Midlands MEX 2019

EricsArt
Rudyard Kipling
Visited the Warwickshire show on Thursday and the first thing I noticed was that the usual large Warco stand was no longer welcoming visitors by the main entrance having been replaced by a number of smaller trade stands. So this year by the door was Station Road Steam, 17D Miniatures and Keith Robinson Engineering Tools whilst RDG had taken a couple of the spaces to add to their very large sales area.

There were a few new exhibitors this year one of those being Eric’s Railway Art, he had plenty of prints available to buy and was painting a new masterpiece during the show. The image from his flyer is reproduced on the left and his website is worth a look.

Another layout change was that the “lecture theatre” had moved to a screened off area of the main hall. Apparently some attending lectures found the noise from outside a bit off-putting. This also made the show area a bit smaller than normal.

Other new trade stands included: CL9UD or Cloud Nine if you prefer selling various phone related gizmos and cables; ExGlo UK demonstrating something to do with power drills; Just the Ticket traction engine and large scale rail model engineering supplies; Large Scale Locomotives and Steam Age Nameplates, were the ones I noticed.

Hall 2, where the majority of the club stands are located, seemed slightly emptier than usual although according to the plan in the show guide the layout was similar to last year but with a small competition stand placed between Wolverhampton MES and the Gas Turbine Association stands.

Working clockwise around the hall I started at the Guild of Model Wheelwrights who had one of there usual fine displays. I am always impressed by the level of detail in these relatively small models. The combination of metalwork, woodwork and other skills is incredible. I was particularly taken with the Kessler Dumping Wagon by Brian Young but the whole display was excellent. A couple of images below to encourage your wagon building and wheelwright ambitions. (Click On An Image To Magnify)

I note from their website that, sadly, the Guild is no more. Closed from October last year due in the main to declining membership. It is to be hoped that the individual members continue to provide an excellent display at the various model engineering shows for a few more years yet.

Continue reading “Midlands MEX 2019”

Starting Out – Home Workshop

Well at long last I have added some new pages to help anyone who is thinking about starting a “Home Workshop”. Nothing too detailed but there are plenty of pictures and loads of links, a few hints and tips and a couple of ideas to start you in the right direction.

Blacksmith's workshop
Old Blacksmith’s Shop
There are five new pages in all covering:

Good luck with the new workshop and the many successful projects that will emanate from it.

Long Time No See

Well this is the first post in over a year just to let you know that I haven’t gone away. Life has conspired to prevent any modelling activity since the autumn of 2017. I have not been to a show or exhibition since Spalding in April 2017 and it seems unlikely that I will be able to get to any of the shows this year. I was looking forward to Bristol and the Midlands show but maybe I will get to go next year!

I have not even been able to get into the workshop very often and then only to power up the lathe and mill for a short run to keep the oil and bearings in working order. Apparently lathe bearings can distort if not used for long periods of time going slightly oval with the weight of the spindle. The only useful thing I have managed is to make some shelf space by recycling a load of old magazines, mainly MEW which if I need I can see on-line.

I did manage to do a bit of work on my 3D printer in between my “carer” duties though. I have been trying to improve the print head mounting and to install a cable chain. Neither project went very well and I now have a printer that is back in kit form having not been able to finish the work! Oh well, another project for next year. I have also been trying to write another couple of pages for the site but it is very slow going as I can’t spend too long in one session and I lose the thread, some might say I have lost the plot but I lost that years ago…

Workshop Security HTTPS

Not so much about the physical security of the workshop, which is of course important, but about the protocol change I have made to the website. Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. Google have for some time been promoting the use of HTTPS and give securely connected sites higher ranking.

The first thing you need is an SSL certificate, this has the encryption keys for the Secure Socket Layer communication setup. Fortunately even the cheapest 1&1 hosting package includes a basic SSL certificate and all I had to do to implement it was to activate it from the 1&1 control panel. The basic certificate is fine for a simple website but if you are implementing a world wide trading empire you will need to pay for something a bit more advanced.

That was the easy bit, getting the website in order is a little more tricky. To start with any internal links need either to be relative or non protocol specific that is they should look like //journeymans-workshop.uk/etc and not http//journeymans-workshop.uk/etc. Once this is done the website .htaccess file needs to redirect any calls to HTTPS this is so that all the old links scattered about the interweb end up in the right place. There are several different ways to do this and I just copied the code from the Apache site, the script conventions for these files is way outside my comfort zone! If you need to do this the code that needs to be added looks like this:-
<ifmodule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine on
# Begin Force HTTPS
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
RewriteRule .* https://%{SERVER_NAME}%{REQUEST_URI} [R,L]
# End Force HTTPS
</ifmodule>

What you should see in your browser
Browser View

With that done the next major job is to update the WordPress database so that the media links are right. WordPress stores all the links to photos as complete hyperlinks including the HTTP bit so these need changing. The easiest way to do this is with a plugin. I used Better Search Replace which is fairly simple to use and does a dry run before it alters the database. The image to the right shows the browser result when everything works but I put it in to test that the new images are stored with the correct protocol – it seems to work!

