A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Saturday, 9 September 2017

Can't Get No Grindin'

Such a device might be the answer to several questions I haven't even thought of...
Things are a bit overshadowed at present by another outbreak of Real Life. It is, inescapably, a time-of-life thing; further problems with the care of elderly relatives - this time my wife's family rather than my own, but it feels very much like more of the same. I hope and trust that things will be resolved soon in a satisfactory and comfortable manner, but the most obvious immediate difficulty (for us) is that the relative in question lives some distance away, so the Contesse is going to be driving long hours, and negotiating with overstressed social workers in yet another county. Having recently been through a similar episode with my own mother, we could have done with a bit of a break, I guess, but of course it is important that we help as much as we can. Blood, as you know, is famous for having a higher viscosity than other well-known liquids.

My Bavarian project has not yet made made much visible progress, but I am getting a feel for the available 20mm figures, and have a growing collection of samples, including a couple of very generous donations of vintage figures. In a few days I'll publish some size comparison pictures of what I have to work with. Really looks very promising, though - as you would expect with vintage castings - I am going to have to carry out some conversion work to provide sufficient command figures and - not a trivial point - sufficient variety of command figures. As discussed before, I'm happy to have entire battalions of crisply identical fusiliers, but having the self-same officer in every regiment is less satisfying.

Another issue requiring conversion work is the nippy question of plumes on Bavarian infantry. Only the grenadiers had plumes on the helmets (all right, the Jägers had them too, but not until some time later than my chosen 1809 context), so, for a couple of the brands of figures, a period of competent plume removal is approaching. Which (at last) brings me to the point of this post.

I was once the owner of a rather dinky little cordless Dremel, complete with accessory tools, some of which I never identified. I used it sparingly, to say the least. After about the fourth time I used it in anger the battery would no longer recharge, and that model does not allow a replacement part, and of course the guarantee had expired a small number of weeks earlier. Maybe the poor thing died of loneliness. More quality stuff in the landfill.


The Bavarians will require some conversion work, and I am freshly healed from a spell of very sore fingers after needle-filing epaulettes off a bunch of Spanish officers. I think I need to replace my Dremel. I checked out some cheaper brands - Silverline and Tacklife, for example - but the customer reviews were uniformly hostile, and there was a general theme to the messages: pay the extra, get something better.
Not recommended, apparently
So I need to get something small and hobby-ish, but it must be mains-powered, and I don't want to sell the house to fund it, but the cheapest brands seem to give problems - notably with the chuck attachment.

Anyone have experience of such a device, or a recommendation? I don't think that I shall require to re-machine motorcycle parts or anything - this will strictly be a device to assist a flaky dilettante like me with his toy soldiers. All views welcome. Anything which requires hearing protectors or similar is probably not what I'm looking for!

Care must be taken with all DIY projects


To revisit the title of this post, here is the Mighty Mr Morganfield - Muddy Waters to you - live in Germany in 1976.


21 comments:

  1. You definitely want a genuine Dremel, and for accurate work you probably want the Flexshaft 225 attachment too. Get branded drill bits, routers, etc. too - better quality than most generics, and you know they'll fit.
    One problem with cheaper brands is vibration - the motor often isn't secure within the casing - so you can't do any accurate work.
    BTW, apparently Peter Gilder used an old dentist drill - the Rolls Royce of rotary tools, but probably not an option for most of us.

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    1. Thanks for this Doug - appreciated. I've actually used an old sit-up-and-beg dentist's drill - very good. Years ago, a friend of mine (a dentist, that's right!) let me use an old drill, in a back room of his surgery, out of hours. In fact I ground a lot of flash off some Hinton Hunt highlanders (which are still in my army, as the 79th Foot) and some HH ACW zouaves (long gone). The drill was good and easy to use, but the machine that provided the belt drive and the foot controls was about the size of a fridge, so not so handy.

      Thanks - cheers.

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  2. Ditto what DC says, I've had my mains powered Dremel for 15 years now with no problems.

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    1. Thank you Benjamin - this is shaping up nicely. The house will go on sale on Monday...

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  3. I was walking around town this morning thinking about getting a dremel myself.

    So I am interested in the responses to your post. Is the Dremel 3000 right one to get ?

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    1. The 3000 with the flexidrive looks good (around £70 online?) but gets some bad press on reliability.

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  4. My corded Dremel is almost 20 years old and still giving good service.

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    1. Thanks Ross - have been reading some mixed reviews on Dremel 3000 - many good, some really terribly bad...

      I think I may need to buy a 20-year-old Dremel. Still collecting data...

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  5. Hi Tony, I have a second hand dremel that I picked up in a car boot sale for a couple of quid. It wasnt looking its best when I got it, but it's done what was asked of it and I probably won't use it again for many years to come. From an economic stand point it was probably okay to take the cheapo route. Sorry to hear about your real life issues. Keep your chin up.

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    1. Thank you sir - once again, a vote for the old ones!

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  6. I have a cordless 8100 Dremel (with a chuck), it is superb and seems to have a good battery life. I know you don't want cordless, I am just giving mine some positive press.

    I would say go with Dremel, a 3000 would be fine as you would not be placing high demand on it. For modelling, getting one that has a lower speed would be a bonus, but I think most Dremels at the cheaper end start at 10,000 RPM, while the third party brands can start from as high as 15,000 RPM.

    Once you have a Dremel, you suddenly find other needs for it that you never knew you had :-)

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    1. Thanks Norm - all noted in the file - this blog thing really works!

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  7. Go with a Proxxon. Dremels are far too powerful and can easily rip the hand from a figure. Proxxon are superbly controllable so you can work gently and iirc can take smaller bits than a dremel such as a 0.4mm
    And yes I own a Proxxon and a dremel!

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    1. Roy - thanks for this - this is very interesting - I know nothing of Proxxon - I just did a little reading. If you can be bothered, could you let me know what model of Proxxon you have?

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  8. I have had a Proxxon FBS240/E for around 8 years. Super quality and better than Dremels I have had before. Proxxon do a more expensive model, but probably not required unless you are using every day.

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    1. Thank you Alan - this is very useful I shall do some detailed checking-out of a couple of items, and this is on the list. Proxxon seems to get a good reputation with owners. Dremel maybe a little cheaper in UK, but maybe a problem with recent manufacture.

      Anyway, I'll investigate further - thanks.

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    2. Alan - supplementary question, if you get to see this...

      I checked out a couple of video clips about the FBS240/E - looks nice, and smaller than i expected. Retails at around £67 with a basic set of accessories - do you use it with a flexible drive? Dremel users seem to recommend the flexidrive for fine work, but it bumps the price up.

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  9. I haven't used the flexible drive, but it would make some jobs easier. I found I could manage all my projects just using the hand set. I have bought lots of cutting, drilling and buffing tools. These can be picked up fairly cheaply from various manufacturers and are generally interchangeable.

    I have a couple of other Proxxon tools and think they are worth the money as they do seem last and work well.

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    1. Once again Alan, thanks very much for this. Useful.

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  10. I haven't a clue what mine is but I know it cost less than £15 ten plus years ago.. still going strong... must check the make but it's definitely not a Dremel..

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  11. Thanks very much to all who contributed to this - I am very grateful for all help. After some additional research and more reading of customer reviews, I have ordered up a Proxxon FBS240/E - wide variation in price, but have ordered one from Beesley's (here in UK) for £70 including VAT and shipping, which seems pretty good. I'll think about the flexible drive, but will leave it out at present. My concern about the Dremels were mostly a lot of complaints about early failures of recent purchases, and the greater weight.

    Anyway, the way is forward. Thank you.

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