web analytics

Archive for July, 2009

Mike and His 300 Rockwell C Object

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Diamond is #2 Now

I quit trying to mill the strange object Mike brought me. It appears to be hardened, so it does not like being machined. I dug out a 3 1/2″ 12L14 disk someone sent me, and I mounted it in my vise and ran a fly cutter over it. Big difference. It cuts like butter.

Here’s a photo. The cut is around 2.5″ wide. I made three passes. The last one is 0.003″ deep. You can see marks from both “sides” of the fly cutter (same side on different parts of the rotation), but the trailing “side” left the most obvious marks. I am hoping this is acceptable. I am not eager to tram the mill again.

07 31 09 fly cutter 12L14 disk

I haven’t found good information on fly cutter tool grinding yet. I found a diagram of a design on a CNC forum, but it had no relief on the bottom of the cutter, which surely has to be a mistake. I ground this new one with relief but no radius. I assume a radius would give a better finish.

I ordered some square T6 whatever bars. If I’m careful, I should be able to slice them in nice pieces with the dry saw and WD40. That will give me plenty of mill fodder for a while.

I still don’t understand why people say you should get a lathe before a mill, and that a lathe is more useful than a mill. The lathe is swell, but it’s harder to understand, and you can’t make straight cuts without a milling attachment. The mill is very straightforward, and you can do all sorts of things with it. I guess the traditional wisdom will make sense to me eventually.


I divided the RPMs by about 8 (115), changed the workholding method, and ran it through again. This time the finish is much better. I believe the feed was around 3″ per minute.

07 31 09 fly cutter 12L14 disk 03 in vise

07 31 09 fly cutter 12L14 disk 02 after second effort

The disk is wider than the cutter, so I had to run it through twice. You can see a small part and a big part, with a dividing line. The small part is the last part I ran under the cutter. For some reason, it’s a tiny bit higher than the rest of the disk. No idea why. I locked the spindle this time, but I didn’t lock the gibs in the z-direction. Is that the problem?

Today’s Agenda

Thursday, July 30th, 2009


Couple of things.

1. My sister is on her way to a hospital in another state, to have her lung looked at. She may have some kind of fungus. It’s not cancer; don’t get excited. If you would like to pray that she makes the trip safely and gets her problem fixed, I would appreciate it.

2. Reader Ed pointed me to another blog. The proprietor has a friend named Donna, and Donna has a “serious health issue.” Prayer is requested. Not sure what’s happening, but I trust Ed’s judgment.

Mike and I are about to hit Gordon Food Supply. I hope we survive.

Shuddering to Life

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

It Moves

I got the VFD hooked up to the mill. I have no idea where to put it. I may just screw it to the wall. It’s going to be a phase converter most of the time, so it’s basically an on/off switch. I don’t need it to be terribly handy.

The manual for TECO VFDs is horrendous. I’m sure the Chinese part is written much better. The English part is hopeless, even for a guy who already programmed another VFD. Luckily, I found out how to make it generate 60 Hz, and that’s all I need.

I don’t understand why the mill takes up so little room. Well, yes I do. The guy who made the pretty Bridgeport floor space diagram I relied on must have been crazy. He claimed a 42″ BP takes up so much room, you need 74″ of wall on either side of the corner in which the mill sits. I don’t know how he got that idea. My mill is wider and appears to need less room than that.

I haven’t machined anything, obviously. But the mill is probably trammed, the vise is probably aligned correctly, the oil thing is full of Vactra, and the VFD works.

Maybe I could check the tramming by facing something, turning it over, and facing it again. Mike–you have to love this guy–saw a piece of scrap steel on the side of the road while he was driving down from DC, and he stopped, backed up 85 feet, and put it in his car. I could put it on parallels, face one side, put that side down, face the other side, turn it around, start facing it, and see if the cuts look funny. I would think a head that was out of tram would cause a face cutter to hit the work crookedly, and that you would see it as the work moved under the spindle.

I guess there’s a clever way you’re supposed to check the tramming. Things like that have a way of appearing in my comments. Or maybe the tramming itself, being a measuring process, is, itself, supposed to be the check. Generally, though, machinists have ways of double-checking themselves.

