PART 11 from the Styx

by Journeyman

A WEEK of hot dry weather in the second half of July brought a welcome relief from months of  winter-like cold and wet conditions. One of the features of life in the countryside is how close you become to the weather and how much it affects your life.

This is all the more evident as I grew up in north London, and like all urban areas there is a lot of ground covered in concrete and tarmac and so there is much less damp ground to keep the atmosphere humid. So here in the Styx, as all rural environments, there is a greater sense of the rhythm of the seasons and the feel of the weather surrounded as we are by fields and trees and the cycles of the farming year as experienced on a daily basis as we go about our idyllic lives!

Talking of idylls, we terraced the garden over a two year period after arriving here using posts and rails to form the walls expecting them to last us out, but they have rotted through and are now collapsing, more time lost from the workshop to prevent the brassicas sliding down into the babbling brook at the bottom.

I now have Boxhill’s smokebox more or less complete, leaving only the chimney to finish. I placed the unmachined casting over the petticoat pipe hole and suddenly the loco came to life. After completing the chassis and motion, it seemed as if progress had ground to a halt despite a lot of work being done, and nothing showed any evidence of change towards  real locomotive, and then suddenly there was a Terrier
emerging, like a chrysalis changing into a butterfly, not fully out but with enough to give a real sense of  the reality of the finished job, and just as beautiful ! – “one small step……..”, and all that.

I shall be fitting the buffers soon, made 40 years ago, and hope to have the chimney finished and fixed for our club exhibition in September.

One detail puzzled me, which was how to make the door hinges. Both curved and twisted and running along a chord to the circle, was there a need to curve them on edge before curving along the flat.

We were puzzling over this at breakfast one day and there before me lay the answer, a saucer and a nail file. Placing the file on the saucer and pressing it over the curve revealed that only a curve on the flat was needed, and the twist for the knuckle could be put in first. To line up with the connecting pin, remembering to do one right handed and one left.



The cone pulley clamp on my Myford 254S has started to slip. It locks the pulley to the spindle when not in back gear. The book of words showed that it is easy to remove, and this revealed that the clamping face of the groove in which the clamping washers operate was badly worn and scored, as were the washers themselves.

I have a folder of Myford suppliers on the computer, and myford.co.uk have been helpful in the past.  Speak to Jack and he will find what you want quickly and efficiently if he has it. New parts are now on their way to me at a very modest cost.

It is interesting how well-proven high quality machines can retain poor design features. This clamping arrangement relies on about half a square inch of contact area to transmit the full power of the motor, and unless tightened up almost to the shearing point of the clamp screws is likely to slip again; have any other 254 owners encountered this problem ? I think the lathe arrived here with the clamp already worn as it has been an intermittent problem from the start. Clampers, beware !


You all know how life takes steps forward without you having done anything. Well our first grandchild arrived in the middle of August, a boy, and suddenly visions of times in the workshop with him came to life, and there’s me planning out a life as an engineer for him, when in reality he will do just what he wants to do, as, but perhaps before he makes up his mind we will make a steam engine or two together, it should be great fun; and of course he is incomparably beautiful and has a highly intelligent face, what else?

Double sided sticky tape

I recently discovered how useful this is in the workshop. I was trying to work out how to mount the smokebox door on the lathe in order to machine the outside radius.

Having turned the face that closes against the smokebox barrel and drilled the hole for the dart, I was puzzling how to finish the outside when I had one of those flashes of inspiration ( few and far between ), stick it to the faceplate with double sided tape. Both surfaces were thoroughly cleaned with cellulose thinner , the tape was laid onto the plate to make a rough ring, the backing tape removed and the door placed on , guided by the revolving tailstock centre. The centre was left in place to support the turning operation until it was finished, and then withdrawn to remove the turning spigot.

Unsticking the door was  quite a tussle. It wouldn’t lift off any way so I had to soak the whole assembly in very hot water to soften the adhesive, prise the parts apart, and then clean up. This involved carefully scraping off all the tape with a Stanley knife and finishing with solvent, a bit tedious but worth the effort. I used the same method to locate the fire door onto the back head to drill for the hinge and the catch, which are secured with phosphor bronze screws.

Tube bending

I am making the tube bending tool to Artisan’s design. As he says, it is straight
forward and the care put into the depths of the grooves on the formers and pressure plates is rewarded with beautiful neat bends.

I tried out the first former I completed for ¼” dia. tube and what a pleasure it is to use, so easy and so effective. Now I am fitting out a box to house it all as a set.

This the sort of job I tend to rush to get things finished, and by not putting in a bit of thought before proceeding, it takes much longer to complete and isn’t a very satisfactory job and doesn’t compliment the contents, so I’m being more careful than usual to make a job that will meet with Artisan’s approval.


As you may have noticed, these pages are written over a period of weeks  and so now I can report on the completion of Boxhill’s ashpan. I made it out of stainless sheet of which I have quite a supply as I used to go down to a firm of stainless workers back in Dorset and plunder their scrap pile. This was an eye-watering skip full of all manner of sections in lengths and sizes for which one would now pay a lot of dosh. It had to be done on the q.t. with the works manager, as the firm had a contract with scrap dealers for all that was put in the bin!

I joined  all the parts together with SIF bronze rod using the oxy-propane torch, speaking of which it is now possible to get rent-free oxy-acetylene;  www.albeegascylinders.com is the site to go to. There is an initial high cost, but thereafter you only pay for the cylinder exchange which includes fitted regulators, and NO ( extortionate ) admin/delivery charges as you pick up from a local agent. Air Liquide is the firm behind this service.

I exhibited Boxhill at my club exhibition, together with the tube bender for which I was awarded a commendation, much to my surprise. The leaves are turning early this year so we must prepare for winter at the Styx a bit sooner than usual.