The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Wilhelm Huxhold

Joe Martin Foundation "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year" award winner for 1999

Retired machinist with a love for small tools

After he retired, Bill Huxhold of Ontario, Canada kept the best of his professional equipment and set up a complete home shop to finally start making the projects HE wanted to make. He is a three-time winner of the Sherline Machinist's Challenge contest and the 1999 winner of the Joe Martin Foundation "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year" award. Following the article about Mr. Huxhold are photos of some of his projects.

About Wilhelm Huxhold...

A lifetime of machining knowledge pays off

Born in Germany, Wilhelm Huxhold was always interested in building things. The first time he saw a lathe in school, he knew he would have to build a model of one. (He had to wait a long time but finally completed that goal a few years ago.) Since he showed an aptitude for this type of work, he followed in his father's footsteps and entered an apprenticeship program in 1945 as a machine fitter. (Similar to a tool & die maker in the USA.) Upon completion of a 3-year apprenticeship, he went to work at a glass factory where his skills as a machinist were used to keep production equipment running. Here he learned to make parts not only accurately, but quickly. A broken machine had to be brought back "on line" fast or production fell behind. In 1953, he, his wife and new baby followed his brother in immigrating to Canada in hopes of finding work in his trade. Speaking little English, he ended up taking a "temporary" job in construction that lasted for the next thirteen years. Finally, he secured a job with the Canadian government developing and realigning meteorological instruments that took advantage of his machining skills. About seven years later he foresaw government cutbacks in in-house jobs and began his own business in the same field. Soon the government was his biggest customer. He retired  in 1994, keeping the best of his shop equipment to outfit his roomy 15' x 36' home shop.

Retirement offers new challenges

"Retired" is a curious word to use for a man who still spends six to ten hours a day, seven days a week in his shop. The difference is, now he is doing only what he wants and building the small and intricate models he never had time for before. His years of work, however, provided him with a pattern for how to take a project from start to finish.

He starts by watching TV. Actually, though sitting in front of a TV, his mind is really at work going through each step that will be required to build every piece of the model. Every setup and cut is thought out in advance, and, though he commits little to paper, before the first chip flies, he knows exactly what each step will be. He trusts nothing to "trial and error" as years of machining parts for a living taught him that method could get expensive. Now it's not money, but time that concerns him. Like many hobbyists, he has enough projects on his list to fill several lifetimes, so he still needs to make his shop time as productive as possible. Working smaller and in greater detail is taking his work to new levels of achievement. He says, "Anything small becomes a challenge. Now days I only do things which are a challenge to me."

Good advice from a master machinist

After seeing some of the other projects at the N.A.M.E.S. show built by people like George Luhrs and Klaus Bouillon, he picked up a few more tips to add to his wealth of knowledge. But for those who think it might take Bill's experience and well-outfitted shop to produce good models he points out the work done by Jerry Kieffer, the winner of the Martin Foundation's "Craftsman of the Year" award in 1997. Jerry has no formal training as a machinist, only eight years experience as a hobbyist and a full time job which limits his "fun" time. It is desire, not experience or expensive tools that makes the difference. Bill says, "If you have the 'like' for doing things, it doesn't make any difference what you want to do. If you have the urge and the 'like' for what you want to do, you will be surprised at how much you can achieve."

Mr. Huxhold is the winner of the 1999 Joe Martin Foundation award for exceptional metalworking craftsmanship. Perhaps his work will help inspire others to "think small". Projects like the ones shown here can be built with only a few dollars worth of materials and small but versatile miniature machine tools. All you need is the "like"!