The vise is super-duper aligned, I think. I used a metric Tesa TI, and it doesn’t move when you take the vise across the spindle. I thought that was cool. Tramming was no fun at all. The machinist’s square made it a lot easier, because when I got way off, the square brought me back to a reasonable starting point.

I have to figure out what kind of oil to put in the cups on the head. I have air tool oil and spindle oil. I have two weird Mobil oils. DTE 24 and DTE 26, I think. The head runs at up to 5000 RPM, so I don’t want to put the wrong thing in there. It might actually be in the manual!

I’m wiped out. Tomorrow, I machine.


Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Lights Blinking and Everything

I’m pooped, so I’ll repost what I put on the Chaski forum.

My friend Mike and my dad (not exactly machinists) got mad at the mill and refused to quit working on it while I posted questions on the web. They figured out the worm gear. Mike called a machinist buddy of his, and he confirmed their discovery. We moved the head up and got it stable.

I did not find a pin. If one existed, it must have sheared and vanished.

I figured out how to move the head horizontally, and I centered it on zero degrees. Then I did my best to tram it. I have a Tesa TI (metric), and it was within two notches, N, E, S, and W. The Indicol I bought is not the ultimate in rigidity, and my skills are negligible, so there may be some error I didn’t catch. Luckily, my squares arrived today, so I was able to use one to get the spindle close to trammed before using the wrench and Indicol.

The power feed and DRO are set up and working. Now I have to wire up the VFD and make a cord for it. I better get to Home Depot; I forgot to buy a plug. I don’t know where to put the VFD. I may just stick it on the wall. I get the feeling I won’t need it to be as convenient as the one on the lathe.

The machine rocks a little. Is bolting it down worth the effort? I don’t want to get squooshed.

I thought it would be a space problem, based on some measurements I got for Bridgeport Series I floor space, but those measurements must be off, because I could shove it back another six inches and still get full travel on the table.

I’m not sure how far out the ram should be. It shipped fully extended, and I figured the machine would be better balanced if I moved it to the center of the ways, so that’s what I did.

The manual is as bad as I expected from other people’s Chaiwanese adventures. It would be great to have an American machine with an American manual at a Chinese price.

The top cover on the motor has a big chunk out of it, because the importer doesn’t put anything between the motor and the table when he ships.

I think the most humorous part of the lathe is the brand name on the DRO: “Sino,” which means “Chinese.”

If anyone is looking for a Taiwan mill right now, Matt at Quality Machine Tools is willing to deal. I could have done a little better for this price, had I known it would take this long. He sells a slightly better mill with a 3 axis DRO.

It looks like I got a free coolant system, although all I see for the moment are a nozzle and a hose.

I haven’t run the machine, obviously, but I am extremely impressed with what I got for the money.

Thanks for all the help. I’m going to try to get the vise mounted.

The DRO says “ALE.” I think that’s a good idea.

07 29 09 milling machine in garage DRO on and head up

07 29 09 milling machine DRO


Wednesday, July 29th, 2009


07 29 09 milling machine in garage


Trying to rotate the head into position. The seller said to loosen the 4 nuts in the front, but when I do that, it only moves about 5 degrees and then runs into a hard stop.

Machine Caught in Cellular Time Irregularity

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009


I don’t know how AT&T does it, but I keep getting my voicemails and missed call notifications late. Sometimes days late.

This morning I kept my cell with me, and I checked it several times, because I was expecting a rigger to deliver my milling machine. Two hours after the scheduled arrival time, I noticed two missed calls and two voicemails. One was from last night, and the other came in at about 9:00 a.m. The morning call came from the rigger.

Guess what? NO MILLING MACHINE TODAY. Two of the rigger’s guys failed to show up. So it will be here tomorrow at 9:00. Unless they cancel again, and AT&T lets me know next week.

My garage is barely usable. When I park, I have to unroll the window to get out. Everything is moved around to accommodate the mill. I was going to do the rearranging after it arrived. Now I’m stuck for another day.

Surgery Tomorrow

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009


George Moneo says his father-in-law Gil is having skin cancer surgery tomorrow. Please say a prayer.

Slow Truck From China

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

No Signs of Relief

My milling machine is now 87 minutes late.

