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Manbench Industries; Purveyors of general mayhem since 1994, a blog to follow the crazed, possibly deranged projects and emotive musings, of an undergraduate engineer, and an apprentice organ builder who have always felt they were born in the wrong age. Follow us as we, re-write history, learn lost skills, discover strange new worlds, break things, rant at things, mend things, make new things and generally find ways of passing the day instead of doing "proper work" !

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Box Joint Jig Part I

So I decided the other day that it would probably be useful to have a box jointing table saw sled knocking about the shop, so I decided to take a Sunday morning to knock one together, I like to think that the readers of this blog are pretty mechanically minded so I'll let you fathom out how it works from the photos. It's a simple little affair but has some adjustment abilities for other blade sizes, timber stock ect... 

Here are some photos of samples and the jig itself, for your interest...

Rear and front,

The Carpenter. 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Box to Musical Box

An interesting little workshop project fitted into free time over the last few days was this little task of turning a wooden trinket box into a musical box.

The first job was to accommodate the spring break mechanism so I needed to drill the box accordingly and fit a bearing plate and pin, to allow the musical movement to play. 

These were made from an odd end of brazing wire and a brass scrap. The movement was then fitted into place with machine screws and the winding key accommodated on the bittom of the box. Endless tinkering with the set up then ensued to ensure proper working.

 The movement now plays when the lid is opened and is silenced when shut. The box is wound from underneath. The next jobs are to fit a decorative cover to the movement and fit feet to raise the box off of the floor.

The Carpenter.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Hawkes 28' dampener mounting....

A momentous occasion...our 100th post!

Finally got back round to a little work on my hawkes 28' drum. Remounted a few newly polished lugs, and fixed the newly made (all be it newly a year ago!) dampener.

It's workings (my own design) are fairly self explanatory. The knob on the winding thead pulls the arm upwards towards the skin, this is tensioned by a spring to pull it away from the skin when slackened on the knob. The dampening head is pivoted and held steady by a lever spring, this allows the lad to automatically level on the skin applying more equal pressure, something missing on many existing designs, in my humble opinion. 

Keen eyes may note there isn't a retaining nut on the pivot for the dampening pad. I assure I later realised and put it on! 

More details of further work to follow,

The Carpenter. 

Friday, 22 November 2013

2" Scale Ruston 'Lincolnshire Lad'

A project that I really must get around to finishing at some stage...

A 2" scale Ruston 'Lincolnshire Lad' built to the Reeves design. It was bought cheaply several years ago and is...crude to say the least. For many years it used to just sit ticking over on a few pounds of compressed air when we did shows. The engine itself always ran well and had quite a bit of power, unfortunately, the boiler is soft soldered and has no paperwork - so pretty much useless! The plan is to build a new boiler with the help of a boiler maker friend of mine, get the engine working and then rebuild the niggles that I don't like once up and running!

One day!

The Engineer.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Building a Garden Railway Part VIII

Didn't think I'd be making a post pertaining to the garden railway while I was away at university. Anyway, it's barely progress, but I recently managed to pick up a bulk lot of Peco and Tenmille SM32 track for a very reasonable price. I managed to get hold of fourty-five yards of track and three sets of points and by combining this with what I have laid already and what I bought at the Exeter Garden Railway Show should allow me to complete the vast majority of the initial plans for my line as a double track rather than single track line!

The Engineer.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Faraday Motor - can you help?

Am looking for a bit of advice on this one - has anyone built a Faraday motor? I knocked this one up a while ago now just to try the principle but it never really worked properly. Basically, DC current is fed to the hook at the top of the stick which then feeds down through the dangling rod into the dish, which is full of a conductive liquid (Mercury in the original - but I'm using salt water). The circuit is completed by another wire leading out of the conductive liquid to the other side of the power source. A magnet is placed in the center of the dish and the dangling rod is supposed to spin around it.

However...my attempts to get it working resulted in the rod spiralling to the center and then just fizzing a bit. Has anyone built one of these and got it working successfully - without using Mercury? 

The Engineer.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Just a quick one today! My parents often say I'm a tad OCD...I don't think much of it until I find something like this in my room...

11 empty boxes of Mamod solid fuel...nothing weird about that right?

The Engineer.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Trebuchet Kit Part II

This post seemed to have got lost down the draft list and have only just found it again - so I am posting it now to put this thrilling two part saga to bed...

