Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hand Cranked Box Organ

May first 2009 marked the completion of a little crank organ, after being under construction for two months. Instructions for building were found on John Smith's web site in England. However for some reason that site seemed to vanish shortly after building the organ. The music rolls are still available from Melvin Wright, another English web site.
It was awkward to move around and find a place to place it while playing, so a stand with wheels followed a month or so later.
The top is hinged so that it can be opened up and you can look down inside and see the working mechanism. The crank operates bellows to pump air and also powers the punched paper roll that distributes the air to the 20 pipes to play the tunes. It works somewhat like a player piano.The last picture is of it being demonstrated at an antique machinery show in Huntsville Utah.
Friends Guy and Westley each videoed it and posted the videos on You Tube.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


A couple weeks ago I completed a Kaleidoscope of my own design configuration. The reason for building it was that I had some high quality front faced mirrors that had been salvaged out of some kind of copy equipment, and they needed something useful to do, rather than just laying around. The rest of the machine was built from some brass drain pipe, and the gears machined from brass valve stems, and the walnut from left over pieces. Sure, it was work, but now all these things have a useful purpose in life.
The interesting thing, was that in reading some history, I found that the Kaleidoscope was invented by David Brewster in 1816, the same year that Robert Stirling invented the hot air engine. (I've built a bunch of hot air engine models) Both men attended the university of Edinburgh in Scotland, they may have known each other. Although the Kaleidoscope is more or less a toy or object of fascination, David went on and did a lot of research and development with optics, and other fields of science. David was the inventor of the Fresnel lens that was used in light houses all over the world. A very respected gentleman.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I just finished building a little jackhammer a couple days ago, for no reason other than I was curious how they worked, and there is no better way to find out than to build a working model.
The display stand is a small burl from a Popular tree. It is not a bolder, but a good representation of one.
Yes, it does go Rat-a-tat-tat, or maybe more of a Putt Putt Putt, but it does work, and only requires a few pounds pressure from an Air Brush Compressor.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

7" Atlas Shaper

On the middle day of July I had the oportunity to acquire a couple Atlas metal shapers that were being disposed of at the local high school. Actually it was a bunch of shaper parts in various states of assembly or disassembly, which ever way you'd like to say. Although I already had a shaper that is seldom used, I simply could not pass up something like that. In their day shapers were state of the art machines. However, they, like model T Fords, have become obsolete. They are no longer manufactured and seldom used, but they are fun to play with. You can still do machining operations with them, but not near as efficiently as with a milling machine.
One looked like it was almost complete, and the other was missing many of its parts.
Having no other project to work on at the time, I immediately started working on the better of the two. Who ever had worked on it before me had left out some internal parts and had others installed incorrectly, so it was torn completely down and started over.

About 5 or 6 days later I had it back together and operational. A lot of time was spent getting all the slide ways adjusted to minimum clearance without any binding. Several parts needed repairs, and the tool post was missing completely, so a new one was machined. Everything was in excellent condition and being so complete, with guards and even the original Atlas motor, it was exchanged with the old shaper on the cabinet. I have not decided what to do with the old one yet.
Here is a little video of it in operation shaving of a block of metal.
The finish is just beautiful, as smooth as a spanked baby's bum.
That is not the end of the story. The spare parts shaper were give to my friend Lowell. He needed a table and a few of the internal parts to finish up the restoration of a machine that he has been working at for the past couple years. Needless to say he seemed quite happy too. His machine is shown below in its state of restoration as of a couple days ago.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Flutter Mill

I have not been able to think up another project to work on, and to
keep from going nuts from boredom in the mean time, I made a Pantanenome
(pan-ta-nen-o-mee). I do not know why they call them that, the word is
not even in the dictionary. It means "all winds", and is supposed to
spin no matter what the direction of the wind. I tested it during
construction, and it does. It was mounted on top of the 6 foot chain link
fence that runs across the back yard separating us from the school yard.
In my research it appears that Pantanenomes originated in France, and maybe
that is why the word is not listed in an English dictionary. The inventor claims that
they will turn by wind from any direction, except perpendicular to the axis, however
that is true of most any propeller type wind mill, and all of them are more efficient
when oriented properly into the wind.
It is kind of fun to build replicas of wacky old inventions.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Miniature Punch Press

The newest creation to emerge from the workshop is a miniature punch press just about 8" tall, and was completed just yesterday, July 2nd, 2010. Surprisingly it even works, quite well in fact.

Here it is shaping out dime sized pie tins. For what use? By mice, of course!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dundee Foundry Engine

Recently I became intrigued by a patent design sketch shown in a book about model Stirling engines, and ended up building a model. A 45 hp double displacer engine built in 1843 to power the machinery of the Dundee Foundry, in the UK. The original engine ran for four years before failing due to poor materials of that day that could not withstand the intense heat.

There was not much to go on in the sketch, but that provides a lot of liberty to the builder. It was necessary to modify a couple things to make a working engine, but I tried to maintain a resemblance to the sketch. I hope you like it.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The project for March was a model of a vintage Jaw Type Rock Crusher. It is a tough little bugger and will actually crush real rocks. However that takes more torque than the little electric motor provides, so I just use it to crush cough drops.

To prove it, these rocks were crushed during the testing stages.

Here it is munching some cough drops.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hypocycloidal Steam Engine

February was a good month to stay indoors and construct another scale model. This time it was a model of a Hypocycloidal steam engine. That is just a fancy tongue twisting word for geared crank engine. The original engine was invented in 1802 in England by a gentleman named Matthew Murray.
Building of this model was pretty simple and straight forward. The most interesting part was machining the internal toothed ring gear, I done that on the milling machine using it like a hand powered vertical shaper. Even though it is a lot of work there is a lot of satisfaction in making your own gears, especially if they need to have a special shape of some kind. When finished the engine turned out to be smooth running with an interesting motion.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Section Car

January marked the completion of a scale model hand pumped antique railroad section