machines which I have made, am making, or intend to make, and some other stuff. If you find this site interesting, please leave a comment.

Why I Don’t Sweep Up Swarf.

Yesterday I spent some time spreading metal swarf around my workshop floor.


The weather is warming up as we enter spring in Australia.

My workshop is on a farm, and we have tiger snakes.  The authorities have warned as to expect more snakes than usual, due to the particular weather conditions this year.  I saw 2 snakes on the road leading to the farm.  And my neighbour visited me to inform me that he had spotted a 2 meter long, fat tiger disappearing into the freestone wall at the front of my property.   That is a very big tiger, even allowing for a bit of exaggeration!  Even baby tigers can kill.

And in recent years I have encountered tigers twice – IN my workshop.  Both times were after I had swept the floor.

So now, I spread the sharpest, nastiest swarf that I can find, all over the workshop floor.  So far, so good this season.

Dredger Engine Bling

Getting ready for an exhibition tomorrow.  The organisers want “works in progress” so I am taking the dredger engine.  In its present state it is more a dredger boiler than an engine, but I doubt that anyone will mind.

IMG_7934.JPGSo I spent the day inserting a lot of square nuts on stainless steel studs, and bolting on some valves.   Looks quite interesting?   The stainless nuts came from China and were inexpensive.  A pity to paint them black.


The boiler is almost ready for pressure testing.  All of the parts are made, but sealant needs to be applied to the threads and joins, and possibly some gaskets.  I will do a hydrostatic test to 120psi, fix any leaks, then take it to the boiler inspector.  I am aiming to have it certified for 60psi, but will probably run it at maximum 50psi.

I have made the engine cylinder and the bronze cap which seals the vertical tube.  Looking forward to getting stuck into the engine.

Trevithick Dredger Engine. Finishing the flat end plate.

Today I brazed the inspection hatch to the flat end plate.  I did have some qualms about using the shape which I hade made, because it is quite round, whereas the example in The London Science Museum is more elliptical with one edge shaved off, and bolts which are irregularly placed around the perimeter.  But it is done now.  I admit that I was influenced by reactions from club members who were complimentary about the hatch which I had made, picking it out for special mention when I took it to yesterdays meeting.  And if I do not like it later on, I can remove the surface and make another one, more wonky like the original.


IMG_3426 2

The inspection hatch is ready to be brazed into position, and I have made a ring to attach the firebox door and surround.  The blowdown valve is very close and I had to grind a recess.

Before brazing I made a firebox door and surround, and bolted it to the end plate.



The surround bolts to the end plate, through the ring.  Here setting them up for drilling and tapping the M2 bolts.  That is an adjustable parallel, making sure that the door surround is horizontal.  Being glued to hold the position for drilling and tapping.



Hand tapping the 2mm bolt holes.  I drilled them after glueing the surround to the end plate with SuperGlue in the previous picture.   Then heated it to release the glue.  Did not break the tap, but I was careful to avoid touching the copper, and used tapping lubricant.



The door is cut out, but yet to make the hinge, catch and latch.


And just to remind you what I initially made, according to the Cain/deWaal plans…



These parts are now in the “failures” drawer.  Or should it be the “I changed my mind” drawer.


Trevithick Dredger Engine- soldering the big boiler flange.

Today I soldered the large flange which holds the flat end plate, to the boiler shell.  The flange is a large piece of LG2 bronze, but it is quite delicate because the centre is removed, leaving only the rim.

Here is a photo of the flange in position, fluxed, and ready to apply heat and silver.


But before this step I made a special tool.  Can you guess its purpose?



It is a disk of 12mm thick steel with a steel bar bolted to the surface.   A hint….  the disk diameter is slightly less than the internal diameter of the boiler shell.



Here is the tool in use.  With all of the heat from yesterday’s brazing, the boiler shell had distorted slightly, and the flange to be soldered was a bit tight in places.  So I identified the tight spots, placed the tool against the tight spot, and gave the bar a whack with a hammer, slightly expanding the tight spots.   After this, the flange dropped into position easily and nicely.



