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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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.

Midlands MEX 2015

The Fosse Way Steamers
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. Continue reading “Midlands MEX 2015”

Bristol MEX 2015

The Bristol Model Engineering and Hobbies Exhibition is one of those annual shows that I have never managed to visit. As the price of petrol has fallen (a bit) I decided to make the 220 miles round trip at the weekend. I am pleased to say it was a very worthwhile journey. The venue was the Thornbury Leisure Centre just north of Bristol, easy to get to as it is close to the M4/M5 junction and plenty of free parking once you arrive.

The exhibition uses all four of the main sports halls with further exhibits outside. From the free guide I reckon there were about 100 stands split roughly 60/40 clubs and societies to traders, a very good mix. Unlike some model engineering shows there was a wide variety of related hobbies from R/C planes and helicopters through trucks and cars to the more usual model trains and boats. I even saw a stand devoted to quilting and needlecraft complete with sowing machine.

main hall
The main hall

The halls were very spacious and well laid out, there seemed to be plenty of room to move about and even enough space to take photos despite there being plenty of visitors. The main hall had a spectators gallery, where the photo was taken from, which is adjacent to the restaurant so it was quite nice to recover from the journey with a coffee whilst getting an idea of the layout below.

Wheelwrights Stand
Guild of Model Wheelwrights

The Guild of Model Wheelwrights had an extremely interesting and varied stand with many fine examples of their work on display. I was particulary impressed by the selection of farmyard machinery by Brian Young, two of his exhibits below (click on the image for a larger version), together with a fine artillery piece by J. Walford.

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Windows 10

Windows 10 Start Screen
Windows 10 Start Screen

The “Get Windows 10” icon appeared on my desktop some time ago and about a week after the official release date the upgrade downloaded itself onto the computer. I had played with the preview program on an old laptop so I was aware that there could be problems so rather than run the upgrade on my main PC I did a trial run on the laptop.

The laptop originally had Windows 7 but then Linux and most recently the Windows 10 Insider Preview. I reloaded Windows 7 from the original recovery discs and used a downloaded ISO on a USB stick to upgrade to Windows 10. Getting the ISO for the USB was straightforward just go to Download Windows 10, select 32 or 64 bit and the media creation tool will make a bootable USB drive for you. The upgrade was surprisingly quick and everything worked first time, the drivers all appeared to work and the serial number from the old Windows 7 automatically activated the new install. I decided then to do a clean install on the laptop just to see how that would go.

I formatted the drive and did a clean install from the USB stick. Everything installed first time without difficulty except for one Intel chip driver which went astray but it was soon found and downloaded. Windows upgrade ran almost at once and found a couple of updates and that was it. The laptop whilst old is still quite a good spec but I keep it mainly in case the newer desktop suffers a major outage. I spent some time exploring all the settings which are easy to find from the start menu and quickly discovered that Windows 10 wants to connect you to the world. Being a bit of a dinosaur I am not keen on “clouds” and “social media” and being permanently “connected”, so I spent some time switching the modern era off!

Start Menu
Start Menu

Everything appeared in order and I quite like the look and feel of the new Windows so I played with the start menu and set about customizing that. My version of customizing was basically to remove all the apps and leave just a few useful live tiles like the weather and news but it is quite easy to add and remove programs. A program is dinosaur speak for an app. You really do want to check all those option switches though, otherwise you could be supplying the neighbourhood with downloads via any open WiFi networks about.

A Bit of a Pane

Once happy with the laptop I let the main PC upgrade from it′s downloaded file. I was still a bit wary as this is a slightly more up to date desktop PC that came with Windows 8 but no media and no “product key”. All the software details are held in firmware (UEFI) on the motherboard so you can′t do a clean install until an upgrade has been activated, then hopefully the details are logged on Microsoft′s database somewhere. The upgrade from 8.1 went well and everything was working, all the old programs functioned the desktop personalizations were all there and I was quite pleased. I was busily disallowing everything when Windows Update found some new updates. I rebooted…