While I sit here, I try to pass the time wisely. By surfing the web and occasionally looking out at the street to see if I failed to notice a giant tractor trailer in the front yard. I dropped by a weather site, and it reminded me of a cheerful fact: Global Warming is failing us yet again.

It’s nearly August, and we haven’t even had a tropical storm. I shouldn’t say anything, because gloating seems to steer hurricanes in my direction, but I can’t help being amused.

The midpoint of the season, from the standpoint of storm frequency, is September 10. If nothing happens by that date, the overwhelming likelihood is that very little will happen for the rest of the year. This will be very hard on the yammering climate hippies. They have struck out for three years running.

And again, I remind everyone: polar bears do not really drown. They are practically giant otters. Go to the zoo and see what polar bears do all day. It’s called “swimming.” Hello? Earth to hippies.

I don’t know why the hurricanes dried up. Maybe the government put Ward Brewer in a lead-lined bunker, where his hurricane-attracting powers are stifled.

I have been very bad today. I ate a Fat Boy brand ice cream sandwich for lunch. But I made up for it by cutting out a fattening and totally unwarranted tuna salad sandwich.

Where is that truck? Maybe a polar bear fell on it.

Hurry, Santa

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Mill Nearly Here

The milling machine is eight minutes late.

I can’t stand it. Oh, the suspense. And the dread. What if my measurements are wrong and I can’t park in the garage after this?

This morning I realized I should have bought T nuts to attach my vise to the machine. I have a clamping set, so I’ll be okay, but I should have some studs and nuts that are dedicated to the job.

Now it’s nine minutes late.

I wonder what the day holds for me. A lot of cleaning, I would think. This machine may be slathered in cosmoline. I hope there are no problems with it. If these people take seven weeks to ship a mill, imagine how long they take to fix one if it’s busted.

Ten minutes late.

I’ll have to tram it. That will be my first real challenge. After that, I install the vise. Then I may throw some metal in the vise and see if I can square it up.

I’m really pathetic. Last night, I went to the marina with my dad to try to get his GPS working. It turns out that Garmin GPSs are extremely finicky about power supplies, and a lot of people have problems because of it. The sloppy guy who installed this one has it on the same circuit as at least two other pieces of marine electronics. The Garmin tech said we should run a wire to the battery, just for the GPS. Right. That will only take five hours and forty feet of wire.

Here is the pathetic part. Someone had left a big tubular aluminum thing near the trash. Maybe an antenna. Naturally, I grabbed it. Hey, five pounds of free aluminum, and several feet are anodized. Black. Very pretty.

Fourteen minutes late.

Mike will be here tonight. Maybe I’ll fix a Costco prime rib eye for him. They’re very nice, but truthfully, the choice steaks I got last week were so good, I don’t think there is much point in buying prime for everyday dinners. The prime jobs are better, but not way, way, WAY better.

Fifteen minutes late. I better go out and look up and down the street. Just to be helpful.

I Made a Hole

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Ready for the Forklift

I moved a bunch of crap around in the garage, and now there is room for my milling machine. I am freaking out for the second time in two days. Maybe I’ll freak out every day from now on.

If I use this thing five times and then sell it at a loss, it will still be fantastic. I have dreamed of this for ages. One way or the other, the story will finally have an ending.

I want to make my crab-cracking thing. I want to make the world’s first worthwhile garlic press. I have dreams about milling the heads on the Harley; supposedly the 2001 engines were manufactured so they didn’t get enough air, and you can fix it with a mill.

I watched the ATI lathe videos for a while today, while taking notes. It was fairly dull, but I paid for it, so I was determined to get my money’s worth. He ground a bunch of tools on his belt grinder. I have to give him credit. I have seen three video guys grind tools so far, and it’s always boring, but this guy seems to have the best approach. IF you don’t mind shelling out for a Burr King. That would be the hitch. You can spend like $1500 for a hotshot belt machine, or you can buy a bench grinder for under a hundred. Hmm…tough choice.

I’ll bore you with the lowdown on grinding. Rudy Kouhoupt has a video where he uses a bench grinder. He milled himself a special tool support with a sliding doodad with an arm on it which you can adjust with a protractor. You screw the doodad down and rest the tool on it as you grind. I think. It would take like a day for a skilled machinist to make his special grinding table, but when it’s done, you get tool angles that are accurate to within a degree. And your tools are probably way more accurate than they need to be.

