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Workshop last Saturday [Jun. 20th, 2005|09:27 pm]
Doug Ayen
Workshop went pretty well. I only had one person show up, but fortunately he had a lot of rigging experience, which is what we needed to get that new toy off the truck.

Said toy is a metallurgical workstation from a university lab. It has a rolling mill, a furnace with many attachments for things like a salt pot, specific heating assemblies for different billets and crucibles, a hydraulic press (the only non-functional item in the bench), strain gauges for the mill and press, temperature sensors for the furnace, RPM measuring on the rolling mill, and assorted crucibles, fluxes, case hardening compounds, one unlabled large bag of granular white powder (soon to be tossed out), and a nice small jar of ferrocyanide.

Overall, for $99, it's a big pock. Many thanks to Allon for pointing this one out to me.

I suspect the hydraulic press just needs cleaning and adjustment, but even if the pump/spool assembly is toast, the frame and cylinder look fine. I'll test the input/output, change out the fluid, and see if I can ID and fix it this week.

The rolling mill is the jeweler's type, you set it to a fixed height and roll your material out to that thickness, so I won't be able to do tapers with it, but it seems to work fine. Should come in handy for the final thickness rolling for damascus, plus any other materials I want to get to an even thickness.

The furnace is electric, soft brick insulated, with a stainless steel salt pot with a thermocouple well about 4" on a side. I'm guessing this is a low-temp salt pot, it's pretty thin stainless steel, but once I get the furnace specs from the manufacturer, I may have someone make me a thick wall high temperature pot. I suspect the furnace has never been used, as the elements are not visibly oxidized.

There are several attachments that have heating elements included that look to be for specific tasks. One of them is a little assembly that I think was designed for sintering bronze for bearings, though it's kind of hard to tell exactly without a manual. Another one looks like it fits right on top of the furnace as a heated lid -- I'd guess that would heat up the crucibles fairly fast. A couple more I haven't quite figured out yet -- but nice to know I've got them.

We also got some blacksmithing in, the other guy (whose name I'm drawing a blank on, which is too bad as I'd like to thank him by name here) worked on some leaves, I did another fold on the damascus, then tried to run it through the rolling mill, but we were running out of propane and the billet was too cold, so I ended up with a delamination. No problem, I just need to pickle and reflux it, then weld again. 5 folds down, 5 to go.

Next open workshop will be July 9, on smelting iron ore. I've gotten a lot of good feedback on that one, so I'm hoping it goes well. Might even build a 2nd smelter, get two batches going at once.


[User Picture]From: oh_bother
2005-06-20 07:48 pm (UTC)

What a great find

Your workstation sounds great, From your discription it's hard to envision all that in one station...and the price is certainly right.

In my experience with rolling mills, I was taught you're never supposed to put steel through them, especially while hot. I think the rolls are tempered or at least case hardened. It might just be for non-ferrous. I'm not 100% sure as I've never worked with one in a blacksmithing situation. The rollers on mine are very subject to rust so I have to wipe them often.

Again, too bad I'm so far off as I'd love to attend the workshop...maybe invite someone with a video camera, it sounds great.
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[User Picture]From: blackanvil
2005-06-21 09:58 am (UTC)

Re: What a great find

Well, hot steel is softer than even aluminum, and certainly steel is rolled -- that's how all sheet and bar steel is made. Given the studliness of the roller, I'm sure it can handle it, at least in small sections.

As for dis-tempering, modern mini-mills like the McDonald rolling mill use unharded mild steel for the rollers -- again, the hot steel is much softer than the cold rollers, so the chance for damage is small. In addition, while the rollers do get hot, it's a while between heats, and they should cool off fairly rapidly unless I get overzealous with the rolling. We'll see.

These rollers have some oxidation on them, which I'll probably polish off in a bit. At any rate, even if I somehow manage to damage them, which decades of students at the university this came from managed to avoid doing, my primary use for it would be for final sizing.

This definitely isn't a jeweler's rolling mill -- my comment was about the design, not the intended use of the equipment. The student manaual that came with it (not an operators manual, but a series of experements and labs that use the workstation to teach about rolling, sintering, etc.) include rolling hot steel as a lab exercise.

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[User Picture]From: oh_bother
2005-06-21 10:25 am (UTC)

Re: What a great find

Thanks for the info...Just when I think I know everything...
I googled the McDonald rolling mill
I get what you're talking about now.
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[User Picture]From: blackanvil
2005-06-21 01:48 pm (UTC)

Re: What a great find

I'll probably build one of these as well, bought the plans a couple of weeks ago (on CD -- woot, easily manipulated blueprints!). Probably a winter project, but we'll see.
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