Friday, July 30, 2010

#26 - Drill Press ‘Tips & Techniques’

I thought that for this week, I would just go over some of the little tidbits of information that I like to call ‘Tips & Techniques’. Since we have been discussing Drill Presses the past 2 weeks, we might as well stay on topic.

One of the areas that folks need some assistance with is that of choosing the right DP speed for their particular project. The main rule of thumb is: ‘The harder the material, the slower the bit needs to turn.’ Right behind that comes this: ‘The bigger your bit, the slower it needs to turn’. How that plays out is like this. If you’re drilling the same size hole in wood and metal, the speed will need to be slowed down for drilling into metal. By the same token, if you’re drilling into pine wood and making a ¼” hole and a 2-1/4” hole, slow it down for the 2-1/4” hole. It may be that not much speed change is needed between these two, but the idea is that you don’t usually want a 2-1/4 cutter turning as fast as a small ¼ bit.

Now, let’s talk safety. First and foremost, dress appropriately when using a Drill Press. Wear your safety glasses, roll up your long sleeves and pull your hair back out of the way (IF your hair is that long). I once saw a training film that showed what happened when a lady got her long hair tangled in the Drill Press she was operating. It was not a pretty sight. She reminded me of what Custer’s men must have looked like after being scalped.

After you have all those bases covered, here’s another ‘first and foremost’- ALWAYS clamp your work. I cannot over-emphasize this. Yes, it’s a pain and not always convenient but it IS necessary. I have a nice 2” long scar on my left forearm that is a constant reminder of this. The very afternoon that I was going to drive my dirt track racecar for the first time, I was making an accelerator bracket and need to drill a hole in it. The bracket was just 8” long, ¾” flat stock, with one end bent at a 45 and that was where I needed the hole. So I go to my DP and hold the long part and place the bent area on the table under the bit. I started drilling the hole and OOPS…it grabbed and swung around 360 degrees and in the blink of an eye, it made a few revolutions before I could get it shut off. Unfortunately, on that first swing, the top end of the stock sliced my wrist open and I wear that reminder to this day. It looks like I tried to commit suicide. So, I tell everyone - clamp your stock.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

New adventures on the horizon


I have accepted a new position with National Pen Co. In Shelbyville, TN and I start next Monday (8-2). This is the first job that I have taken in over 3 years that I truly feel is a solid fit for my skills. I KNOW how to take care of my customers and that is what I will be doing for National Pen.

Please join me in prayer that I will exceed my employer's expectations and that they will recognize my abilities and potential.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

#25 - Keeping your Drill Press ‘chucked up’: part 2

Last week we talked about putting your drill chuck on your Drill Press. I ran out of room to fully explore the subject, so here we go again.

Let’s say that you get the chuck installed and all appears to be well. But then, one day, you turn your DP on and the chuck falls off of the spindle nose. Now, what to do?
Well first, you’d want to make sure that the inside of the chuck taper is clean and free from any oil or contaminants. Once you’ve checked/cleaned the chuck, check/clean the spindle nose also.

NOTE: while you are checking/cleaning those tapers, this is a good time to inspect the surface of the tapers closely. The tapers need to be smooth and free from any galling. ‘Galling’ is a machinists term that refers to the tendency of metals, scrubbing together under force, to grind and scar each other. If your chuck has been loose on the spindle nose (unknown to you) for a while, the two parts may have galled their surfaces. IF they have, it is usually useless to try to get them to properly seat again. (The prescription is to replace both parts and start fresh.)

Ok, let’s say that you’ve checked for galling and found both the chuck and the spindle nose to be smooth and in good shape. Now, you’ve cleaned them again and they are now absolutely oil-free and dry as a bone. Take the chuck and ram it sharply onto the spindle nose.
Now, it’s time for the 2x4 and small sledge hammer again. Swing the table out of the way so that you can get a pretty decent swing with your sledge. Retract the chuck jaws to prevent them from getting bent and put your 2x4 under the chuck. Hold the 2x4 with your ‘weak’ hand and use your dominant hand to swing that sledge upward and SMACK the 2x4 (which is against the chuck) very hard.

As I said last week, Tapers seat best with a shock to them. A good 3lb sledge and a 2x4 block will allow you to deliver that shock to the chuck without risking damage to your chuck or Drill Press.

If you continue to have your chuck fall off, there may be a misfit between the two parts, or you may be asking the Drill Press to do something it was not designed to do (like milling, or using an out of balance item in the chuck) and the design of the chuck/spindle taper was not intended to account for that.

