Saturday, 31 December 2011

Review of the year 2011

Due to other commitments, I've not had as much time in the workshop this year as previous years.

However I did complete a couple of projects, in February, I got the magnifiying glass out and assembled a surface mounted tachometer kit and in May got myself a mention in Ikea Hackers with my Portis shortening project. I also managed a tiny amount of welding this year with an experimental venture into build up welding and some metal was ordered for a project early in 2012.

Magnified circuit

The big project of the year was replacing the shed roof, several months of planning got my materials list as low as I could get it then over a long and hot weekend at the end of September the old roof was stripped off an a new insulated one was put in it's place. It's interesting to see how the frost stays on the roof for quite some time in the morning demonstrating a good thermal mass and insulating properties. Hopefully over the winter I'll have a better idea of how well it's performing.

Shed roof with window

Whilst not in the workshopshed, I've been travelling about, March saw a trip to the Kew Bridge Steam museum to see the Stirling Rally and some excellent crafts were seen at the Knebworh Country show in the summer. The end of the year saw the model engineering show and although I did not spend as long there as previous years I still saw many interering models. Whilst wantering around London I saw some interesting things and admired the ironwork of St James and Mayfair.

Some of my most popular articles this year were actually provided by others, in February, the chaps at the Mig Welding forum inspired Barry Wood to write me a piece on the history of their company. J and C R Wood make the Metalcraft range of metal forming tools. Later in the year, Marc Van Goozen's Meccano Crane proved very popular with readers.

I managed a few interviews this year, a high tech interview with Australian Space invader builder Victor Coleiro. Wooden Bike and Rammed Earth Expert Michael Thompson told me about his building and bike projects. Blacksmith and Etsy shop team Sam and Melanie from Sams Welding told about the interesting items in their shop. I also wrote a short article for UKToolCentre on wire strippers.

Looking through my keyword searches, there were no surprised like previous years, "how to knurl a bent steel bar" or "train to be a blacksmith in milton keynes" just lots of people looking for "Tig vs Mig", "the salvager" and flowerpot furnaces. There was also a peak in April of people looking for the 1902 State Landau. The reason people were looking for The Salvager was that he brought out a new EZine this year which has proved good reading.

Other things I read this year were "Made Simple Made Easy" by H. Maurice Turnbull, "Trustee from the Toolroom" by Nevil Shute and Ivan Law's workshop practice series #6 "Measuring and Marking Metals". I also reviewed the Axminster Cross vice some Tig welding Gloves and a model engineering dvd.

2011 was an interesting year. When I started writing this review of the year I initially thought that not much had been happening but when you add it all up there were lots of little projects and activities going on. I do have some items planned for 2012, hopefully starting off with some welding to get back in practice and possibly a look at some CAD software. Wishing you all a jolly and productive 2012.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Shed loads of storage

Over the last few weeks, I've been sorting through some boxes of decorating kit and the "paint store" chucking out all the old and broken stuff and quarter cans of paint that had turned to jelly. I've managed to free up some space for a welding project I'm planning for a mate. However, throwing stuff out (or giving it away) is not always desirable so I quizzed Drew Davies on the possibility of using self storage.

Workshopshed: When you first think of a self storage, it's moving house or going travelling that springs to mind. How is self storage relevant to someone working out of a shed or in a workshop?

Drew Davis: Self storage is one of those strange industries that doesn't really fit into any niche. We have a lot of people storing personal belongings, but we're actually seeing a shift towards more business and industry-based customers.

For someone working out of their shed or garage, or using a workshop, self storage can become an extension of their workspace; freeing up room for a particular project or as a place to store things during a bigger renovation. If you rarely use some welding equipment, for example, but need to keep it someone safe - you can use a self storage facility to keep it out of sight until its required. And as you take back some of the equipment, you can move to a smaller room that fits your new space requirement.

Workshopshed: How else can it help with a project?

Drew Davis: Self storage could also help with deliveries you don't want clogging up the workspace. Once you've organised your storage unit, the Manager can even sign for the delivery when it arrives (best to check with them first, and make sure your customer name and unit number is clearly marked on the goods). Then you can swing by (the UK now has as many self storage facilities as it does McDonald's restaurants – around 1,200) and pick up what materials you need that week, leaving the rest until it's required.

