2002 N.A.M.E.S. Show and the

Robert Merva wins with a beautiful Otto Langen atmospheric engine

Robert has come close in previous contests, and was pleased to finally take the top spot.

Commentary and photos by Craig Libuse


Robert Merva accepts his first place award plaque and winnings from Sherline's Craig Libuse at the 2002 NAMES show. (Click on image for larger photo.)

Dateline: Wyandotte, Michigan, April 27-28, 2002

Robert J. Merva has competed in a number of the Sherline contests and has come as close as you can get without winning. He had previously finished third and second. Last year his two entries took both second AND third places. Even though his winnings totaled more in dollars than the first place winner, this was little consolation to him. He wanted the win more than the money. This year he really put extra effort into his Otto Langen atmospheric engine and it paid off with a first place win. It was a decisive win as well, taking almost 50% more votes than the second place Stirling engine of long-time competitor Bert de Kat. In third place with a very tiny steam engine was first-time competitor Dave Sage, who like Bert DeKat hails from Canada. In fourth place was Jesse Brumberger with a boxed cap and ball pistol set. Fifth place went to Bill Huxhold of Canada who is a multiple previous winner. His CNC dividing head was based on a Hardinge unit but powered by a Sherline controller. Sixth place went to Karl Schwab with his nicely painted and polished "Little Blazer" flame licker engine.

Novice entries add fun to the event...

The top finishing Novice Division entry was 9 year old Trevor Katona who built a spinning top on his dad's CNC-controlled Sherline mill. The highest finishing novice entry has his prize money doubled, so Trevor won $104 with the 52 votes for his project. Needless to say he was a pretty happy guy. (He had been watching the voting off and on during the contest.  When I asked him how he thought he did, he told me, "I know I got at least three votes...maybe five." He seemed thrilled at that, so when he was told he won $104 his eyes got pretty big.) This year's contest had several other young entries as well. Sixteen-year old Alex Barrie of Canada entered a nice vertical steam engine. He would have finished much higher in the standings, but his entry arrived with only one hour to go in the voting. He will still be eligible next year to enter as a novice, so I think we can expect him to be a top competitor for that prize next year. Last year's novice winner, 13-year old Scott Schwab also finished well with a very inventive entry. He came up with the concept of a steam engine that can be hung on the wall like a picture frame yet still run when an air line is connected to it. Another entry by 10-year old Dalton Fishback was a joint project with his grandfather, Joe Fishback. He will also be eligible next year to enter on his own as a novice and we look forward to seeing what he comes up with. It is very heartening to see so many entries from young people. It makes the show fun for them and also encourages others to put down the video games and start making something. It should also be encouraging to those who think machining metal models is just for "old retired guys".

How the contest works...

The voting in this contest is done by the spectators at the North American Model Engineering Society's exposition in Wyandotte, Michigan. Each spectator who wishes to participate is given five tokens and asked to place them in cups next to his or her five favorite projects. They are asked to spread their votes over their top five choices. With a varied range on interests among the spectators, all projects won votes. Sherline puts up $100 in prize money for each entrant up to 25, so with 14 entries, there was over $1400 in prize money available. We would like to encourage more entries next year so that the maximum $2500 could be available to the contestants.

To read the complete contest rules and learn about entering next year's contest, CLICK HERE for a .pdf version of the rules/entry form sheet.

2002 Entries

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1st Place--Robert J. Merva of Latrobe, PA built an Otto Langen atmospheric engine. It runs on acetylene and was built using Sherline tools. (Use of Sherline tools is not required to enter the contest, but it is always gratifying when a Sherline built entry wins.) The full size version of this engine could also be seen at the NAMES show to fully appreciate how small this working model really is.
2nd Place--Bert de Kat of Troy, Ontario, Canada built a Stirling engine half the size of his entry from last year. The ruler next to it in the photo shows how small it really is...only about 3" tall.
3rd Place--Dave Sage of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada entered one of the smallest complete steam engines we've seen yet. The oscillating steam engine has a 1/16" bore and stroke and sits atop its own thimble boiler. The boiler is fired by a small alcohol flame from below.
4th Place--Jesse Brumberger of Macedon, NY showed what can be done with miniature gunsmithing by entering a tiny cap and ball pistol set in its own display box. It is actually capable of firing "BB" sized bullets. A nice display box complements the fine workmanship of the gun and includes the loading tools and ammunition to fire it plus a pipe cleaner to clean the barrel..
5th Place--Bill Huxhold didn't really build this entry for the Sherline contest, but it fit the size limitations and certainly qualified as an entry, so he was kind enough to let our voters and spectators enjoy it. He had the miniature indexer set up with a simple program running on the Sherline CNC control box so it ran all day. It can be mounted horizontally or vertically and the handle opens and closes the collet.
(Photo needed. Did anyone get a shot of this engine?) 6th Place--Karl Schwab of Warren, MI built a highly polished and brightly painted "Little Blazer" flame licker engine from plans in "Machinist's Workshop" magazine. His challenge was to build it using only a small lathe with a vertical milling attachment.
Novice Division--Trevor Katona (Age 9) worked with his dad's Sherline CNC controlled mill to make this engraved aluminum spinning top. The novice winner is awarded double prize money. The upper photo shows young Trevor at work using the CNC mill to engrave the pattern on the raw stock before it is turned. The lower photo shows the finished top and display stand engraved with his name. A quarter gives size reference.
The following entries are shown in alphabetical order
Alex Barrie, age 16 of Milton, Ontario, Canada shows lots of promise with his double acting, side valve vertical steam engine. Though a late entry in the contest, had it been able to receive votes for the whole morning it would have finished much higher. We hope we will see more of Alex's work in the future.
Dalton Fishback  (age 10) is Joe Fishback's grandson. The two of them helped build this Vee steam engine which was designed by Joe to look complex yet be easy to build. It uses telescoping tubing to make the parts easy to fit together. The second photo shows a closer detail of the nice finish on the engine. Joe will be offering plans for the engine for others wishing to build it.
Joe Fishback of Austell, GA entered a small rubber band gun that was a favorite of the younger voters. It uses a clock type escapement of Joe's own design to shoot up to three rubber bands in succession.

