Sunday, April 27, 2008

Back in the shop ....

I've progressed to the point where I can sit in the shop but not operate any machinery. What to do? Make some sculptures from styrofoam, natch! When I get a lot better, probably in a few weeks, I'll fire up the furnace and cast them in Aluminum.

Ever since I visited the Grand Canyon a few years ago I have wanted to make a sculpture that would convey the incredible feeling of being present there. I have tried a few pieces that have all failed and this one is the latest. It is the convergence of the Little Colorado with the Colorado at the Eastern end of the canyon. Not to scale, not very accurate, just an impression of my memory.

The styrofoam slices were cut on my homemade foam cutter - a piece of MIG wire, tensioned by a spring, and hooked up to a battery charger that you can see in the background. I cut the slices and used dabs of hot melt glue to hole them together.

While I was putting the rejected parts of the slices aside I noticed they had some pretty nice shapes. A little work with the glue gun and I had three more sculptures. These slices might be too thin to cast properly. However, unlike the first piece, I do not have a lot of time invested in them and I can cast them using a quick method with loose sand rather than petrobond which is more time consuming.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

YouTube bored

My rehab has progressed to the point where there is not enough pain or books to occupy my attention so I turned to YouTube - for machining videos, natch! The different flavors are very interesting. The fall into amateur, educational, and sales.

In the sales category, all the video sales ads for CNC equipment remind me of a stripper bar - at least the ones I've seen in movies and TV since I've never never been in one. (How did I miss out all these years?) Anyway, the characteristics are pounding rock music, spewing fluids, and smoke. Does this really sell stuff, Matsusura?

Tormach has a much more cerebral approach with light electronic music and commentary on the machine operations, speeds, feeds, and tooling that are being used.

I'll keep my eye out for some other good ones.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My new best friend (s)

While I was in the recovery room immediately after knee surgery my surgeon walked in, said the operation went well, and patted the Continuous Passive Motion machine that had been delivered a few minutes earlier. 'This is your new best friend,' he said.

It seems that bad outcomes from knee joint replacement operations were mainly due to patients not doing the incredibly painful physical therapy. The solution; dope you to the gills, strap your leg into this contraption, and it bends your knee over and over again. There is some kind of mechanism in the plastic base, probably an acme screw, that pulls your foot up gently bending the knee and then pushes it back down. There are fleecy pads that hold everything in place, a nicely finished stainless steel structure for the machine, and controls for bend angle and bend rate.

Marguerite (friend #1), was my recovery room nurse. She got the fleecy pads on but struggled to figure out how to adjust the device correctly. The delivery guy (friend #2) was no help and quickly bailed. Marguerite recruited the occupational therapist (#3) and then the physical therapist (#4). No matter what they did the stainless steel bar at the end dug into my butt, and part of my leg was not supported. The machine was the wrong size they concluded. 'Don't worry' Marguerite said, 'You are moving to a room and I'll have a new one delivered.'

In my room I met my new nurse, Jensine (#5) who, in her way, was just as fabulous as Marguerite. Maybe it was the drugs but I don't think so - they were both fabulous. The new machine was delivered, set up, and I was strapped in again. The fit was much better but the bar at the end still dug into my butt. After a half hour of bending I noticed that my thigh was moving sideways in a weird way. 'It's broken,' Jensine said and sure enough one of the welds had given way. My TIG welding of stainless sure isn't the greatest but I expected a little better from the medical machine manufacturers.

A third machine was delivered, and Jensine recruited the nurse across the way (#6) to help. She took one look and said, 'The pads are on backwards." Sure enough, a little switcheroo, and I was in the bending business with no pains in my butt. Thank you, thank you!!!

Before I left the hospital my surgeon paid a last visit. 'We like patients to use these machines at home for a few weeks but your insurance doesn't cover it. Do you want to rent one on your own or just do the physical therapy exercises?" I demurred on the machine.