After soldering the flange.  No video I’m afraid.  Not enough hands.   To minimise the risk of the flange distorting with the soldering heat, I rested it on a plate of flat steel during the soldering.   Note the different shape of the forge for this braze.   



And after the brazing, the end plate was nice and square.



Square in both directions.






Trevithick dredger engine – second silver soldering session.

Soldered the bushes, the boiler supports, and the engine support.  Did not quite have time to tackle the boiler main end flange.



The LG2 bronze bushes were made yesterday, and the holes were prepared.  Today I fluxed them and silver soldered.  45% silver, cadmium free.



After soldering, and before the sulphuric acid soak.  The Hebel blocks are ideal for setting up the forge area to a particular size and shape.



The boiler is upside down in this photo.  I have just soldered the engine support.  Looks messy doesn’t it.  But it looks much neater after the acid soak.  And the splodges will vanish after eventual painting.   I used the bolt in the bush to get the support level and straight, while soldering.



Then the boiler supports were soldered, and the unit was dipped in 20% sulphuric acid for 15 minutes, after slow cooling.  Note the Plimsoll line, which was the depth of the acid.  I was unsatisfied with the alignment of that boiler support, so I reheated it and tapped it into a better position.  If it leaks steam, I might need to touch it up, but at least it is properly positioned.



At the end of this session.  The big flange is just sitting there, waiting for soldering in the next session.



Actually, this was not the first brazing session.  It was the third.  I had previously silver soldered the firetube.  And if you have been watching this build you might recall that I bronze brazed the domed boiler end and the boiler wrapper, and the vertical cylinder into the domed boiler end.  Despite the copper reaching red heat during today’s session of silver soldering, the bronze joins remained intact.  Bronze has a higher melting temperature than silver solder.  Which was one reason I did the bronze brazing first.




Trevithick Dredger Engine Boiler Bushes



Drilled previously, with wooden plug to prevent boiler deformation





Bushes made, but one is a bit tight, so using the Dremel to make it a loose fit, in preparation for silver brazing.





That is about right.  Roughly 3-5 thou gap.





The middle bush and the right hand one are additions to the Trevithick concept.  The middle one is a banjo fitting which will eventually connect to a modern pressure gauge… a boiler inspector requirement.   The big one is a water filler point.





All plugged up, ready for silver brazing then a boiler inspector hydrostatic test.  The thread which is visible is blind.  It does not communicate with the boiler cavity.

Ready for silver brazing in a day or two.


Trevithick Dredger Engine Progress

Made the cylinder, boiler bushes, and engine supports today.



The cylinder is LG2 bronze.  Drilled and reamed the 20mm bore, turned the outside diameter between centres, then milled the rectangular steam inlets at the ends.  The inlets were actually milled then the square corners were filed.

The boiler bushes are also LG2 bronze.  Straightforward turning.  Not quite finished.



The cylinder support looks simple but it is more complex than it looks.  The middle is LG2 bronze, but I did not have a large enough piece of bronze, so the wings are brass.  The join is bronze brazed, so it will not come apart when it is silver brazed to the boiler.  The angled supports are a tight press fit into the wings.



Next I will silver solder all of the joins.  They are just sitting in place in this photo.




Trevithick Dredger Engine – what was the original design? -2

Further reading and exploring web sites, email to London Science Museum (LSM), asking opinions of boiler experts.  Even considering a quick trip to London. (from Oz).

What I have learned is interesting.

Richard Trevithick did not manufacture any of the several hundred of his high-pressure engines.  The ideas and designs were his, but the engines were manufactured in different sites and by different makers.  The designs changed with time and as new ideas presented themselves to the brilliant mind of Trevithick.  And each manufacturer put their own stamp on the designs.

For example, look at the following pictures of the boiler flat end plate.  One is in two pieces, riveted together.  The other is a casting, and the flanges for the inspection hatch and the chimney, and probably the blowdown valve orifice, are almost certainly part of the end plate casting.  The firebox looks newish, slipped inside the original end plate casting.  I guess that the original firebox had burnt out, but was probably similarly held in place.   If any Brit readers can pop into the LSM and check this out I would be very grateful.

