A quick announcement and on with the post!

We will be hosting engine turning classes in Seattle Washington at the Memoria Technica workshop again this year. Check out the courses here


We have a new guest author on the workshop blog, engine turner Callie Shevlin! Currently setting up an independent atelier in Switzerland, Callie is going to share with us the process of rebuilding her Lienhard straightline machine and its journey West.

Our story of course, starts here in the Village of Gravity Pennsylvania with David Lindow.

From the bench of David B. Lindow:

The story of my introduction to the rose engine came in about 2002 when I purchased a Lienhard rose engine and a Lienhard straight line engine.  I was told that the better machine, an American machine, had already sold but there were two Swiss machines still available if I wanted them.   At the time I was so ignorant of what these machines were and how they worked that I couldn’t argue with the man and had no idea that even though he thought he was selling me two rose engines I was, in fact, buying a rose engine and a straight line engine.

The information that was correct was that these machines had been E. Howard and Co. assets when they shuttered the plant where clocks and watches had been made for many years.  Needing to clear the space, these machines were left out in the parking lot being deemed worth no more than scrap value. Providentially, they were spared the crusher and found their way to Texas where I, seemingly by mistake, found them.

It took a good while for me to find a way to get them picked up and they went through two sets of hands before they finally made it to my shop.  Having no practical application for these machines and being that I intended to keep them for myself with no desire to sell them, it was about four years before I got to the restoration of the rose engine.

This restoration had a profound effect on me, I fell in love with the machine and what it could do and had a very strong urge to put rose engines once again back into the hands of crafts men and women.  They nearly became an obsession.

However, I never seemed to be able to find the time to get to the straight line engine.  It eventually made its way to Columbus Machine Works where the bed and legs were sandblasted, but neither Mike Stacey nor myself seemed to find the time to get to it.  Frankly, we deemed the restoration to be more costly an endeavor than the machine would be worth.  Both of us were committed to doing it because the machine was desperate to be rescued.   Still, the machine sat untouched except for the aforementioned sandblasting and the fact that it was somewhat dismantled.


That was the condition in which the machine was found in 2014 at the Ornamental Turners International biennial convention which was held in Columbus.  The featured speaker that year was Callie Shevlin, an American employed in the engine turning trade in Switzerland.  It was there that I discovered that Callie was trying to set up an engine turning shop on her own and was in need of a straight line engine.  She convinced me that she had the both the desire and acumen to restore the machine, and we went to dinner with Mike and Diana Stacey.  I owed Mike dinner at White Castle because of a bet that I had lost to him and was aggravated that I had to pay.  (The bet ended with Mike’s purchase of a beautiful metal planer from a neighbor of mine.) The main topic of the meal was the straight line engine, and Callie was sure she wanted the machine.

Though comparisons to Esau selling his birthright  for a bowl of gruel may come to mind, such was not really the case when I offered to trade her the straight line engine for the cost of dinner— a bag of burgers.   

So just like that Callie had a straight line engine coming to her, my belly was full, and I didn’t have to lay out the cash for the lost bet myself.  It was a win/win situation for all involved.

As we all know life is never completely straightforward; however, great things do come to be.   After over two years Callie was situated well enough to take the machine and begin the restoration, and in December my son Christian and I packed it up. It was shipped home to the country where it was made and will be restored to its former glory and employed as it was originally intended.


We were fortunate that not long before Callie asked for the machine to be shipped we received two machines in crates for restoration that gave us the crating materials without further cost.  Foundation insulation makes an excellent packing material for heavy objects so we resized the pallet and and started cutting the insulation for a custom fit.


When packing the most important thing is that the various parts cannot shift or move.  This is the only way to protect handles and other vulnerable parts. Handles can even be close to the box edges if the part inside cannot shift, and then oddly shaped objects can be more easily packed inside the whole by using cardboard boxes to contain them.

With all the items secured from movement we began to assemble the sides.


Our friend Josh stopped by and helped us finish up the crate.


With the aid of a lift gate and a box truck the machine was off on it’s journey back home.


– Callie picks up the story –

From the bench of Callie Shevlin:

I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the 2014 OTI conference in Columbus Ohio. I was speaking about guilloché, and my work in the Swiss watch industry to date and staying with the Stacey’s at their home.  With Mike and Diana, David and John, we hardly slept for staying up late talking rose engines and straight lines.

My first night; after a long flight, and my lost luggage; I met everyone in person finally, and we did a shop tour of Columbus Machine Works.  Afterwards, David showed me this Lienhard Straight line that he and Mike had found outside, and started to sandblast.  Now, I’m not sure if it was the sleepiness in me that agreed or what, but next thing I know, I “agreed” to buy the machine for a sack of White Castle burgers. Seriously. With the objective that I would love and restore and document and write about the journey with this machine.
So, it took me 2 years to send the machine out to Switzerland (lots of red tape and other things to overwhelm my life). But it got here just after Christmas (greatest present ever).
The company who I used assured me they would bring a ramp as I have 1 step down into my atelier that is about 15″.  There was no ramp.  So, I opened the top and one side and started to disassemble David’s fantastic packing! The only thing that I was unable to do myself, was the base. It was SO heavy! I had 2 young farmers come help me and the worker we have here on our farm. Finally all was in!
I assessed the situation and had been given a fantastic rust remover by a work colleague who assured me that one bottle would take rust off of the machine, as well as a tractor, and still have some left.  I set to work a few days later on the base.  It was slow going, and with this product that was purple and smelled like perm chemicals, I was being really cautious.  I sprayed a test spot on a bit of rust on the table top, scrubbed with a wire brush a bit, then waited 5-10 minutes and rinsed it off with water, then more water. Success! I continued to work like this in small sections of no more than 8 sq inches at a time because the product couldn’t dry on the machine.  After 1 full 10 hour day, it was finished! And in the end, I had to lift up the machine by myself 4 times to dry and clean under the feet.
Next, I started to wire brush the upright on the chariot, and that is where I am now, contemplating what my next move is to be.
I will get back to it in the next week or so when I have a huge chunk of free time!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: