xZakt Engineering - the 22 year old shop owner. what!!???
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    Default xZakt Engineering - the 22 year old shop owner. what!!???

    Yep you read correctly haha. 22 years old
    Hey everyone, my name is Zak Anderson and Im a machinist from Kiama, all the way down here in Australia. Beautiful place here, 16 acres of farmland and 10 minutes from town and beach - perfect!
    I've been lurking here since I was 16/17 and it feels weird that I feel like I already know some of you guys ( Abom, Ox, John Welden, SND, alloutmx, wheelieking, Don Bailey etc) and here I am introducing myself. But anyways, here's a bit of a background story and how I got to be where I am now ( Ill try not to make you all wait in suspense like wrustle did!
    Did the usual things that kids with "the knack" do. Steal dad's tools, pull bikes parts, loose parts, put them back together with even more parts left over. You all know the deal...
    When it came to choosing a career path when I was 15, I veered toward engineering at Uni and was headed that way until this damn metalworking trade came along. Freakin loved it! Last 2 years of school I excelled and topped the class in Metalwork - so there was something there I guess haha
    Started my apprenticeship at a machine shop in my area. Place did CNC as well as fitting, welding and fab and my personal fav ----- MANUALS!!!!!
    Got the hang of the manual lathe pretty freakin quickly and was making parts like this by the 6 month mark.

    More months went by, and I learnt more and more. I was cutting slabs of 4140, 400mm in diameter on the saw, taking it over by forklift to the lathe, lifting it on with an overhead crane and turning big couplings, or shafts, or bearing housings. Then my big break came that practically changed the game for me. Phone call while I was at tech school, boss man. Needs me on 10 hr days, biggggggg bunch of lathe work just came in. And were talking pallets and pallets of these huge profile cut rings and discs and long bars of material. 1020, 4140, 350 grade plate. There was tons of this shit.
    Was about 2 months of making this bunch of parts, rings, spacers, bearing housings, blanking flanges. Man I really got my lathe training hours up on that puppy ( brand spankin Hwacheon lathe - beautiful machine) So here you have a 1st year apprentice, working out his calculations for making an internal groove on these huge bearing housings with a hand ground radius tool, turning to 0.03mm tolerances all day for $10/hr, needless to say boss was quite stoked!
    Started getting some milling hours in on the Bridgeport mill, man this thing was flogged to death! Table floppin around, broken this and that. Piece of shit. But that machine taught me a lot.

    And then, time to move on to a different machine for me. CNC HBM. Production work. Okuma pallet mill
    10hr days, 30 second cycle time. Pallet changer running full steam all day.
    Castings from china needed one hole drilled in them, each box contained 4 castings, 250 boxes to a crate. 15 crates makes 1 order, so that's 15000 castings. No kidding for 6 months this was my life. 10 hour days on this crapp. So after a few talks with the boss about why the crapp work wasn't shared with the other 2nd years ( I had just started 2nd year ) or even with the new first years, they were reluctant to let me have a break from this job, so I moved on.

    Next shop - big old school manual shop. Heavy engineering and weld reclamation was the name of their game. Man we did some cool shit in there considering the average age of the machines was about 30 years old. I guess the creativity came down to the average age of the machinists being around 60 - some real smart old cookies in there! No readouts, worn out machines, this was the place to learn the "old school" way. Ran more manual lathes ( up to 2 metre swing and 6.5 meter between centres ), ran some serious mills and floor borers. Learnt HBM and VBM and also learnt the slotter from a crazy old aussie bastard. Times changed, no work was coming in the door so it was back to cleaning the shop for me. Now I enjoy fixing up old machines and cleaning up old workshops and finding cool old tools, but man I was 2 and half years through my apprenticeship, I needed to get back on machines and keep learning my trade.
    I wish I had all the pics of that shop on my computer, but they are on my old computer which has a virus and I cant view or move any files.

