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The issues with scratch building

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Back to the broader subject at hand, issues with scratchbuilding. I've been delving deeper into it a little at a time. My most recent project (which is now in a box because I moved) was an entirely scratchbuilt hot rod frame. I just felt compelled it give it a try to challenge myself, and because I have gotten tired of hacking up kit frames to get the length and stance i want.

This frame is based on a 32 Ford, with a slight stretch ahead of the cowl, a higher arc to the front to allow a lower stance, and a heavily Z'ed rear. It is channeled, so i didn't have to worry about the characteristic reveals in the frame of a 32. It was a lot of fun, and I hope to get back to it soon. But the new technique learned was how to make 2 matching parts. So, I made one rail with the exact dimensions and profiles i wanted, but then how to make another exactly the same? Clamping, sanding, etc. It was tedious, but I'm pretty happy with it.

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My question is how do you make repeat parts of the same profile? Parts that aren't really candidates for resin casting. Like shock mounts for example. 

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The Sherline history is interesting. I read about how the company was formed originally in Oz. I had a brochure of theirs some time ago from a UK distributor, but not heard anything of them being available in the UK over recent years. I guess they are not being marketed in the UK at present. If they do not make metric machines there is probably very little demand on this side of the pond!  I must admit that I am a little surprised that the US is still using the inch system after all these years. The UK went over to Metric in the early 70s. The funny thing was that in the early days many of the 'metric' drawings were simply converted from imperial, and phased out as new products were actually designed in metric. I was brought up on Feet and Inches but now find metric so much easier to use. We also at about the same time decimalised our currency from pounds, shillings and pence to the present system of 100 pence to the pound. The old system was so cumbersome with twenty shillings to the pound and twelve pence to the shilling equating to 240 old pence to the pound!

The Cowells machine is probably a rarity in the States and tends to be favoured by model engineers rather than general modellers in the UK. There are a couple of other machines that come to mind. The Peatol Lathe where you buy the basic unit and add your own motor and accessories etc. There was also a little Japanese made lathe named a Toyo, but I think that this is no longer in production. There is a company named Clarke who makes small lathes and milling machines. My mill is a Clarke machine and is pretty good for what I use it for. Great for machining engine blocks etc. from Perspex, brass or aluminium plus guaranteed squareness.  There is a company in the UK named Penny Farthing Machines who specialise in small second hand machines, particularly watchmakers lathes. Their site is very interesting and has some unusual equipment on it.

I looked on the Sherline site and watched a video where the machine had a turret fitted and an additional  tool on a back tool post also being used. Great for repetitive work when set up.   I made a 4 way tool post for my Unimat that saves a lot of tool changing.

Unless industry trained there will be a bit of a learning curve to go through if new to machining, but enjoy what you are doing as you get a feel for the different materials you will be working on and the tools you will be using. Scratch building is very rewarding compared to building from a kit. Having said that, however, many kits can be greatly improved upon or converted with scratch built or machined items. It is a case of lateral thinking as opposed to building and finishing a kit with after market items, have a go at making them yourself. Scratch building is not as hard as it seems. One tends to get blown away when looking at  a scratch built model that is well made and finished. You just have to develop a different mind set from kit building and be prepared for mistakes and scrappages along the way. It is just part of the learning process as is the research and preparation of drawings to work to if none are available...………….Scratch building takes a long time, so enjoy the journey.  If the enthusiasm wanes sometimes (and it does) I break away from it for a little while, knock up an easy kit so I can see something finished fast, and come back to the scratch build.

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On 4/20/2020 at 11:16 AM, IbuildScaleModels said:

Keeping the costs down is my main reason for scratch building, second reason is that the part I need doesn't exist so I have to make

This may have gotten lost in the conversation but I can truly relate. 

Like they say there's more than one way to skin a cat.

You can do a lot without fancy equipment if you are imaginative, resourceful, 

and don't have a problem failing the first or second time and starting over.

Learn as you go and do spend some time looking around this forum for ideas.

 

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4 hours ago, Mr. Metallic said:

Back to the broader subject at hand, issues with scratchbuilding.

My question is how do you make repeat parts of the same profile? Parts that aren't really candidates for resin casting. Like shock mounts for example. 

