The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 35, November 17, 2010

NOTE: Last monthís newsletter was just sent out with this monthís date. We apologize for the inconvenience. Here is the right one for November.

Sherline Workshop Project of the Month

Making the ìMillieî Steam Engine/Pam Weiss, plans by Ed Warren

Pamís finished version of ìMillieî mounted to a base plate. Itís small but fun to watch when it is running.

Years ago, Modeltec magazine ran an article and plans by Ed Warren showing a simple and fun oscillating steam engine he designed called ìMillie.î With Edís permission we included those plans in Joe Martinís book, Tabletop Machining, which is now in its 5th printing. For Joeís book, Pam Weiss built one from Edís plans and took some photos of some of the setups she used, and the photos were included in the article. It starts on page 329 of the 5th edition.

There arenít a lot of parts to make, and a spring from an old ball point pen can be used to provide pressure between the oscillating cylinder and the base.

There are only about 7 parts to make. You can find a spring from a ball point pen or you can wrap one of your own to match the one in the plans. This fun little afternoon project can be done on a lathe and mill or a lathe with a vertical milling column. For anyone wanting to get started in building steam engines, this one is a good introduction, because it provides all the components in a very simple form while illustrating the principles of how a steam engine works. That is not say it is simple. Precision is still required in drilling and reaming some of the holes, but a very small amount of material is involved. A good idea might be to gather enough material to make several at one time and give them to your kids or grandkids.

As mentioned above, the plans can be found in Joe Martinís book or, if you know someone with an old collection of Modeltec magazines, in the May, 1997 issue. See the Sherline ìChristmas Specialî mentioned later in this newsletter for how to get a free ìMillieî kit including plans and raw materials.

Shop Tip of the month

A live center tailstock chuck adapter/Dan Pines

Dan is a very active Sherline dealer in Israel and an avid user of his Sherline tools. He has made a number of modifications to his lathe including adding a milling column behind it instead of using the headstock pin. In the photos you can also see his ball bearing steady rest behind the lathe bed. Featured here, however is how he made a ball bearing fixture to adapt a tailstock drill chuck to allow it to function like a live center on the tailstock. Here is what Dan has to say:

"I have long felt the need to have a live center with the possibility to replace tips and best of all with 3/8"-24 thread to fit a drill chuck. Such devices are available (thanks to group member Jim Knighton who pointed me to their availability). Unfortunately these are quite expensive ($100 ++ with a tip selection) and also they are usually with MT1 so they will not fit the Sherline tailstock.

The bearing adapter is shown without the chuck attached. The tailstock chuck screws onto the 3/8-24 thread. A Tommy bar hole in the body (not shown) allows the chuck to be tightened against the body. The #0 Morse taper is a standard Sherline chuck arbor P/N 11890.

This weekend I decided to see whether I could make one. I drilled the whole length for 3/8-24 inside tapping. Then I bored one end to accept 15 mm. OD bearing. Total depth, 15mm to hold 2 bearings and a spacer. (Of course any other size of bearing will do.) I did the boring on the lathe. I then tapped the other end (inside) for the Sherline 11890 #0 Morse arbor. All work was done without removing the work in order to ensure concentric results.

I turned a shaft to press fit into the inside diameter of the bearing. In fact, I used 2 bearings with a spacer press fitted between them. The spacer OD is about 13mm; i.e., smaller than the bearings. I faced it on both sides so it has a slight hub on both sides (thicker in the center) and does not touch the outer races of the bearings. Next I drilled a hole for a Tommy bar thru the outside body and the spacer. Without it there would be no easy way to thread the tips onto the live center. Last step was to fit the shaft with the bearings and spacer into the body.

That's it!!  All in all it took about 2 hours as I designed on the go. I haven't made any tips yet.

I mounted it on the tailstock using the Sherline MT0 drill chuck adapter, thread a 1/2" chuck on the other end of the live center, held a long 3/8" bar between a chuck on the headstock and the chuck on the live center. I let it run at about half speed for 15 minutes or so. It worked beautifully and did not heat up. There was no visible wobble at all at any speed. Just in case anyone is curious, I did not bother to indicate it for runout. A nice mornings' project resulted in a useful accessory, at least for me.

