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Engineering

Making a kayak anchor

This simple and effective rebar anchor is perfect for small boats and kayaks and is the result of welding $30-40 worth of materials. If you are a small boat and kayak enthusiast, fabricator or just want to learn some new metalwork skills, this two-hour project will be great for you; it needs few welding skills. Remember that the construction is modular and can be made to fit your needs.
With a net weight of only 7 kg, the anchor will not weigh down a boat or kayak. Anyone can pull it up, but it will still catch the seabed.

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Frozen in time

I just love nosing around other people’s workshops to see what they are making and what gear they have, and I’ve just had the special opportunity to look at a manufacturing workshop that was about to be sold up and, as a bonus, learn about its history.
Macdonald Refrigeration surely has a place in Auckland’s heritage as a pioneer in its field. The factory has been closed for some time now and it has been hard for the family to let go of all the gear, but it is filling a lot of valuable space.

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The right stuff – part 2

If you have followed our Metalworking Lathe 101 series in The Shed magazine, you will have a grasp of the basics, so here are some helpful tips to improve your lathe experience and make those projects a bit easier to do.
Quite often the material or item we need to hold in the chuck is delicate, either due to a fine finish that we do not want to put chuck jaw marks on or due to it being thin walled. For jobs with a surface finish that you need to protect it is handy to have some strips of aluminium to put between the chuck jaws and the job material. These are mostly used when holding in a 4 jaw chuck as the job will need to be “clocked up” using a dial indicator to get it running true.
The thickness of the aluminium strips cannot be relied on to be consistent as they squish up a bit with the tightening of the chuck jaws, so when using a 3 jaw chuck the auto centring effect is not so good.

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The right stuff – part one

These tips are a random collection of thoughts that I have grouped under the classification of things that relate to working at a bench using hand tools, rather than using a lathe, mill or other machine tool. So if you have only a workbench with some hand tools in your shed, this is meant to be useful for you too.

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Metal spinning lives

The exact origins of metal spinning are unknown but the craft can be dated back to ancient Egypt where examples of spun vessels have been found. Metal spinning today differs little from the past with the only real advance being that an electric motor is used to drive the chuck instead of manpower or water power.
Before the advent of power presses, metal spinning was used to make almost all round sheet metal objects such as pots, pans, lampshades and wheel rims.
The principle of metal spinning is simple: a disc of metal is clamped between the tailstock and a former or mandrel. The disc is spun and the operator then uses a lever to manually work the metal down onto the mandrel. The process helps maintain the structure of the material and does not stress it, resulting in a stronger and more stable product than if it was pressed.
While metal spinning by hand does not generally alter the thickness of the material, hydraulic-powered tools can be used to flow-form products making sections thinner where required.

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Rolling stool build

My wife, Rosaleen, loves to cook, and will happily spend an afternoon in the kitchen cooking meals to be frozen and given to our daughters and their friends whenever the need arises or opportunity presents.
However, arthritis makes standing in one position for long periods difficult for her. She wanted a stool for the kitchen, but ours is a galley-style layout and quite narrow. It’s wide enough for one person to walk past another working in the space, but the presence of a stool would present a major obstacle. “Why don’t you invent something?” she said.
I love a challenge like that.

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Engines on the move

Something that many shed owners must face at some time is how to maintain their hobby if they have to downsize their property. Owen White is one person who has successfully achieved this by not only downsizing the house but downsizing the hobby. Instead of restoring old internal combustion engines he now makes scale models of them.
In the 1960s, Owen got hold of a 1930s 9 hp Briggs and Stratton stationary engine to restore and was bitten by the vintage engine bug. It sparked a 50-year passion for old combustion engines, and for repairing, restoring and running them at vintage engine shows. Owen joined the Vintage Engine Restorers Club in 1985 after attending their third meeting and remains an active member.