Next job is to sort out Google, as you can see I use their ads on the site and it just about pays for the hosting and domain fees. I had to re-write the XML sitemap with the new HTTPS addresses but also had to add the HTTPS version as a new site? I only have one set of files but for reasons best known to themselves Google want each version of the site shown separately. So you end up with:-
https://journeymans-workshop.uk/
https://www.journeymans-workshop.uk/
http://journeymans-workshop.uk/
http://www.journeymans-workshop.uk/
Which strikes me as a little odd but it seems to be what they want. Once this is done sit back and wait for Google to crawl everything. It is fairly difficult to check if all is working correctly and you need to keep clearing the browser cache to make sure you are looking at the latest version. Touch wood everything seems to be working. It is interesting to note the number of old links stored on the web, I was going to remove my old cign.org and cign.net sites but there are still loads of places that have these recorded.

Did I really need to do this – probably not but I learned a bit on the way and in theory my Google ranking should go up for what it′s worth.

Just a quick update, a few months after doing this I checked Google and there was absolutely nothing happening on any of the “sites” other than the https://journeymans-workshop.uk/ so I deleted the other three. Whether this was the right thing to do remains to be seen but I thought it was neater.

DTI Magnetic Base Stand

Bought one of these from Amazon for £14.99. Not really expecting too much as the real thing from Noga is usually in excess of £100.00. First thing I did was to stand it on a surface plate to check if the base was flat – it wasn’t! Quite a noticable wobble so I unbolted the arm, removed the magnet and trued up the base. The base seem to be made from two steel parts which sandwich a thick central section made from some soft alloy which I suspect is a lead / zinc or similar mix. Looks like the soft alloy is poured in hot to fix the two outer bits together. A large round magnet sits in the central hole and is rotated by the front lever so that sides are magnetised or not. It has quite a reasonable hold when switched on.

DTI Stand With Magnetic Base
DTI Stand With Magnetic Base

Put the base in the mill and machined it flat, it now sits nicely on the surface plate without rocking. Quite how you can surface grind something with a wobble I don’t know but looking at the original finish it may well have been done by hand on a belt sander. The general finish is pretty well down to the same standard. Looking at the photo you may well think the arms are anodised aluminium. Wrong, they are aluminium but are varnished with a semi-transparent lacquer. The finish on the arms is very soft and easily scratched. The black paint on the base is also fairly soft and covers a deal of filler. The clamping action isn’t very smooth so I took the whole thing to pieces and cleaned it up a bit. The arms are assembled with circlips, well bits of bent wire, there are four of them each one a different diameter and different length.

Once apart the action becomes evident, as you tighten the centre screw two wedges engage with the tapered ends of the rods that run up the middle of the arms. The rods push against the steel balls that make up the pivots. I could tell they were steel because they were rusty! The ball joints were also very rough with a good selection of dents. Polished them up on the lathe to improve the action somewhat. The ends of the push rods were also fairly rough so I polished up the wedge end using a fine diamond lap. I also polished up the wedge faces in the same way. All the originals looked as though they had been done either on a belt sander or an off-hand grinder. Also cleaned up the dimple end of the rods on the lathe using the ball to push a bit of wet and dry paper into the depression in the rod end.

Reassembled everything with some lubrication where needed and it seems a little smoother. I still have to turn the clamp knob quite hard to lock all three joints really solid but it is plenty stiff enough to support a DTI. Was it worth the money? Only just, if I hadn’t had the means to adjust it it would have been no use at all.

Spalding Model Show 2017

Sunday being St.George’s Day I set out on a quest to visit the Spalding Model Engineering and Hobby Show. Despite the best efforts of the dragon, in the form of the Highways England re-surfacing crew, I survived the considerable delay on the A16 and arrived at about 10:30. A quick cup of coffee in the restaurant and I was ready to take in the show.

Burrell Traction Engine
“Albert” Burrell Road Locomotive

Outside there was a very good turnout from the traction engine fraternity. I counted 18 engines in steam and a couple of static steam models being demonstrated. The Burrell road locomotive “Albert” pictured above was very nicely turned out, I am guessing 3″ scale, I didn’t see the owner/driver to talk to.

Click On Images For Larger View

This rather strange engine named “Aenigma” caught my eye. It certainly lives up to it’s name, looks like a cross between a portable engine and a traction engine. The cylinder block is at the wrong end with a chain drive to the rear wheels. It is vaguely reminiscent of the American Case engines but the wheels are English. The boiler seems very long and the wood cladding acentuates this. I cannot find any information on this engine as I was taking photos at lunch time and no one was about.

The display of boilers and stationary engines was interesting with plenty of signage to deter small boys, and the not so small, fingering hot bits. One of the engines was driving a selection of Mamod machine tools invoking boyhood memories of playing with a Mamod steam engine, though I never had that many workshop machines to drive. Plenty of info on the stand explaining the setup and how the boilers were made.

Continue reading “Spalding Model Show 2017”