Two notes regarding the photo: the slot at the right end of the body is meaningless, it was a piece of leftover bar and I did not bother to face it. The protrusion on the left side of the shaft was first left there on purpose because I started with the threading (just in case it did not come out true). I then held the shaft by this end for turning down the rest of the shaft to the ID of the bearing. For some reason I did not cut it off, although it is no problem with the chuck which is bored through anyway."

Dan Pines

This and more than 50 other helpful tips for Sherline machinists can be found at

Product Spotlight

Sherlineís Christmas Specials were just posted at

4400A or 4410A Lathe Packageó15% OFF! Save $120.00!

To help out at Christmas, Sherline is offering a 15% savings on our best selling lathe, the 4400A/4410A deluxe longbed lathe with 3.1" 3-jaw and 3/8" tailstock chucks. Instead of the normal $800.00 price, between now and midnight, December 23rd you can order this package for only $680.00óa savings of $120.00! The offer is available by calling Sherline at (800) 541-0735 to order or see the ìSpecialsî section at to order on-line.

(Note: 4400A is the part number for the inch lathe, 4410A is the part number for the metric version.)

When completed, Millie is small enough to carry it in your pocket! Thatís a quarter in the picture for size scale.

ìMillieî steam engine kit free with any lathe or mill purchase!

We gathered brass and steel raw materials, reproduced Ed Warrenís plans (with permission) and came up with a little steam engine kit on the ìMillieî engine shown above. Anyone ordering any Sherline lathe or mill between now and Christmas will find this kit in their Christmas stocking for free. Well, actually, it will be packed in with each machine ordered either direct from Sherline by phone or through the e-commerce site. Itís our way of saying thanks for supporting us all year and to give you something to build over the holidays when you get or give a new Sherline lathe or mill.

This kit is not available for sale separately and the offer lasts until we run out or midnight, December 23rd, whichever comes first.

Did you know?

ï The latest edition of Sherlineís 48-page color instruction manual (7th Edition) is now shipping with new lathes and mills. Few other companies offer this level of detail about setting up and using their machine tools, with information extending to include common machining practices, speeds, feed rates, tips and other helpful advice for new machinists. If youíve lost the copy that came with your machine you can download a copy at or you can order one for only $2.00. Quite a bargain and one of the things that sets Sherline apart.

ï A toolmaker in the United States makes as much in the first two hours on Monday morning as a similarly skilled toolmaker in Asia makes in a week.

ï The ìSherî part of the Sherline name relates to the name of the original company in Australia that produced the first Sherline lathes from inventor Harold Clisbyís design in the 1960ís. The tools were imported into the USA from Australia before we started making them here in 1974. Ron Sher is still our distributor in Australia. Joe Martin developed the milling machine design and most of the accessories offered today.

ï Sherlineís offices will be closed on Thanksgiving, November 25th and the following day, November 26th. We will be open again on Monday, November 29th. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Upcoming Model Engineering Shows

ï Cabin Fever ExpoóJanuary 15-16, 2011, York, PA. The East coastís biggest model engineering show. See

ï North American Model Engineering Society (NAMES) ExpoóApril 30-May 1, 2011, Southgate, Michigan. Americaís original model engineering show. See

(Send us your model engineering show dates and we will publish them here.)

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

ï The latest addition to the on-line museum is former aerospace engineer Ronald Remsberg. Ron used to build model airplanes as a hobby, but now he finds it relaxing in the evenings to build complicated structures out of matchsticks. The simplicity of the materials (matchsticks and Elmerís glue) is a nice contrast to the complexity of some of the structures, and he says it sure beats watching TV.

ï On Saturday, November 13th we had a visit from the Pickups Limited hotrod truck club. See the Group Visits page for photos of the group and their cars and other groups and clubs who have visited the museum in the past. The museum is open Saturdays for groups of 8 or more with at least a weekís notice.

ï Chinese gunsmith Xu Yan has sent in a number of new photos of some of his very tiny guns. Building guns in China, even very small vintage ones, is an unusual hobby, but he has been building up a good collection and has won several awards.

ï Construction is just about complete on the interior of our new Foundation offices, shop and museum. The expected move-in date is still some time in early to mid-December. The museum will be closed for a week or two for the move, so phone first before coming if you visit in late November or early December. After the move we plan to begin offering regular Saturday hours. Check the web siteís home page at for days and hours. As soon as we have exact days for closure, they will be posted there.