    So off to shop 3, CNC shop again for another shot at the CNC thing. Started as the manual guy ( which I was all the way up to when I left )
    Then got put on a HAAS ST30 - man what a sweet machine. I loved that thing, it was such an easy machine to use, held tolerance all day long and it was nice and beefy and rigid. But my heart has always been set on the good old manual stuff, and in fact I could beat the CNC's on some onesey twosey parts, down on the manual lathes and Bridgeport ( this one in much better shape than my first employers Bridgeport!)
    Also had the chance to learn cylindrical grinding! Which I really love, love running grinders.
    Long story short, 2 years later me and the boss had a fall out and he said some stuff he shouldn't have said and I handed in my resignation.
    And here I am haha!

    My home shop started around halfway through my employment at the 2nd shop. Started with the infamous VICTOR lathe. Really sweet machine, picked it up from Hare and Forbes ( kinda like the aussie version of MSC ) as a second hand machine. Its in great condition and I really love this machine. Paid $2700 for it, spent probably another 2k on readout/tooling etc
    When I bought it, it was dirty and crummy, so I cleaned it all up and gave it a coat of paint. Did this all at work ( in the storage shed ) and some of the assholes of the shop used to play around with it, rub grease on it when the paint was drying etc. Just asshole type stuff.

    Found a mill for sale around the corner, Bridgeport clone ( King Rich ) for $1000. Bought that, spent around $4000 tooling really tooling that thing up, readout, div. head, cutters and arbors, face mills. Got the vice and rotab for free!
    Got it home, installed, took a cut - greif. Spindle bearings weren't quite right - I couldn't tell when I insopected the machine. Anyway so ordered a set from USA, first set got destroyed by UPS ( no surprises there ) 6 weeks later I had the new bearings in. Much better. Ran the mill like it was for a fair while and made some parts and $$$ on it, but I really wanted to clean it all out and paint it. So me and my girlfriend ( yep she helped haha! ) pulled it apart, cleaned it all out, installed a new oiling system, painted it and now its perfect, whacked a power drawbar on and she's sweet now
    NT30 taper, so not as easy to find arbors and tooling. But I make most of my odd ball NT30 taper tooling.
    These two pics show where the mill was when I arrived to look at it
    And as it currently stands in my shop now


    Note: Mill pic is before the power drawbar and a few other mods
    A slotter came up for sale. $1500 but man Ill never find one this size easily so I bought it. Needed cleaning straight away and I've just slapped some left over lathe paint on it so I don't have this black pile of iron in the corner. I have plans for a full rebuild when I move into the new shed, and maybe a 2 axis readout. Bought it off a dodgy old bastard ( was worried when we did the deal that someone would see me giving him money and dob him into the tax office as he was doing some dodgy shit, so we had to go into his office and close the blinds haha wtf??


    Then lastly, a J&S 540 toolmakers surface grinder. Man this thing is sweet! Bought it for $3600, not a bad price. They are around the $5-6K mark usually around here. Got it home, replaced some filters, skimmed the chuck and off we go. Maybe a re paint and strip down and clean out when I move to the new shop, but for now - it makes $$$


    So that's the major machines, got the usual other stuff, welders and pedestal grinders etc. Will show the full shop tomorrow, as its 12am here and I'm buggered.
    But basically all that fits in a 20ft shipping container. Barely enough room to fit my moto in before I close the door and lock it haha
    Ill post more tomorrow, and some pics of my work. But I gotta go to bed haha

    Thanks for looking fellas! Hopefully the pics worked and you can see them

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  3. #2
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    Well I was 22 when I started too.
    But I didn't have quite as much stuff as you doo at that point, but then again - not too sure how much use I would have ever had for a V shaper either.... ???


    -----------------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

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    Ok so how do you pronounce the name of your town??? Thanks for posting, if you can please take the time to rotate your photos right side up. I know that some people have had trouble with this before and I am sure they can offer advice on how to do this if you ask. I seem to remember there was a recent thread about it but I cant find it at the moment.