To cut a long story short No WiFi, well I could see my router but Windows kept saying “Cannot Connect To This Network”. I can report that the Windows 10 trouble shooter is about as much use as a chocolate teapot, indeed as it was in previous incarnations. I reloaded drivers searched the web (using the laptop) for updated drivers but nothing wanted to work. Fortunately the Windows 10 installation had activated so I was semi confident that if I reset the PC it would remain as a legitimate install. A reset basically leaves all your files and programs intact and reinstalls Windows. I took a deep breath and pressed the button. The reset took much longer than the upgrade did. Windows came back replete with WiFi and then began the pain of reinstalling all the programs. The reset doesn′t delete programs from the computer but they are no longer installed. Anyway I had some of the more useful programs back in place when Windows Update tells me it wants to restart (you can′t turn it off but you can alter when it does restarts). Reboot and… no WiFi, the air is now turning a somewhat deep shade of blue.

Belated Brainwave

One more go, this time a clean install of Windows 10. Fortunately the computer has an SSD, which I added, for the operating system and all the programs, data and photos are on another drive. This makes it a little easier as the SSD can be repartitioned and formatted without losing anything useful. You can probably tell where this is going by now, a clean install of Windows 10 and everything is working, one update later and the WiFi disappears. I now have no idea how to get this going save a long ethernet cable up the stairs when the somewhat addled brain remembers that I have an unused USB WiFi adaptor in the workshop. Five minutes rummaging later I have a TP-Link TL-WN822N 300MBPS WiFi adaptor plugged in and working. There is an upside to this as the TP-Link adaptor is much faster than the built in Lenovo card and I can now get in the region of 90 Mbits/s over WiFi which aint half bad. Another hour resetting switches and installing programs and everything is working as it should be.

So eventually with everything back to normal I have checked all my old software and am pleased to report that Geomagic Design works so that I can produce drawings. XAMPP works so that I can test bits of the website without the need to upload files. I have yet to reinstall Adobe Photoshop Elements or Premiere Elements as Adobe always loads a stack of unrequired sneaky software that wants to run all the time. I have been playing with the GIMP which is a free image processing program which seems to do most things I need albeit a little differently. I usually have a few browsers loaded for testing purposes and the new Microsoft Edge seems to work happily alongside the others although it hasn′t seen much use yet. Libre Office provides for all my office type needs and works as does Notepad++ which I use for editing the website.

The Other PC

I have another PC in the workshop which is useful for checking drawings and looking up the odd bit of data when working on a project. Just to keep all the computers singing from the same songsheet I upgraded this as well. I used the same USB stick to upgrade rather than a clean install. The workshop PC is connected to the interweb but being some way from the house the WiFi signal has to crawl across the garden to get there, so the USB was much quicker than downloading about 3GB of data. This was an upgrade from Windows 7 and everything went smoothly. All my old settings were retained, all the old programs worked even the screen background and taskbar layout remained as they were in Windows 7. I must say I was quite impressed especially as the WiFi remained working and that′s how it should have been for my other desktop PC. Still I suppose with a million and one possible variations of hardware, software, drivers amd devices something is bound to go awry with such a massive worldwide software extravaganza, it’s just annoying that it was on my system. I still had to spend quite sometime though finding all those switches and disconnecting myself from modernity.

Switches
Some of Those Switches!

All in all the upgrade was OK spoilt only by the WiFi driver problem, at least I assume it′s a driver I haven′t got to the bottom of that yet. I expect that at some stage a new driver will appear and the system will connect again but I am not really bothered as the new WiFi adaptor is much quicker.

My first thoughts on Windows 10 are that it is an improvement over 8.1. I like the style and the return of the start menu suits me much better than the Metro tiles of 8.1. Windows 10 seems stable thus far and my old software works without problem. My only real dislikes are the way it wants to connect and be online all the time and I would like an option to remove the lock and login screens which are a bit unnecessary as I am the only user. Just remember to go through all those option switches (yes, I know I am repeating myself).

Have I turned Cortana on? I think not, I have enough trouble with a mouse and keyboard without the damn thing talking to me.