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What Did You Do Today 2020

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Martin Kyte13/01/2020 12:10:03
1635 forum posts
24 photos
Posted by Andrew Johnston on 11/01/2020 11:37:47:

Over the last couple of days I've been machining the taper on the chimney former for my traction engines. Roughing was done at 180rpm, 50 thou DOC and 8 thou/rev, so quite modest for me. The chips were coming off dark blue though. FInish cuts were at 370rpm and 4 thou per rev, DOC as required, but generally 5 to 10 thou. Here's the setup for a finishing cut, about 15 minutes per pass:

finishing - former.jpg

The template was marked out and filed, don't need super precision! Note the chimney fixing ring from the traction engine hanging on the tailstock quill to test fit and size. Although it's only a former I couldn't resist trying it in situ:

chimney former - in situ.jpg

I've been in discussion with a forum member, via PM, regarding the purchase of such a relatively large lump of steel. I mentioned that I got a rather odd finish, and promised to post a picture. So here it is:

former - close up.jpg

The material purports to be EN1A. The general finish is so-so. It measures 3.3µm Ra, which is ok but not brilliant. Of course that doesn't matter for my application. The really odd thing is the darker bands every ¼" or so. I can't think of anything on the lathe that is repeating at that distance. Although the template is hand crafted I doubt my filing would produce such a regular pattern. That leaves the material. Each dark band is a bit shiny, which I associate with harder material when turning with inserts. I wonder if this is something to do with the extrusion or drawing process? As an aside, when roughing I had some problems with chatter. The chatter distance was short. an 1/8" or less, and at random places. One time next to the tailstock, next time in the middle. And the tool never chattered in the same place twice. Once I'd done a few roughing pases the chatter never re-appeared.

The former has tarnished overnight in the engine assembly area, sorry entrance hall, which seems to indicate EN1A.


Maybe nothing to do with your reason for bands but I have noticed a similar thing occuring myself on occasion. It's never what I would call a bad finish but I always find it irritating when the finish is not consistant. What I have noticed is that on occasion the swarf comes of in two different directions and flips between them. It only happens when I get reasonably long swarf that changes the angle it comes off. It's like having two different curls that swap periodically. It's as if there are two modes the chip can shear from the work one of which gives a better finish than the other. It generally only happens when turning dry and is not so much of a pain that it's worth weeks of experiment to find out why. It may be a build up on the tip which clears periodically or when the coil of swarf gets long eough to 'fold' the helix differently.

regards Martin

SillyOldDuffer13/01/2020 13:26:45
5294 forum posts
1086 photos
Posted by Mark Rand on 12/01/2020 23:24:02:

All steel producers use remelt as much as possible, since it saves a lot of energy compared with reducing virgin ore. It's rather jingoistic/xenophobic to assume that 'foreign' product is likely to be worse than Port Talbot of Scunthorpe product...

+1 for that. Chaps like to believe all sorts of unlikely rose-tinted folklore about quality in the past. The reality is often less glorious!

At present the Chinese make more steel in two years than was made in total throughout the entire history of British Steel-making. Impressive when you know that Britain was the world's largest producer of steel until 1914 when the Americans took the crown. Thereafter British manufacture of mass produced steel went into decline.

Not all British Steel was high-quality, nor was it cheap. After WW1 historic problems in the trade peaked. In 1928, Lord Melchett, Chairman of ICI said "Iron and Steel firms have fallen in arrears. Works were situated in the wrong centres, plants were obsolescent, there was great duplication, and a want of central control." Another quote: "Morale in the steel industry was very low, few had any confidence in the future and large amounts of capital were generally not forthcoming. Those companies which were still able to operate at some profit became ultra-cautious and extremely conservative and unwilling...".

Major customers like Lord Nuffield had a low opinion of British Steel and Steel makers : 'all big cigars and nothing to do'. The rolled steel sheet used to make car bodies has to be of high specification because rolling brings out flaws like no other process. British steel often caused trouble. Although it improved, Nuffield had persistent quality problems with British steel, and was particularly annoyed because it was a third more expensive than steel imported from the US. Bad enough that Sir Herbert Austin and Lord Nuffield both considered setting up their own rolling mills to process slab imported from the US or Europe.

Manufacturing quality has much more to do with production methods and economics than the workforce. The reason US sheet steel was cheaper and better than British steel was mostly to do with economies of scale and the up-to-date plant available in the US. A major steel works needs to be located close to coal, water and ore / scrap. As all the raw materials are heavy, transport needs to be cheap which ideally means the steel-works is in a large capacity sea-port. As the plant takes a minimum 10 square kilometres of land (preferably more), land had better be cheap too! In that context a British Ironworks set up in 19th century Staffordshire to take advantage of local coal and iron ore, exhausted after a century of exploitation, was in a hopeless position. A small, old-fashioned works, fed by coke and ore carried by railway was in deep poo compared a large modern American enterprise built on a continental scale with cheap transport. Today - for much the same geographic reasons - American steel works find themselves at a disadvantage compared with Chinese and Indian steel makers.

