Brooklands MEX 2016

The Model Engineer Exhibition moved to Brooklands Museum in Surrey this year after a short break. Set inside part of the old Brooklands motor racing circuit, the Museum celebrates the motor racing and aviation history of the area. Brooklands Circuit was the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit, built by local landowner Hugh Locke King in 1906. The circuit is 2¾ miles long with steeply banked curves and an extra ½ mile start / finish straight in front of the clubhouse. Much of the original concrete circuit remains but you wouldn′t want to race on it now, the surface is very rough and I doubt it was exactly smooth when it was new. (Click On An Image For A Larger View)

Part of the Old Brooklands Circuit
1. Part of the Old Brooklands Circuit

With both the museum exhibits and the exhibition there was plenty to see. The competition and loan models together with the club stands were based in the museum whilst the trade stands were in a large marquee. On-site catering was good and there was plenty of seating both in the restaurant and close to the models. There was also plenty of outside seating available once it stopped raining and dried out.

The traders area was well supported but some of the “usual” suppliers were noticeable by their absence. A view inside the marquee (2) showing Chester Tools stand, quite a bit smaller display than I have seen before. With the increase in on-line sales and increasing costs of attending a show I think this will become the norm for future exhibitions. I had a quick look round but my wallet stayed resolutely in my pocket. Off to the model displays which were based in and around the clubhouse (3), built around 1907 it houses the members billiards room, the clerk of the course office, and you could find similar buildings on most horse racing courses of the period.

On the way to the main displays I found these outside. A 7¼” battery model of London Transport loco William Penn (4) giving rides by Surrey 7¼” Club and this traction engine raising steam ready for the days work (5) couldn′t see a makers plate and there was no one nearby to ask, probably in the truck out of the rain. This was one of only two traction engines in steam whilst I was there.

This section might be called “Jason′s Corner”! It features some of the engines displayed by Jason Ballamy, a regular contributor to the Model Engineer website. Several of these engines (6) have featured in the forums and it was very good to see them in real life. Jason has described the Jowitt engine (7) in some detail with plenty of photos but to see the real thing is excellent. Muncasters “Simple” Entablature Engine (8) also features in the forums and is discussed and described at some length.

The Cameron Steam Pump (9) is subject of a multi-part construction guide on the Model Engineering Website and to be able to see the finished model is great. As you can probably tell I am a bit of a “JasonB” fan and just to finish off a Stuart Turner Lightweight (10) in Fiat yellow – fantastic. The last photo in this group (11) is a general view of the Napier Room where most of the competition and loan models were displayed.

This next gallery is also of items displayed in the Napier Room. HMS Renown is a beautiful scratch built model (12) in 1/96 scale by A.C. Dutton of the 1895 Royal Navy battleship. The Model Wheelwrights had a good display, as usual, and I selected this Covered Night Soil Cart complete with Shovel and brush (13) as I thought it was a bit different, unfortunately no makers name that I could see. I can′t stay away from stationary engines too long and this Kittoe and Brotherhood Beam Engine (14) by Geoffrey Goodchild I thought very good. The original engine can be seen at Coldharbour Mill in Uffculme Devon.

For the railway enthusiast this 3½ gauge Jenny Lind (15) by Peter Wardropper would take some beating. The original was built for the London Brighton and South coast railway in 1847 and the model is to an LBSC design. Back to stationary engines, this time a nicely modelled Economy hit and miss engine (16) by Raymond Greenwell. There wasn′t a huge amount of tooling on display but this Vickers Hardness Tester (17) by Roderick Jenkins has recently featured in Model Engineers Workshop and looks to be very well made.

Still in the Napier Room was this glass cased loan model of Alchin′s “Royal Chester” traction engine (18) by Cherry Hill (now owned by Nicholas Bomford). This was next to a work in progress also from Cherry Hill (who was at the exhibition) of Nathaniel Grew′s Ice Locomotive, the original apparently was used in Russia.

This next gallery shows models from other rooms at the exhibition, not entirely sure where and I seem to have mislaid some of the label details! There were about 30 clubs at the show in total and The Malden and District Society of Model Engineers (20) had a good display in education room 2. George Punter came all the way from New Zealand to exhibit his excellent working model of a 1913 Saunderson and Mills tractor (21) the original would have cost you £375. Somewhere nearby I found this Heinrici hot air engine (22) pumping water round the duck pond.

To complete what can only be a very small sample of the models on show is this fine scratch built model by Ashley Best of Bolton Corporation Tramcar No. 46 (23) in 1933 livery. I found another model of Royal Chester (24), the Alchin traction engine, in 1½ scale by Andrew McLeish replete with all it′s accessories.

Apart from the cars Brooklands Museum is also home to a good deal of aviation history. One of the first UK aerodromes was built on the site and many well known plane builders had workshops here. Barnes Wallis spent much of his working life at Brooklands designing and developing the Wellington bomber and the Bouncing Bomb to name just two of his achievements. The Barnes Wallis Stratosphere Chamber around which much of the museum is based was a major research tool for years enabling effects of pressure and temperature on planes to be explored. The Great Door (25) can be moved to the left to seal off the chamber and it was possible for technicians to enter and leave the chamber whilst in operation via an airlock. The photo also shows some of the plant needed to control the chamber′s environment. The wheels that the door slides on can be seen lower right just above the green vacuum pump, the chamber pressure could be lowered to simulate an altitude of 32,000 feet.

There are several complete aircraft on display outside and I went aboard the Vickers Vanguard cargo plane, the cockpit (26) looks nothing like a modern plane, not a display screen or keyboard in sight. I tried to get a shot of Concorde (27) but decent photos are a little difficult as it is currently a bit of a building site while displays are being relocated. Also at the museum having just been moved to a new home is one of only 2 surviving Wellingtons (28). This one was recovered from Loch Ness in 1985 and is currently being restored.

Brooklands is also home to the London Bus Museum and they have an large collection of vehicles from this c1890 Four-Light “Garden-Seat” Horse-Bus (29) up to more familiar modern offerings.

Racing cars, of course, feature prominently including the iconic 4½ litre Bentley (30) to this rake of Grand Prix racers (31) and even a McLaren (2007) race simulator you can drive.

The Lockups
32. The Lockups

The exhibition might have been slightly smaller than in previous years but the quality of models on display was exemplary. The venue itself is fascinating and worth a visit in it′s own right, the last picture (32) is of the “Lock-Ups” which were built as garages to prepare cars for racing, they currently house a cycle display.

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.

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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.

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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.

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