Bristol MEX 2016

Braved Saturday′s somewhat inclement weather to drive the 110 miles to visit the Bristol Model Engineering & Model Making Exhibition. The exhibition, as in previous years, takes over most of the available space at the Thornbury Leisure Centre. Slightly different layout this year as the Centre was using one of the smaller rooms but plenty of models for visitors to enjoy and enough traders to supply all those engineering necessities and lighten your wallet. By my reckoning about 40 trade stands, 50 club stands and some 40 private exhibitors helped fill the display stands.

Bristol Society of Model and Experimental Engineers - Locomotive Display
1. Bristol Society Stand – GWR Rules

GWR Swindon works celebrates it′s 175th year and the BSMEE stand acknowledges this with a fine display of GWR locos. The Society also promoted a theme of “model making” for the show and this is reflected in the change of name for the event, which the observant will have noticed, I didn′t until I read the exhibition guide! Some of the GWR locos on display (1), two Saints nearest the camera 2908 and 2915 with 2286 a 0-6-0 Collet design tender loco on the left. Click On Photos For A Larger Image.

At the opposite end to the Saints are; (2) Frilsham Manor 7816 and Bradley Manor 7802. A general view of the BSMEE stand (3) and a view from the balcony (4) which shows how quiet it was, I think the weather and the Olympics conspired to keep potential visitors at home, apparently Friday was a lot busier. As last year I have selected just a few of the hundreds of exhibits on display.

Stockport Corporation Tram 1/16 scale
5. Stockport Corporation Tram 1/16 scale

In Hall 3 Greg Marsden had a splendid diorama of 1/16th scale trams (5). These are modelled in fine detail and are based on Stockport Corporation trams from the 1930s. There was a great deal of information with the display, too much to take in quickly, unfortunately there seems to be very little information online regarding either the models or the prototypes.

In the small Hall 2A I found Jack Snary with his Spithead Fleet Review through the ages. Jack is still updating this and there are now some 660 1/1200 scale models covering 5000 years (6). I think many of the vessels portrayed are now not strictly part of a fleet review. Somewhere there is an Egyptian reed boat from 3400BC. Many of the models are scratch built and Jack reckons that it takes from 15 to 120 hours for one model. A close up of the 1880 period (7) with some of the mainy sailing ships in the display.

Sharing Hall 2A with the Fleet Review were a number of small scale railway layouts and I was interested by the N-gauge layout demonstrating computer control of the locos. Photo (8) shows a little GWR tank loco, just visible in the cab is a blue plastic chip which contains the control circuitry. Also visible are the track gaps that make it all work. The track is live all the time and the loco motor is stopped started and reversed according to the signals received. Photo (9) shows the circuitry necessary to interface the track sections to the computer (and not a Raspberry Pi in sight). I imagine it gets seriously complicated for a large layout with many track sections.

Baker Monitor Hit and Miss Engine
10. Baker “Monitor” Hit & Miss Engine

This very good model of a hit and miss engine (10) by David Everett, I found in the gloom under the balcony. It is a 1/3 scale model of an American made Baker “ball hopper” Monitor 4hp hit and miss engine. The prototype circa 1912 would have been used on the farm for pumping water, chaff cutting or butter churning, indeed anything that needed a bit of rotary power. This is probably the only one of this particular model this side of the Atlantic as the castings are American (Pacific Model Designs possibly) and only a few sets were made.

Also in the under balcony gloom was Keith Wright with his Scratter Mill (11) being driven by his 1/3 scale Economy hit and miss engine. This is a good show engine, runs all day seemingly without problems, I have seen it at several shows. Back out in the light of the main hall the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust had a very interesting display with a collection of engine parts and loads of information. The Trust was formed in 1981 to promote and preserve the history and engineering excellence of Rolls-Royce. Two part sectioned engines were on display. Most well known probably is the Merlin (12) of Spitfire fame, this one complete with small model of the plane. Next to this a cut away of the Adour (13) A twin turbo-fan engine that was designed in 1965 to power the Jaguar. A modified version with no reheat is used in the Hawk trainer.

