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Member postings for Morse Homology

Here is a list of all the postings Morse Homology has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: You meet the nicest people with a Cowells
31/03/2022 13:47:41

I don't think there's anything else Cowells size which does Cowells quality jobs. I have the lathe and the mill. I also have a Proxxon FF230 mill, and a Unimat-3 in a shop on another continent and have fooled around with Sherline gear in a friend's shop.

The rigidity and the backgear of the Cowells lathe put it in another category of machine from anything else of similar size. The backgear in particular is a real game changer for boring jobs and screw cutting. Couldn't do anything like that on the Sherlines or Unimat. 

Similar story with the mill. As a mill, it is absurdly superior to the little Proxxon. The Proxxon has a bigger, though less substantial table and vice, it has a bigger reach, and a drilling lever both of which are useful for drilling jobs. On the other hand, the Proxxon column is literally tubing, and it has an absurd tilting spindle which is a constant source of problems. Besides the difficulty of tramming the thing, the spindle housing is a chunk of aluminum with a weak clamping force; if you take a deep cut, it is guaranteed to knock itself over forcing you to retram. For mills of this size, this is a huge self-own. The Unimat-3 has a similar, smaller column mill attachment, but it didn't give me anywhere near as much trouble. I might just pin it at some point; it could certainly have come with that capability by default.

Cowells mill, not so useful as a drill press because of its configuration, but as it is made of cast iron and has an adjustable DC motor, you can do all kinds of milling jobs which are impossible on the Proxxon. For a little mill, you can take nice beefy cuts, and the collet system is absurdly superior to the one on the Proxxon. The Proxxon is cheaper and does adequate double duty as a drill press, but it isn't that much cheaper once you accessorize it enough to make it useful as a mill. It was definitely a case of buy cheap buy twice for me.

For my little workshop the Cowells tools give me capabilities I couldn't get with similar sized Chinese gear. Maybe something like a fully equipped Myford would allow me to do similar jobs in a similarly small amount of space, but nobody makes those any more, and it would probably cost more if I could find a good one. So, I'm pretty happy. Plus Colin is an incredibly nice person and it's great to be able to reach someone so close to the production line (I never asked; just assuming he is the production line). Try finding that with your Chinese tools.

I could probably squeeze another workbench/tool in the room at some point (I'm building a little hacksaw that doesn't count as it will live under the workbench most of the time). I could imagine finding uses for a larger lathe but for the types of things I'm interested in doing; little motors and clockworks, I feel pretty well equipped.

Edited By Morse Homology on 31/03/2022 13:50:37

Thread: Buying advice sought re Milling Machines: e.g. Proxxon: FF230 vs. BFW40/E vs. MF70
22/05/2021 18:59:42

I have a FF230. Same story; space restrictions. In my case I was also buying in a hurry. In hindsight I'd have held out for a jig borer, Aceira, ff500, Cowells or whatever. It works, some of the bits are reasonably high quality. The motor needs to run at higher speeds, round column is bad design (it's not that bad, but it's still bad; dovetails are better), and if the table were ever so slightly bigger it would be very helpful. Also the ability to mill at an angle .... it kind of forces you to mill at angles. Tramming is difficult and the dogs don't hold it well; I've had endmills catch on work and had the head twist over on the angle axis. It's just a friction screw thingee. Lame.

You can totally drill 6mm and mill whatever without it making too much noise on soft steel "hogging" at a half mm at a time. Basically it's better than nothing. I don't do a huge amount of milling and I'm pretty sure it's better than milling on a lathe, so it's OK for now. Not ideal though.

Thread: 507 mechanical movements animated
07/03/2021 09:55:31

Sometimes, the internet is amazing. Here's the old classic book, online, with animations so you don't have to visualize what's going on:

Edited By Morse Homology on 07/03/2021 09:56:11

Thread: Kapitza's pendulum
18/02/2021 18:16:03

I think I figured out what I want to build first;

It's a really cool doodad; you can read about why it does that on the wiki page.

Edited By Morse Homology on 18/02/2021 18:18:11

Thread: EU materials suppliers?
05/02/2021 16:50:23

Muito obrigado Sr. Costa, I hadn't come across FMS yet. There are a few places here in Lisboa which sell tools and large industrial supplies, but they're not well equipped with little bits of metal. At least none I could easily locate. You're right the language is a big barrier for me; Germans have simple english-like words for something like mild steel (along with a specification) -here, I mean, how does one say "mild steel?" aço macio?

