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Model Making

Build your own robot arm

This article is all about building your own Meccano version of a robot that can be programmed to work just like the big fellas – and you can learn just how challenging real-world robots are to control. The robot arm can be programmed to move small objects from one place to another. It can reach, grab, lift and swivel.


Make a simple toy truck

With toys, in particular, maintenance and reparability are important to ensure a long life. A broken plastic toy goes in the bin, whereas a well-designed wooden toy can make many trips to the repair shop over generations of play.


Building a Stirling engine

I always get a thrill at seeing one of my engines running for the first time. It was especially true for this one because I had had no previous experience in making such an engine. The engine runs at about 600 RPM with a good differential between the hot and cold ends of the displacer tube.


Build a small steam engine – part two

Although daunting at first, it is fairly logical if tackled a small step at a time. The use of a lathe is desirable but with a little lateral thinking it would be possible to make it without one.
First the cylinder is made from a short length of 12 mm round brass rod. Mount this in the three-jaw chuck of your lathe and face off one end. When turning brass it is necessary to grind the tool with a negative rake (see diagram). Brass is extremely brittle and the point of a tool bit with a positive rake would bite and snap off, being thinner and weaker.


Building a small steam engine – part one

Originally devised as a plaything for young boys, they quickly became the sort of toy that a lad was only allowed to play with on special occasions. They returned for a brief period of popularity during the 1960s and 1970s but even then were more adornments for a bookcase rather than well-used toys. This was probably due to the exorbitant cost of the product rather than any regard for safety.


Instead of watching television

“You must have too much time on your hands.” That’s what people often say when they see my model cars. I’m never really sure what to reply, because it’s something I do instead of watching television or building the real thing. But the question I get asked the most is how long it took to build.