The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 12, December 15, 2008

Customer Projects

Upgrading a model diecast tractor to include a real steam engine/Alvin Jeske

The first photo shows the Ertl tractorís original non-functional diecast engine in the foreground. The second photo shows the finished engine in place with an air line to run it.

Retired minister and electrical engineer Alvin Jeske of Browerville, MN purchased a 1/16 scale ERTL Millennium Farm Classic Case steam traction model in November, 1999. The plastic and diecast metal model was nicely done, but Alvin felt he could remake the engine using machined metal parts so that it would both look better and would also operate on compressed air. Using a Sherline 4000 lathe and vertical milling column and some help from The Shop Wisdom of Rudy Kouhoupt book, he completed the job over a period of about six months. All parts were made from aluminum, brass, bronze, steel and a piece of radar waveguide. The completed engine replaced the ERTL non-functioning engine in the tractor model which acts as a very nice display for his engine project.

This is actually an interesting way to take on a project, starting with an existing kit and replacing one part at a time with upgraded machined parts to turn it into a one-of-a-kind working model with much more authentic detail than the original model. The diecast parts and reference to original photos and plans can turn a mass produced model into a unique showpiece.

See for this and other projects by Sherline machinists.

Shop Tip of the month

Tailstock quick change tool holder by Ross Heitt

Ross Heitt turned a #0 Morse taper on the end of a steel billet to mount one of his most often-used tools, a #1 center drill. Several holders like this for different drills, reamers, etc. can make repetitive tailstock tool changes a quick and easy process.

At work, Ross Heitt runs 30" manual and CNC machines for a Canadian gear manufacturer, but at home he works on Sherline tools. One of his first projects when he got his new Sherline lathe was to make a center drill holder to see how well the lathe could turn a Morse taper. It worked fine, and he finds his center drill holder a very convenient fixture. This one is sized to hold a #1 center drill. A link to a dimensioned drawing is provided below. For your own information, a Morse taper is approximately 5/8" per foot. (Note that in reality, each Morse taper is slightly different depending on size. A list of the exact tapers for each size can be found in the Sherline Shop Accessories Guide and Machinery's Handbook, but a #0 Morse taper is .6246 in/foot or .05205 in/inch.

To view the dimensioned plan file for this project in PDF format click here: 0MTplan.pdf. If printing out the file, remember to set your printer to "landscape" mode.

Note also that Ross offered this tip before we introduced P/N 3051, which is a #0 Morse blank. You can save a lot of time by using this accessory as you donít have to turn the taperóthe hardest part for most people. See the New Products section below for more details.

This and other handy tips can be found on the TIPS page at

Product Spotlight

NEW PRODUCT! P/N 3051, #0 Morse Blank

P/N 3051, $12.00

The #0 Morse blank makes it easy to create your own tailstock tool holders for rapid tool changes. Simply hold the blank in a 3-jaw or 4-jaw chuck in the headstock, center drill and drill or bore a hole to the size of your drill bit or reamer shank for a loose sliding fit. Cross-drill a threaded hole for one or two set screws. Insert your drill bit and tighten the set screws. Changing drills or reamers in the tailstock for repetitive jobs is now as easy as popping out one holder and popping in another. No more chucking and un-chucking drill bits in the tailstock drill chuck over and over again. The blank billet is æ" diameter and 1" long and is made from free machining 12L14 steel.

NEW PRODUCT! P/N 3561, Short 90∞ Angle Plate

P/N 3561, $60.00

Sherline has offered P/N 3559 for several years. It is a 10" long 90∞ angle plate. The 90∞ plate allows you to mount a part to either the horizontal or vertical surface. Even if the part itself isnít perfectly square, you can machine parallel or perpendicular to the mounted surface. The new P/N 3561 angle plate uses the same extrusion with two T-slots on 1.5" centers, but is only 3.5" in length. This allows it to be mounted either parallel or perpendicular to the mill table, opening up new clamping possibilities for smaller parts. It also includes four T-nuts and 10-32 x 3/8" socket head cap screws for mounting it to the mill table. The surfaces are machined flat and square and then the aluminum part is given a tough black anodized finish. Though designed for Sherline mills, it can also be used on your drill press or on other tools in your shop for holding parts.

Did you know?

ï Exploded view drawings of all Sherline lathes and mills are posted on our web site to make it easier for you to work on and order parts for your machine. See for links to each drawing and part number list.

ï You can find the Sherline dealer nearest you at The first section in the listing shows ìstockingî dealers that have machines on hand for you to look at and many offer in-person demonstrations. You can also visit Sherlineís factory in Vista, CA and see our complete product showroom or order factory direct at our secure on-line ordering site at

ï You can save $145.00 on this monthís Internet Special. What is it? See to find out.

Upcoming Shows

ï Cabin Fever Expo, January 17-18, 2009, York, PA ( There is also a big machine tool auction Friday, January 16th. Due to coast-to-coast travel and shipping costs the Sherline factory will not have a booth this year, but it is a great show to see plenty of good projects by some of the Midwestís and Eastís best machinists, and by mid-January youíll be ready to get out of the house no matter what the weather.

ï NAMES (North American Model Engineering Society) Expo, April 18-19, 2009, Toledo, Ohio. ( The Sherline Machinist Challenge Contest is held at this show each year, and the Joe Martin Foundation presents its award for Metalworking Craftsman of the Year at NAMES as well. Lathe demos by Jerry Kieffer will once again be featured at the Sherline booth. Come by the booth and ask about our ìShow Specials.î

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

ï The newest addition to the on-line museum is Richard Carlstedt of Green Bay, WI. Richard has been a steam modeler for years, but his most recent project is a masterpiece on several levels. He spent years researching the recently recovered steam engine that powered the Union ironclad USS Monitor and has duplicated it at 1/16 scale in every detail. It is the most accurate model of that engine ever made. See Richardís page at

ï Thanks to ìsteam punkî robot builder I-Wei (featured on our site at a link to our museum video on was featured in the Make Magazine blog. This blog gets huge traffic and many visitors learned about our museum thanks to I-Weiís submission. It got over 1500 looks the first weekend. You can see the video at, and our thanks to I-Wei and Make magazine. (Choose ìwatch in high qualityî for best viewing.)

ï The museum in Vista will continue to be open the first Saturday of each month in addition to our regular weekday hours.

ï A nice article in our local Vista free newspaper was just published about the museum. See it on-line through December 17th at as the feature article.