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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, 6 July 2014

The North Somerset Electric Light & Power Company Ltd.

Been mocking up a building for the indoor section of my line...

This is the generating plant of 'The North Somerset Electric Light & Power Company Ltd.' and will contain a Stuart Turner #504 boiler driving a couple of large stationary steam engines in turn running stepper motor generators...the plan is to illuminate all the buildings on the line with the generating plant.

The Engineer.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A Day on the West Somerset Railway

We both spent a day out on the WSR this Sunday just been - it was The Carpenter's granddad's birthday do and I was invited along too. Anyway, not much of a railway photographer but grabbed a few pictures of locos...

GWR Modified Hall No. 6960 'Raveningham Hall' and S&DJR 7F No. 88 

GWR Large Prairie No. 4160

For those who are interested, HERE is a link to the WSR's website.

Back to progress on projects soon...a fair bit has been done of late...

The Engineer.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Finished Tellurion!

So here's my finished Tellurion a little different from the plans, but I wanted a bit more of a vintage aesthetic than was set out on paper. As always in my corner plenty of shellac, helps make everything look super old, and gives a nice air of quality. I graphited all the gears both to hide nasty plywood edges but also to help the gizmo run as smooth as can be. Very pleased with the result and I think the original designer enjoyed seeing a slightly different take on his original design! Now banished from my desk as it was far too distracting! 

The Carpenter. 

Friday, 20 June 2014

Mass Production...

...Ancient Greek style...

Today I have been working on a model of a Hero's Aeolipile. I found half a dozen of these bronze hemispheres as garden ornaments in my grandparents garden...they were promptly requisitioned for use the basis of a model of Hero's Aeolipile.

For those who don't know, the Aeolipile was an invention of Hero of Alexandria in the 1st Century AD. and is supposed to be the first steam engine ever. It comprises of a copper cauldron on-top of a fire, the steam produced is fed into the ball and is ejected pipes in the side, causing it to rotate. See this Wikipedia page for more information.

The Engineer.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Show me the light!

So here was a good buy at a bootsale! 50p for this working General Electric light meter, it works in footcandles, a non SI unit, but at 50p who cares, I'm sure we'll have some fun with this! Here's a sneaky little peak inside, it's a remarkably simple design!

The Carpenter.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Wilesco Drill

So The Engineer gave me a present the other day, a broken Wilesco toy drill accessory. What a generous guy! Anyhow it saves me buying one and will complete the Wilesco workshop I've had on my desk since I was about 8 or 9!

I had 5 minutes free the other day so I turned a nice little mahogany pulley, with 2 grooves for the belts, and fitted it with a nice little brass bolt to where the original mounted. 

I also made a nice new chamfered mahogany base to replace the missing original. Once the base is varnished this will make a nice addition to my incomplete desktop workshop! 

The Carpenter.  

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Tellurion progress!

So here's some further details of my Tellurion progressing...

Here's the Earth and Sun shown mounted, note the stylised brass handle support, made from recycled flugelhorn parts!!

The pleasing Moon train principle gear cap was one of my own additions to the design. 

Those who've seen the original design may also note my use of holes rather than cut spokes on the gears, this was to minimise use on my highly inaccurate fret saw! But once the project was assembled I was actually very pleased with the way this looked. 

Here we see all the gears assembled and the Moon, Earth and Sun in place.

After this I chose to further deviate from the plans further on the base and scale ring to add my own design touches, but for now it works!! 

More next week,

The Carpenter...

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Building a Coal Mine Part II

Made a little more progress on the winding engine with the manufacture and assembly of the beam supports - these are just 6mm MDF that were cut with the jig saw and sanded to shape. They were then glued together and the beam fitted. These will eventually be planked to match the design of the full size example. The boiler is going to be made from one of those brass spray things - just the right shape for an 18th Century Haystack boiler!

The Engineer.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Building a Coal Mine Part I

Back from university and straight back out into the workshop! I decided to begin some of the scenic items for the garden railway as I have ran out of points to lay the track any further inside and have yet to come up with a firm plan for how to lay the track outside. By the way - on that topic, I am on the lookout for a left hand SM32 point - preferably Peco if anyone has one laying around?

The story behind the line is to be as if the Industrial Revolution really kicked off in Somerset rather than somewhere like Ironbridge and will have all sorts of old and interesting machinery laying around. The line however is based some time in the 1910's - 1920's and the machines are really on their last legs. I will develop a further back story at some stage!

Anyway, for the first section, I decided to start with building the coal mine. This is to use an early atmospheric winding engine to lift the coal from the depths of the mine, something like this...

After messing about for an hour trying to find the fence for my crappy band-saw, and then having various blade problems, I decided to call up my woodworking friend, popped up the road and had the wood cut in thirty seconds!

