On The Slipway

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A small improvement to the Proxxon PD230/E

I hadn’t used the lathe for some time so it took a whole afternoon until I could reliably produce parts again, if it weren’t for a small offset on my drill fixed in the tailstock of my Proxxon PD230/E. This offset has always been present and trying other drill chucks didn’t solve my problem. I took a few chucks to work and they measured an offset in the Morse Cone I of about 2 to 3 hundreds of a mm, just enough to be troublesome with thin-walled parts I was trying to make (20″ signalling projector). I ordered a ER-11 collet chuck with a MC1 fitting that is supposed to fit in the tailstock, but it doesn’t; the Proxxon PD230/E tailstock has a much shorter run.

The collet chuck is comparatively pricey but I just had to take a bit off.  Using drills with a 1/8″ shaft and ditto collet worked quite well. Nearly all my drills have a 2.2mm shaft and a 2.5 mm collet didn’t center them properly, so I ordered a new set of drills (only 30€ for 30 drills running from 0.1mm to 3.0mm in steps of 0.1mm) .

Postscript: I didn’t properly ‘snap’ the collet in the collet nut that may have been the reason the 2.2mm drills had an offset. In the nut there is an eccentricity on an internal flange that will cause the drill to be poorly centered if you just tighten the nut after placing the collet in the chuck. If the collet is first gently pushed past this internal flange (click!) and then placed in the chuck, not only is this problem solved (the problem being a poor user of fine tools), this eccentric flange will also pull the collect from the chuck when untightening the nut. Really clever engineering (post to be updated after checking the 2,5mm collet fit).

So it’s good news that the Proxxon tailstock that cannot be adjusted is well centered when it leaves the factory but a decent chuck apparently is not on the Proxxon menu.  So, now the cost of a 20″ signalling projector is €60 each, but who’s counting…. At least on of the two major problems I have the with lathe is solved; the other one is that the top slide for tapering doesn’t have an accurate angle read-out.



Gallery: HMS Prince of Wales; laying the keel

The keel of HMS Prince of Wales was laid at Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead on 1 January 1937. A number of photographs of the ceremony is being held by the Wirral Archives service; I order a digital copy for personal use. I was so excited by both the quality of the images and how the event was captured that I asked the archives if the images could be published in small format on my blog. They replied I would need the express permission of the copyright holder, BAE systems. As the archives explained “BAE Systems took over Cammell Laird, including its intellectual property rights, as follows: Cammell Laird was nationalised in 1977, and was then privatised again in 1986 when it became part of VSEL Consortium; subsequently the VSEL Consortium was the subject of a takeover and became Marconi Marine, which then passed to BAE Systems. The present company shares the same name and site as the old Cammell Laird, but is in fact a different company.” I contacted the legal department of BAE systems; they agreed to my request provided I would place the following disclaimer

“Copyright © 2018 BAE Systems. All Rights Reserved. This work is reproduced with the kind permission of BAE Systems. BAE Systems is a registered trademark of BAE Systems plc”

I would like the express my gratitude to both the Wirral Archival Services and BAE systems both for their assistance and for making it possible to publish these photographs.

Unfortunately, the accompanying information regarding these images is no longer in the archives. However, the photographs are all marked “Stewart Bale, Liverpool”, a well-known photographer, with nearly 200,000 negatives in storage at the Stewart Bale collection of the Mersey Side Maritime Museum. I have not written to them, but they may hold some more information.

I’ve manually cleaned up the images, removing dust & scratches and repairing damage where I could. It’s not always easy to see the difference between damage or a pocket handkerchief as is the case with the gentleman standing at the bottom of the staircase—comparing with other photographs can rule such errors out— but I’ve tried to leave the images as close to the original as possible. Note that one of the photographers is captured , as well has a small furnace heating the rivets.

Gallery: HMS Rodney, main guns

Nearly all photographs of HMS Rodney could be classified under the “main gun” header with the main armament so prevalent in most images, so I made a small collection with either the barrel or the turret clearly in view (and not part of a larger series).

The crew receiving the following proclamation by King Edward VIII by the Captain (Wilfred Custance based on the date)

Royal Marine Guard for King Edward VIII

Hoisting a cutter

At the Canary Islands


“Gun jam practise” (?)

Gallery: HMS Hood

Even though HMS Hood images are difficult to obtain on Ebay I managed to buy a few good examples. Nothing really new, but still nice.

1932 (HMS Renown in the background)

1932 (HMS Renown in the background)


Not dated, but the aircraft equipment was only present from 1929 to 1933.

This shot was quite interesting because it shows so much variation in contrast of the ship; certainly not a single tone.

1939. A superb shot of the port side; I reduced this one to 1920×1080 pixels as my usual 1200×900 doesn’t do it justice.

1939. I think this is the nicest photo postcard I ever bought; the original photograph is sharp at 6000 x 3000 pixels and it shows the entire ship in beautiful detail. Also uploaded in HD format.

1940. Footage from 1940-1941 showing anything in detail is really rare. This one show the aft disinfector house between the forward searchlights and is a typical example of the crew paradox: the shot was taken to capture people living and working aboard HMS Hood, but they are also blocking the view to the ship.

1940. A well-known shot of the main deck that makes we wonder if the deck colour isn’t the same as the main colour, i.e., AP507B.

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