Saturday, December 27, 2008

Effective Uses Of The Bridgeport Type Mill – Precision Measurement Supply

I ran across this instructional video trying to find info about cylinder head milling fixtures online, and ended up renting it from Smartflix for $26… advertized as:

"This Three Volume Video Series Is Loaded With Tips On How To Get
The Most From Your Bridgeport Type Vertical Mill"

With a retail price of $80… you kind of expect something at least semi professional, ESPECIALLY since these guys have a whole series of instructional videos. WELL, that's not what you get. The rest of this post is a slightly edited version (mainly to remove/fix context specific stuff to make it make sense on it's own) of what I posted as a review on the smartflix site, which I somewhat suspect won't get posted because of being long and critical, we'll see:

On Smartflix site you can give a video 0-5 lightbulb, I gave it 3. I have to emphasize, for the most part this DVD set is such a hideous turd that there had to be something good here to get me to rate it anything above a 0, so I'll start there.

The good:

  • He does give some different and useful approaches to common automotive problems. Other reviews have called it "meatball machining," but I will argue that there are times that you do what works best, and if it's not the "correct" way of doing it, well you live with it.
  • He does give some OK advice on what accessories are good places to spend money for your mill.

The bad:

  • They're listed as 3 x 90 minute DVDs??? Did I get the right ones? They all have big long dead spaces at the beginning and especially end and I finally actually tried checking the time on the actual content and got under 50minutes for all of them, I think the shortest was just over 36minutes if I remember right. This should be a SINGLE DVD, and charged as a single DVD rental.
  • Probably close to 1/3 of the total content is an advertisement for PM's products. I mean common, "here's our headholding fixture…" "here's our flycutter…" "we're going to use our alignment tool again…"
  • Ok, I'm willing to overlook a lot for good technical information, I mean, put a guy in a shop with a DV cam and I'll watch it if the info is there, but this is a bit ridiculous. The sound level is roughly 35-50% of what it should have been set at (if you're watching this on a laptop with wimpy speakers it becomes a real problem), there's tons of noise, especially in the 3rd dvd and the picture leaves almost as much to be desired as the audio. Again, I'll put up with all sorts of cruft to get good info, but at the price that they're charging for this thing selling a few DVD's would pay for equipment to produce _much_ better quality output. Along these lines, I can deal with a dog walking in and out of the picture, or our "host" stammering a bit and figuring out where he's going with what he's talking about, but, come on, you couldn't stop for a 30 seconds to let the ice cream truck pass so you're not trying to talk over the music???

So, did I learn something? Well, yea, I think I did, but most of what you see on YouTube or similar sites is better quality. It's really a shame, since it's obvious from watching the host of the video (I believe his name was Adrian Pendergrass or something similar from listening to the introduction) go through the his motions that he's quite familiar and comfortable with what he's doing and has some good information to share.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mona A La Mode

So someone sent me a link to megamonalisa which got me thinking… How do you make a recognized masterpiece better? (I guess if you’ve been paying attention till now you might say “FIRE!” or explosives… maybe… huh…)

I could only come up with one good answer… everything is better with ice cream, right? What do you think:

BTW, vote for it if you like it, I'm waiting for it to show up HERE and will add a link when it does

Monday, November 03, 2008

2300 Pounds of Good Karma

I keep hearing it… “tools are good karma.” Ok, damnit, I need some good karma.

To that end, I brought home a whole big pile of karma yesterday. Actually I made a deal on it on October 22nd, but wasn’t able to get it moved till yesterday. Man was the waiting hard. All the while Deker reminding me that “with a mill you could be dangerous…” (note: I can be dangerous with a dull spoon, but I know what you mean).

Anyway, here she is sitting in her orginal home, a Bridgport J-head, with a DRO, power feed on the X and Z, and a bunch of little stuff added in:

The original owner, John seemed like a really decent guy that had a good thing going, those pictures are taken in his home shop, he’s a CNC machinist for a defense contractor but makes those brackets that hold street signs to the cables over the tops of intersections out of his home shop. I always thought that there was some big company somewhere that did that, but as far as I can tell he supplies most of the mid atlantic/east coast.

