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Hi All,

I have been following the thread,"GOING PROTO:48" and have recognized my lack of such skills.  Actually, I knew I had no such skills many years ago but told myself that I was too old to go to class.  I am older now and wish I had gone.

How many of you have taken such a course? or plan to?

Regards,

Ed

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I would love to!   At least learn how to work a drill press, lathe, bending brake, etc., all the way up to CNC machining and 3D printing.  The old ways, and the new.  I'm much too old for high school shop class.  But given the opportunity, maybe I would even retire from my career job and use my skills to help others in the hobby.

O gauge trains, particularly, were a product of the "machine age" (in contrast to the Atomic Age, the Space Age, or the Information Age that followed.)  It's frustrating to me that today the mechanical aspects of locomotives-- gear trains, drives, quality materials, careful design and assembly -- seem to have taken a back seat to fancy but failure-prone electronics that will almost operate the locomotive on their own, and are shamelessly used by some manufacturers to cover up a multitude of mechanical sins.

I'm very serious about wanting to explore a change in career direction.  There are a handful of folks in the hobby (Henry Bultmann, Doug Cockerham, Stu Kleinschmidt, Joe Foehrkolb, Rod Miller come to mind and apologies if I'm forgetting you!) who have unique skills and have made an enormous contribution.  As they retire or move on, the potential knowledge drain is a major threat.  Clinics, videos, and slide shows are great but IMO they are a weak substitute for true apprenticeship.

If anyone else in north Texas is interested in learning or teaching basic machine tool skills, please contact me through my profile!

Last edited by Ted S

I graduated High School in 1984, and the machine shop classes were eliminated my senior year.  I’d suggest looking for a “Maker Space” near you that has milling machines etc.   Most of those places are pretty friendly environments and would either offer instruction as part of your membership, or there would be people there that could get you started.   In Philadelphia there is NextFab but similar operations all over.   Many are going to have CNC mills, so that would require you to develop some CAD/CAM skills, again, probably class are offered.    These CAD/CAM skills would be transferable to 3D Printing, laser cutting, CNC Routing, vinyl cutting etc, so would be well worth the time and effort.   I’m convinced the future of this hobby, especially O Scale 2 rail, and even more so Proto 48,  will require one to be able to make more of your own parts and models.  This isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion, as it frees you up to model whatever prototype you want.  

When I was in the Air Force stationed in Korea, I was in aircraft maintenance trained as a welder. The welding shop and machine shop shared the same building, so I was always in the machine shop working on projects collectively, and learned to use many of the lathes and en mills. The sheet metal shop was next door, and I also worked with the tin knockers, and learned a lot of valuable skills. When I went stateside to a missile base in Missouri, it was a similar situation, with all the trades in the civil engineering squadron in close proximity. I again worked with machinists and tin knockers to further my experience. These skills helped greatly when I was hired as a welder by Morrison Knudsen in their Mountain Top facility repairing and re-manufacturing locomotives. I was again exposed to several of the trades involved. When I worked in the maintenance department at a school district, I had access to all the different machines in the shop classrooms, and used my machining skills to produce miniature scale turned "porch" posts to use as supports for my outdoor shelf layout. I used my welding/soldering skills to fabricate an open deck girder bridge made of steel. These skills were also used in the restoration of a composite mine car, and a mast signal that are on display at historical society's park. These skills will soon be used during a restoration project on a 0-4-0 steam locomotive used in local mines that we recently acquired. I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to learn any technical or trade related skills.

Start small, and work your way up, ....as mentioned best way is to start making chips...nothing beats experience, ....nowadays, lots of info on line, and some machines that are perfect for hobbyists are not out of this world in price....best advice I can give, it’s not the machine, it’s the operator knowing how the materiel is going to react in the machine....it’s not really rocket science .....soft metals, or materials react differently than hard stuff...measuring and mathematics just as important.....

Pat

I'd have to check, but way back when, San Diego had adult classes in welding and machine shop at the City College.

I took welding there while I was in grad school at UCSD.  Machine shop is somewhat easier - you can almost "read and do."  

Serious O Scale locomotive builders do have machinery.  I have an 11" Sheldon in the garage, a 9" South Bend in the Cub hangar, drill presses practically everywhere including two in the kitchen, oxy-acetylene, and a Bench Master end mill.

Sarah is an artist.  You do not need to be that good to build locomotives.

Midway through my senior year of high school I was accepted into several college EE programs and realized I wouldn't need the last semester of French III - which I hated!.  For the remainder of my senior year I took metal shop and learned about working with metal and running a lathe. drill press, and other tools.  I had a ball.   Thirty years later I purchased a 9" South Bend lathe similar to the ones we had in the high school shop.  The South Bend is gone now and has been replaced by a benchtop lathe from MicroMark that I use for small train related projects like turning headlight reflectors and truck bolster bushings.  Those metal shop lessons come in handy at times,  but most importantly they served to build confidence for a range of do it yourself projects one encounters in life where time is more available than money.   I say go for it.

