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The Humble Grumble

Jean Turner, RPT

   ...the sporadic annoyances & humble mumblings of a Jeannius.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Shllly Shay-ing About - Full Steam Ahead

3.5inch Shay parts It takes years to build a scaled steam loco. The real test of a model engineer is to get through the first ten years of amassing equipment and the tools needed to start working with metal. After that, it requires the patience to make thousands of parts one by one until the job is completed and ready for it's first firing. Stick-ability, in a word.

So here we are, 30 years later - CNC lathe refurbished and up and running, a good, strong British made machine from years gone by when manufacturing was an all-important and revered part of the economy and machinery was built to last.

3.5inch Shay funnel The CNC mill is next in line, the lathe had to be completed first in order to turn the ball screws needed to move the mill table.

Rick took the lathe apart, put it back together again with replacement electronics and controlling software, and is writing the code required to run it without very much assistance at all. He's an all-rounder who succeeds at what he does because of the broad spectrum of knowledge he has, from engineering to computer technology to a mind that is able to programme and get it right without flaws. Success in a package and the recipe for an excellent product.

3.5inch Shay parts A brief bio: Born in 1957, with an interest in mineralogy and steam, Rick studied Mining Engineering at Leeds University and then went to work in the mines - initially in gold, and then in diamonds in Kimberley, South Africa. He was poached there by IBM and began work as a Computer Systems Engineer in their Industrial Branch, combining his knowledge as a miner with computer technology. Since moving back to the UK in 1987, he has remained in the IT sector, working as a senior consultant for firms such as PWC and Logika. 3.5inch Shay funnel He has concurrently developed his interest in mineralogy, focussing on research into new species as well as collecting rare specimens, and has had a new mineral (Rickturnerite) named after him.

Having discovered Shay engines in his youth, Rick has had the desire to build a Shay in 3.5" gauge ever since. The discovery of Kozo Hiraoka's books on building the Shay, Heisler and Climax was all he needed to get started on the road.

rch12 buffers He chose to use Hiraoka's books as the basis for the parts, and then in true Rick fashion, has decided to try and make life easy for others who will struggle with forming the difficult shapes using hand controlled machinery and who do not have access to CNC equipment.

The first parts - the buffers for his RCH12 mineral trucks - rolled off the lathe in about May this year, and since then he has been building up his library of parts. 3.5inch Shay bells As he produces a part for himself, he is making spare ones for sale to help finance the hobby, with the long term goal of starting a small business in engineering which will see him through his retirement.

It is with a sense of great pride and achievement for both of us, then, that Rick is able to offer the first of his model steam train parts for sale to the model engineer through my webshop and on ebay.

For further information on parts already available, please see: Live Steam