I was in a weird position trying to negotiate a deal. First he started at a really decent price, after a little bit of discussion he immediately came down $25, that was it, but the longer we talked the more little bits of tooling… he added to the pile (the stack of stuff on the table was where we started, he ended up adding a few things). He finally added a cool but worn, modular shell/face mill to the assembly and Deker sort of sealed the deal by saying something like “well even I’ll have to say that that’s worth more then whatever difference we were talking about.”

Anyway, when I showed up to pick it up, what I thought was John’s negotiating technique (instead of going down in price, adding goodies to sweeten the deal), well I’m not sure what it was. Part of it was clearly that his new CNC setup used a different collet size so he had no use for anything with a standard R8 collet, so he kept adding whatever R8 stuff that he found, including a few drill chuck collets and other goodies. Some of it was he was cleaning stuff out and figured he could get rid of it and I might find it useful (along those lines was a big, relatively heavy steel cabinet with shelves in it, similar but slightly heavier to one that I already had in the basement from when a friend of mine got me in to help liquidate some of the equipment from a bank’s server room), and some of it seemed to be him just helping out someone just getting into machining (a few things that he added like an indicator set and holders…).

The cool thing about it is all the goodies were that they were mostly good, old school, American made stuff by the major players, with the only exceptions being the Sandvik Modumill (the shell/face mill, they’re made in Sweeden), the enco hold down set, and the vice was a knockoff of a Kurt type vice.

Deker hooked me up with a friend of his, Tige, who is also a knifemaker/blacksmith that works as an equipment rigger, and we made arrangements for him to meet me with his truck and equipment (and wife, I could only guess that she was bored) to move it.

Loading it was basically the opposite of unloading it with the exception that John had a John Deere with a set of forks and had already gotten it out of the shop.

Anyway, here’s the mill in the truck with Tige. A couple of interesting things here, first, those little dolly’s/lifts are really cool, a 2 piece steel frame that slides over itself with a bottle jack that lifts the claw half of the frame. Once you strap the 2 of them on there you can roll it around fairly easily. The second thing is check out the strap holding the 2 together, as well as the rails in the side of the truck… all of his straps had some quick snaps that snapped into those long rectangular holes in the sides of the dollies and truck rails. I think that I’ve seen those in moving vans, but I’ve never seen the straps that match them:

Here’s me acting as a counter weight… my fairly steep driveway was actually the biggest problem we had. It doesn’t look like it, but I’m pulling pretty hard just to keep it in place on the liftgate. In the truck we tried muscling it around and with Tige pushing and me pulling we weren’t able to move it at all, but he could prevent it from rolling. With me pushing and him pulling we could move it a few inches at a time, but after getting it to move a few inches I couldn’t stop it from rolling back to take a break. Part of the problem was that one of the 2 dollies had a wonky caster that didn’t want to straighten out, but in the end we finally gave in and had Christina grab the come-a-long out of the truck and we hooked that to a strap around the mill and around the end of the tailgate. Once we got it moving we were able to yank it back onto the liftgate (you can see where I kicked the strap/cable puller over to the side/of the liftgate):

A note for anyone that gets stuck doing this sometime: A bridgport looks like it’s going to be back heavy with the big cast iron base on the back of it. Turns out it’s actually very front heavy since the base is hollow, but the knee, table and head are big, solid pieces all hanging off the front. Every time we shifted, lifted it, bumped it over something… it tried to flip over frontwards, and I’d bet that if it went more than a couple of inches before you caught it there’d be no catching 2300# or so of top and front heavy cast iron from flipping over. If you’re thinking “simple, crank the knee down and table back against the column, you can even crank the head back or flip it to lower the center of gravity…” Well, that would work if you were lifting it with some forks under the head assembly, but the dollies and levers we were using we had everything as far in those directions as we could get away with. The plumbing for the one shot oiler and the rails for the DRO were in the way.

