Useless Tools – Avoiding them

Useless Tools – Avoiding them

Actually this is a brief tale of spending wisely, hopefully, just the once.

This is a good tool

This is a good tool

I am fortunate to have two workshops plus an office/design space. Simplistically the garage (ish) is the heavier engineering workshop with mills, lathes drills and the heavier tools, upstairs I have my model room (which the boss tells me would be the master bedroom if we were selling) which was supposed to have my layout in it but ends up as the model works and we have an office/study and my desk ends up covered in bits of models when I am doing CAD design.

What these three locations have in common are crap digital callipers.

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Roy C Link – A Tribute

Roy C Link – A Tribute

I was saddened to hear last week of the passing on an exceptional modeller that I am delighted to have been able to call a friend.  At the time I wrote this on various fora:

This is sad news, and I can say it been a real privilege to have known Roy and consider him a friend. Lots of other people have commented whilst I thought about what to say beyond offering my condolences.

It was whilst distilling this I realise that I have been very fortunate to have undergone a sort of mini apprenticeship under Roy’s tutelage. With Roy living close to Porthmadog and me visiting regularly to drive on the FR, nearly every trip included an evening with Roy. Its only now that I look back I realise that many visits also included some passing on of experience, methods of doing things, new skills and so on. I’ve spent evenings learning how to make parts on a pantograph, how to make injection moulding tools, lathe and mill work, micro silver soldering and ordinary soldering but with a hot plate.

Often this would happen when I turned up with something I had made which he encouraged, rarely criticised but then offered ideas on alternative methods of achieving the same or better result. As I developed my own modelling and the products of EDM Model if I got stuck a chat about it with Roy if not proposing a solution was always entertaining and led to a clarity of thought. Often a funny story or anecdote would illustrate the different way of thinking about or doing something. Who am I going to ask now?

I didn’t really want to leave it at that with nothing on my own blog so here I have added a few more comments.

Trips to visit his man cave were always informative and amusing. The library of information in this man cave is extensive and a conversation about this or that loco would bring forth a torrent of info. Not only did he know much of the info himself he knew which book it was in and where on the many shelves it was and you would quickly find you had a knee full of books.  I am sure the physical library will survive but we have lost the most amazing index.

I will add a just a couple of anecdotes (I could add many):

  • During an evening visit with Roy we were discussing Silver Soldering of small items. In particular how and why I was making a right mess of trying it. In no time at all the current job was moved aside on his workbench and I was given a demo of how to do it. This was immediately followed by him moving aside for me to have a go. I did three of four joints to the same standard (I will write it up as a demo in a future blog). We only silver soldered odd bits of brass rod into some sort of modern art tangle but its sits in a mug on show and now may have to be treated to a plinth.
  • More recently his publication Narrow Gauge and Industrial Revue featured some home made track spikes that were very fine. I was just starting on some trackwork on my 0n3 layout and had an e-mail discussion with Roy about their manufacture. This left me with a better understanding as to how to adapt their manufacture to the kit I had available. As often is the case I just had to find the time. Two days later a jiffy bag dropped through the door with a significant number of “samples” to get me going.

Our chats have involved Roy teaching me bits of machining, injection moulding, pattern making and me showing him developments in the 3D printing I was doing. Even then with his almost sneaky questioning he pushed me to do cleverer things with the printer.

I looked for photos of Roy to go with this blog and only really found the one that everyone else was using for his obituary so I have also included an image of his Sand & Gravel layout and the quite fitting last book from RCL Publications “The Crowsnest Chronicles” the story of his life long fascination with the railways of Snailbeach and his attempts to represent them in model form.


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Its been an age since I reported any progress with The Brymston Railroad mainly because I have been distracted onto other things both for customers and playing with the real things in these strange Covid times.

The last few weeks have been very trying because an old circulation related injury has relegated me to an arm chair, a good book and pain killers. I really haven’t felt like modelling and when I have tried its been a painful experience. The result has been pushing myself to do the minimum business stuff I can get away with and then recuperating in the air chair. On the plus side I’ve been catching up on my reading.

Eventually though the pain subsides and the urge (need?) to do some modelling starts to reassert itself. Not quite up to the next stage in the Murder of a Garratt saga this episode covers a small job for the Brymston RR that prepares for some actual progress on the layout.

Here is another definition that I have just made up

For the Brymston RR module and for the later larger layout I have a lot of track to make. To aid this I have some of the excellent jigs and tools by Fast Tracks and, as they go, they are excellent and perfectly useable. They are made with a consideration to their mass production as one of the design criteria.

Once they’re with their new owner that criteria is no longer an issue and the opportunity is there to adapt them to the users preference. What follows is the tail of some alterations to two of these tools. Continue reading

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