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Archive for December, 2011

Tiny Stuff That Works Beats Big Stuff That Sits

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Chihuahua Lathe Making Chips

Og is getting his revenge.

I bought a Clausing lathe a few years back, and it turned out to be in worse condition than I had been led to believe. Also, it wasn’t the lathe I thought I was buying, and the seller would not pay the whole cost of return shipping. It doesn’t do metric threads, and the stuff to change that is extremely expensive, IF you can find it. Og said I should get a new Chinese lathe, and he was right.

Last week, I took delivery of my first Chinese lathe: a Big Dog 7 x 14. It came with a tachometer, two rests, a drill chuck, threading gears, a three-jaw chuck, a turret post, and centers. For a few bucks more, I added a quick change tool post, a carriage stop, a four-jaw chuck, and parting tools.

I’ve been using it for a while, although I’ve been extremely busy with Noche Buena stuff, so I haven’t been able to do much. It’s fantastic. It’s convenient, it takes surprisingly deep cuts, and it seems to be well made. The first time I put something in the three-jaw chuck, the runout was undetectable on a dial indicator. The needle wasn’t still, but it moved so little and so randomly I couldn’t tell the runout from the surface noise. That’s pretty danged good.

The rests are wonderful. A Clausing rest costs anywhere from two hundred to three hundred bucks, and they turn up for sale about once a decade. That means you can forget about turning anything long and thin, or about 50% of the things you would want to put on the lathe.

The Big Dog is portable, so you can run it on a Workmate, which is probably Og’s favorite tool of all time.

I am no machinist, but I think I can safely say that anything that fits on this lathe, you can work. It may be a little slower than a big lathe, but it actually gets the job done, which sets it apart from the Clausing.

I wanted to make a stainless shift linkage for my Moto Guzzi motorcycle. This was going to be my first semi-precision project. It would require machining a rod to .078″ in diameter and threading both ends. When I got started, I realized the Clausing was not going to thread it, and that’s really the honeymoon ended.

This week I started again, on the Big Dog. I had a stainless hammer handle I had made, and which I knew I would never use, so I decided to turn it down to the right size. It’s really too short to do this conveniently. In order not to be crowded, you need some extra metal at the ends. But it seems to be working. I put the follow rest on the lathe and went to town.

When I got to work, everything went fine, except for the tailstock position. The live center kept backing out of the work. At first, I failed to lock the ram, so that was my fault, but it also happened when the ram and tailstock clamp were locked. I found that there was a little locknut on the front of the tailstock, and it determined how tight the clamp was. A few seconds’ work with a wrench fixed it.

I have some cute little carbide tools for the tiny tool post, so I decided to use one, in addition to an old 1/4″ round-nose tool I had ground. It worked great. Long stainless chips spiralled all over the garage, and the finish on the work was not bad at all.

If I can get the threading to work, I’ll try to finish this thing. I may have to scrap it and start with a longer piece, but it has served its purpose as a learning tool, so I can’t complain.

I’m looking for a bigger lathe. The Clausing has to go. I stupidly bought a DRO for it. Oh, well. It still has to go. Working with the Big Dog has reminded me how great it is to work on metal instead of working on my lathe. It seems like every time I want to use the Clausing, I can’t do it, or I have to find some clever way to work around the lack of tooling. That’s no good. I want to walk into the garage, flip a switch, throw crap on the lathe, and start turning. I want it to be just like my mill or my table saw. Turn on, do work, turn off, clean up, have beer.

Some guy in Tampa is moderately interested in the Clausing. I think I turned him off, though. I told him everything. The Clausing is a good quality lathe, and it appears to be in good working condition. It’s just limited in what it can do, and in the availability of affordable tooling. It’s not a junkheap. I guess I’m a bad salesman. I wanted to make sure I overcame the temptation to describe the lathe in a flattering way that would get it out the door, so maybe I went too far.

I found some interesting machines. First, I found a Yam (no kidding) Taiwanese lathe that had belonged to a prototype builder who used it in his garage. Here’s a photo. I could have had this for $3500. It’s a very highly regarded lathe, in spite of the hilarious name. Sadly, someone nailed it while I was getting a shipping quote.

I found a Millport, locally. It looked wonderful. I wanted to inspect it in person, so I sent an email. I used to think Millport had to be a horrible brand, because the name was so stupid. It was like they weren’t even trying. But I found out they make excellent machinery. Taiwanese. But as soon as I inquired, I found out there was a deposit on it.

I just found a Famot. It looks like it has been run about three hours. This is supposed to be a fantastic Polish lathe, considerably better than Taiwanese. It’s expensive, but it has every piece of tooling imaginable, and it should last forever. I put in an inquiry. I’m waiting to find out who just bought it. Someone up the road has a Nardini MS 1440E which looks like it hasn’t been used too much. I have read that the green Nardinis are good machines, but the blue and white ones are horrible. This one is green. Hopefully not the result of spray-painting.

I considered a new Birmingham, but everyone says they stink. I also inquired about GMC, the company that made my mill. I emailed the guy who sold it to me, but he never answered, and neither did GMC’s headquarters. So I looked around for Taiwan stuff. I found Eisen lathes. They’re not expensive, but they’re supposed to be very good. Their 1440 appears to be the same as Webb’s, and Webb is a good company. The lathes are not real heavy, however (1364 pounds), so the rigidity is something to wonder about. Anyway, you can get a new one for $7500, which is not bad at all.

I found another brand of new equipment: Clark. This is not the Chinese “Clarke” lathe that costs about forty dollars to make. It’s different. They make a 2500-pound lathe with lots of features and tooling, and you can get one shipped to you for $6000. The big problem with Clark is that no one knows about them. I contacted three sellers. One said the machines were Taiwanese. One said they were Chinese. The third gave me the truth: they have Chinese castings, but the other stuff is Taiwanese. That’s actually pretty appealing. I don’t think it takes a lot of skill to make a lathe bed, but screws, slides, bearings, chucks…you want a competent manufacturer for that stuff. My mill is made from Taiwanese parts, but it was assembled in China. I can’t complain at all. The only problems I’ve had were mostly the result of my own stupidity.

I guess I better put the Clausing on Craigslist and Ebay and get serious about replacing it. I want to get something I will never need to upgrade. Never buy cheaper or smaller tools than you can afford. You will always regret it in the end, and it will cost you more money than buying right the first time.

I’ll tell you something funny. I think I get much clearer guidance from God than I did back in the Clausing days. Maybe that’s how I ended up with the wrong machine. I’ve mentioned this before: when I started looking at the Big Dog, I kept feeling something inside me saying, “Just buy it. Just buy it. Go buy it. Buy it now.” And it worked out great. Hopefully I’ll get the same helpful guidance the next time around.

The Aftermath

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Bits of Hog All Over the Place

Noche Buena is now a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

What a week it’s been. It took forever to get the pig rotisserie built and operational, and then I had to cook yuca, black beans, brownies, rice, and coconut flan. I had to get beverages, charcoal, napkins…it was an ordeal. But it was worth it.

