Thursday, March 19, 2009

time = money

Yeah, who knew, right? Ahem. Anyway...

Milling machines (and many other sorts of machine tools) have "T-slots" in the top and on the front of the table, which are used with "T-nuts" to clamp a vise to the table, or work directly to the table. The slots on the front of the table are used to attach accessories. I need to hang a couple of items off the front of the table for my convenience. I intend to make a little loop hanger for an air hose, as well as a fork-shaped hanger to hold the vice handle so I can stop setting it down on the mill table where it is inevitably in my way.

Now T-slot nuts are readily available in a variety of sizes, and I already have a "toe clamp kit" which includes some T-slot nuts for the top of the table. But when I go shopping for T-slot nuts to fit the smaller slots on the front of the table, I can't seem to find any that seem "right", unless I buy really expensive stainless ones. (T-slot nuts are not usually expensive - a buck or two each).

I can find some which are just right for the slot width but too narrow (for my comfort) for the slot base - there's not as much material there as I would like - it should fill the whole slot. The last thing you want to have happen is for the nut to have insufficient support and crack the cast iron of the table around the slot!

Or, I can find T-slot nuts that fill the base of the slot, but have a too-wide or too-narrow slot width. I could mill down some that are slightly wider than I would like. I could also make my own from scratch, but ratio of "interestingness to time required" is very poor, and I have other things I would like to spend that time on. So I am looking at spending over $7 each on three or four nuts, and it is chafing me. I will probably do without, or go back and take more measurements, and maybe find the nuts (which also use those slots) which are included with the power table feed reversing switch contraption and measure them, just to be sure I've got my head screwed on straight.

Harrumph. Given how commonplace and popular Bridgeports are, I really thought this would be an inexpensive slam-dunk. I didn't expect to spend much time or money on it. Harrumph, I say.


In other news, with the pile of scrap lumber now entirely gone from the corner of the shop it formerly occupied (THANKS, MOON!) I now have room to put the air compressor in that corner, which has been the plan for oh, a year or so. Well, I WOULD have room, if I could just move, uh, EVERYTHING over about 6 inches. I have to move the vacuum system and both pieces of the Pulser. Oog. Maybe this weekend. It's all on wheels, but its also all very heavy. I tried giving the whole stack a shove last weekend, and only managed to cave in the side panel of the Pulser's power supply cabinet. So now I've also got that to fix when I get done moving all that crap. Arghl.

The eventual goal is to build a steel frame to mount the compressor up high, leaving space under it for storage, then later, build cabinet walls onto the frame to muffle sound.

I won't know whether any of that can happen until we have removed the garage door from that wall and bricked it up. There is a question of whether there is room for one corner of the frame near the door tracks. If not, I'll probably do something temporary until the wall can be bricked up. I'm really eager to get that done, but I don't know whether we can do it ourselves or not (probably, although it might be an - ahem - learning opportunity) or whether we'd have to hire a mason. If the latter, then it won't happen for the foreseeable future, and that possibility makes Gomez a sad mad scientist.

Well, first things first: this weekend I shall move the crap, get the compressor into the corner and take lots of measurements.

One thing about making a steel frame is that I can knock it out in a weekend or so, and it won't cost more than a few tens of dollars, so if I want to re-do it later, it won't be much lost money or labor. The more I work with metal, the less I appreciate wood.

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