The lower photo shows grandfather Joe and grandson Dalton with both their entries during the awards presentation.

Dick Saunders of Manchester, Iowa made a part he can use on his 7 x 10 lathe long after the contest is over. It is a compound slide with rocker arm and tool holders. The "security cable" used to protect the contest entries can be seen running under and through the accessory. Though not particularly attractive, some of the parts had to be strung onto the cable to guarantee they wouldn't get lost. We ask that entrants provide a hole or way for the entry to be secured to the cable during the contest.
Scott Schwab of Fraser, MI, last year's novice winner, came back this year with a very clever entry...a "picture frame steam engine" that can be hung on the wall and run while on display. Scott is 13 and is the grandson of 6th place finisher Karl Schwab.
Matthew J. Russel of Mendon, NY built this elliptical wooden box using a mechanical milling fixture of his own design. An article on how to make this fixture was published in the April/May 2002 issue of "Machinist's Workshop" magazine.
Frank Warrick of Muskegon Heights, MI came up with an entry that his wife could display after the contest. He made a brass spinning wheel that would look nice on any display shelf. From the standpoint of contest voting this is a wise decision as well, because a project like this gets votes from men and women spectators alike. You don't have to be a machinist to recognize what this is.

2002 entrants and their projects

1. Robert J. Merva, Latrobe, PA--Otto Langen atmospheric engine

2. Bert de Kat, Troy, Ontario, Canada--Tiny Delta-T Stirling engine about 3" tall

3. Dave Sage, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada--Thimble steam engine with 1/16" bore and stroke, boiler and alcohol lamp

4. Jesse Brumberger, Macedon, NY--Miniature cap and ball pistol set 

5. Wilhelm Huxhold, West Hill, Ontario, Canada--Miniature CNC indexing head with collet closer running on Sherline CNC control box and power supply.

6. Karl T. Schwab, Warren, MI--"Little Blazer" flame licker engine

1st Place, Novice Division:  Trevor Katona (age 9), Rochester, MI--CNC-engraved aluminum spinning top and stand

Other entries in alphabetical order...

Alex Barrie, Milton, Ontario, Canada--Vertical steam engine

Dalton Fishback, Austell, GA--Vee steam engine

Joe Fishback,  Austell, GA--Miniature cap and ball pistol set

Matthew J. Russel, Mendon, NY--Machined elliptical wooden box with engraved pattern in lid

Dick Saunders, Manchester, IA--Compound slide and tool holder for mini-lathe

Scott Schwab, Fraser, MI--Picture frame steam engine

Frank Warrick, Muskegon Hts., MI --Brass spinning wheel model

Sherline wishes to thank all the entrants for their fine work. We hope it will inspire others to take their modeling to smaller and more intricate levels. We hope you will be back next year with another entry. Try to encourage your friends and club members to join the fun too.

Enter the Machinist's Challenge yourself in 2002...

There is no entry fee. Sherline makes available $100 in prize money for each entrant up to the first 25, so a maximum of $2500 in prize money can be available. We hope next year to see at least 25 entries so that the full total of $2500 will be up for grabs. Start making plans to get a project together for next year's show. Call 1-800-541-0735 for details or watch this site. There are a few minor changes to time available for voting in next year's contest, but the project rules will remain unchanged. Our goal is simply to show the interesting and fun things that can be built with a few cents worth of material, good miniature machine tools and a bit of skill and imagination. Novice entrants (less than two years experience building metal projects using machine tools) have a chance to score double prize money as Bruce Roland did in 1998, Graham Hollis did it in 2000 and 12-year old Scott Schwab did it in 2001, so don't let the quality of some of the entries intimidate you. If you are just starting out, you can still build a good project. For '02, think big and build small!

Results of past contests











More on the show...

Once again Jerry Kieffer attracted a crowd as he demonstrated the abilities of the Sherline lathe by drilling .006" holes in the end of a .010" shaft. Jerry also put on a two hour seminar on "Making and hardening a single point gear cutter" that was very well attended. The above photo was taken on Friday when groups of  local students were brought through the show. (Click for larger image.)

(Click on above photo for larger version.) Young Park brought pleasure to modelers of all ages with his scratch built aluminum corsair models. All marveled at the extreme attention to detail he put into the models.

More Awards

Young C. Park of Honolulu, Hawaii was awarded a plaque and a check for $1000.00 from Joe Martin Foundation for being selected as the 2002 winner of the foundation's "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year." The award was presented at the 2002 NAMES show where Mr. Park displayed his aircraft models.

Retired dentist Young Park was always interested in building airplane models. He also loved working with aluminum. In about 1996 he decided to combine his two favorite passtimes into one by building an all aluminum model of a Chance Vaught Corsair of World War II vintage in 1/16 scale. His attention to detail and skill in metalworking helped him to be selected as the 6th annual Joe Martin Foundation's Metalworking Craftsman of the Year award. Visit the Foundation page for more details on Mr. Park and all the previous winners.

Mr. Park's work can also be viewed in the Joe Martin Foundations new on-line museum at www.CraftsmanshipMuseum.com

Four of the six winners of the Metalworking Craftsman of the Year award got together at this year's NAMES show. From left to right: Young Park (2002), George Luhrs (2001), Jerry Kieffer (1997) and Wilhelm Huxhold (2000). (Click photo for larger image.) 

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