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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" !

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Maxitrak 1" Scale Atkinson Steam Wagon Part I

I have always been a fan of Maxitrak's range of 1" scale Atkinson and Sentinel steam wagons since first seeing them running about the old Cheddar Models factory at the age of six, they have just always been a bit out of my price range. However, when, recently the opportunity came up to acquire a kit of parts for two wagons as well as a large collection of other steam related items at a very reasonable price, I jumped at it!

I shan't bore you with the full set of photos of all the parts received, but here are a few photos of some of the components that came to me...

Boiler and gas system components



Aside from all this, there were the two chassis, the two Cheddar Puffin engines that drive the wagons, a boiler for the second wagon and a big pile of marine engine bits!

I have since made a start on the first wagon that is most complete, and have it up to a running chassis stage. I'll get some photos of that for the next post.

I plan on taking the wagon up to Steam Toys In Action up at the Abbey Pumping Station in Leicester on Sunday the 2nd February. May see you there...

The Engineer.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Picture of the day.

Here's a quick mini post. I recently came across the drum kit I built a few years ago. Here's a bit of a detail shot of the laser cut plaque, it's engraved on translucent acrylic and screws down on a black background.

It made a nice finishing touch.

The Carpenter. 

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Roll out the barrel!

Having started brewing my own beer, and being the proud owner of a beer engine (incidentally the best birthday present ever) I decided it was time to have my own mini pub. 

I decided it would be unfeasible to turn over an entire room if the house to a pub (regardless of how cool that would be) so I realised a movable mini bar unit would be ideal. I realised quickly that a barrel would be the ideal size and shape for a bar, being the right height and of sufficient size to hold an adequate amount of beer inside for pumping (considering I also can't turn a cellar over to beer storage!)

Then followed the ridiculous saga of trying to find a barrel. Long story short I had no idea how bloody difficult it would be to find a barrel at a reasonable price in this part of the country. I did eventually find one however and thus begins a new chapter on this blog of building the Barrel Bar.

To date I have secured the iron bands in the necessary places to facilitate the removal of the back section of the barrel. This was done using Roundhead screws that will later be filled to resemble securing rivets on the iron bands. They were placed to secure the staves and top when the rear was later removed. I then carefully removed the rear, sawing between staves where possible give the cleanest straightest cut possible,to allow the fitting of a tank and the beer engine.

The cat enjoyed the newly formed den...

To follow, details of the bar-top, (possibly copper) installation of the pump, finishing, and anything else I end up doing to it!

The Carpenter.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Canal Lock Display

One from the past today - this was built for my GCSE Systems and Control project being built at the same time as my waterwheel display built for my GCSE Product Design project. Systems and Control was based around electronics and pneumatics and my task was to make a canal lock exhibition piece for a museum.

The locks were opened and closed by a pneumatic ram mounted under the board as shown. It was so long ago that I can't really remember what all the wiring did, however, I think that there was a micro switch that gave a signal if the gates were open or closed and didn't allow the next process in the step to happen if the switch wasn't closed. Various other circuitry and chips controlled the paddles on the gates and provided an audible warning if there was a fault with the operation.

As with these school projects, I got pretty bored come the end - far more emphasis on the 'journey' of design than actual engineering, but it got me an A* so I can't complain!

The Engineer.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Odd Ideas

When messing about with secondhand toy steam engines, you come across some very bizarre restorations and modifications done through their life. Many are well meaning but crude bodges to keep the engines running, but some I just do not understand. This engine was given to me as a Christmas present after having been picked up secondhand, it's an SEL Junior with half of a Mamod hammer. Signalling Equipment Limited - SEL made an interesting range of very small engines just after the Second World War. Many of their engines used Bakelite in their construction, the Junior having a Bakelite engine frame.

Sometime in the past, the owner has remove the safety valve and respective bush and araldited on a lovely turned brass locomotive chimney. This has just been glued over the hole, meaning the boiler will no longer hold pressure. After doing this, the owner has then gone to the trouble of making a very long plug to fit in the water level plug hole, even though the boiler can no longer be used.

Maybe he had an idea for the engine - I will never know, I'll leave it to you readers to speculate!

The long filler plug!

The Engineer.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

A Nice Bit of Bowman

This came in in my Christmas haul this year. As usual, my parents had asked me to find something 'steamy' that I wanted for them to get me as a Christmas present. I managed to get these six Bowman tools and a Bowman M135 stationary engine for a reasonable price just before Christmas. They look to have all been repainted and all need a bit of work - some more so than the others, but they are all there! I am working on completing my collection of Bowman stationary engines and accessories, and this is one step closer. I am still looking for a 101 engine and the Fretsaw accessory if anyone has one of either going spare?

As you can see, the drill needs a bit more work than the rest!

The engine...

The Engineer.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Preston Services Christmas Open Day

After spending the 28th collecting the Marshall portable, we all went up to Preston Services Christmas Open Day on the 29th, for a day looking around the fantastic (but expensive!) collection of engines for sale.

There were some gorgeous pieces on sale including this fantastic Nielson & Co Twin Beam Engine built for the Great Exhibition in 1851. If I'd had a spare 37K this would have made a lovely centerpiece in the living room...

Preston Services has a lot of engines that have been repatriated from abroad, many from Argentina and Chile. It's fascinating to see the bodged repairs done to the engines just to keep them going where there is a lack of spare parts. This included wooden flywheels, corrugated iron smoke boxes and wired together chimney base castings, but the best had to be this checker plate bodge onto the trunk guide of a Marshall traction engine...

Finally, this little twin cylinder workshop engine was gorgeous. There is something I really love about engineering of this period. Everything has had so much care put into it, and the design shows a high level of finesse. Just look at the shape of the crank web...unforunatley, only one of the crank webs looked like this as the engine had been a garden ornament for 30 odd years and the other side was well rotten! Much of this engine needed re-making rather than restoration, but I thought she was lovely!

 The Engineer.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Collecting a Marshall Portable

A Happy New Year from MBI!

Last Saturday (28th) was spent collecting a very large Marshall Portable engine. A friend of mine had heard that she was going to be up for sale, and decided to buy her for his collection. She is a 24nhp Duplex engine, and she is big!

The plan is, after restoration, to install her with the owners rack saw bench and build a shed around the set-up. As restoration progresses, I shall post further updates.

Here she is as found...

On the low-loader...

Safely in her new home..

A big old firebox!

The Engineer.