I think you will find most community colleges have classes including adult learning.  Find one and take what they have.  I guarantee you'll love it and be thankful you did.  I did shop in high school and machining/welding in college (mechanical engineering technology).  Age is irrelevant unless you're looking for a career.  Journeyman level machinists and tool and die makers are always in demand. 

Several adult women are taking these classes around here (Reno NV) and turning out some amazing artistic things.  And, if you can find CAD classes even better.  Translating drafting into 3dCAD has been a challenge for me.

They don't call it lifelong learning for no reason.

@J Musser posted:

I graduated High School in 1984, and the machine shop classes were eliminated my senior year.  I’d suggest looking for a “Maker Space” near you that has milling machines etc.   Most of those places are pretty friendly environments and would either offer instruction as part of your membership, or there would be people there that could get you started.   In Philadelphia there is NextFab but similar operations all over.   Many are going to have CNC mills, so that would require you to develop some CAD/CAM skills, again, probably class are offered.    These CAD/CAM skills would be transferable to 3D Printing, laser cutting, CNC Routing, vinyl cutting etc, so would be well worth the time and effort.   I’m convinced the future of this hobby, especially O Scale 2 rail, and even more so Proto 48,  will require one to be able to make more of your own parts and models.  This isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion, as it frees you up to model whatever prototype you want.  

We have a "Maker Space" here in Sioux City, IA but it costs like $50.00 a month to belong to. A bit pricy for me.

Dick

I worked in an auto parts store early on at the end of high school. We had an attached machine shop that turned rotors, machined heads, clutch plates, etc. I got pretty good at turning rotors so when the time came some older friends schooled me on machining heads. I later turned or machined most everything that came in. I turned a flywheel with no previous experience on that machine.

 The old school tools were pretty easy to run in my opinion. Once you got familiar with a machine and learned it's quirks, it became easier. Years later I saw a lot of stuff running with some form of Autocad. I was interested but never got the chance to learn it. On my very last job I was assigned to run a water jet machine. It basically ran a premade program once selected, and you just hit the start button.

 I worked as a carpenter most of my life and handled many different machines over the years. Everything from hand tools, to some of the biggest shop tools. We had a machine that made stringers for stairs for example. Large table saws like an imported sliding table version. I worked in a door factory too. Just high speed, repetitious duty making door jambs and assembling the finished doors as fast as we could.

 I think this hobby can be interesting and we get to use many of the skills we have learned thru life. I just wish I had a better budget to equip my shop with more current stuff. I would have loved to build bridges or engines for people, or something similar that the hobby would need.

Last edited by Engineer-Joe

I grew up in and around a machine shop and likely forgot as much as I know. I was drilling holes for brass gauge stock on a drillpress much of my last preschool summer.

Regardless, I never skipped looking up at my charts when it matters a lot. (metallurgy, speeds, temps, bits, conversions, pressures, weights + books for what wasn't hanging up)

I can rattle off part numbers, bits etc, but I always check myself there too. 

The rest is skill aquired, born to, or longed for.

There are days I considered going to a class for things, just because I might learn something new.  (E.g. I knew hvac well enough to pass the general tests easily, but wanted to know more about some of the math and theory, so took the classes twice more, even after passing it the first time. (it was cheap and I attended casually )

  I also took some blueprint reading "I didn't need" and picked up some things I missed while progressing to architectural drafting IV and having the HS #V & #VI dropped decades earlier. (Graphics and general drafting and woods was all that was left by my Sr. year.   Autos, welding, metals, etc. were jokes by 1980 and gone soon after. Graphics, woods, and drafting seniors were at our 7th grade Jr high levels by 90  (now 6th thru 12th, no jr high seperation to mature in... just crankin out immature dummies that cant do simple math or print well with a pencil let alone write cursively, by the literal hundreds yearly now.)

Take a class?... Yep, you'll have fun because you want this

I took it in college (mechanical engineering).  Now I have two metal lathes and a vertical mill.  Even took a farming mechanics class in college that taught you how to be self sufficient on a farm.  Stick, ox-acetylene and tig welding, hot and cold metal work, code wiring, basic construction.  Learned more practical stuff in that class than all my engineering classes combined.

What gets me is if you look in the 1950's popular science mag, it seemed like everyone had an Atlas metal lathe in their basement.  Today, most people can't change the tire on their car let alone know how to turn a lathe on.

I took carpentry in 4H. Learned basic stuff. The old instructor never let us use power tools. We had to do everything by hand. In summer I worked in construction. Build three decks on different houses I've owned. One huge one with a hot tub flush with deck. I could frame a house if need be. It's a good skill. You should never give up learning. Don

This subject has kind of inspired me to take some machinist classes. As an auto racer we depended on machinist to accomplish the specialty engine work and chassis pieces necessary to be competitive, but I certainly didn't know how to forge and machine.I would like to be able to have the tools and knowledge to machine the rough castings for a live steam back yard railroad. 

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