Saturday, September 29, 2012

Using a Lathe as a Home Improvement Tool

Ok.  Some time ago, we started putting down laminate flooring.  We did the living room and dining room without trouble but were stopped short by the tile floor in the kitchen. I paid a couple of friends to bust it out and use something like one of those gas powered floor polishers they use in Wal Mart to grind the mortar off the floor.

The grinder made so much dust it looked like the house was on fire.  The whole house was covered in a 1/4" thick layer of finely ground  up mortar.  The Lovely Bride was not amused.  The worst part of it all was that there was so much dust everywhere, the guys running the machine couldn't see the floor very well and left a lot of mortar still stuck to the concrete.

Once it was all finally cleaned up , the Lovely Bride suddenly became very sensitive to dust.  Not in an allergic sense.  Just any source of dust was immediately pronounced too much and outlawed by fiat.  Even a pneumatic chisel with the shop vac hose drawing the dust directly away from the work still left too much dust.  That and 2 years fighting a sinkhole (well, one year fighting our insurance company and one fighting the sinkhole itself)  left us with a stack of laminate flooring in the dining room and bare concrete floors in the kitchen for a very long time.

I experimented with a few methods and tools to get the remaining mortar off the floor but none that worked passed the dust test.  The most promising was using a hand held electric grinder with a flat stone on it.  It worked but didn't pass the dust test because it spun the stone too fast and threw dust into the air.

It seemed that the best way to deal with the problem was to find a way to slow the grinder down to maybe 500-600 RPM.  Not having a clue how that could be done, I bought a cheap "close quarters" electric drill.  Its the kind that drills the hole perpendicular to the axis of the machine.  It looks like an angle grinder with a chuck on it.

This presented a new hurdle because the stone has a center hub threaded 5/8"-11 and I couldn't find a mandrel that fit the stone.  That's where the lathe comes in.

I bought a 5/8" bolt about eight inches long at Lowes.  Cut off the hex end and turned a section of the part that isn't threaded to 3/8" so it would fit the drill's chuck.  The cutting went faster than on last week's project because I was working right at the lathe chuck.  Then I cut off enough of the threaded end so it wouldn't extend too far through the stone.  Once the 3/8" part was cut off of the rest of the bolt I had a mandrel that fit the stone on one end and the drill on the other.

A test run on about 2 square feet of mortar proved that it worked.  It really is possible to run it slow enough that it doesn't fill the air with dust and it still grinds the mortar off the floor.  Its slow but it works.  Lovely Bride came home and saw a new section of mortarless concrete but no dust.  The new mandrel and and its use were approved.   If I just do a couple of square feet a day it won't be long before the kitchen and hall are ready for their flooring.

No pictures 'cause I was having too much fun!


"Missed it by That Much"

Monday, September 24, 2012

290 Foundation

Looks like a worthy endeavor and some good reading:

290 Foundation

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Plain Folks

Hope this turns out to be worth reading:

Maybe I'll find a relative in it.

The Tractor Rides Again

The new setup in the lathe did the trick.  It ran so well I didn't want to stop to take  a picture until it was done.  Finished the second end and then put a couple of bends in the rod to match the original close enough to work. And work it does.  Mowed the whole yard without losing my steering once.  That's such a comforting thing to be able to say.

If it lasts 40 years like the first one did, whoever has it by that time will be able to just put a couple of new ends on it and it will be as good as new again.

The photography is pretty crappy but here's mine on top with the original below:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nice Puppies

What were you expecting? 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More Appeasement

So now we want to release "the Blind Sheik."  

Neville Chamberlain would be so proud of his most accomplished student.

Of course, its "for humanitarian and health reasons."  It ain't because the administration thinks it will make the radical islamists like us all of the sudden or anything like that.  Of course not you silly racist. 

Wouldn't matter anyway.  That's how the radical islamists will see it. 

Then again, with Obamacare now the law of the land, it really might be for humanitarian and health reasons.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Name That Ship!

If you said "Titanic" you are close.

Its actually the QE 3.  It set sail last Thursday.

What's the difference?

Not A Damned Thing.

Found the article linked on Sipsey Street Irregulars.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Tractor Time" or "Getting Lathed"

I guess the tractor thought I wasn't paying enough attention to it now that its running so well again.  I was mowing the lawn last weekend and it dropped a steering linkage.  Naturally it was the one that doesn't have removable ends.  They don't make steering linkages for these forty year old garden tractors anymore so I decided I'd make lemonaide out of the situation and build a new one myself.