The model display area in hall 2 had some cracking private entries. I think my favourite model at the show was this Caird & Co. Slotting Machine circa 1830 (14) & (15). The model, one of several on display, by Maurice Turnbull is finely detailed and well finished in 1/12 scale. I would like to know how the operator turned the handwheel on top of the slotting ram, as the original would have been about 8feet up! Had to show front and back. Next door to Maurice′s display was another workshop machine model, this time a band saw by Tom Polatch. Photo (16) shows a 1/12 scale model of a MacDowell bandsaw from the 1870′s. The original was exported to Canada but apparently found it′s way back to Falmouth where it was still in use in 1990.

There were quite a few clocks on display and the first of this group (17) is a John Wilding design skeleton clock by Phil Bridgway from the BSMEE. Photo (18) is a coup-perdu skeleton clock by Hywell Lambert. This is a work in progress and by all accounts a bit of a pig to build and Hywel was telling me he has had to make several changes due to errors in the drawings. It will when finished be a very interesting clock complete with a perpetual calendar. I looked up coup-perdu, it is french for “lost beat” and is used to give the second hand an advance once per second whilst using a 1/2 second pendulum. The last clock is a St.Pauls Cathederal clock (19) which has going, striking, and chiming chains. This clock is also by Hywel Lambert, one of about eight he had on display at the show.

A little bit about some of the trade stands. A newcomer to the show was Emvio Engineering, the company is locally based in Bristol and has been steadily expanding for the last couple of years. New to Emvio and the show is a small milling machine, the EMV-25VBB bench-top mill (20). This has a 1.1kw DC brushless motor and belt drive and I can confirm it is very quiet when running. The quill is R8 and compatable with a range of quick change tooling which Emvio have developed. This is an ideal machine for CNC conversion and a kit will be available soon, I was told. The machine is at a good price too of £1150.00 at the time of writing. See Emvio Website for more information. Also on the stand was a rather nice 2-spool 3D printer the BCN3D (21) and Emvio can supply print heads and other spares for a range of printer systems.

Another newcomer at the show was EMS (International) Ltd. who have developed a range of DRO kits to suit the hobby market. Starting with a two axis lathe system for a show price of £299.00, I am very tempted. Spotted some nice ready to run model locos for sale on Silver Crest′s stand (22) in Hall 2, if you happen to have a bit of spare cash.

The Guild of Model Wheelwrights always put on a good show (23), this year was no exception with many fine models on display. I picked out just one to highlight the craftmanship, the rather unusual “Flapper” tar sprayer by Brian Young (24).

The Cardiff Marine Modellers put on a good display but could probably have done with a bit more room, some of the exhibits were a bit close together making for awkward photography. This model of a small fishing boat built by John Evans (25) caught my eye as did the rather good Mississippi stern wheeler behind it (26). The Surface Warship Association had a good display and my selection here was HMS Scorpion (27) a Weapons Class anti-submarine destroyer built by Colin Watson. I also picked out this 1948 built model of the battleship King George V. You can see in photo (28) the valve driven radio control receiver and the ex-GPO switchgear used I think as a speed controller. The model was built by John Chantrill and was donated to the Association by his daughter, having languished in the garage for many years. The plan is to repair the mouse nibbles and generally clean it up with a bit of sympathetic restoration. It might even sail again with a modern radio system hidden beneath the original.

Model ship building was well represented at the show and on the Yate & Sodbury Model Sailing Club stand was a good display of warships. Some like HMS Rodney and HMS Hood at the rear of photo (29) were scratch built while others were derived from kits. Even a small plastic kit (30) can be made to sail with a bit of ingenuity. The motors are stripped from radio control servos whilst the servo electrics are used to provide the drive and to balance the output from the four motors. Apparently these models can be a bit difficult to ballast, relying on very light control gear and small batteries. They don′t like to be sailed in choppy conditions either as it is difficult to keep the water out!

