by special request

A size comparison of the 16mm wagons.

For props I'm using an original 80Gb iPod (not the "Clasic" re-release) in a clear Griffin wrapper, and an Argyle "Bantam" 16mm scale loco (gauged at 45mm, so it's very slightly canted away from the camera). The track is Peco SM32 flex.

Michael, do I qualify for the bonus points?

scratch 16mm

I was very fortunate to recently obtain some items via an estate sale.

I was told that the late Mike South, a talented modeller in the Calgary area, scratchbuilt these 16mm scale (1:19.1) 32mm gauge (2') wooden 4-wheeled wagons. Little latches & catches, hinges & hooks abound. I am unsure if there is a prototype for these little gems.

A counterbalanced arm is fitted under one end of each car, equipped with magnetic chain to be pulled down to allow for hands-free uncoupling. I have not been able to try them out in a moving train, and I am a bit worried that they may be too delicate to survive a typical live-steam outing.

Some minor repairs needed to be made due to damage from shipping, and examination revealed that many of the finer details are not applied in a particularly robust manner. They may offer an incentive to create a small, operational diorama using a battery-powered critter. 

up and running

As of last week, there there are now two operational lathes in the shop!

One is an Austrian built, Emco Maximat V10P,

and the other is a UK built, Myford ML7 Tri-Leva.

Please note that the 80s era, faux wood panelling was already in the room when I took possession of the property. It's not even 70s era, real wood veneer. Shameful...

The Emco needs a little more work; its 4-speed milling head is not currently functional. During the tear-down and move from the original owner's shop to my own, we cut the power cable between the headstock and milling head. It's only a 3-wire hookup, and I wanted an inline disconnect anyway. Just a slight inconvenience and delay.

Ultimately, there will be only two lathes in the shop; this Emco and a diminutive, US made Taig fitted with a variable speed, 90VDC treadmill motor for very small work. The Myford shown, plus some other equipment, will be going to new homes at some future point (hopefully sooner rather than later). 

It was difficult to chose between the machines - they are products of different design ideals and each one offers a distinct list of pros and cons. In the end I decided that the power crossfeed, quickchange "speeds & feeds" gearbox, and sump style headstock oil system made the Emco a more appropriate fit for my anticipated needs. 

I had long coveted a Myford lathe of any kind so, when this one became available (freshly rebuilt), I jumped at it. It has proven more than adequate so far and, given the number of magazine articles dedicated to improvements and accessories for this machine, I've no doubt that it will continue giving good service for decades to come. It is merely that there are a few features I miss having on the Myford which I found handy on the machines I used during my time at school (see note above). I don't really have room for both big machines so one of them must go. 

Now, if I ever found a Hardinge HLV-H in good condition locally, changes would have to be made...

looking after things

It is said, in some circles, that your possessions own you. The more stuff you have, the more stuff you must maintain, repair, store, etc. Your either resign yourself to invest the time in regular upkeep or, when you actually need to use the item, you find that it's not in serviceable condition.

I've had a couple of recent, age-related failures around the house. Some of the items are necessities; i.e. you can't live in a house without having them in working order. These things have to be fixed; no option. So out comes the chequebook and other plans change to accomodate the unexpected situation.

Other things break down and can, in many cases, simply be done without. Trivially, how badly does one need toasted bread vs plain bread for example?

Yet more are chronic conditions. Not really inoperative; you can get by with the semi-functionality that comes with decrepitude, but it's generally a pain in the arse. For most of these situations, I have bought the necessary widgets for the repair but have not yet yielded to the nagging pressure to "Do something about this annoyance!"

I'll note now that I'm glad I don't own a century home. As much as I like the visual aesthetic, I can't see physically dealing with all of the wild and wooly things that can go wrong in a 100+ year old structure. It's bad enough in this 50+ year old cracker box. My energy level and enthusiam aren't high enough to meet the former challenge.

As far as hobbies are concerned, a similar situation exists. Often you can spend more time preparing for the work (and/or cleaning up afterwards) than you manage to spend doing the work itself. For instance, I find the prep and cleanup for airbrush work to be more trouble than it's worth unless there is a pile of backlogged models to paint, though I have found an Iwata cleaning station and some new paints to try that may reduce my overall expenditure of time and tip the balance.

Getting to the point of this post, my workshop space had simply gotten away from me. I would buy some tools, stash them in the room for 'someday', and go on with something else - repeating this cycle several times since moving here. Last month I'd had enough of not being able to get in to the shop and move about in a purposeful manner. Without resorting to the seven basic ballet moves, I could no longer traverse the short distance from the shop door to my modelling bench. Enough!

And so, reluctantly, I began to apply the now corporately popular "5S" process to my home work space. Sort, Set-in-order (Store), Shine, Standardise, and Sustain. While progress has been slow, I can already see a measurable improvement in my access to tools and materials. Must get the first 4Ss done so that the 5th has a chance to succeed.

Now, I've said publicly many times before that I have been "cleaning in the shop", so why am I still at it? To borrow a golf term, it's a "lack of follow-through on the swing". My previous organisational efforts have been like inexpertly chopping at a golf ball without visualising the path that it needed to follow to make the green. Sure, the ball moves, but that's only part of the activity. So everything that was done merely accomodated a short task without dealing with the big picture; how am I going to undertake complete projects in this space?

I've set a goal of spending between 1/2 and 1 hour in the shop each day; whether working on projects, cleaning, determining what stays or goes, or creating improved storage solutions for the items remaining. Making it easy to get at your tools and materials pays dividends on ever task you undertake going forward. In the last 9 days I've averaged well over an hour each day, so I'm fairly pleased (for now).

As an aside, I strongly recommend thorough photo documentation for any machine teardown/rebuild that you find yourself involved in. Due to bad planning, I have manged to forget how certain things need to be re-assembled. When some of my machine tools were purchased and taken apart for transport, I assumed that I'd be putting them back together almost immediately upon delivery to my shop space. This turned out not to be the case for two significant pieces. One, I have finally managed to get back to 95% of as-bought condition while retaining what's left of my hair.With the other, I'm going to experience significant difficulty as I do not have a service manual or original paperwork. Had I taken the time to snap a series of digital pics during the teardown, I'd be far better off at the moment.

Back to the shop.