Monday, October 28, 2013

Rain, rain and a Halloween Party

Yesterday  it started to rain. The forecast warned "heavy at times." It sure was. Our basement is flooded. We are currently pumping it out. Our hot water heater went on strike. Fortunately matters were amicably resolved. But it was hairy while the strike lasted. October has not frozen very much, amazingly; but it has been very rainy. Most unusual. The rain is a sign that it will not be too cold. After all, if it was too cold, it'd be snowing.

To distract us from these watery matters, John had a Haloween gig. Costume was the order of the day. So Fluffy went to the gig as a Dalek. Dr Who fans will know what I mean.If you don't know consult the Internet!  John and Fluffy made the costume out of odds and ends -- styrofoam balls, tea lights a paint roller and a plumber's plunger. And paint. Not far, in fact, from what the BBC (Britons read "Beeb") did with the original Daleks. Nowadays they can use graphic arts. Or 3-D printing for all I know.

John, on the other hand, opted for the chicken suit. He always said that if all else fails, including music, he'll go out and wear a chicken suit.
And wear the chicken suit he did. I cannot resist it. Fowl play, indeed. You cannot imagine the bad puns that the chicken suit has inspired. The gig, I understand, went swimmingly and there was even someone there dressed as Dr. Who!

So the Dalek was right at home. And the chicken crossed the road. And everyone was happy until it rained and rained. And fortunately the rain has let up, and maybe we can get the basement pumped out. I'm glad I bought a pump.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Milling around

 Looking at my labels I am surprised I don't have a label for "milling." But I do have a label for "Proxxon mill". The only mill I have, in fact. A mill holds the work still, and a cutter revolves. In a lathe it is the other way around. Both are very useful in my miniature machine shop. I have been milling (and turning) for quite a few days now, in fact is quite an obsession. My first attempts at milling have been documented. But now I want to cut flutes on the clamp bolts on my digital indicator stand.Ideally, in machinespeak, these would be knurled on the lathe. But I don't have a knurling wheel set.

 Instead, I took a  hint from Tom Lipton's oxtool videos and cut flutes instead. Very nice. I decided to use 8 flutes. This required making the fixture shown above. A square piece of aluminum. I scribed one line at 45 deg. By simply flipping the fixture around I can cut four flutes. Then I carefully align any one of the flutes I just cut. And I then, by flipping, cut four more flutes. My steampunk dial indicator stand is really beautiful now. And I can adjust it with my fingers. Should have a pic of it, but omitted to get one.

However, today I decided to make a fly cutter for the mill. I had a piece of very nice steel, taken from a defunct printer. It made the clamp bolts. Now I want to make a fly cutter out of the rest of it. A fly cutter is used to level out rough surfaces. I did some internet research. There is always myfordboy to the rescue. Another good reference is Dean. From these two references, I extracted the fact that a fly cutter must be angled to the work. I picked 45 deg per myfordboy. OK, I have this piece of 13mm (more or less) round bar, and I have to drill a 45 deg hole in it. How do I do this? I spent the entire morning working this out. I am no professional machinist! I finally cobbled up the setup shown below.

I held the round in the vise.  It is pure serendipity that the Taig milling vise (Imperial) fits the Proxxon mill (metric).  I propped it the round bar on a step block kindly provided by Proxxon. Thanks Proxxon! I packed things up with stray aluminum scrap and it all worked, a miracle because the mill is metric and the rest of it is all Imperial. But Aluminum has a bit of squish in it, so the thing was well held.

Next problem is to drill the hole. Were you to simply bear down with the drill, it would skitter all over the place. This is not wood, it is metal. So I had previously made a 2mm or so end mill out of a broken drill. Ground it to shape. I ran this end mill so it made a little step in the round bar. The step gives the drill something to bite into. So I went through with a small drill and then a 3.2 mm drill (0.125") which is a collet size I have -- standard Dremel size shank. I had very carefully drawn out the thing to scale, a very good idea.

Next step was to turn down the shank to something that would fit a 3.2 mm collet. Straightforward turning. Now I have to make a setsrew hole in the thing to hold the cutter bit. Not to mention grind the cutter bit itself! That's another day's post.

Now I have to figure out how to get a setscrew in there to hold the cutter bit down. Later.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fall Foliage, 2013

It is time for the obligatory scenic photos of Alaska photos. We have no maples, or oaks, or other woods in the lower 48 that turn all kinds of neat red or reddish colors, but we do have the birches and aspens. This gives Alaska a distincly yellow hue.Here is Little Lonely Lake about three weeks ago.
 I zoomed in on the leftmost part of the picture above. I was standing in the same spot. One more step, and I would have fallen into the lake!
This is the characteristic Alaska hue. The birches are just a bit yellower than the aspens, which have a slightly greener tinge, but I doubt that the pictures will allow  you to tell the difference.

As I write this, almost all the foliage is gone. Today it went to -2C, or about 28F for the metrically challenged. The Japanese maples (which are red all summer long) finally got the hint and are dropping leaves. They are optimists. Time to order fuel. A yearly ordeal with a big price tag. Next week "they" will come out and fix the chimney, so we can have fires again and warm up the house. It is a big savings on fuel oil to keep the heater on low low.

Forecast is rain and snow. I suppose that means mixed, but for us it probably means mostly rain mixed with some snow.