A collection of interesting exhibits from around the show. Stroud Society of Model Engineers had a good selection of exhibits, I picked out the Verto steam engine and boiler by Bryan Cole (31) and their loco display fronted in my photo (32) by a 3½” County and the little chap driving the GWR 1400 series tank loco. No show would be complete without a few hot air engines, the Stirling Engine Society had more than a few, a selection of LTD engines (33).

A work in progress, one of the shows themes, by Alex DuPre showed a number of self designed engine parts and assemblies, the machining looked excellent to me (34). Well there were plenty of trains and ships at the show and the flying department was not left out either. The Beaufort Model Flying Club stand (35) in Hall 3 put on a good display and you could have a go at flying a helicopter or drone in the netted off area. By way of something completely different, all the fun of the fair (36), shows Dave James′ 4mm scale funfair.

I have an interest in stationary steam engines so I found a few at the show. Galloways Non dead Centre engine is a bit of a peculiar one and seems unnecessarily complicated, still it was made in 1838, (37) is Mike Bowell′s version, of what I think is the Anthony Mount design, on the BSMEE stand. Reuben Smith was showing this model (38) of a Ransomes Portable Engine on one of the display stands and another private entry was Chris Eatherton′s display (39) of unusual engines. At the front is Suzanne an outside motion vertical engine, centre is a Fairbairn column engine and furthest away a model of the Gorgon steamship engine.

The South West Meccano Club had this representation of Brooklands Garage replete with 1930s racing cars (40). Just to prove that you don′t need high power machinery to build models, West Wiltshire Society of Model Engineers was demonstrating the use (41) of this Drummond hand shaper. My first steam engine was a Mamod and there were plenty on display (42). The Severn Mendip 16mm Group had their portable display at the show, a quick view of a loco passing through Mendip Vale station (43).

I quite enjoyed the show and it made a change to be able to talk to some of the exhibitors without being jostled by the crowds and to take photographs easily. The lack of visitors however was not going down too well with the traders who have to pay quite a lot for stand space. Photo (44) is of Tracy Tools stand and shows the problem, normally at shows you have to push and shove to get near the front! I think probably a lot to do with Saturday′s weather which also detered all but the most stalwart outside exhibitors. Last (45) was my view as I left just after 4pm which shows what I mean. Still it was a good day and the drive there and back wasn′t too bad despite a delay on the M4 going home.

Budapest Railway History Museum

I recently spent an interesting few hours visiting the Magyar Vasúttörténeti Park. This is a large open air railway museum in Budapest, a bit away from the usual tourist hotspots but still quite easy to reach with a short walk from bus or tram stop. There is a direct railway link at weekends running from Nyugati Station. Opened in 2000 the museum covers some 7 hectares (17 acres) on the site of the former MÁV (Hungarian State Railways) Budapest North Depot. There are more than 50 locomotives in various states of preservation along with a huge selection of rolling stock. Some of the exhibits run at weekends and holidays and you can even get to drive one although I think you have to book in advance for this. Not everything is open every day and a weekend visit seems to be the best choice but it is popular locally and quite busy.

Loco 1026
Freight Locomotive 1026 – built 1882

The locomotives are without doubt the main attraction and for any European Railway Enthusiast a day will likely not be enough time! First up is MÁV 1026 (pictured above) a class 341 (341,012) freight locomotive build by Wöhlert Berlin in 1882, the information given for the loco shows the wheel arrangement as C-n2. This had me a bit confused until a quick web search revealed that this is the European UIC class and apparently means it is an 0-6-0, 2 cylinder loco using saturated steam. 1026 spent a good deal of it’s working life (1959 to 1985) in a sugar factory in Sárvár. Like many locomotives the number and class has changed several times through it’s lifetime.

The museum caters for families as well as the enthusiast and there are rides on the 7¼” ground level railway, model railway layouts to see and various souvenir and refreshment stalls dotted about the site. There are also plenty of play areas for when the kids get bored. Special events are held throughout the year and details can be found on The Museum Website which is available in English and has plenty of useful visitor information. Most of the labelling and signage is multi-language but the loco details are mainly in Hungarian. For something a little different you can ride the turntable for free.

