"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Late January Ramblin’

Dan in shopTexas weather is going crazy as usual. It is 32 degrees (F) and raining one day then 62 and sun the next which was yesterday. This morning it is 35 and semi cloudy. I know they say this in every place I have lived but, “If you don’t like the weather. just wait a day…” 🙂

Outside Christmas deco was taken down (finally) yesterday. When packing it looked like I cornered the market on outdoor extension cords. I use over 35 to run all the circuits on the computer controlled light system. The weather was perfect and my back feeling good enough to tackle the task. Ten more months and counting… too long to just leave them up.

The online store is doing OK. Gears are starting to sell very well. I recently sold a Proxxon lathe and have two folks at present wanting to know when I can get the next one. The one I own is for sale but to ship it would double the freight cost as I already paid to get it to me. Shipping it again would not be for free. I may just pay the tax on it and keep it for myself. It is a great little lathe and actually the same size Kozo uses to build his 3/4 scale locos. His is an Emco with the attached mill, no longer available.

My shop is a mess at the moment. I have several projects to work on and Christmas piled all around me. We will fix most of the pile problem today with a trip to storage. Here in the Dallas, Texas area, basements are unknown. Shop space is at a premium and usually must be shared. I am actually willing (dreaming) to move the shop to a rental space… Continue reading

Small Benchtop Machining

I see a slow growing trend of the hobby light duty machine shop in the United States. There is a definite niche for the smaller size high quality high speed machines that are fairly common in the European hobby market. This includes such brands as the Proxxon, Prazi and Emco and others. The English Myford is on the small list. Also included are the US brands of Sherline and Taig. I am talking about small machine tools that are ready to work right out of the shipping box.

Massive slow machines ARE NOT necessary to build accurate, light weight hobby machined projects. Yes, mass is good but it also depends on the size and weight of the parts being machined. Bench top machining is an equal bang for the buck, space and pound than the more resource demanding (mostly space and power) full house heavy floor model machine tools. Using today’s high quality indexed carbide tooling when making small size parts, demands much more SFM than old machines were designed to hold or to run (at the high end). A large chuck and the part it is holding spinning at 2500 RPM is scarry! I have always stated that very small parts are easier/better made on small high speed machine tools. It is an exchange of speed for mass.

Some “old iron” pundits point to the low end rpm (no back gear) and the very high top end rpm of small machine tools as faults. I say they are not faults. They are required features. Small threads are better made with dies even when low speed is available. The pros prefer dies. Single point cutting does not inherently make a “better” thread. However, I would still like a low speed gear for large diameter threads… Continue reading

My Kind of SHOPing

I worked in the machine shop all weekend. I am trying to make spoked solid steel model locomotive driver wheels on my micro CNC milling machine. They are slightly over 3 ½ inches in diameter.

First I had to make a special fixture to hold the wheel blank onto the milling table. That took all day Saturday. Then I cut the first wheel on Sunday. That took about 7 hours!

I enjoyed the work but am not happy with the current result. I broke three 1/8 inch end mill bits working with the stainless steel. 🙁 I will try carbide end mill bits next if I can find some. The finish on the SS was not what I desire. Standard bits get dull cutting SS.

I have some nice machineable steel to try next and also fine grain cast iron. That will wait until another day and when I have more 1/8 inch mill bits to play with.

It is amazing how time flies when you are having fun. Yes, dear! breaking mill bits is fun… forget about those words I used. 🙂

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