Made From Scratch Model Airplane

Phillip Isohe is a metal fabricator in the jua kali, non-traditional industrial sector, in Kenya. In his spare time he builds models of airplanes and buses. This seems to be an extension of what many of us did while growing up in Africa – building wire, or tin can, cars. What’s most interesting is the excruciating attention to detail that he puts into each one. In fact, they each have motors with working lights, steering, engine and interiors.

Phillips model airplane in kenya

Phillip had just sold one of his buses, so the only other one I have a picture of is only half-built (picture). However, he did have a finished and working model airplane. It was amazing to see how each piece, engine included, was built from scratch. It’s not every day that you see this kind of detail work on hobbies, no matter where you are in the world.

The models take him 30 days to make and goes for about 25,000/= ($370). That’s likely just his “starting price” though, and they probably sell for a good deal less when he really wants to move it.

Here’s a short video of the model plane:

More pictures:

Made From Scratch Model Airplane

model airplane engine

More pictures like these can be found on the AfriGadget Flickr group.

Home Made Welding Machine

Being on the ground in Nairobi makes it a little easier to find good AfriGadget stories. I took a walk down Ngong road, an area with a lot of shadetree mechanics, wood carvers and metal fabricators. The first place I stopped at had a home made welding machine.

Simon, the shop owner, showed me a couple of the machines and gave a video tour of how it works. He’s a prime example how an entrepreneur in Africa will figure out ingenious solutions to meet local market demands. The welders sell for around 14,000 Kenya Shillings (just over $200), but fabrication costs only a small fraction of that.

Below is the video and some pictures. (Another video will be uploaded later, connection speed issues preclude me uploading another one right now).

DIY Welder

Home Made Welding Machine in Nairobi, Kenya

Home Made Welding Machine - Parts

Send in your stories of African ingenuity here.

Multimachine — truck-parts-based machine shop for Africa

The MultiMachine Group at Yahoo! Groups carries plans for “The Multi-Machine” which is

an accurate all-purpose machine tool that can be built by a semi-skilled mechanic with just common hand tools.

Open Source Multi-Machine

Multi-machines are 3 in 1 machines based on old car engine blocks (a 3-in-1 machine is usually a combination of a metal lathe, mill and drill press). The machines are designed such that they use the tolerances and engineering initially used to create the engine block that is re-purposed as the core of the tool to help guarantee that various components of the machine integrate with a high level of precision.

The machines have a design that not only allows them to be assembled using “elbow grease” but that also allow them to run on alternative power sources where mains electricity is not available. They are also easily adaptable to new purposes by adding on modules.

Plans to build a multi-machine can be found at this link at the The Open Source Machine website.

(via BoingBoing)

The foldaway house.

Rajan Harinarain, a South African entrepreneur and inventor has come up with a temporary foldaway house for use in emergency situations complete with electrical wiring and fittings, doors and windows that can be erected by a small team in 5 minutes.

The patented structure weighs less than a ton, collapses to under a foot in height and can be modified with insulation/ventilation for hotter or cooler environments.

Foldaway House

Links to the complete story at:

South Africa Info
South African Engineering News

Ghanian mechanics bring cars back from the dead

The BBC Website carries a story about a Ghanaian mechanic called Frank Darko who claims that he can make any car from wrecks and scrap.

From the article:

Mr Darko is a “straighter” – so-called because he can straighten crooked vehicles.

He is one of an estimated 80,000 mechanics, engineers and artisans who work in Suame Magazine, an industrial slum, possibly one of Africa’s biggest.

Frank Darko specialises in straightening wrecked vehicles. On the outskirts of the Ghana’s second city, Kumasi, the Magazine’s origins lie in the city’s long history of working gold and other metals.

Over time, more and more of these artisans turned their hands to vehicle repairs and engineering, eventually moving to Kumasi’s Suame suburb after World War II.

In a continent and a country where buying new can stretch already overburdened pockets, the Magazine’s artisans show how far you can get with ingenuity, skill and a few mechanical tools.