Author Topic: Want to give pattern making a try?  (Read 3942 times)

Alan Downey

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Want to give pattern making a try?
« on: August 05, 2014, 04:30:00 AM »
Do you like woodworking? Are you unable to spend as much time at Sheepscot as you'd like (even at all)? Then you ought to give pattern making a try!

There are many more pressing and important projects steaming along on site, and we don't want #11 to take away any manpower from these efforts. But even though we have not officially "kicked off" the #11 project, there is a great opportunity for our "From Away" members and fans to get involved with the Railway who otherwise couldn't. #11 will have dozens of castings before it is finished, and each of them requires a pattern to be made. Up to now, Bernie and I have made all of the patterns for #11. We can't physically make all of the patterns by ourselves, nor would we want to even if we could. Building a steam locomotive from scratch is such a unique opportunity, that part of the goal of this whole project is to allow our members and volunteers to get to experience the process first hand. Since the project hasn't officially started yet, we have the luxury of not being under the gun to get certain patterns finished, or feel like we are holding anything up. This means that we can take the time to really do things right, and also teach other people how to do this and get involved! Each pattern than can be contributed by volunteer efforts is also a significant contribution to the locomotive, and really helps to keep the cost final down.

Pattern making used to be one of the most prestigious woodworking trades, requiring a mastery of joinery and carving, and a lifetime of experience to be a master pattern maker. But with modern materials (plywood, epoxy, and polyurethane), and modern assembly methods (nails, screws, and glues), pattern making is a lot easier now than it ever was before. There is still plenty of room for mastery, as many of Bernie's patterns show, but it is not hard to get started making patterns.

But I couldn't make patterns look as nice as Bernies!
Bernie will be the first to tell you that if a pattern looks nice, that it is almost by accident. As long as the surfaces are smooth and the important dimensions are correct, a pattern can look like utter dogmeat and do the job perfectly. I use tons of epoxy and bondo to make up for dents, dings, and the occasional misdirected saw, and would be happy to show off some of my most heinous woodworking crimes that have made serviceable patterns. The point is- you don't have to be an artist to be a pattern maker. You just need to be able to work accurately.

Would I need special tools?
Beyond typical woodworking tools, the only special tool that is really helpful to have are pattern making shrink rules. But the good news is that they aren't hard to find if you're patient, nor terribly much. But we can even get you started without one to let you figure out whether or not pattern making is your thing. You might find that there are tips and tools which make things easier, but that will all depend on But we have patterns which can fit the style of just about any type of woodworker, whether you mostly prefer to do turnings, build boxes, or just make a lot of sawdust.

I've never done pattern making before and have no idea where to start.
Neither did I when I started. But Bernie and Jason were both a huge help to me in the beginning, and now I'm pretty self sufficient when it comes to figuring out how to execute a pattern. I say that to reinforce the fact that pattern making isn't that different from any other sort of woodworking, and once you learn the basic fundamentals, there are few rules to follow. Frankly, certain aspects of pattern making are wonderfully liberating simply because you don't have to worry at all about how a pattern will look in the end. Learning and teaching happens constantly at the WW&F, and it would be a pleasure to help teach a few people what a few of us have learned about pattern making so far.


Again, all the work that we do on #11 has to fit around the current priorities of the museum, and cannot get in the way or distract from the efforts on #9. This is just a really unique opportunity for folks who are from away to be able to get their hands dirty. So if I've struck a chord with you, let me know and we can chat. I'd love to bring some more people in on this!



« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 04:37:01 AM by Alan Downey »

Bernie Perch

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Re: Want to give pattern making a try?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2014, 04:29:28 PM »
This sounds similar to a post I made several years ago and Alan saw it and as we say, the rest is history.  Others have expressed an interest in making patterns for #11 but for some reason have not done so for one reason or another.  Anyone who wishes to join us contact Jason for some plans and get to work.  If there are any problems, Alan and I can help.  If you live in the NEPA area, I could show you our pile of patterns that were made for CNJ 113--both mine and some commercial ones that would have taken me too much time.

I haven't recently made any patterns for #11 because I am a jack of all trades with too many irons in the fire and planned to start cranking out patterns when Project 11 is in full swing.  My basement gets ridiculously cold in the winter (especially the last one) and I am in the process of rectifying that.  It should be at better working temperature from this time on and I will have more time to make patterns.

I am currently making patterns and refurbished a Vulcan builders plate pattern that I made years ago and am making a front number plate pattern for ex-Cliffside #110 (I'll partly blame Wayne for that--but I could have said no).  CNJ 113 needs new big end rod bearing patterns and possibly brake shoe patterns, and this project always comes first.

I look forward to #11 being started and look forward to seeing it run.

Bernie

Mark Hendrickson

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Re: Want to give pattern making a try?
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2014, 05:26:04 PM »
Ok, I'll bite.  But I live in a small Condo, so the parts would have to be small. I assume I should start with something simple.

 I'm always fascinated buy the patterns you two have made.

 I can also work through the winter, but not the summer.  It's a bit warm here in AZ for outdoor work in the summer.

Alan Downey

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Re: Want to give pattern making a try?
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2014, 12:14:44 AM »
Hi Mark, thank you for offering! I actually do a fair but of my work in an apartment, so I can relate to your working conditions. I'll send you an email with a couple options that are better suited to a more compact workspace.

Dave Crow

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Re: Want to give pattern making a try?
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2014, 01:11:05 PM »
Alan,

Has anyone designed and/or created drawings for some of the wood items such as the cab and front and rear bunting beams?  How about non-ferrous items, such as handrails?  What about forged items, such as grab irons and coupling levers?

Dave Crow

Alan Downey

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Re: Want to give pattern making a try?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2014, 04:54:16 AM »
Dave,

The pilot and front and rear beams have been designed. We don't have much else from your list currently designed. Design efforts have mostly been focused on the meat and bones of the locomotive so far.

Dave Crow

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Re: Want to give pattern making a try?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2014, 04:46:39 PM »
Alan,

Nice!  Let me know if there are drawings you need to work on for you.

Dave

Jim Jendro

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Re: Want to give pattern making a try?
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2014, 12:46:38 AM »
New member willing to give it a try. I have an assortment of power and hand tools and I can read a dimension-ed drawing. How can I help?

Jim

Duncan Mackiewicz

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Re: Want to give pattern making a try?
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2014, 09:00:57 PM »
Hi guys,
I, too, am interested in giving it a try. I offered previously and for one reason or another it never happened. I've never made a pattern for casting loco parts but I do have considerable experience in woodworking as well as a fair amount of equipment. If someone can forward a simple drawing and some advice on desired type of wood, I would be willing to give it a try too. Winter is heading our way and that makes for long, boring nights cooped up indoors. Making a pattern would be a good way to make use of that time. 
Duncan

Bernie Perch

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Re: Want to give pattern making a try?
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2014, 12:38:21 AM »
Jim, Duncan,

Contact Howard Downey.  He made several drawings for me which made things quite simple.

Bernie

Alan Downey

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Re: Want to give pattern making a try?
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2014, 02:46:08 AM »
Actually, Jim and Duncan,

If you could send me a PM with your preferred email address, I'll start to get you guys oriented. These days, I'm trying to coordinate the efforts of all of our #11 volunteers.