The advantages of nationality have also been blurred by globalisation. Under communism Chairman Mao botched a home-grown backyard steel industry in China. This is not how it's done today. In partnership with Western manufacturers, China bought in the best Western technology, equipment, methods and know how. Over the last 20 years there has been a dramatic improvement, and China is pretty much as good at manufacturing as anyone else. No doubt there are a few old or mismanaged steel works and - more likely - process errors, producing quantities of off specification steel, but it's generally unlikely. Steel is high-tech, it's not made by rice-farmers chucking bicycles in a pot and hoping for the best.

Customers do hit problems though. I suspect a likely cause is 'quality' being compromised in the supply chain. Tempting to substitute one type of steel for another when what the customer wants is out-of-stock or a cheaper similar steel is choking the warehouse. There was a scandal a few years back when Boron steel was sold in the UK as mild-steel as a tariff dodge.

Personally I think taking comfort in casual racism is dangerous. Assuming British quality was better in the past gets us absolutely nowhere. So what even if the notion is true? Criticism of foreigners is pointless - they're not going to change. What's necessary is to deliver product that the world wants today, which means we have to get our act together. Contrary to some opinion on the forum, that's exactly what British Industry is doing, for example by concentrating on producing high-end speciality steels rather than the ordinary mass-production stuff we play with. The world moves on. There's no value in mourning spilt milk, banging on about past achievements, or blaming others.


Andrew Johnston13/01/2020 13:35:45
5172 forum posts
599 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 13/01/2020 13:26:45:

There's no value in mourning spilt milk............

Unless you're machining copper. smile


Iain Downs14/01/2020 17:05:18
559 forum posts
444 photos

Yesterday I went into the shed to add another couple of R8 tool holders to my R8 toolholder shelf. The toolholders are 3d printed and screw to a melamine shelf with a hole big enough for the tool. Thus the tool sits on nice clean plastic, but occupies little room.

Unfortunately, when I offered the shelf back up, I realised that I'd put the holders and holes over one of the shelf brackets.

Damn. Not only is the new holder useless, but I will need to junk the shelf and drill out new ones. No pictures because I'm too embarrassed.


john fletcher 114/01/2020 17:58:37
572 forum posts

Just been reading SillyOldDuffer and thought this maybe of interest.

Some years ago I used to pass by British Steel Appleby Frodingham plant near Scunthorpe and noticed a new works being built close by, that was before Mrs Thatcher was prime minister. On inquiring, I was told British Steel was building the latest computer controlled steel making plant. Later on certain Mr Macgregor (who later became Lord Macgregor) was instructed by the government of the day to get rid of the now, almost ready for testing, plant. My acquaintance told me China bought the lot, and that a party of Chinese armed with pots of paint itemised everything down to the last washer. I was also told that Chinese ship docked in Immingham and took everything away. How can we compete with worn out equipment, when others have the very latest at knock down prices? Perhaps readers from Scunthorpe might comment on the accuracy of the above.

duncan webster14/01/2020 21:09:19
2412 forum posts
39 photos

Time for my whinge: we seem to import iron ore and coal from the ends of the earth to make iron, which we then convert into steel. At the end of its useful life we send this steel (now scrap) to China to be recycled into new steel. Why don't we just stop making iron and recycle our own scrap

Paul Lousick14/01/2020 21:15:19
1306 forum posts
520 photos

Worse here Duncan,

We mine the ore, send it to China, buy it back as steel. Then send it back for recycling.

Speedy Builder514/01/2020 21:19:04
1918 forum posts
131 photos

Here in France, the cost of rubbish collection / disposal has rocketed because China doesn't want our plastic and household recycling material. Apparently, they don't even want crushed aluminium cans, but why on earth are we trying to get rid of such 'precious' metals when we are importing it as well ?

Andrew Johnston16/01/2020 22:43:43
5172 forum posts
599 photos

Third time lucky I've managed to hot form a spectacle plate from 3mm sheet that is acceptable. Here's the plate after forming and cleaning up, with holes drilled in the sides and the bottom shaped with a hacksaw and files:

spectacle plate rear.jpg

And the plate in place with previously made BSF nuts and bolts:

spectacle plate bolted.jpg

Pleasingly the spectacle plate was a nice push fit between the hornplates right off the former. No machining or filing needed, so I must have got the sums about right. The outside of the flanges are a bit pitted where I finished off with the copper mallet to ensure a good fit on the former. I hope that a whizz over with U-Pol will fix that. smile


Ron Laden17/01/2020 06:26:47
1694 forum posts
306 photos

That's impressive Andrew especially with it in 3mm steel and having shallow flanges, can't have been that easy to do.

Looks very good.

