Kits vs Home grown

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Kits vs Home grown

Post  highpressure on Mon 06 Aug 2012, 9:22 am

Well now, I spoke to Rick yesterday and during the conversation I mentioned the various comments that were given during the Saturday steam up/Bust up. As some of you who attend rallies may have already found there is a certain stigma that kit builders seem to have over "proper engineers", sadly and unjustly even more so if you were a Modelworks customer (usually at this point there is a strange sort of grunt followed by something like " Uh that lot in Daventry")

I particularly enjoyed the moment on Saturday where someone was admiring my dome head nuts on the valve and cylinders and asked if I had taken M6 and retapped them some weird BSW or something thread. The look of disgust and retort as I said "No, all the fittings are metric" was quite special and I followed it with a comment along the lines of " I'm glad I can just pop into anywhere and get a nut, bolt, washer etc that will just fit and not have to search the ends of the earth for some specialst tap or die"

The next favourite for me is the distain encountered when they realise that it is kit built and you either don't know the first thing about machining or even care, in my case. This for me is usually followed by the "wheres yours?" question which generally gets the " 12 years and still not finished! " type proud response. Clearly not building it to steam then!!!!

There are some superb examples of us kit builders out there who have done a great many miles on them, local to me who I know are Julia, Colin, Tim, Alan, Roy, David. All of whom have great looking hard working engines so this stigma really isn't justified but thats just life. Anyhow the point of this is to say that had I had a home grown engine I wouldn't have been able to make the phone call to Isobel with the parts numbers required and the bits are already on the way. Neither would I have been able to find any number of fittings on Ebay which are also on their way too. As Julia has often pointed out the benefits of having a kit built engine with a recognised set of drawings and parts which are easily accessible can be of a much better benefit than an engine of dubious heritage which may have had several builders over the last 20 or so years.

I know which one I would prefere. The usual superb service means I shall be able to steam up again this weekend. Thanks STW.

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Re: Kits vs Home grown

Post  sonick45 on Mon 06 Aug 2012, 9:57 am

Brilliantly said.

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Advantages of a STW engine

Post  Steve Traill on Mon 06 Aug 2012, 10:12 am

Something that STW don't make enough of is the advantage of being able to ring up and have almost any part in the post to you the same day. Not that one needs many parts but it's nice to know that should the need arise they are there, ready to fit. Where else in the steam world does that happen? Answer - nowhere!

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Re: Kits vs Home grown

Post  Brian M on Mon 06 Aug 2012, 12:51 pm

Hi Kev,

Nicely said and congrats on your steam ticket.

A lot of 'traditional' engine builders have casts made from drawings, what is that all about???????????? Shocked surly, a dedicated builder should be building from scratch. One question, did Mr Burrell build each engine from scratch making nuts bolts etc or have an assembly line and have parts brought in?????

At the end of the day you have built a nice engine. If anybody is happy to make a negative comment tell them to get lost (times have moved on, maybe so should they).

Personally, I have enjoyed my build (most of the time). I even know of a very skilled engine builder who has recently bought a 'kit' from STW.

At the end of the day people will favour one method or another and we are all steam enthusiasts. I most admit I have just had great feedback from all builders and am happy with the group of people I am in with.

Enjoy!

Brian M

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Re: Kits vs Home grown

Post  IanL on Mon 06 Aug 2012, 1:20 pm

Define kit, many of the so called builders of doing it from scratch still buy in castings, what! they did not cast themselves! so they are building a kit as well it's just a matter of how much has been done for you.

I have had this thrown at me with every car I have built, " oh it's a kit car" so have developed a bit of a thick skin about such comments.

I think with more STW models or the previous companies models are seen at events being driven around the field will help prove these are excellent designs and work well.

Ian


Last edited by IanL on Mon 06 Aug 2012, 10:32 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Kits vs Home grown

Post  highpressure on Mon 06 Aug 2012, 2:17 pm

Brian M wrote:

At the end of the day people will favour one method or another and we are all steam enthusiasts. I most admit I have just had great feedback from all builders and am happy with the group of people I am in with.

Brian M

If they were "steam enthusiasts" they would be in steam not taking years to build, they are "engineering enthusiasts". Every Stuart model is a pile of castings but I suppose its the skill of turning that into a finished item that we lack. I once considered trying to make the Stuart 10 until I read the book which showed all the detail needed to make the jigs and tools to machine it Shocked Shocked Not for me I'm afraid.

Kev.

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Re: Kits vs Home grown

Post  Julia on Tue 07 Aug 2012, 2:06 am

TE wanted not kit built

This is often seen but I find it perverse. The writer of the advertisement is usually a newcomer or someone of limited experence and they are just following vibes they have picked up else where. Over the years I have encountered new comers struggling to get their recently acquired second hand scratch built engine to preform. It can be even more distressing when you learn how much they have paid (lots) and that it must be OK since it was built by and skill engineer in their shed. Second hand engines can be a collection of bodges and take lot of time money and expert help just to get the basics right. Many I have seen don't steam properly. Buy this I means:- Get water reliably into boiler, fire easily to generate steam, turn steam into power to move. These issues usually can be fixed if the help of experienced model engineers is sought but what is more worrying is that hidden from view there can be some dreadful engineering and suspect machining.