Workshopshed: You mention moving from a larger to a smaller room. But what about the room itself - how can it be set up? Can things be attached to the walls, for example?

Drew Davis: We have approximately 20 different sized rooms at each of our locations - so a good tip is to ask the Manager to show you several sizes to see which one is the best fit. If you have extra heavy equipment, take into consideration any issues with access (you might not be able to use the lifts for transport, so a room on the ground floor could be the ticket. There are pallet trucks available at each Facility). If you take multiple rooms next to each other, we can remove the partitioning walls to create a bigger space (if both rooms are available). The storage unit is a blank space so can be adapted to your requirements - however, nothing can be attached to the cladding itself.

Workshopshed: Many of the things people might want to store will be metal. Could there be any issues with humidity that might lead to rust?

Drew Davis: The temperature within stores remains fairly constant, notwithstanding the season. Our buildings are modern and well insulated so they're never too hot or cold, and they're obviously very dry, so rust shouldn't be an issue (it pays to check periodically, just to be safe).

Workshopshed: And what about security?

Drew Davis: Security is paramount when it comes to self storage, and one of the big benefits. In the "old days", you might hire a small warehouse, which would usually be a converted office block or barn with very little security.

Our Storage Facilities are purpose built (never converted barns or buildings) and the security features are top notch. As well as 24 hour CCTV, every room is individually alarmed, with electronic gates and perimeter fencing around each Facility. When you sign up for a storage room, you'll be given a unique pin that gives you access to the lifts. Sensors in each room indicate when the rooms are accessed and if they are occupied (so if someone opens your room without having first used the unique pin, an alarm will go off).

Workshopshed: Location is important though too - it's no use storing equipment somewhere safe if its miles away?

Drew Davis: Agreed. We have 74 Storage Facilities (at last count), many in London and the South East of England, but more and more spread across the UK (including Edinburgh, Sheffield, Hull) with locations added each year. Full list of Storage Facilities.

Our stores are often at strategic locations (such as the Staple Corner Facility on the North Circular), which is especially useful for lorry deliveries.

Workshopshed: Do you have any storage tips for engineering or gardening tools?

Drew Davis: If you are planning on storing metal objects, it's a good idea to treat them with rust protector first, or at least wipe them down with an oily rag. You can use the cheapest oil available; it all does the same job.

Before storing your garden tools, scrub off any dirt or mud - if it's really covered in dirt, you may need to soak the tool in a bucket of hot water first. Make sure to wipe off any excess water with an old rag and let it dry thoroughly to prevent any rusting. Treat the wooden areas of your tools by sanding any rough or splintery places with sandpaper and then rubbing it in wax.

Workshopshed: One question from the readers of "Stationary Engine". Because their engines are heavy they would want to put them onto a trailer before going to a show and drive to the show early in the morning. Would the facilities allow them to do that kind of thing?

Drew Davis: Engines are a bit of a grey area because they’d need to be drained of all flammable liquid to be stored, so it might not be viable. The good news is all our stores have access for an articulated lorry and all of them give you free access to trolleys and pallet trucks. There are also forklifts and trained forklift drivers available (at a cost of £5 per load, or if big quantities are involved an agreement can be made with the manager. Prior notice needs to given where possible).

In terms of early morning access, our storage facilities are open at Monday - Friday 8am - 6pm Saturday 9am - 6pm Sunday 10am - 4pm However you can also arrange extended access between 5am - 11pm - for a small additional charge if that's what you need.

Many thanks to Drew and Big Yellow Business Storage

Additional reference:

Tips and tricks - How to make space for your tools
Tips and tricks - Diy around your home
Tips and tricks - How to Organise your Garage

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Photos from the Model Engineering Show

A selection of photos from the model engineering show at Sandown last weekend. Engines big and small, jet, stationary, marine and traction. There were railway trains, trams, model houses, a fine selection of carriages and wheels from the Guild of Model Wheelwrights. There were some fine Mechano models, clocks and orrey's on show too.
Outside was a steam lorry (with a mini-me version in the club room) and a fine selection of 6in traction engines all steaming away. There were also a few pieces of tooling and equipment, I'll have to enter some of mine one year (once I've finished it).

