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Major Projects, Need Help with Getting Tools, connected to previously discussed projects

 
pollinator
Posts: 618
Location: Scioto county, Ohio, USA - Zone 6b
155
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So, here is my thing. I need tools like you wouldn't believe. I'm content to build them. I sure as mountains are tall that I can't afford to buy even used tools outright. Well, most of them.

Reason? I need tools that are reliable. I need to be able to use them without electricity. My metal shop doesn't have power hooked up. And so I would like to power it the old way. If it was a business, I'm sure osha would hate me. Because the plan is to use steam. I have a plan for a small but very high torque steam engine from the 1870s. I have access to incredible amounts of steel and bronze and fuel, mostly as scrap from nearby industry. What I don't have is the tools to build it all. (Grandma says if it can power the shop, we might hook up a dynamo and some batteries and power the house.)

Here's what I need that I know I can build:
Metal Turning Lathe
Powered Hammer
Shop Press
Foundry (for casting gears and bearings and pillow blocks out of marine bronze and for melting glass to make capacitors and vacuum tubes)
Air compressor (for powering graver and other air tools)
Shear for sheet metal
sheet metal brake
tube bender
belt grinder for blacksmiths

Here's what I have to buy:
Stick welder and safety gear

Here's what I will have to convert:
Drill press
2 bench grinders

All of this is besides the new charcoal forge and box bellows I'm already working on. I do have some parts for some of the stuff on this list. For example, I have some flywheels, some springs, and the burner for the foundry. I am very close to a large junkyard, several iron works, and a lumber/building supply outlet. I can have higher quality materials delivered for a small fee as I did with my hoophouse, which is coming along nicely.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4665
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Ryan , I was trying to remember a set of books that you would find helpful. Seems like I had found a source on line at one point but now I will have to search for it. I believe if you search for " David J. Gingery" you will find all sorts of really good stuff.

I think this is the set of books I was talking about ?  Build a shop from scratch.

If I remember right , it covers the idea that if you start out with very little, some tools and a forge, you can actually build better tools, then one machine after another using those tools. Eventually having a shop full of tools and machines which you have hand built, yourself! Pretty cool idea.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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It sounds like you're very skilled. And that is a fine vision. Go for it. I kinda wish I had, a long long time ago, but that's ok.  Monday night quarterbacking holds no charms

But let me suggest that you consider carefully and perhaps allow flexibility  such that you buy certain things that could move you forward timely with your most important goals. (I'm assuming that just owning tools isn't really you main goal?)  I doubt there is any shame in buying a fine used tool and bowing deeply in the direction of dedicated engineers and craftsmen whose work made that tool possible and gives you the opportunity.

FWIW, I have found it's almost always cheaper to buy onto the ladder as far up the rungs as you can afford.  Provided you know that getting to the top of that ladder really is important to you. And provided you know your values that can allow you to make decent, proper, choices on the rise, sorta speak. Not so say "do it this way". No, there are many many considerations. However. A tool is, well, a tool. A means to an end. When you know you values and your goals then it's possible to make significant choices and not to stick with one way or another.  To discern and choose various paths, options. And very often it really _is_ better to buy a good tool than build it.

And I have also found that there are many fine enthusiasts in this country who are actively preserving "old iron" and old working tools of all kinds. They actually kinda need people who will understand the value and just use the damn things. Here is a link to one of those groups which follows both metal and wood working machines. I learned a lot from them 10-15 years ago. If nothing else, they are a good source of detail data on hundreds of old machines.

http://wiki.vintagemachinery.org/History.ashx

However, I once watched a forum where some Irish welder visited once in a while, maybe twice a week. 50? 60 years old? Hard to say. Most of the members were making a living welding, as was he. When some welder was struggling with a problem he would usually be one of the guys who showed up to explain how to get that job done. It slowly became clear that he had not bought a machine for many years but his solutions were almost always the ones chosen. He apparently had a medium sized shop and had mastered and owned a lot of tools. But he didn't seem to use all that many now and simply fabricated any tools he needed (or dug them out of the back 40)  and he was able to show others how to do the same.  He wasn't the only one like that and it was a fine group with pretty sharp competitive  instincts. He was a rare bird who lived his work, from the childs bicycle to the cast iron block, to the aluminum cylinder head to the cracked flywheel on a construction site water truck to a tweaked arm on a quarry exevator...  and found that he didn't need all the dials and buttons so much.