Tractor Supply had set of garden tractor steering knuckles that used the same size nut as the old one so I bought those and a three foot long steel bar of about 5/8"  diameter.  The new knuckles are made to screw onto a rod so the idea was to cut the bar to the right length, put a couple of bends in it to match the bends in the old one and thread the ends to take the new knuckles.

The new knuckles screw onto a 7/16" rod with 20 threads per inch so the "building" part of the project involved turning the rod's end down to 7/16" and threading it to take the knuckle and then cutting the rod to length and turning and threading the other end for the other knuckle.

The turning is the "making lemonaide" part too.  I know next to nothing about how to use a metal lathe and will be getting on the job training.

The rod won't fit all the way through the lathe's headstock so I wound up chucking one end and running the other end in a steady rest.  The first end turned out really well:

For the second end, I decided to turn down a section where the end would be and then cut the rod and thread it.  This is one of the learning parts:

The setup is all wrong.  I should have kept the steady rest closer to the bit.  As it is, there's a lot of flex in the bar and it is making the cutting go really slow and chattery.   When it came time to eat supper and I only had this section turned down to .45" I decided to take the opportunity to kick back and rethink  what I'm doing.

The new plan is to remove the bar from the lathe and cut it to length on the band saw.  Then I'll put the finished end in the chuck.  The rod will go into the headstock at least a foot so I won't be chucking on the new threads and, with it cut to length, it should make a much more rigid setup with just a few inches of the bar sticking out of the chuck.  I was trying to avoid having to set it up in the chuck twice because all my lathe has is a 4 jaw chuck that doesn't self-center and it can sometimes be a real pain getting things centered.  I think it will work better if I do it this way.

So I learned a little about using the steady rest and maybe later this week I'll learn some more about centering stuff in the 4 jaw chuck.  By the weekend I should have a tractor again too.

Friday, September 14, 2012

'Tis The Season!

Hunting Season That Is.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

So You Think Obama is Going to Help the Middle Class?

I'm sure that the Kulaks thought that Lenin was on their side too.

Found this:

Over here:

What Bubba Knows

By Way of:

That There Feral Irishman

Didn't Catch His Name

If it Was Wrong Then Why is it Right Now?

If sailing to Africa to buy slaves from Africans was wrong in the 1600s and 1700s; if it was wrong in the 1600s and 1700s for the English to kidnap and ship Scottish and Irish men, women and children to the Americas to be sold (yes, many were sold, not contracted as indentured servants), owned and worked as slaves; if it was wrong to say you owned another man in 1861; then why is it right to say that the government owns us?  Go watch the video here:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Walnut and Steel for Me

Here's something to make the Walnut and Steel set (of which I am a member) take notice:


Doug Turnbull   is building them.   I think I like it.  Kind of a shock at first but it doesn't take long to grow on you.

I'm going to have him make mine just a tad more retro.  A perch belly swell on the underside of the stock and a little bit of a Schnabel on the fore end should do it.  Would a saddle ring be too much?  Would 300 Savage feed from a standard 308 Win. Magazine?

Hey.  Everybody has a dream.

Health Insurance That Rocks!

My Parents are in their eighties and my Mom has a bad knee. Recently, it got to the point where she started having a physical therapist that come to the house.  After a couple of sessions, the therapist said she needed a Walker.

My Dad's a retired Lt. Colonel so they have Tricare.  Danged if it didn't pay for the whole thing.  I had to pay the whole $300 for mine.

I have no idea how it's supposed to help my Mom get around but you gotta admit that any health insurance that will buy you a Walker is awesome!

Update:  The first comment on this one will probably make you chuckle more than the silly joke.

Update II:  I deleted the stupid comment.  It was too stupid to have come from a person.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Stupid Thing That I Did

Was violate one of the cardinal safety rules of reloading. 

When I got done throwing and weighing itty bitty little charges of Bullseye and poured it back into the can, I poured it into a can of Reloader Seven by mistake.  That's right.  I had two cans of powder on the bench at the same time.    Evidently I can't even count higher than one.  The rule is that you never have more than one can on the bench at a time.  The rule isn't "no more than one open can."  Its "no more than one Effing can" of powder at the same time and I had two.   They were even two of the same kind of can because both are Alliant powders.   I realized it before I was done pouring the powder in but it was too late.  There was no way to separate them.  I had a can that had about half a pound of powder in it and it was two different powders.

I don't even want to think about what would have happened if I hadn't caught the mistake and had used that powder thinking it was Reloader Seven.  My face ain't exactly purty but I've grown attached to it.  Same for my hands, eyes and everything else I would have lost if I had pulled the trigger on a rifle case full of Bullseye.