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Make your own backyard forge

This is one of the very basic forges for heating metal bars. There are many other types of forge out there and Youtube can show you how to build and use them. My forge was made of scrap steel from my workshop and the local recycling centre.
The forge essentially consists of a fireplace or “bowl” in firebricks which are held firmly together in a brace or strap. They sit on top of a steel plate. Another steel plate sits on top of the bricks, with a large square in it to allow access to the firebowl.
A small, round, high-grade steel grate with several holes in it sits at the bottom of the brick bowl. Below this fireplace, a vertical pipe-fitting is welded into the supporting steel plate. The bottom of the pipe is an ash trap, and the ash can be dropped out by opening a small trapdoor.

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Going glamping

What do you do if you want a caravan but drive a Mini? You make one to fit. That’s just what Michael Wolfe of New Plymouth did – turning out a real dinky little teardrop-shaped caravan that matches his 2004 Cooper S and has all the mod cons for a decent holiday.
Michael saw pictures of little campers on the net and decided that was what he wanted – a cross between a caravan and a tent.
“I got some ideas from little caravans online and decided to go a bit more high-tech,” he says.
He built it to have the same lines, wheels and colour as his car and it looks just the part.
“I never really planned it in detail. I sketched it out originally and a lot of the construction I worked out as I went along.”

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Video of Austins Foundry’s final pour

This is video of a family firm that has provided a good living for at least two generations, building up an impressive skills base while manufacturing essential farm machinery for more than 90 years. The Austin family has run a foundry in Timaru for 93 years. Ken Austin, grandson of the founder, says the business has faced increasing headwinds since the Covid-19 pandemic, so he has tested the winds of change and decided to close down. The Shed visits to celebrate their technical foundry skills, the likes of which we may never see again in New Zealand.

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Life in the fast lane

He might describe himself as a larrikin biker, but former world motorcycle racing champion Graeme “Croz” Crosby is really more of a modern Renaissance man.
Put simply, a Renaissance man is defined as a very clever person who is good at many different things. So check the Croz record thus far: Champion motorcycle racer, commercial pilot, successful author, businessman, house builder, skilled motorcycle mechanic, enthusiastic cook, raconteur – the list goes on. He can speak a little Japanese, bake a soufflé or lace up a wire-spoked bike wheel. And even though he turns 62 this year there’s still quite a bit of the larrikin left.
It almost goes without saying that Graeme has a shed. Well, it started out as a hobby shed, somewhere to tinker with old bikes and other motorised toys. In typical Crosby fashion, though, it has become the headquarters for a thriving business restoring and exporting classic Japanese motorcycles. Graeme and his wife Helen bought a 12 acre (4.8 ha) block in the picturesque Matakana countryside an hour north of Auckland more than eight years ago, built a spectacular house, the shed and, across the road, Helen’s The Vivian art gallery.

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Build a hydro power plant

Ever thought of creating your own electricity? It’s a challenge a number of New Zealanders aspire to these days, as rising power  prices and possible insecurity of supply bring out the Kiwi leanings towards independence and DIY. 
And how to do it? A small stream, a broken washing machine, a shed and you’re away. Well almost.

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Top gears

Contrary to what the poets say, its gears, not love, that make the world go round. The magic of an exquisitely constructed timepiece with its myriad whirring cogs is an eternal delight. Horology has always fascinated me, and it has long been an ambition of mine to build the mother of all clocks, an orrery. Named for the 4th Earl of Orrery who commissioned George Graham to make the first modern device in 1704, they mark not just the passing of the hours, but the exact movements of the planets as they beat out Kepler’s laws.

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This offroader project is a beaut

Over the last couple of years, my son Kurt and I have built a few basic go-karts which not only gave him a taste of very basic engineering, but also allowed us to pile up valuable hours of quality time working together in the shed. This new project had a bit of a twist to it as, this time, my son was the chief designer and engineer and I was relegated to labourer. Like all the previous projects, he let me fund it.

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Classic Manx Norton flourishes

The legendary Manx Norton was
the first single-cylinder motorcycle
to lap the famous Isle of Man TT
circuit at an average speed of 100 miles per hour (160 km/hr).
Made from 1946 until 1962, the bikes became a favourite of privateer racers and in more modern
times, a popular choice for classic
motorcycle racing.
Today, half a world away from the original Birmingham factory, a small Kiwi company is restoring and supplying parts to Manx Norton owners around the globe.

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