So yeah, you can make your tools and it can be GOOD. But a proven tool often embodies deep knowledge. It allows one to create w/out having to already know everything the makers put into that tool. Using that tool somebody else, many somebodys, built and refined, their knowledge and understanding can move into the user, a little. That's a good thing. One of the best real reasons to search out and use the very finest tools one possibly can. That old Irishman didn't _need_ somebody else's tools because he had already absorbed them. Maybe not all of them, not each feature or function. But he knew what those features or functions did, what they were for and he knew how to create the solution using just what was w/in easy reach. _He_ was the tool, all of the tools. But I don't think he started that way. I think he started by using good tools passed down and refined by others and gradually fed his understanding and intuition and body wisdom with the smarts and genius of others drawn from the tools and processes he found or was given. It took a while.

So don't rush. <GG> And if a fine tool offers itself to aid your progress, maybe consider forking over a bit and seeing what it will teach you, where it will take you.


Regards,
Rufus





 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
Posts: 618
Location: Scioto county, Ohio, USA - Zone 6b
155
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Thank you both very much.

Miles, I believe that book is exactly what I was looking for. I bet the foundry is for casting iron? Marine Bronze is more abrasion resistant so better for bearings and gears. It is also easy to make if the scrap guys don't give me a good price. Its invention was probably serendipity. Like, they needed an alloy that could withstand salt water and abrasion, so they mix copper, babbit/pewter, and aluminum. The bismuth in the pewter went a long way for the abrasion resistance. But most likely, it was a substitution for pure tin in a time of shortage.

Rufus, If I could buy the tools I would buy the tools. I agree with everything you said. I just don't have much money and I do have a lot of spare time aside from planting and harvest. Building good tools, powered by steam, for the amount of money I have, is possible over time. But buying them outright, is not. I can make a welder, I have the induction coils and a decent grasp of electromagnatism. I'm just not confident that I can make a high voltage appliance safe on my own. Should it work? Yeah. But I'd risk electrical burns from not being able to solder and build a good case.
 
pollinator
Posts: 427
Location: North central Ontario
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Go for it! I would say have you thought about wood gasification instead of steam? Use 1/3 the wood as steam and use any internal combustion engine around and either power equipment directly or electrically through a generator and no boiler... just a thought... here is a good site with real solid builders on it www.driveonwood.com
In the small engine side there currently is a sawmill build happening using a small car engine and a wood gasifier... direct powering of industrial equipment with wood...
Cheers,  David
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
Posts: 618
Location: Scioto county, Ohio, USA - Zone 6b
155
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David Baillie wrote:Go for it! I would say have you thought about wood gasification instead of steam? Use 1/3 the wood as steam and use any internal combustion engine around and either power equipment directly or electrically through a generator and no boiler... just a thought... here is a good site with real solid builders on it www.driveonwood.com
In the small engine side there currently is a sawmill build happening using a small car engine and a wood gasifier... direct powering of industrial equipment with wood...
Cheers,  David



I thought about that, but internal combustion engines are crazy complicated. I'll still give that site a look. Might be something useful. Also, stationary steam engines don't have to have a traditional firebox, they can run off a rocket j tube. And if you insulate it well, it can be more efficient than other types of engine. But you can also use liquid or gas fuels. They do have a longer start-up procedure and some people who don't know me well are concerned I might skip a step. But I am well aware of the need to clear condensation, oil moving parts, and check the safety valves and govenor. Steam is easy to understand. If something stops operating with steam, you immediately know what it is. If it is a car engine, you are going to have significant down time figuring it out.
 
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