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The cost of cheap (Free) materials

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Bob Stevenson22/06/2020 22:46:49
545 forum posts
7 photos

As a clock builder making clocks from scratch I need to work out the design of various parts and assemblies. This means that I more or less have to use materials from my collection of scrap. it's one thing buying new materials for the worked out design but while I'm getting to that point it can get very expensive, especially when bits get made a couple of times to get things right. If I was making published designs unchanged tghings might be different but there is not point (to me anyway) to make yet another example of John Wildings sleleton clock unchanged from all the others at any model engineering show.......

But then, I have always made stuff from choice scrap and clock making is a rather expensive hobby. It's quite usual for the new materials for a nordinary clock project to cost about two hundred pounds. A couple of years back I met a chap at the Ally Pally show who told me that he had spent so much on the materials for clock build that he had never had the courage to start on it. I recently met another clock maker who complained that the brass and gold plating for his new clock build had cost over two thousand pounds.......Admittedly it will be a very nice and very expensively valued clock but, personally, I can't afford to do this.

My first clock had suspension spring made from old feeler gauge, screws made from supermarket trolly dumped in Epping Forest, pendulum rod made from stainless coat hanger and other bits turned from an old ball valve rod.....even so it turned out to be an expensive clock!

magpie22/06/2020 22:53:29
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478 forum posts
92 photos

I agree with everything you have said there Bob. If I had to buy any of the brass for my fibre optic clock from the normal dealers it would never have got built. Every last bit of brass was from my local scrapyard, and some of it was in large lumps that would have cost a fortune. The only things new on the clock were the electrics.

Dek.

Nigel Graham 222/06/2020 23:34:42
1661 forum posts
20 photos

What no-one seems to mention is the added machining time, i.e. electricity, that might be incurred, especially if you have to anneal that nice shiny come-on-handy near-ingot you found.

Or wasted solder and gas if what you thought was some sort of brass or gunmetal, was - but not the sort it appeared.

(Been there, done that... I learnt later it was almost certainly an aluminium-bronze, as tough as old boots to drill and impossible to silver solder properly.)

Bob Stevenson22/06/2020 23:53:42
545 forum posts
7 photos

Well maybe no one mentons it because that has not been their experience........personally I have never expected to silver solder "aluminium bronze" satisfactorily so have never tried to.

not done it yet23/06/2020 08:11:39
6251 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by Nigel Graham 2 on 22/06/2020 23:34:42:

What no-one seems to mention is the added machining time, i.e. electricity, that might be incurred, especially if you have to anneal that nice shiny come-on-handy near-ingot you found.

Or wasted solder and gas if what you thought was some sort of brass or gunmetal, was - but not the sort it appeared.

(Been there, done that... I learnt later it was almost certainly an aluminium-bronze, as tough as old boots to drill and impossible to silver solder properly.)

Anyone sharp enough would surely check out a sample piece, before committing to use an unknown bulk, would they not?

Annealing the odd high-tensile bolt, to allow an easy change of size or thread form can be far cheaper than a trip to a hardware supplier, or preferable to waiting days for a consignment to arrive by post or courier. A few pence spent on consumables (gas or ‘lectric) is minimal, if one considers the capital already invested in the equipment - and then not to use it when it could be utilised! Dog and barking oneself sort of comes to mind!

Most of my workshop lecky comes from sunshine at the present time. Yes, the collection of that energy incurred some capital expenditure, but some of that has already been paid back by reductions in energy purchased. It would be pointless to stop using that ‘free’ energy and buying it all, from a supplier, at full market rates.

The large lump of aluminium bronze I have is, as you rightly say, tough as old boots. That is why I bought that material - it will finish as a thin section in places. It machines very well and drills OK ... with the right cutters. I’ve yet to thread it but I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

John Rutzen23/06/2020 08:35:33
328 forum posts
16 photos

I use offcuts and scrap all the time though i do have some new stuff as well. I made the 3 cylinders, valve chests, end covers and pistons for my 31/2 gauge LNWR Jeannie Deans from a 21/2 inch piece of a 5'' diameter trawler propellor shaft given to me by a friend. It machined beautifully. The price of the cylinder castings? Over £300. I'd rather spend the money on a bit of workshop tooling or some copper to make a boiler. The steel rods out of printers are super steel, ground finish and usually free cutting , I've got loads of them.

Guy Lamb24/06/2020 09:05:00
109 forum posts

The scrap yard route for acquiring material has all but disappeared in my area as H&S restrictions make access to the 'inner sanctums' impossible. Evan going equipped in the full boots,hi-vis,hard hat motley &c.only meets with polite refusal.

SillyOldDuffer24/06/2020 09:36:48
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7468 forum posts
1648 photos
Posted by Guy Lamb on 24/06/2020 09:05:00:

The scrap yard route for acquiring material has all but disappeared in my area as H&S restrictions make access to the 'inner sanctums' impossible. Evan going equipped in the full boots,hi-vis,hard hat motley &c.only meets with polite refusal.

Me too, though I'm pretty sure it's more to do with theft than H&S. Scrap metal is worth money! My local scrappies all feature razor wire fences, lights and angry dogs. The other change has been a major crackdown on scrap-metal dealers, long associated with crime and dodgy dealings for cash; now they have to do paperwork. In my experience none of them are interested in bargain hunting grandads. even one waving banknotes!

Must be wonderful to have honest access to cheap machinable scrap. Not round my way! The days when local engineering firms dumped offcuts into a public skip have long gone.

sad

Nicholas Farr24/06/2020 10:32:22
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2945 forum posts
1333 photos

Hi, I've used quite a lot of scrap myself, in fact over ninety percent of my garage is made from scrap materials, including the sheeting, which I was able to acquire from my old employer at the time and all with consent, but of course I was fortunate to work for a good company. I have shown this compass before, but it is almost all scrap or used parts with only a few screws being never used before, even the wooden base was a piece of the front of a draw from a chest of draws.

magnetic compass.jpg

I like the challenge as much as anything for making something from scrap (silk purse from a pigs ear kind of situation) but I do use new material also, but much of that I have acquired from off cuts from work, just for the asking, but now I'm retired freebee material has ceased for the most part, but I do still have a fair bit in stock.

Regards Nick.

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