Trevithick boiler shell

B002617 hi res

The model which I am making, and dithering over the end plate design, is based on the reconstructed engine in the London Science Museum.  I intend to remove the aspects which are obviously Victorian in origin, and replace those with parts that I think will be closer to the Trevithick era designs.

Unfortunately, I have already made some of those parts, so my redesign is a bit compromised, unless I scrap them.  Which I do not intend to do.

So this is my redesign of the end plate.  Not quite LSM.  And not quite Tubal Cain/deWaal Not quite, but will have to be close enough.  The red lines are already machined so I am stuck with them.  14 drilled and tapped holes have been filled.  The bronze inspection hatch/plug has been made, but with less standout than shown in the lateral view.

end plate

As an aside, while pondering the end plate, I have made a start on the engine itself.  The cylinder has been roughed out, and will be finished in my next workshop session.  Cain specified brass, deWaal specified bronze.  So I have compromised, and have used an unknown brass/bronze/copperish lump of workshop metal.  It is certainly hard, as assessed by filing.  Photo next post.

New Spindle Motor for the Boxford 125TCL CNC lathe.

Reader Ben asked about the spindle motor replacement on the Boxford.   This is a small CNC lathe, and was often used for teaching in secondary schools in Australia.  Mine was made in 1985, and I replaced the electronics a few years back because they were obsolete and not functioning.  The mechanicals of the lathe were beautifully made and in excellent condition.  I did replace the ball screws, but in retrospect, that was probably unnecessary.   I also installed new and bigger axis stepper motors.

I was still getting some unreliable results, despite the the upgrades, and wondered whether the spindle motor was lacking power.  I was taking lighter cuts to try and cope but clearly a new spindle motor was required.

The space that the motor occupies is fairly tight, and initial searches for a suitable replacement were fruitless.  The new  ClearPath motors looked promising, but enquiries to the manufacturer indicated that the required power and rpm’s were not available.  Then my expert friend (or should that be “friend who is an expert”?), spotted the Ebay ad below, and bought and succesfully installed the servo motor in his 125TCL, so I did likewise.  I am afraid that the electronic aspects remain a mystery to me, so I cannot help with those.  It is a 0.75kW motor, substantially more powerful than the original, but very compact.


Servo Motor.jpeg

Do an Ebay search on the code on the controller.  I paid $AUD339 but it is now plus postage and GST, so close to $AUD400



The new spindle motor and servo controller



A new motor pulley was required.  There is still a high and low belt ratio available, but with the extra power and torque I never use the low ratio.  RPM range is 300-3200.


This has been a very successful modification.

Many thanks to Stuart Tankard for his generosity in time, expertise and advice in getting it going.





Trevithick Dredger Engine. What was the original design?

As I am progressing with building the 1:8 model of the dredger engine, I am experiencing doubts about the authenticity of the design by Tubal Cain 1985, and redrawn by Julius DeWaal 2016.  Those plans are based on the engine in the London Science Museum, which we know was incomplete when found in a scrap yard (?) and reconstructed in 1886.  There are no known or published original plans.

Look at the following photographs.  The first two are boiler components labelled as Trevithick, although incomplete, appear to be unmodified.

The following drawing comes from Rees’s Cyclopaedia, published first in 1819, when many of the engines would have been operating, and given the quality of the drawing, is likely to be fairly accurate.

Finally, the engine in the London Science Museum, which shows some Victorian era features which are highly unlikely to be as Trevithick designed them.


Trevithic boiler tubes

The firebox and firetube, riveted to the end plate.  Note the inspection hatch has no rivet or bolt holes.  How would the hatch have been attached?  


Trevithick boiler shell.jpg

Showing the end plate bolted to the cast iron boiler shell.  Interestingly, the penetrations are mirror image of the LSM engine.  Does anyone know where this boiler is currently located?  And why are there no rivet or bolt holes around the inspection opening?



Drawing from circa 1819.  Note 1. the wooden support at the chimney end of the boiler, 2. the flange for the chimney attaches directly to the end plate, as does the inspection hatch and the firebox door.  None of these protrude beyond the end plate.


