When I lived in London I had a small workshop complete with milling machine, drill press, MIG/TIG welding plants, compressor, spray gear, gantry crane, furnace, and many hand and power tools needed to machine plastic or metal. Since moving to the US in 2011, I had to sell or donate a lot of tools and those I had shipped will remain in storage until I have the space to make use of them again.

One of my favourite and most illuminating projects was the overhaul of a four-cylinder Zetec engine from a 1999 Ford Cougar that was destined for a 1996 Ford Fiesta. I worked on it for several months with my now brother-in-law Palo Borgula and we were delighted to see it fire up on the first attempt. Unfortunately I relocated to the US shortly afterward and it sat on my workshop floor for four years until we sold up. We had never tried anything this ambitious before but it was, if nothing else, a fantastic learning experience.

The second is a Turner’s Cube that I made for my PhD supervisor, Dr Patrick Naylor. I understand this is a staple task for novices learning to turn metal on a lathe. I made mine from clear acrylic plastic on a milling machine with a rotary table as I didn’t have a lathe at home.

One day I will resurrect the workshop here in the US. I have often dreamed of building a Lotus 7 (perhaps with the same Ford Zetec engine) or maybe restoring a Mazda MX5 for my wife. I would love to try my hand at model engineering, but at least I have the odd Airfix model to build for now.