Volume 5, Number 1 - January 2000

Journal of the Home Metal Shop Club of Houston,
President - Keith Mitchell, V. Pres.- John Lilly, Treasurer - Gordon Lawson, Secretary - Dean Eicher
Editor - Email kmitchl@wt.net

Membership Information Membership is open to all those interested in machining metal and tinkering with machines. The purpose of the club is to provide a forum for the exchanging of ideas and information. This includes, to a large degree, education in the art of machine tools and practices. There is a severe shortage of written information that a beginning hobbyist can use. This makes an organization such as this even more important. For membership information and forms, call Keith Mitchell at the phone numbers shown at the above.

Notes from the President
By: Keith Mitchell

First issue of the new Millennium! Moving the meeting location didn't seem too traumatic. I have not heard from anyone who went to the wrong location. George Carlson said he counted 44 at the meeting. We had speculated during the business meeting there would be a small turnout due to the holidays. The previous location would not have accommodated this crowd. My overall opinion of the new location was that it meets our needs, available and free, but has a few undesirable features. I felt the lighting was less than adequate and the HVAC noise made it difficult to speak and be heard by everyone. At the next meeting I would like to try setting up the room with the audience facing South toward Pinemont. Perhaps this will solve some of the problems with white noise. For a writing surface I am suggesting we buy a roll of white paper and tape up pieces at the start of the meeting. We can use markers like we did in the December meeting. The consideration in doing this is that the markers not bleed through the paper and on the wall.

Following the last meeting Don Foster had invited me to see his mobile display of engines. Don has spent 30 years putting together a number of engines that are organized to show chronologically the development of that technology through time. His display is mounted on a trailer and can be powered by an air compressor. It's quite an impressive display. Don has agreed to bring it to one of our meetings this spring when the weather is more conducive to outdoor activities.

At the last meeting we passed out cards to collect the information for the Suppliers List. Please fill these out and bring to the next meeting starting with your most obscure supplier and working to the better known sources. Keep in mind that we do not plan to distribute this information outside the club so your "secret" sources are protected.

At the next meeting we will be taking photos of all of the members. These will go into the Member Handbook.

Finally, I would like to ask for everyone's cooperation in conducting meetings. I think it's great that everyone is interested and enthusiastic about what we are doing. I would like to keep our meeting format as informal as possible, however, we have grown to the point that we need to exercise a little restraint during the meetings so everyone has the opportunity to hear what's going on. In particular I would like to ask everyone to refrain from carrying on side bar conversations when someone is trying to address the group. Presentations take the presenter's time to prepare. Please pay them the courtesy of your undivided attention when they are addressing the group. If you have something to add, please be recognized by the speaker and address the group. Please hold any other business until after the meeting.

December Meeting Minutes
By: Dean Eicher

Chips Meeting - 1:00 P.M. December 18, 1999, Collier Library
Attendance - 41, One first time attendee
In the Chips Meeting, the following activities took place.

1. Feature Presentation - J. D. Wise talked work-holding for the lathe. He mentioned the traditional 4 jaw chuck, adjust true 3 jaw chuck, fixture plates and collets. While many styles of collets are available, 5C collets are the most popular for lathes because they are available in more than 100 round sizes, as well as square and hex shapes. Disadvantages of 5C collets include limited grip range(collapse range of 0.005")and a lever gripping action(the collet tends to hinge at the end of the slots, resulting in a strong grip only at the end of the collet). J. D. mentioned that other types of collets such as ER single angle and Double Angle collets overcome the problems with the 5C collets, but accept only round work or tooling. Other work holding devices mentioned included tapered mandrels, expanding mandrels, magnetic chucks, faceplates, temporary adhesives on faceplates, cathead for irregular work, and other specialized chucks.
2. Don Foster - brought a piece of sponge iron and told us about the ancient method of layering coke, lime, and iron ore in a hole in the ground and making iron.
3. Dick Kostelnicek - brought a countersink he made of the type with a hole at 45( through the cone.
4. John Korman - talked about using castable refractory for insulating the sides of a foundry. He brought castings for a lathe milling attachment he made.
5. Gerald Farek - brought an air motor powered display case drilling machine he made. He told us about the aluminum extrusions he used and how the addition of a nylon bearing plate made a good light-duty linear bearing. Gerald also showed a wood carousel Aloris tool holder rack he made.
6. Doug Blodgett - brought a worn out gib from his milling machine and a nicely scraped replacement he made. He used carbide scrapers and used a diamond wheel to sharpen the scrapers.
7. Joe Williams - brought a chrome plated T-handle chuck wrench he made from salvaged chrome plated rod.
8. Dennis Cranston - brought a picture of a three axis computer controlled milling machine he made. He showed a wax block that he machined the letters HMC in.

Foundry Group Notes
By Keith Mitchell

The last meeting of the foundry group was attended by about 20 members. A number of people brought show and tell items. Dennis Cranston brought a sample of Petrobond. Dick Kostelnicek brought crucibles, crucible tongs, a pouring shank, and molding flask. There were some conversations about sources for scrap aluminum and brass. Old engine pistons were identified as a good source for castable aluminum alloy.

Bill Kimbrough offered to donate a crucible furnace to the club. His only reservation is if the club ever disbands, the furnace be returned. >From his description it sounds like it would be large enough for anything we might pour. If the issues listed below can be overcome, I feel this is a good solution. If I own a furnace personally it might be used twice per year. With a club owned furnace the utilization would I suspect be significantly better. We should be able to have a better set up and develop some expertise with in the club on making castings. Joe Williams has offered a 125# propane bottle to fuel the furnace. Doug Blodgett is checking with the Live Steamers to see if we can store and operate the furnace at their facility at Zube Park in far west Harris County. We also discussed mounting the furnace on a trailer so it would be transportable.

This proposal was put out to the members via e-mail. All of the responses I received were positive. The issues identified around this are:

1. Liability. Handling molten metal and operating a furnace does entail some inherent risk.
2. Equipment Care. We don't want to spend the time to get a nice casting operation set up only to find that every time we try to use it he previous user has failed to properly care for it or has not returned all of the equipment. To get past this scenario, I suggest that we enlist several people, four or five, one of whom will be present at each furnace operation. They will oversee the operation to make sure safety practices are strictly followed and the equipment is properly cared for and managed so it is ready for the next use and any consumable are reordered as they are used. We may want to investigate sending one or two people to a school or seminar and have them return and educate the others.
3. Consumable supplies. I propose that the club provide the furnace, fuel, molding sand, parting powder, and degassing tablets. The members would each provide their own crucible tongs, crucibles, pouring shank, flask, and ingots.

These issues will be discussed at the next foundry group meeting. If you have input to this and can not be there please contact me.

The Ceramic Store was identified as a good source for furnace materials, burners, refractories, etc.

Gordon Lawson has done some research on sources for castable refractory. He has identified Able Refractory Products, 5220 Texas St., Houston, Texas 77011, (713) 926-9623, as a possible source.
They have two products which may be suitable:

3400 F - can withstand direct contact with iron - "Carton" 100 lbs. $93.00; Full Pallet of 36 (3600 lbs) @ 1760/ton $3168 per pallet ($88.00/carton) Coverage: 170 lbs/cu.ft.

3000 F - 75lb bag $26.00; Full pallet of 48 (3600 lbs) @ $583/ton $1049.40 per pallet (21.87/bag) Coverage: 145 lbs/cu.ft.

December Meeting Photos
Don Foster explaing the early iron smelter operations
Kostelnicek Dick showing his shop made countersinks John Korman with his lathe milling attachment made from home foundry castings.
Jerry Farek with the aluminum extrusion building system