Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Men of Steel

An interesting video of building the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge. From an era when men were men, steel was riveted, and OSHA had yet to be on the scene. Only a few years later Rosie was doing the riveting (and the welding), building Liberty ships at the Kaiser shipyards.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Diacro tooling

Several years ago I bought a Diacro #2 Bender. This is a beautifully made machine for bending steel bar and tube. Put the piece of metal between two pins, apply some leverage, and you have a bend. The Cadillac of benders is the Hossfeld and, IMHO, the Rolls Royce is the Diacro. Of course, if I had a Hossfeld I might reverse the analogy. All of the inexpensive benders on eBay are based on the Hossfeld design because it is much easier to copy.

My Diacro came with a roller nose and no tooling. Easy enough to make some pins but the roller nose is for curves, not sharp bends. Not only do I need a standard nose, I need tons of tooling. Want to bend square or round tube? Want to make sharp 90 degree bends? Want to make spirals? All of these require tooling that, similar to mills and lathes, can easily cost more than the machine.

Over the years I have had the bender, my tooling desire has grown. Finally, with my new mill, I can make it myself. The photo shows my first project, a standard nose which is sitting on the bender. Above it, installed on the handle is the roller nose.

Doing the math, I spent a couple of thousand for a mill that I used to make a tool worth a couple of hundred. Only nine more tools to go before I am even!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Rong Fu Report (RF-45) 4 : Chips at last!

I've been making chips - mild steel and aluminum - and am pretty happy. I can take big cuts in aluminum (1/2 " and 3/4" two flute HSS end mills) and decent cuts in steel (1/2" four flute). The gears make it easy to get the right speed and when I eventually figure out how to set an exact speed using the VFD with the gears it will be even better.

Since my old mill did not have a quill I was stuck with the typically inadequate translated instructions to figure out how to use it. First, the quill lock lever can block turning the quill fine feed wheel. The photo shows the lock lever in a vertical position and you can see if it gets moved any more to the right to the locked position it will run into the fine feed wheel. After a hint from a friend, I discovered the lock lever is on a spring so you can lock it, and then move the lever to another position.

Next I could not engage the fine feed. The coarse quill adjustment is similar to a drill press - three spokes sticking out of a wheel so you can turn it easily. At the center of the wheel is a knob and I turned it all the way out thinking it would disengage the coarse adjustment. After playing around I discovered it had to be turned all the way in, engaging the coarse adjustment with the worm drive of the fine adjustment.

I spent an evening milling a chunk of 3/4" thick steel getting into the rhythm of using the power feed and the quill. What a pleasure!