The standard of the majority of drawings available to the scratch builder is dreadful. If it is the scratch builder's first engine and they don't know better they build their interpretation of a fullsize engine. I have seen some amusing examples - For example - popper rivets as opposed to rivet bolts but the builder had no idea that the fullsize cast the spokes into the hub and that the joins are not a feature. I will let you into a secret - many scratch builders thread some of their rivets and use bolts where access for riveting is difficult.

The engine creation process of the "kit engine" is more like the way the fullsize engines were manufactured than the scratch built models of today. From a standard set of machined parts engines are erected in the erecting shop only that the erecting shop is your garage or shed. Everything in kitland is not perfect however a kit built engine offers consistency. The short comings are soon identified and either a factory or user sourced fix made available. There have been well know problems affecting the modelworks and STW engines but they have fixes. There have been so many made that there are very few unknown problems. Why do the twats focus on the known problems for which there are solutions? When a sorry example of a 4" kit engine comes on the market they get sold quickly - there are people out there that appreciate the benefit of have fewer surprises.

  • The best engines are those scratch built buy experienced engineers who have researched the fullsize engine they are modelling.
  • A safe engine to buy is a kit built engine since any horrors will be limited and can be more easily solved
  • The engines to avoid are the first engines made by a solo scratch builder unless the buyer has considerable experence. Dealers are salesmen and need to shift engines in this category so watch out!
Perversely kit built engines don't attract the premium they deserve.

Don 't get me wrong there are many first class scratch built engines out there that knock the spots of even the best kit built engine but these rarely come up at affordable prices accessible to the new comer.

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Re: Kits vs Home grown

Post  Tony King on Tue 07 Aug 2012, 9:19 am

It's a funny thing, the very fact that there are kit built engines available means more people are able to enjoy this fascination for steam, which has got to be good for everyone envolved. However, some kit engines are so good that it is becoming almost impossible to tell the differance between them & a well "sratch built" engine.
So, it is possible that a model engineer who has spent many years building an engine will have the "recognition" for his master piece, "diluted" by some "upstart" who has assembled a kit of bits over a few months & is out on the rally field getting the same admiring glances as he is from them's that don't know any differant. (A bitter pill for some!!)
I have to say that I have met VERY FEW who actually fall into this catagory, most of the "geniune" model engineers are incredibly modest & don't have anything to "prove" (& rightly so!). They are full of praise for people having a go at something they enjoy & usually are incredibly helpful.
There is nothing "imitation" about kit engines, they have to comply to the same safety standards as any other & as has already been pointed out, if a kit has a weakness, it's sorted & pretty dam quick!! Also for those people who actually just want to steam their engines, why would you want to do it any other way? A "new" engine from them that knows how to machine the bits! Not a second hand engine with possible unknown problems hiding away in there somewhere.
I have done both, scratch build (30 years!!) & kit build(3 years!) I haven't got enough years left in me to even concider any other way to get an engine, even if I had, or could afford the machines to do the work at this scale!!
If the kit market where to stop, then the whole steam thing will die out as the last of the old time engineers go to their graves, & that would be very sad indeed!!
Regards,
Tony

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Re: Kits vs Home grown

Post  Tim Watson on Tue 07 Aug 2012, 12:29 pm

Without the MW and now STW kits I would not be in this hobby.

Tim

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MW

Post  Steve Traill on Tue 07 Aug 2012, 2:17 pm

Dito

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Re: Kits vs Home grown

Post  Tim Pennett on Fri 10 Aug 2012, 4:45 am

A N Other model engine provider supply their drawings in both Imperial and Metric so you can get frustrated in machining and wasting your time on a part that doesn’t fit in either measurement!

I am not a trained machinist, but have the luxury of been able to use my father’s workshop which he has built over many years and so know how to do some stuff and use the machines if I need to make something.

My view is why invest heavily in machinery in order to build something which will inevitably then remain idle once the project is completed, that money can be invested, as I have done in a pre-machined kit which will deliver the desired outcome – a new engine finished to how I want it.

I gave up on building my 4” Road loco 50% through the build as I was fast running out of time and the ability to do things myself and as such started to lose interest, the STW engine has rekindled that enthusiasm and light is now at the end of the tunnel.

Just because an engine is scratch built doesn’t mean that you know the in’s and out’s of an engine, that comes with time and speaking to people who know what they are talking about. For instance, a number of years ago I overheard a chap with his new engine (which he had built) explaining that “he keeps the pressure well up because it compounds better at 150 psi”. I didn’t have that heart to ask how a single cylinder engine could compound but the other chap he was taking too went away nodding in agreement!

Everyday is a school day, no matter how long you have been in the game and the true spirit of the hobby is helping and sharing that experience and not be a caravan curtain twitcher!

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