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  1. #1
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    Default Steve Watkins's Shop....

    Hi Guys,,,

    I have decided to start a shop thread about my shop and the different thing I do inside it Never had a lot of time to keep a shop thread going but with retirement that changed.. I find my typing leaves a lot to desire and with pictures/video becoming a better medium for showing this online anyway, I will just make a video to show things off and answer questions here.

    I've been doing a lot of work on the shop and have some videos already out. The one I posted today is a tour of the shop and some of the upcoming projects. I will put a link to all my shop video here as the new ones come out..... IF that is ok with Management

    Here is the Shop Tour.


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    Seems a wonderful place to retire. Especially like that planer. Feel your pain on that telescope.

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    Thanks for the sympathy It was, heck it will be again, a great scope. I designed it for looking at the moon and planets. It has a 10 F8 Primary mirror and a 1 inch secondary mounted on a very thin fishing wire spider.

    The scope won first place at the Texas Star Party, a special award and 1st place in small optics at Stellafane in Vermont. At Stellafane only 4 of the 10 Judges saw the scope during build judging. Those 4 talked the others into giving it an award even though they missed it

    Took me so long to make the primary mirror that I ended making a machine to grind with Probably show that later.

    I was poor and a great gear for the scope mount was about 1600 while an OK gear was 800. A regular gear drive was out of the budget so I had to come up with something I could make.

    The large hunk of aluminum on the side and bottom of the mount is a slip clutch. I built an arm with very tight tolerances that connected the slip clutch to the fine thread screw attached to the stepper motor.

    The problem was how to turn a rotary motion of the telescope axis into a straight line motion the fine screw would take. I solved that by making a "U joint" at the end of the arm. The U joint held a brass cylinder in a block and was threaded for the screw. The other side of the brass cylinder had a precession rod attached that was inserted into a reamed bore at the end of the arm. As the stepper turned the screw the brass cylinder moved along its length and the arm followed.

    Over the years people have tried this type of drive using a bent screw, was pretty southern engineered if you ask me and I never even tried it.

    Problem was that the arm moved in an arc and the screw turned in a straight line. The arm would bind up and place force on the screw and bend. My solution was to place a u joint and bore on the end of the arm so that as the screw turned the arm would automatically lengthen and shorten depending on its position on the screw. On the end of the screw the arm would be long, get shorter as it neared the middle and lengthen as it traveled to the other end. The problem with using regular motors to turn the screw was the inability to control and vary it's speed.

    By using a stepper motor and two contact switches we could program the screw to turn to a "start" position, then start moving the screw to the other end counting it's steps so that it knew where it was and how fast it needed to revolve to keep a star in the center of the eyepiece. The arm extended and contracted as needed on the shaft and life was good I had a good friend design and program the small black box computer you see mounted to the arm of the mount.

    When the screw reached the limit switch at the end of travel it would sound a garbage truck backup alarm and after a pause, for people to move out of the way, it would rapid slew back to its start position and resume tracking.... I loved that backup alarm

    After trying to explain all that I remembered why I like videos better!

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    I have another shop tour for ya This is from a few weeks ago and shows some of the progress since the first of the year.

    It's a heck of a lot cleaner Mostly thanks to my friend Don who came to help for about a week... Thanks Don!

    Video will not show til 8 am....


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    You need to get the telescope working asap - you'll never have such good atmosphere for imaging again!

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    IT's going to take a while... I'm going to tear it all apart, sandblast the iron works, bead blast the alumunium and either make a new wood box or reveneer the existing one.


    I have a Dobsonian Mounted 10" F5 to use for now... IF I ever have the time I would like to grind a 20" mirror

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    Hope everyone is doing ok during these trying times. I've been staying busy doing clean up and making changes to the shop. I'm almost caught up on Straight edge planing and have just one more to complete with 4 shipped out this week

    I've been working on two projects at once, more like 6 or 7, but two main ones. This week I'm almost finished cleaning up the metal and getting everything ready for welding up some stands for bee hives and getting the side rails ready for my MechMate CNC router.

    If you watch the video you "might" see a new 255 Millermatic hanging around


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    Time for a new machine....

    I've been doing some horse trading and shuffling machines around to increase the usability of my welders. My Gate Work trailer has a Mill Bobcat and a Miller 12VS suitcase mig onboard. The Suitcase is kinda overboard for what I'm doing now as it is mostly maintenance welds and is a pain to set up for just a small repair.

    So...

    I have sold, or will be selling, the Suitcase and putting my shop mig, a miller 140 that I've had for 8 years on the trailer. The Bobcat has good power so it will run the 140 without blowing it up. Sometimes I run into ultra thin metal on gates and the bobcat's stick is a pain. The 140 is now set up with .035 flux core so no bottle is needed.

    With those two machines sorted I need a better Mig for the shop... I had a Millermatic 255 shipped to me and have been playing with it for a few days now. Biggest problem so far is the machine needs C10 to run on pulse. I have two big C25 bottles and no way to test out the pulse mig right now.. I'm going to call the gas shop in the morning and see if they can trade out one of my C25's for a C10. All my bottles are owned so that might just be a problem


    Anyway I spent some time unboxing and setting of the machine and made a video, if you would like to see the running gear for the 255. Tomorrow I'll post the machine part of the review...