I thought Val Prieto couldn’t make it this year, but he and his wife Maggie showed up before the feast, and he helped me get the lechon mounted on the spit. Then after they made an appearance at his parents’ house, they came back and ate with us. Maggie reminded me that this was our “anniversary.” The first time we met, it was Noche Buena 2003. Val was cooking at his parents’ house. It’s too bad we couldn’t get them to come over here this year.

The pig cooker works great. I was so busy I didn’t bother taking photos, but Val took a quick phone video, which I will embed.

The charcoal pan is a piece of Home Depot galvanized metal with a few bends in it to give it strength and provide places for the charcoal to be piled. I didn’t put it on dedicated supports. There are two turkey fryers under it.

I had read that it was a bad idea to let fat fall on the coals, so I bent the pan to keep the charcoal slightly outside the central axis of the pig. I now think this was pointless, and it reduced the heat that got to the meat. I believe I’ll flip it and use the other side, and I also need to make sure the coals go past the ends of the pig. These parts are the biggest concentrations of meat, and they cook slowest. You need heat coming at them from the ends as well as the middle.

I believe a caja china with a smoke port would work really well. Maybe next time.

The motor worked great, although it sounded like it was coming apart. I guess that must be normal. It never got hot or paused, and I know it was working well below its rated torque.

I decided not to build a complex framework to hold the pig. That was a mistake. One of the Tapcons in the pig’s spine came loose, and the pig threatened to fall off the spit. We had to turn the motor off and run it intermittently, turning the pig 90 degrees at a time. This slowed things down a lot. Next time I’ll have the spit modified to prevent this.

I chose not to use the longer spits I had available. The heat of the coals got to the motor and bearings, but that was no problem, because it was a simple matter to bend a couple of pieces of foil around them to shield them. Much easier than modifying a new spit, and I got the benefits of the short spit’s rigidity and ease of handling.

The pig went eight hours, and some bits still were not fully done. Nonetheless, it was a phenomenal success. The smoky flavor of the hickory and charcoal made it much better than a caja china pig, and the skin was pretty crispy in spite of the rotisserie, which can make pig skin limp.

Here’s a horrible confession. I was too lazy to juice bitter oranges, and I don’t like the canned naranja angria in stores, so I marinated it in mojo made with Sunny Delight! Don’t laugh. It was amazing. Bitter orange is actually pretty useless. Mix orange juice with lime juice, and the results are just as good. Maybe better.

Yesterday was my dad’s 80th birthday. My friend Liz insisted on making him an Appalachian dried-apple stack cake, as well as cookies with Dilbert and my dad’s name silkscreened on them. My dad loves Dilbert. I think he enjoyed that.

The food exceeded my expectations. Everything was wonderful.

I had guest problems, though. The whole point of this meal was to help me and my church friends learn about love and unity, but five people bailed out on us. I ended up with nine church friends, Val and Maggie, and my dad. We had a wonderful time, but we were buried in food. I begged people to take it home. I made two gallons of black beans! Overshot just a little.

You can’t love passively. It’s not just a feeling. You have to act on it. That’s what we’re learning. So we’re trying to spend time together outside of church.

The patio is still a mess. I’ve conquered most of it, but there is still work to be done. I skipped church today, and I didn’t get up until eleven! I think I would have died if I had gone to church AND cleaned up.

I hope everyone who still reads this blog had a wonderful night, and I hope today is even better. God will be good to you and restore your life, if you give him a chance and agree to do it his way. It’s working for me, and it will work for you.

The Headless Hog of Coral Gables

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011


I just picked my my lechon. It’s 46 pounds, cleaned and ready to go.

The good: it doesn’t have boar taint, so I won’t have to soak it with bicarb. The bad: it has no head! You can’t have a lechon with no head! Is that some new thing invented by metrosexual Cubans? I won’t stand for it!

Anyway, I stuck it in the cooler in brine. It’s supposed to be frozen, but it’s not, so I’m going to have to run out and get some bags of ice.

Yesterday I was looking at the rotisserie, and I realized the pole could be a problem. It’s about five feet long, so the charcoal will be within a foot of each end. I don’t know if I want the heat that close to the bearings. I thought, “Man, I’m going to have to go to Home Depot.” Then I went out and checked my scrap collection. Naturally, I had a seven-foot pole, just waiting to be drilled and used. And right beside it. . .an eight-foot pole.

My church friends are starting to bail on me. I should have seen that coming. Nobody up there follows through. One my friends was going to come down and help with the cooking, but he says his sister just flew into town unannounced, so he can’t make it. I’m looking at 12 people and a 46-pound pig.

I was going to stuff the pig, but that’s a lot of work, and I am going to have little if any help. Right now I’m planning on lechon, moros, yuca, and dessert. Anything beyond that, people will have to bring.

I was hoping Val Prieto would come by, but he’s doing a rotisserie of his own at his dad’s house.

A while back, I realized God was serious when he commanded us to love each other. It’s essential, because only love will unite us and drive us to fight for each other. Without it, we’ll be weak. So I tried to get the folks at church interested in gatherings outside of services. That’s what this event is all about. It’s fun to stuff yourself with pork, but that’s not really the point.

Things are looking good. Hope all of you are planning a big bash.

Hog Spinner Finished

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011


The Hoginator II pork lathe is now fully armed and operational. I finished machining the hubs, and I mounted them on the spit.

The bearing on the motor end is almost certainly unnecessary, and it added a day to the job, because I had to work very hard to get it aligned with the shaft. I also had to get the hub diameter just right, so it would mate with the bearing without being impossible to insert or wobbling due to excess slop.

I still like the bearing, because it takes the load off the tinier-but-supposedly-more-than-adequate bearing in the motor itself. And it looks cool. It could be important if I roasted a big pig. My first effort will be between 40 and 50 pounds. This machine shouldn’t even notice that.

If I were doing this again, AND I were not so determined to use crap I already had, I would get a longer pole to put the bearings and motor farther from the fire. I might still break down and do that. Machining the hubs is work. Drilling the pole is pretty easy.

I sprayed the upright tubes with Eezox. They were so pretty after I brushed the rust off with a grinder. I had to protect them.

I still have to make a charcoal pan.

Anyway, this thing works great, it breaks down for storage, and it should last forever. I’m happy.

New Lathe Running

Monday, December 19th, 2011

New Hotness Beats Old Busted Iron

I got the 7 x 14 running, and I’m very impressed.

Let’s see. What can I put here in case someone else Googles the problems I had? “Big Dog 7 x 14 lathe quick change tool post Tormach stud remove.” That ought to cover it.

I have a Tormach quick change tool post in 0XA size, and the lathe comes with a very nice but undesirable turret post. I had to take the turret post off the compound in order to mount the Tormach. The turret post sat on an upright stud threaded into the compound. That stud was too short for the Tormach tool post, so I had to remove it and put the Tormach stud in. As everyone knows, a stud has threads on both ends, so you can’t use a wrench on it.