I agree. I am just delving into scratch building and have no intention of buying a lathe. 
My only thought is to stack the pieces and shape them as one. I have done it with 4 layers of  .020” clamped together. If you can drill a pilot  hole through all pieces and keep the drill bit or an anchor pin in place, it helps to keep them aligned.

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Try using Scotch brand Permanent Double Sided tape between them.

Cut and sand then soak in isopropyl to remove the parts and clean up.

That is just one way, can also use Elmers or Tacky adhesive.

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11 hours ago, Bugatti Fan said:

The Sherline history is interesting. I read about how the company was formed originally in Oz. I had a brochure of theirs some time ago from a UK distributor, but not heard anything of them being available in the UK over recent years. I guess they are not being marketed in the UK at present. If they do not make metric machines there is probably very little demand on this side of the pond!  I must admit that I am a little surprised that the US is still using the inch system after all these years. The UK went over to Metric in the early 70s. The funny thing was that in the early days many of the 'metric' drawings were simply converted from imperial, and phased out as new products were actually designed in metric. I was brought up on Feet and Inches but now find metric so much easier to use. We also at about the same time decimalised our currency from pounds, shillings and pence to the present system of 100 pence to the pound. The old system was so cumbersome with twenty shillings to the pound and twelve pence to the shilling equating to 240 old pence to the pound!

 

Yes Sherline is available in metric.  As long as I have know metric machines have been available.  It is just a matter of fitting both the mill or lathe with a differant lead screw and saddle nut.  No need to change anything else.  The hand wheels are the same for both metric and english measurements. This brings up and interesting point. I always work in tenths, hundredths and thousandths, so factors of 10 just like metric so the metric system has no advantage with this kind of work.   Now if we were working in fractions rather than decimals, that is where the english system is complex and if you get into feet, yards and miles then it becomes much like the old currency  issues. Just stay with inches and decimals of inches and it works fine.  

  Since you are a Bugatti fan I thought I would close on something that is currently on the bench. 

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Supercharger.jpg

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Nice work, Pete! I have one of the Monogram 35s. I don't foresee milling anything, for it, but I do want to sand off the molded-on wire on the body, and replace it with real wire and pegs/rivets/screws, or whatever they are.

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Pete, the Bugatti engines you are making are superb.    I have a feeling that on another thread where we conversed you mentioned that they were to replace the engines in the Fisher 1/24 Bugatti 100 aeroplane resin kit. I was going to approach Paul Fisher about some extra engine castings but learnt about the disastrous forest fire that destroyed his house and business in Paradise CA. I hope that he can recover the business eventually, but as for losing all those precious family items. Sadly irreplaceable.

As other posters said in this thread they will not consider buying a lathe but will find other ways around making things by fabrication methods rather than machining. My scratch builds are 90 per cent fabrication although I find a lathe and milling machine come into their own for making certain things. Every one has their own way of doing things that works best for them and there is nothing wrong with any approach to scratch building. The main thing is to get fun out of making all your own parts and learn about using different materials and modelling methods along the journey. Having said that, there is a lot of challenge in super detailing or modifying a kit with parts you make yourself, and by doing this type of work a lot of transferable skills will probably be learnt and mastered before doing a scratch build. The only reason I started to scratch build was because there are certain subjects that I like that will never be kitted. Once I got going it was not as daunting as I first feared. It was just getting my head around a different way of doing things like preparing my own drawings from research if none are available, and basically, scratch building is making your own kit to eventually build but without instructions!

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scratch built is a constant learning experience.i have some experience from my previous jobs

its not difficult to to teach yourself.practice a lot.i love making wheels.grizzly has some great options as well.

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On 5/1/2020 at 9:59 PM, CabDriver said:

I’ve been casually considering a lathe - what kind is that and what kind of budget does one need to get going?

I would love to buy a sherline, but for the size of parts I make, and the price of a sherline, it really isn't up my alley. I am researching the parts I need to make my own micro milling machine. The size of this and the functionality of it will hopefully be comparable to a early 1900s watchmaker mill. 

As for the budget on a Sherline, just the mill runs about 800$ USD and the lathe runs about 500$ USD. I have 6 kids, so money often does not get put into my hobby. Hell even dropping 100$ on Albion Alloys for brass tubing and brass rods was expensive for me. Hence the build it yourself attitude, and the idea behind this forum topic.

