DISPLAYS and demonstrations by the Society of Model and Experimental Engineers are, for many visitors, the main attraction of the Model Engineer Exhibition each year. Here is a run down of the 2012 activities.

Workshop demonstrations

This year, activities include making and running a model aero engine, Alex Whittaker's Firefly engine. Martin Gearing and Kieran Wisely will be giving their take on making, assembling and test running the engine during the show.  Alex will give an afternoon talk which will conclude on the stand with a test run and a question and answer session.   
While on the subject of aero engines, SMEE will also be displaying a flash steam aero engine built by H. H. Groves in 1911, a recent addition to its collection of historic models. Not wishing to ignore steam engines, Derek
Brown will demonstrate high-speed turning techniques which he has developed for making a range of useful steam fittings, including whistles and injectors, which will be on display, and Bruce Davey will be demonstrating the art of making split iron piston rings.  There will also be a comprehensive display of tooling designed and made by members including Derek Brown, Ken Willson and Jake Sutton.
SMEE’s training team will offer informal advice to beginners as well as demonstrating simple techniques and encouraging visitors, under supervision, to have a go themselves and even make, hands on, a complete item on a Mini lathe.   

Experimental and training

Mike Kapp and Alan Wragg will be demonstrating an improved version of their impressive Ghost Writer which can display a selection of messages from lights that appear in mid-air.  Other attractions include a number of fascinating electronic mechanisms and baffling novelty items.  The popular spark eroder, published on MEWS, will be on display and demonstrated on request. Recently, Mike has developed and made an interesting new CNC Mini Mill 3 axis conversion, specifically designed to enhance his electronics development work and this will be on display.

Peter Haycock will be organising the membership and training functions, assisted by members of the training team.  Allen Berman will be demonstrating a range of electronically enhanced Meccano models, including his very popular SMEE Rover powered by a Lego MindStorm computer control system.   Also on display will be Bryn Jones' new mini robotic arm and Howard Somerville's Diamond Rope Works engine.

Computers in model engineering

Alan Martin and his team will show some members' work which includes Alan Jackson's Gold Medal winning Stepperhead Lathe, together with a comprehensive range of special tooling which Alan will be regularly demonstrating. Joerg Hugel will be displaying a range of his own-designed tooling which includes an in-line tool manifold and speed control system for his Sherline CNC lathe.

Mike Tull will be displaying a Solidworks virtual model of his Gold Medal winning Bristol Mercury engine.  The engine will be displayed on the nearby IC Engine Builders stand. Mike will describe his approach to using CAD, CAM and CNC machines for designing and making his models.  
Jerry Burchell will be displaying his part built Turbine-Electric Locomotive No. 18100, which includes many different parts made using modern engineering development practices made possible by his extensive use of 2D and 3D to develop the design, including rapid prototype techniques for lost wax casting.  New work on display this year includes thin shell 3D printing used to make the complex cab end body work. 

Other displays are by Lester Caine, Alan Marton, Mick Chrisp, Charles Warr, Ken Willson, Phil Brien, Jake Sutton, Ashley Best, Neil Read, Kim Fisher and Gordon Hatherill.

The SMEE stationary engine group

Owen Bird will be organising a display of working stationary engine models, as well as displaying some of his own Stuart models, including his large scale Stuart beam engine. Owen, who has considerable experience in building and restoring stationary steam engines in general, and invaluable expertise in Stuart model engines in particular, will also be displaying some recently restored engines from the SMEE collection including a horizontal mill engine with Meyer valve gear and a Stuart twin Victoria.

Mitch Barnes will be displaying an interesting collection of engines that includes a part built four-column low pressure beam engine, a Stuart steam hammer and a fully restored 1918 Stuart No.7 with a full history going back to the original builder.

Ian Hall will be showing and demonstrating his fascinating collection of small stationary steam engine models, many to his own design, including his award winning model of a classic cast iron framed reciprocating belt driven sawing machine from his own workshop. 

John Dalton will be displaying his very popular 7.25” gauge LNER 25 Ton steam crane, working on air, lifting impressive loads.

SMEE lectures

Getting started with CNC

By Lester Caine

Lester will start with an overview of the options for drawing packages and why some are less useful than others. He will look at the problems of converting CAD drawings into g-code and review the various CAM packages, from sheet metal working through to full five-axis machining. He will look at some of the options for the hardware to use the g-code created.  He will demonstrate making a train wheel, starting with a model in Turbocad, taking it through a 2.5D package and running a demo on Mach3.  

Corrosion of metals

By Richard Holt

Richard Holt is a retired corrosion engineer and keen model engineering rookie.  He will show the electrochemistry which causes the corrosion process to occur on metal surfaces and highlight problems facing coated surfaces where breakdown and accelerated corrosion processes are possible, causing both cosmetic damage and structural problems. He will then take a brief look at the effects of combined metals (galvanic corrosion).  In some cases this is deliberate, leading to corrosion prevention, while in other instances, where it is accidental, it can lead to unexpected problems. Finally, the presentation will touch on corrosion issues pertinent to model engineers.

The Firefly 46 project

By Alex Whittaker

Alex will be taking a look at the evolution of the design criteria for his Firefly .46.  He will then explain how he turned these paper ideas into a practical 7½ cc glow-engine. This two-stroke engine is capable of flying a fully aerobatic radio-controlled aircraft weighing over six pounds.  During the show, on SMEE Stand 1, Martin Gearing and Kieran Wisely will be making, assembling and test running the engine. 

Better by design

By Derek Brown

Derek Brown will take a look at some of the basics which make for the best engineering practice, and hence better models and construction generally.  Screw threads should be thought out carefully and some of the old practices avoided.  He will look at the desirability of screwcutting, with some practical tips.  Strength of components will be examined, as well as the best way to space and fit screw threads, not forgetting the importance of correct clearances and the correct positioning of bolts, etc. in flanges.  Then he will look at some pipe fittings, making them look and fit right, with hints on machining, tooling and repetitive operations.  This all goes hand in hand with correctly bent pipework to make the job look right.  He will finish up with some examples of fittings around the locomotive, starting with plug cocks and ending with lubrication.  Derek's display of steam fittings on the SMEE stand will help to illustrate many of the topics covered by his talk.    

Making and sharpening  tools

By Norman Billingham and Mike Chrisp

A great deal of model engineering calls for the making of special tools for particular jobs, usually from gauge plate or silver steel. In this talk, Norman and Mike will illustrate the basic metallurgy of carbon steel, how it can be shaped, hardened and tempered to make tools, and how those tools can be sharpened to cut right first time, every time and give the  right surface finish.