#24 - Keeping your Drill Press ‘chucked up’

Well, Mrs. Mayberry is doing good and you all know a lot more about her now, than you did. After a short commercial, let’s get back on the Tooltrack this week. Your columnist is always networking and open to new career opportunities. You can find me on LinkedIn: and I’d be happy to talk with you. If you’re aware of something, drop me a note and we’ll connect.

Now, what about Drill Press chucks?
I was one of those ‘poor folks’ who didn’t have a drill press during my ‘learning how to work on stuff’ years and let me tell you what, by the time I got older and realized what I had been missing…Hoo-boy, was life in the shop so much easier with one around.

Most of today’s ‘home/hobbyist’ drill presses use a taper to hold the chuck onto the spindle. Some manufacturers have the chuck already installed, while others ask the buyer to do it. In any event, the following information will come in handy.

Drill Press Tapers & Chucks usually fall into one of two categories: A spindle with a male taper and the chuck having a female taper; or a spindle with a female taper, a chuck with a female taper and an adapter with a male taper on each end that goes between the chuck and spindle. Each style has their place, with the adaptor style being used more on the bigger Presses.

Alright, there’s your ‘taper background’, now let’s get specific. Drill Press tapers engage (‘seat’) best with a shock. I know some manufacturers who tell you to just push them together, but that’s not the best way. Let’s say that you have a Drill Press with a female tapered chuck and the spindle has the male taper sticking down. First, clean the tapers completely to remove any oil, grease or coating that could prevent metal on metal contact. My favorite solution to this is an old rag saturated with acetone (NOTE: if you use acetone, be aware that it is highly combustible). Next, once the tapers are cleaned, turn the chuck so as to retract the chuck jaws. Next, Place the chuck onto the spindle taper by hand. Finally comes the ‘shock’ part. Put a small 2X4 underneath the chuck jaw opening and use a small mallet (I have a 3lb sledge for this) to hit upward on the 2X4 (chuck bottom). One good sharp whack ought to do it.

Once the tapers are seated properly, they will usually remain engaged unless something too large or out of balance is put into the chuck.

#23 - The Story of Mrs. Mayberry - Part 4

Picking up where we left off, with Mrs. Mayberry back on the road and us thoroughly enjoying her…We’ve won a “people’s choice” award, a second in class at an antique auto show and had her in a Christmas parade in Millington, TN…and the adventure is just beginning.

Since the time I originally wrote this story, we put another 6000 miles on Mrs. Mayberry and even drove her all the way to Branson, MO for a show. Unfortunately in 2005, time, and not being used for those 10 years, took its toll and the motor lost its compression. We just couldn’t get her cranked again. It wasn’t unexpected because getting 60,000 miles out of a car back in 1955 was doing pretty good, even for one that was maintained perfectly. It was still kind of sad, tho.

Due to a job change and relocating to Murfreesboro from Jackson, I wasn’t able to get to work on the motor until 2008. But work on her, we did. I had Mike’s Speed Shop do the machine work (by the way- those guys are great!) We bored her out, put hardened valve seats in and a new camshaft. I even found a decent ‘how-to’ book about the Ford Y-blocks and put a couple of tricks into the motor to keep her lubricated far better than she was out of the Ford factory.

Anyway, we got her going again and have been going to shows and cruise-ins for over 2 years now and but for a leaky top radiator hose, she has been just fine. We even drove her back to Mt. Airy to visit the daughter of the original owner- that was a 7 hour, 410 mile trip –one way. I must say that big old 281 (it was a 272 but we bored it out, remember?) just rolled on down the highway. She wasn’t designed for interstates because there weren’t any back in 1955, so we cruise down the State roads whenever possible and practical.

We do hang out at the Auto Garage in Cannonsburgh a lot and it’s quite possible that you might see us out on the roads when the weather is good. We even had occasion to display her at our church (World Outreach) last father’s day and it was really a hoot talking to the folks about her. There was one particular lady about my age (maybe a few years older) who said she had learned to drive on a ’55 Ford. She stopped by before service, and then was back again after service, so, me being me, I told her “If you can remember the trick to starting it, here’s the keys, take her for a spin.” She looked flabbergasted…and then you could see the wheels in her mind turning…trying to remember what the ‘trick’ is.

She didn’t recall it, but I love connecting with people’s fond memories of their past - that’s what it’s all about.

