"One Perfect Part at a Time"


“I’ll Buy That!”

I just had a minor epiphany thanks to a comment in an email from my friend Ed. He said, “…I focus on my project and not on the tools unless they impact the project.” What a profound statement. I have been preaching that concept since day one on my web sites.

I often get asked, “What machine should I buy to get started in the hobby.” My stock reply has always been, “First decide what you want to build.” “Second, how much can you spend?”

Ed is an outstanding builder of small scale live steam locomotives and has a wonderfully equipped home machine shop, all top notch machines and tools. His comment hit me so true I could hear the angles singing. Well, almost.

I have read most of Kozo’s books and have seen photos of his modest workshop. He shows his shop in at least the A3 book and several others. I know THAT master builder has a very modest workshop.

Wonderful works are not judged by the machines used to create them. It is the skill of the operator that makes it art, not the chisel and hammer. Are the workshop and tools of Michelangelo famous and on display? No, just what was produced by their use. It is the work that is remembered, not the tools in the shop.

Yes, yes, someday there may be a special on TV about the tools of Michelangelo because some people will be interested, but it is not the tools that have made him and his work immortal.

We all have to decide for ourselves, what is my hobby? Is it making miniature live steam locomotives or owning fabulous machine tools? Neither answer is wrong. Doing both is fine if there is the space and the money. But if my primary… Continue reading

Taig Spindle

I had an inquiry about how the Taig Spindle could be taken apart and the cartridge used elsewhere. I had to be honest and admit I had never taken one apart to investigate. Taig products are so well built there was never a need to disassemble the spindle.

The new spindles are different than the older versions. The new ones have the cartridge insert from the end. It slides into a machined bore. The old heads have a split case. The pictures here are the old head. Both hold the cartridge in place with a recessed screw into the center portion of the cartridge.

I wasn’t and still not interested in pushing apart one of my ER spindles to view the cartridge. There may be no harm, but if it isn’t broke now, why look for a problem? The old split case is no problem. The side will almost fall off when the bolts are loose. Probably the reason for the change to the new style.

At first look it appears to be four bearings. The center section is not bearings (as far as I can tell). The end bearings are compressed against the center core providing proper bearing pre-load. The pre-load nuts are on the outside against the bearing case. The center section is under compression.

To me it looks like a very elegant design and has been trouble free. First class machining, not like the cheap imports. It HAS to be to run at 10,000 rpm. That doesn’t imply all imports are cheap but few are rated for that kind of speed.

So I suppose you could make your own spindle case if required. I run the spindle at 10,000+ rpm all day with no heat buildup (after… Continue reading

Some Like It Hot.

Zowee! It’s 95 degrees F. in the shop this afternoon. I have been working in and out of the shop most of the day. Mostly drawing things in Vectric  Software then running out to run them on the HB2. My biggest concern is proper cooling for the computer but it seems to be doing fine. They are short runs from 10 to 45 minutes. I am stopping now that we’ve hit the 95 temp in the shade. I don’t even want to think about working in the sun. The front porch also in the shade is showing 98. We have had over 3 weeks of near and over 100 degree days.

I grabbed some pictures with the cell phone so quality isn’t too great. The pictures are showing about 93 degrees at 3:15 in the afternoon. I also got the main bench cleared and am doing some surface work on it. Getting ready for new projects! You can see the new (old) computer under the HB2.

I have been doing some engravings in Corian and just basically getting the feel (yes hot) of how long I and the equipment can hold up in this weather.

Object-Oriented Machinist

I was exploring some computer programming software information and I discovered this analogy. Is so good, I have to share:

…Simply stated, object-oriented design is a technique that focuses design on the data (=objects) and on the interfaces to it. To make an analogy with carpentry, an “object-oriented” carpenter would be mostly concerned with the chair he was building, and secondarily with the tools used to make it; a “non-object-oriented” carpenter would think primarily of his tools. Object-oriented design is also the mechanism for defining how modules “plug and play.”

I know what I am. What kind of hobby machinist are you?

Proxxon PD230/E

I am considering ordering a PD230/E Proxxon Precision Micro Lathe for sale in my store. The PD230/E is a very small lathe in the size range between the Taig micro lathe and the larger Proxxon PD400. The PD230/E is about ½ the cost of the PD400.

What makes the PD230/E a very nice lathe is the fact it has a powered lead screw as well as a variable speed drive motor. It is a micro lathe on steroids.

I don’t see a reason to own both Proxxon lathes. The PD400 being the machine of choice for me, but there are certainly many hobby machinists who don’t need the bigger machine and are attracted by the lower price of the PD230/E. The attached motor drive, power feed and the complete drive system put it way above the Taig micro lathe in functionality.

The street price for the main machine is $1225.00. Adding accessories will of course push the total price higher.

If I wanted a micro lathe I could modify and/or customize, then the Taig is a great choice. But if I want a micro lathe that is ready to make parts, then the PD230/E is the better choice.

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