9.25.2013

wow!

Blog reader Simon Dunkley from the UK pointed out that the wooden wagons I recently acquired through an estate sale were actually made by Roy Link for the 2nd version of his Crowsnest Tramway layout.

I'm even more pleased to own these items now!

9.19.2013

lost and found

In the course of moving all of this stuff around the basement, I have mislaid the few finished (or partially finished) pieces of a single-cylinder steam engine that the local crowd of Model Engineers undertook as a group project a number of years ago. It's always bugged me that I didn't finish it at the time and, naturally, the bits quickly became buried in my vast collection of other stuff that I've been dragging around for years. Last summer I finally located the package of parts and instructions and set them aside so it wouldn't get lost again - which it has - pending the workshop's rise from obscurity. 

I did, however, find some time to work on another overdue item (I have lots of those). I've long lamented the lack of good T-nuts for the Taig mill. A while agao I had marked out and started to mill some aluminium bar stock to make a set of six T-nuts with more substance than the stock offerings. Since I can now see what I'm doing in the shop, I cleaned up around the mill, checked the markings, centre drilled (because I found those), and drilled for 10-32 thread. I want to slightly countersink the top edges of the holes before tapping but, naturally, I can't find my countersinks. So that step will have to wait until I can find some more time.

a little lighter

I have added a third fluorescent fixture to the workspace. Each of the three machine benches now has proper overhead lighting. It's a massive improvement that I will enjoy throughout the long winter months which are even now racing towards us in the Northern Hemisphere.

Specific task lighting is still to come; there are some great ideas percolating around the Internet. One particular adapation using Ikea fixtures done by my friend Dave Underwood is really well executed.
LED lights for the Taig mill

Dave's site, Tooling Around, is populated with useful machine tool-oriented workshop ideas. His own shop is neat, clean and (importantly) well lit. Take a look when you get the chance.

The Emco lathe has an ancient gooseneck (desk?) lamp attached to the splash board behind the chuck & headstock. It works fine, except that the bulb blew as soon as I switched it on the other day. It's a 40W S11 incandescent, quite a bit smaller than the usual household lamps. Luckily, the local hardware store had a couple in stock so I grabbed both. At some point I guess I'll have to switch to and LED or fluorescent to shine extra light at the workpiece. Sadly, the days of the incandescent are numbered.

I do have one of the Anglepoise magnifiers with a fluorescent ring lamp surrounding the lens. I may make a couple of new base mounts for this to allow me to attach it to any tool at will. Not quite sure if it will get in the way when trying to use the mill, though.

9.16.2013

I couldn't find my

centre drills.

I knew I had some. Several, in fact. 
Must have had them; used them at school and at home.
Different diameters. Some with a black oxide finish.

But not to be found when I needed them.

Naturally, I went out and bought some more. Just a few. When I came home, I carefully placed them in a small drawer, and labelled the drawer using one of those portable electric label-making thingies. 

Shortly thereafter, I went looking for my brazed carbide tool bits. These were easy to locate. They resided in a little, round tin with "crbd ctrs"scrawled semi-legibly across the top in fat magic marker. Inside, as expected, were the cutters. And, of course, a small stash of 

centre drills. 

Dutifully, I extracted these intruders and placed them in the freshly labelled centre drill drawer.

Later, I felt a need to spend some quality time re-familiarising myself with the controls of the Emco lathe. It has many more features than my Myford, with power cross feed, quick change gearbox, and assorted levers for all manner of speeds and feeds. As I was poking through the accompanying trays of accessories for this lathe looking for a special metric wrench I came across some

centre drills. 

After a moment's reflection, these were carried to their new home - the newly marked tray in its cabinet of similar trays, each bearing their own tiny cache of useful bits & bobs, all sorted and stored for future retrieval and subsequent employment.

One feature on the Emco gave me a bit of grief - the high speed motor control setting would not do what I expected it to do. In a fit of rationality, I went to look in the manual (apparently, I am constantly "letting down the side" by actually reading these documents instead of stabbing randomly at controls, hoping to retain the same number of fingers I started with). The manual sat astride the top of the cabinet of tiny drawers, drooping slightly forward due to the weight of its binding. When I lifted it up, I noticed it had been obscuring the top row of drawers, one of which had been carefully labelled

centre drills.

I shall leave it to the reader to guess what was inside.

let there be light

Things continue to trend higher. The slope on the chart may not be very steep, but it's still going up.

Finally installed some new lighting in the shop space. A pair of 4' fluorescent fixtures with two, 32W tubes each. The tubes are 75CRI 6,500K Daylight Ecologic T8 from Sylvania. Illumination is even and the colour of the light is very good. Fixtures are American Fluorescent Performance Plus shop lights from Lowes. These are equipped with 3-prong cords and pull cords; even the hanging chains are included.

One end of the shop has had only a tacky chandelier left over from the previous owner. I cannot conceive a suitable use for such a fixture in a basement scenario, save perhaps an illegal apartment. I took some delight in de-lighting that part of the room. A commercial grade receptacle was installed in the octagon box, and the two fixtures were connected.

This approach will allow me to quickly reposition fixtures as my usage of the space changes and, having them connected to the existing overhead circuit, allows me to shut off all the lamps at once via the switch near the shop entrance when I'm done for the day.

The ability to see what I'm doing in there has improved so much that I'm going to grab at least two more of these fixtures for this space. Ultimately, one fixture will be installed over each workbench. A slight amount of rewiring will be necessary to support the higher current load.