best way to get started?

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Andy R
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another how to get started story

Post by Andy R » Wed Oct 13, 2021 12:27 pm

I started with a scale, a scriber, a hack saw, and a used drill press.
I purchased good-quality drill bits as needed. With those and a little bit of learning how to silver solder, i built the frame for a Bill Morewood riding car in 3/4-inch scale.
I acquired a Unimat SL lathe which allowed turning the wheels and axles. The most difficult part of that was turning the brake handle because of its length.
So my experience has been reflected in the very good advice given above - start simple. Make something simple, and useful. Learn how to measure, lay-out, locate, and drill holes and cut steel accurately. And above-all - Have patience.

Mike Walsh
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Re: best way to get started?

Post by Mike Walsh » Wed Oct 13, 2021 1:23 pm

LVRR2095 wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 12:05 pm
Mountaineer wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 11:55 am
I’d suggest rather than his own project, the OP should volunteer at his local club- do track maintenance, basic club loco maintenance, etc. Perhaps this is St Croix. If he’s serious, perhaps someone will mentor him. IMO, this is more important than tools when starting. Second, the OP should sign up for evening machining courses at his local community college. Third, consider learning CAD.
I guess the days are gone of high schools having a metal shop course?
They've been gone.

When I was in high school - circa '00-'04, the teacher had no idea how to even teach us how to use the drill-mill or the lathe in the shop. We just chucked some metal up and made some bits and pieces. The machines disappeared not too long after that. Quite the disappointment.

mattmason
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Re: best way to get started?

Post by mattmason » Wed Oct 13, 2021 1:37 pm

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." --Walt Disney

This is advice I need to take myself far more often.

"Make the mistakes, learn by doing, do a little each week." --Matt Mason
Matt Mason

PilotBug
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Location: WI

Re: best way to get started?

Post by PilotBug » Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:15 pm

LVRR2095 wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 12:05 pm
Mountaineer wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 11:55 am
I’d suggest rather than his own project, the OP should volunteer at his local club- do track maintenance, basic club loco maintenance, etc. Perhaps this is St Croix. If he’s serious, perhaps someone will mentor him. IMO, this is more important than tools when starting. Second, the OP should sign up for evening machining courses at his local community college. Third, consider learning CAD.
I guess the days are gone of high schools having a metal shop course?
Actually, my high school has a metal shop

Though, I am in middle school (8th Grade)

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NP317
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Re: best way to get started?

Post by NP317 » Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:16 pm

PilotBug wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:15 pm
LVRR2095 wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 12:05 pm
[snip]
I guess the days are gone of high schools having a metal shop course?
Actually, my high school has a metal shop
Though, I am in middle school (8th Grade)
You are fortunate! Jump on that opportunity ASAP!

In 1997 I resurrected the student manufacturing shops in the Mechanical Engineer College at the Univ. of Washington, Seattle.
Since I retired there, those shops have continued to advance, now with many CNC machines and 3D printers.
EVERY Mech. Eng. student is required to design and manufacture several projects there prior to graduating. Real education.
So these types of educational opportunities are still happening.
RussN

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H&NERY
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Location: Hillsboro, Wisconsin

Re: best way to get started?

Post by H&NERY » Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:21 pm

Everything I have needed to learn for this hobby was just from reading and doing. If you are lucky you can find a mentor, those are hard to come by these days also. Buy the tools as needed and what you can afford and just keep building from there.

Harold_V
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Re: best way to get started?

Post by Harold_V » Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:52 pm

PilotBug wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:15 pm
Actually, my high school has a metal shop

Though, I am in middle school (8th Grade)
Shocking! You have no idea how fortunate you are.

I was schooled in Utah (class of '57), where pretty much all of the industrial arts were eliminated by the late 80's/early 90's. Because of that decision, I benefitted hugely, as I now own several pieces of equipment that were liquidated for that reason.

When I attended high school, the machine shop was quite nicely equipped, including a large radial drill press, surface grinder, vertical milling machine, shaper, and a small universal K&T mill, with a multitude of arbors and cutters. Most of the lathes were LeBlond, some being built for industry.

In later years, for what ever reason, our glorious leaders thought that it was not necessary for US citizens to learn to work with their hands. For that we are now paying a huge price, as we're held captive by those who have the potential to be our enemies. But then this is now political, so I'll say no more.

H
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

Mountaineer
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Re: best way to get started?

Post by Mountaineer » Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:53 pm

Sad if there is no metal shop in schools. Back in the 1980’s my junior high had a fantastic wood, metal, welding shop. High school- nothing. Local tech college- pretty darn good. Saturday’s were an all day thing for a very reasonable fee. Some older guy named it adult day care. I loved it!

