E-Mail today, Offer casting fully Machine

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Re: E-Mail today, Offer casting fully Machine

Post by kc6uvm » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:42 pm

Took drafting and machine shop in high school many moons ago. (late 1970's). Those classes are gone at the high schools. The electronics, wood and metal shop were closed down when the teachers retired and the machines/tooling went away. Electronics classes morphed into computer repair. You might find a few lathes and welders in Ag mechanics classes.
Some subjects: drafting, CAD/CAM, electronics, mechanics, etc, are only taught on the community college level in my community. Or Polytechnic Universities for the Engineering majors. (Go Cal Poly). No where can I find a machine shop in my community schools that a machine shop club could utilize.
I have been espousing the idea of a maker space, but, it takes people, money, and shop space in expensive little utilized rentals. Went last Sept 2017 to Westec to promote my future maker space. One idea is to partner with a local charter school to provide after school programs that would replace the shops that the public schools gave up on. Perhaps you know a local business in your community willing to donate tooling for educational usage in your local maker space?
On the home front: I'm getting a little 9" South Bend lathe up and running in my garage. Searching for a drill/mill. Preferably with square/dovetail column. Found a source for a drill that can slow down for metal. Open source machines are a possibility, but limited.
Newest acquisition is a small and inexpensive 3D printer to learn on. Finding out that 3D printers can be a little cantankerous. The plastics can be finicky. For now, this 3D printer might be good for making small detail parts that can be treated and painted to weather outside usage. The 3D metal printers start at $50K for prototyping. Since the laptop died, been learning to use Linux and open source cad/cam software on the "New" computer.
If I haven't gone too far off topic and to sum it all up: the days of inexpensive machined bolt together kits are gone. Most of our commercial manufacturing has been out sourced. The cost of doing what Little Engines in Lomita, CA did in the '60s, '70s, and '80s would not be very profitable in today's dollars.
To me, it's all about learning and passing it on to anyone that will listen.
George J. Becker
Lancaster, CA (formerly of Shandon, CA)
Model railroading is fun but the work expands proportionately to the track gauge.

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Re: E-Mail today, Offer casting fully Machine

Post by steamingdon » Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:43 pm

Well said, I couldn`t agree more with this opinion. I am going to check out a "MAKERSPACE" in my area. It is not cheap either, $75/mo. and $75 for 50 sq.ft rental. I am very interested in the 3D printers. Almost all instructors have been educated @ W.P.I.

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Re: E-Mail today, Offer casting fully Machine

Post by wewilliams » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:03 am

Looking over the Station Road Stem kit engines, you have 2 sizes of castings and 2 designs of boilers with and without saddle tank in each size being mixed & matched to make 12 locos. The wheels and smoke boxes are all the same, I'd wager other castings are shared as well. They are not complex designs, either 4 or 6 drivers in or out of the frame. I think that is a much more doable business model than 1 or 2 more complex and unique locos as kits.

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Re: E-Mail today, Offer casting fully Machine

Post by gwerhart0800 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:19 am

As a founder of a MakerSpace (www.lovelandcreatorspace.com), I can whole heartedly endorse the idea of using a makerspace to gain access to equipment needed to construct a locomotive. However, that comes with some constraints. For example, you can't do a setup on a mill and leave it for a week until you have time to finish the parts. When you have to share machinery, you have to do what you can do in the time you have, then return the machine to a clean state for the next person. You also have to deal with the fact that some people treat machinery badly. In terms of scheduling, it you have the time in your schedule to work on something on a mill for example, how many other people are thinking the same thing? My membership costs $50 a month and I rent a 10x5 cubicle for $100 a month. The big upside has been meeting people that have helped me learn how to properly use the machinery. Sadly, our retired machinist has just left to move to Oregon.

But to add to the actual discussion, I bought a Maxitrax Lil'Jo kit from someone on Discover Live Steam more than 12 years ago and have not finished it. There were a number of issues that keep me from completing it. The kit is for the Mogul/tender version and the documentation is for the standard 0-4-2 version. I found a number of issues that I have had to change to get things to fit because they were for the wrong model of the kit. The biggest impediment to completing it is my own lack of skills and time. While this might have been a bolt together kit at one point, the piping is all incorrectly bent at this point and needs to be redone, I have to figure out how to paint the copper boiler, aluminum stack and smokebox door, and the fiberglass (I am presuming) domes. Every year, I tell my self I am going to get it done and every year passes without me working on it.
George Erhart
Loveland, CO

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Re: E-Mail today, Offer casting fully Machine

Post by Greg_Lewis » Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:08 pm

All is not lost. There is a high school here that has a robotics club that meets after school. I visited them last week to help them with their lathe. They also have a CNC router that has been converted to cut aluminum sheet. The kid that runs it whipped it around like a concert pianist playing the minute waltz. The robot they're making is about four feet tall and quite impressive with roller chain drives and lots of fabricated parts. There were at least seven or eight kids there working like beavers on it, very serous, no goofing around. Their first competition was this weekend; haven't heard the results yet. An adviser told me that all seven of the graduates last year were accepted to the same prestigious engineering school.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of non-interchangeable parts.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

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