Monday, May 26, 2014

Second post!

We get some fun workshop stuff today! Unfortunately not everything I'd hoped, as I have not yet gotten the chance to replace and restring the broken spring on the door of my back workshop :( and it is way way way too hot to work on metal banging stuff out there without the ventilation (not to mention carbon monoxide, lack of light...) but got a little bit to show today.

Today's fun involves a couple of old friends...

Mr. Stand Vise and Mr. Beater Anvil (note I actually have a better anvil than this but when I'm letting scouts learn about pounding metal, experimenting with things that don't need a better anvil and other things that I'm afraid could hurt a big hunk of steel (that should frighten someone!) I prefer to use this one (remind me to introduce you to my little tiny anvil too...)) Note: I made the stands myself from scrap! Note 2: this is before the door decided to close it's self, I really need to replace that spring!

We have a couple of new players as well...

Um... Patrick that guy on the right has been hanging around for a while... yes he has, that would be the experimental #10 can forge! who  so far actually has never been used. Why? It took me a while to convince myself that I had a way to run him without blowing it up! (Note: as a favor to your wife, husband, parents, children, pets, significant others, what ever else... Don't blow yourself up! It kind of ruins your day.). The new torch on the left is part of that solution, it gets the propane tank several feet away from the heat (it also has a flame well in excess of some of those plumbers torches out there, but not as fine as I can get with my Orca)

The second part of the solution was the addition of a gas port

This humble little pipe fits nicely around the end of the torch and keeps it from slipping out unintentionally. The original design I read about didn't have that and it worried me.

Been meaning to do this one for a while, but life happened. (OH well we did it now!)

Here we have a cheery little fire going (the wheelbarrow really is farther back than it looks). One new, as in I hadn't thought of it yet, problem: I really would like something to hold up the piece of metal that I'll be sticking in. I did find a possible solution for that but on the second burn I noticed some air flow issues that worried me so I'm backing off for a rethink. I think it may have to do with how the air/gas are passing through the insulation on the inside. I also had a new idea for a charcoal burner that I can do outside...

In the mean time on another project...

 Some copper wire in the vice; it has been annealed, bent in half and has a handle in the end. Why? Any guesses?

That would be the manual set up to get a nice tight piece of twisted wire! Now this needs to be annealed again so we can get more done with it...

Remember, annealing nonferrous metals like copper usually means heating them up to a critical temp (generally for copper or silver we're in a dull to cherry red range, you're pushing your luck if you go past that). For safety reasons you should let it air cool completely before immersing in pickle. (that said I'm not that patient, once it's no longer glowing I quench it (remember to wear gloves and safety glasses or goggles (I've got some military issue tinted lens safety glasses for metal work that look like sunglasses with side protectors.)))

While we're at it remember this one?

We are not doing this to experience brand awareness! Use gloves and  tongs or pliers, seriously!

Coming soon... what I twisted that wire for, mini anvils! and...

Please tell me that this isn't my lunch!

Memorial day, life and more

It is Memorial Day...

For those of you who don't remember my last post (and those who do) let's start with a video...

Also relating to last weeks post a serious injustice was done in local elections by a whole 80 (that's eight zero) votes with roughly 10,000 votes cast. Now, other than the injustice part (which is an issue for another day...), my problem with this is that only 34% of the registered voters voted. So, for those out here in Pocatello land (and any where else in our country for that matter) who didn't vote... IF THE ELECTION DIDN'T GO THE WAY YOU WANTED BY THAT CLOSE OF A MARGIN AND YOU DIDN'T GET OFF YOUR BUTT TO VOTE IT'S YOUR FAULT!!! As for myself and Lisa we voted our conscience and will follow our beliefs and understanding of truth what ever the road ahead.

Ok, on to other and somewhat more fun things... But first... Jail Break!!!

Yep, ol' SUDDEN DEATH!!! managed to finally get away from me this week after trying to play dead... maybe I should have named it FOOLED YOU!!!

As far as the whole birthday thing... Thanks for the presents, cash, gift cards, good wishes and so on!

Some of you know I'm a Dr Who fan and I ended up with seven full story arcs of classic Doctor (mostly Doctor Four and one Doctor Five) and the "Five Doctors" special that aired for the 20th anniversary (two disk set, 20th and 25th anniversary versions (do your research... flippin fan-boy wannabe ('cause you know there's one out there...)))

I also got... My second sonic screwdriver... Here's a picture of the two of them...

One of them is more sonic and the 4th Doctor model... The other is better at driving screws, so it works out over all.

