Monday, February 24, 2014

Enter The Machine Era

Adventures in Craigslist volume 4.9.6:

The ad went something to the effect of "Pop's hobby shop for sale..." and was fairly non-descript.  The listings of its contents, however, were thorough and included the magic word that was triggered on the search engine....."lathe."  I have been looking for one for quite some time and apart from one occasionally popping up in Phoenix or Cottonwood for well upwards of $2000, it looked at that moment that the nearest lathes were in Texas or California....the closest one that looked like a good buy was in Tennessee.  Yeah, that's not exactly feasible.  I decided to do the Craigslist search and turned up the ad from Sedona.  A lathe in Sedona?!?  The next day I was on my down the canyon way for a look figuring that at worst I'd at least get in a good ride.  

Here I met Gary, an older gentleman who had reached the time in his life to disband his workshop.  His work revolved around saw repair of all types and the tooling associated included many sorts of precision grinders, cutting, and welding implements.  In the lightest corner of the low ceiling basement shop set the lathe, a Grizzly branded Taiwanese unit from the mid-late 1980s.....of (not knowing too terribly much about machines) adequate size for most things bike......and.....calibrated metric.  It appeared to have seen little use in its life with Gary being its sole owner.  With all chucks, a variety of tooling, taper drill bits, regular drill bits, live center, steady rest, and a plethora of geek literature.....SOLD.  Now for the new to get 1400 pounds of import steel out of Gary's basement and up canyon to Moustache World Headquarters.  I left a deposit and my word to extract it the following weekend. 

Now this, folks, is reason number 367 why it is good to have redneck for any task.  I called The Viking and his father, The Graydog, and let them know the task at hand, and bribed them accordingly for their muscles and equipment.  Just so happened that The Viking had a machine dolly sitting along side his garage, and his pop has a rock extracting dump trailer with a 10,000 pound winch and a rig to pull it that just needed the miles put on.  How cool is that?!?  Two full carpentry sets were also in tow, as was one lovely set of extra hands and associated muscle.  It would have bummed me out to see old Gary move a muscle in moving this thing, so we came equipped to best improvise upon our rough plan once we got on site.

First up was to rearrange the shop to allow for the hoist onsite to access the machine.  Then to rearrange the structure of the machine car to fit the constraints of the space and allow its casters to be positioned 1). for maximum function within our small amount of accessible basement floor space; 2). for maximum stability during the transport up canyon.  Cart and machine would be strapped as one unit in the trailer for the trip to Flagstaff. 

Careful rigging of the machine to Gary's hoist allowed us to float it effortlessly, with near perfect balance, though with tight clearances in the small shop, and position the machine on our newly modified car.  Now:  up the stairs and outside.  We rigged a snatch block (pulley system) to the dump trailer to make the first winch pull up the 16" of stairs and tugged the car up ramps and onto a plywood covering of an otherwise gravel landing.  An automotive jack on wheels helped do the fine positioning and get the casters over the bumps of our ramp.  

Our plywood insta-floor allowed us to turn the machine and car in place using the jack without having to deal with a more difficult surface.  This eliminated the need for overly complicated trailer backing.  With a simple backing and a tilt of the trailer hydraulics, we matched the ramp's grade to the edge of the trailer and a second pull had our carted lathe on board.  Rigging was carefully devised to protect the more fragile parts of the machine, and three hours after our arrival, with a minimal amount of hiccups, we were on our way back north. 

The trip would give this machine a glimpse of the varied and rugged terrain its products would soon see.  I doubt many other machines have made this trip up Oak Creek Canyon.....why would they?  Machines don't really exist in Northern Arizona unless they're associated with the railroad or timber cutting.

(insert your favorite too cool for school, Men in Black, Matrix, Mission Impossible references here)

We dumped the trailer car assembly easily in the garage of Moustache World Headquarters and left it for another day...or maybe three or four of positioning, repositioning, setting, aligning, and overhaul.  I figured my first foray into machine life should be involving myself intricately into all of its parts, moving and otherwise.  She was disassembled in a late night, and reassembled in the coming days.  Somewhere in the meantime, the shop was prepped with wiring and rearrangement.  Despite what I normally post here, the whole real reason I keep the shop alive is so I can rearrange whenever the whim strikes to acquire something new or do something different.  This time I've maxed out my electrical sub panel.  Everything acquired from here on needing 240v will need to share a circuit with either this machine or the compressor.....otherwise a new circuit and wiring off the main breaker will be required at the cost of.....??  That should be fun.

The lathe is up and running now though.  Nothing like throwing yourself right into machine work.  It is fascinating for sure.  I'm looking forward to some bike projects on this thing and seeing how it can be setup in the frame shop!  Stay tuned folks!


  1. Score! Looks good in its new home.

  2. Electrical is cheap if you are the electrician....