Chronicling the development of my Cambrian and Narrow Gauge 4mm scale model railway

Lucky boy

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It’s been a week now so I can tell you about my slight injury. It could have been so much worse. Last Sunday morning I snatched some time and decided to progress the Square. First job was to cut off the moulded panel lines and apron edges from the white metal kit. That would give a nice surface to stick the Square sides to.

As mentioned in a previous post I’d stuck the drawings to the plastic so then I could cut out the shapes.

A disadvantage of my bandsaw is it doesn’t have an adjustable fence which is necessary for this job. So here’s the crunch. I had been given a Unimat SL which had been stripped of its lathe tailstock, chuck and tool post and had had the circular saw attachment fitted permanently. It had belonged to a watchmaker and he’d had a proper lathe and used it just for this which tells you what he thought of the Unimat as a lathe! The circular saw attachment did have an adjustable fence.

You can see what’s coming.

The Patriarch used to have a Unimat 3 and I remember him telling me once that it had loads of attachments to try and make it into something it wasn’t with the result that it wasn’t very good at any of them. The big problem with the circular saw attachment is that the clearance between the blade and the headstock is quite small. Coupled to which, the SL doesn’t have a belt guard.

So I started the first cut and straight away found that the plastic was fouling the headstock and the belt/pulley. In trying to keep that clear I, to use accident investigation terminology, “lost situational awareness”. The plastic slipped and my right thumb hit the blade. Fortunately it was more of a glance across the top of the blade. A trip to A&E revealed that it didn’t need stitches and it was dressed and I came home. It’s healing well but being right handed and it being my right opposing digit has made this week a bit trying.

Now I could make a guard for it. But to be honest when I first saw it, I thought it looked lethal. I even told my MiniMes they were never to touch it because it was so dangerous. I didn’t really intend for demonstrate the fact to them. 🙄

In risk assessment methodology there is the inverted triangle of what you should do.

Making a guard would be a combination of Engineering controls and Administrative controls as it would help isolate me from the hazard but only if I used it properly and didn’t take it off. The reality is, there are many hobby circular saws out there without a guard because with it in place you can’t see what you’re doing!

So I have plumped for an elimination / substitution solution. The Patriarch, in discussing the incident with him, suggested turning it back into a lathe. However I already have a Simat (Flexispeed / Cowells) on the way to me which is much superior- more on that when it arrives.

(Trade picture of a Simat from the 1970s – it you ever want to know anything about a particular lathe, go to – an excellent resource)

I have therefore bought an adjustable rip fence kit from Axminster Tools and will fit that to my bandsaw (cutting yourself with a baby Proxxon bandsaw takes a massive amount of skill / bad luck!).

And I have sold the Unimat. T’missus did ask whether I could bring myself consciously to sell something that I’d injured myself on. Good question! My solution was to dismantle it and sell it as a lathe with circular saw attachment. I made very clear in the instructions that it didn’t have tailstock, tool post, or guard for the saw. Hopefully the next owner won’t be as daft as me. I’m using the proceeds to buy the bits for the Simat I want.

In the meantime the modelling’s on hold – probably a good thing as I’m crazy busy at work. All the travel to London has enabled me to get a couple of good photos of the Intercity class 91. The livery still looks good today – one thing BR did do well was the corporate livery. Memorable and good looking.


Author: Chris H

Having now officially reached middle age, I am a rolling stock engineer and have worked in many different locations including a 7 year spell in Sydney, Australia, where I arrived with a suitcase and left with a wife and a son. I am now based back in my home county of Yorkshire where I juggle full time work, being a Dad to two rascally mini-mes, and trying to fit in railway modelling, assisting the GWR 1014 County of Glamorgan project, and visits to the top left hand corner of Wales and Beamish. In addition to my heavily railway themed life, I am interested in rugby, cricket, reading crime novels, falconry, and medieval re-enactments.

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