Max's Blog

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Re: Max's Blog

New postby mars-red » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:54 pm

My wife and I had a great weekend, a mini-getaway while grandma and grandpa looked after the kids. We went up to northern Vermont to visit family, primarily to meet my cousin's little one for the first time (he's already 4 months old, how time flies!). The visit was great, and the little one is a very happy baby! Mommy and Daddy are a little tired, but happy and doing very well. This cousin of mine is a machine tool nut too, so we had some great "man time" together. He has an old 9" south bend lathe that he rescued from the scrap heap, but the neatest thing is his little propane fueled foundry. I got a great crash course in casting, and even did an aluminum melt and pour myself. It gets hot enough to melt brass, which is pretty awesome. He sent me home with a nice big can full of some Petrobond sand, a good amount for the small stuff I plan on trying. A buddy of his hooks him up with a lot of surplus tooling and accessories, so I also came home with some tiny end mills and counterbores, a small but nicely made screw-type bench press, and a box full of O1 and A2 tool steel that were off cuts from a shop somewhere. I also brought home a couple of tiny indicators - a 0.0001" Federal plunger-style indicator, and a 0.0001" Starrett Last Word test indicator... both of those are for me to work on and send back to my cousin, they're a little "sticky".
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby Glyn Meredith » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:32 am

It's always good to read about a man having a good time, Max.
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby mars-red » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:22 pm

A little bit of fun news for our family, we just got a new (well, new to us) car for my wife (for general hauling-the-kids-around and family trips but it's really her that will be driving it most all the time). Prior to this, the most we had ever spent on a car was about $1500 so we're new to this whole car payment thing... but we got a great deal (we bought it private sale, not through a dealership) and it's such a pleasant vehicle to drive, not to mention all the room inside. Our criteria, other than price, was something with 3 row seats (for family trips that include the grandparents), all wheel drive (I kind of enjoy sliding around during the winter months but my wife will have none of that), at least 20mpg on the highway, and something that looks presentable and somewhat professional (for my wife's cake decorating business, visiting with customers and making deliveries - that sort of thing). This is replacing our 1995 Passport (which has been great), and if we're generous we can say it was getting 18mpg on the highway. The new car is rated at 22mpg highway. Our 2500 mile round trip to visit my relatives down south should now use up 25 fewer gallons of fuel, while giving us a quieter, more spacious and comfortable ride.

Top of the list was the 2009+ Honda Pilot... but they were just way out of our price range. My next choice would have been a slightly older Pilot, or the Honda Odyssey but we borrowed one for a trip down to Rhode Island a couple years ago, and the seats were terrible for my wife's back... so those were off the list. Out of nowhere, we saw an ad for a 2009 Ford Flex that was in our price range. Both of us had forgotten they existed (you just don't see them around, at least where we are). We really liked the specs, and the way they looked (it's sort of a love-it-or-hate-it style), and I liked that they're sort of oddball. This was one of 6 for sale within about a 200 mile radius of us, according to all the online listings we could find, and it was the only one listed private sale and squarely within our price range. I ran a carfax report on it, half expecting some insurance repair to have been done, given the asking price, and it was squeaky clean. Nothing but some brake work and oil changes. We went to look at it and both loved it, so made up a sales agreement with the seller. The seller was great to work with but our bank was a different story. It was a clown show from the beginning, all the way right through to the end... one of the most stressful processes I've had to endure. But it's over, and we're happy members of the "Ford Family" now. :)

I don't think the previous owners ever cleaned it until just before we came to look at it. It was sort of cleaned and vacuumed... but no detailing had ever been done, as evidenced by the stuff built up in all the crevices. They ran it through a car wash, I think, but nobody had ever cleaned between the spokes of the wheels, or inside the license plate recesses. I think once I spend some time cleaning it up and detailing it, she'll look nearly new.

Here are a few pics of her, looking pretty sharp in our driveway:
flex 1.jpg


flex 2.jpg


flex 3.jpg
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby Marty101 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:18 pm

Well,she looks sweet from here. Sounds like you have a winner though. My wife and I have a history of buying cars similar to yours,and we have had great good luck over the years.
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby L48X55 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:56 pm

Congrats Max. Pretty good looking ride you have there.
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby mars-red » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:23 am

Thanks guys!

I spent this evening after work cleaning and detailing. I got through both sides in the front, and I think that's most of the battle won. 4 years of the previous owners' sludge built up in all the crevices, and all the places people tend to touch. I honestly believe that car had never been cleaned until the quick vacuuming they gave it before selling. Other than some scuffs here and there, and a few cracks on the driver's seat, it looks great now.
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby Stephan » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:08 am

Looks like an oversize station wagon. I like a bit of space.
Never seen one in Aus.
We do have a think called the Ford territory.
Very popular.
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby mars-red » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:30 pm

Stephan wrote:Looks like an oversize station wagon. I like a bit of space.
Never seen one in Aus.
We do have a think called the Ford territory.
Very popular.


It definitely has lots of space! I just did some checking and it looks like it was only sold in north america and the middle east. Despite getting rave reviews for its reliability, library-quiet interior, excellent all wheel drive system, and overall affordability, it didn't sell terribly well. I think a lot of people were just turned off by the styling.