B002617 hi res

This is the best photograph I know of from the reconstructed LSM engine.  There are multiple inconsistencies with the Rees drawings…

The inconsistencies which I note are:

  1. The support under the flat end is metal, not wood.  It is cast or fabricated, and curved.  Unlikely to be original.
  2. The rear support in the Rees drawing is metal which sits on wooden bearers.  Quite different shape from the Cain/deWaal plans.
  3. Some of the flywheel spokes have a moulding, some are plain.  I imagine that plain is more likely original.
  4. The connecting rods are bent at the top.  They are straight in the Rees drawing.
  5. There are no rivets or rivet holes around the firebox.  There appears to be a new cylindrical insert into the firebox. Unfortunately the Rees drawings do not show the firebox.   The firedoor hinges appear to be welded in position.  There are holes in the firedoor which could have been used for strap hinges, which would be more likely in use originally.  There is no provision for air intake control.  I wonder if Trevithick would have provided an adjustable flap?  I am told that some early Cornish boilers did not have any flap.
  6. The inspection hatch looks realistic.  But the hatch sits away from the end plate, presumably to permit access for the end plate to flange bolts.  Would Trevithick, I wonder, have designed such a complex setup?  Bearing in mind that every piece of iron or steel must be shaped in a forge by a blacksmith, then riveted or bolted into position, or cast iron, then bolted into position.   The rather irregular position and shape of the inspection plate and bolts looks authentic, but I have my doubts about whether the inspection hole itself is authentic.  Could this have been cut out later, when boiler repairs were required?

I have not looked closely at the engine details.  No doubt further inconsistencies will be apparent there.

So I am in a bit of a quandry.  Do I make the Cain/deWaal model, removing the obvious inconsistent features but including the dubious ones?  Or do I guess at what Trevithick would have designed, based on the technology which he had available?

Any opinions or thoughts/advice would be welcome.





Drilling holes into the Trevithick Boiler

Nothing much to add today.  I had only an hour in the workshop.  But here is a photo.



The wooden plug is to prevent squashing the boiler shell in the vise.  Note my ambidexterity regarding metric and imperial dimensions.  

And as a matter of interest, a stranger turned up at our working bee in the exhibition cage, with 2 models about which he wanted some advice.   The models are beautifully made, and we hope that the stranger will join our little club.



A Stuart Turner 5A with Stephenson’s link reversing mechanism.



And I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw his 5″ boiler.  It is made to the plans upon which I based my 6″ boiler!

He inherited the models from a relative.  Lucky!




Trevithick Dredger Engine- First silver soldering session

Today I fitted the chimney right angle piece, drilled and soldered on its flange, and drilled the end plate to accept the flange.  Then I CNC drilled the big bronze end plate to accept the flange.



The angle piece is a commercially available plumbing part.  The stainless steel square nuts came from China.  Joins are silver soldered.  In a departure from the Tubal Cain/Julius deWaal plans, I decided to attach the chimney flange directly to the flat end plate.  I reckon that’s what would have been done in 1806, and it is what shows in the 1820 Rees Encyclopaedia drawing.   Note the unwanted threaded holes, now filled with stainless steel threaded rod.

Then I carefully positioned the bronze end plate, the firebox and the firetube, and silver soldered them together.



The parts are fluxed and pushed together, ready to apply some serious heat and expensive silver.



Not pretty, but I am happy with the silver joins.  Minimal retouching required.

Next, the inspection hatch will be soldered to fill the rectangular hole.

Then the main bronze flange will be permanently attached to the boiler shell.  I intend to silver solder it, but considering bronze brazing.




Back to the Trevithick Dredger Engine

The 6″ vertical boiler is virtually completed.  Well, actually, I still have to make a Duplex steam pump, fit a steam injector, make a steam delivery manifold, paint some bits….  but yeah, emotionally, for me it is finished.   I will get back to those bits as the mood takes me.

So I have picked up the bits of the Trevithick steam dredger engine.  I will concentrate on the boiler, so I can get the AMBSC certification, then take a leisurely approach to the engine.  You know, 2 weeks to the boiler certification then another 4 weeks to finish the engine.  Or something like that.