Some of those tool vendors: (in Marina Grande area)

I would of course prefer as local as possible, for the postage, and to help out local firms in these times.

Conrad, I saw their tools, but I hadn't seen the materials as I guess I hadn't thought of "rails" as including bar stock.

From the French thread, these look useful:,201.html (again, saw the tools, not the material)

Thanks a million, guys; please keep them coming as you think of any.

04/02/2021 21:38:50

So, unlike most of you folks, I'm in the EU (Portugal), and finding it a bit difficult to source materials for my growing workshop. Under ordinary circumstances I'd go make friends with the local scrap dealers and machine shops, but with covid lockdowns, making new pals is rather difficult at the moment.

Since Portugal has a vigorous outside-the-eu enforcement regime with their customs department, I'd rather buy within the economic zone for fiddly "need this and that" bits like this. I should be OK for brass sheet, cast iron, drill rod and aluminium rod from the below suppliers, I'm particularly hard up for bar and square stock of all kinds and mild and/or free machining steel sheet and square stock. The latter for my first project; my take on the Harold Hall dividing head.

This is going to be all small stuff: I'm Cowells-ME and Proxxon FF-230 in a small workshop. If anyone knows more good places for the EU hobbyist to pick up bits and pieces of metal, that would be great. Otherwise, if anyone is in my position, the below firms have been helpful so far. -little bits and pieces -mostly useful for tools, but again bits and pieces -best shop I've found yet, out of Luxembourg; for the hobbyist

Thread: Plans for updating the archaic forum?
24/01/2021 16:13:44

As an actual Silly Con valley guy: all respect to Ubuntu engineers whose hard work keeps all my hardware ticking over, but beware software engineers suggesting improvements.

Oft times such folks (myself among them), with the best of intentions, look at software and think "oh I could do better," or "I could fix X thusly." Sometimes it's true. More often though, they do not understand what the existing software gets right, and the end result is worse. As a trivial example: I agree with someone above that Xenforo is very cool forum software; slick, nice UI, uploads images/PDFs with ease, nice to administer as well. However, the search feature is absolute trash. That would ruin the utility of the stored wisdom of this forum.

The human generated comment here is the valuable thing. It would be nice to have a few more fiddly little features if they can be added easily. But if this thing runs exactly the same software in 50 years in some futuristic virtual machine in a positronic brain, with 50 years more content, it's a huge win, even if you have to log in again when you use your ipotato, and the file uploader still isn't spot-on.

Probably in some timespan on a 50 year scale, the appearance and functionality of model-engineer will be seem as charming early 00's ambiance that punters will pay extra for, to remind them of when the internet was still cool and new.

Anyway, happy to help if there's something needs fiddling with. But I think you have it nailed; don't mess with it too much!

Thread: New guy
22/12/2020 03:05:12

Thanks for the welcome and good advice guys. Not quite retired yet, got a few more years of work in me, but doing stuff that gets me away from the computer is super important to my sanity.

I'd just as soon a Warco WM180, but they don't seem to be sold in stores around here in Portugal, where Optimum are. Well, at least they're listed on the websites. The local fellow says he has to order from the factory. I guess they're all made in the same place, as Warco is out of stock also.

Anyway lots of juicy reading here; I'm sure somebody will sell me something eventually!

21/12/2020 01:11:31

New guy here; been shopping for a hobby lathe, keep coming across your forum in the searches, and figured I'd join up.

I used to be a experimental physicist in a past career; presently computer nerd (living in Lisboa), and miss working with objects constructed of matter. We had a beautiful old Hardinge and Bridgeport in the lab's machine shop back when I was writing my thesis. I only made simple shapes and jigs, but always got a lot of satisfaction out of seeing my bits of metal in vacuum chambers and spectrometers making things go.

Definitely a model engine in my future, and maybe a clock if I get real ambitious, but who knows how long it will take to get up to speed and tooled up. More short term is making widgets out of aluminum and brass for electrostatic generators.

Was thinking about Cowells stuff, but as I had a Unimat-3 back in the US, I think I'd rather something a bit beefier, and more locally supported (who knows with Brexit). Proxxon PD400 is kinda more in the ballpark; nice spindle bore, but it seems pretty much same thing as Optimum TU2004v, which is cheaper and which is sold down the street from my house, where I can threaten the proprietor with a bacalhau or whatever the locals use in such circumstances.

I expect I'll ask a lot of dumb questions; hopefully you guys give me some good natured ribbing like I got from Charlie and Wayne-O back in lab machine shop days.

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