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    I have one of the Miller Digital Elite hoods, about 5 years old. It functions fine, but it's a HEAVY sob, and the headgear has a hard time holding it up even when it's tightened as much as one can get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrHook View Post
    I have one of the Miller Digital Elite hoods, about 5 years old. It functions fine, but it's a HEAVY sob, and the headgear has a hard time holding it up even when it's tightened as much as one can get it.
    I have not even taken the tags off of it yet, but it didn't seem that heavy. Of course I was looking mainly at the "clear view" description and did not pay attention to the other details.

    As my eyes get older I need help seeing the puddle, My Cristal 2 is really nice, for my eyes, and while it would be great if millers 200.00 helmet is in the same class as Optrils 450.00 helmet, well I'm not getting my hopes up


    Tonight the second part of the video posts about 7 pm. I am really liking this machine and only have a few gripes, so far

    Today I spent the complete morning driving 100 miles to source a different gas for this machine... Yes the machine can do pulse BUT only with C10 (90/10) gas. I have 2,300lb. bottles of C25 (75/25) gas that I own. Now that I'm not usings as much gas I was planning on trading in one C25 for a bottle of C10. That way I'll have a bottle of both and can do both pulse and dual shield welding.

    It seems as C10 is a stepchild gas around here.. My regular supplier does not have any customer owned bottles of C10 and wants me to rent bottles and take 4 days to have one filled. OR I can spend 500.00 on my own bottle, wait two weeks to get it and then always have them refill my bottle taking 4 days each time

    I talked to Air Gas, 50 miles away, and they said sure come on down.... We will trade out bottles BUT the replacement bottle will have Air Gas's Ring on it and nobody will fill it except them.. Not a problem I said... Off I went only to be told at the door that they can't do that, the first man was wrong and he will be retrained. Enough to make you want to spit and curse!

    At the last supplier, in College Station Texas, I was surprised to find that they were open to just trading out my bottle and sent me to the dock! I sat there happily waiting on the man to load me up...... First his forklift ran out of gas and then I watched as 3 men wandered all over the yard looking at pallets of gas bottles.... I just knew I was screwed again.... So as it stands they are transferring in a bottle and will call when it arrives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swatkins View Post
    I talked to Air Gas, 50 miles away, and they said sure come on down.... We will trade out bottles BUT the replacement bottle will have Air Gas's Ring on it and nobody will fill it except them.. Not a problem I said... Off I went only to be told at the door that they can't do that, the first man was wrong and he will be retrained. Enough to make you want to spit and curse!
    It's not every day that a machine shop turns the neck of a rental bottle and needle scales it to look exactly like an unbranded one with a touch of bright colored spray paint, but when such a thing happens, it most certainly gets returned to Airgas where they can cram that SOB right up their...

    (If somebody did do such a thing it was only to rectify the unauthorized, unknown conversion of owner bottles into rental bottles)

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    It would have to be a pretty big lathe to mill off the neck of my 300 bottle....

    I used to be friends with a welding supply owner and I think I remember him telling me that the neck rings they used were just glued on.... All my bottles have nothing around the neck so I never thought to look at one....


    And Part 2 of the Miller 255 is now up.



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    Do you have a Matheson's near you? I know they are in Texas, and they beat everyone else around here for service and gasses. (your experience may vary)

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    Quote Originally Posted by swatkins View Post
    It would have to be a pretty big lathe to mill off the neck of my 300 bottle....
    Might be why they don't worry about it much.

    My 14" Pacemaker has a 14" steady rest. (actual swing 20").

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrHook View Post
    Do you have a Matheson's near you? I know they are in Texas, and they beat everyone else around here for service and gasses. (your experience may vary)
    Not that I know of.. I have two smaller independents, Airgas and Praxair that I mainly deal with and within 45 miles..

    Brazos Valley Welding Supply in Bryan is the one that said they would transfer a bottle for me.. Called today and it still was not in...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    Might be why they don't worry about it much.

    My 14" Pacemaker has a 14" steady rest. (actual swing 20").
    I wish I could find a Steady Rest for my 16 inch Axelson but no luck after 4 years

    I would have to take off the tailstock, cut a hole in the side of the building and run outside to file off the neck ring on my cylinders Someday I will find a good lathe with a 72" work length... Just don't know where I'll put it!

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    Speaking of my lathe


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    I have the smaller 14" twin to your Axelson. I like mine a lot. I remember when I hosted one of Rich's scraping classes he wanted to show how to check wear/alignment and figured that old beat looking Axelson would make a good example. Turned up some collars on 3" bar and there was only a tenth difference in 12". He sure didn't expect that, kinda ruined the discussion.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails axelson.jpg  

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    I have the smaller 14" twin to your Axelson. I like mine a lot. I remember when I hosted one of Rich's scraping classes he wanted to show how to check wear/alignment and figured that old beat looking Axelson would make a good example. Turned up some collars on 3" bar and there was only a tenth difference in 12". He sure didn't expect that, kinda ruined the discussion.
    My old beat up one does pretty good too For years we used the SB heavy 10 for demonstrating that test... The SB has adjustments on the tail stock that make it supper easy to align and it worked well to teach the procedure... I sold that Machine last year and we then use Axelson for the demo and it was dead nuts on

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    Speaking of the Axelson.... Last night I setup for trepanning and had a few problems.. Also used the 255 Autoset regular mig to weld parts of the ant traps. Today I will switch over to the C10 (90/10) mix and try out the pulse feature. I finally found a bottle of C10!



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