the make do and mend philosophy. So when I discovered that iFixit were putting together free repair guides to a range of items I just had to join in and promote them.

iFixit is the free repair manual that you can edit. The idea is that a community of people can help each other to fix stuff.

Self-Repair Manifesto

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

Repair is better than recycling.
Making our things last longer is both more efficient and more cost-effective than mining them for raw materials.

Repair saves the planet.
Earth has limited resources and we can’t run a linear manufacturing process forever. The best way to be efficient is to reuse what we already have!

Repair saves you money.
Fixing things is often free, and usually cheaper than replacing them. Doing the repair yourself saves serious dough.

Repair teaches engineering.
The best way to find out how something works is to take it apart!

If you can’t fix it, you don’t own it.
Repair connects people and devices, creating bonds that transcend consumption. Self-repair is sustainable.

Repair connects you with your things
Repair empowers and emboldens individuals
Repair transforms consumers into contributors
Repair inspires pride in ownership
Repair injects soul and makes things unique
Repair is independence
Repair requires creativity
Repair is green
Repair is joyful
Repair is necessary for understanding our things
Repair saves money and resources

We have the right:
To open and repair our things—without voiding the warranty
To devices that can be opened
To error codes and wiring diagrams
To troubleshooting instructions and Flowcharts
To repair documentation for everything
To choose our own repair technician
To remove ‘do not remove’ stickers
To repair things in the privacy of our own homes
To replace any and all consumables ourselves
To hardware that doesn’t require proprietary tools to repair
To available, reasonably priced service parts

Join the repair revolution at

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Wallace and Gromit

I watched the first Wallace and Gromit World of Inventions on the PVR the other night.

There was a good selection of science and inventions, I'd seen some of the articles before, the flying penguins for example I'd seen a few months back but the related manta ray inspired airship was fantastic. The articifial gills were interesting and the inventor has obviously put in a lot of effort and had a working solution if not yet quite a product.

There is an excellent website to backup the programme with games to play online and some projects you can make at home.

There is also a competition for inventors who can "Design and build their most inventive contraption, made entirely from bits and pieces around the home, in the shed, or scattered about the garage".

The British Library's Steve van Dulken is also a fan of the show and particularly liked the section on Biomimicry.

Previous articles on the World of Inventions

ThomasNet - Articles on Metal Work and Welding

ThomasNet got in contact to tell me that they've added a selection of new articles onto their website.

Here are a few examples

Metal Work
Machinist-Machining Resources
A guide to vices
Types of Bearings
How Milling Machines Work
How springs are made
Rivets, Fasteners and Screws

Welding - Fabrication
Fabrication Education and Jobs

Become a welder
Power Brushes

History of the Industrial Revolution
History of robotics

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Vernon's Vertical Slide

Blokey shed metal worker Vernon recently bought an Australian made Nuttall lathe and decided to fabricate a vertical slide for it so he could do milling operations in the lathe. He's kindly shared how he went about the process of construction.

Vernon: The new lathe is a Nuttall, about the same size and the original lathe, however it has a clutched geared head (oil filled) rather than the cone head (dry) on the original. The new lathe is also 3phase 3HP rather than single phase 2HP.

Raw materials: a mystery item purchased from ebay and steel plate 130 x 10. The two bars for the slide are a good alternative to a dovetail which is more commonly found on slides.

Vernon: Here is the start of the bolt I will be using to secure the slide mounting plate to the tool post bracket. This is an old gearbox input shaft, that I have previously annealed.

A thread was machined onto the bolt to match that of the toolpost lever nut.

Using a hole drill in base plate to provide a hole large enough to allow boring. Two holes were machined to give a choice of position.

Using a boring bar to open up the hole to allow the plate to be attached to cylindrical tool post mount.

Video of boring of the base plate using a 4 jaw chuck

A piece of plate was bolted to the slide and the vice was in turn mounted onto that.

Welding up the base plate

Finished slide in position on the lathe, vertical and swivelled.

Test cut with aluminium

Many thanks again to Vernon for sharing his project with us.

William Nuttall the maker of the Nuttall lathe.

Varmint Al took an alternative approach to his Mini lathe Milling Attachment by bolting a compound slide onto a angle plate.

Milling in the lathe by Tubal Cain

Chris Heapy's notes on milling in the lathe.

Vintage projects, milling attachement by L.C.Mason

An alternative solution to the same problem The Quick Step mill from Hemmingway Kits, a modern version of the Potts milling spindle.

Workshop Practice Series