Adrian Pendergast has a video where he walks up to a spinning grinder with no guards on it, jams a tool into it, and gives it hell. He guesses at the angles. Sparks fly all over the place. Seems to work.

Then there’s the ATI guy, who does about three times the amount of work Pendergast does, switching belts twice to get a high polish on his tools.

The Pendergast way looks pretty tempting.

Get ready for some interesting posts tomorrow.

Flea in a Funhouse Mirror

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Obama Roars; God Snickers

Jews in Israel are finally rallying against Obama. From Dani Dayan, leader of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip:

David Ben-Gurion founded Israel in spite of American pressure… Menachem Begin destroyed Osirak in spite of American opposition, and Yitzhak Shamir rejected American demands to stop construction.

Amen! When America’s President is an anti-Christian, anti-Semitic Chicago machine veteran who spent 20 years warming a pew in a non-church where hostility to the Jews was preached openly, Israel owes it to herself to stand up to him.

Look at the reward Jews got for backing this cohort of Nation of Islam bigots. Will they learn? Some seem to be getting the picture. I can’t believe they got fooled in the first place.

When has currying favor paid off for the Jews? Liberalism is never going to make them popular. If you want to make good policy, forget the Democrats. Remember God and the M.S. St. Louis.

Let’s see. Who has Obama stabbed in the back, to date? The UAW. Doctors. Jews. The police unions. His own grandmother. Why would anyone trust this man? His record of promise-breaking is reminiscent of Hitler’s.

Build in the West Bank! If God is with you, who cares what Obama thinks? God is eternal. Obama is a Cabbage Patch Doll wrapped in a hula hoop. His term will be over before you know it.

Note: while I was writing this entry, I learned that the proper name for the ship I mentioned is “M.S. St. Louis,” not “S.S. St. Louis.” Something to do with the diesel engines.

More Steel in the Garage

Monday, July 27th, 2009


The rigger called! Looks like I will have a mill in my garage tomorrow!

Then I have to move the lathe and wire up the compressor and decide what to do with my workbench. And wire up the VFD. And clean the mill. And ask myself if I’m crazy.

I can’t believe this day is going to come.


Monday, July 27th, 2009

So This is Ecstasy

Costco had prime beef today.

This is EASILY the greatest day of my life.

They had boneless rib eye steaks for $10 a pound. Not bad at all. That’s not far from half price. But they had rib eye ROASTS for $7.27! Oh, man. You can get a roast two feet long for a hundred bucks. Maybe ten decent steaks. If that isn’t a good reason to convert a beer cooler into a deep freeze, I don’t know what is.

The sad thing: Costco probably had prime beef the last time I went. I think I looked in the wrong place.

Sondra and Metric Threading

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Unusual Combination

I have to catch up on a few things.

Og’s friend Ken has cancer. It has invaded his femur. He stumbled the other day, and the femur broke. Send up some prayers.

A guy who refers to himself as “Gorak” just popped up on the Chaski forum. He says:

I live in a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia. Professionally, I work for a large consumer electronics company at an R&D facility managing all of the test laboratories. Outside of work, I am an avid sea kayaker, woodworker and wood turner and am in the planning stages of building an 18′ cedar strip sea kayak. My current hobby time however is severely limited as I also act as primary caregiver for my wife who is fighting an advanced terminal cancer.

Couldn’t hurt to pray.

Longtime reader Ruth has started a blog. You must begin reading it immediately.

Back to business. Sort of. Sondra has blogged my blogging of her excursion to church. So if you want, you can go over and leave a comment. I don’t know if she realized how many of her readers were Christians, but she definitely knows now.

I feel like I am partly responsible for helping Sondra decide to go to church. But who helped me? I have tended to think my own prayers made the difference in my life, but I now understand that that’s wrong. I was not the only one praying. Looking at Sondra’s blog comments, I have to wonder how many of my readers prayed for me all these years, trying to straighten me out. Keep it up. It obviously works. And thanks.