We're planning on putting all that space to use in a couple of weeks. 7 of us will be piling in and taking a 2 hour trip up north for our oldest boy's 5th birthday. :)
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby richiec » Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:03 pm

Nice truck, Max. I love my Fords, currently driving a 2006 Mustang V6 (6th Mustang I have owned going back to a 65 convertible)that I bought new in 2006, it currently has 288,000 miles on it as I use it for my business as an automotive warranty inspector here in NJ and NY. Never thought the SOHC V6 would last but not a peep out of the engine. Recently it took some major work, front lower control arms, rear lower control arms, rear shocks, front struts but that is normal maintenance after this many miles. Just remember to keep the oil changed, use only Ford filters(never had a problem yet) and the Ford synthetic blend oil and she will run forever.
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby mars-red » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:46 pm

richiec wrote:Nice truck, Max. I love my Fords, currently driving a 2006 Mustang V6 (6th Mustang I have owned going back to a 65 convertible)that I bought new in 2006, it currently has 288,000 miles on it as I use it for my business as an automotive warranty inspector here in NJ and NY. Never thought the SOHC V6 would last but not a peep out of the engine. Recently it took some major work, front lower control arms, rear lower control arms, rear shocks, front struts but that is normal maintenance after this many miles. Just remember to keep the oil changed, use only Ford filters(never had a problem yet) and the Ford synthetic blend oil and she will run forever.


Thanks, Rich! :) That's pretty impressive mileage on your Mustang! It took me a while to warm up to Fords, but their cars have really been impressing me more and more over the past 10 years or so. They seem to have fought past the gasket problems that I kept hearing about with their big V6s in the late 90s/early 2000s. Just like the one in your Mustang, they seem to be bullet proof these days.
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby mars-red » Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:30 pm

Lately I'm really enjoying working with cast iron! I had ordered some class 40 gray iron from speedymetals a while ago, and it took me a while to get around to doing anything with it. The other day I noticed it's actually Dura-bar, which made me pretty happy.

I bought this stuff to make some small toolmakers cubes, V blocks, squares, straight edges, that sort of thing. I ended up needing to make a lathe dog big enough to take some larger stock, and decided to use some of this iron to make a split clamping style work carrier to fit the need. I started by hacksawing a length off of my 3/4" x 1 1/2" bar (it's actually larger than that - due to the rounded corners, it is sized by what it will "finish" down to once it is machined past the round corners), then sawing it down the middle. Here is the bar, with one of the rough hacksawed pieces and the other piece fresh off the mill after being squared up:
r_sawing and milling.jpg


The poor lighting in the photo really exaggerates the finish on the milled piece - it was actually smooth to the touch.

After squaring up both pieces, I laid out 150 degree angles on them, and milled those out, then drilled through them and tapped one of them for M6 threads:
r_finishing in progress.jpg


That last picture is part way through finishing one piece, while the other piece is shown exactly as it came off the milling machine. I still need to cross drill one of the pieces for a driving pin.

Knowing how nicely this stuff machines now, I may be getting to my vee block and toolmaker's cube projects a little sooner. :)
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby mars-red » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:48 pm

Exciting stuff today, it is the first day of school for our little guys. It's actually our youngest's first day of school ever. He was pretty excited this morning, mostly about getting to wear his new backpack. :)

I took the day off from work yesterday to take my oldest to his specialist appointment, it was a great day out. He loved getting to ride in Daddy's noisy little car, and we stopped at Tractor Supply Co. on the way home to browse all the cool stuff there. He had some birthday money to spend, and ended up getting a die cast model car that he fell in love with - a 340, 4 barrel, Duster. The boy has fine taste. :) In their clearance racks they had sets of pretty nice looking HSS drill bits, with 2 of each of the larger sizes and 3 or more of each of the smaller sizes, for $10 so I grabbed a set of those. If they're as good as they seem, I may go back to pick up another box of them. Their tool section looked like it had really been picked over, it seemed like the shelves and racks were only about half stocked. Kind of a shame, I was looking for a grinding wheel dresser and a couple of files but they didn't have any dressers in stock and absolutely no files of any kind in stock. I'm wondering if that's a sign of something going on with them.
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby mars-red » Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:07 pm

Things are getting busy lately with the holidays coming up. Lots of cake work for my wife, and lots of visiting friends and relatives. Last month my dad and brother came up, from Alabama, for bird hunting and stopped by for a few days on their way through. The kids had a great time seeing them, and my brother decided to try out my little watchmaker's lathe by making a tiny M1.4 screw out of some drill rod. My dad was back up this way again, last week, for deer season. My cousin, his wife, and their little one came to visit this past weekend and it was great catching up with them. My cousin and I spent some time starting work on a small foundry for me. He also had a go on the watchmaker's lathe, and he liked it so much that after he made a tiny screw he decided to stay up late and practice turning by hand with a graver. He got pretty good at it! This coming weekend we're off to celebrate a very early Christmas with friends of ours who we won't be able to see until after the new year, then in a few weeks we're heading to Alabama to stay with my folks for Christmas. The kids are both old enough this year so that they each have that one thing they desperately want for Christmas. They wrote their letters to Santa, pleading their cases. :) Their gifts are actually ordered but it's up in the air to whether they'll be delivered in time for us leaving town. Fingers crossed!
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby mars-red » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:21 am

Over the past 6 months both the kids have been really getting into Legos, and I really enjoy having "Lego time" with them. I think they teach me as much about building neat stuff as I do them! They especially love building robots.

One evening we were building random stuff and I had an idea to build a lever operated slide, like you'd find on an old production machine. Then I improved it by giving it dovetailed sliding surfaces. The next evening I decided to make a slimmer, lighter version and then make a lathe for it to attach. It came out pretty neat - the lever operated slide works, the carriage moves (not screw driven though - no Lego leadscrews available in our inventory!), and the tailstock moves.

The next morning I woke up and heard the kids playing with Legos - I assumed they had dismantled it, like they usually do with whatever we build, but instead I went in to find that they had moved the "cutting tool" and it was now set up for a facing operation. I'm sure it was just a huge coincidence but still - how great!

r_lego lathe.jpg
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Re: Max's Blog

New postby Marty101 » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:30 am

Max,you are a good father. :D That is just so cool,something like that would have given my mind a real push at that age-hey,I'm assuming 4-5 years?
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