BLOG 2.0: Back to Modeling

After a pause, I am back to talking about modeling. The range of topics will be expanded to subjects beyond the layout. The layout will appear will appear in the blog in the near future once I get some work done.


sewing machine 1

Today, there are several ways to create a scale rivet on a model.   The old fashion way was to impress the rivet in the metal or plastic using a male and female die.   People have used drill presses, pounce wheels and other tools.   Now you can use a decal or machined rivets from Scale Hardware or plastic rivets from Grandt Line and Tichy.

If you are building in brass there is no substitute for making rivets using an embossing tool.   The tool that I have been using for nearly 50 years is a converted cast iron sewing machine.   The sewing machine I chose was made by White.  I found it at a second hand store.  Now days, these machines fetch a premium from collectors.  Why use a sewing machine?  Well, you can create a row of rivets with spacing set by you via the stitch control lever.  Building a model requires that spacing be uniform and straight.   This machine will do this.  You can impress different sized rivets using different die sets.

The late Jerry White, custom builder, may have been the first to convert a sewing machine.   My machine was converted by the late Paul Jansen using the Jerry White machine as a guide.

Converting a machine will vary from one type of machine or another.  My conversion required a few simple changes.  The first big change is to make a block to fit under the deck of the machine to hold the female die.   My machine has a block made from of aluminum.

sewing machines4

The male die is held in the clamp that once held the needle.   The dies can be made from drill rod.  I used a threaded steel rod for the male die.  This allowed me to add a stop nut to make fine adjustment a simple task.

sewing machine3

My sewing machine has a foot that feeds the fabric through the machine.  This little foot can be used to pull the work table through creating a line of rivets.  My table was made from Masonite with a slot to allow the die set to pass and a steel rod to provide a guide.

sewing machine 5

The white plastic strip on the table is a simple jig to hold strip styrene to emboss rivets in a straight line.   The strip is placed the Scotch tape on the right edge and then positioned over the slot.   The 3M blue tape holds the jig in place.

The table rolls along on small brass pulleys that are attached to the steel angle stock.

sewing machine2

With a little practice, you can start building cars like this New York Central gondola or the Lehigh Valley hopper shown below.




4 thoughts on “BLOG 2.0: Back to Modeling

  1. Great to have you back Gene! I dragged my mother in laws sewing machine around for about 20 years before I deciding I would never convert it — wish I still had it now that retirement is around the corner!

  2. It’s the first time I’ve been here, but after reading this I’m glad to see you’re blogging again. I’ve heard of sewing machine riveters for years, mostly by way of old MR magazines, but I’ve never seen one shown with appropriate detail, I may have to scoop up a machine at a garage sale now that I have a working example to use as a reference. Cheers!

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