Roller Gauges: Design Meets Reality

Two Proto:48 Roller Gauges

When I got to actually laying out the dimensions on the first gauge (ie, marks in big Sharpie with dial calipers, I belatedly realized that the .036 flange width on the ends would be very delicate and vulnerable to damage if one, er, hypothetically dropped one on a concrete floor. Which is why my previous efforts had .100 rims rather than aspire to fit right in the frog of turnouts. I opted to repeat that choice for durability’s sake.

Being an aspiring novice hobby machinist, there are things I know need improving in the execution of these parts. Measuring those small gaps with dial calipers isn’t the most precise method but all I have that works. The finish isn’t as smooth as it should be which I know how to fix but will require developing my tool bit sharpening skills. There are probably things I don’t know that should be improved, too.

Anyway, parts done and sent off into the pre-Christmas postal maelstrom.

4 thoughts on “Roller Gauges: Design Meets Reality”

    1. Thanks, Chris. The photograph turned out exceptionally well!

      The shine of the brass hides the tool marks and makes the finish look better than it is. I am relying on an “indexable” carbide tool (separate triangle of carbide attached to the end) which has a very small nose radius. I need a bigger curved tip to smooth things out as I feed the tool across the work.


      1. It looks cool and as a tool it looks useful and like something that enriches the workbench.

        I haven’t used machine tools in a very, very long time. Friends who are into it talk about not just the things they make but also how the tools themselves can fashion new tools. I’m understand what you’re describing but am unfamiliar enough to use the language comfortably when I ask: this new tool is it something you can make?


  1. Yes, grinding cutting tools from high-speed tool steel is a fairly basic machinist skill although waning somewhat in importance due to the availability of the carbide tipped versions. I do not yet have a bench grinder so am relying on the pile of tooling ground by previous owners that came with the lathe. One of those was a lucky find since I couldn’t do the narrow railhead grooves with the standard carbide triangle tips.
    Of course, there is also the secondary machinist hobby of making attachments and fixtures for the machines. Which is what I presume your friends are talking about.


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