SMEE course in action. Photo by Mike Chrisp.

Training courses bun by the Society of Model and Experimental Engineers have proven highly successful in recent years. However, it is not just model or even experimental engineers that take advantage of them at the SMEE’s South London headquarters. It also includes those setting up home workshops for restoration projects.

When Stuart Budd began restoring a decrepit 1937 Royal Enfield Model S   motorcycle discovered behind a Thai restaurant in Kent he knew he needed to develop engineering skills. He says the bike was “a lethal but just about running basket case” and required radical overhaul.

At school Stuart wanted to make things in the well equipped workshop but no-one there had the skills to teach machine use. His army career in the Royal Signals gave him many skills but sadly, engineering wasn’t one. 

Attempts to find an evening class for engineering were unsuccessful but thanks to a chance encounter at the London Model Engineering Exhibition he’s learned new skills on the SMEE’s  training courses enabling restoration of his bike to near roadworthy condition. He’s run it round his Gloucestershire  garden already and with a little more tweaking it will be ready for the road.

Stuart had never used a lathe before joining the classes. With new skills developed in home practice he’s used his Warco lathe to turn ferrules for the throttle thrust grip, machine a front brake adjuster and turn all engine mounting spacers to correct length. To support the outer primary chain case he’s turned a sleeve.

He’s also fabricated a new dash panel for the fuel tank and made spacers plus brackets to fit the front and rear lights which are non standard. To finish off the handlebar ends he will turn two brass plugs.

The SMEE runs courses helping newcomers to model engineering but finds participants often restore classic bikes or cars. Their three-day Basic Training course restarts in February 2018. It covers setting up a workshop, desirable equipment and the basics of using machines and hand tools including the all important accurate measuring. Training is held over three Saturdays where students joining SMEE have access to its meeting room, library and well equipped workshop.

Not only lathe work but safe drilling, grinding, milling  are introduced. Sessions include talks, discussion and demonstrations in an informal but enthusiastic atmosphere.

Tutors give tips on reliable places to buy tools and equipment - often saving students money.

Stuart followed his basic training by taking SMEE’s Part 2 course where students to make a small live steam engine, the Polly model. He  finds this broadened his skills including sheet metal work, silver soldering, milling  and jointing pipes. Already he’s started replacing ‘bought in bits’ for the bike with parts he’s made himself.

For more information about SMEE courses see their website  or write to:

SMEE Courses, Marshall House, 28 Wanless Road, London, SE24 0HW.

Royal Enfield with new light bracket.