As expected, I just ran ahead with this project without taking photos...sort of defeats the object of a blog, but still! It was a nice little quick build when I couldn't be bothered to get too involved in a proper project! Just fill up the box with a load of coins and put a marble on the launch sling and it fires it about 20 feet!

The observant among you may notice we've changed the font this post is written in - it was recommended that the font we used was at times difficult to read so have changed to this. If we get time, we'll go back through and edit the old posts...

The Engineer.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A Bin Shopping Surprise!

An interesting little story from this years Dorset Steam fair, this charming print of a gypsy woman was found in a bin on the last day, well when 'twas found it was a little more grubby and had only a white surround. Anyhow somehow I was drawn to it so I thought I'd nab it.

It was only when home a few weeks later I thought I'd clean her up and take her out of the frame for refinishing that I discovered that her white surround was actually the reverse of an early hand painted advertising sign for what looks like a removal and piano moving company. Looks to be f.baker, or possibly raker based at a 3 manor road, anyhow if anyone has any information on the company I'd love to know more.

Anyhow it seemed a shame to leave this hidden so I decided to use the front as the surround which gives the print quite a distinctive standout look in my opinion. I'll clean up the frame and eventually adorn my wall with this distinctive piece!  

The Carpenter.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Exeter Garden Railway Exhibition

Doesn't need much explaining here - an exhibition, about garden railways in Exeter....

I went along on Saturday for the day with a couple of friends with their toy steam exhibits at this show. The show is one of the highlights on the Garden Railway calender and on top of that, all the money raised by the organisers goes to the Devon Air Ambulance Trust. The show consists of a large number of layouts in all the common scales - 16mm, 7/8", G1, as well as toy steam exhibits and a large selection of traders.

I got lucky and bought 12 yards of Peco SM32 track for £25 and a right hand point for £20 allowing some more progress on the railway when I go back at Christmas!

Not much to really say, so I'll just upload a couple of photos here and put the rest on the Flickr account.

A 16mm Fireless loco - an unusual model!

A Salem Garrett - based on Mamod technology...the urge to build one is strong!

A lovely 7/8" layout complete with working waterwheel!

A link to the Exeter Garden Railway Show's website.

The Engineer.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

From the Collection - Hornby Rocket and Coach

I just wanted to show you my Hornby Rocket complete with the coach purchased at the Great Dorset Steam Fair a few weeks ago. The Rocket certainly makes an impressive model - would like another coach just to add to this!

The engine made for a very unusual toy - being quite an advanced for the market at the time, with a internally fired boiler, a gas burner and fixed cylinders. Extensive use of plastic was made in the model with the track, tender and even the gas tank being made from plastic. After a few years, the plastic gas tank would go brittle often leading to leaks and fire damaged tenders.

The track is in interesting design made up from small sections shaped like a straightened out 'Z'. One 'leg' of each 'Z' is longer than the other, meaning when joined in an opposing pattern, a straight section of track is produced but when placed together produce a curved shape to the track.

It was a shame the model never took off and the range continued, I read somewhere that there were plans afoot to produce the entire set of entrants for the Rainhill Trials - how on earth they'd have got a horse suitable for 3 1/2" gauge to power Brandreth's 'Cycloped' I do not know!

Must have been quite something in 1829.

More photos at our flickr account.

The Engineer.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Assembly of the Deans' Bioscope Show

Every year, we spend a fortnight at the Great Dorset Steam Fair with The Carpenter's family Bioscope show. For those of you that don't know, the Bioscope was a portable cinema that was taken to fairs to show the then new moving pictures and was the predecessor to the permanent cinema. The show consisted of an elaborate decorated front with a fairground organ and a stage on which free shows were put on to draw the crowds who were then charged to watch a series of films at the rear of the show. During the assembly of the stage, I tried to take a photo of each step from roughly the same place to try and piece together a video of the construction process.

An image of the completed show...

The video...

The Engineer.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

From the Collection - The Cornish Maid

As I am quite busy with university, the progression of projects has slowed, so I shall inter space those posts with an insight into some of the more interesting aspects of my collection, starting with this lovely model traction engine, 'The Cornish Maid'. I was given this engine by a friend of mine several years ago now, along with a model of a steam roller powered by a Stuart 10H. I expect this engine was built in the 1950s out of whatever could be found around the place. The wheels are made from sections of steel tube, with tinplate spokes soldered on. The motion-work including full Stephenson's Link valve gear all seems to be handmade without a lathe, but everything runs beautifully on a few pounds of compressed air. The flywheel seems to be made from a sewing machine flywheel and the boiler from an old shell case. When I was given it, I was inclined to rebuild it, but, after running it I think it looks far more interesting like this.