    Charles

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    Great start! Looks like you are well on your way. Thanks for sharing. And, keep it coming!

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    That's a great start indeed. Seems you found some pretty nice machines, welcome to the tool addiction.

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    Ya beat me by 1 year......I started out @ 23. Best of luck to you.

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    Cheers fellas, Kiama is pronounced Ky-Am-A. We are about 30 minute drive from the Port Kembla Steelworks, maybe you've heard about it, maybe not. Steel mill that is right on the coast, it literally backs onto the beach! The main industrial hub is around the steelworks, and all that is about an hour from Sydney ( I'm sure you know where Sydney is!

    I think I've figured out why the pic came up sideways, I need to rotate it and save it before uploading, should be fine then.

    Ill post some pics of what I typically work on, some of the parts I make would be so much easier on a CNC, and I really cant wait to get some space and find a couple older machines, probably an older MAZAK lathe and MILL, just to start with. I do a lot of repair work, re making obsolete parts and reverse engineering.

    Here's the quick change toolpost I made for the victor lathe, made it out of a chunk of cast iron that I found at tech school. I was going to buy one, but I worked out how much it would cost for me to have 12 tool holders, and I was looking at over 1k. I decided to just copy the QCTP's at tech school, and made 12 tool holders. All up it cost me $200, bit of work involved but eh, all part of the job. I made everything at home, just needed some time at work on the wire cutter to cut the retaining slot in each toolholder.
    I'm hoping that picture came out right way up!

    This is a pretty cool job we made at my previous employer, Graphlube Bearings. Cored bearing bronze goes straight up on the 4th axis on the VF2, all the holes drilled. Then I superglued the carbon rod pieces in and turned the bushes in the lathe - produces a pretty professional looking part.
    I think the bronze was PB2, or LG2

    Here's a picture of my magnetic paralells when I was making them, I have no idea what flavour of brass/bronze it is because I found it in the old store at the big old manual shop I worked at. It cut like a high tensile brass, we made a lot of brass liners there so I'm sure it was an offcut of liner material. If I was going to make these again, I'd make them with smaller dia pins, and put them closer together. The pins in them at the moment are 12mm 4140.

    Here's a picture of the mess I was making when drilling the holes! I really want to find a good set of stub machine drills for jobs like this, I didn't spot drill at those holes, just fed slowly at the start. The location of the pins didn't matter so it wasn't critical, but made a stub drill would of smoked it.

    And the finished product, I tapped the pins in with a bit of Loctite, milled them flat and square. And then off to the grinder for the best part of the job. They came out pretty sweet, just need a box for them now

    Here's the base roughed out for my grinders vice. I bought the material through work from our toolsteel supplier ( Bohler Uddeholm ) and it is called M238. M238 is like an injection mold steel according to bohler. It was a toughish material to mill, the carbide loved it, HSS not so much when finishing the slots with endmills. Got it sent away to get vacuum hardened to 60HRC ( maybe I should've gone harder??? smalltime or toolmakerjim want to chime in here?)
    Rough ground it, put it in the freezer for a few months, then finish ground it. My tolerance was 0.01mm ( or 0.0003/0.0004" I think? ) for squareness and parallelism. Pretty neat tool for the grinder.


    As for paid work, here is what I'm working on right now. Customer owns a fab shop where he bends back and repairs written off coal trailers. He bought a huge bunch of these Blackhawk porta powers back in 2013. Spent quite a bit of $$ on these things, and two years later they are leaking and not holding pressure. So I pull them apart and find that the gland nut has no seal in it whatsoever, just a clearance bore. So all the grinding dust and grit has gone into the cylinders and eaten the seal. My girlfriends dad ( genius ) suggested putting a wrap of gland packing in there to stop the dirt getting in, and I also wanted to put two O rings in the stop dirt getting in, and oil getting out. I sketched up a new gland nut design and off we went. Did the first trial one and it works great, so I'm getting a good little income out of just repairing these cylinders. Here's the gland nuts I make. Pretty easy lathe job. A CNC would smoke this job.