Also in the news this weekend we got the tomatoes and peppers out and in our little garden...and for the first time in our back yard... Garlic (With a nod to my dad and Frederica up in the North East and Popsie). I have also been putting out some new grass seed.



If I string these up on the line around the newly seeded area will it help people take the hint and not step on the new grass?
(Yes, I actually own a set of mine flags (what part of "I shop at surplus stores" is hard to understand?))

For those who worry about such things... yes there are more rocks, fires and other fun stuff comming!

I now have my Lortone which is in the rock shop, and a new tumbler for the metal shop...

For those staring in wonderment at why I would buy the Harbor Freight version... the barrels on the first Harbor Freight I bought have held up well and two equivalent barrels from Lortone would cost more than this whole machine (including the extended warranty). I have also learned a lot about maintenance and care for the little devils since then. And since this one is destined for the metal shop not the rock shop the primary run time would be one barrel (3lb) for two hours (with a max around two barrels (6lb) for two hours ) as opposed to 1 large and 1 small (4.5lb) or three small barrels (4.5lb) (with a max of two large barrels (6lb)) for ten (10) days. Trust me this lil guy is going to spin up a lot of shiny metal and steel shot before it's 'shot' (and if it doesn't I take it back and they give me a new one)

For the professional and mental accountants out there (and people who buy machines), I don't just say yes to the extended warranty or protection plan; I make the determination on the basis of unit cost and the likely hood of me blowing the thing up!

Well, that's it for now... next week: ummm, it's Monday of this week, do you mind if I wait to worry about next week till after lunch!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Thinking about tommorrow, today!

Some of you know my birthday is coming up... well... that's not what I'm talking about today. It will happen whether I want it to or not, I've had a few already, I will have another next year, and I'll know more about what happens with it next week, so I'll talk about it next week.

More significant at the moment, tomorrow is the primary election here in Idaho, and I bet the rest of you in the USA have had them in the recent past or are having them in the very near future. A second thing of great import is Memorial day is coming up next week.

"Er, um, what. Patrick what do these things have to do with each other?" Well, memorial day is the day we honor those men and women who gave their lives for this country, even for you and me. One of the things they fought for was your right to vote, not just vote, but to have a voice and an influence in how things are done in your city/town, state, and country. That means that you have a responsibility to get out and vote. People have died to give you that right.

If you are not voting, and putting the effort in to know who and what you are voting for, you are selling the lives of my family and yours cheap.

Ok, Nuff said, well once more: GET OUT AND VOTE!

If you're not old enough to vote yet, well you can still talk about the issues and encourage those who are old enough to get out and vote.

Now then, who and what should you vote for? I'm not telling you specific people or ways to vote on issues, vote for the people who will support and fight for the things you believe and want; on issues, vote your principals. If you want to vote for special rights for people, or for the person I don't agree with, well that's your choice. I'm voting for who and what I believe in too and I'm not going to take that from you!

On the other hand don't call giving someone special rights and protections equal rights! By definition saying that one group in particular can't be discriminated against is putting them in a superior position, and that's not equal. If you're voting for an incumbent who's lied, cheated and done nothing for you; just because you think he/she's the one who will win, someone tells you to, "he's cool", "I wont to be cool", or any other reason that's not supporting your values and kind of deserve what you get!

Like I said, at this point I'm not telling you how to vote or for whom; however, you need to get out and vote, you need to know who and what you are voting for and you need to DO SOMETHING to support what you believe in.

I'm going to end today's post with a link to a YouTube video. The song: "A Light in the Black". The band: Sabaton (they're a Swedish band that knows more about our history than some of my own countrymen!). Sabaton sings about historical peoples and events, in this case the Korean War (BTW Lisa's grandfather, Popsie served in this war so people related to that family might want to take note). I think this song sums up a lot of what our family in the military have done for us and the world, and in it's own way the things I'm talking about in this post (and in some ways better than I could say them!)

Ok, nuff said. I think I will probably post the cool shop stuff I had in mind later in the week, but this was just too important to be left unsaid.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mid Week Mischief

(What ever we do in this post don't let my sense of humor get going... it really is that kind of week!) 

First: and foremost... Happy Birthday Lisa!

Second: thank you to all the moms, dads, grandparents, aunts/uncles, siblings and other people who have sent presents or birthday wishes (what! No emoticons! Gaaah, have to do it the old fashioned way :-) )

Third: a while back I put a contest up on the blog to name our sourdough starter. Well, the winner is... ME! Note that only people who actually sent in a suggestion can complain... and since when Monday rolled around and I was the only one who had contributed a suggestion I guess I am the only one who can complain! Actually Lisa helped... when the weekend hit and there weren't any suggestions yet she suggested a sudden death, who ever can get a suggestion in wins kind of thing. Well, I got thinking and just flat out decided to name it SUDDEN DEATH!!! (and yes the all caps and three exclamation points are part of the name (See I told you not to let my sense of humor get going...)).