As you can see, I have redesigned the inspection hatch, and made the new version.  This is still not quite authentic, but it is much closer to the London Science Museum example.  The inspection hatch will be permanently closed, silver soldered shut.   And the wording reflects the fact that this is a model.  The model hatch is circular, whereas the LSE example is something between a circle and an ellipse.   Trouble is that we do not know what is original Trevithick and what was altered in 1870.   So I do not feel too guilty that I am guessing.



Sorry about the poor focus.  I will retake this shot later.  You can read my new AMBSC ID number.  I do feel presumptuous writing my name the same size as Trevithick.



I have marked the boiler perforations and will drill the holes then make the bronze bushes.


B002617 hi res

A hi res photo of the dredger engine in the LSM.  You can see that the inspection hatch is something between a circle and an ellipse, not a rectangle. And that firedoor hinge is definitely sus.






How does a 6″ vertical boiler enhance house decorating?

When I was making the 6″ vertical boiler, SWMBO commented, “you needn’t think that is staying in the house!”

Well, she did say,  after the boiler bands went on “Hmm.  That looks quite interesting”.

So I took that as my invitation to put it somewhere….  in the house….



This desk is just inside the front door.  The boiler sort of melts into the background, don’t you agree?   SWMBO has not spotted it , yet.


6″ Boiler Lagging -3, and back to the Dredger Engine.

The brass bands which secure the wooden lagging strips were installed.  5 bands were required to make sure that every piece of wood is held once the glue lets go.  The bands are only 4.75mm wide.   The bolts which apply the tension pass through small brass blocks which are silver soldered onto the ends of the strips.  (thanks Ben De Gabriel of EJ Winter for that tip!  And for the band material!)



The boiler sitting on our kitchen table.  I will eventually paint the ashpit door assembly and angle plate at the base.





The setup for holding the small blocks in position during silver soldering.  In order to not close up the gap between the small block and the brass strap, I centre punched the blocks, raising small dimples, which produced a thou or two of separation between the parts, allowing the molten silver solder to flow.  That silver solder wire is 0.5mm diameter. 



And back to the Trevithick Dredger Engine….



The redesigned inspection hatch.  The bronze rectangular bit plugs the hole in the end plate.   I have plugged the unwanted 14 holes in the end plate, using stainless steel threaded rod.   And metal worker’s hands, cut, dirty, dry thick skin (SWMBO “don’t come near me!”).


FullSizeRender 10.jpg

Four of the plugged holes around the firebox opening, 10 more under the inspection hatch (hidden), and the inspection hatch.  I will make the inspection hatch a little bit smaller.  It will be decorative, permanently attached and unable to be opened.  The dredger engine in the London Science Museum has the manufacturer’s name cast into the plate.  I am contemplating just inserting Richard Trevithick’s name and the date the first high pressure engine was made (1806).  There will need to be a separate area on the boiler wrapper the AMBSC identification.





Boiler Lagging -2

The Tasmanian Oak lagging looked too pale white to my eyes.  With use, steam, oil, dust, water, workshop grime and sunlight, it would have gradually acquired a well-used patina, but I prefer instant gratification.


So after consulting my resident wood finish, artist, architect, expert, (SWMBO), I applied some wood-stain.



Too orange, too patchy, she said.   And the white in the joins looked wrong.

Too orange, too patchy, and too much white showing.  “Put on some black boot polish” she directed.

So I did as I was told.



With a boot polish brush…





—and a toothbrush…



… hmmmm.   I better clean her toothbrush before putting it back….

…(acknowledgments to Tubal Cain for using his old gag…)



That’s the look I was wanting.

Now just waiting for the brass bands to arrive.

Ben De Gabriel from EJ Winter, Sydney, had sent me a remnant piece of banding to try, in my last consignment of parts from him.  It was perfect, but not enough for the 5 bands which I require.  So I rang him.  He thought that was the last of his stock of that particular size but he would check and let me know.  Sure enough, he returned the call, and he had found a couple more bits, and they would be just enough.  Old stock, a bit shop-soiled he said.  So I could have it for nothing!

