Midlands MEX 2016

Went to the Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition on Thursday. An uneventual and speedy journey meant I arrived just before 10:00 and the car park was already filling up. A quick cup of something that vaguely resembled coffee in the mezzanine restaurant and I was ready with the camera. It was quite busy and not always easy to get good photographs and the ropes around some of the stands kept getting in the way. (Click On An Image For A Larger View)

Triple Expansion Engine O.B. Bolton Design
Triple Expansion Engine

This would be my choice for a prize, a marine triple expansion engine to an O.B. Bolton design in 1/12 scale, owner is Brian Newbound. I think this is based on the casting set from Brunell Models. The construction series was in Model Engineer from August 1985. A very good looking engine but I don′t know who built this one.

Two 7¼” locomotives caught my eye. The first is a ⅓ full size model of Phillips and Rangeley Railroad No. 3. (George M Goodwin) This is a 2-6-0 tender engine built for the lumber trade. The original, 2 foot gauge engine, was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1891 works number 11706. This model has been professionally built by Cromar White for Bob Whitfield in 7¼” gauge. The engine is huge and will probably soon be seen on the Echills Wood Railway in Kingsbury Water Park.

A bit smaller but none the less impressive is this model of Charles an 0-4-0 saddle tank quarry locomotive, part of the City of Oxford Society of Model Engineers display. The original was built by the Hunslet Engine Company Ltd of Leeds in 1882, with a works number of 283. for the 1′ 10¾” gauge Penrhyn Railway to carry slate from the Bethesda quarry.

There were about 40 club and society stands at the exhibition and there were some excellent and interesting displays. Hereford had a good display covering many aspects of model engineering with an interesting theme on “Grandads Workshop” with plenty of old tools on display. Reminded me of my own workshop! This model of a Stuart 6A twin vertical steam engine (This engine is actually a Stuart Turner Swan, two 5A’s back to back, the label was updated after I had taken the photo) was part of the diverse display. The Spitfire was quite appropriate celebrating it′s 80th anniversary this year.

The Midlands Meccano Guild had an interesting stand with many of the large exhibits motorised and in operation. The picture on the box of my Meccano set had a picture like this crane but there were never enough parts to built anything remotely like it.

No exhibition would be complete without the splendid display put on by the Guild of Model Wheelwrights. The 1930′s horse drawn thistle cutter by Brian Young is just one of the excellent models that he had on display. I noticed two of his tar sprayers were on the competition stand. The 1/8th scale model of a Lincolnshire hermaphrodite farm wagon, by Patrick Hall, from a David Wray plan. This type of vehicle was common throughout the East Midlands, and for most of the year the rear part only was used as a tip cart. At harvest time a conversion provided the wagon with a large carrying platform needed for hay and corn. The model here shows the forecarriage and loading platform fitted.

The Stirling Engine Society in addition to their usual multi-engined display also had a very interesting display to celebrate Robert Stirling′s bicentenary. Lots of information on display would probably make a good book and definitely too much to take in on the day.

The tool and cutter grinder by David Godley was part of the Wolverhampton & District Society display and appears to be an original design. On the same stand was this small traction engine, reminiscent of a Mamod but more detailed but does not look to be of any prototype. I did not see any notes or builders name.

An unusual model on the competition stand of a Tudor Privateer made from matchsticks. There were a few matchstick models on display, quite unusual and must have taken ages to build.

The Erewash Valley Model Engineering Society had a good display with a fine example of the Bentley BR2 rotary radial by P. Clarke centre stage. Designed by Walter Bentley towards the end of WW1 the 9 cyclinder radial engine was used in several well known aircraft including the Sopwith Camel and the Vickers Vampire.

Kingsbury Water Park Model Boat Club had an excellent stand with a good display of both naval and merchant vessels. I noticed at the rear of the display a couple of marine steam engine models.

The traction engine enthusiast was well catered for. As well as several exhibits on the club stands and the large work in progress on the Model Steam Road Vehicle Society stand in hall 2, the Fosse Way Steamers were putting on a good show outside. The photo shows just a few as others were spread out around the field. Not actually a steam organ as such the Alan Pell 35 key organ was belting out some well known tunes near to the rear door. This is a kit and if you have about £14,000 to spare you can have your own to entertain the neighbours!

The 1908 Merryweather Fire King was one of the competition exhibits. Owned by Brian Newbound this is a fine model of the original which was one of the first self propelled fire engines. Capable of 20mph or more but had problems with hills unless a good head of steam was available.

Cheltenham Society of Model Engineers had a fine looking display advertising well the diversity of interests and talent at the club. The open steam launch model “Amy” by Gordon Drew was very good, clinker built and fully operational with radio control and an “Anton Quartz” piston valve steam engine.

I took plenty of photos but the large number of visitors made decent photography difficult at times. My last photo here taken in the somewhat poor light under the mezzanine restaurant is of the Bromsgrove Society of Model Engineers stand which had this fine display of locos in all scales.

On the commercial front there were plenty of traders at the show. Warco had a large display as did RDG, Chester and Tracy Tools. One newcomer I noticed was CNC4YOU who had an interesting home made mill on display. I thought the show was very good but would have liked a bit more room, some of the stands were a bit close together making viewing and walking difficult at times. Catering seemed pretty good and I did get a good cup of coffee from the outside catering van. One minor gripe was that some of the exhibits were poorly labelled and some of the clubs put all the exhibit information in a book with numbers on the exhibits, alright but if it′s busy you can′t always get to the book. It would also be nice to know who built things rather than who owns it. Anyone can buy a model, the skill is in making it.

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.

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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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CNC & CSS

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
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
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.