Getting Started
Stuart Turner Steam Engine from a kit

Stuart Turner Steam Engine from a kit

There are many ways in which anyone can start in the hobby of Model  Engineering. It may come about because  of skills already in use, or from a desire to do something “a bit different” which may then entail learning new skills.

A good suggestion is NOT go in off the deep end to build a steam locomotive as your first project. This is a big task regardless of the engine being modelled, or the scale in which it is being worked. To build one of these you will need reasonable finances and a fairly comprehensive workshop – but not necessarily a fancy one with heaps of new machine tools – and a fair bit of spare time.

Better by far to build a simple engine to learn what makes a steam engine tick, and to learn the skills to complete the task before moving on to something else.

Models may be built from scratch – take photos, measure up a prototype, draw plans, make castings, etc; or you can buy a kit ( plans and a set of castings ) for a wide variety of engines from model engineers suppliers – even buying ready machined sets. Then there is a middle ground where the plans and some raw materials are purchased, and then machining takes place to produce the necessary parts, buying fasteners and some other bits and pieces.

Model engineering suppliers in Australia include (this list is far from complete) –

For machinery and tooling

For tooling

For components for railway models

For general model engineering – plans, books, castings, fasteners, materials, components 

There are many books and periodic publications which can help the novice, the selection depending on what choice has been made.

Some of the periodic publications include ( this list is NOT a complete index of publications)

Model Engineering (broad based) –  Australian Model Engineering magazine –

Railway modelling – Australian Model Railway magazine –

Shipbuilding – The Model Ship Builder –

Aero modelling – The Aeromodeller –

There are many books available which can help in specialised ways, focusing on particular fields of Model Engineering such as Heat Treatment, Foundry, Machining of metal in the lathe or the milling machine, etc, etc, etc.

These can be accessed from on line stores or through stockists such as:

A very useful website for the beginner is where you can find all sorts of helpful hints on machining and also plans and descriptions of how to build simple steam engines.

Best of all, do plenty of research to decide what YOU really want to do and then have a chat with someone at your nearest Model Engineering club. A (non-comprehensive ) list of clubs can be found on the AALS website under “Links”.

Good Luck and have many hours of enjoyment in the workshop.

It all helps keep dementia at bay!