Friday, 9 December 2011

Top Tip - Camden Miniature Steam Services

Whilst purchasing some Christmas presents for the relatives at Camden Miniature Steam Services I spotted an interesting book called "40 Power Tools You Can Make".

One of the previews was for a tip from H. Moore, Leeds, England. Having googled H. Moore, I see that he wrote quite a few tips for Popular Mechanics between 1930 and 1950. He even got a mention in American machinist for his tip "Slotted Sleeve on Mandrel Holds Two Pieces"

Search Google Books for H.Moore Leeds Popular Mechanics

When it is necessary to hold two shafts, one directly above the other, for transfering or marking off drilled holes, the job can be done by using a V-block, a tightening clamp and four short pieces of round rod of slightly less diameter than the shafting. One of the shafts is laid in the V-block, two rods are placed on each side, as indicated in the illustration, and finally the top shaft is laid on these, after which the clamp is screwed down to keep the assembly firmly in position.

H. Moore's tip to clamp 2 round rods in a V-block

A second tip was also included but I suspect it will be less useful...

Nuts and bols that are exposed to the weather by be prevented from rusting by applying a coating of asbestos roofing cememt to the threads of the bolts before tightening the nuts.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

More Welding apps for your phone

Someone pointed out that there is a special offer on the Android market for apps today, they are priced at just 10p.

I did a quick search for welding and found the following two free apps (so that's 20p saved).

The Miller Weld Calculator provides you with the appropriate parameters for setting your current, gas and weld speed dependant on the type of welding, material and thickness.

Welding free from T2R is a phone based welding simulator, it currently supports just arc welding and is basically a test of weld speed and position. It's an interesting idea but I'm not sure how realistic it is given that you use your finger rather than a welding rod. Once you've completed your weld you then get to chip the slag off with a hammer and brush it down with a wire brush. I'm not sure of you get marked down for using the same brush for different metals?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Shed roof part 3 - Installing the window

It had taken me a day's work on my own to strip off the old window. Alan and myself then had installed one side of the roof in just a day. That left me 2 days to get the roof finished by myself. The other side of the roof was simpler in that it was two smaller rectangular sections.

Side pannels formed from cladding, frame and OSB

Before I got going with these panels, I measured everything up and to my horror discovered that the polycarbonate sheet was the wrong size. The problem with this sheet is that it has an orientation. The slots need to run down so that if any condensation forms then it will run out the bottom. Some how I'd managed to swap the dimensions before ordering. Luckly there was only 15cm to make up so I cut my cladding longer so sides of the plastic could rest on it. I formed up some more supports by extending the rafters and screwing in a cross piece to support the bottom of the plastic. Once the wood was in place I added the two layers of feld in the same manner as the others.

Two side pannels with roofing felt

I used a hacksaw to cut the sheet. You have to take it slow cutting polycarbonate, the plastic rubs against the saw blade heating it up and it can stick and bend as shown below.

Bent saw

Once the window was in place it was secured using a couple of button fixings. These allow the poly-carbonate to move as the temperature changes. For a piece this size it could grow upto 5mm between winter and summer. Around the sides I screwed wood battens over the sheet and then used sealant around the edges. The felt was also sealed with roof and gutter sealant and nailed into the wood. Exposed wood was painted with a wax based wood preservative.

It's rained quite a few times since the roof was put in place and so far it's stayed dry in side. Once the door is closed the inside of the shed rose to a couple of degrees above the outside temperature with just my body heat so I'm optomistic I'll have a warmer winter and won't need the fan heater so often.

The end results are a roof with significantly better thermal characteristic than before with lots of light to the bench. As you can tell from my pictures, I've got a bit of tidying up still to do and the wood inside needs painting.

Roof inside

Glazing pannel in roof

Wooden pannelling

View from the front

At the end of the project I ended up with an excess of materials. This was because to get the sizes I needed I had to order the larger sizes and cut peices out of them. So I had some roof felt, OSB and a load of mashed up PVC. The latter I took down the local recycling centre and the others I gave to people on freegle, basically they are too large for me to be keeping in the shed so it's better for them to be put to use. I also had some insulation left over which was cut up and glued to my loft hatch to provide some insulation over the winter. The offcut of poly-carbonate has also gone to provide a slot window for another shed.

Workshop Practice Series