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Engineering

Spinning wheel

While we are rather spoilt these days for ready sources of energy, it was once a matter of harvesting what was available in the local environment. More often than not, what was available was a stream or river, and so the workshop was built on the riverbank and the harvesting was achieved by a water wheel.
I’ve always been rather taken by the concept of water wheels (and other mechanical devices that harvest energy from nature), and have been intending to make a small one of my own, even if it was just to be a garden ornamental feature.

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As tough as steel

The chemistry of steel determines why and how it should be tempered.
The potential hardness of a steel is determined by its carbon content. Adding small amounts of other elements to the mix can produce enormous improvements in strength, toughness, and
resistance to rust and the response of the steel to heat treatment.
Steels referred to as alloy steels have additional elements such as chromium, nickel, vanadium,
cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, silicon, and tungsten included.

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Assorted nuts

For our purposes, a nut is an internally threaded part which is rotated or screwed onto an externally threaded part such as a screw, bolt or stud. If you can pick it up in your hand and put it onto an externally threaded item and tighten it, it is a nut. There will be some exceptions to this which will become apparent.

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Hexagon head bolt or cheese head screw?

There are so many types and kinds of bolts and screws that when you ask for the one you need, it is best if you understand the characteristics of the particular fastener. Then you can ask exactly for what you want. These characteristics are:
* Head type;
* Size;
* Thread form;
* Tensile strength;
* Finish.

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Getting up to speed

As sheddies, we are known to cobble together machines from whatever we have at hand. More often than not these items are less than ideal and a motor of some sort may run at a different speed to what we need. If we are looking to make a spindle moulder, belt sander, garden chipper, wind generator, compressor or similar item then it is likely that some sort of gearing will be necessary to give the right RPM at the business end.
Calculating the sizes of gears, sprockets or pulleys is a relatively simple exercise.

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Making your own campervan

Converting an ordinary van into a campervan is a project I have been talking about for some time.
As a retired technical teacher, I felt I had the necessary skills, and when a 2005 Kia Pregio van in excellent condition became available I decided to take the plunge.
The van is a 2.7 litre diesel, manual, with 26,000 km on the clock and a cargo space of 2.8 metres x 1.65 metres. My plan was to fit the space with two beds, one on each side. They can be expanded to a full-width bed using the foam backs of the seats supported on shortboards between the sides of the seats.

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A mechanic turns to clocks

Ken England has been fixing clocks as a hobby in his Whakatane shed since the 90s.
Repairing a clock is not just a case of pulling it to bits, replacing parts then re-assembling, he tells me. “Everything works in sequence and has to be timed.”
He is a member of the New Zealand Horological Institute but was never a clockmaker by trade. What makes Ken “tick” and has given him the necessary clock-repair skills is the engineering know-how already in his background, a knowledge of how to machine parts, manufacture, and silver-solder.

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Make a handy English wheel

So it was time to start fabricating my own parts and for that I would need a so-called English wheel machine to mould the tank, guards, seat pan etc. But buying such a machine was “off the budget” as they come with a hefty price tag.
The next option was to build one. With not a lot of plans available, I could see that I’d have some homework to do.

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The making of Gloribelle

A replica steam engine that made its first appearance at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway near Auckland in 2013 was much more than just another piece of interesting machinery. Built to mark 300 years since what was believed to be Thomas Newcomen’s first engine, made in 1712, it celebrates an invention that contributed significantly to the industrial revolution.

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Man of metal

Metal is Bill Martel’s passion. He realises his own dreams in metal and those of his customers out of a very large “shed” in Plimmerton, the engine room of his business, Metalmorphic.
During 17 years of high-precision work, he and his team have made all sorts of furniture, balustrades, ornamental light shades, and more, even a 17th-century wrought iron sundial, four metres in diameter, which they “cut up into little pieces” and reassembled to correspond with the southern hemisphere.

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Making a ring roller

The solution was to use the offcuts and a cheap bottle jack to make a set of rollers that can bend the material into wide arcs. Since I had to buy the $39 jack, the budget was well and truly blown. But this ring roller will be useful for future projects.

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A scooter carrier for a campervan

Owning a campervan means you can take your house on holiday with you. The downside is you need to pack up your whole holiday site when you want to drive off and get some fish and chips for dinner. I considered towing a car behind the campervan but that was impractical. I use a scooter for commuting so the solution was obvious—put a scooter carrier on the campervan to give us an easy transport option on holiday.

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Ramping it Up: Make a pair of ramps for home car maintenance

This story comes about because of a mishap with my trusty car ramps which I had for more than 20 years. They were a clever pressed-steel design, a product of Spedding Ltd, one of the country’s original importers and wholesalers who took on manufacturing as a response to the import restrictions and import licensing laws of the time.

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Hot stuff – Gas bottle stoves

You can’t do that! You’ll kill yourself!” said the hippy to the gypsy as he began slicing  into into an LPG gas bottle with a four-inch grinder. Sixteen years ago, self-styled “hipsy” Stuart Guy found himself spending his first South Island winter in an un-insulated house truck.

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