The turret post lever screws onto the stud from on top, so obviously, it can be threaded onto the stud. The Tormach tool post has a flange nut on top, with the same thread. This gave me the working equivalent of two hex nuts. To remove studs, you use a tool I don’t have. When you don’t have that tool, you use two hex nuts. You thread them on the stud and torque them against each other, and for some reason, that makes them grip the threads. Then you turn one of the nuts with a wrench, and that turns the stud.

So I did that, and out came the stud. Now the tool post is mounted. Little Machine Shop sells a milled-down cross slide for mini-lathes that use a quick change tool post. I believe the idea is that turret posts let you get lower on the work. I don’t know if that has any relevance to Big Dog lathes, since they’re different from most small lathes. It seemed like I had plenty of room with the existing cross slide.

I should add that the turret post looked really nice. The lever cover was plastic, but other than that, it looked very well made. Sharp lines and shiny finishes.

The 3-jaw chuck that came with the lathe looks very good. I have not measured the runout yet, but it appears to be machined as nicely as my Phase II chucks, and if it’s as good as they are, it will work fine. It only holds objects smaller than two inches in diameter, unless you turn the jaws around. That’s something I’ll have to do, as soon as I figure out where the numbers on the jaws are. I don’t want to put them back in the wrong order.

The lathe has what appears to be a for-real tachometer. Inside the gearbox, there’s a flange on the spindle, and the flange has a hole in it. There’s a little reader in there, and the flange rotates through it. I guess it looks to see when the hole is going by. Anyway, if they went to that much trouble, it must be the real thing, instead of some kind of estimate based on current flow or whatever.

I ordered a handheld Chinese tachometer off Ebay before I realized the lathe had one built in, but I need it for the Clausing, too, so it was a good buy. I can also use it for the drill press. It’s not here yet. It was about $14, including shipping. From the little experience I have, I am starting to wonder if it’s even necessary to know your spindle’s speed, since it pretty well tells you when it’s wrong, but I guess I’m not qualified to say.

I got 34 RPM on the low end. The top speed is 2500. At 34, even I should be capable of competent threading. I don’t look forward to changing gears by hand, but it would be such a rare thing, I think I can stand it.

The lathe spins nicely, unless (like me) you turn it on with the jaws out of whack. I assume that means it’s going to be a little lumpy when irregular parts are chucked.

The change gears are nylon. I rented a mini-lathe video by an expert named Jose Rodriguez, and he said the nylon gears on his old min-lathe were nylon, too. He managed to get some metal gears, but he didn’t use them, because the nylon jobs didn’t break or wear noticeably even after years of heavy use. I guess I can live with them, too.

I happen to have an old round-nose tool I ground from 1/4″ tool steel or cobalt (can’t recall). I cleaned it up and stuck it in the tool post and faced an old Home Depot bolt I had lying around. Everything worked very nicely. I tried out the half nuts, and the tool moved smoothly toward the headstock. The facing went well, but the cheese-like Home Depot metal stuck to the tool when I used the half nuts, so the finish was dubious. Doesn’t matter, since I wasn’t doing anything useful.

The compound has a bit of a gritty feel when I move it, and I notice oil oozing out of the joints when I rock it, so I would guess that the underside could stand some cleaning and polishing, and the gibs may have to be tightened.

I have carbide tool holders on the way. They’ll set me free to do what I want.

This lathe is easier to use than the Clausing. I’m not sure why, since it has pretty much the same controls. Maybe it’s because everything is so close and handy, and because I don’t have a heavy 8″ chuck spinning near my head while I’m trying to use it. I usually use a Skinner 4-jaw chuck on the Clausing, and it must weigh 50 pounds. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to having it spinning right in front of me.

I think this is going to be a huge convenience. Big lathes take more effort to use, apparently. Suddenly I have something to think about, in case I get rid of the Clausing and upgrade. Going to 13 by 40 won’t be a big difference, but from there to 14 inches is a big leap. The machine weight goes from around 1600 to 2500 pounds, and I assume the tooling is also heavier and more aggravating to use.

Having played with this thing, I think it would be a great tool for anyone who wanted to learn about machining. If you’re really worried about money, you won’t want to buy a small lathe AND a big lathe, but if you can afford to have both, I think the small lathe is the better starting point. You can tool it up inexpensively, you can do all sorts of things with it, and if you decide you don’t want to use it as your primary lathe any more, you can CNC it.

I really look forward to receiving those cutting tools.

New Chinese Girlfriend

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Petite and Finely Turned

The new lathe showed up. It’s a Big Dog 7 x 14.

They ship by Fedex, and the lathe was palleted and also enclosed with a cardboard box, styrofoam, and a wooden frame over it. The driver removed everything but the box and put it on the pavement, and I rolled it into the garage on a handtruck. It’s supposed to weigh about 90 pounds, but it maintained an impressive grip on the earth when I tried to lift it. I guess my total lack of an exercise regimen is paying big dividends. I put a little effort into it–something I always prefer not to do–and up it came. It’s sitting on my workbench.

It looks surprisingly nice. Chinese mini-lathes generally come buried in red (appropriately) grease, but this one just had a little cosmoline or something similar on the exposed surfaces. I cleaned it in about five minutes, using a paper towel and alcohol. I’m going to put Vactra on it, since I have no guidelines to the contrary.

I’m very surprised at the quality of the workmanship so far. I haven’t seen any problems yet. My Chinese mill never had any defects, but the parts are all from Taiwan, so that isn’t a big shock. The lathe is pure China. It was made by a company called Real Bull.

I can’t tell you how happy I was to see the steady rest and follower rest sitting on the ways. I still have no rests for my Clausing. The other day, a 12″ Clausing rest sold on Ebay for about $480, which shows you how ridiculous parts prices are. A rest for a 7″ Chinese lathe is something like thirty bucks, I believe.

Looking at this lathe makes me wish I had never seen the Clausing. The Big Dog is ready to go. No damage. No wear. And if I want to add stuff to it, all the parts are available, brand new, at sane prices. If it were the size of the Clausing, parts would cost a lot more than mini-lathe parts, but they wouldn’t cost what Clausing stuff does. Besides, the Chaiwanese manufacturers don’t consider rests and drill chucks and other such items “accessories.” They come WITH the tools.

I’m adding about three hundred dollars’ worth of stuff, but I could have turned this thing on right out of the box and started machining.

I think I may make myself a promise. If this thing works out, and if I can’t get the Clausing working to my satisfaction, next year I’ll give up and get a Chinese or Taiwanese 13″ lathe. Life is too short.

I really don’t know what goes on in the minds of the people who insist it’s better to buy American. If someone is willing to sell you a quality American lathe at a price a hobbyist can afford, it generally means the lathe is a mess. A new Clausing 5936 would probably cost $20,000 (without accessories), if such a thing existed. I paid $2200 for one nearly as old as I am. Sometimes an eccentric will die, and his like-new lathe will end up in an estate sale priced at $500, but if you wait for things like that to happen, well, you’re an idiot.

I seriously think the China-bashing may be rooted in slavish support for labor unions. Union members tend to be pretty rabid in their efforts to destroy competition, and that would certainly extend to former members on Internet machining forums.