 

Justin

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2 hours ago, charlie libby said:

scratch built is a constant learning experience.i have some experience from my previous jobs...

Beautiful work, sir.

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2 hours ago, IbuildScaleModels said:

I would love to buy a sherline, but for the size of parts I make, and the price of a sherline, it really isn't up my alley. I am researching the parts I need to make my own micro milling machine. The size of this and the functionality of it will hopefully be comparable to a early 1900s watchmaker mill. 

As for the budget on a Sherline, just the mill runs about 800$ USD and the lathe runs about 500$ USD. I have 6 kids, so money often does not get put into my hobby. Hell even dropping 100$ on Albion Alloys for brass tubing and brass rods was expensive for me. Hence the build it yourself attitude, and the idea behind this forum topic.

 

Justin

That has been a main theme in the topic.  It is certainly not for everyone.  For years I used a variable speed Dremel and some files.  It made the Sherline all the sweeter when I finally was able to spring for one.  

Just one thought, since I bought them, I have found many uses far beyond just modeling.  I don't know how many things I have repaired around the house,  Heck I even turned a few Christmas ornaments. 

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4 minutes ago, Pete J. said:

That has been a main theme in the topic.  It is certainly not for everyone.  For years I used a variable speed Dremel and some files.  It made the Sherline all the sweeter when I finally was able to spring for one.  

Just one thought, since I bought them, I have found many uses far beyond just modeling.  I don't know how many things I have repaired around the house,  Heck I even turned a few Christmas ornaments. 

HAHA Pete! I agree that the sherline is a hobby machinist's tool that can be useful for fabrication of other tools and parts. But of course it raises the question... more money to give room for expansion? Or less money for a tool that does exactly what it needs to be used for? It's a tough ballpark to be in... Hell I am even debating financing one, not my favorite option, but from there I can make a milling machine smaller and more suited to my needs. Kind of a contradiction, I know. I might get one just to build a smaller mill/lathe setup, then sell off the sherline. One thing is for sure, you can go big and scale down, but hard to start small and scale up especially when it comes to tools. 

 

Justin

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The only problem I see with scratch building is the addiction, when you tasted it you won't build box stock anymore (at least for me...)!

Personally it's my main source of motivation and the best way to make a reproduce a non existing body or parts.  I do have a Sherline Lathe and the Milling but I started making parts from scratch long before with just a Dremel and some hand tools.  In my opinion, you must be able or have the idea how to make the part, the fancy tooling will just help you to make it with more accuracy or with other material (aluminum or brass in my case).  Scratch building also require a good inventory of resources like styrene of all sizes and shapes and several kind of glues so it is somewhat pricey but worth the investment if you can afford it.  However, many very skillful builders can make parts by using everyday material or by recycling overlooked items around the house and creates real gems.

As other said, the satisfaction of making its own parts and contempling them when done is priceless...

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On 5/5/2020 at 2:03 PM, Mr. Metallic said:

Back to the broader subject at hand, issues with scratchbuilding. I've been delving deeper into it a little at a time. My most recent project (which is now in a box because I moved) was an entirely scratchbuilt hot rod frame. I just felt compelled it give it a try to challenge myself, and because I have gotten tired of hacking up kit frames to get the length and stance i want.

This frame is based on a 32 Ford, with a slight stretch ahead of the cowl, a higher arc to the front to allow a lower stance, and a heavily Z'ed rear. It is channeled, so i didn't have to worry about the characteristic reveals in the frame of a 32. It was a lot of fun, and I hope to get back to it soon. But the new technique learned was how to make 2 matching parts. So, I made one rail with the exact dimensions and profiles i wanted, but then how to make another exactly the same? Clamping, sanding, etc. It was tedious, but I'm pretty happy with it.

My question is how do you make repeat parts of the same profile? Parts that aren't really candidates for resin casting. Like shock mounts for example. 

That frame looks GREAT!  I love it!

The budget answer to your problem is the one STYRENE-SURFER suggested, I think - tape ‘em together and separate when done.