As it is, I lost all the Reloader Seven that was in the can and all the Bullseye that I poured into it.   To make sure I didn't risk using it by mistake I burnt it in a small pile on the back patio.  I do have a video but I can't get it to upload and work on the blog just yet.  Maybe tomorrow I will fool with it some more.

I have disposed of unknown powders this way in the past but I guess they were slower powders because this pile really took off on me.  Probably should have used a powder trail as a fuse.  At least the dog got a kick out of it.  If I get the video to work you'll see what I mean.


Next Weekend

We'll be ready

Little Dandy Powder Measure Test

A good friend, alchemist and all around mad-scientist asked me whether an RCBS Little Dandy Powder Measure might be a good addition to his loading setup.  He has need of some relatively small metered charges of either Winchester 231 or Alliant Bullseye for a loading project he is finishing up.  His powder measure is set up for a different charge and he doesn't want to fiddle with it and he doesn't want to have to weigh every one of the small charges. Since I fell into 4 of the measures and a cigar box of rotors a while back, I offered to help him determine whether they might be accurate enough for his purposes.

The process was simple.  Throw twenty charges of Bullseye from the measure and see whether they were all pretty much the same.  For an electronic scale, I used the scale on my Lyman DPMS II.   Each charge was dropped into the scale's pan, the pan was placed on the scale, the cover closed and then left to sit for a slow count to ten to let anything that needed settling down settle down. The result was then written in a log book and the powder on the scale was put back in the measure before the next charge was thrown.  That way, the amount of powder in the measure was always the same whenever a charge was being thrown.

The smallest rotor I have is a #1.  I have learned that they do make smaller ones. Those are #0 and #00.  The chart for the measure says that the #1 rotor will throw a 2.5 grain charge of Bullseye.  Small enough for test purposes.  One thing about this measure is that, if you want a charge that is between what two adjacent rotors throw you can always buy the bigger one and drop some solder, epoxy or JB Weld into the chamber and then whittle it out once its solidified or cured to get a rotor that will throw what you want.

The first thing that became apparent was that, with my particular lot of Bullseye, the charges were a tad heavier than the chart said they would be.  That's why they say to weigh the charge it throws when you get started to make sure its throwing what you think its throwing.  The second was that there were times when the charges were so close to whatever tolerance the scale uses to decide whether its weighing 2.7 or 2.8 grains that it would often just sit there alternating between the two numbers.  That's why I gave it a count of ten to settle down before taking the official reading.  Still, even with a count of ten, half the charges were so close to the scale's tolerance that they never did decide on which side of the fence that last 1/10 grain should cast its vote.

Here's how it worked out:

Looks like something like 2/10 to 3/10 of a grain variation could reasonably be expected.   That's assuming that the scale is reasonably accurate itself.  0.2 to 0.3 isn't that big a deal unless you are right on the ragged edge of safety.  As a percentage of the charge thrown its pretty big but these are tiny charges so anything is pretty big by comparison.

I did not test  any 231.  By the time I got done with the Bullseye I was so preoccupied with the numbers that I did a stupid thing.  I realized what I had done  before it had a chance to cause any harm but I decided that if I wasn't paying any better attention to safety than I evidently was, (or wasn't) I should get the hell out of the reloading room and do something else.

I will mitigate the stupid thing that I did after dark tonight so it can't hurt anybody.   It will make a pretty post.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I'm Going to Have So Much Fun With This

100+ year old 14" swing FE Reed lathe.

Blue Moon at Gettysburg

Blue moon rising over Gettysburg seen from the North Carolina monument.

Taken by my brother.


Probably at least a dozen years ago, I was inspecting a house owned by an attorney and his tree hugging wife and she told me all about these little plants that lined her driveway.  They were the most ancient plant still living that was native to Florida and nearly impossible to find.   She was proud that she had paid $100 each on the internet for the two score plants among all her other fancy landscaping.  She said they were prehistoric and "living fossils."   Big deal.  So am I.  I looked at them and didn't really recognize what they were because I hadn't ever seen any that were so small.  I had seen mature ones but her's were probably less than a year old.  

What they were was Coonties.  For what its worth, they are Cycads.  How that's different from a palm is beyond me but they are one of a few plants that look good planted around a house that actually want to grow in North Florida.  I was no stranger to Coonties.  I had seen them in a couple of North Florida graveyards and at some old houses where old relatives lived when I was very young.   My Grandfather put them by his Father's headstone and then put them at the corners of my Grandmother's family plot where he would, one day, rest next to her.