I took plenty of photos but have only put a few on the Journeyman’s Workshop to whet your appetite. There is quite a lot of information on the web and a good site with plenty of images and the information from the exhibit labels is Friends of the Museum the website is in Hungarian and to get you started: Gőzmozdonyok is Steam Locomotive and Dízelmozdonyok is Diesel Locomotive, easy! If you try Google Translate on the technical information it doesn’t work and as my Hungarian is sparse, to say the least, I’m afraid I can’t help.

The main display of steam locomotives is around one of the two operational turntables. There are about 20 feeder tracks to the turntable each with it’s own loco and some with extra rolling stock. Diesel and electric locos are in the marshalling yard on the other side of the turntable. The first picture (click for a bigger image) shows some of the exhibits displayed around the turntable. This turntable even has a cabin for the operator and you can ride for free through a full 360° spin. Power to make it turn seems to be delivered by the catenery cable and the drum suspended over the centre of the turntable.

Keep going clockwise round the turntable and you get to MÁV 520,034. This is a 2-5-0 freight loco (UIC 1’E h2) 2 cylinder superheated. Built by Oberschlesische Lokomotivwerke, Katowice, Werk Krenau, Poland, in 1943, Works no. 1165. The loco worked in Germany and Russia before coming to Hungary probably in 1962. The loco worked up until 1984 when steam power was phased out in Hungary.

There are some unusual engines at the museum and this fireless 0-4-0 tank loco 91,001 (UIC B-f2t) is definitely different. Technically it probably isn’t a tank engine as it has no tank or firebox, just a large steam receiver. Designed for working in hazardous environments, the receiver was just filled from the factory steam main as required. Built by Lokomotivfabrik Krauss & Co. of Linz am Donau, Austria in 1915.

MÁV 7111 is an 0-6-0 tender locomotive (UIC C-n2v). Built at the Royal Hungarian State Railway Factory, Budapest in 1902 and last worked in the Mecsek coal mines up until 1986, when it was retired and later restored. I was interested in the steam pump on the left hand running board. at first I thought it was a feed pump but the cooling vanes make me think it is possibly an air compressor for the braking system. Just out of interest the full version of MÁV is Magyar Államvasutak (Hungarian State Railways).

Another unusual engine is 242,001, at first I thought this was armour plating but it is just streamlining. Only four class 242 locomotives were built and hiding underneath the plating is a 4-4-4 tank engine (UIC 2′B2′St). Built by MÁVAG (Magyar Királyi Államvasutak Gépgyára; Hungarian Royal State Railway Factory), Budapest in 1939. The loco was designed for high speed passenger services and the wheel arrangement allowed fast running in both directions. Restored in 2002 the loco still runs and is used for enthusiast excursions.

If you fancy a bit of exercise you can have a go in one of these hand-propelled inspection vehicles. And just in case it gets cold – MÁV 33, built in 1915 this snow plough was in use up until 1988/9. The hollow body of the plough was filled with sand to increase the weight and improve traction. There are several other snow ploughs at the museum including a slightly newer snow blower.

The museum also has examples of diesel and electric locos. MÁV ‘Hargita’ is a 3 piece diesel railcar built by Ganz & Co. (Budapest) in 1944 but was not put into service until 1951 when it was adopted by the then government for use as travelling offices. The name does not appear on the loco and I don’t know if it is just the class type, Hargita is a town in the Hungarian speaking part of Transylvania.

MÁV V60,003 Kandó Class electric locomotive, 0-12-0 (UIC F) and 67 km/h maximum speed built in 1938, named after Kandó Kálmán, who designed the class V40 and V60 locomotives for MÁV. Only three of this class loco were built being used for heavy freight trains, mainly coal trains from the Oroszlany area to Budapest.

