The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 8, August 15, 2008

Customer Projects

A cab-forward live steam locomotive by Dwight Ennis


Photo 1 shows Dwight at a recent show. Photo 2 shows an old photo of the prototype Dwight worked from while photo 3 shows the finished but as yet unpainted model.

Dwight Ennis purchased a new Sherline 2000 CNC mill and lathe and went to work on a live steam locomotive. While running on G-gage or 45 mm track, it is technically what they call Fn3, or 1:20.3 scale. (G is defined as 1:22.5 scale.) Dwight's web site chronicles in detail the construction of many of the parts. Links to video of it running and his continually updated site are provided in the text from Dwight below. Scales up to and including those that run on 45 mm track are appropriate for tabletop machine tools. 

Dwight notes, “Here's the live steam locomotive I'm building. It's a model of North Pacific Coast #21, the world's first cab forward type locomotive, built in 1901 in the NPC's Sausalito, CA shops. (Yes, this ugly duckling actually had a prototype.) I ran her for the first time last weekend at The Big Train Show in Ontario, CA. (June, 2007) She ran great! For links to the project see Project #26 on the Sherline Workshop page.

Shop Tip of the month:

Cutting bevel gears, by David Lehrain


Steps in cutting the bevel gear and the pinion gear.

Cutting gears is a project that can offer very satisfying and useful results and for which small machine tools are well suited. David Lehrain is featured in Tip 27 in the “Tips” page as he shows you how he makes a set of bevel gears on his Sherline CNC mill. These were used in the axel of a powerful Nitro Methane powered R/C truck model. Additional photos, screenshots a link to the g-code used and formulas can be found by reading the entire tip, which is much too detailed to reproduce here in its entirety.


These photos show the finished gears and the gears installed in the RC truck driveline. 

Product Spotlight

P/N 8700 CNC Indexer


Though sized for use on Sherline tools, the model 8700 CNC indexer has found devoted users in other fields like photography, laser marking and other industrial uses on full-size machines. For clock makers or others who produce a lot of gears, the ability to simply enter a number of divisions between 1 and 999 makes cutting gears easy and reduces errors. A circle can also be divided by degrees with accuracy to three decimal places. It’s easy—just enter then number of divisions or degrees, hit “Next”button to index the table or the “Previous” button to return to the last position. Speed, direction and backlash can be changed in the “Settings” menu. There is also a “Program” menu where the built in chip can be programmed to remember 2 different programs of up to 40 blocks with 4 parameters per block. It can also be interfaced with other CNC machines that send a Step or Direction signal and it can be daisy-chained with other Sherline 8700 indexers or with the 8800 Linear controller to set up small production operations quickly and easily. The 4" diameter rotary table, controller, power supply and cables—a completely self-contained unit—sells for $725.

Did you know?

• Linked from the main menu in the “Other Products” section (Section 3) is another Sherline web site you may not know about. Sherline’s Industrial Product Division ( offers a number of ingenious slides, spindles, leadscrew drives and other components that can be used kind of like an industrial Erector set to put together simple movements and drives for production setups. Using standard Sherline extrusions and components, we are able to put together these slides at a very reasonable cost. Slides are available in manual or CNC form and in some combinations not offered in the regular Sherline line. Next time you need to build some small tooling, keep Sherline IPD in mind. To keep costs down, the components are sold only direct from Sherline and are not offered through our regular dealer network.

The LM trailer tongue scale (left) and LM2 suspended hydraulic scale (right)

Sherline Hydraulic ScalesAlso in the “Other Products” section of the main menu on the Sherline web site is a link to our hydraulic estimating scales. Two models are offered: One measures trailer tongue weight and the other is a suspended scale (like a big fish scale) that measures suspended weights up to 5000 lb. Both use a very simple principle to translate hydraulic pressure into a reading of weight in pounds or kilograms. With only one moving part (the piston) they are economical, sturdy and accurate to within 2% at mid-range—plenty close for estimating safe trailer tongue weight or when loading heavy items on a truck. The LM trailer tongue weight scales are available in 0-1000, 0-2000 or 0-5000 readings for $110. The LM2 suspended scale is available in 0-2000 or 0-5000 readings and lists for $250.


Photo 1: The internal combustion engine room of the Vallejo show before opening time.

Photos 2 and 3: A 1/3 scale hemi by James Weber and an almost complete Rolls Royce Merlin by Bob Haagenson were part of the display.

• The W.E.M.E. show (Western Engine Model Exposition— in Vallejo on July 19th and 20th was a huge success. Run as a 2-day show for the first time, it attracted many excellent engines for display from all over the country. A large display of engines was brought by members of the nearby Bay Area Engine Modelers ( Another selection of over 50 engines was supplied by Engine Museum host Paul Knapp of Arizona. Another whole room featured steam engines and vendors, including Sherline.

• Next show—G.E.A.R.S. (Gas Engine Antique Reproduction show), Labor Day Weekend. Although Sherline is not attending in force, representative Jim Clark will be there with catalogs and answers to your questions on Saturday. See their site at

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

• After the WEME show mentioned above, fifty more engines from Paul Knapp’s collection were transported to the Joe Martin Foundation Craftsmanship Museum in Vista, CA where they are now on display. Over 100 engines from Paul’s collection will be on display for at least the next year. (Click here to see a photo and description of each engine.) Be sure and make the museum a “must see” stop if you tour the Southern California area. Contact information and a location map can be found on the web site at