Author Archives: Sophie Whiptank - aka Bart

About Sophie Whiptank - aka Bart

I'm just a bloke doing some stuff, the more interesting bits I post on my blog. Scroll down far enough and you'll see me riding from Melbourne Australia to Birmingham, England in 2014. But now I'm working on another project, a single cylinder motorbike engine at 2750cc!

Syko machine!


Here’s something you don’t see every day, a Steam powered land speed record motorcycle! I came across it at a Rail exhibition I attended through work, pictured here with designer and rider Graham Sykes. (Nickname: Syko!).

It was beautifully engineered and obviously a labour of love, so I sought out the designer for a chat. Graham was obviously passionate, answering all my questions even though it was the end of the day. It was great talking to a like mind and sharing ideas. Contact numbers swapped and ideas for the future.

(Although to be fair this project is much further on than mine!).

I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of this machine over the next couple of years, well I certainly hope so. Good luck with your endeavours Sir!

Valuable real estate…


In anticipation of potentially getting some extra machines, I’ve been clearing out the garage. With an empty floor I thought I’d mark out the area required for the Bridgeport Mill, according to the manual. It’s huge!!

I think the floor space is worst case, taking account the full table movement and handles. It also allows for rear access which I probably won’t need. I hope so anyway, otherwise I’ll have no space for anything else.

I think I’ll just bring everything up and play precision machine Tetris when they arrive. First world problems eh??

A finished component!


While we’ve been working on many parts in parallel, such as the Conrod, Flywheels, Crank Pin, Crankshafts and Sleeve Drive Crank, no single part was actually finished. Until now!

Here’s the sleeve drive crank, completely finished. All diameters are to size (see previous post), oilways drilled and the sprocket holes drilled and tapped.

Bob has been in contact with a pattern maker so we’ll get some idea of prices soon. We’re still waiting to hear about some large machines, which will enable us to finish the larger components.


Right sizing


The sleeve drive crank is coming along nicely, sized to the inner race of the bearing. This is one of many critical sizeing operations and it’s quite stressful, knowing you can spoil the entire part if you’re out by even a thou!

After a trial fit and fine tune, we have a great push fit which feels really good. The photo shows the driving bar used to turn the piece between centres, which will house the drive pin once it’s bored to size. (Another critical dimension!).

Won’t be long before we have a component that’s completely finished!!

Clocking on


A bit chintzy maybe, but I had a set of rods from a Bristol Hercules looking for a home. Fed up with whacking my shins on them, I stuck them on the wall. The bearing journal in the centre was looking a little bare, so I popped a skeleton clock movement in it.

Huzzah! Now I can track all the time I waste in the garage. 🙂

Group Photo


Plenty going on recently but not much to blog about. I burried a cable across 30 metres of the neighbour’s garden to get electrics into the shed. A tough job but it needed doing. I also had a new ring fitted to the garage, so I’m all ready for the big machines – if they ever materialise!

In the shed we had the parts made to date sat together on the mill, when Bob suggested a group photo. So here you go.

From left to right: Conrod, Flywheels, sleeve drive crank, crank pin and 2 crankshaft.

Still some work to be done, but it won’t be long before we’re able to press the bottom end together. Now that will be progress! Time to really start thinking about how I’m going to make those cases.