The less labor-intensive version is to use a scrapbook cutter - I think of mine as a baby waterjet machine or something.  Of course, it also requires a computer and a scrapbook cutter, which is a lot more expensive than tape 😂 

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1 hour ago, IbuildScaleModels said:

HAHA Pete! I agree that the sherline is a hobby machinist's tool that can be useful for fabrication of other tools and parts. But of course it raises the question... more money to give room for expansion? Or less money for a tool that does exactly what it needs to be used for? It's a tough ballpark to be in... Hell I am even debating financing one, not my favorite option, but from there I can make a milling machine smaller and more suited to my needs. Kind of a contradiction, I know. I might get one just to build a smaller mill/lathe setup, then sell off the sherline. One thing is for sure, you can go big and scale down, but hard to start small and scale up especially when it comes to tools. 

 

Justin

Justin, it is hard to categorize the Sherline as a hobbyist tool.  You may like this story that I got straight from the master machinist there.  The ball end tool(for making concave and convex parts) was originally created in response to and ophthalmic surgeon so he could make his own artificial eyes for his patients.  In the plant they ship literally hundreds of machines monthly to commercial customers who need machining capability on a small scale.  They are also very popular at engineering schools to teach the basics of machine work.  

Although these machines may not be for everyone, there are plenty of companies out there that don't need full sized machining capability either.  This is very much a niche tool.  Hobbyists are far from the majority of people who purchase these machines.  

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What is the average cost of all the tooling, accessaries needed? I'm guessing it is just about the same as the initial investment.

An old production machinist talking here, who never had to purchase my own tooling ETC.😉

 

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Charles and Pete...what scale are those beauties? Awesome work!👍

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4 hours ago, STYRENE-SURFER said:

What is the average cost of all the tooling, accessaries needed? I'm guessing it is just about the same as the initial investment.

An old production machinist talking here, who never had to purchase my own tooling ETC.😉

 

If I were to guesstimate, I would say you are pretty much spot on, but I would think that with end mills and other bits and pieces, I'm pretty close to double the original purchase in accesories, but then that is well over 10 years of working with the machines. 

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3 hours ago, NOBLNG said:

Charles and Pete...what scale are those beauties? Awesome work!👍

The Bugatti engines are 1:24 scale.  That makes some parts very small. 

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4 hours ago, STYRENE-SURFER said:

What is the average cost of all the tooling, accessaries needed? I'm guessing it is just about the same as the initial investment.

An old production machinist talking here, who never had to purchase my own tooling ETC.😉

 

All the tooling accessories? You don't have to buy all the accessories, and there often are new accessories introduced.  If you bought them all then yes, their price would surely exceed the cost of the bare tool.

I started with the Sherline lathe, and a basic set of cutters over 30 years ago., Since that time I slowly added more and more accessories.  Some of the accessories I bought were not required (I could do the job with what I had, but the new accessory would make the task easier).

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Like Pete with his Sherline.  I have bought accessories for my little Unimat lathe as and when I needed them. It is surprising how soon your kit starts to get a bit more comprehensive as time goes on. Incidentally, Pete, thanks for putting my straight about Sherline making Metric versions of their machines as other readers of these posts might be considering buying a Sherlineif available  in metric.

Michael from Montreal. You mentioned in your post about considering a micro milling machine. Have a good look at the Proxxon website as I am pretty sure that they make a very small mill that may suit your needs, and be a lot less expensive than watch makers machinery. As I have mentioned before Proxxon make a fantastic range of small model making machines and hand tools. I have one of their swivel  vices that is similar to a Panavice and it is a good piece of kit that I use often.

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6 hours ago, Bugatti Fan said:

Like Pete with his Sherline.  I have bought accessories for my little Unimat lathe as and when I needed them. It is surprising how soon your kit starts to get a bit more comprehensive as time goes on.

😆 So true!  Unless you inherited tools, not many of us could  afford to have a Snap-on truck roll of a huge tool box load of tools.  Most of us started with a pair of pliers, an adjustable wrench(spanner on your side of the pond) and a few screwdrivers.  It seems like every time I have needed to do a job, I have added a tool or two.  After 50+ years you wind up with a shop full of tools, half of which are old and outdated.  When was the last time you saw a dwell tachometer?  Got one!  (For you young whippersnappers,  you set the points in the distributor with it.🤪 )  I am lucky.  I have a very understanding wife.  She knows if I buy a tool, I am going to use it, often on a project in the house, which makes her happy.  Tools just accumulate!

8 Best Mechanic Tool Sets of 2020 | HiConsumption

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