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Big Wad of Steel Wool

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  • Big Wad of Steel Wool


    I had quit using my shop vac for cleaning up chips on the mill table. It worked fairly well at first, but it went thru hoses pretty quickly. They would literally fall apart. I suspect the metal chips abraded away the inside ridge of the corrugation.

    Then one day in my search for a tougher vacuum hose (was considering ordering some "special" hoses from McMaster) I saw a link that lead to a "heavy duty" vacuum hose at one of the local box stores. I figured what the heck, ran over and bought one. It worked great. Its still in decent shape... but that's partly because I quit using it. It had wads of chips in it that wouldn't come out.

    Today I was cleaning up the table on the Hurco, and I just was getting tired of blowing out and scooping up chips over and over again and not making much progress. Some chips you do have to blast out like those in the T-slots under the vise, but none of the rest should require that.

    I rolled over the vac, hooked up the hose, and it was clear the hose was obstructed. I hooked it up to the output port in both directions, but it remained obstructed. In shear frustration I slammed it down on the floor and two huge wads of steel wool shot out on the floor.

    Cleanup on the table after that was a "breeze."




    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

  • #2
    Vac hose without interior congregations would be the answer. Maybe this: https://www.mcmaster.com/5397k12

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    • #3
      Originally posted by reggie_obe View Post
      Vac hose without interior congregations would be the answer. Maybe this: https://www.mcmaster.com/5397k12
      When I wear this one out I may try that. They have some other hoses listed as abrasion resistant.
      *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

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      • #4
        My neighbor gifted me some sort of drain clearing contraption for just this purpose. It's a metal coil (spring but with no gaps) for a few metres and then a looser coil sort of like a corkscrew on the end. The handle is offset so that cranking it rotates the whole length and the corkscrew end digs into the blockage. Works better than anything else I can think of.

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        • #5
          Two words: Table Covers!

          I recently made some from plastic chopping boards that I found in a local supermarket. They are GREAT!

          And, I got a bonus. When I went to remount the milling vise, I slid it against the left hand cover before tramming it. When I trammed it was within a few thousandths so that process went real fast. I then did a little judicious filing on that, left hand cover and now pressing that vise against it brings it almost perfect; good enough for 95% of the work that I do, even without breaking out the indicator for the tramming process.

          That table cover has some strips of the same, thick (1/4"?) plastic from the chopping board on the bottom to keep it in place. I don't really know if it is those strips or the fact that it rides against the power feed assembly that provides this alignment, perhaps it is a combination of both. But it works great.

          And now, clean up is a snap. I can just use a brush to send the chips into a trash can held below the front edge.
          Paul A.
          SE Texas

          And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
          You will find that it has discrete steps.

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          • #6
            My shop vac is hooked up to the PLC in the CNC so I have buttons on two sides to control it. PLC gives me a toggle button, push once it is on push again for off. The PLC controls lots of other stuff as well. A long pool cleaner hose is currently connected as I paid $2 at a yard sale. I have the 5 gallon bucket cyclone from HD and it works very well at separating all but the very finest chips into the bucket. Yes the drain snake is the easiest way to clean out a ball of chips when it happens. As far as wearing out a hose I have never done that. However using a chrome plated brass sink drain elbow at the nozzle chips have worn completely through that more than once.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post
              Cleanup on the table after that was a "breeze."
              Neat story Bob. My sears wet dry vac has a 3" dia hose and doesn't get clogged or wore away. I put a 1-1/2" nozzle on it so maybe that keeps the steel curls from clogging? Dunno. Thanks for posting. JR

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Paul Alciatore View Post
                Two words: Table Covers!

                I recently made some from plastic chopping boards that I found in a local supermarket. They are GREAT!

                And, I got a bonus. When I went to remount the milling vise, I slid it against the left hand cover before tramming it. When I trammed it was within a few thousandths so that process went real fast. I then did a little judicious filing on that, left hand cover and now pressing that vise against it brings it almost perfect; good enough for 95% of the work that I do, even without breaking out the indicator for the tramming process.

                That table cover has some strips of the same, thick (1/4"?) plastic from the chopping board on the bottom to keep it in place. I don't really know if it is those strips or the fact that it rides against the power feed assembly that provides this alignment, perhaps it is a combination of both. But it works great.

                And now, clean up is a snap. I can just use a brush to send the chips into a trash can held below the front edge.
                I always wondered about table covers. I always figured that folks didn't trust themselves not to ding the surfaces. Until I read your post it just never occurred to me that they would keep most of the swarf out of the T slots too.
                Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                • #9
                  Another thing to add to list of must makes.

