Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ideal Stencil Machine Co Stencil Cutter

While volunteering at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum, I get to use quite a bit of old equipment in our day-to-day operations.  One piece that I particularly like is this stencil cutter, for cutting letter stencils to be painted onto equipment.

Video:


One mistake that I made in the video is that I forgot that I had added the apostrophe to Dont, which is why I thought panic was a longer word than dont.  I did remake the stencil right after the video, so don't panic:
 This stencil will inevitably come in handy.
Easily the most appealing part of this machine is the satisfying dial indicator on the front.  It had never quite worked right, so I got the bright idea to try and fix it this weekend, since I am a certified mechanical engineer now.
The results were... regrettable.  These gears were cast out of such low-grade iron that as soon as I touched the set-screw with a screw driver, the entire base of the gear disintegrated.
Using a respectable quantity of metal gel adhesive and a lost glove to hold it in place, I glued it back in place.  Not particularly the method I wanted to use, but in the end the machine did end up working again, so maybe I'm forgiven?
They just don't make equipment this satisfying anymore.  Mechanical engineering is a field that really feels like its esthetic peak has come and gone; everything we do now is just optimization for cost or performance.  Must be why I find EE so distracting...
The museum also has a second cutter for a larger font.  Operation is a little simpler in that it's simply a flat table with grooves at each row and column of the monospaced font.  Not nearly as satisfying as the geared advancement mechanism of the smaller one.

5 comments:

  1. I have just found a ideal stencil machine No3, it has the number 9145 stamped on it. How do i find out when it was made and how much it is worth,it all works. Please contact me at davehatch_5@hotmail.com

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    1. Most of the information I got was off of the attached plaque. Other than the information already stamped on it, I don't think I can add much insight.

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  2. Lovely and fun video Kenneth! I found a Ideal No2 machine in my mothers house! i had no idea what it was untill i find your video!

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  3. Very nice video - I picked up a working No 1 and was able to put it through its paces using your video as a guide. Wish I had a manual. What kind of oil do you use to lubricate it with? Is there just the one oil hole?

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    1. Send me an email at kennethfinnegan2007@gmail.com. Another reader previously sent me a folder of Ideal manuals.

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