Sunday, 20 January 2013

Suffering For My Art

I am typing this post with mild burns on my finger tips following a session at the workbench fulfilling one of my New Year Resolutions: to get the KMX Tamper I am making for a client finished at some point in 2013.

To this end I have been fabricating the hydraulic pipe runs - which are a very prominent feature on one side of the machine - out of brass wire and strip soldered together, which is where the burning of the fingers occurs.

For the pipes I use picture hanging wire which I untwist into single stands. 

(I got a bit of a strange look from the assistant in the DIY shop in town when I went in to buy it. "How heavy is the picture?" she asked in all innocence, and appeared rather confused when I explained that I didn't actually want to hang any pictures with it.)

The strips of brass, representing the big clips holding the pipes in place on the real KMX, are snipped from leftover frets from my SAR bogie etches. Well, waste not - want not, and all that.

It's quite a fiddly process because you never get the strands of wire perfectly straight after they've been untwisted and so it takes quite a lot of coaxing to get them to lie next to each other and as a consequence I have to hold them qute close to the point where the solder has to be applied to make sure they don't wander off on their own accord during the process - hence the slightly singed digits.

You may wonder why I don't use brand new wire of a suitably small gauge, but I find the picture wire is better for getting the unruly look of the pipe runs on the real thing than starting off with perfectly straight, brand new wire.


  1. Your last paragraph answered the question I was about to ask. I suppose to straighten the curly wire you put one end in a vice and pull the other with pliars to stretch it a bit? Yould adjust the pull to leave a few small bends. :)

  2. One way to straighten the wire is to roll it between two pieces of wood. I use pieces of ply cut to 300x150mm(12"x6"). Size is based on the based on the maximum length I work with, about 250mm(10").

    Best to roll one piece at a time and takes only a couple of seconds.

    Picture frame wire should straighten nicely and as it is soft will still give an unruly look.