This “inspection vehicle” is on display in the huge 34 bay roundhouse. Based on a Russian GAZ Chaika saloon car it has been adapted with solid wheels to run on standard gauge rails. Still operational and you might get a ride!

Also inside the roundhouse along with some interesting rolling stock is this model of Keleti Station, One of the four main railway stations in Budapest. Close by to the station model is a replica of an old horse drawn tram which I believe is used to give rides at weekends.

Not in the museum but an example of modern Hungarian railways is this Stadler FLIRT – MÁV 415,068 in MÁV Start livery. The FLIRT (Fast Light Innovative Regional Train) is made in Switzerland by Stadler Rail AG. This is the electric version but it is also available as a diesel. Common throughout Europe and even now in America. Most commonly as a four-section train UIC Bo′2′2′2′Bo′ but can be reconfigured. The grey cover at the front protects the automatic coupling. And staying with present day railways, a closing view of Nyugati Station where MÁV 415,068 was snapped. The concourse at the side of the station is home to a number of restaurants and shops and the old station building has been nicely renovated.

Nyugati Station Budapest
Nyugati Station Budapest

Should you visit Budapest the Railway History Museum is worth a visit and public transport throughout the city is clean, pretty efficient and free if you are a EU pensioner (ID card or passport required). The No.2 tram along the Duna (Danube) is worth a ride just for the view but all trams tend to get very crowded especially the 4 and 6 routes and it is best to avoid rush hour!


Well, this is the first post of 2016 so you may well think that I have been rather idle. You would probably be right but I have been doing a lot of reading about the benefits and mechanics of CNC. I was using the mill and winding the handle for what seemed like hours and thought it would be easier if this was motorised. So I read up on power feeds and that let on to full automation. Whilst there would be a serious learning curve, CNC would without doubt be useful and in the long run quicker.

Router Using Aluminium Profile Frame

There are several routes to take: Buy a new CNC mill, Tormach or similar; Convert my existing mill; Get a new mill and convert that or go down the self build router avenue. I quickly decided that a new CNC mill was way out of budget and was initially keen on the router idea and spent some time designing something that coud be built within the limits of my current equipment. Most of the time was taken with remembering how Geomagic Design worked as I don’t use it that often. Converting the current mill I ruled out as it is I think too small and besides I would probably need a mill to modify the mill. Thoughts at present are focussed on buying a new larger mill and converting that. This of course is a decision that might take years!

I have also been tweaking the website a bit. Mainly removing redundant CSS from the stylesheet and altering the menu somewhat. Hopefully I havn’t broken anything. I have also added more links and fixed or removed a few broken ones.

Chain Whip

Not put anything here for a bit so I thought I would just show what I was doing this morning. Apart from the workshop hobbies I also cycle a bit, nothing too strenuous you understand but I try to get in 20 or 30 miles a week. This is mainly in an effort to keep the weight down and keep semi-fit. A bit of a losing battle to be honest.

However the last few rides the chain was jumping occasionally. Checking the chain is easy just measure from one pin against a rule and the pin at the 12″ mark should line up. If the pin is more than 1/16″ away the chain needs replacing soon. Mine was a good 1/8″ longer so should have been replaced some time ago. (Although most fixings on modern bikes are metric a good few parts still use imperial measurements chains being and example with ½″ links.) Chains don′t really stretch but the rollers and pins wear and introduce slack. I should have checked more often as I ride mainly off-road and the chain is always covered in dust and grit which with water and oil make a nice grinding paste.

Cassette & removal tool

I fitted a new chain and found that the chain was jumping and skipping all the time, further checking revealed that the rear cassette appeared to be worn, at least that′s what it looks like to me. The teeth on the gears looked to have worn on one side. So I ordered a replacement Shimano 8-speed cassette. Bike repairs are quite easy but you need a few specialist tools, I bought a splined cassette lockring removal tool with the cassette for £4.99 but I forgot to get a chain whip (that′s what the cycling fraternity call them I would probably call it a chain wrench!). You can buy them from about £5 upto a ridiculous £40 if you want the real Shimano one! The tool stops the cassette turning while you undo the lockring. I could probably come up with an alternative but the right tool makes the job a little easier.

chain whip
My Version of a Chain Whip

I looked at the picture in my favoured on-line bike store and thought it would be an easy thing to make. So I found a suitable bit of flat bar and set to. I used the old chain and simply drilled holes just big enough to take the chain rivets, these are a press fit in the chain plates so once pressed back in hold the chain in place. All the shaping I did on the new belt sander, only took a few minutes. Now waiting for the new cassette to arrive in the post to see whether the tool works.

