Welcome To The Model Engineering In Thailand And South East Asia Website
Model Engineering in Thailand is alive and well, even if there aren’t many of us. I know of three people making engineering models in Thailand including myself and other people make CNC controlled machine tools, off-road buggies etc.
There are now over 40 people in Thailand who have hobby workshops and who have joined the Announcement List. (See bottom of page)
If anyone reading this is also making engineering models, or is involved or just interested in metalworking or home workshop then please step forward and identify yourself. The more people interact of the website the greater will be the accumulated knowledge of resources, methods and ideas.
What Is Model Engineering?
Model Engineering I believe started in the U.K. around the early twenties. It is taken to mean making models of engineering machines in a home workshop. The models may be static or moving. Often they are miniatures of the full size engineering machine.
What kind of machines are modeled by Model Engineers? Here is a short list of some of the most popular models but really there is no limit to what may be modeled:-
- Steam Engines (Locomotives)
- Steam Engines (Static – Mill Engines, Marine Engines)
- Steam Traction Engines
- Internal Combustion Engines
- Machine Tools
Also the Model Engineer often makes workshop equipment and accessories.
What Is Different About Model Engineering In Thailand?
Model Engineers in the U.K. are very well catered for. There are magazines, clubs and societies and a plethora of shops and businesses selling suitable machine tools, castings, kits and materials aimed specifically at the Model Engineering hobbyist. It is a huge industry.
In contrast there are only a handful of people in Thailand practicing Model Engineering and there is no specialist support from the trade. ie no model engineering materials or workshop equipment suppliers.
That is not to say that you can’t buy tools, workshop machinery and materials, because you can. These are the main sectors supported by suppliers:-
- Construction. Houses, factories and offices all need tools and raw materials.
- Manufacturing. Thailand has a reasonably sized manufacturing industry. Toyota motors for example in Bangkok is supported by dozens if not hundreds of smaller manufacturing businesses and they all need machine tools, tools and materials.
- Agriculture and automobiles. General fixing things. The Thais do not have the ‘throw away and buy new’ attitude, rather the ‘make do and mend’. There is a huge amount of agricultural machinery in Thailand and it all needs maintenance and repairs. There is a strong repair industry from replacing bearings in pumps to rewinding electric motors and rebuilding automobile engines.
In Bangkok if you want to buy big workshop equipment there is plenty of choice. From CNC Machining Centres to Wire Erosion Machines it’s all available. There is plenty of steel, brass, bronze and other metals available.
But it’s all geared to the sectors I mentioned above. The machine tools will be big as will the sections of metals.
There are no small bright mild steel sections, no small-scale foundries. If you want that kind of thing you will probably have import it from U.K. (At great expense)
My Early Model Engineering Years In U.K.
Setting up and running my model engineering workshop here in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand reminds me of my first introduction to model engineering in the UK many, many years ago.
I was about 15 years old and still in school when Dad bought me my first lathe.
It was a worn-out 3 1/2″ Drummond flat bed lathe. The headstock bearing were so worn that you could lift the spindle off the bottom of the bearings by hand. It was only kept in place by self-weight, so cuts had to be light or you lifted the spindle.
The leadscrew was so worn at the headstock end you could actually see with the naked eye the difference in thickness of the screw thread at both ends of it.
These was no topslide and the tool holder was made up of plates of steel welded together and eventually the welds failed.
Still being school I had little money and couldn’t afford to buy all the drills, reamers, taps and dies etc that you need for real model engineering. Most of the drilling was done in the lathe with the workpiece supported by the tailstock barrel. I eventually bought a drill-press holder for the Black and Decker hand drill.
I made my own cutting tools out of old carbon steel hand files.
Despite all this I managed to make a 3 1/2″ gauge rolling Juliet tank engine chassis. (Rolling because it had wheels. No cylinders or valve gear)
It was make do and improvise.
Model Engineering (for me) in Thailand is like that. Not because of lack of money (although the very high cost of importing from the UK does make it almost prohibitive) but because of lack of suitable suppliers. (Or more correctly lack of knowing where suitable supplies are and this is being put right now through the Resources Section of this website)
Typical Model Engineering Items Available And Unavailable In Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand
A few simple things that I need right now that I can’t get in Pakchong (Pak Chong):-
- Tailstock lathe centre.
- Dividers for marking out. (Now located!)
- Certain size drills.
- A bandsaw at a reasonable price.
- Small section steel (BMS) and brass).
- Optical Centre Punch.
- Silver steel.
- Any kind of metal-working precision instrument. (e.g. engineer’s square, protractor)
A few things you can get in Pakchong (Pak Chong):-
- Almost any type and size of welding machine and equipment.
- Disk type cut-off machines.
- Almost any size of steel, bronze, cast iron and brass. (Large sizes)
- Electric hand tools such as jigsaws, drills etc.
- Normal sizes of drill bits.
- Normal type of hand tools as found in Do-It-Yourself superstores in the U.K.
It’s all a bit upsetting because I have a well fitted-out model-engineering workshop in the U.K. but it’s just too expensive and difficult to have everything shipped out to me.
Update: When I retired to Thailand I bought my entire UK model engineering workshop with me in a container.
Finding Suppliers and Resources For The Model Engineer In Thailand
Some of the things I need for my hobby are readily available in Bangkok. But finding them is another matter.
The other model engineer I mentioned is planning to come to Pakchong (Pak Chong) from the Bangkok area to buy some of the materials I have mentioned are available here.
What you need as a model engineer in Thailand may be available somewhere, but Thailand is such a massive country and Bangkok in particular is a huge city and very difficult to get around that the main problem is finding out where to get what you want.
One of the main purposes of this website, therefore, is to build up lists of suppliers and resources. Hopefully as more people visit the site they can contribute to the “Model Engineers Suppliers Database” which incidentally I have not set up yet.
Join The Announcement List
So if you are a Model Engineer or just interested in home workshop, DIY, metalworking or anything mechanical in Thailand or South east Asia, please join the announcement list and become an active member of the model engineering in Thailand community. We need you and your knowledge.
Join The Announcement List
Join the Announcement List and I’ll let you know when new content is posted on the website.
I’ll send you a brief email summarising what is new and you can decide if you want to visit the website to get more details or not.