The Little World – Regional Hazards

Or, ” They Never Mentioned This In The Instruction Book “.

Last week I decided to do a little work with the Picador Pup. The motor is installed, the drive belt free, and the bearing all oiled up.

Note for younger readers: bearings in modern tools are sealed at the factory with unimaginably sophisticated lubricants that last for decades and never need replacement. I am starting to think this applies to a lot of motor cars too, but that is another matter.

Old workshop machines need constant lubricant replenishment. You need to check before you work and after a certain time to top up the reservoir – this is because the tolerances between the moving parts may be very loose. If you do not there is an almighty squealing and all movement stops. That is why they make beer in stubbies. I believe it may be the same with the actual machine tools as well…

Working away I started to hear this irregular screeching noise. It got louder and louder and I wondered if smoke would pour out of the Pup and everything jam. Then the screeching got quieter, and went away. It was only when the Tail End Charlie – the last in the flock of White Cockatoos flew past the open door  ( Squawk, squawk, squawk! ) that I realised I had been given the bird.

At least they are just an intermittent thing – some of the other wildlife in the workshop visits all too often. The underside of the workbench is a big open space that venomous red-back spiders seem to find attractive. As my bare legs also fit under the bench top it is a good idea to evict them periodically. I use a can of insect spray rather than a flamethrower.

The other hazard is just the fact that in Australia, summer is practised upon a professional basis. If you do not get your work done by noon, you won’t get a chance to do it again until 8:00 PM – the rise of temperature inside the closed space renders all efforts impossible. I find it is good management to arrange gluing and painting between 9:00 AM and noon because the heat of the afternoon will set things perfectly. As long as you can ensure no currents of air or dust in this period, you get a baked-on finish with most acrylics and enamels.



The Little World – The Pup

dscf5464Twenty years ago a small hardware store that was near my first surgery closed its doors – the owner had been offered a redevelopment buy-out and was ready to retire. As he had been a patient of mine and I had been one of his customers, he gave me a parting gift. From somewhere in the recesses of his old shop he pulled out a 1950’s or 60’s hobbyists kit –  A Picador Pup.

It was made in England to old designs and standards by a firm that wanted to help miniature engineers. The basic device was an adjustable grinding machine, wood-turning lathe, and miniature circular saw. It was configurable as a sanding machine and horizontal drilling machine.

dscf5465A friend found an ex-washing machine motor and rigged a couple of pulleys to drive it. In its first mounting it was noisy, smelly and frightening…but it did sharpen drill bits, sand accurately, and cut strip wood. It went out of commission for years, though, as there was nowhere to put the awkward mounting block.

This week I changed that. Our local hardware store sells a line of Chinese shelving units in modular form, and they are inexpensive and very well made. I had several components already so a few more struts and shelves gave me a way of making the Pup work correctly. It no longer groans as it works nor moves alarmingly. I can now saw strip wood for models…and if I can find even finer blades I’ll be able to stop buying the Artesiana Latina stuff at the hobby shop. Note: The stick with the duct tape is the pusher that keeps my fingers out of the blade.

All the twist drill bits in the shop are going to get a damned good sharpening. A man with a Pup is never at a loss.

Thank you, John Sweet, for such a kind gift.