The Engineer.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Model Steam Workshop

Another old project this one - built in a similar style to my steam generating plant shown on here before. It is a steam powered workshop using Wilesco accessories powered by a Stuart Turner 10V and #500 boiler. The two level line shaft was built to transmit the drive to all of the tools. The engine, line shaft and tools are mounted on one board, with the rear set of tools raised on a plinth at the back. The boiler is mounted on a separate board and is removable in order to make the model easier to transport.

The Engineer.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


This title may be misleading; I'm not building some sort of honeywine fuelled robot, although that is a fantastic idea, and should we ever do so this will be what its called.

Rather then this is the continuation of that rather addictive hobby (that keen blog readers may note I started a while ago) of mead brewing. I feel my first somewhat crude batch was palatable, however had definite hints of cough syrup flavour. Since then I decided to up my game and after much research and debating (over published contradictions!) have switched to a more complicated recipe, with acid to balance sweetness, and added tannins to bring out the correct flavours. Also a proper yeast nutrient and sulphates!

This switch then was a definite improvement, producing a mead that was apparently, and I quote (somewhat proudly for a complete amateur)  "probably sellable!"

With two "sellable" batches under my wing then the "Original Saucy Badman Mead Co." (a subsidiary of Manbench Industries) have branched out into the creative mead recipe world. I'm pleased to announce the start of production of a "Blackberry Melomel" (Blackberry Mead) "A Braggott" (Ale Mead) and a "Brochet" (a Caramelised Honey Mead.)

I shall let you know how they all turn out in due time! In the meantime heres a sneak peak of one of the labels, the process of making which i find almost as fun as the brewing itself,.... not the drinking though!

The Carpenter.........................../Meadmaker!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

LBSC Steam Crane

I am a big fan of cranes - indeed, when I have a play with some Meccano I normally end up building some form of winching device, so a few years ago when I saw this model for the bargain price of £15 I just couldn't resist it! It's an old model based upon plans in Model Engineer by LBSC for a basic toy steam crane.

When I bought it it had no jib, but that was easily remedied with a couple of bits of steel and 20 minutes with the milling machine, a hacksaw and a file. Still need to put some supporting struts to stop the jib from moving up and down, but she looks rather smart now. I fancy mounting it on a rotary base and using it on the garden railway - not sure how the scale will match though.

The Engineer.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Building a Garden Railway Part VII

Probably the last update on here with regards to the garden railway for some time as I am off to university meaning I am unable to work on the railway. I finished converting all of my stock to 32mm gauge today and modified an LGB flat wagon to make a converter wagon between the LGB style of coupling and the traditional chain type of coupling as used on most 16mm scale stock. I ran a train using my Merlin Meteor locomotive and each piece of rolling stock in use at the moment - 13 wagons!

The Merlin Meteor.

The full train - 13 wagons.

A few videos...

The Engineer.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Fowler No.15145 'Rusty'

Between messing about with model engines, I am involved with a friends collection of full size traction engines. Since 2008 he has been working on the rebuild of a Fowler BB1 ploughing engine, which has required a very thorough restoration. A lot of boiler work had to be done - including a new tubeplate, a patch in the barrel, new firebox and a new crown. As well as the boiler work a new tender, chimney and toolboxes were made along with a complete rebuild of the motion work, the latter being largely undertaken by Rory Morgan Engineering.

The decision however was made to leave the engine in as found condition as the owner already has a BB1 that has been fully restored providing a contrast between the two and allowing the public at events to see the work that goes into restoring an engine.

As purchased at the Philps sale in 1995.

First steaming on the 8th August 2012.

Re-assembly in the workshop - 27th June 2013

First run - 3rd June 2013

The Engineer.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Epic campervan

Unquestionably the greatest homemade campervan in the world..... We at MBI will forever strive for such perfection in our work! Spotted at the Great Dorset Steam Fair 2013.

The Carpenter. 

The Great Steam Plough Club Challenge

Bit late posting this one as I only just got around to putting the pictures on the computer. Last weekend, I went to the Great Challenge organised by the Steam Plough Club. My friend took his set of Fowler ploughing tackle and we spent the weekend in abysmal weather ploughing while the engines were sliding all over the place! Unfortunately, we only came 3rd in our class - but we have improvements to the plough to be made which should allow us to move up our ranks.