Friday, July 9, 2010

#22 - The Story of Mrs. Mayberry - Part 3

Picking up where we left off, with us going back to Mt. Airy and trying to get Ms. Mayberry on the trailer for the trip home, and finding a dead battery… Even though I was never a Boy Scout, I have always believed in being prepared so I went to my truck and took a 6 volt battery out of the back. I had used this battery in my 1934 Ford, but had recently changed that car to a 12 volt system, so this battery was sitting there waiting to be used elsewhere. Little did I know that it would be in a 1955 Ford Fairlane. When Mr. Mittman saw me take the battery out, he said, “Wow, you really did come ready for anything.” We put my 6 volt battery in Mrs. Mayberry, cranked her up, loaded her up, and headed for home.

The trip home was uneventful and once we got back, I put the car in the air and proceeded to give her a good once over. The brake cylinders were corroded, the exhaust pipes were rotted and the master cylinder leaked. Even the heater core was leaking onto the carpet. I replaced all the brake components (hoses, shoes, cylinders, etc) and bypassed the heater. It still ran kind of rough on take off, but I thought a good tune-up was in order. To my surprise, I took her down to get new exhaust pipes, and mufflers, installed and once those were in, she ran like a new car. The old mufflers had corroded and collapsed internally.

But Mrs. Mayberry was on the road…July of 2003.

We put about 1000 miles on her and only had one real scare. On the way back home from a cruise in Union City, TN, she started running horribly, almost like on 2 cylinders. I thought we had broken a rocker arm or something internal in the engine. As we limped along, I decided to try the choke to see if the carburetor was plugged. Lo and behold, she perked right up and we made it back home fine. After getting home, I decided to rebuild the carburetor and in my “junk box” I found a carburetor that my dad had used on one of his dirt track stock cars back in the late 1950’s. It was exactly the right carb for Mrs. Mayberry, so I rebuilt it and put it in. Boy, did that wake that big 272 cubic inch motor up! After a while I had to put in smaller carburetor jets, but that’s not surprising…Ms. Mayberry isn’t a race car. She is just a sweet old car that has found herself a new home with folks who appreciate her and who will enjoy making new family memories with her.

Next week - part 4.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

#21 - The Story of Ms. Mayberry - Part 2

Picking up where we left off, with Ms. Mayberry (a one-owner, 1955 Ford Fairlane, Town Sedan) getting banished to a garage for 10 years….Unfortunately, this was the same garage that she used for sheltering her cats. Sometime around 2001, Mr. Mittman bought the car from Mr. Harris’s daughter and took it down to his shop. Once there, the damage from the cat urine was evident. Some parts of the lower body and the chrome bumpers and guards needed attention. The most fortunate part of it was that the car’s windows were always up, so no cat ever got inside.

Mr. Mittman had the bumpers and accessory bumper guards re-chromed and the gas tank boiled out and ‘re-nued’ (which is an operation to coat the inside of the tank with epoxy). He had the front door upholstery redone because of wear around the door handles and did the bodywork necessary to be able to repaint the car in its original colors: Sea Sprite Green and Snowshoe White. Once he had the car looking good, he parked it alongside his shop and waited for the right folks to come by.

It looks like my wife and I were “the right folks” because after talking to Mr. Mittman, and hearing what his price for the car was, we decided to go back and take a closer look…and this time, we’d take the car trailer with us.

The third weekend of June, we made a flying trip back to Mt. Airy to seriously check the car out. When we drove up to Mr. Mittman’s shop the car was sitting there running and I had to look twice at the turning fan blade to make sure…it was smooth. We got in it to take a test drive and started off down the street. At the first traffic light, I stepped on the brakes and the right front tire locked into a skid. That squealing tire sure made lots of folks sit up and take notice. Then, after taking off again, she stumbled a bit, like she might need a tune-up. We drove over to Ms. Starr’s house (the daughter of the original owner) and the brakes wouldn’t stop the car. Luckily, the parking brake worked ok, so we made it up her driveway just fine.

Ms. Starr came out and talked with us and told us of how many fond memories she had of being in the car with her folks. She even made the comment that my wife reminded her of her own mother getting out of the car. After a while, we decided we needed to get on the road, so we headed back to Mr. Mittman’s shop, to finalize the deal. Once we had completed the paperwork, we went outside to crank the car and put it on the trailer for the trip back to Jackson, TN…and the battery was dead.

Next week- part 3.