I must remember to keep a closer watch on the chain and make sure that it is clean. I have one of those on-bike chain cleaners, rotating brushes in a plastic tank, that works quite well but the new chain has a removable link so I could take it off and dunk it in the ultrasonic cleaner. I am hoping that the other end of the drive, the chainring, is OK. It looks alright to me and I hope it is because that is a bit pricey to replace as it comes with the pedal cranks as far as I can make out. The joys of cycling!!

Update: the parts turned up the day after I posted. Nice smooth job replacing the cassette, took about 10 minutes, so much easier when you have the right tools! Pleased to report that everything works smoothly, no skipping or jumping, just need to fine tune the gear changes.

Midlands MEX 2015

The Fosse Way Steamers

The Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition has been a regular event on the calendar for nearly 40 years and I went to this years show on Friday. The journey was uneventful and once off the motorway quite a pleasant drive through the Warwickshire countryside. The weather was cloudy but dry, a good thing as some of the exhibits are outside including the Fosse Way Steamers (pictured), the Gas Turbine Builders Association and the South West Truckers who seemed a bit lonely in a corner by themselves.

Back inside there were some 50 trade stands and an almost equal number of club stands with 4 large Competition and display stands rounding things off. I have to report a severely dented wallet due to overindulging at some of the well stocked trade stands, note to self – buy less tools! There is plenty of catering at the show with a couple of outside stands and the inside mezzanine restaurant. Over the four days there are a number of free lectures covering such varied subjects as Hobbing Gears, Silver Soldering, Sheet Metalwork, Steaming Model Boats and Foundry-work to name but a few.

The following photos show just a few of the thousands of items on display. No special reason for the choices other than I thought they looked good at the time. Click on the image for a larger version.

The three stationary engines were all on the competition stand. The first is a model of Galloway’s non-dead-centre beam engine by Brian Brown which claimed a 3rd prize in its class. The Stuart No.9 engine was “highly commended” and the last engine is I think a Georgina over-crank engine but I missed the label and can’t credit the builder. There were a good number of small stationary engine models at the show many based on castings from the likes of Stuart’s and Brunel Steam Models. I am still working up to completing my Stuart Victoria.

Next up, another three models from the competition and display stands just to illustrate the wide range of modelling interests represented at the show. True Briton is a fine example of model ship building by Terence Orton, a passenger clipper ship colloquially a “Blackwall frigate” built in 1861 and employed carrying passengers, cargo and convicts to Australia and New Zealand. The detail on the model is very fine even down to the copper plates on the hull. It is a pity that the security alarm wire detracts from the display but I suppose it is a necessity. The loco in the centre is one of Giancarlo Mastrini’s fantastic models. I have seen these at other exhibitions and my photo doesn’t really do it justice. It has gained a few plaques on the base but someone should kindly point out to Signor Mastrini that the Duke of EdiMburgh is probably having a quiet chuckle at the spelling error! By way of something completely different the stirling powered desk fan by E.K. Morris is a nicely finished and probably useful machine.

All of the club stands were packed with interesting items, the Northampton Society of Model Engineers display I thought very good. Equatorial sundials are unusual but I counted three at the show, I think all from the same design by Roger Bunce that appeared in Model Engineer some time back. This particular version was by David Fieldhouse and Chris Orchard. The model beam engine was one of a group, on the Kingsbury Water Park Model Boat Club stand, by Mick Hill. A nicely finished engine from an internet plan (I will have to find that one).