This allowed me to assemble the beam as shown below. Pretty simple in construction - a couple of bits of Beech with a few holes drilled in them in the relevant places, a couple of Meccano brackets, a chain rocker out of some MDF with a grove filed in for the chain to run in and finally a couple of bent bits of wire for the hook and beam bracing. 

In real life, the beam would have been made out of Oak and after a hundred years outside would have seen considerable weathering - I am trying to work out the best way to achieve this effect, I've heard Indian Ink is widely used for this...any suggestions?

The Engineer.

Thursday, 8 May 2014


A thoroughly up to date title appropriate for today's post...some Instragramed photos of my Karsten Tornado Steam Turbine in operation.

Nothing relating to any progress or anything useful, but thought you might like to see them!

...anywho, back to revision!

The Engineer. 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Tell me of your Tellurion!

So with a maths exam looming, this week seemed like the ideal time to indulge in copious amounts of procrastination! I noticed recently that Christopher Blasius in Germany had released plans for his wooden Tellurion model which looked, and indeed as it turns out,is an excellent project.

So long story short that's what I started doing. I made some minor alterations to the design to better suit our workshop capabilities and available materials but I'll cover these in more detail in a later article, for now here's some pictures of the build! 

Christopher's excellent plans, for more details and other genius projects see, https://www.facebook.com/holzmechanik.de

My modified base design, oak and ash, with an upstand made from a part of a flugelhorn!! 

Main gear assembly progressing.

More details to follow as I progress, I cannot recommend Christopher's plans enough, go forth and buy all his projects fellow carpenters!! Clear easy to follow instructions, and inspiring design solutions! 

Bye for now,

The Carpenter.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Mainline Steam

I'm not really a railway man but I don't think you can get much more majestic than an express passenger locomotive running on the mainline. Anyway, on Sunday while revising I heard whistles down at the railway station so shot off down to the station and saw these two locomotives getting ready to take the Great Britain VII train out of Plymouth. An unusual partnership of motive power with No. 5029 'Nunney Castle' leading and No. 34046 'Braunton' behind. They sounded fantastic pulling out of the station with the 14 or so coach train on behind!

Anyway, back to revision...

The Engineer.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A Brace of Bowmans

I wonder what the actual collecting noun for a lot of Bowman steam engines is!

The product of my collecting habit, a full set of Bowman stationary engines and all bar one of the accessories (if anyone has a Bowman fretsaw, I'd be interested!)...

For the really pedantic, this is of course not exactly a full set - I don't have the metal based 'M' and wooden based 'E' versions of each engine, but I have both an M135 and an E135 as representatives of this.

I still have to complete the restoration of the M101 - I will do that when I return again from university over the summer and will keep you all updated with this.

The Engineer.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Today's Haul

The postman dropped these off today...

A Karsten Gintschel 'Tornado' steam turbine with accompanying train set and a Cheddar Models 'Pipit' steam plant. The Cheddar plant came in exchange for a Wilesco Steam Roller and the turbine came off of eBay. 

The Carpenter came around this afternoon with a bottle of meths and we ran the turbine 4 or 5 times...each run is only about 5 minutes so that's not as impressive a feat as it sounds. The sound it makes is fantastic though!

Will put a bit more information on the turbine once I have some photos and video of it running. I have yet to make my mind up about the Cheddar plant. She'll either be going into a loco, a small boat or into a replica of the Cheddar 'Pipit' generating plant...

The Engineer. 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Bowman M101 Rebuild

I am quite a fan of the old Bowman toy steam engines from the 20's and 30's. These were the engines that came before Mamod, and with their demise led to the establishment of the Mamod brand of engines. The nerdy collector in me has come out yet again and I have been after a #101 engine for some time. This M101 came up on eBay the other day and I managed to get it for a very reasonable price! It needs a bit of work, but I have most of the bits required in my spares box and comes with the nice Bowman wooden box...

The boiler stay has rustedd out and has been patched up. This needs replacing...

The lovely old Bowman box...

The Engineer.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Load of Hot Air!

As I've been back at university, I've not actually had time to make anything (I'm doing an engineering degree after all!) but I've still been bargain hunting. I recently picked up these two hot air engines online for the very reasonable price of £20 each...

An American PM Research 'Solar 1' 

And a Chinese Maidstone Engineering Stirling Engine

They both run brilliantly, but the quality of the two engines is a world apart. The Chinese engine is out of square and wobbles about the place when running, the American engine is quiet and smooth. Both engines are still readily available with the PM Research from Forest Classics at £115 and the other from Maidstone Engineering at £95. For the money - I know what I'd have!

I'll try get a video of them in operation in the next few days - lot's of coursework on at the moment though!

The Engineer.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Roll Out the Barrel!

