The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 15, March 15, 2009

Customer Projects

Tiny Steam Engines/Jerry Kieffer and Scotty Hewitt

This tiny steam engine by Jerry Kieffer is smaller than the one in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Jerry Kieffer of DeForest, WI has long been noted for building some of the most detailed working steam and gas engines. Working with a microscope on his Sherline lathe, some of his parts push the limits of visibility, leaving people to wonder not only how they are made, but how they are even handled and assembled! The steam engines shown here are both smaller than the one in the Guinness Book of World Records, but Jerry has never submitted his for a record. The oscillating steam engine above is on display in the Craftsmanship museum in Vista, CA. It is just .40î long, which is the width of George Washingtonís face fromnose to hair on a US Quarter. The flywheel is .25" in diameter, the bore is .059" and stroke is .060".

Jerryís smallest steam engine will fit inside the º" flywheel of the first engine. It too comes in its own finger jointed wooden box.

The smallest engine Jerry has built is a twin-flywheel model that weighs just 1/131 oz or 3.5 grains! It will actually fit inside the º" flywheel of the previous engine. It has a bore of .029" and stroke of .032". Air is fed into the .008" intake port with a hypodermic needle to get the motor to run. Jerry says he built this engine to test the limits of how small he could build something and still get it to run. He also made a small finger-jointed wood box for the engine with a sliding lid. When displayed, he has it sitting on top of the eraser of a regular #2 wooden pencil.

The small 4-cylinder marine steam engine in the first photo won the Sherline Machinist Challenge contest in 1995. The others are examples of even smaller steam engines by Scotty Hewitt.

Scotty Hewitt of Van Nuys, CA traded knowledge with Joe Martin to learn to become a machinist. He was Joeís racecar driving instructor when Joe started in vintage auto racing. Joe traded Scotty a Sherline lathe and some instruction for some extra driving lessons. Joe went on to win the Formula Ford division in the San Diego Region of SCCA in the lathe 1990ís, while Scotty went on to win the Sherline Challenge several years in a row with this nice 4-cylinder marine steam engine and a couple of CO2 powered race car models. Looks like it turned out to be a good trade from both of them, although each admits neither thought the other had much potential at the time! You never know who will turn out to be a champ.

See for many other projects by Sherline machinists.

Shop Tip of the month

Split mill vise for long parts/Jerry Kieffer

Jerry Kieffer needed to hold a long part (a model railroad car) on the mill and wanted to grip it from the ends, but his mill vise wouldn't open far enough. His answer was to take an old Sherline mill vise and saw it in two in about the middle. The fixed jaw portion is then mounted to one end of the mill table using two or three angle clamps in the groove. The moveable jaw portion and the rest of the base is moved to the other end of the table and clamped with two or three more clamps and the jaw tightened. It's just like having a really long vise. Perhaps you can find an older vise on eBay that you wouldn't mind dedicating to this task rather than buying a new one, or maybe you'd like to buy yourself a new one now that you have a good use for your old, beat-up vise.

To view over 50 other handy tips for Sherline owners, see the TIPS page at

New Product Spotlight

Sherline Inserted Tip Carbide Tool Holders

Photo 1: The P/N 2255 3/8" RH and LH 80∞ IC holder set. Photo 2: The P/N 2265 3/8" straight IC holder.

Introduced this month are two new 80∞ holders and a 55∞ holder for carbide inserts. The P/N 2255 set ($80.00) includes both right-hand and left-hand holders offset 35∞. 80∞ inserts with their stronger, less pointed shape make good roughing cutters. The inserts we use have a .015" nose radius for a nice finish without over-stressing a small machine tool. Included with each insert is a Torx hold-down screw, and the set includes a Torx key. Each tool can be purchased individually for $50.00 each. The RH tool is P/N 2253 and the LH tool is P/N 2254. These 80∞ tools compliment the already available Sherline P/N 2256 and 2257 RH and LH 55∞ holders which can also be purchased as a set as P/N 2258 ($70.00). To compliment these 55∞ offset IC holders, the other new tool shown above is a general purpose 3/8" shank straight holder for 55∞ inserts, which is P/N 2262 ($50.00). It also comes with 55∞ insert, Torx screw and Torx key. These 3/8" shank tools can be held in the P/N 7600 3/8" tool post or the riser version, P/N 1289. Recently introduced for the P/N 2250 quick-change tool set is a 3/8" holder that will hold these tools. The holder is P/N 2282.

Did you know?

ï Sherline hosts a miniature machining contest each year at the NAMES show in Toledo, OH called the Sherline Machinistís Challenge. Sherline puts up as much as $2500 in prize money and there is no entry fee. To see the rules, go to This will be the 18th year for the contest, and you need not attend the show to enter.

ï To find the part number of any accessory, use the Google search feature on Sherlineís home page. Just type the name of the part into the query box and look through the search results. Once you have the part number you can find out more about it by typing the following address into your browser address window: where XXXX represents the 4-digit part number. To read the instructions for any know part number use or

ï New products are often introduced through the monthly Internet Special. You can save 20% too. This month three new cutting tools are being offered at a 20% savings. To learn more, see

ï We donít pay anybody or use tricks to get good placement for the Sherline site on a Google search. It is big and useful enough that it commands a first page position when you search for ìlathe,î ìmilling machine,î ìrotary tableî or even ìmachining.î The site was started in 1996 and is still growing.

Upcoming Shows

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 to the Metalworking Craftsman of the Year 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 The NAMES organization also purchases Sherline tools each year which are offered as raffle prizes to lucky winners in attendance.

ï WEME (Western Engine Model Exhibition), July 18-19, 2009, Vallejo, CA. This relatively new show in the Bay Area hosts a large number of fine engines. Emphasis is on internal combustion engines, but many steam engines are on exhibit too. Sponsored by Model Engine Builder Magazine, this show gets better each year. For information see Sherline will have a vendor booth at this show again this year.

ï GEARS (Gas Engine Antique Reproduction Show), September 19-20, Portland, OR. The other main West Coast show is held at the armory near the Portland Airport each September. For more information see

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

ï The newest addition to the on-line museum is Ron Guttu, builder of a º-scale Offenhauser powered dirt track racecar. The car was featured as a centerfold article in a recent addition of Model Engine Builder magazine. Ron is a retired auto mechanic, and this is his first major automotive model project, but he did a fine job of it. The car is modeled after a car his father raced back in the 1930ís.

ï This yearís Young Artisan Scholarship Award is coming up soon. The foundation awards $5000 each year to help send a young person on to a skilled trade school or artisan program. The money is provided by an anonymous donor and administered by the foundation. The award is based on a project entered in the Sherline Machinistís Challenge contest held at the NAMES show next month. To find out more, see our web page at

ï The museum was visited on Saturday, March 7th by two different clubsóThe Poway Cruisers hotrod club and the Airheads BMW Club, a group riding vintage air-cooled BMW motorcycles as well as other touring brands. In addition to our normal Saturday walk-in traffic, these two clubs really boosted our attendance for that day. Thanks for coming, and tell your friends!

ï Physical museum address: 3235 Executive Ridge, Vista, CA. Hours: Monday through Friday (except holidays), 9 AM-4 PM. The first Saturday each month, 10 AM-3 PM. (If the first Saturday falls on a 3-day holiday weekend, the museum will be open the second Saturday.) Admission is free. The on-line museum is open 24 hours a day at