A couple of pictures of it in place… since I’m putting a deck on the back of the house I gave up on trying to wedge it into the basement, not that it couldn’t go in there, but I don’t think that I could get it back out with a deck over the basement door. I also don’t think that the basement floor would support it. I kept having people tell me that the normal pour, roughly 4” slab down there would be fine… well, the slab in the garage is something on the order of 8-12”, reinforced with a fairly tight mesh of rebar and I swear you could hear it move and shake as we levered it off the wood that we set it on to get the dollies out. Finally setting it down felt a lot like what I imagine a shock from an earthquake would feel.

Another note for those out there moving/acquiring a bridgport… they list them somewhere north of 2200#, I’m guessing that with all the options this one is around 2300-2400#. The other thing is that they take up a lot of space, you need roughly 6x6’ worth of floor space and most sites list them at 82-83” tall… that is for the standard motor models… ones with a pancake motor like mine has is much shorter, right around 76-77”.

Anyway, anything this big probably needs a name, but I don't really have any good ideas yet...

Halloween: I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire…

Who’d of thunk it (who was it that used to say that? With my luck it was probably someone annoying that I don’t want anything to do with)? If I knew that there were so many superheroes in my neighborhood I would have felt much safer. With the exception of the four foot tall banana (who I believe was a 3-1/2’ tall hot dog last year, really freaked my dog out), it was almost like the Justice League and the institute from the X-men had exploded and it was raining superhearos…

So what did I do?

What else, played with power tools and fire… FIRE GOOD! (creepy laugh…)

It all started with a rather crappy day at work, which should have been over much sooner than it was. All I have to say about that is there are some people that being able to pass out a few of these products would save me a hell of a lot of time and not result an much less getting accomplished by them:

Anyway, the end result was that instead of the couple or more hours that I thought I’d have to carve my pumpkin, I was left with something more on the order of minutes.

Time to improvise… I grabbed the pumpkin, headed down to the basement, grabbed the sawzall and the cheap jigsaw that I didn’t like and went at it.

Let me tell you, it was magic, I’ve never carved a pumpkin so fast. I’m not joking, I had the top off in less then 5 seconds, and the whole thing was done, washed out and 2 candles in it in about 20 minutes, including some minor fine tuning using a large carving knife.

What do you think? Here are the results (this was shot with the lights out and a long exposure on the camera):

The amazing thing was that it wasn’t even that messy… I just took the air hose and blew all the pumpkin guts out of the saw and scooped all the seeds and stuff into a big bowl for cleaning and roasting later.

Speaking of roasting, I couldn’t help myself… I waited an hour or more after the last Trick-Or-Treater passed… I had the idea planted in my head and it was going to happen. My wife saw it coming, and was thinking either nothing will happen (I have no idea where she got that idea, something _always_ happens, it’s just a question of how big the mess is to clean up), and had the good sense to move her innocent, unmolested pumkin out of the way, and even put the dog on the leash in case she got curious (Oh, I forgot to tell you guys about trying to rewire the heating element in my wife’s towel warmer. Well, you can guess how that went, bare wires and electricity. I was surprised that she barked at it…)

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. My jack-o-lantern was going to suffer a tragic accident… I mean come on, if you’re going to stick a candle in some pore sucker’s head and set him on fire you need to do it right, immolate the sucker, make black smoke shoot from his eyes, flames shoot 4’ into the sky, make the flames so bright that the lid of the pumpkin is glowing! (these were shot with all the lights on, after a few shots I sped up the exposure trying to catch the shapes in the flames making everything look artificially dark)

Ah, a flaming tribute to the great pumpkin! He was a good pumpkin...

I’ve got tons more pictures, a few really showing the shapes of the flames well (I've been looking for some good pictures for painting/drawing), but no, I’m not going to tell you how I did it, I don’t want to hear that someone was a dumbass and tried it and set their shorts or their house on fire (well, really, I do, and I’d probably laugh, but I’m not going to be the one that someone is going to say said it was a good idea…).

OTOH, I’m already hatching plans for next year… I think I can make it shoot green flames… huh, how about fireballs….