DiogenesII17/01/2020 08:01:02
58 forum posts
6 photos

Andrew, that's really crisp - Is that over the same former as before (the former former?) ? ..if you have the allowances easily to hand, it'd be interesting to know. I'm in awe of your even flanges .D

Andrew Johnston17/01/2020 11:30:34
5172 forum posts
599 photos

I did indeed use the former former, with one modification. I've increased the radius on the edge to about 3/32". Here's a close up of the former:

former - modified.jpg

The flange is designed to be 3/4" high. I originally allowed an inch bending allowance. This was far too much. For the plate shown I allowed 7/8" on the straight edges and down to 3/4" on the corners. The height of the corners still grew to more than an inch. So I plan to cut the allowances down a bit more on the corners. This is especially so for the front plate where the corner radius is 3/4" rather than the 1" for the spectacle plate. I intend to reduce the corner allowance to 5/8", ie, undersize. It's like school uniforms, we hope it'll grow into it.


Derek Lane18/01/2020 16:52:05
307 forum posts
70 photos

This is the first of some of the odd jobs that need doing around the workshop.

I was given this vice and thought that before I find a home for it that a little cleanup and repaint was in order.

A before during and after photo. Smooth Hammerite paint was pretty close to the original Record colour.

Now it is ready to have a new home

20191027_121015 (1024x768).jpg20200117_105243 (1024x768).jpg20200118_125836 (1024x768).jpg

Henry Brown18/01/2020 17:33:17
136 forum posts
21 photos

Very nice Derek, you were very fortunate to be given one like that! I've just acquired a Record No 5 that seems not to have done hardly any work. Most of the ones I've looked at have been very worn or have U shaped tommy bars!

It's stripped down and been cleaned up with a power file and some emery cloth and the castings have just had a coat of primer.

Derek Lane18/01/2020 21:33:32
307 forum posts
70 photos
Posted by Henry Brown on 18/01/2020 17:33:17:

Very nice Derek, you were very fortunate to be given one like that! I've just acquired a Record No 5 that seems not to have done hardly any work. Most of the ones I've looked at have been very worn or have U shaped tommy bars!

It's stripped down and been cleaned up with a power file and some emery cloth and the castings have just had a coat of primer.

As you can see from the pictures the top of the jaws and little anvil square they have been used but not too badly all the other parts are still fine with not hardly any wear.

Andrew Johnston21/01/2020 20:51:40
5172 forum posts
599 photos

A few days ago I bent up the rear wheel drive pin keep wires from 1/8" steel rod:


Today I welded a trial one to check the process. I used a No.2 nozzle with a sparrows fart of acetylene. I have a lot of 1mm sheet to weld for the gear covers, so I'm going to need to buy a No.1 nozzle to control the flame properly. If I'd thought about it beforehand I'd have made the drive pins so I could fit the keep wires after welding. But it wasn't to be, so I had to make a crude shield to protect the drive pins during welding:


The keep wires are held tight during welding with a couple of turns of locking wire twisted tight with locking wire pliers. And here's the drive pin, keep wire and locking spring in place:


The arrangement has been copied from a full size engine, and ignores the drawings. The locking spring was bent up from 20 thou shim steel, which had to be annealed first, so I discovered. One down, three more to go.


Chris Gunn22/01/2020 19:46:01
296 forum posts
16 photos

Andrew, Nice work with the drive pins, so much better than a non typical screw. How did you cut the slots for the Spring?

Chris Gunn

Andrew Johnston23/01/2020 10:34:53
5172 forum posts
599 photos
Posted by Chris Gunn on 22/01/2020 19:46:01:

How did you cut the slots for the Spring?

I drilled four 2mm holes 2mm apart with a 4-facet carbide stub drill. Then joined the dots with a coarse round needle file and finally cleaned up the scalloped sides with a fine flat needle file.


Henry Brown25/01/2020 19:49:02
136 forum posts
21 photos

Yesterday I replaced the somewhat rotten single glazed wooden window in my workshop with a double glazed uPVC unit as the old one was letting in quite a bit of damp. It was the original from when the garage was built in the late 60's so hadn't done too badly but it did support four roof joist for the flat roof above so they had to acro'd up to fit a small lintel first. I've never fitted a window before and, once the old one was out, it was easy enough to fit the replacement. I didn't opt for any openers (the old one didn't have any) for security reasons. Now that jobs done I ordered the replacement lathe from Warco.

Today I replaced the three old 1500mm florescent tubes with LED's, removing the ballast and capacitor, what an improvement! The main attraction was that are plastic tubes so if I do accidentally give them a bump they will be ok, I've always been a little concerned about the old glass ones.

Iain Downs26/01/2020 09:24:18
559 forum posts
444 photos

I remarked a few days (weeks?) ago that I'd managed to attempt to mount my R8 holders over a shelf bracket, rendering them somewhat useless.

Just to prove that I can occasionally get it right, here is a picture of the new shelf with the R8 mounts on the left.

r8 tool stand.jpg


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