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Doug Ayen

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ugh, that was gross [Aug. 26th, 2009|12:37 am]
Doug Ayen
A few years back, I bought a college-level metallurgy workbench, with a non-working hydraulic press, a salt pot furnace I've never tested, and a functional rolling mill. Functional, that is, until a few months ago when it just stopped working.

I finally got out a screwdriver and opened up the back to see if it was something simple. No such luck.

The area above and around what looks like a dc power converter and distribution bus was covered by an ancient rodent nest. I don't know how long it's been in there, but years at least, possibly before I bought it. At any rate, I poked at it with the screwdriver and encountered an amoniacal stench I've not encountered since my experenets with sal amoniac as a fluxing agent. (yes, it works, but the stench will keep you from using it in any other than trace quantities.) The nest was a made of shreds of paper and debris that was solidified brown mass of stink, excrement, and corrosion. At least it was dry.

I donned a face guard and grabbed a blower and held my breath: the stench even without inhaling was unbearable, my eyes watered and my gorge rose, but before I fled the forge for the night I'd gotten rid of te majority of the nest and got a good enough look at the interior to make an assessment.

The wiring is partially intact, but quite a few wires have been severed, probably gnawed through. Much of it is still covered in residue, and some still hidden by bits of nest that were stickier than the rest. Most of it can probably be salvaged, but it might end up requiring a lot of splicing, and it might end up being better to just replace the wiring completely for some circuits.

The DC power supply was right under the nest, and is still too gungy to get a good idea of its condition.

The distribution bus on top is clearly heavily corroded, and I can't tell yet how bad that is, though it looks sturdy enough that it's probably fixable. At least a few of the wires look like they've corroded through completely at the terminal block. There are some electronic components underneath the Bakelite block that I haven't gotten a good look at yet, I think they're the speed controller for the rolling mill. If those are damaged I may need help getting this operational again.

The hydraulics for the press look good, so that's probably that nest again, assuming it's been there all along.

The rolling mill itself is pretty complex: there's a dc motor connected via a v-belt to a big-ass gear reducer, which in turn is connected to the two 2" dia. rollers by a universal jointed linkage, so the roller gap can be adjusted. All the mechanical bits seem to be working, so again it looks like damage from that nest is keeping this from working.

Once it's aired out, I'll finish cleaning it up and surveying the damage.