Monday, September 08, 2008

I’m Cursed to be a Car Guy

Well, if you’re reading this I’m betting that you know where I’m coming from; it’s the basic curse of a tinkerer. Ever notice if you know how something works and can fix it it’s less likely that that something is to work? The car guy corollary to this is the more cars you have the less likely you have one that actually runs and could be driven, at some point you hit a critical mass where you have enough cars that nothing runs and you have to borrow something from a friend if you’re going to get to work.

So my dad has been teaching my 4y/o niece Alexandra:
Dad: “what does your mom drive?”
Alexandra: “Lincoln!”
“what does your dad drive?”
“what do I drive?”
“what does your grandma drive”
“Zaichik!” (Ukrainian for Rabbit)
“what does your aunt Christina drive?”
“what does your unckie Mark drive?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

Well, last weekend was Labor Day weekend, sort of the last opportunity for people to get done what they haven’t done all summer. It (and the couple of days before it) also seemed to be a good time to find signs/labels that were somewhere between disconcerting and humorous, but at the very least fit the “what were they thinking” category.

In my own case I was blessed with a kidney stone the size of a Buick (somewhere between 1.1-1.5cm across) that I got broken up on the Friday before, so I spent a lot of time miserable and at the same time was bored enough that I felt like going anywhere to do anything. Let me tell you, if you manage to go through life without the opportunity to experience the pleasure of kidney stones you’re really missing out. There are certain bodily functions that you hope to get the same thing every time you perform them and when they become shrouded in mystery and punctuated with an assortment of excruciating pain... oh, and I can’t leave out that the wonderful surprise of being told that the “pain may radiate” which ends up resembling sticking your nether regions in a light socket while clamping them in a vice and indiscriminantly smacking them with a hammer and that is the GOOD part because you know that that bit of pain is almost over... well, let’s leave it at that.

Anyway, sorry for the bad celphone pictures, and as always, they're all clickable for a larger version:

This was at the local Lowes, now remember, I’m in MD, not in Mexico, not in Spain, you know, a few miles north of the Capitol Beltway... WHY THE HECK IS ALL THE WRITING ON THIS DISPLAY OF AMERICAN FLAGS IN SPANISH???

On a lighter note, a the same Lowes in the parking lot I think I found the perfect place to send my mom for her “golden years,” what do you think:

(just kidding mom)

Finally, for you British comedy lovers, this one is for you (mainly because I doubt that anyone normal would get this anyway), I found this one at Home Depot’s upscale decorating center:

I couldn't have said it better myself - That seems like a good note to end on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

TPI Tuning - Hot Rod June 2000

This is a very popular and often asked for article on the f-body and corvette boards about tuning a TPI setup (like the L98 used in the f-bodies and corvette, and the LB9 in the f-bodys) and it is usually pretty hard to find a readable copy.

It was written by Ray T. Bohacz and originally published in the June 2000 issue of Hot Rod, and I’m sure has been republished a bunch of times since. This copy was originally scanned by Sean Oetting (black89ws6 on thirdgen), which I took, cleaned/straightened up and resized.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rebuilding a 9 Bolt, 7.75” Borg Warner Cone Style Posi

This is basically a cleaned up version of a post that I made on, the title links to the original thread. Like in other cases, I got a number of requests to put it back together with pictures, so here it is.

As always, the pictures are all clickable for a larger version.

Rebuilding the posi: There are pretty good, detailed instructions in the FSM and in the tech section on this site ( ). Look them up, they’re a good start.

I’ll add a quick nutshell description and note where I did things differently/suggestions:

Disassemble: unbolt the axle retainers, pull the axles, pull the center section cover, remove the bearing caps (make sure that you remember what side everything came from so you can put it back like it came out), pop the carrier/ring gear assembly out of the housing. Note, this will require some prying and turning and make sure you save the side preload washers/shims so you can reinstall them like they came out. Be careful with them, they are machined out of a cast piece and can be brittle.

To perform the rebuild you need some kind of fixture to hold an axle. I took a chunk of wood, cut 2 shoulders to sit on top of my vice jaws, drilled a hole through the middle and then sliced it in half on the table saw to make some clamp/vise pads for the job:

Through the whole deal use the axles as alignment tools.