Lets see SUDDEN DEATH!!! sourdough, we're planting three kinds of peppers in the garden, plus I still have a stock of little Thai peppers from last year... Maybe someone wants to rethink me doing breakfast for the reunion? :-)

Ok, Lisa is annoyed with the sudden death thing (note that making me laugh more is not a valid way of stopping the sense of humor!)

Speaking of trying to stop me... I have been plead with not to burn the house down... that's really good advice... I don't mind being reminded sometimes...

Uuuuummmmm! Exactly how did you get to the people that made my lunch? (Sadly I am serious this time, this warning was on the label of the noodles I had for lunch yesterday!) 

In happier food news...

That would be at least five meals worth of pulled pork straight out of the cooker!

I highly recommend getting to know a real local butcher, and keeping an eye on meat prices and schedules at a local market. I managed to get a 8lb bone in pork shoulder for less than a dollar a pound! Drop that in the slow cooker with half an onion, some carrots (we use baby carrots that come pre peeled and we use for lunches anyway), some dehydrated red and green bell peppers (we use Thrive), salt, pepper, a couple of appropriate herbs and spices (always garlic, but the others vary a bit by what we're feeling like), some Worcestershire  sauce, and water (amount appropriate to your slow cooker (8 out of 10 times you don't need nearly as much as you think you do)). Let it cook all day. When it breaks into pieces when you go to flip it or pull it out, it's ready. Prep time maybe 15 minutes. Cooking time all day but it doesn't take much attention (and remember you're not just cooking tonight's dinner, but tomorrows carnitas for tacos or burritos, the pulled pork you're doing for sandwiches on Saturday, meat for next Tuesday's casserole and/or a meal or two to be named later (it freezes well)).

Well, that's our story for today. Tune in next week when...well, that would be telling ;-)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Rock and/or roll!

So way back when in the post "Rocks (and not the ones in my head this time)" we started a batch of rocks in the tumbler and brought it through the course step and into the medium; now a little over a month later the batch of rocks has run through the other steps and are ready for there closeup,

As a reminder, when you are changing a tumbler DO NOT PUT ANYTHING DOWN THE SINK! This grey liquid (yes we got the color we were expecting this time)...

turns into cement faster than you would believe (there is a bucket of it out back of the house that has overwintered better than some of the local sidewalks!)

One serious suggestion I have for while you are changing barrels...

Screw all the parts of the lid together. This keeps parts of separate lids from getting mixed up or just plain disappearing. One time I had an inner lid end up under the rocks in the barrel!

 Here are our rocks after the medium, and here

they are on the official cafeteria tray of bench cleanliness. When they look like this dry then we're there, but we're not there yet! At this point we're again checking for broken stones and other 'show stoppers'. We got the worst out after the rough but we check every time. No major issues so it's every body in the pool in the fine barrel.

There is a little more space this time and we would really like to start cushioning the stones so they don't break. fortunately we have a secret weapon...

Sorry gang not all secret weapons have killing capacity. You can buy plastic pellets from your tumbling supply supplier, but you can get the same ones from JoAnn's or somewhere similar in a larger pack and for less. Like our tumbler barrels you can reuse the pellets but make sure you use them in the same grade every time (do not move your medium pellets to fine or the fine ones to polish!). The pellets tend to pick up the grit and will ruin a later step.

So here is the barrel loaded out with pellets that are ear marked for fine (note: no teddy bears were harmed in the making of these shiny rocks!). You can see that the pellets are carrying some of the fine grit already. Remember that the pellets will float so sight on the top of the stone for your water (bring it almost to the top of the stone). Next four tablespoons of fine grit. In the last few runs I have been trying an aluminum oxide pre-polish; I am really not satisfied with it and will be going back to 600 grit silicon carbide. Disassemble, put on and tighten your top, then back on the roller for another 7-10 days.

 After the fine has run for another 10 days we open and empty. I'll save you the picture of the barrel this time but we have added one piece to the straining rig...

No friends and neighbors I have not lost my senses and I'm not trying to be funny. the little blue basket has holes large enough to let the plastic pellets fall through but small enough to keep any rocks worth keeping in place. It makes separating the pellets much easier. The remaining pellets can be floated out when you rinse the stones in a butter tub or bowl.