There are no new American manual lathes, unless you include Sherlines and Taigs, which are tiny. There are no union jobs lost when you buy from Shop Fox or Enco. You can’t advance the cause of union socialism by buying a used American lathe, but you can advance the cause of Chinese capitalism by buying Chinese.

People said I was stupid to pass up “reconditioned” American mills. Oh, man. Talk about wrong. For four grand, I could have had one of these things delivered, minus the DRO and variable speed. What does “reconditioning” mean? It means they paint it, grind the table down, and scrape the ways, pretty much. To me, that sounds like buying a car with 150,000 miles, just because someone painted it and gave it a ring job. What are the bearings like? How much longer will the motor last? Does the spindle have runout from 50,000 hours of use, and if not, will it develop during its first year in your garage? No way to know.

Over my years of trying to gather info on machine tools, I’ve noticed that two guys get a lot of respect. One is Frank Ford, and the other is Forrest Addy. They both come down on the pro-China side, when it comes to tools for newbies.

Rotisserie Takes Shape

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Shiny Metal Good Mask for Cluelessness

I made a lot of progress on the pig motor today.

I decided not to use welds for all of the fabricating. I had a steel plate scrap I planned to use as the mount, and it turned out it had some holes in perfect locations for bolts, so I decided to bolt it to the steel-tubing upright that will hold it up. It also has a couple of curves that make it fit snugly against the tubing, and they should add rigidity.

I took a piece of square tubing Val Prieto gave me, and I cut it to length using the grinder. I have faster cutting tools, but the grinder was handy, and it’s a little more artistic. Then I put a wire brush on the grinder and cleaned the metal. Wire brushes on drills and drill presses are pathetic compared to the ones that fit on grinders. Take my word for it. The only problem is that they throw bits of sharp wire all over the place, and they can actually fly in curved paths, so you really need a face shield AND goggles.

I opened up the holes in the plate. They were too small for 5/16″ bolts. This was not fun. Holes in sheet metal don’t like being opened up with drills. My drills kept catching. Surprisingly, they also caught when I drilled a fresh hole. I have no idea why. I ran the drill slowly and used pipe threading oil.

I used the drill press and my snazzy South Bend vise to drill holes in the tubing, and then I mated the tubing and plate, and it was beautiful.

I realized I needed reamers. That’s what you use to open existing holes and make them round. I’m trying to find out what kind to get.

Incidentally, I found out there’s an amazing tool called a bridge reamer. You’ll love this. If you’re doing what I did tonight–drilling a bunch of holes that have to line up and take bolts–a bridge reamer is what you need. Apparently it takes your crappy, misaligned holes and makes them pretty and makes them line up. I think. Anyway, that’s what the Enco catalog implies. I need a couple of these things. If they work as advertised, they would be incredbly useful. Making holes line up is not easy.

I only put one hole in the plate. I installed the motor and tightened the nut, just to see how it would look. I can’t put the other holes in until the bearing is installed. The bearing will tell me where the holes have to be. If I do it now, I could be off by an eighth of an inch, and then I’d have to commit ritual suicide.

Here are some bad phone photos.

The bearing will rest on a horizontal piece of square tubing perpendicular to the motor shaft. The tubing will be welded to the side of the upright tubing.

You can’t see it, but there’s a lot of room to the right of the motor. I’m going to get a light switch and put it there, in a nice box. That will allow me to turn the motor on and off.

I’m working on the charcoal pan. I found aluminum sheets today for about $14 each. They’re only 24″ by 36″, so I may have to use two. I would prefer this to galvanized. They won’t rust. I keep reading that aluminum will take the heat of barbecue charcoal. I hope that’s right. I can do a test tomorrow with a small piece of aluminum.

The motor shaft is a little loose in the 1/2″ hole in the hub I made. On top of that, it has a key instead of a flat spot. That means I have to make a keyway. I plan to do that by sticking a ground tool in my lathe tool post and pulling it in and out of the hub. But I think I need to make a new hub, because the looseness will be a problem. Unless the bearing allows some movement (search me; I haven’t seen it yet), I think any eccentricity in the pole’s fit will cause problems when the motor operates in its rigid mounting. If there is play in the bearings, I’m fine as I am.

I love the way that polished steel looks. I want to paint it, but that’s pointless because the burro will gouge it up. I think I may season it like cast iron. I’ll throw it in the oven with oil on it. It will look good, and it won’t scratch like paint.

The steel plate has to be shaped a little, because the bottom edge is rough from plasma cutting. I think I’ll use the bench grinder. Then I’ll clean it up and blast it with truck bed paint, which should last forever.

The other end of the apparatus will be a joke. A bearing, a T-shaped piece of metal, and some bolts.

It looks like this is going to work, and when it’s done, the whole thing will fit in a very small space. The burros go back to Val until the next pig event.

Stay tuned for more updates.


This is really sad. Someone just suggested I use step drills for enlarging holes. He’s absolutely right. And I already have them! I can’t believe I didn’t think to use them.

Cheap Cutting Fluid for Aluminum

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Hope it Works

I learned something interesting the other day. You can use diesel for cutting and tapping aluminum. I haven’t tried it yet, but a machinist recommended it to me, and I’ve seen it elsewhere on the web.

I’m mentioning it because a lot of people recommend WD40, which costs over $14 per gallon. I just got a fuel-safe container plus a gallon of diesel for about $11.

I will post my observations after I try it.

As the Pig Turns

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Techno-Hog Rumbling to Life

The pig project is going to take a big leap today, assuming the motor arrives. I’m going to mount it on the supports. The bearings aren’t here yet, so I can’t machine the spit ends to fit them.

I don’t have a link to the motor I bought. I think Grainger discontinued it. But I can show you one just like it, except for the speed. Imagine this motor, running at 6 RPM with 250 inch-pounds of torque.


Naturally, I did not spend that much. Knock 80% off that figure.

I didn’t want the angled shaft, but now that it’s on the way, I think it’s the best choice. It’s easy to build a platform parallel to the spit support, which is what an angled shaft requires. A straight shaft means a platform which is perpendicular to the support, and that means welding.

I have to figure out what to do for a charcoal pan. I’m thinking I may just get a cheap galvanized sheet and bend the sides up. I know some people moan about zinc fumes being released, but Val Prieto uses galvanized, and so far, nobody important has died. I’ve also noticed that Lodge makes a chimney starter from galvanized, and it’s also common in barbecue stuff in England.

I would be perfectly happy to use bare steel, but it’s not like it falls from trees.

I’m a little nervous about achieving success. I’m researching to make sure it’s okay to roast a pig without an enclosure. I can recall three rotisserie pigs cooked at Mancamp. One was turned by hand, and it sat in a makeshift oven built from stacked cinderblocks. The oven had plywood on top to hold in heat. The advantage there was that in addition to heat from below, the pig got a nice 200-degree sauna. The other two pigs were not enclosed to any great extent.

I guess I’m worried about nothing. The Mancamp pigs were fine. Here’s a video of two Filipina ladies roasting a pig, and you can see it’s out in the open. If I had two ladies like that, I wouldn’t need a motor.