Before you disassemble it check this spot out:

It’s hard to see in that pic, but if the end of the cone is contacting the end of the case there your case is worn out of spec and you’ll either have to do some machining to it to make it work or get a new case.

With it sitting on the bottom axle, housing bolts up, unbolt the smaller, center bolts and pull the end of the housing/ring gear off.

When you do that you’ll see this (except you’ll have it in the case side, not the ring gear side like in this pic):

If you lift the spider/cross/preload spring assembly off you’ll get this:

If you lift that side gear out of the end of the case you’ll see the pocket in the side cone where you put the shims, there will be one on each side of the case between the side gear and the cone (unfortunately I don’t have a good picture). You can use any shims that are small enough to drop into the machined area between the 2 and still fit around the axle. I usually use 10bolt or ford 8.8” pinion shims. Actually, the last time I think I just stopped by the local machine shop and got a stack of whatever left over shims they had approximately the right diameter.

* This is where I differ from the instructions on the site or in the FSM, forget measuring clearances or anything else, just load both pockets with as much shim as you can get in there and still reassemble the case completely. I’ve never seen one of these get so tight it doesn’t work right (if anything you’ll want it tighter, not looser) and you’ll be kicking yourself if you do any less and start spinning one wheel again sooner then you had to. The shim packs will probably have to be the same thickness on both sides.

From there the reassembly is the opposite of the disassembly, just make sure that you have both axles installed and fully bottomed before torquing all the bolts, if you don’t line up the splines in the side gears and cones before then it’ll be next to impossible to do with it assembled.

Now if the case is worn out of spec, you can still usually get some life out it. What happens is that there are some rings machined into the end of the cones and the case to contact if the case is worn down too far, if you cut them down you can get some extra life out of it.

This is what it looks like if the cone and case ends are worn to the point where they’re grinding into each other, case side. The numbered parts were originally put in for something else, but they do point out the points that are contacting and wearing that aren't supposed to:

Cone side:

What I’ve done before is machine those down till they no longer contact (as a matter of fact, I think I machined them down till I had over .125” clearance). Again, case side:

Cone side:

FWIW, I did the inside of the case on a drill press with a surfacing disk and I did the cone side with an angle grinder by hand, just played with them till I got them within about .005 of flat… If I remember right I ended up cutting close to 1/4" total to make sure that everything fit (yes, this thing was way outside of spec, and yes, it still worked well after all this).

Eventually, after a few more rebuilds the cones/case will wear enough that they get too thin, and I started getting cracking around the opening that I mentioned to check above to see if it’s worn past spec. When that happened I pulled it all apart, bevel ground the sides of the cones, centered them up in the housing using the axles and welded them in, like this:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bending Box Sections

(as always, all the pictures are clickable)

So the Deker said onto me: “do you know of anyone that can bend box stock out of flat sheetmetal? Can you do it with your press brake?”


more on this later)

Without much thinking I responded something like “Sure, why not? Pressbrake, big steel 20ton crushy thing. Good tool of destruction and changing the shape of things that don’t like to change shape…” (I can be quite eloquent sometimes when I’m not mumbling something incoherently. I mostly do that at work because I they heard what I was mumbling…)

He went on to describe how when they’ve been making Damascus billets they’ve been putting the steel into a steel box, sealing it up to weld it together and if the box could be made of the same steel that they’re making the knife blade out of it would save them the hassle of cutting it off the blank after they forge weld/hammer it. Real metal fab/machine shops were mentioned…

Huh, this is starting to sound like a challenge. I end up doing a lot of things just because I can when someone else doesn’t think so or can’t…

So later when I got home I thought about it some more and I could think of a few ways to do it that seemed kind of ugly and brutish but wasn’t sure what would be the results. Of course, I have a way with ugly and brutish, (or is that dumb luck? I keep forgetting) and the first thing I tried that I really expected not to work too well came out quite acceptable:

All I did is mark 4 sections and threw it in the press brake, bent the two ends up first making a U twice as wide as it was high, then making the middle bend around the head of the press brake. The worst part about it is that I had to hammer the piece off of the head of the press brake when I was done.

