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Scrapper mentality!

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  • Scrapper mentality!

    A little background on a current problem I have.

    I used to do a job prepping roller dies for for a local company that builds rollformers. These are the machines that make metal roofing and siding out of coils of flat sheet stock.

    This involved using a 2- 7/8" carbide insert drill to rough out a hole in slugs of 4140 round bar that could range anywhere from 3" to 8" long, with an OD of 4" to 8". One rollformer could use as many as 100-150 of these dies so one can imagine that there were lots of these holes to make. After drilling this hole, a boring bar would be used to produce a precision hole, 2.938" ±.0008" and both faces would be cleaned up in preparation for being placed on an arbor to cut the required profile on the OD of the die. I never did any of the profile work, only the facing and boring.

    I had originally gotten into this job as I had purchased a Potter and Johnston PJ400 at an auction that I went to with the original intention of looking for a Lodge & Shipley engine lathe. I did end up buying the engine lathe and when they came to bid on this Potter & Johnston unit, no one would make the minimum bid, $450.00. Now these machines weigh approximately 14,000# and to shorten the story considerably, I bought it.

    To those unfamiliar with a Potter and Johnston PJ400, they are essentially an automated turret lathe, approx. 20" swing, 24" center distance, and these were the "modern" version with an electronic numerical control. I say electronic as I believe they had been previously available with a relay logic control of some type. And when I say previously, I mean maybe 1940-1950 as I believe the machines I have were made in the 1960's, using the state of the art discrete transistor, and by then they were owned and being made by Pratt & Whitney.

    They were extremely limited in what they could do, one front and one rear cross slide that were manually adjustable along the bed, and made a stroke in and out to achieve a facing cut, and one flat turret similar to a standard manual turret lathe. Initiating the strokes of these cross slides and the indexing and stroke of this turret was controlled by the NC control, which consisted of 200-300 NOR boards, each with 5 discrete transistors giving a total of 1000-1500 gates, all connected by a loom of wire wrapped wire for connection. The plus and minus 14 volts to power the NOR board circuitry on the older version is supplied by a pair of Motorola automotive alternators driven by a 3 phase motor that also drove the cooling fan for the control.

    Limited though they were, they were a perfect match for the job. I had done some of these dies in a Warner and Swasey manual turret lathe I had at the time. The W&S had a 40 hp motor that was the size of a Volkswagen, which meant it probably would produce at least 40-45 hp before it would stall. Well, I did stall it more than once trying to run that big inserted drill faster. So I put 50 hp on this PJ400 and it threw chips and coolant all over the shop and made those holes at a rapid rate. And this with a machine that was "obsolete" 15 years before I bought it.

    And being obsolete, support from Pratt & Whitney was minimal and parts non existent so I figured I had better find another one of these machines for parts if I should ever need them. I managed to find not one but two machines that showed up with literally tons of specialized tooling, tracing attachments etc., manuals, factory schematics for the controls, etc. etc. And one of the parts machines had seen minimal use and was in better shape than the one I had been using. So I got to work making that machine operable when the axe fell. I got evicted by the Washington State DOT to make way for a new freeway here in the Spokane area, and the job went away.

    Fast forward 10+ years to the present. I have 3 of these ancient, antiquated machines, one of which is taking up valuable space inside the shop. I always thought I would like to get the nice one in running condition, and would keep the other two for parts if I should need them. Then I considered scrapping the two parts machines as they have been sitting outside and are pretty much complete rust buckets by now. But I should save some of the key parts, but which ones?? Or maybe what I really should do is haul all three machines to the scrap yard, thus not needing to save any parts as I wouldn't need them.

    Ok, I finally make up my mind and start cutting up the parts machines, pulling motors, wire, etc. And the current problem becomes apparent.

    Look at all that beautiful work that I am tearing up. And how does this thing work, and what is behind this inspection plate, etc. ETC, ETC,

    And I haven't even started on the good machine yet.

    Any body want some obsolete turret lathes????

    I am going to need a case of Jose Cuervo to get through this.

    Dave

  • #2
    Hi,

    Meh, as my youngest Daughter says. They are inanimate objects and have no intrisic value, (as you allude to yourself), beyond what you can make them do. And that time has evidently long passed. Send them off and let them be made into something useful for tomorrow.

    Dalee
    If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well I empathize with you Dave. Digging through a task like that is an adventure. This in a time when knights riding off on adventures has long passed, more's the pity. This adventure is talking through the ether with the designers, toolmakers and tool operators that have left their fingerprints on the machines. Someone did a thoughtful process of making decisions about every feature, even an access door. You're visiting with someone who milled, drilled, ground and wired. And they've all left clues for you to find and decode. Keep the Jose Cuervo and a box of Kleenex nearby.
      .
      "People will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time they will pick themselves up and carry on" : Winston Churchill

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by TGTool View Post
        Well I empathize with you Dave. Digging through a task like that is an adventure. This in a time when knights riding off on adventures has long passed, more's the pity. This adventure is talking through the ether with the designers, toolmakers and tool operators that have left their fingerprints on the machines. Someone did a thoughtful process of making decisions about every feature, even an access door. You're visiting with someone who milled, drilled, ground and wired. And they've all left clues for you to find and decode. Keep the Jose Cuervo and a box of Kleenex nearby.
        Dang, you can get that out of what I wrote?? What is the phase of the moon tonight? What ever it is, I am going to print and frame your response.