I had concerns about the spit speed, but I’ve learned that some rotisseries turn at much higher rates.

The new lathe will be here on Monday. I’m tooling up. I’m a little annoyed, because I thought I picked the best one, and I just found out it may lack a nice feature. In the past, small Asian lathes had metric screws on the compounds and crossfeeds, and they were marked with inaccurate imperial graduations. I believe the idea is that they pretended one inch is 25 millimeters, whereas it’s actually 25.4. So I guess you get a movement of 25 millimeters when you want one inch. Or maybe I have it backward. Anyway, Micromark claims it has the only lathes with “true inch” wheels and screws.

It shouldn’t matter much, since the final dimensioning is never done with wheels, but it’s irritating.

I don’t know if it’s possible to make a really accurate screw on my own lathe. I guess it should be, but I have a feeling it’s not easy to make one that works easily but doesn’t have tons of backlash.

I better get myself to the store. I have to make sure I have a pig by next weekend. I still haven’t decided what to put in it.

This should be a good time. It will be an interesting mix of Christians and highly tolerant backsliders. I think we’ll get along, as long as the food is okay.

Mom Sick

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

No Details

Got two unusual comments from a regular reader. Thought I would throw them out there for prayer.

Bradford M. Kleemann Says:

My mother is sick. Her case manager suspects a urinary tract infection or a virus. She has a fever of 101F. She’s limp like a wet noodle. Her caregiver hurt her back lifting her and now I’m waiting for the caregiver agency to call back about a substitute.

Bradford M. Kleemann Says:

We have a substitute caregiver. Awaiting antiobiotic delivery.

What Have You Done Through me Lately?

Monday, December 12th, 2011

The Deity is IN

This morning I was thinking about testimony. Do you have it? Can you say God has done something amazing for you? If not, are you sure you’re doing things right?

A lot of people will say, “I have a great wife and great kids,” or, “I have a wonderful job,” and they consider that a testimony. I think they’re right. But is that the kind of testimony the Bible talks about? Is a Buddhist going to hear that and yell, “WOW! I have to have THAT! Let me get out of these crazy robes and grow some hair!” Probably not.

Jesus, the Apostles, and Elijah raised people from the dead. THAT is a testimony. If you can say you raised someone from the dead, or someone raised you, you have a pretty good story. If God has parted the Red Sea for you, again, good story. “Things are going pretty good” doesn’t really compare.

We have been warned not to follow signs. On the other hand, Jesus said signs would follow US. Remember Paul, shaking the viper off into the fire. Remember the angel busting Peter out of prison. Stuff like that is supposed to happen around us. If it’s not, we should consider it a warning that we’re off course.

I’m thinking about this because of the neat things God has done for me. He healed me of two kidney stones, instantly, while I was at church. I felt one of them move while I was praying; I didn’t even have to wait. He healed me of a burn on Saturday, over the course of a few minutes. The last time I started to get a cold-like illness, I prayed, and it went away in a couple of hours. I got an instant healing back in the Eighties. My sister is still alive and in remission, a year an a half after being diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer.

These things may not be as grand in scale as the parting of the Red Sea, but when God does the impossible or the exceedingly improbable, on demand, it’s a miracle. What difference does it make if a miracle is small or subtle? You better believe it doesn’t bother me! Would you want to lie around in pain for a week, waiting for a kidney stone to pass? I sure wouldn’t. I’ve been there. I wouldn’t want to spend a week battling the flu, either. I hate being sick. I’m still excited over my healed finger. I keep looking at it. My dad asked to see it, too. He actually said he was impressed. Maybe God did it for him, not me.

Last week a friend of mine said something indicating she was glad God was helping her to get through an illness. It’s always good to praise God. I’m not knocking her. But Hare Krishnas get through illnesses. Satan worshipers get through illnesses. It’s not impressive. What’s impressive is having an illness taken away from you. I told her the power of her prayers would keep increasing throughout her life.

Today I thought about my church. Suddenly I realized our pastors don’t testify. They’ll say God helped them to get grant money, or God sent a lot of people to the altar to get salvation. But you never hear any of them tell about miraculous things God has done through them or around them. That’s very odd, in a charismatic church. The only example I can think of is a pastor’s son, whose heart stopped beating when he had meningitis. He came back to life, and he’s still alive. But that was something like thirty years ago.

It’s not unusual for guest speakers to give good testimonies. But the actual pastors…not so much.

Maybe this is why we rely so much on gimmicks and worldly strategies. We give away popcorn and hot dogs. We gave away turkeys at Thanksgiving, and yesterday we gave away miniature Christmas trees. We show movies in the sanctuary. And when it comes to giving, we put people on stage and have them goad the people to give, sometimes for several long minutes. Other churches put offering boxes by the back doors and count on God to move people; I wish we did that.

Once we had a really awful testimony. A church employee gave the church $500 during one of our Steve Munsey “Seven Blessings” drives. Later she received unexpected money. In the amount of $480. The church leadership was so happy, they put this in a video to be shown during the Sunday giving pitch (which we actually refer to as “the pitch”).

I think you can see why found this disturbing. We teach that God will give people a thirtyfold or hundredfold return, but she got a 96% return, which is less than onefold, without interest. If Steve Munsey is right (and he’s not), God actually charged her 4% to hold her money.

What if people went up there and showed people withered limbs that had suddenly started to work? What if they could say God had miraculously healed injuries and diseases, in ways physics can’t explain? Wouldn’t that bring people to church? If we had that kind of power flowing, wouldn’t we focus on it to the exclusion of everything else?

The thing that worries me is that our pastors may not have any idea what that kind of power looks like. Maybe they just don’t experience the power of God. Maybe they’re not walking by faith, guided by the Spirit. If not, how are they supposed to do anything but fail?

I may be a total idiot, but I do walk by faith, and I know other people who do. It works. It’s not a joke. And it’s not hard. It’s certainly easier than not walking by faith, which leads to failure, curses, and frustration. You have to learn to accept God’s surprising plans instead of your own obvious ones, but that’s very pleasant, once you get used to it. If ordinary churchgoers can do it, why can’t pastors?

So I feel like I know what “blind guides” means. If you haven’t found the door, you can’t tell other people where it is. And if you preach living by faith, but you don’t do it, how can your teaching be taken seriously or have the effect it should? I’m afraid these well-intentioned, hard-working people are walking in circles. Like another group of people known for walking in circles. In the desert.

People won’t insist on a miracle-filled church because they don’t think it can happen. They think they’re setting themselves and others up for disappointment. They believe they may be asking too much of God, which is a little insane, if you think about it. But it’s not too much to ask. It’s what Jesus said he wanted to give us. It’s right here, right now.

We expect miraculous things to happen inside the church, but many churches don’t permit it, so instead we have the divine equivalent of ectopic pregnancies. Miracles happen in the “wrong” places, to the “wrong” people. If you gag Jesus in the sanctuary, he’ll speak in the parking lot.

