The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 40, May 16, 2011

Sherline Workshop Project of the Month

An update on 1/8 scale John Deere tractor and Harley Knucklehead motorcycle projects/Jerry Kieffer

Jerry Kiefferís projects are measured in years, not weekends, so it is not often we can cover the completion of a new one. However, since many of you follow progress on his current work, we did get a chance to take some new photos at the North American Model Engineering Society (NAMES) show a few weeks ago and can bring you up to date. ñCraig Libuse

JOHN DEERE PAINT JOBóJerryís 1/8 scale running John Deere tractor was completed a few years ago and then disassembled for paint, which took almost a year in itself. Those who have seen the finished model in photos may have (like me) questioned the wisdom of painting it when it looked so good in raw metal. Jerry brought the Deere to the show this year, and I had to admit seeing it in person changed my mind about the paint job. It is as spectacularly perfect as the rest of the model. A photo or two below will show you what I mean.

Note the tiny decal that is a perfect reproduction of the original. (The photo doesnít do it justice.) It looks as good underneath the gas tank as it does anywhere you look.

The working gauges are about 1/8" in diameter. Even the tiny oil can works.

HARLEY DAVIDSON KNUCKLEHEAD PROGRESSóThe bike is taking shape with wheels (with tiny working Schrader valves for the hollow tires), brakes, headlight, levers, handlebars with controls and steel fenders (not yet installed) having been completed. Wiring was difficult to fit inside the tiny handlebars, but it is now done just like the original with wiring for horn and lights.

The quarter gives you a size reference to the small size of the engine and transmissionóall fully functional. Note the ìspringerî front suspension too.

What Harley people call the ìoil bagî is the tank that goes under the seat area to hold engine oil. Note the tiny wing nuts and dipstick cover just like the original from the 1930ís.

At the NAMES show Jerry had a Sherline mill set up to cut a tiny 8-tooth distributor gear for the Harley. He had fitted his microscope so you could see the cutter and part in much more detail than this photo shows. The tiny gear tooth cutter is held in a collet in the spindle and the gear is about the middle of his thumbnail.

Next is the gas tank and seat to complete the bike. Once it is done it will eventually be painted red to match Jerryís real Knucklehead after which this one was modeled.

Shop Tip of the month

Powered, rapid advance handwheel adapters/Joe Katona

At this yearís NAMES show, Sherline dealer Joe Katona of JK Woodcraft came by the booth to show us a device he came up with to allow the use of a battery powered drill or electric screwdriver to spin the handwheel to move the long axis of the lathe when moving over long travels. At 20 revolutions per inch it can take a long time to manually move it through the 17" center to center distance on the longbed lathe. This adapter fits in a drill chuck and can either be left on the drill or left on the handwheel.

The adapter pressed into position on a 4400 lathe crosslide handwheel. It really comes in handy on the longer axis but will work on any Sherline lathe or mill adjustable zero handwheel.

Joe made the part on a Sherline CNC mill from Ω" thick laminated phenolic plastic, a machineable thermoset material that will not mar the aluminum handwheels. This version was a press fit, but the cutouts allow you to use a rubber band to help hold it on. Joe machined two ìstepsî inside to allow it to be used on 2" or 2.5" adjustable zero handwheels on his 4400 lathe. The cutout for the handwheel allows it to be used manually even with the adapter in place. (A smaller version would be needed for use on plain 1-5/8" handwheels.) The hardened hex stock was cut from an old hex wrench using an inserted tip ceramic cutter and simply pressed into a round hole. The ends were beveled slightly to remove sharp corners.

Here you can see the two steps in the back side.

The part was cut using a 1-1/4" milling cutter, and 0,0 was the center of the part. He started with a 4" square piece of stock. (CLICK HERE to copy the g-code text file he wrote.)

A reversible power drill with a hex extension makes quick work of long travels in either direction.

Product Spotlight

Sherlineís Other Products

Though best known for our miniature tools, Sherline also keeps the shop busy making a few products you might not know existed.

Hydraulic Estimating ScalesÖ

By using a hydraulic piston with exactly one square inch of surface area, one pound of weight exerts exactly one pound per square inch of hydraulic pressure on the scale. A gauge that reads in PSI (pounds per square inch) now also reads directly in pounds.

(Left) A scale for measuring the weight of a trailer tongue for safe towing and (Right) a scale for measuring hanging weights of up to 5000 pounds. Both convert hydraulic pressure to a direct reading in pounds.

Trailer Tongue Weight ScalesóAvailable in ranges of either 0-1000 lb, 0-2000 lb or 0-5000 lb these scales will help you on your way to safe trailering. When towing a trailer, you must know what percentage of the total trailer weight is resting on the tongue. Most manufacturers recommend between 10 and 15% of the total trailer loaded weight. If itís a really small trailer you might be able to get away with a bathroom scale, but trailers over 3000 pounds will have over 300 pounds on the tongue. You can guess at it, but if youíre wrong the results could be a disaster. Too heavy and you can break a hitch or tongue, too light and your trailer can suddenly start fishtailing and cause you to wreck. The only safe way to know is to weight it. Retail price is $135 for any of the 3 different weight rangesóa small price for knowing you are properly loaded.

Suspended Hydraulic ScaleóThis hanging scale works on the same principle and comes in ranges of either 0-2000 or 0-5000 lb. It can be suspended from a block and tackle or a fork lift blade or can be used horizontally to test pulling load. It has been used to weigh everything from telephone poles for helicopter lifting to barrels of scrap metal before sending to the recycler on a truck. Retail price for either gauge range is $250.00.

