"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

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?

Micro Machine Beauty Shop

OK, OK… I have kept this to myself for far too long.

There are lots of wonderful micro machine shop sites on the internet. One of them at the top of my list is called Micro-Machine Shop. Duh? I guess that’s not too hard to remember…

The old site URL was http://www.finelinehair.com/home/index.htm. That’s gone away.  I didn’t know what fine line hair meant; I assumed it could be something to do with ultra precise measurement.  Alan is a stickler for that, as a machinist should. I shortened the URL and it (he) is linked from a large hair products salon.

Yep, the creator of the site is named Alan. I haven’t found his surname yet (I did. Pinkus), but it may be buried in there somewhere. Maybe he just likes to be more private than myself. No matter, Alan publishes a wonderful site for us machine tool addicts.

Somehow I think Alan has more tools and variations and measuring devices than actually exist in the world. Just take any major supply catalog like J&L, Enco, etc. and order one of each on every page. He must own both companies. In any case, he doesn’t have a big investment in full size machines (hence the name “micro-machine shop”) but there is no shortage of accessories.

Many getting started machinist ask me what machines are best for the money they have. You will see here it is not the machines that require the most money; it is what you add to them. Alan has far more money and time than I can ever hope to invest.

Did I mention his photography is nothing less than extreme topnotch?  Alan does in pictures what I do in words. In other words, about 1000 time more.

This is a… Continue reading

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