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                  • #10
                    Yoga mat makes good table covers and tool box drawer liners. Got a brand new one at the surplus salvage store for $5.
                    “I know lots of people who are educated far beyond their intelligence”

                    Lewis Grizzard

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                    • #11
                      What gets to me is that almost every vacuum cleaner hose is made with two design flaws...

                      1) The end connectors slide INTO the outer hose in such a way as to create a ridge that can catch stick-like objects and start a clog
                      2) The final outlet is SMALLER than the rest of the hose, leading to an area where a clog can start and build up

                      Click image for larger version  Name:	vac hose.JPG Views:	0 Size:	56.8 KB ID:	1837868
                      The hose should stay the same diameter OR get bigger from the dirt pick up point to the bag end, with no leading internal ledges. I can design something that would work that way, why can't the "professionals" at Hoover, ShopVac, etc., do it? Don't they ever use a vacuum?

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                      • #12
                        A snake is a great idea for getting the tangles out of your hose. I picked up a nice vacuum at the curb that was unusable. It had a solid 6 feet of cat hair packed inside the hose. There was still some air flow, but just enough to suck up something light, like hair. I used a steel rod and a 3 prong gripper to get it all out. It works fine now.

                        More on topic, I've used clear vinyl hose for years on my 1 gallon shop vac. The slick walls let the swarf move right through. They sell swimming pool vacuum hose by the foot at the hardware store.

                        Dan
                        At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

                        Location: SF East Bay.

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                        • #13
                          The easiest way to clear a clog vacuum hose that I have found is to remove the hose from the vacuum and hold one end head high while dropping a three inch long round slug (what ever the ID of your hose is) down the hose. The weight of the slug will push out anything that can block the hose. Works every time.

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                          • #14
                            As for vacuum hose clogs... As eluded to before, keep a restricted end on the hose.
                            Sometimes called the crevice attachment, it is the adapter that looks crimped into a rectangular tube shape.
                            There are different size versions, the larger one obviously sucks up more stuff, and is yet smaller than the
                            hose, and prevents clogs. Also, the 2" hose is better than the 1-1/2" hose. No brainer.
                            Prevention is also a key to success here. When drilling, peck often and break the chip. Do not make
                            the typical long and stringy drill shavings. Peck more on purpose knowing you need to suck up the chips
                            and don't want a clogged hose. A little forethought goes a long way.
                            If you do get a hose clog, ram it out with a broom handle. It works pretty well and a broom is always
                            at hand.
                            Once I thought it was a good idea to squeeze the vacuum hose with my hands to find the area of the
                            clog. What happen was, there was a super sharp piece of swarf inside the hose, and when I squeezed
                            the hose, the sharp object punctured through the hose, and my palm. Lots of bleeding ensued. I don't
                            do that anymore.
                            As for table covers, I don't like them. It just seems all the neat freak people go OCD over them.
                            It also goes with my preference against using the vise all the time. In my mind, a vise is a crutch
                            for not knowing how to fasten work to the table with clamps. No doubt a vise is the best workholding
                            solution many times. But the lengths I have seen people go to hold parts in the vise that could have
                            been more easily attached to the table with clamps, is utterly ridiculous.
                            I let my tee slots get full of chips. I never had a problem sucking them clean with the crimped-end attachment
                            on the end of the hose. You just need to figure out how to work smart and make smaller chips.
                            It is part of the evolution of becoming a better machinist.

                            -Doozer
                            DZER

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                            • #15
                              The restricted nozzle end helps. It is not a cure, because anything that happens to be longer than the hose diameter can get sucked-up lengthwise, and later gets cocked across the hose, where it collects everything else that comes up.

                              Always breaking chips is a wonderful goal, but is not always do-able, plus it is not only "chips" that get vacuumed up. the long thing can be a piece of wood, or pretty much anything that is longish and stiff. Even a piece of broken broom "straw". Smooth hose, without the edges common to most hose connections, is best.

                              The "intake" side of the connection should always be the smaller one, so it plugs inside the next section, but almost every hose system has the hose plug inside the nozzle , and the same with "extensions" and so forth. That makes for a lot of clogs.

                              Originally posted by philco View Post
                              The easiest way to clear a clog vacuum hose that I have found is to remove the hose from the vacuum and hold one end head high while dropping a three inch long round slug (what ever the ID of your hose is) down the hose. The weight of the slug will push out anything that can block the hose. Works every time.
                              What he said ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

                              I have a chunk of lead that is a 3/4" cylinder about 3" long. Works great, because my vac hoses are about 18' long in order to reach all parts of the shop areas and surrounding area. Broom handles are too short.
                              CNC machines only go through the motions

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