So the barrel bar saga continues, the back is now cut out and bands secured. The castors are now fitted to the base, and after briefly re-enacting that scene from the Hobbit on dry land, the securing plate to hold the top together is now glued in place.

Next is all the cosmetic work, I've checked the pump in place, and if I do say so myself, it looks suitably awesome.

The Carpenter. 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Hardwood Phone Case...

So while procrastinating from a looming calculus paper I decided I would knock up my own version of the Jimmy Diresta Hardwood Phonecase.

I'd noted the design a few weeks ago and thought it was an excellent and stylish alternative to the bulky, ugly work case my phone normally lives in. You can see the original build here; http://youtu.be/OkB3AQS4oW0

Also look out for other builds from Mr Diresta, he makes some really clever creative things!

So I've made a few alterations, mainly in materials, so here's the first few stages. 

I used some 6mm canary wood for the main body, some stock that was lying around, and some 4mm green felt, both for added protection and I thought it looked a little nicer than leather in my humble opinion. 

Here's the case glued and clamped up with a dummy wooden phone inside, note if you're going to glue up with a dummy make sure you wrap it in insulation tape so any glue can't stick!! 

I decided to add a stamped brass plaque to the front, here's this polished up! For some reason upside down...

I'll post the next stages when I need to procrastinate further!

The Carpenter.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Bass Bits

So this week I have decided to adjust the action on my double bass, notably slightly adjusting the curvature on the bridge to provide more vertical definition between the strings (more on this to follow in a proper article) I thought however that since this means removing the bridge I may as well take the time to make a few running mechanical/visual repairs to the instrument. Since it was going to be out of action for a while anyway.

Firstly I took apart the spike I had made and adjusted the tolerance on the collar. I had somewhat underestimated how much this would move about and be subject to wet, thus soon found the shaft seized in the 0.05mm odd tolerance I had allowed!! This was easily remedied and after a through clean and polishing the spike now works and looks fantastic! I have since painted the collar black to protect from corrosion, the shaft however is just rubbed over with a little oil, no doubt it'll need re cleaning again in time but hopefully will be easier to remove and adjust in future! 

The Carpenter. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Steam Toys In Action Part III

The final part of this epic trilogy! I was particularly impressed by the exhibits on one table at the show - the table of Tony Bird, a name many of you will probably know from 16mm locomotive circles. Anyway, Tony is a fantastic and very imaginative engineer producing all sorts of unusual toys...but producing them beautifully!

All sorts of gems!

A locomotive driven boat! The little 'Cricket' locomotive behind cold be dropped onto the gearbox in the boat and used to power the propeller!

In a similar vein - how to derive stationary power from a Mamod locomotive.

A Morgan inspired Mamod SA1a.

And finally, a 'suped up' 3 wheel version.

The Engineer.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Steam Toys In Action Part II

Not much to say really - just a few more things that interested me!

A gorgeous twin cylinder Marklin stationary engine!

Another Marklin stationary engine - you may recall that I picked up the engine unit from one of these at the GDSF last year - you can see mine here.

This lovely model of a Trevithick vertical engine built to E.T Westburys design - anyone know where I can get the plans? We are both big fans of Trevithicks designs, and this has now been added to my project list!

And finally, a radial steam engine - just because you don't see them very often!

I have one more post to come, showing the exhibits of just one table, each exhibit I think being absolutely fantastic!

The Engineer.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Steam Toys In Action Part I

I had a very nice day up at Steam Toys In Action at the Abbey Pumping Station up in Leicester the other day. This is the premier steam toy event of the year and is always held on the first Sunday of February, so the weather generally ranges from cold to snowy, this year however, we had some well received sun!

As usual, the sheer number of exhibits on show was fantastic, with some seriously rare and valuable pieces of equipment on show. This show largely focuses on the toy steam aspect of the hobby, focusing more on Mamod and Bowman rather than the larger model engines often seen at exhibitions.

I had planned on taking my Maxitrak steam wagon up to mess around with outside, however, a section of my train journey back required a replacement bus service and I didn't fancy having it thrown about in the underbelly of a bus. Next year though I plan to exhibit up there again.

I shall probably post two or three posts of things I found interesting over the next few days.

A twice full size Mamod SR1a Steam Roller...

...and a half full size one!

The fantastic new Mamod SP8 beam engine...may just have to buy one of these!

And finally, this gorgeous stationary engine, the styling of this really ticks all my boxes!

As I say, more to follow!

The Engineer.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Box Joint Jig Part II

So I was asked a little while ago for some more details on the workings of the box joint jig I made quickly a while ago and posted on here. I was going to write up a detailed explanation with some photos, however a quick google search saved me the job! The animation I found on the linked website explains how my jig works exactly... with far more clarity than I could have achieved with some writing and a photo! I hope this solves any confusion, comment if not! 

Thanks for the interest!

The Carpenter.