Accuracy of the gauges on both types of scales is 2% at mid-range and 3% at the extreme ends, which is not for measuring things that are sold by the pound, but is plenty accurate for confirming that loads are within safe limits.

Industrial Slides and SpindlesÖ

For years we found that people were buying Sherline lathes and mills and taking them apart to use the components to make simple slides for production tooling. It was cheaper to re-task a Sherline tool than to buy the industrial slides that were available, sometimes offering a higher level of precision (and corresponding price) than was needed for the job. Now Sherline offers a solution: Single and multiple axis machine slides are available in manual or CNC versions. Adaptable spindles with or without our powerful DC motor are also available. Based on standard Sherline parts with modifications to make them adaptable to industrial applications they offer simple, cost effective solutions to building small production tooling in a hurry.


This manual 2-axis slide is based on parts from the Sherline mill. It features dual pre-loaded ball bearings in the handwheels, drilled and tapped mounting holes in the bottom of the base and a groove around the base for clamping. It is available with a longer table and in CNC-ready form with stepper motor mounts in place of the handwheels.

A variety of spindles are also available: Flat bottomed, round and with or without a mounting flange. Some are also available fitted with Sherlineís DC spindle motor.

To find out more about the Sherline Industrial Products line, see the separate web site at Sold only factory-direct from Sherline to keep costs low, this could be the perfect solution for your small production tooling needs.

Did you know?

ï Sherline machine specifications and dimensions can be found on the following web pages:



ï Dating an old Sherline machineóNo, we donít mean taking it out for dinner and a movie, we mean finding out when it was made. We have put together a web page that summarizes the changes to Sherline machines over the years to help you tell how old a machine is. Is that old Sherline lathe on eBay a good deal for your brother-in-law, or would he be better off with a new one? Find out at Remember, we still offer replacement parts and upgrades for American-built machines going back well over 35 years.

ï At $1.00 for a 16 oz bottle of bottled water it costs $8.00 a gallon. Think about that the next time you complain about $4.00 a gallon for gasolineÖor the next time you buy bottled water. Which is the better deal?

Upcoming Model Engineering Shows

ï Western Engine Model Exhibition (WEME)óAugust 27-28, Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton, CA, to be held in conjunction with the Good Guys car show. Hotrods, show cars and model engineeringóa great combination! See for details. Sherline will be there!

ï Gas Engine and Antique Reproduction Show (GEARS)ó September 24-25, 2011, Kliever Armory, 10000 N.E 33rd Drive, Portland, Oregon 97211-1798. For information see their web site at

ï Estevan Model Engineering ShowóOctober 15-16, 2011, Wylie Mitchell Building on the Estevan Fairgrounds. Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada is located 15 minutes north of the North Dakota Border. See for details.

Send us your show details and we will post them hereÖ

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

ï Our local newspaper, The North County Times ran a nice article on the re-opening of the museum in Carlsbad. CLICK HERE to read it.

ï The foundationís Metalworking Craftsman of the Decade, Louis Chenot received his award April 30th in Southgate, Michigan at the NAMES show. Congratulations to Lou!

Lou is presented his award of $2000, an engraved medallion, certificate and book. Louís wife June looks on approvingly from between Lou (Left) and Craig Libuse (Right) representing the Joe Martin Foundation. His 1/6 scale Duesenberg is in the foreground with the engine to the right.

ï Several major donations came in this month. Dr. Francis Rigney of San Francisco donated a childís iron made in the late 1700ís or early 1800ís by slaves and presented to a member of his family. We were pleased and surprised to learn that he had been referred to us by the Smithsonian Institution because of its nature as a miniature, but we found the connection with early blacksmith craftsmen an interesting one too. On the same day we received a loan from Darleen Wight of four items built by her father, Marvin Johnson. The first is a miniature aluminum B-24 Liberator model carved from aluminum sawed from the propeller of a downed Japanese Zero during World War II. Serving in China, Marvin Johnson filled his down time by making things. After the war, the popular concert violinist and country fiddle player also made an exquisite miniature violin about 3" long along with its bow and fitted case. He also made the entire rotor mechanism for a Bell Helicopter long before the current R/C models were available as well as a brass bicycle for a miniature clown to ride on a stretched high-wire. Just a few days ago we received a large crate from Will Neely containing his 30" long model of a vintage dirt track racer. This red #3 model once graced the cover of the Micro-Mark catalog and is currently being cleaned up in our museum shop and some shipping damage repaired, but it should be on display within a week or so. Will also sent his º scale model of a vintage Ford 60 Flathead V8 like the one that once powered his fatherís racing hydroplane called Cumon Baby. Last but not least, engine builder Paul Elsmore donated a beautiful Red Wing Motors air cooled ìThorobredî 1/3 scale hit ní miss engine. We have also finished the restoration of the two fine steam engines donated by Joe Kunkler and they are now on display as well.

These items and more can be seen our web page in the Other Items page.

ï Featured museum craftsman Iqbal Ahmed of Nagpur, India found a last-minute sponsor and was able to travel with his son Arif and other members of his family to the NAMES show in Michigan. Given a featured display space by the NAMES club, he exhibited his recently completed º scale running model of the 1896 Benz Motorwagen, which is arguably the first ìautomobile.î The 3-wheel, tiller-steered vehicle made a journey of over 130 miles driven by the wife of inventor Karl Benz, making automotive history and starting the move to motorized family transportation.

Iqbal Ahmed of India holds his º scale 1896 Benz Motorwagen at the NAMES show in Michigan. It was complete in just 13 months in time to honor the 125th anniversary of Mercedes Benz. Iqbal did all the casting himself, and all parts (even the round ones) were machined using just a Sherline mill.