About the construction of Bill Huxhold's winning contest entries

Finishing in second place in the 1996 Sherline Challenge contest did not sit well with Wilhelm Huxhold. His entry had been a last minute decision, but for the next year's contest, he had plenty of time to get ready. He says he wanted "to show we can do a few things up here (in Canada) too." After looking for a project that offered sufficient challenge, he decided on a triple expansion steam engine and obtained a set of plans. He then scaled down each part by a factor of 2.5 to reduce the overall size to fit within the contest maximum size limits of 64 cubic inches. He devoted four months to building the project and ended up with a museum quality model worthy of the winning votes awarded by the spectators at the N.A.M.E.S. show in Wyandotte, Michigan. In 1998 he spent even more time on a Corliss steam engine. His entry for 1999 took over seven months to build. He now plans to retire from the contest so he has the time to complete other projects he has wanted to work on.

Here are some of Bill Huxhold's projects:

(Click photo for larger image.)

Bill Huxhold is seen here with his 1/6 scale Hardinge toolroom lathe. The lathe is complete in every detail and fully functional. At model engineering shows he does demonstrations on it and gives away the little brass pieces he makes to the onlookers.
A close-up of the tiny Hardinge lathe shows that it is correct down to the engraved dials. In fact, it is so authentic looking, one time after a trip to a show in the USA, Canadian customs officials did not believe that he had made the machine himself and wanted to charge him import duty on a new machine. He eventually had to make a serial number tag to show that this was "Huxhold Lathe number 001".
Bill's first entry in the Sherline Machinist's Challenge contest in 1996 was a last-minute decision. He had made this tiny crosslide and table for his own enjoyment, and it fit within the contest size limits, so he entered it. It finished a very respectable 2nd place, but that wasn't good enough for him.
This miniature indexing head was another project built simply for the love of making small versions of larger tools. A trademark of Bill's work is the perfect finish he puts on each part.
Weir stationary boiler feed pumps circa 1885
This small drill press vise is another scaled-down machine shop tool that Bill has made.
Demonstrating another aspect of his skill as a builder, Mr. Huxhold displayed this individually planked wooden sidewheeler steam ship at his booth at a recent North American Model Engineering Society (NAMES) show in Detroit. This ship is from an era of transition between sail and steam and includes both sources of power.
Bill's 1997 entry in the Sherline contest was this very intricate triple expansion steam engine. Not surprisingly, it took first place.
Another view of the triple expansion steam engine
A rear view of the triple expansion steam engine
A close-up of part of the triple expansion engine.
In 1998, Bill followed his triple expansion engine with an even more detailed Corliss engine that also took first place.
Another view of the Corliss engine. A US quarter is used for size reference.
A detail of the regulator mechanism on the Corliss engine.
In 1999, Bill won his third straight contest with this compound Corliss of stainless steel and Mehanite. The gleaming model is a perfect example of the beautiful work that can be achieved in model engineering.
Another view of the compound Corliss engine shows the two horizontal cylinders driving the central flywheel. The entire model is less than 5" long and took seven months to build.
This compound Corliss engine is over twice the size of the model made for the Sherline contest. The base and a number of parts are painted in this version.
Here is another of Bill's steam engines. A smaller version, a quarter is used for size comparison in the foreground. This photo was taken at the 2011 NAMES show in Southgate, MI as were the following photos.
Bill displayed his work at the 2011 NAMES show and we took the opportunity to catch up on taking photos of some of them. This small double expansion steam engine features Bill's usual attention to detail. A quarter in the foreground gives size reference.
A triple expansion steam engine
If one is good, two are better. Dual triple expansion steam engines like the one above are separated by a perforated walkway. The second photo shows a detail of some of the mechanism.
This interesting beam engine is contained within a 6 post framework. The beige color is actually derived from the camoflage paint used on military sniper rifles.
A second beam engine in the same beige color exhibits a different layout.
From a friend, Bill obtained a casting made for what was possibly a salesman's sample for a small milling machine. The mechanism was incomplete and no identity or history on it could be found, so Bill used the casting as the basis for a small milling machine of his own design. It only stands about a foot and a half tall. Other than the casting for the stand, all other parts are machined from billet stock.

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