Readers who have been with me for some time will know that I have bought 3 sets of engine castings and plans from EJ Winter.  The Bolton 7 horizontal Mill engine, the Bolton 12 Beam engine, and the Bolton 9 triple expansion engine.  A bit of very interesting news is that Ben is planning a new set of castings for the triple, using the lost wax casting technique, which gives a finish which should require machining on the mating surfaces only.  That sounds so good that I am almost tempted to make another triple.   Almost.   Some months until availability though.  (Hope that you don’t mind my premature announcement Ben.)




6″ Boiler. Lagging.

Lagging.  As in boiler insulation, not as in failing to keep up.  I have been working on the boiler for about 3 months, so I am actually happy with the progress.  And more than happy to have passed certification!

I decided to apply wooden lagging strips for the appearance and for ease of handling, rather than any minimal improvement in performance of the boiler.

After use, the boiler shell is too uncomfortably hot to handle, so there is a waiting time of 30 minutes or so to allow it to cool.  I am hoping that wooden lagging will reduce the waiting.

And wooden lagging will hide the splodges of silver solder around each boss and join.  And it looks the part IMO.

But how to attach it?  None of my books mentioned any method.  I presumed that the brass strips are the main method, and that is certainly so, on full-size boilers.   Then I found a short video on YouTube by Keith Appleton and I decided to copy his method.

The method uses Super Glue as a temporary securing method while positioning the strips, then applying brass strips to hold the wooden strips in place long term.  The boiler heat and expansion-contraction will result in the glue bond being temporary, and if the wood strips have to be removed later, for any reason, that will be possible. It also means that an insulating blanket cannot be inserted between the copper shell and the wooden strips, but I was not planning on using a blanket, so not a problem.



The strips are 3x8x265mm.  I chose Tasmanian Oak which is actually an ash, because it is hard, fine grained, and I had some in old floor boards.  I cut the pieces to length a bit oversize, then ripped them to size on the bandsaw.  It is difficult to avoid fingers being close to the blade with small pieces like this, so I used a push stick.  I needed 65 pieces.  The blade teeth are a bit too coarse for this job, but I was too lazy to change it for a finer one.  Note the saw blade guide.  I did not like the one which was provided by Metabo, so I made that one.  Works well!



Then I used a belt sander to remove most of the sawing marks.  The resulting thicknesses varied from 2.8 to 3.4mm but I hope that variation will not matter.



Some hand sanding to remove wood fur.



Hope that this will be enough pieces!



The boiler feels out of place in all this woodworking rubbish.


FullSizeRender 18.jpg

SWMBO was away, so I set up on the kitchen table.  Here deciding on the final length of the strips.



Each piece is cut to length, then fitted into position.  Shaping the wood to fit around bosses and fittings is done with a small sanding drum in the Dremel.  It is a slow process.  Then each piece is glued into place, and held with rubber bands.



It has taken about 4 hours to apply about 1/3 of the strips.  The Baileys was to keep me in an appropriate mindset.  I am looking at the slightly ragged top and bottom edge in the photo.  Looks a bit rustic and authentic, or just rough?   The wood will be darkened after oiling, and possibly staining.  And Tasmanian Oak darkens with exposure to light.

That was yesterday.  Today I hope to complete this job, but SWMBO is home, and not appreciating the dust and mess, so I am exiled to the outside.

I have realised that to secure all of the wooden pieces I will require 5 brass bands.  I do not want it to look too brassy, so I am ordering narrower strips than the 6mm material which I had previously bought.  I think that 4.75mm will be about right.










VR-18-18 Stands for Victoria, Geelong Society of Model and Experimental Engineers, 2018, 18th registered boiler for the club.

So this morning I fired up the boiler with the boiler inspector closely watching.  The gas was turned to maximum, and the water was showing full.

Steam appeared about 10 minutes later and the Sandberg safety valve started popping at 100 psi. Every couple of minutes the safety valve released and the pressure remained in the 97-100 psi range.  This went on for about 20-30 minutes.  All to the satisfaction of the inspector.

He was happy with the standard of the build, the pressure test, the accumulation test, and that all requirements had been met.

The boiler is now certified for 4 years.  There has been a change in protocol about which I was unaware.  The previous certification rule was for 12 months only, and retesting was required for a further 3 years.  So this new rule is much less time consuming for me and the inspector.  He is happy that before the next testing I will have a steam pump and a steam injector installed.