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Dick_Morris
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Re: best way to get started?

Post by Dick_Morris » Wed Oct 13, 2021 5:09 pm

To pick up machinist skills, don't sell Youtube short. There is a some questionable material there, but also lot with value. I worked for about a year in machine shops just out of high school and have been a hobby machinist for 50 years. Since Youtube became popular 5-10 years ago I have increased my knowledge and skills considerably by looking over the shoulder of the Youtube presenters.

As for teaching machine shop in school, as much as I favor it, the need for those skills in industry is almost non-existent form what it was in 1966 when I graduated from high school. In the L.A. times there were many pages of ads from aerospace and other industries looking for machinists, tool makers, inspectors, and machine tool operators. It was common for firms to have a sign near their entries listing their needs for these types of skills. Even I, with one semester of machine shop in high school, was able to get an entry level machinist job.

The schools have to prioritize their training towards skills that are applicable to vocations in the real world. Being a manual machinist isn't one of those vocations any more. It's a different world, I don't like it, but it is what it is.

Steve Goodbody
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Re: best way to get started?

Post by Steve Goodbody » Wed Oct 13, 2021 5:27 pm

Hello Pilotbug,

Let me first congratulate you on your desire to become a model engineer. Having started at an early age myself, a bit younger than you in fact, I can honestly say you will never regret your decision. Well done you!

I think that most folks who enjoy this hobby have a couple of things in common. Firstly, we have the desire to build something that works, in fact we probably have something specific on our ideal wish-list that fired our enthusiasm in the first place. Chances are that you already have something in your mind that is driving your ambition - that’s your guide, keep it in mind.

Secondly, whether we realize it at first or not, I think we are all tenacious. What does that mean? It means we aren’t afraid to begin something that we don’t yet know how to finish. It means we will keep going even when things get difficult, or don’t go as we hoped, or when we can’t immediately see the next step. It means we believe the things that we learn on the journey can be as good as the final destination. If you recognize some of these in yourself, no matter what your age – well done you!

On a practical note, there is nothing like having a mentor – someone to help you on your way and give you some advice when it would be helpful. That person may be a parent, or a member of a club, or a school teacher, or a boy scout leader, or…… well you get the idea. This person may not be a model engineer (although that would be ideal), but they will be patient and want to help you. If you can think of someone like that then you would do well to have a chat with them and share your thoughts and dreams.

What should you attempt first? Well, that first depends on where your passion lies. Whether it’s steam locomotives, or electric locomotives, or cars, or clocks, or…….., that’s your guide. Start something that you would like to finish.

Start uncomplicated. Uncomplicated doesn’t necessarily mean small – very small things can be much more difficult to work on than bigger things. Rather, uncomplicated means that you can see and understand what everything does and how it works.

One option to consider, and where I first started, is to start with something uncomplicated that already exists and then modify it, or improve it, or turn it into something a bit different in whatever way you like. You can use your imagination, and have fun, and develop your skills all at the same time.

In my case – at 10 years old - I bought an old and tired stationary steam toy, similar to a Wilesco, for a few bucks. I had fun playing with it until I thought I understood what everything did, then pulled it apart and turned it into a locomotive (my personal passion) under the guidance of my dad. Neither of us really knew what we were doing, but we did it with hand tools and we had a lot of fun along the way.

I hope that some of the above is of some help, and wish you every success on your forthcoming journey!
Best regards
Steve

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Steamer Al
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Re: best way to get started?

Post by Steamer Al » Wed Oct 13, 2021 10:01 pm

I feel like a thread along these lines should be a sticky.... its a question that gets asked quite a bit.

As a beginner model engineer myself I can fully support the previous comment about read, read, read!! There is so much fascinating information out there... it may be old technology now, in some respects, but at the time it was cutting edge. And don't bite off more than you can chew- start off simple, like a small stationary engine. Although, the better you get at building things the more detailed and complicated your project will become... and you may want to go back and re-do parts that you started with! Ask me how I know.

Its one heck of a fun and addictive hobby! Welcome aboard. Take advice, listen, ask questions and you'll do just fine.

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Greg_Lewis
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Re: best way to get started?

Post by Greg_Lewis » Thu Oct 14, 2021 10:21 am

PilotBug wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:15 pm

Actually, my high school has a metal shop

Though, I am in middle school (8th Grade)

Hustle over there and talk to the teacher! Nothing excites a teacher more than someone who wants to learn. See if he or she will show you around the shop. Tell them you plan on taking the classes as soon as you can, and see if there is some sort of club you could join. High schools around here have robotics clubs and they need machinists to make the parts.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of the dull toolbit.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

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