On a vaguely agricultural theme the next three photos are: A 2″ scale Fowler ploughing engine, one of a pair complete with a 6 furrow balance plough. The two engines are called Iris May and Sarah Jayne but that’s about all the info I have on these magnificent models. In the centre is Keith Wright’s 1/3 scale Economy hit & miss engine seen here driving a scratter mill. The engine ran well and was in action throughout the day. Last up on the Hereford Society of Model Engineers stand was Brian Palliser’s model of a Caterpillar D9 bulldozer video link.

As usual at these exhibitions the train enthusiast is well supported. The Leicester Society of Model Engineers had a largely railway oriented display, the central loco in this photo is a rather good 3.5″ gauge 9F – Evening Star with a supporting cast of well made rolling stock. Centre is a delivery van which caught my eye on the Guild of Model Wheelwrights stand, as usual an excellent selection of unusual models. 1st prize winner in it’s competition class is Jersey Lily a 5″ gauge model of a Great Central Railway Atlantic locomotive owned by David J. Bailey.

Finally the items I bought: A new keyless drill chuck for the drilling machine from RDG who always have a good selection at the show. I bought one of these for the lathe last year and thought it was well made at a reasonable price so I got another, much easier than playing with chuck keys. I have been using a drilling vice on the mill and though it was about time I got a proper milling vice. This is a 75mm jaw width 8900 from Warco, the only thing is it looks huge on my tiny mill, I may have to get a bigger mill to go with it! Silver soldering with my plumbers gas blowlamp just doesn’t work well so I treated myself to a proper torch by Sievert which I purchased from CUP Alloys (not the propane cylinder though). Last but not least a new belt sander to play with, a BDS460 from Warco, I will need some fine belts though the one that came with it is a bit quick. I will eventually get round to a bit of a write up on the sander to add to the workshop section.

Update November 2015 – review of the BDS 460 Belt & Disc Sander is now online.

LED Mill Light

I have seen a number of articles where enterprising mill owners have fitted LED lighting to improve workspace visibility. Often these utilise LED ring lights that are intended for automotive use and a smaller number using flat panels also used as replacements inside vehicles. I couldn′t find a suitable ring light but came across some very cheap LED flat panel lights on Amazon. I ordered a few to play with and at £1.25 each including postage from Hong Kong it wouldn′t be much of a loss even if I couldn′t make something useful.

I used bits and pieces that I had in the workshop to make a suitable cover and frame to protect the panel but you could probably just cover it in clear tape to provide a bit of protection. The panels come with a foam sticky pad on the back so they can be fixed to any flat surface. Unfortunately there is no such surface on the mill where I wanted to put the light, just a large recess on the underside of the head. I made the panel to be a tight fit into this recess. A small piece of 6mm clear polycarbonate sheet made the front cover with a similarly sized bit of styrene sheet for the back. The frame was from some left over plastic soffit trim but any U shaped plastic moulding would do

The panels come with a selection of “ends” to suit various vehicle lamp styles, these were not needed as I soldered the power lead directly to the board. Just to really confuse me the original red wire was the negative and the black positive, fortunately the boards seem to have a degree of protection built in! The parts are simply the black styrene back the clear polycarbonate front (it still has the protective paper on in the photo) some spacers also from polycarbonate and the frame. I cut the frame just using a tenon saw and a mitre box so they don′t join up too well. Basically just stick the spacers round the edge of the back sheet leaving a gap for the wire, stick the LED panel in the middle. The frame just clips on and holds everything together. Drill a hole in the edge of one of the frame pieces and thread the power lead through it before soldering the supply to the board.

With a bit of adjustment to the width of the light it was a tight fit in the recess under the mill head and at the moment it is just wedged in. It may need some better fixing method if the vibration works it loose. The power is from a 12v plug in supply (Wall Wart) it needs to be DC so I couldn′t use the existing 12v light supply. As can be seen it gives quite a bright light, it is supposed to be warm white but it′s definitely on the blue side.