Fanning the Coals
It’s no secret one of my lusts is machining in metal and wax. Actually, machining any material is fine with me. Wax became my favored material because it machines so well, especially with very small tool bits. Primarily, jewelry CNC carving for lost wax casting (LWC).
But I have also machined wax for LWC casting in brass, and that also works very well. I am not involved with casting large objects. At least not yet. But I don’t have an interest in doing large scale sand mold type casting. That’s a whole ‘nother sideline.
My light weight Taig equipment is perfect for machining wax. Taig tools also do an admirable job on small metal cutting as well. I have milled everything from stainless steel to cast iron. I have had no problems with brass, at least the types I have machined. Like most metals, there are many alloys. I choose the easy to machine.
I recently viewed a railroading model project (a hand-car)* made by an old friend Ed Hume. It got me re-considering my old lust for live steam engines and locomotives. They are machined directly from metal. That fanned the embers again and created a bit of remorse that my metal shop hasn’t been productive as was intended, except for the LWC silver work.
*Don’t know how long this link will last.
I designed my shop and machine equipment size specifically to create model train and model engine components. Not (what I consider) full size, or real life-size components. The term often used is “Model-Engineering” workshop.
I recently dusted off one of the machines, the Proxxon PD400 mini-lathe and turned down some leaded steel stock into a mandrel and cap for my wax carving. That effort really felt good, experiencing those perfect cuts and… Continue reading
Live Steam Bait
Some progress is better than no progress. I have the desire to be back hacking metal parts, but I can’t get my body to do what my mind desires. It’s not a physical thing. Just switching mental gears from what I already do and getting to other things I love to do. I have way too may interests and options. I thought retirement would give me more time. Boy, was I ever wrong!
I just gave myself a Christmas present. I just re-activated my subscription to Live Steam and Outdoor Railroading. That may get the juices flowing. I also ordered the Building the CliShay from the same source. Not that I am going to build one, but I like to study the material and details of any build project.
I kind of like the concept of the CliShay where anything goes, nothing is wrong, do your own thing, that a non-scale live steam project permits.
I viewed an 0-gage CliShay on YouTube that was pretty much a work-in-progress disaster. Flames rolling out, up the outside of the boiler shell and melted off a steam fitting. So inefficient the operator was chasing around with a small blow torch heating the outside of the boiler to keep it running. BUT…
He had a live steam locomotive running and was probably having a great time working out all the issues. He was living the dream, not still in the dream state. Nothing wrong there. I was envious, but still getting a chuckle.
I would probably change places with him for a day…
Getting Hot – But Not
I haven’t moved as fast as I intended on the live steam projects. Again, just too many irons on the fire. Excuses are easy.
My little Taig Machine business has greatly picked up in the last month. I know why, it’s the new ball-screw mill. I might have the most sales for Taig for September. Taig doesn’t know why, but I must have done something correctly. I know I have been re-stocking and placing orders as one, if not THE busiest months for me with the RDS store.
I do have a workshop CNC project. I have to make a bunch more of the 1” wrenches for use on the Taig mill spindle. The 6061 T6 aluminum is on order. The wrenches have become a popular accessory. Many customers buy just one but it takes two for me to change tools in the collet. One wrench on the spindle and one on the collet. I might offer a slight discount for a set of two rather than sell them individually. But first I have to make more!
As I write this I have my 3D printer running, making ER16 collet boxes. They are a really nice way to keep those small ER16 collets in order. The Taig set is not supplied with any type of permanent holder or storage box. The boxes are selling good.
Decent weather (temperature) has come back to Texas. That makes working in the shop much nicer. That’s what I considered for getting back to the live steam work, comfortable working conditions.
Is it time to stoke the fire and bring up the pressure again?
I have been retired for two years or so. I do part time consulting that pays well for the hours worked, but it is not a major load on my retirement activities. In other words, not a lot of hours at one time. I still have the problem of too many creative hobbies, with my silver work and 3D printing at the top of the list.
The 3D printing, except for the creative and CAD drawing, is mostly start and forget; letting the printer run for 5, 6 or more hours without attention. That run time is available for anything else I want or need to do. I have to remind myself to stop starring at the CNC action. I’m sure you know what I mean. It’s like the swinging watch… “You are getting sleepy…”
Of the many things I am able to do, one thing I would really like to get back to is the real machining work in building a live steam locomotive. A live steam boiler and a steam engine (motor) would also be a project on which I’d like to be working. I have the necessary machine tools. I feel so guilty not using them now that I have the tools and opportunity. Read the other posts in this category and you see there have been false restarts. Yes Judge, I plead guilty.
I have an excuse. A fairly a valid one. Summers in Texas can be unbearable with the heat and (recently) the humidity here in the Dallas area. It’s always hot in Texas in the summer, but the humidity has been more like Houston than the normal – far northern (away from the coast) – Dallas.
My garage workshop… Continue reading
Coasting on the Flat
Maintaining steam but not building speed on the A3. I am coasting at the moment. A honey-do piano stool restoration has taken over the workspace in my shop. Staining, shellac and urethane require a fairly pristine atmosphere. With the cool temperatures and now (finally) a bit of rain the drying process is slow.
Staining is over but I am looking at about three coats of shellac and then a coat or two of polyurethane. Sanding between coats of course.
The teardown and rebuild is the easy part but finish work is laborious. Metal chips flying soon.