Who are these strange fellows?

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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.