Coonties were a popular plant a long time ago because they look good and, like I said, they want to grow in North Florida. They are making a come back of sorts now that everybody has decided to stop trying to force plants that have no business being in Florida to grow here.   They like poor, sandy soil.  They Don't really mind drought and can survive occasional flooding.  They thrive in the filtered, shady sunlight of an upland hammock but can also do well in the sun.  Heat?  Turn it up.  Cold?  Florida can't get cold enough to hurt one.   Old folks would plant them near the corners of their houses.  When my brother and I went to see what was left of the old settlement on Atsena Oatie Key, it was coonties that told us where the houses were before the big hurricane washed most everybody away.  We noticed big clumps of coonties and found piles of bricks next to them. Those were the piers that the houses were built on.   We also found the brick outline of a fireplace.  We stood amongst the coonties where someone had built their living room back in the 1870s.   Had we not known their significance, we would have just walked on by.

It wasn't but a  couple of months after getting the $100 each speech, that the Lovely Bride and I happened to be at a place called The Hand Me Down Nursery, looking for azaleas.  The Hand Me Down Nursery was a kind of a strange place.  It was situated in the middle of a residential subdivision but had been there a lot longer than the subdivision so it was grandfathered in.  You'd drive through the gate and wait in the car while the dogs barked at you.  Pretty soon, a little old lady that looked about like Granny Clampett's older sister would come out and ask what you were looking for.  The dogs would calm down and you'd have free run of the place. 

We went there looking for azaleas but  it turned out to be coontie potting day.  Granny's family was working in a potting shed splitting up coonties.  Hundreds and hundreds of 'em. They were big enough that I recognized what they were so I asked her the price.   The small ones were two dollars and fifty cents each and they went up from there all the way to twelve dollars for a nice big one.  Her small ones were bigger than the $100 ones the lawyer's coontie-expert wife had bought on line.  I forgot about the azaleas and bought half a dozen medium ones.  Several years later, we went back and Granny was gone.  Her daughter was selling off the last of the stock and we got ten big ones for five bucks each.

The thing about coonties is that they look like a cross between a sabal palm and a fern and they have seeds.  Big, bright orange seeds that look like giant kernels of corn.  The seeds grow on a cone at the base of the plant and start to fall off along about May.  Then they do everything they can to avoid germinating.  If the big orange corn kernel doesn't attract a certain kind of beetle to eat the outside away, it shrivels up into a hard shell.  I have been told that they only germinate after forest fires once that happens.   I tried throwing a handful into a pile of burning pine straw and it didn't work.   I have read that nurseries will use acid to eat the coating away from the seed.   Its well-adapted to living in a place that wants to kill everything like Florida does.

So, last May, here I was with coonties growing in two different places in the yard, hundreds of fresh, bright orange coontie seeds and the idea that there had to be a way to make the danged seeds grow.  I found some info in the internet and eventually stumbled onto a site called the Cycad Jungle.  That fellow knows more about coonties than just about anybody and he uses an enzyme to remove the shell. I called him to get some enzyme and he said to just soak them in water for a couple of days and peel the orange off with a paring knife unless I had ten thousand or so to do.  Well dang.   It took a couple of hours to peel the orange off fifty seeds but I got it done and I planted them in some sandy soil that I shoveled into one of those cheap, plastic pans that they sell for mixing small batches of concrete.   I fastened a piece of hardware cloth over it to keep squirrels out and waited. 

Nothing happened except that I grew one hell of a crop of weeds.  The Cycad Jungle guy had said that it would take two or three months  for them to germinate so I didn't worry when we passed the two month mark.  Three months came and went and I just had bigger weeds.  The Lovely Bride wanted me to dump the whole thing in the yard and try again next year. I checked it every couple of days for any sign of coontie life and there was just nothing until last Friday.  I looked at the pile of weeds and there was familiar frond sticking up through the hardware cloth.  I got down closer to it and saw more.     I started cutting and pulling weeds so I could get the hardware cloth off the pan and see what I had and found fourteen little coontie seedlings.  

Fourteen out of fifty isn't the greatest yield but it beats letting the seeds sit around forever.   Come next May, I'll be at a  couple of cemeteries not that far from the Suwannee River.  Besides a fist full of plastic flowers from the  Dollar General, I'll have a couple of paper sacks for coontie seeds.  I will grow coonties from seeds off the ones my Grandfather planted seventy five  years ago.   We will be connected .

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Interesting Project


Seems like I know a fellow or two that might want to be a pioneer and  that has some skills that would be needed.