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Making Serial Numbers & Letters on Cast Steel

Started by marc_reusser, February 29, 2008, 02:18:03 AM

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Fair dos, Russ.

Scale Link will be very good, all their stuff is.  I don't know about Accurate Armour, but I've heard they make good gear.

A pantograph engraver is a good thing to have IF you have a cutter grinder and the jigs to hold them, otherwise you'd need to be a robot to grind the rather odd little cutters correctly. They need a slight angle at the end and a little "back off" so they don't rub, rather than cut.  Once they cut well it's a remarkable machine that can turn out lovely work.  You can make patterns from styrene sheet, wood, chewing gum and string, it doesn't matter as long as you have something to follow, or you can use it as a VERY light mill.  I did all the detail work in the sides of a bulk road carrier in 1/48th scale in on mine.
And the inners of the commander's hatches on an Alvis light tank master for Barton Miniatures.  It's just a lovely piece of kit to have around.


Kindt-Collins of Cleveland, OH sells pattern letters in aluminum, brass, and white metal.  Sizes are down to 3/32" in Hair-Line Gothic.  Check out http://www.kindt-collins.com/pattern/pattern.html

Mark Layton
He who dies with the most tools wins.


Great link Mark. Thanks!

....errr, and belated welcome to the forum. Thanks for participating.

I am an unreliable witness to my own existence.

In the corners of my mind there is a circus....



  This swiss/japanes company has some very nice etched letters / numbers and plates.

  http://www.h-r-f.com/aufsetzz.html  brings you direct to the etched parts many in stainless or chrome.

  I used them to number my swiss H0 loco's

put brain in gear before putting mouth in action.
never underestimate the stupidity of idiots
I am what I remember.


QuoteHave you seen either of the products you mention and could you comment on their quality?


I have the 1mm and 1.5mm sheets. You don't get a lot for your money, but the quality is good. I remembered after posting that I've also got the remains of some eastern European etched numbers/letters somewhere. From memory I think they were an Aber limited-run production. Again, they were quite good. I haven't seen the Scale Link sheet (haven't dealt with them much since the John Piper days), but as Martin says their stuff is generally reasonable quality.
Kevin Crosado

"Caroline Wheeler's birthday present was made from the skins of dead Jim Morrisons
That's why it smelt so bad"

John McGuyer

Looks like there are a number of sources of letters. Thanks to all of you.

Terry Wegmann is a good friend and the fellow that does the pantograph work for Lloyd Asbury. He is truly amazing on that machine. I've seen him do the lettering on the base of an HO signal that is so small you need a magnifier to read it. But read it you can. For the really small stuff, he makes these strange single fluted cutters with a big taper. At .005" diameter, they are tough to keep from breaking. He usually makes a bunch of them and keeps replacing broken ones until he finds one that runs. It will then run for quite a while.

He might be over this weekend and if he has a signal, I'll try to get a photograph of the thing. No promises.



Apparently, John, Lloyd's off to Mehiko to live and bowing out, which is why my chum in Californicate has sent his D-Type masters to Harold Bradford, who is said to be the best currently pouring resin.

John McGuyer


Lloyd's had a place in Mexico for some time (along with two senoritas. Eat your heart out Unc.). He's talked about leaving for years. Terry works with him every day so I'll get the straight story from him. When we talked for about an hour a couple weeks ago, he didn't say anything about it.

Have you ever done in engraving? I sure would like to learn.



Hi John,  I take it you mean on a pantograph?  If so, yes.  I bought one in a fit of keen madness once and when I eventually got the hang of it someone gave me one >:(
Mine was a Taylor Hobson Model H, marked "War Finish" under the table.  I also had the little cutter grinder, without which you got no chance of getting a smooth cut.
I used it to make bits of masters.  First was the longitudinal ribbing on a bulk carrier trailer for an artic kit (you call 'em semis?).  So really that was just light and very precise milling.  Then I made a pattern for the commander's hatch in an Alvis light tank (Scorpion/Scimitar) which was a layered assembly. It worked a treat. It didn't take long to make a styrene pattern out of 60 thou sheet and the result made the client ask how the hell I'd done it, so that was a result, I guess.
I also used a pattern for a model locomotive wheel which I'd made when I was 14!!  I knew I'd never find a proprietary wheel for this particular loco (a Hudswell, Clarke & Rogers 4-4-0 Tank for the Midland and Great Northern Joint railway), so instead of my French homework I made a 10 times bigger pattern from styrene sheet according to an article in Model Railway News (of beloved memory).  I figured I might someday find a machine.  Naturally that finished work on the model and by the time I had a machine I'd changed scales anyway.  I still have that pattern somewhere 41 years later!!  And the bits of the model I made at the time.  Complete with impressed rivets, in 1/76th scale, at 14.  Now can you see why I get pissed off with grown men who say they can't make things?  I was no child prodigy, I just read books and articles and had no money, ergo made it.  Thought, hey this is better than working for a living, so I became a pro. 
Now, I can't be arsed most of the time.  Difficult getting motivated these days.

If it's hand engraving you mean, then yes again, but not the florid detail on a Harley's cases or ought like that, just the panel lines on the 150 or so cars I've made brass masters for and that's done with a scriber and a graver, bought from the weirdest shop in England.  A hand lithographer's and colourists' suppliers in Gt. Queen Street, London.
It's diamond shaped in section, ground off to a slope and held in a palm shaped handle.
And I've lost it and nuttn' I can find will sharpen up like it.  I would imagine you can get them from silversmiths' suppliers like Shesto or Chronos.
Cheers, Hector

John McGuyer

The pantograph I'm familiar with, it's the hand engraving that I've never seen done up close where I can get my grubby little fingers on the tools. Apparently they are some kind of chisels but what and how to control them to do such fine work is beyond me. I'd really like to be able to do that. Particularly where they do the lettering on coins.

I am also familiar with sinker EDM's, but really don't want to go there.