I was so delighted with the result that I treated myself to a trip to the non ferrous metal supplier, and bought a selection of hex brass stock for the workshop.  When I returned to the workshop there were still a few hours of daylight, so I spent the time making the new inspection hatch for the Trevithick dredger engine.  Not quite finished, so no pics yet.

The next step for the boiler is to make and attach the wood lagging and to put on some paint.

New Skills in Retirement.

When I retired from my profession almost 4 years ago, I had an aim to become proficient at in CNC machining, and 3D CAD drawing.

I have definitely improved in those areas.  Trouble is, that as usual, the more that you learn, the more you realise that you need to know.

And in making some items, you encounter the need to learn skills entirely unexpected, like bronze brazing.

And all the while, your eyesight is deteriorating, your memory has gone somewhere (I forget where), and by mid-afternoon, all you are thinking of is sitting down with a good red.

One unexpected skill which has surfaced, which I am really enjoying, is cooking.

My wife, who is still working at what she loves,  announced a couple of years ago that since she is now the bread winner, that I could take over the cooking.  That was OK.  In fact it was something which I wanted to do when I was a teenager, but my rather traditional Mum did not think was appropriate.  So except for doing the camping cooking and barbeques, I did not cook until in my late 60’s.

Then I started cooking the evening meals.  And really enjoying it!  And my wife loves the freedom from the chore.

Trouble is that I detest shopping.  So the solution was a box of recipes and ingredients delivered once weekly.  HelloFresh.  It has been superb.

Then recently the cardboard box was not delivered.  Or at least it was not there at 7am on my doorstep, having been delivered at 2am.  A date stamped photograph was proof of delivery.  So it had been delivered, and stolen.  I am suspicious by nature, and having had no thefts here in 40+ years, I wondered about the delivery person.

Hellofresh took no responsibility.  I had no evidence to support my suspicion.  So we ate toast and cereal and take away for a week.  But I was really pissed off.

So I have spent several days installing a surveillance camera system.  I had installed a similar system some years ago in my workshop, so I felt reasonably confident that I could manage it.  Buying the system was straightforward.  Seems that they are commonplace.  4 cameras.  Recording machine with 2 terabytes of hard disk!  And connected to the Internet, so I can see what the cameras are seeing at any time, on my iphone!  And get alerts if the motion plus heat detectors are triggered.  Amazing!

Trouble is that I had to install the system myself.  It seems that the legal system has pushed professional installers to extinction, by making them legally responsible for thefts where systems are in place.

And at 68, I did not enjoy getting up and down ladders installing cameras and cables.  Or scrambling about amongst the spiders and crap under the house.  But at the time of writing the system is in place.  And working.    Another retirement skill.

And the clarity of the 4K pictures is outstanding.

What I will do if the alarm is triggered is another question to be pondered.  This is Oz, not US, so going outside with guns blazing is not an option.  Thank goodness.

A steam driven water pump, and a whistle.

Boilers, whether full size or model, get through substantial volumes of water.  When my 6″ vertical boiler is working hard, so is the water pump, to replenish the water which is turned to steam.

At present, the water pump is a manual pump, and it needs to be operated almost continually when the boiler is steaming hard.


I am not sure whether operating the hand pump (lower right), or the propane burner, consumes more energy.

So it was with great interest that I viewed the steam pump in operation which was built by Stuart Tankard, at last night’s meeting of GSMEE.  I have plans and castings for the same unit, and expect to make it later this year.  It is a Worthington type pump, and the castings and plans were supplied by Southworth Engines.


Stuart’s latest.


In this video, for the demonstration, the pump is running on very low pressure compressed air.  The larger cylinders are the steam powered driving cylinders, and the smaller ones are the water pumps.  So whatever the pressure of the steam, the water pressure will be greater, and able to be pumped into the boiler.

And finally, I bought a steam whistle.  It was supplied by Microcosm.engine from China and it was very reasonably priced. ($US39).  I have not tested it yet, but it came highly recommended by Keith Appleton.  It is certainly very nicely made.  I screwed it onto the boiler as a bit of bling because I showed my boiler progress at last night’s meeting of GSMEE.