I think I’ve found the solution to my metric threading problem. I considered buying dies, but that would be a limited answer. I would have to buy a die for each thread I planned to cut, and I would have no choice about the diameters of the stock I threaded. I don’t know if there is any point in putting a thread on a rod of unusual diameter, but why give up the option? I also considered getting a 7 x 14 lathe and setting it up for metric threading. This would be great, but it’s one more machine. Someone on the Chaski forum suggested I look into a new idea: the electronic lead screw (ELS). I checked it out, and I think it’s the way to go.

Here’s how it works. You buy a stepper motor and a little digital controller, and you connect the motor to your lead screw. You also put a sensor on your spindle to tell the control box how fast the lathe is turning. Now you can move the carriage back and forth at any ratio you want. I assume there is some error, but it would be insignificant. This works so well, people who use ELS boxes commonly thread at 500 RPM. I have no idea why they would want to do this, but they do.

You can also wire it up to your cross slide to get a cheap version of CNC. This means you can cut tapers without a taper attachment. That’s a great thing. A used Clausing taper attachment would cost a grand. I can make one, but it would be a pain in the butt to store when not in use, and I’d have to put it on and take it off.

There are lots of other ways to get metric on my lathe. You can buy a 30-piece metric attachment, if you’re lucky enough to find one. They pop up about once a year. This lathe requires a metric quadrant and a bunch of other stuff, so you can’t just stick a gear in there and hope for the best. Getting a metric attachment is totally unrealistic. The ELS, on the other hand, goes on with a few bolts. And when you don’t need it, it disconnects. It won’t ruin the lathe, either. If I hate it, I can take it off and throw it in the trash.

It sounds very sweet, not to mention relatively cheap. I would have to find a way to couple the motor to the screw; that’s the only challenge. The screw on my lathe is completely covered at the right end, except for the end surface. I would have to machine into that surface to make a way to put a pulley on the screw. I guess it can be done. It’s supposed to be pretty hard to machine a square hole into a flat surface, so that probably won’t work. A tapped hole won’t work, because the screw needs to reverse, and that will make the threads come undone. Maybe I could bore a hole and put a set screw in from the side, with the screw sunk into the side of the screw, so it wouldn’t interfere with the thing the end of the screw spins in. Then I could make a shaft with a flat on one side and stick it in there. I have to make sure the screw hole would not have any ill effects on the lubrication. I suppose if it did, I could fill it with epoxy or something.

Funny, I had no idea how to do this, and then this idea came to me while I blogged it.

How do I bore a hole in the end of a lead screw with no lead screw in the lathe? Angle attachment on the mill? Arrghh.

Wait, I don’t need a lead screw. I use the ram on the tailstock.

I feel better now. That was a close one. I’ll bet the steel in that screw will eat drill bits like candy. But I have a carbide end mill I can use.

The milling machine should be at the rigger’s RIGHT NOW. Can you believe it? I feel faint. I am dying to crank that thing up.

Go visit Sondra. I mean it.

Random Chance

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Over and Over and Over and Over

Seems like every time I go to Trinity Church, there is some sort of “coincidence” that freaks me out. This week, I have a doozy.

Perhaps you’re familiar with Sondra K. If you’re a male blog reader, I’m sure you know who she is. She has one of the best conservative blogs. Sondra and I are friends. She is, or was, a pagan. You can imagine how I felt about that. No Christian wants a friend of his to worship trees or rocks or whatever it is pagans worship. When you proactively try to contact and please “gods” and “goddesses,” you are essentially inviting malevolent spirits to infect your life.

Naturally, Sondra and her husband JR have been on my prayer list.

I was surprised a few months back when Sondra said she planned to attend a Catholic mass. I couldn’t believe it. People tend to be pretty loyal to their religions. I thought it was a great omen.

This week, in an email, she said she felt God had been calling her for about a year. I guess I don’t have to tell you I was excited. I suggested she check out some kind of pentecostal church to see what she thought. I said I would contact my church and ask them if they could recommend a place near her. Sondra is near Olympia, Washington, which is around an hour from Seattle.

I procrastinated. I thought I would look stupid, asking these people if they could recommend a church near Seattle. What were the odds that they knew anyone up there? Vanishingly small.