One engine that really stood out to me was this early Fowler single No. 2861 of 1876.

And a picture of one of the engines in our set.

The Engineer.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Building a Garden Railway Part VI

Not much progress on the line recently - I am lacking a few sets of points before I can progress further with track laying so I started converting my 45mm stock over to 32mm gauge. Why do you own 45mm stock I hear you ask...well, my hand was forced by the purchase of a 45mm Cheddar Iver, leading to the purchase of a large collection of 45mm stock and locos, which now all require conversion to 32mm. I started with the basic conversion of LGB and Bachmann G scale stock.

This was a simple process of turning down the treads of the wheels to stop them bumping along the chairs of the track, then driving out the steel axle from the moulded plastic wheels, lopping a few mil of each one, then pressing back together. Although an easy task, it was very boring - especially on a big bogie wagon! So to relieve the boredom I ran a train with the converted wagons!

The loco pulling the train is a Mamod William I. These new generation Mamod locos have received bad press, I, however have found this particular locomotive to be a very powerful and long running loco once the condensate is cleared from the cylinders. As an aside, this loco was bought secondhand from Forest Classics after being used as a sales demonstrator and was the loco appearing in the How It's Made segment on Mamod shown on Discovery Channel.

The Engineer.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Building a Garden Railway Part V

The moment you have all been waiting for - a train going round and around! Further progress was made on the garden railway today - the bridge was completed to a degree where the track could be laid and a light train run. I would like to fix a leg underneath the bridge just to support it in the middle as it is not as sturdy as I would like.

The bridge was re-enforced with strips of wood which kerfed to allow them to bend around the edge of the baseboard already cut. A strip was fitted each side of the board and these were then crossed braced with further strips across the board. The track was then fitted down and I decided to fire up a loco!

And some video...

The Engineer.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Great Dorset Steam Fair 2013

After spending almost a fortnight at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, my wallet came back lighter and the project list longer! I managed to pick up these items from the autojumble...

The engine on the left is from an old Marklin steam plant, at the moment it is seized but is currently being soaked in oil to free it up. I like the idea of building a generating plant to illuminate the garden railway with it as the chance of finding the matching boiler is very slim. The Rocket coach is something I have been after for a while to go with my Hornby Rocket set - it has a few steps missing and one of the buffers is damaged but I like it!

The two books are for my 'library' and the oil cans and grease gun are for my collection of these items - yes another thing I collect! The small brass items are to go in the might be useful one day box...

I partook in the steam roller world record challenge to get the most steam rollers rolling a single stretch of road in one day - they managed 102 rollers - the line up at the end was quite impressive. Unfortunately, due to the sheer size of it I was unable to get a photograph of the line up, however, aerial photographs were taken and these can be seen on the GDSF website. Below is a photograph of the rollers arriving in the ring ready for the lineup.

The Engineer.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Building a Garden Railway Part IV

Today, I feel like Brunel...

Made more progress on the line today by filling the big gap between the door. To be able to use the shed the door must be able to be opened, so this demanded a removable section. I had plans of making a hinged bridge, but the length of the section would have needed a taller roof to fully hinge and I didn't fancy making an elaborate set of sliders to allow it to drop down and under the boards so just went for a lift out section.

The bridge rests on an Aluminium bracket on each side of the gap which are drilled to accept locating bolts to ensure correct alignment of the track. The bridge section itself is made from 1/4" plywood and is cut to follow the shape of the track in this section. At the moment, it has not been reinforced hence the sagging in the middle, but bracing will be attached to strengthen the structure.

I will of course be making the bridge look a bit better than just a sheet of plywood and will be attaching some form of bridge shaped structure around it - I fancy something Brunelian in design - not very narrow gauge but I am a big fan of Brunel's work and it's my railway so I shall do what I like with it!

The Engineer.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Building a Garden Railway Part III

I intended on not running a train on the line until I had a complete circle but the urge of having a steam up proved to big to resist! After laying about half of the line I decided to fire up my Merlin Major locomotive to try the track out. My excuse for this was to shunt the wagon I was using to hold the track screws around...the application of steam locomotion to this resulted in considerably reduced productivity!

Notice the authentic MDF dust weathered finished...

The Engineer.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Power Steering in 1933

Thought you might all find this interesting - I assume anyone reading this is very similar to me and I did! A friend of mine is the owner of a unique Marshall VB class tandem steam roller. This was a late build for a steam engine and was designed to roll the newly introduced tarmac roads. The engine incorporated various unusual features for a road engine such as a vertical boiler, enclosed duplex engine, piston valves and Hackworth valve gear.