It seems like the only miracles we promise people, over and over, until no one wants to hear about it, are financial miracles. God WILL give you that thirtyfold-plus return. He WILL. He PROMISED. He ASKED US TO TEST HIM. How come no one talks like that about healing? How come no one talks like that about getting marriages fixed or finding God’s true direction in life? Why don’t we swear God will deliver people from addiction? If we promised people healing, deliverance, and other helps the way we promise them money, maybe we’d see more miracles, and maybe we wouldn’t have to beg for tithes.

The funny thing is, people don’t get the financial miracles preachers promise them. It just does not happen. Here and there, some people get unexpected success, but that would happen even in a crowd of unbelievers. How can we keep promising this nonsense when we know it doesn’t work? Sure, God will be generous to generous people, at the right times, in the right amounts, IF they give according to the Holy Spirit’s real-time direction. But that’s not what churches teach, and they talk way too much about money as a way to satisfy the flesh.

Churches teach that God will give people prosperity for tithing and giving irresponsible, extravagant offerings, but they talk very little about giving to the poor and to each other, which is what Jesus talked about. Why is this? I suspect it’s because churches see the poor as their competition. If a guy who bags groceries for a living gives a hundred bucks to charity, the church isn’t going to get any big offerings from him for a while.

The other day I told my dad he was going to see weird things happen around me for as long as he knew me. It’s just a fact. This is what life is like when you listen to the Spirit. It’s not ego. It’s not self-confidence. It’s the opposite. It’s confidence in God, and it’s based partly on experience and partly on supernatural faith which comes into me independently of my own thoughts and character.

Anyway, God is still up there, and more importantly, he’s still down here. He isn’t retired. He’s not dead. He hasn’t quit exerting power in the earth. Listen to him and get to know him, and he’ll start doing stuff around you and through you, and your world-shaking testimony won’t be, “Things are going pretty good.”

God is Too Good

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Sometimes it Seems That Way

What a day I’m having.

I made a second aluminum hub for my pig roasting spit. It’s nicer than the first one. I had the cutting tools too high on the first shot, so I got chatter. Now the finish is very good, even though I’m using carbide. I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m too lazy to look things up and do it right, so I learn a lot from experience.

I threaded the bolt holes on the hub, but I fouled the threads on two of the bolts. I didn’t know that aluminum swarf could become one with a steel bolt, but apparently this is a hazard of threading. It must be, since it just happened.

I knew aluminum had a very low melting point compared to stainless, so I tried to fix the bolts by heating them with a plumber’s torch. I got one of them red hot and then tried to put a nut on it. I gave up. That stuff is on there for the duration. But after I did this, I picked up the nut with my bare hand. I didn’t realize how much heat had gone into it.

I felt that I had burned myself on the pad of my index finger. I hate that. Such a useful finger. It had that flat, shiny look burned skin gets, and it hurt pretty bad. But I remembered something the Holy Spirit told me a while back. I was lying in bed, and I kept hearing the words, “You are protected” in my head.

What the heck, right? God has instantly healed me of two kidney stones while or shortly after praying, and a few weeks back when I started getting a cold, he took it away in a couple of hours. My sister is still alive (and in total remission), a year and a half after being diagnosed with extensive small-cell lung cancer; I prayed a great deal about that. I decided to pray about my finger. I “reminded” God of what he had told me. And I started thanking him. The finger still felt like it was in the process of blistering.

Guess what? My finger is fine. It has been around half an hour. I have no pain at all. I can use the finger. I can put pressure on it. The skin doesn’t look flat and shiny any more. I went and looked at it in the light, because I was so amazed. It looks like any finger that has been working with tools all day.

I just don’t know what to say. I told God I would tell people about it. You have to do that. I’ve heard preachers say you should make a monetary sacrifice when God does something for you. Maybe that’s true; I tend to discount it these days. But you definitely, DEFINITELY have to tell people.

Now you’ve been told.

Here’s something funny. I went to a machining forum and mentioned the pig work I’m doing, and several people expressed concern about the galvanized pole I’m using. I had to reassure them. I’ve done this a bunch of times, and Val even has a big charcoal pan made from galvanized. It doesn’t cause any problems.

The funny thing is that Og dropped by the blog the other day, when I wrote about lathes. Og and I are both hard-headed. Well, he’s persistent and determined. I’M hard-headed. Anyway, we had a big fuss over the hazards of backyard galvanized pig tools a few years back, and here I am discussing them right when he happens to be dropping by.

I guess zinc is like religion and politics. One of those things best not discussed socially.

Hoginator II

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Rise of the Machinists

The Holy Spirit has been teaching my friends and me about the importance of love and mutual support, so we are trying to spend more time together. We decided to try to get together on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) for a pig roast. I’m hosting. I decided to built a roaster.

I found an unbelievable $380 motor on Ebay for $78 plus shipping. It has 250 inch-lbs. of torque, and it turns at 4 RPM, so it’s a dream come true. I’m making the spit from a length of 1 5/8″ galvanized fencepost. I machined a hub for one end, with a socket for the motor shaft. I found cheap pillow bearings on Ebay, so I’ll have one at each end of the shaft. I still have to make the second hub.

Today I drilled and tapped three holes in the hub, and I bolted it to the spit. Check this out. It’s gorgeous. I somehow messed up the 120-degree angles between the holes, but it won’t affect the function.

Out of the blue, my buddy Val Prieto offered to let me use two “burros” his dad quit using. These are amazing devices. Each one is a car wheel. They have steel tubing welded to them, standing upright in the centers of the hubs. The tubing has smaller tubing inside it, so it telescopes at the top. The smaller tubing has crossmembers welded to the top, with steel rollers. I won’t need the roller things, but I can use the bases to hold up the motor and pillow bearings. Take a look.

This is going to be wonderful. Those burros will allow me to make very small attachments for pig roasts, and they won’t take up much room. All I need now is a piece of galvanized sheetmetal for the charcoal.

Renewal of Tools

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

What’s a Good Swarf-Removal Shampoo?

The Holy Spirit is unpredictable. I suppose that’s one reason we’re supposed to let him inhabit us and tell us what to do. It keeps Satan guessing. The written law was considerably more predictable. It telegraphed our punches. It was still more than adequate to make a fool of the enemy, notably at the crucifixion, but the Holy Spirit himself has more flexibility, and he can tailor our actions to each situation, with more specificity.

Why mention this? I think he told me to buy something for myself. He has done this before. Probably many times, I guess, but I’m thinking of one particular example. I was driving on US1, and I started thinking about an Epiphone guitar I had read about, and I felt like I had to make a detour to Guitar Center and pick one up. I found myself saying, “Okay, I’ll buy it.” I walked in and asked if I could take a look at a Riviera P93. The workmanship was surprisingly good. It had features I wanted. And I had always wanted to see what an ES-style guitar was like. Sold. I didn’t even play it in the store.

It turned out to be an amazing guitar. I play it more than any other. The playability is so good, it’s shocking. The pickups were not great, but I put Lollars on it, and now it’s a monster. It’s a perfect blues machine. A little raw, a little dark, and highly expressive.

You can always rationalize when you buy something you want, and it’s easy to get confused and think God is in your own desires, but this was different.

