Miniature Interference Clamps

by David C Eveleigh

I bought some clamps from a stall at an exhibition. They were very expensive and do not work very well (in spite of having been made from four types of plastic.) Do not buy expensive clamps from stalls at exhibitions; instead do the following:

Equip yourself with some common (or garden) sprung wooden clothes pegs and some common (or barbecue) bamboo kebab skewers. These are often 1/8" diameter and you will need a drill to match. Drill one or two holes through the clothes peg, then dismantle it.

With the wooden halves of the peg slid onto the kebab skewer they can be squeezed together, quite hard in fact, to hold parts for gluing, soldering or whatever. One half of a peg and a piece of kebab skewer can be used against a baseplate of MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) or plywood with a hole drilled in it to take the skewer. In this configuration it is rather like a woodcarver's bench clamp in miniature. The diagrams hopefully explain all this and give ideas for other arrangements.

I was particularly pleased with the way of holding locomotive main frames for soldering to their spacers. I cut a slot of gradually decreasing depth in the base to support outside cylinders, which had been soldered to the individual frames beforehand. One frame was then placed with the cylinder down in the slot and slid along until the cylinder was supported on the bottom of the slot. 1.5mm holes were drilled through the chassis spacer jig holes into the base and the jig spacers and other frame assembled onto it, held in place with a peg clamp for soldering. In fact it was necessary to remove the cylinders a couple of times from the assembled frames for adjustments and then replace them. I couldn't have done this nearly so easily or accurately if I hadn't had such a secure clamping system.

Do be careful to protect your eyes from the ends of the kebab skewers which you have now arranged to stand upright on your bench. I suggest little wooden beads or blocks superglued to the top ends and painting them a bright colour would be but the work of a moment.

Click on the thumbnails below to see the full-size drawings.
Miniature Interference Clamps Frame Assembly Jig for an Outside Cylinder Loco