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    Another cool job I made, adapting a Kawasaki Ninja sprocket to a Suzuki Swift diff housing. Customer owns a 160HP hill climb car and had trouble with the chain popping off and also eating the cheap shitty sprocket away.
    So the idea was to machine an aluminium adaptor plate that bolted onto the diff housing. From there, the Kawi sprockets would bolt straight on if they worn out, or if he wanted to change final drive ratio he can just swap the sprockets out.
    First part of the job was to machine the diff housing and provide a good seat for the adaptor plate.
    Then I bored out the sprocket using the faceplate that I got from tech school ( I had a very helpful teacher!!)
    This was the first time I ever used a faceplate, I was a little nervous at first. But it was a solid set up so I could really peel some metal off.
    Then off to the mill to drill the PCD and were done on that piece.
    Back to the lathe to machine the ally adaptor plate. Full speed ahead, chips flying everywhere, awesome job! Came out pretty shmick.



    And Ox I use the slotter for just your normal keywaying bores and internal gears etc. Work that a wire cutter would be awesome for.

    Its kinda cool to know that some of you guys started at my age too, makes it a little easier to know that someone out there has had the same struggles and made it!

    Lastly, heres a few pics from last weekend from Louee Motocross Park. Me and my brother made the epic road trip down there Friday night ( 4.5 hour drive through the beautiful austraian country ) and came back sunday night. Was 2 degrees there when we started riding in the mornings! The old YZ didn't miss a beat, started first kick everytime.


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    +2 eh?
    Didn't know it got near that cold in Oz?


    I'm afraid that I am not up to speed on what your "grinder vise" is all about?
    I just have a cheap 2" machine vise that I mag down for mine.


    -------------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

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    Another dirt-biker! Sweet!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ox View Post
    +2 eh?
    Didn't know it got near that cold in Oz?


    I'm afraid that I am not up to speed on what your "grinder vise" is all about?
    I just have a cheap 2" machine vise that I mag down for mine.


    -------------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox
    Yeah out west it can get pretty cold! The snowfeilds in winter can get down to -5 at night, nothing on the temps you get in some parts of US.

    The grinder vice is just your normal, run of the mill screwless vice, or "toolmaker" vice as some call it. I made it as a challenge, to see if I could actually make it to a tight enough tolerance to actually be useable.



    And yeah wheelieking, hopefully start doing some racing next year, just for fun. Bikes are in the blood and I cant shake it off!

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    Sounds like you have made the most out of the opportunities given and its more than typical in the country now. Being pushed around from shop to shop every year ether makes you crap and fail or like yourself excel above the other apprentices. I finished my apprenticeship a year and a half ago and worked in 4 places long term 1 more place for a few weeks 1 more for 1 day and weeks driving around looking for my own work! I would say a quarter to a third of the apprentices I met got this pass the apprentice game a quarter worked for the railways with no prospects after completion and an fair few who failed.... its despicable but Im glad to hear off your success!

    That vice and QC tool post look wicked

    Keep posting the good stuff!

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    I think there's a problem with your gland nut design. The cylinders must be single acting (push only) type as you said there was no seal in the stock nut. I presume there's an extension spring below the piston that pulls the rod/piston to the retracted position when hydraulic pressure is released.

    So, by sealing the nut to the shaft, you have created an air compressor. When hydraulic pressure extends the cylinder, you will be compressing the air present inside the cylinder. I'd expect most of the compressed air to vent within a few hours, even with brand new "gland packing" and O-rings. After the compressed air vents, and you release hydraulic pressure to retract the cylinder, you have a vacuum chamber. The stock spring may not be strong enough to retract the shaft/piston in a reasonable time period (air will eventually leak past your new seals). The bottom line is that non-wetted side of the cylinder is designed to "breath". Air leaks out when the cylinder is extended. Air (and contaminates) leak in when the cylinder is retracted.