Yesterday, I felt the same bizarre compulsion. And I was thinking about mini lathes.

I have a Clausing 5936. It’s an excellent lathe, crafted to insanely high standards, but it’s not practical for everything I want to do. Trust me on this–I know more about it than you think, even if you’re a machinist–making metric threads on this thing is a nightmare. Just getting the parts costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and you can’t get them, anyway. Finding a steady rest or follow rest at an acceptable price is impossible. A taper attachment…you might have to mortgage your house. Of course, if I had listened to Og, I’d have a Chinese lathe, and it would have all the stuff I need, but that’s another story.

I decided to put a DRO on the lathe, and I plan to follow up with an ELS (Electronic Lead Screw). The DRO is in progress. It will make the lathe easier to use. The ELS is a device which is about halfway to CNC. In other words, it’s a computerized, motorized apparatus that guides the lathe, but it doesn’t require CAD and whatever else CNC requires. And you can still use the lathe manually.

An ELS will let me cut any threads I want, and it will do tapers. But it’s a hellish project, and I know it will take a long time to get it together.

Yesterday I felt a very strong urge, and I have since ordered a Big Dog 7×14 mini lathe, plus a little bit of tooling.

This thing is big enough to do just about any threading project that interests me, and it’s small and portable. It comes with rests, a drill chuck, a 3-jaw chuck, change gears, and other stuff old iron usually lacks. Oddly enough, it might be very useful when I’m working on the ELS conversion on the other lathe. It should be a big help to me.

What will I do with it when the ELS is set up? Danged if I know. I believe the Clausing will eventually be easier to use and more versatile than the Big Dog. I suppose the small lathe will be better for anything requiring a rest, up to a certain size.

I have a quick change tool post on the way, plus a couple of random lathe doodads, but because I have the Clausing, I already have a lot of stuff I’ll need. Much of it works with any size lathe. I have tool blanks, measuring tools, acid brushes, a fish, cutting fluid, and so on. The tooling is cheap, which is extremely liberating. The tool post set, which is all steel, was $130.

I’ll have to get a 4-jaw chuck. Life without one is unthinkable.

The mill is benefiting from the lathe DRO. The mill came with a Sino DRO, from China. These things are very cheap, but they work. I have never seen anyone complain about the reliability. Sadly, it was a 2-axis DRO, and I wanted a z readout. I found a guy in Singapore who sells these things, and he said I should buy a 3-axis Sino display, plus a z scale for the mill and two scales for the Clausing. I could put the new display on the mill, and then I could install the z scale. After that, I’d have enough stuff left over for the lathe. Sold. The mill already has the new display on it, and I’m working on the z scale. It’s doable, even for me. The lathe will be a pain, but it will work.

I might as well point out that there was no reason at all to try buying a DRO here in the US. The guy who sold me my mill is unreliable; he still owes me a part. He sells Chinese DROs. I got a 3-axis DRO plus three scales shipped from Singapore for $520. That includes a huge $100+ shipping fee I could not get them to reduce, so the parts themselves cost me around $400. The mill guy would have charged at least $595, plus shipping, and who knows if he would have vanished again. The seller in Singapore was polite, fast with his responses, super cheap, and very helpful with tech advice. If having Asians take over the world means getting this kind of service and pricing, maybe it’s not such a bad thing. It looks like we deserve it.

There are better DROs out there, if you have to have the best. For me, this thing is a phenomenal deal.

I’m also working on the x power feed. I have a feed made by Align, a Taiwanese outfit. Over time, the handwheels required more and more inward pressure before engaging, and now they don’t engage at all. The power feed doesn’t seem to do anything. I’m trying to get it apart so I can see what’s going on. The US representative for Align has not replied to my email yet, nor has the manufacturer. People on forums are giving me tips. I guess it will work out eventually. If I have to replace the entire thing, the most I can possibly spend is $375. I would not want to do that, but it proves the problem is not catastrophic.

It’s supposedly a pretty good power feed. Cheaper than Servo, of course.

Within a few days, I should have a 3-axis DRO and a working power feed (or I should be waiting on the right part to fix it). It’s just a matter of persistence and prayer.


Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Don’t Forsake the Assembly of Yourselves Together

I belong to two prayer groups at church. One meets on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. The other meets on Saturdays at 8 a.m. They’re supposed to meet on alternate weeks, so if I’m attending on Thursday, the Saturday group won’t meet.

On Thursday the guy who leads that day’s group asked me to take over because he was running late. I drove 18 miles in rush hour traffic and paid a $4.25 toll. I set the MP3 player up in the conference room and waited, and nobody showed up. Not one person. Not even the group leader. I was irritated, but I believe God keeps my life on rails because I pray in tongues a lot, so I told God I knew he wasn’t going to send me up there for nothing.

I got ready to leave, and on the way out, I heard a young man holler at me. He’s a musician. He hardly ever talks to me. He started asking me about food. Everyone at church wants me to cook. I started talking to some of the guys, and we ended up discussing the awful Australian music the church favors. It’s Hillsong stuff, I believe. Pretty bad, for the most part. I’m sure it goes over big in places like Australia and North Dakota, where people have no idea what soul is, but it’s very odd to see it played in a church which is maybe 80% black. We have lots of talented musicians, and they have no business playing this junk. It’s like baby food for them; they need something that lets them use their gifts instead of phoning it in. And they really need to write and play more original music. None of them will ever make it financially, playing this boring music. Musicians generally live or die based on the amount of quality original work they produce.

I have offered to let some of them come down and use my piano and amps, provided they work on original stuff. We started talking about this, and I said I might conceivably provide food if they showed up.

I didn’t realize how much they hated this bland music. Apparently, only two people in the entire church like it, and only one is a performer. But the band has no choice.

I also learned that one musician got criticized for taking his music to another church. That’s insane. When did religion become a zero-sum game? We’re all parts of the body of Christ. If our church won’t let someone gifted bless it, then that person has an obligation to find another place to serve God. I will never understand the small-mindedness that pervades churches. It’s amazing that people could be that wrong and not know it. It’s also amazing that they expect young people who live in the ghetto to starve instead of setting out on profitable careers!

It’s the nuttiest thing. If you sing, you can do pretty much whatever you want. If you speak, you can say nearly anything. You can go over on time. You can pour oil on people. You can run around the church screaming “HALLELUJAH!” But a musician who does anything remotely interesting is accused of pride, and he’s not supposed to play anywhere else.

So anyway, they might start coming down here. The neighbors will find that interesting. I don’t mind doing it. It’s no skin off my nose, and it might help motivate these kids to get out there and earn a living.

One of the guys asked if he could talk to me privately, and we discussed someone in the church’s inner circle who has a serious porn problem. This person is offering at least one woman money for photos. Evidently a lot of people know this, but it appears that they’re not doing anything to help. I may be wrong. I doubt they’d publish the news, if they were.

I felt bad about it. This is someone who gets shoved aside and taken for granted. He has a good heart. He’s very sincere. The church has benefited from him a lot, using his testimony and his talents on stage. I said the first thing was to quit telling people about it, and the second was to fast for him, so some of us will be doing that next week.