Most interesting of all is the steam steering apparatus which uses a small 3 cylinder radial engine driving the steering shaft via a chain drive. This engine is operated by a lever that is pulled from one side to the other to reverse the direction of motion. Unfortunately, this engine is rather all or nothing and without experience it can get on top of you!

Unfortunately, for the fortunes of the traction engine builders, modern designs like this came too late to make much of an impact on the market. The unusual features of this roller such as the steering wheel being turned right to go left and the impracticality of firing on the move made engines like this unfavorable for the roller drivers of the day. By this time, early IC engined rollers were becoming more popular, and these designs never really caught on, with the last of the traditional steam rollers carrying on into the early 1960's. A good design but about 20 years too late.

This roller can be seen at the Great Dorset Steam Fair's roller special exhibit among 100+ other steam rollers.

The Engineer.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Building a Garden Railway Part II

Some progress on the line! The boards have been built around the shed - excluding the section in front of the door of course, a removable bridge will be fitted here. I acquired 3 identical tables tables for free and by cutting these in half have managed to save a lot of time in base board construction only having to build a small section of framework for where I ran out of table! These have then been covered with 18mm MDF sheets to provide the track bed, not the best material for the task, but I had some lying around so used it.

In this photo the track is just placed on the boards to judge where I wanted lines to run and nothing is fixed down yet. The locos are rolling stock are just balanced on the track as I couldn't resist the urge to do so - excluding the small open wagon they are all 45mm rather than 32mm gauge so aren't even sat on the track properly. I am rather fond of my enamel signs which I think make the inside of the shed look fantastic - I like to think of it as my man cave!

The Engineer.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Building a Garden Railway Part I

Hello again,

Both of us have been very busy over the past few months being back at home and have a backlog of various projects we must show you! I am going to start off with showing the progress on my garden railway so far.

I have been wanting to build a railway in the garden for around ten years but have never got around to it. A shed was built for the line to start from, but this got filled with masses of rubbish when we had our extension. Finally, this summer, I bit the bullet and bought a big bundle of Peco SM32 track and decided to make a start!

I have further progress on the line to add, but shall stagger the posts between posts on other projects.

The Engineer.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Emma II

Sorry my posts have dropped off for a while, been so very busy, however in amongst some of the "proper" work I have managed to get some interesting projects in the shop! Here's one of them, Emma I's replacement Emma II has finally received her necessary makeover, seen here sporting her safari style look with the old homemade roof rack... I'll post some more odd projects in the coming weeks, .......

The Carpenter.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Wilesco D21 Rebuild

I recently acquired this Wilesco D21 from eBay for a very reasonable 39 quid! It needed some work to get it back into working order which I think is what put people off. The D21 is the only model in the current Wilesco range that is fitted with a boiler feed pump which allows continuous running of the engine with the boiler topped up during operation. The majority of the pump components were missing along with the chimney and the boiler bushes for the whistle and pressure gauge had been pulled out.

The Wilesco D21 as it arrived.

I spent an hour the other day disassembling the engine into it's component parts. I soldered the boiler bushes back into the boiler and all seems to be sound there. Upon disassembly I noticed the paint was in slightly worse condition than I initially thought so I decided that I had may as well repaint it before putting it together. I don't like painting. Which means this project will probably take longer than planned! Here it is after disassembly, but prior to the removal of some of the paint.

Disassembled Wilesco D21.

The Engineer.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Steam Powered Cannon Part II

Was going through old files on the PC and came across a set of videos from a few years ago when we were supposed to be revising for our AS exams...but we decided it would be for fun to spend the day playing with a steam cannon! The Carpenter can be seen operating the cannon...

The Engineer.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Trebuchet Kit

I found this kit the other day while going through my rubbish in the shed...

It's a wooden model of a 13th century trebuchet (google it if you don't know what one is - there is a particularly good Scrapheap Challenge clip of one in action!). The kit comes entirely pre-cut and drilled requiring only glueing and assembly.

Templates are include for the assembly of the components making it easier to assemble correctly...it's still going to be a bugger to clamp though! I plan on building this kit with my younger brother and sister, who, at their ages have a short attention span, so I intend on making these sub-assemblies then doing the final assembly and testing with them. Updates as and when progress occurs.

The Engineer.