On Saturday night, I went to church. The sermon was about direction. A big part of Christianity is “walking by faith.” That means you try to do what God wants, even when you have no idea what the point is. Sometimes it will seem like you’re doing something silly or counterproductive, but over your life, God will keep stepping in at these times and making things work out. He’s like Mr. Miyagi. You’re doing “wax on, wax off” all day, wondering if the one who told you to do it is crazy, and when it’s over, it turns out you were learning karate. Something like that.

I was really happy to see that Pastor Rich was talking about the very thing that was on my mind. I practiced law, I got a few books published, and then I drew closer to God, and now I need direction. Should I become a mediator? Should I try to write Christian books and articles? I don’t know. I do not want to litigate. That much I am sure of. I do it well, but it’s like mud wrestling for a living.

He talked about the Israelites at the first Passover. They needed to get away from Pharaoh, and instead of a rational plan, God told them to cook and eat lambs, put the blood on their doorposts, and wait. And you know how it worked out. They left Egypt immediately, and the Egyptians loaded them down with money and weapons. Then God took them to the shore of a sea, where they were trapped with Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit. And again, you know what happened. God opened the sea and led them across the floor, and then he drowned the Egyptians. And after that, God stayed before them, in a cloud or a pillar of flame, leading them around in the wilderness.

I hadn’t thought about it, but the notion of walking by faith applies to waiting for direction. You have to assume God will eventually show you which way to go. So I’ll wait.

As an illustration of how this works, Pastor Rich talked about coming to Miami, in 1998. He and his wife lived in another state, in a 5000-square-foot house that was built for them as a gift. They had a son who was a senior in high school, and they had four other sons. They had family in their area. It seemed like they were right where they needed to be, but then they became convinced that God wanted them to move to Miami, and he didn’t supply a big pile of money to help them make the move.

Keep this in mind: for some reason, I had been under the impression that they were from Minnesota.

He started talking about the length of the trip. He said they traveled 4,000 miles, from one end of the country to the other. And I sat up in my seat. Then he said they moved from one corner of the country to the opposite corner. And I thought, “No, it can’t be.” And toward the end of the sermon, he confirmed it. They came here from Seattle.

I had been waffling about accosting him and asking about a church for Sondra, but now I had no choice. At the end of the sermon, I told him I knew someone near Seattle, and I said this person needed a church. He recommended a place called City Church. Then I said she was actually near Olympia. And he said she needed to try Evergreen Church, in Olympia. And the pastor there was his brother-in-law.

Think about this. There are fifty states. There are many, many cities. Thousands and thousands. The population of Olympia is roughly 40,000; it’s not a big town. And my pastor’s brother-in-law runs a church there. Just happens to.

If this doesn’t make an impression on you, you are beyond reach.

I emailed Sondra and told her she had to go and take a look, because if she didn’t, I would not be able to sleep. I am hoping she’ll sneak in today.

It may be a good choice for her. Catholics have a big problem with liberalism in the clergy. It’s very disturbing, seeing men of the cloth side with Marxists and pacifists and people who favor convenience abortion. In an Assemblies of God church, a conservative is a drop-in part. In spirit-filled churches, leftists are a tiny minority, as they should be. It’s amazing that any Christian could vote for Barack Obama, who voted to withhold life support from abortion victims born alive, and who spent 20 years in an openly anti-Semitic church run by a former member (and current ally) of the Nation of Islam.

Today I became a member of Trinity Church. I went to a class, and then the new people had to sit up front and be presented to the rest of the church. I hate being a spectacle, but it’s something they wanted to do, so I stayed. Even though I heard the same sermon last night. I am hoping they’ll find a use for me, beyond holding down a chair. For now, I’m pooped. Three and a half hours of church is enough for anyone.

I told Sondra, “If you end up converting, this kind of thing will never stop happening to you.” She said “coincidences” had been happening to her all her life. Maybe God has had his hand on her. I hope something comes of this. Say a prayer. She gave me permission to blog this.

Now I have to flop on the couch.


From Sondra:

I met the pastor Dale and he is wonderful.
Yes, I went and survived….and will be going back next week
Thank you, Steve 🙂 Life is so grand.

“Freaked out” doesn’t begin to describe how I feel. I can’t believe Sondra and JR listened to me!