That’s a 2.5” square, it looks like I could go as small as 1.5” or so with the dies that I have but with a smaller bottom die I could get sharper corners (those are roughly 3/16” radius). I have roughly 22.5” capacity, which is more than long enough.

Unfortunately in the process I broke my 4x6 horizontal/vertical band saw (more accurate, the blade guides that were threaded into the thinnest part of the casting stripped their threads out), so in the process of further modifying, redesigning and replacing bits of it (more on that later also) I ended up needing to test it so I cut some end pieces.

Next thing I know I found myself in the basement with this thing clamped down on the drill press and the wife shaking her head “you’re not actually…”


I even made patterns for it so I can reproduce it exactly ;)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Dog Ate... WHAT? Part II

Deker’s alternate title: My dog ate my......mail truck?

I said it last time, here it comes again… this is one of those, “you gotta see it to believe it” things…

In part one we had a brief introduction to Deker and Judge. Well, here is judge, isn’t he a handsome pup?

And here he is playing with deker’s other dog, Justice:

I’ll skip the picture of Deker, the dogs are more photogenic anyway, but how about a sample of their work (and there's 3 more just like it):

Yesterday I got a call from Deker about him leaving work, something about a mail truck stuck in his driveway. I just don’t know what else to say (every time I try I end up laughing)… just click on the link to see the whole story or I’ll copy the text here in case the link goes away:

Dogs hold mail carrier 'hostage'
Evening Sun Reporter
Article Launched: 02/28/2008 10:36:52 AM EST

Maybe the theory comes from cartoons, but it's generally believed that dogs and mailmen are archenemies.

That theory was tested Wednesday in West Manheim Township.

Police responded to 960 Grand Valley Road after rural-route letter carrier Robin Barton called from her cell phone, telling police she was trapped in her vehicle.

Barton, who usually does not cover that route, drove up the long, steep driveway to the Dekelbaum residence to deliver a package. As she turned around at the top of the hill near the house, a Rottweiler and a pit-bull mix attacked her Jeep Cherokee.

"Yes, I was frightened," she said later.

Barking and growling, the dogs ran around in a fury and attacked her tires. They snipped, bit and snarled and flattened three of them. The owners were not home to round up their dogs, and Barton was trapped.

The dogs, Judge and Justice, stayed in the yard, not letting her go.

An underground electronic "fence" kept them from leaving the yard, owner Stephanie Dekelbaum said later.

When West Manheim Police pulled up the driveway, the dogs charged the cruiser, barking and striking at one of the tires. Police pulled back down to the road so as not to get stuck there with Barton.

Police Chief Tim Hippensteel said he had never seen anything like it before.

Two police cruisers were parked at the bottom of the hill. Judge and Justice stood watch over the Jeep. The canines had the high ground, but were stuck there because of the electronic fence.

It was a standoff, and they had a hostage.

Police couldn't reach the homeowners. The only way to save Barton now was to bring in an expert, Hippensteel said. They called animal control officer Terry Hemler.

The plan, he said, was for Hemler to shoot tranquilizers at Judge and Justice. With the dogs unconscious, they could bring in a tow truck to haul out Barton's jeep, rescuing her and ensuring the 10 houses left on her route would get their parcels that day.

Tranquilizers were not needed, though. Dekelbaum drove her yellow Mustang down the road, and was surprised to see two police cruisers, with flashing lights, and an animal control truck outside her house.

She pulled up the driveway, got out of her car, and the dogs turned instantly from Cujos into happy, bounding puppies.

"They're generally sweethearts," she said, blaming a recently acquired tire toy for the attack on Barton's vehicle.

The dogs followed her into the house, frolicking and playing, glad their owner was home.

And Barton was free.

Despite being trapped for nearly two hours, she still likes dogs. In fact, this letter carrier breaks the stereotype about dogs and letter carriers. She raises beagles.

Dekelbaum apologized, and Barton left with acting postmaster Bobbi Pfaff to finish her route.