        Methinks you may be one of those designers, to be able to recognize these characteristics??

        Thank you for the kind words, it is good to know that there are others.

        Now where did I leave that bottle?

        Dave

        Comment


        • #5
          So who's making the rolls now? This profiled sheeting seems to be on the increase and plain old galvanised corrugated less marketed as it is cheaper and less profitable. So there could still be a market.
          Since your machines might be the last on the planet if you do kill them take a load of photos and persuade a museum to archive them - for the record of man's achievement before manufacturing became a plastic printer.

          Comment


          • #6
            I can't stand to scrap or see great old machines scrapped as anyone who has visited can tell. Just cold hearted to me if they have life left in them. I'd try to find useful homes for them & have always been successful in doing so & I had a couple huge ones I thought I would die with. I know most people see them as junk but to me they built this country, did their duty, kind of like old soldiers. But that's just me.Other old machines like tractors, motorcycles, etc are worth more now than new.
            "Let me recommend the best medicine in the
            world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant
            country, in easy stages."
            ~ James Madison

            Comment


            • #7
              I am thinking of getting rid of what little machining stuff I have...too many "wrong" things at work...primarily the likely loss of shop space and nearly all of what I seem to do is spend time making parts for the machines themselves, not very much new or even repairs on something I don't own.

              I think if I were in your shoes, I would be thinking the shop itself is almost a living, breathing thing, yours is working...space is at a premium in most cases so, for example, even saving parts takes up space and at some point becomes something else to trip over and it sounds as if those specific lathes are not really working (doing jobs as opposed to functioning) plus, with my mindset, there would always be the risk of keeping with the hope of use becoming a distraction.

              I don't know that it is the case but your taking them apart is a job in itself and takes time that might be better spent elsewhere...my scale is completely different but I've got crap that I purchased and that will more likely never be used. At some point...enough.

              And how does this thing work, and what is behind this inspection plate, etc. ETC, ETC
              we are of the same mind and for me that was the primary reason for the interest in machining in the first place but combined with OCD (mine) a task can take forever.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by becksmachine View Post
                Dang, you can get that out of what I wrote?? What is the phase of the moon tonight? What ever it is, I am going to print and frame your response.

                Methinks you may be one of those designers, to be able to recognize these characteristics??

                Thank you for the kind words, it is good to know that there are others.

                Now where did I leave that bottle?

                Dave
                I suppose I've grown into it. As a kid I'd spend hours reading my dad's collection of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. Looking at photos and blueprints in the magazine was learning blueprint reading in grade school. Fast forward and I wanted to build a guitar before it became popular. I built one, which I still have - just for humility. It was a graphic demonstration to me of how much I did NOT know. So every guitar I looked at after that became an education. What did they do for this feature? Why did they do it that way? So since then I've been a tool and diemaker and then a tool designer and other people's objects and designs have had the same educational value. If something wasn't done in the most obvious way, what did they have in mind? I feel like the kid in Calvin and Hobbs enthusiastically digging a hole in the back yard saying "There's treasure everywhere!"

                So I wish you well and a good adventure. Why fly to Spain for the Camino de Santiago when you have your very own machine pilgrimage and who says that can't be a spiritual experience?
                .
                "People will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time they will pick themselves up and carry on" : Winston Churchill

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think I'd keep generically useful things like handwheels, oil cups, maybe lead screws with matching nuts if they aren't rusty and haul the carcass off to scrap. You'll be glad you did when they are out of your way.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I just watched a documentary about the Linotype machine. Lots of sad machine operators when the computer came along and no market for the old machines. Both the machines and the career master operators were obsolete. The New York Times removed a 2nd floor window and pushed a fleet of Linotype machines out, plummeting to smash in the parking lot to be hauled for scrap. Lots of heavy iron.

                    Now the "old school" mechanical typesetting is supposedly making a comeback because of the texture and craftsmanship but there are not many machines or parts to be found. Shoulda coulda woulda.

                    It was a good show, it is on amazon prime streaming if interested.

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                    • #11
                      Many years ago I worked fro a guy that had a Linotype. He hired a guy to break it into pieces small enough he could load them by hand and hauled it off.
                      I have a WWII Warner Swazey turret lathe that I doubt has much usable value but cannot bring myself to scrap it.

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                      • #12
                        We have an old Makino 1516, big old 5 axis machine circa 86. It has issues and ideally we would like to sell it but in the end it will probably get parted out for spares for the other 1516 and then scrapped. The table assembly alone weighs 60000 lbs.

                        Sometimes machines are just best scrapped. You can store everything in hopes it may eventually sell, floor space is money.

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