    I don't know what type of "gland packing" your friend suggested but that's important, and the O-rings are counterproductive as explained above. I would recommend eliminating "gland packing" and O-rings in favor of one or two felt washers (wipers). The oil soaked felt will not be air tight but will catch a lot of particulate contamination. Replacing the felt wipers on a reasonable maintenance schedule would be preferable to allowing accumulated contamination to damage the rod/nut over time.

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    Congratulations, it looks like you are off to a great start. It is great to see ambitious young guys coming into the trade.

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    Quote Originally Posted by extropic View Post
    I think there's a problem with your gland nut design. The cylinders must be single acting (push only) type as you said there was no seal in the stock nut. I presume there's an extension spring below the piston that pulls the rod/piston to the retracted position when hydraulic pressure is released.

    So, by sealing the nut to the shaft, you have created an air compressor. When hydraulic pressure extends the cylinder, you will be compressing the air present inside the cylinder. I'd expect most of the compressed air to vent within a few hours, even with brand new "gland packing" and O-rings. After the compressed air vents, and you release hydraulic pressure to retract the cylinder, you have a vacuum chamber. The stock spring may not be strong enough to retract the shaft/piston in a reasonable time period (air will eventually leak past your new seals). The bottom line is that non-wetted side of the cylinder is designed to "breath". Air leaks out when the cylinder is extended. Air (and contaminates) leak in when the cylinder is retracted.

    I don't know what type of "gland packing" your friend suggested but that's important, and the O-rings are counterproductive as explained above. I would recommend eliminating "gland packing" and O-rings in favor of one or two felt washers (wipers). The oil soaked felt will not be air tight but will catch a lot of particulate contamination. Replacing the felt wipers on a reasonable maintenance schedule would be preferable to allowing accumulated contamination to damage the rod/nut over time.
    Wow, that actually makes a lot of sense. Didn't even cross my mind.
    I've visited the customer a few times and he has had no problems with retraction ( there is a retension spring ) but if he does, I will change the design and go with what you have suggested. Thanks for your input, much appreciated mate cheers!
    Only problem is, customer is nearing 70, welder by trade, throws the rams around, leaves them on the floor etc, and told me he doesn't want anything where he has to replace parts or do maintenence, he just doesn't want them to leak.
    Bombproof solution he needed really, hence the O Rings haha.
    Rods are scratched, cylinder bores are scratched, didn't want to fix those, just make them to not leak. I honed and polished the rod and tube as best I could.

    Thnaks for your input man much appreciated!

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    Drill a small vent hole and install one of those sintered bronze vents. They are designed to allow pneumatic cylinders to breathe on return and keep crap out of them. That, combined with the packing, should keep debris out of the cylinder and prevent it from sucking stuff past the seals.

    http://www.mcmaster.com/#breather-vents/=xzjagk

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    If it was for a more critical operation, I would probably get the chrome shop to grind the rams undersize, chrome and grind to size. But, the customer wants it done on the cheap, so I gave him what he wanted to pay, which sucks as I like to repair stuff back to perfect working condition. He just wanted a quick hone and polish.
    He was happy, I got paid. all parties happy.

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    Good idea Perry thanks for your input mate!

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    Nice shop we should meet up and talk shop sometime I am 20 and on my way too Nowra to play in my shop

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    Quote Originally Posted by CBlair View Post
    Ok so how do you pronounce the name of your town???
    Charles

    Quote Originally Posted by Themanualguy View Post
    Cheers fellas, Kiama is pronounced Ky-Am-A. We are about 30 minute drive from the Port Kembla Steelworks, maybe you've heard about it, maybe not. Steel mill that is right on the coast, it literally backs onto the beach! The main industrial hub is around the steelworks, and all that is about an hour from Sydney ( I'm sure you know where Sydney is!

    Illawarra, Australia ???


    ------------------------------

    ????
    Ox


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