What’s the point of telling all this? The point is to show that I went to church for a meeting, and I got one. It just wasn’t what I expected. On the way home, I talked to God about it. Very often, God answers a prayer, giving me exactly what I asked for, but because the form is a little different from what I thought I had coming, I’ll feel like I’m cheating when I thank him for it. I’ll feel like I’m rationalizing, trying to make the shoe fit. That aggravates me. If I ask for X, Y, and Z, and I get all three, that means God delivered, period. No asterisk. No qualification. It bothers me that sometimes I feel like I’m giving God credit he doesn’t deserve. It must be a mental habit.

Today I thought I’d sleep late, because there was no meeting. Just before eight a.m., the phone rang. A friend who doesn’t know the meeting is on alternate weeks was on the line. Ordinarily, I would be highly annoyed if someone called at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, but I knew God was up to something.

This is a guy who left the church a while back. He still comes to meetings sometimes. Sometimes when people leave, they get criticized, or people talk as though they’ve failed or let the pastor down. That’s completely perverse. First of all, not everyone is supposed to go to our church. Some people are supposed to go to other churches, obviously. Pastors like to say “grow where you’re planted,” as if it’s treason to leave a church, but they only say that because they want your money. It’s not Biblical, and they ought to knock it off. If people are leaving your church, you’re doing something wrong, and you need to talk to God instead of berating and manipulating the people who pay your salary.

I could tell he was concerned that I would think less of him for leaving, but I made it very clear that I had absolutely nothing negative to say about it. The things he told me about his new church sounded wonderful. They made me envious, quite honestly. And he had concerns about my church. I told him I had the same concerns, and that he shouldn’t misunderstand me or feel isolated from me. I know why he left. I don’t blame him one bit. You go where you need to go. People have needs, and churches are supposed to meet them. If they don’t…sayonara. I wouldn’t go to a restaurant that put empty plates in front of me. For ten percent of your income, you ought to get SOMETHING.

I may visit his church soon. I’m not planning to leave my own church unless I feel led to do so, but it would be nice to sit in a healthy church every so often. I invited him to the Messianic synagogue, so maybe we’ll go this month.

I have no qualms about discussing the failings of any church. The Bible says you should be discreet when ordinary individuals have problems, but it’s also clear that correcting churches, leaders, and doctrine should be done publicly. The prophets did this, and so did Jesus. In the Revelation, Jesus complimented the Bereans for comparing new teachings with scripture, for the purpose of challenging bad doctrine. I don’t serve a church or a man; I serve God, and when man is against him, I have to say something.

Again, to get back to the point, I didn’t think I was going to a meeting, but I got one anyway.

The more I pray in the Spirit, the more I know God is confining my life to the tracks he has built. I’m not going to go far off course. A rollercoaster car goes up and down, but it always ends up where it’s supposed to. That’s what my life is like.

God has been teaching me a lot about love lately. That’s part of the ride. I know love is one of God’s two biggest priorities, so for years, I’ve been praying for him to help me with it. I get deeply involved with my own needs and desires, and I forget other people, and I don’t feel enough love for God himself. Lately, he has been showing me how important it is. Love is supposed to be our primary motivation, and if we really have it, it will lead to the virtuous behavior and thinking God is trying to get from us. If you look at the fruit of the Spirit, with the exception of faith and self-control, they’re all rooted in love or impossible without love. Goodness, kindness, patience, joy, peace, gentleness…you have to have love to get these things. Love itself is one of them.

The best love is the kind that comes from the Holy Spirit. I think it’s God’s love, somehow projected through you. I’ve felt it, and it’s a great thing. I think this is what we’re supposed to feel, because our own love is very limited.

Last night I woke up, and I felt very discouraged. I felt like my life was going nowhere. I knew that was crazy. I don’t know why I felt it, and I rejected the feeling completely. I prayed in the Spirit, and of course, the feeling left me. And while I prayed, I felt a new warmth for God himself. I hope that continues. It’s great to yammer about how much you love God, but I would rather feel the love, as clearly as I feel it for another person.

I don’t think we understand the importance of love. No matter how strong you are spiritually, God did not create you to make it on your own, with just his help. The Bible calls us a body. The Holy Spirit is our nervous system. He ties us together and coordinates our movements, and love is part of the apparatus. If we love each other, we will help each other. We will pray for each other, teach each other, and correct each other. This stuff is not optional. It’s mandatory, and it’s not going to happen without heartfelt love. Duty will only get you so far.

The Bible says a man will not hate his own flesh. If we are of the same body, each of us is the other’s flesh. If you cut one of your hands, the other will apply a bandage, right? Imagine the shape your body would be in if none of the parts helped the other parts. I wonder how many times my hands have given medical care to other parts of my body.

Perry Stone is talking about the same basic thing these days. He just aired a show about the Roman army’s methods. He was discussing “the armor of God.” He showed how they linked their shields together to form a sort of shelter, so a group of soldiers was stronger together than they would have been had they been separated. We really need to get ahold of this, if we’re going to stand in the miserable times that are coming. This is something God intended us to know. He doesn’t stick metaphors in the Bible without thinking.

Last night I was praying and thinking about all this, and I started talking to God about anger. The farther I go in my walk, the less anger I have. It’s something I’ve prayed about, and God has listened. But I still have a certain amount, and it’s more than I would like to have.

We all get abused and cheated. We all run into pastors and teachers who are basically thieves and liars. We all have good reasons to be mad and to hold grudges. But the Bible says, “Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.”

I was thinking about this last night, and I got a fresh understanding of how dangerous anger is. Think of the things it inhibits: love, peace, joy, gratitude, forgiveness, patience, self-control, generosity…generally, it’s the antagonist of the fruit of the Spirit. That’s pretty bad. If you don’t have the fruit of the Spirit, MOST of God’s plan for your life has failed. If a person can put anger in you, he can isolate you from these things and also from God. We know that if we don’t love each other, we don’t know God, so anger that inhibits our love for each other must be capable of coming between God and man.

I know anger has to exist. Sometimes God himself is angry. But it can’t stay in you and fester, long after it has served its purpose. Last night I felt like God was telling me that holding onto anger is like wrapping my heart in broken glass. And it’s like a caged animal. It can’t live unless I feed it.

The supernatural, transforming power of the Holy Spirit is the best antidote to anger. But you need to have anger on your mind. You need to be praying for relief, if you expect to get it. And you should make a reasonable effort in your own strength.

It’s interesting. This isn’t rocket science. It should be common sense. But to me, it comes as a big revelation. Sometimes I think the things God tells us aren’t as brilliant as we think they were. They’re actually simple, but we’ve been blinded to them, so when they’re revealed, we’re much more amazed than we should be. It should be obvious that anger can cut us off from God’s power, but I didn’t have a good understanding of it until this morning.

Keep praying in the Spirit, and be sincere. Things will work out. In God’s kingdom, there are only two ranks: God, and everyone else. No human being is more precious or higher than any other. Anything God does for me, or for anyone else, he will do for you.