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257. Iqbal Ahmed


"Model Engineer of India"

A model engineer working in unappreciated isolation in India works his way up to a win in one of the world's foremost miniature machining contests and creates world class models

Iqbal Ahmed was born in Nagpur, India to a well-to-do family. His grandfather was in the insurance business, and when automobile insurance became mandatory for all drivers, his business expanded in the region. After claims were paid on cars, his grandfather would purchase the less damaged of the wrecks and renovate them for sale. He would hire mechanics to do the repairs, and young Iqbal was able to observe the repairs being made and to ride around in many different types of cars; all of which fueled his interest in engines and how things worked.
After Iqbal’s father took over the business the economic climate worsened, and in order to make ends meet he purchased a lathe and set up a workshop to do repairs. Since he had no experience running a lathe he hired a “turner machinist” to make parts. Iqbal was able to observe how this machinist made parts like bushings, screws and also repaired worn parts. When the machinist left the business due to even tougher economic times, Iqbal had no option but to leave his schooling and return to join his father’s business. With what he had learned from the hired machinist he was able to run the lathe and, after several years, also mastered other forms of machining using a “universal” machine. This machine allowed him to do milling, drilling, shaping, gear hobbing, indexing and other jobs using makeshift attachments. As his skill in precision machining increased, he expanded his capabilities from auto work into making parts for photo copiers and other delicate machines where repair parts could not be obtained anywhere in the country.

Although he had never heard of “model engineering,” a friend of his knew of his machining talents and brought him some books on model making from England. His interest in model engines was inspired by these publications, and he scaled down some of the available plans to make smaller versions of engines he saw there. A number of these models are shown in the photos that follow.
The 4-cycle, 4-cylinder, water cooled, overhead cam, internal combustion engine he is now building was inspired by the repair jobs he used to see done on automobile engines in his childhood and by the engine reconditioning he later did himself. While he learned to recondition existing parts, to make an engine from scratch required a new set of skills and offered new challenges. Driven by curiosity and willing to experiment and learn, Iqbal has taken the project to an advanced stage of completion. The finished engine will require the making of over 250 individual parts that must all work together for the engine to run.

Iqbal Ahmed wins award of excellence for his model of the historical 1886 Benz Motorwagen

Iqbal Ahmed (right) donated his miniature Sherline lathe model to Sherline owner Joe Martin for placement in Mr. Martin's Museum of Craftsmanship. The lathe is now on display in the Foundation's Vista, California facility. The award was made at the North American Model Engineering Society Expo in Toledo, Ohio in April, 2007. Accompanying the small lathe is a scroll documenting the presentation.

Smallest steam engine made by Iqbal Ahmed set world record
The smallest working stationary steam engine was constructed by Iqbal Ahmed of Nagpur, India, and has a flywheel measuring just 6.8 mm (0.267 inch) across.
The tiny engine has a cylindrical body of brass with built in crankshaft bearings, piston, connecting rod and valve mechanism.

   While the smallest part is the 0.7 mm connecting pin, the largest is the 6.8 mm diameter flywheel. Its total length is 16.24 mm.
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