We proceed with the same basic instructions for the polish step but using aluminum oxide or cerium oxide (better, more expensive and a tan color instead of white (unless you buy 'french cerium' which is white and meant more for faceted stones, lasers and spy cameras. Don't waste it on tumbling!))

This is a bag of aluminum oxide polish, a cheap, fairly good last step for tumble polishing. Despite it's color and consistency please do not confuse it with powdered sugar, talcum powder, coffee creamer, cocaine, laundry powder or anything else besides a rock polish. It would be bad. 

For this step some sources recommend using 1 1/2 or two tablespoons instead of three or four that we used in previous steps. This is a personal preference/experience and expense thing. I think two tablespoons works well with properly run stones and silicon carbide in the fine. You might want more with the AO pre polish (or better yet trust me and use the silicon...). But, if you are going to do two tablespoons, it is best (I think) to add some laundry detergent, the jury is still way out on using liquid versus powder.  Some say the liquid works and others say it ruins barrels and polish jobs. I have gotten some really good ones (best batch ever) with liquid and not seen barrel problems. But I have also seen some bad stones come out with the liquid... If some chemistry person would like to explain why the effects of the powder would be different I'll listen, then test; but remember not all stone is the same either!

Run another ten days, pray hard and drain as usual (if you have pellets in (and for polish you probably want to) try that two part rig or float them off).

If you want to you can run the stones in a clean barrel with just stones water and detergent for up to four days. I don't usually do this and I've seen people argue over whether it is necessary, and how long. And oh look that powdered versus liquid detergent brawl is going again... this step depends on your stones, your set up, abrasives/chemicals and personal style. As usual experiment and decide for your self.

Now let's see a few of the stones that came out.. as usual using our very best lined paper backdrop...

I handed both of these over to Lisa before she could claim them. the one on the left actually hit the floor and had the end that would be at the bottom drop off. This was sad as I intended to make a piece of jewelry with this one for Lisa's birthday, but it would have been worse to finish the piece then have it break. As is I just have to modify the design a little and polish the end with other polishing technology.

 Petrified wood. Also handed directly to Lisa for her collection.

Green former pieces of slabs. I'm keeping them. You might see them in future projects.

The lace agate on the left is a future tie clip (part of my next epoxy run...). It's hard to see here but the clear one at the bottom actually refracts the papers lines at an angle.

The top right is the prize here. Like tigers eye but silver/grey. Lisa got this one but I have another coming.

Ok... but...what do you do with them?

I answered the question for the raw stones for the finished ones... that's another story. As the dwarves would say it involves dragon fire and twisted wire...

Here's some twisted wire. The dragon fire comes in an upcoming post!

Assuming I survive a job interview tomorrow, I'm hoping to do more shop stuff for next week.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mom! It's not a diamond! Or is it...

Since this blog generally goes out on Mondays and next Sunday is Mothers Day, let me say happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there.

That said today we are revealing the last three components of the reunion rocks...

Lets start with a tiny bit o'rock that I call "The Planet Killer"

 This guy is an amethyst that is about twice the size of the largest piece I was expecting. We have had a debate on whether to carve or cut him, and then set him aside to deal with later.  Here's another view:

I'm on the carve side with this one but there are some tricky curves and fractures to deal with that might make cutting him into smaller pieces easier. Note that there are rumors in my pile about places we can dig up our own amethyst directly from the mountain. Not scheduling anything just yet, but I will be planning a trip and calling for a team immediately if I can get confirmed information.

In the mean time you can expect a few of his friends to crop up in the mix (Note: those would be 'dwarf planet killers' (so watch out Pluto!). The Planet Killer is mine!)

This is some agate that will be in the mix. Officially this flavor is called Green Tree agate, like moss agate but with white instead of clear... as you can see in reality it runs from banded white to all green (note the middle right stone has been taken into 'protective custody' by Lisa!) I have also found a piece of blood stone (green with red spots (I took that one in to protective custody))

Now... what does five pounds of green tree agate look like?

Sorry military surplus cafeteria trays not included in the reunion mix!

Ok in honor of moms and a kid that got really over excited at a termie mine that one time...

Lisa accused me of trying to build a crystal Stone Henge for this shot, but...

This one is Crystal Henge!
Don't get too excited these are basic quartz, but there is a good chance some of these will put in an appearance at the reunion (you just have to find them...)

So there you have it the last installment of stones of the reunion mix...(Lisa says that sounds like an album title or maybe a Dr. Who episode)
Next week the stones in the tumbler come out to shine (been waiting a month to finish that one)
After that, more theory, house adventures and shop stuff (hope nobody is easily insulted (or flammable!))
Till then good luck and remember, unless it's in a vacuum, technical the glass is always full!