Frequently Asked Questions

What type of equipment will I need?

As already noted, most of the engines are designed for "benchtop" sized lathes and milling machines. That is not to say that larger equipment can't be used. If you have or have access to a full size mill, then by all means use it and the same goes for lathe work. But with an understanding of the limitations of tabletop machine tools, and some creativity in making set-ups, there is no reason that these engines cannot be successfully completed using benchtop equipment. In addition to the lathe and mill, some means of cutting material to rough size will be needed (e.g. bandsaw). One special note as to the Engine Test Bench. Since this is largely a woodworking project, a table or radial arm saw as well as typical woodworking tools like a hand sander, drill, clamps, etc. will be required.

What about accessories?

As all machinists find out soon enough, machine tools won't do much without at least a basic compliment of accessories. For the lathe...both  3 and 4 jaw chucks are needed, as is a tailstock center and drill chuck. Collets for the lathe are not required but can be useful when working with small diameter rod stock. Obviously an assortment of lathe tool bits is required, and a quick change toolpost is also nice, but not mandatory. For 4 jaw work, a dial test indicator adds considerably to accuracy but will be used even more in mill set up.

For the mill, a rotary table of 4" or greater diameter along with a vise for holding workpieces will be needed. Basic items like a drill chuck, end mill holders or collets, flycutter, and boring head will also be needed. A good quality edge finder will be one of the most used items when using the mill. A digital read out for the mill and/or lathe can make life easier, but is by no means necessary.

As for consumable items (drills, end mills, etc.) these projects rarely require anything over 3/8" dia, In that regard a set of number drills (#1-60), a set of fractional drills (up to 3/8" dia.) and assorted end mills (also up to 3/8" dia.) should be sufficient. Center drills in sizes 0,1, and 2 are also needed, and reamers in sizes of 1/8", 3/16", 1/4" and 3/8" will find frequent use in accurately sizing bores  for shafts, cylinder bores, etc.  One comment here...quality tools yield quality results. Sure you can buy less expensive drills and end mills, but I firmly believe that in the long run, they have to be replaced more often and ultimately don't save much. At the same time, recognize when tools become dull and have them resharpened or replace them. Dull tools both in mill and lathe work produce visibly inferior results.

Can I copy plans?

All drawing and construction notes are copyrighted materials. If you wish to make a copy for your own shop use that is fine.  I have found that using clear sheet protectors keeps them dry and clean and hanging them from a small clip mounted behind the workbench works well for keeping drawings close at hand but not in the way. Aside from making a copy for your own use, however, copying or distribution of plans in any form is not permitted.

Are plans available on disk?

No, plan sets are only available in printed form. There are no plans to provide drawings or notes in a digital format, both for copyright reasons and to ensure that all original files can be kept up to date as needed.  Every effort has been made to insure the accuracy of all plans, and while changes are not anticipated, the adage "never say never" comes to mind. If you are like me and sometimes put a project on the back burner for a while (often more than one), feel free to contact me concerning any updates that may apply. If any changes have been made, I will be happy to pass them on.

Where can I find the materials I need?

There are now numerous online sources for small quantities of metals, and they can be a good resource though not necessarily the least expensive. Other sources include local machine shops, scrap yards, and even local metal suppliers which may have smaller "drops" available for a reasonable cost. Hobby and craft type stores can be a good resource for small rod stock in brass or aluminum. Don't overlook your local home improvement store either...many often carry smaller pieces of steel and aluminum (both round and bar stock) as well as various hardwood "project" boards which are great for making a nice wood base for that recently completed engine. Finally, check the "Links" page for numerous online resource listings by category.