Category Archives: homemade tools

Oil can alcohol burner…

Two weeks back I bought 2 nice small oil cans for my engines. This one had a great deal of rust in it and, while cleaning it out, I managed to take the temper out of the bottom that removed the familiar dome button action that facilitated oiling. Irked at my ignorance, I nearly tossed it…until I came up with this sweet burner.

I simply removed the spout and mounted it to be used both as a handle and a vent for the reservoir. The wick comes up through the remaining spout and, because of the taper, is a natural fit and easy to install. The vent is through the end of the handle, mounted into a hole in the reservoir and sealed with JB Weld. Works like a champ…

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LITIGIOUS SOCIETY DISCLAIMER: Denatured alcohol is nasty because it burns nearly invisible. Because life’s lottery has unfairly distributed technical skills and knowledge among folks, leaving more than a few with the mechanical aptitude of a grape, and few with the fortitude to take responsibility for their actions, you take your life, family and house into your own hands if you follow through with this or any technical advise I offer on this blog.

Marklin 3 rail HO/OO turnout…

…a junk box freebie, a pair were given to me because they were missing parts. Eager to get them working again, I’d give them an occasional stern look or two for the next 5 years.

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Overcome with a mechanical epiphany two nights ago, I immediately assaulted a variety of wires and springs in my parts bins. After flaying the entrails of several paperclips closing in on a working cure, I came up with this…

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Once installed, it looked like this…

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Don’t ask for measurements…if you want one, I’ll bend it out for you and you can play from there.

N scale track cleaning car…


I quite honestly didn’t think there was a chance of my typical Masonite tracking car modification in HO scale would ever work in N scale, given the proportional differences are so much more than just half the size….I was wrong.

Other than a 5/8″ x 1 1/8″ pad to start from, everything is the same…

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So…after ten laps, what do you think? While the lines appear off-center, it actually relates to my predominately left turn oriented track plan, much like NASCAR. Being so small, it has to be quite precise or it will not work. The grey block in the gon is a car weight from an Athearn HO scale heavy duty flat car that I had in the scrap box. It greatly aids in tracking abilities.

Newbie steamer Lesson #64…


…drain the boiler completely as it helps to avoid a nasty little thing called “boiler dezincification”, a process where the zinc chemically separates itself from the brass, causing pinhole leaks. I use a modified marinade injector that seems to reach most of the excess water…

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…I just cut off the point past the side ports on the needle. Then (as I have been so well taught at the Mamod forum), I leave the safety valve and whistle off until the inside is dry.

I’m learnin’…