As I advised Peoplenomics readers Saturday, the direction of writing around here has gone wandering off on its own. Tied to the keyboard, I’m forced to follow but the destination is becoming clear.
Let me back up a ways and tell you the story from the top.
Remember the Lathe Project?
A week or two back I mentioned my hare-brained plan to build a shaft extension for my favorite electronics work light. Too short, it needs to be 18-inches higher in order not to crash into my electronics computer’s LED screen.
In that first episode, I’d come up with the plan, material arrived, was cut down to size, and the first piece was chucked up. Then time ran out for the week.
Mid week this week I got a time block so I wandered back to the lathe. Finished turning down one end of the piece. Taking it over to the vise, and pulling out an easy 5/8″ x 11 coarse die, finished the end off (pardon the grease spots) to where it would screw into the other section:
Made a prepping note in this process: I am out of cutting oil! OMG…goes on the Amazon list, right?
So this end pops in the chuck (I’ll do the face finishing last, of course, and might even use the knurler to add some texture to the project). Into the chuck goes the other end and I start the process of turning down this end to a 50 mm long by 15 mm shaft to go into the existing light base. I got this far…
…when DAMN IT! The piece stopped turning.
Busted lathe? Popped open the gear housing and what is missing?
The drive belt! The drive belt which is 10-years old, or so, and now looks like this:
I bet you recognize this, right?
“OMG George, a Gates 5M710 belt. 3/16th’s wide at the top and about 28″ inches stretched out a bit!”
Now here’s where it gets interesting:
My first stop was on Amazon where I was able to find the right belt, but at the wrong price. Sure, there was a $16 make-shift, but one reviewer said it lasted 2-hours before fraying. The real Gates 5M710 wouldn’t ship for 6-10 days. And that meant a 2-week project delay. And $52-bucks for two belts. Grainger had the belts, too. But now we’re in the $65 range. So did an outfit in Canada for CA$31, but they wanted CA$33 for shipping one belt.
Off to eBay. where for a stick of chewing gum less than $35 two 5M710’s were had – and should be here in a week or less.
Tooling Matters, Too
Again, while Amazon used to be the go-to place for things like 1/2 inch shank lathe bits, as long as there was a break in the project waiting for belts I decided to get a fresh set of carbide tipped cutting tools.
I usually buy these in a 20-tool pack because the Chineseums are usually OK for quick home projects. While I was able to find a suitable set on the Zon the problem with it was there paint color on the shanks was the same for C2 and the C6 bits.
On the other hand, same price point on eBay, I picked up an equivalent set out of an importer in Los Angeles. Tipping the sale in that direction? Different color tooling for C2 and C6.
If you’re not-yet walking around with a few hundred hours of lathe time under your bits, the C2 carbide is best for things like copper, bronze, and cast iron. The C6 tends to chatter a bit on non-ferrous. (Sometimes a lot.) On the other hand, the harder C6 carbide runs way better on steel of almost any type. So it’s the cat’s meow.
As I was sitting there contemplating, something just didn’t seem right…and then all of a sudden…
Alarm Bells Went Off
Understand Amazon is our go-to click for most things out here in the woods: UPS and the Post Office have worn ruts in the road. Seldom do we find a better price on eBay. In fact, for a lot of radio parts, people buy in bulk on Amazon (or from Digi-Key or Mouser up in Dallas) and then resell onsies and twosies on eBay. Too much work for my business model tastes, but there you go.
Point is, I got to poking around in belts and small hoses and the like and was shocked to find that there are big delays on a surprising amount of goods coming out of China now.
This – coming on top of the near zero attendance at the Japan Olympics – and with president Slow showing our military to the flying life boats first – I begin to wonder (in Peoplenomics Wednesday coming up) whether Biden’s going to be China’s “Force Multiplier” when they take Taiwan. When is key.
I’ll expand on the details (should be a 72-hour takeover if China does it the way my nightmares run) in PN Wednesday. But it gets me to a much more important discussion we need to have right now. While there are still bolts at Tractor Supply, gas tanks in the welding yards, and oh yeah… Gates 5M710 belts to be had.
Prepping the Resilient Shop
I keep between 10 and 30 rolls of various printable plastics on hand for small parts. Because I have a pretty clear vision of what UrbanSurvival will have to offer/trade when the crap hits the fan.
We will have solar power – so for a few calories or a can of Coke – you will be able to get a cell battery charged here. Bigger battery, more calories. Maybe a beer or two. Dozen eggs will work.
There’s also a great deal of ham radio equipment so the first half-dozen customers will be able to get some well-restored tube or solid-state HF comms gear. Bring food and drink to trade. Rum if you have it.
Then Friday of this week, Sainsmart had a kick-ass sale on, so I picked up another Ender3 3D printer (clone) for $135.
Combined with a couple of Linux laptops, open source software, and so forth, I should be able to gin-up metal replacement parts for almost anything.
No, it wont be cobalt steel, drop forged. It will instead be recycled 6061 aluminum, mainly. The workflow would go like this:
- Receive a critical part (that’s broken)
- Rough out a design in CAD
- Convert to .STL and print (near empty fill if possible)
- Have customer take the (*light infill to save material) part home to test fit.
When the customer comes back (with or without changes) then:
- Use the plastic part as a mold
- Ram up green sand…
- Step outside the shop to the two garbage cans…
Which – when opened, reveal about 300 pounds of 6061 ready to melt:
“Wait! Those look like already-fabbed parts!”
Quite so. Easy to melt, easy to clean up in the shop.
My buddy Jim Lewis of emachineshop.com offered me the scrap which was aluminum parts that didn’t past their (strict) tolerance testing! (Didn’t need to wait for an answer, lol…)
There’s a wide variety in the scrap, too: Made some faux spears for the Trader Vic’s themed (Polynesian looking) dining room a few years back. (Elaine had me dip the ends in blood red paint, too…and yeah, they are that sharp…). In addition, the gizmo’s and odd pieces of plate (anything from 22 gauge and up seems) to come in handy for all kinds of projects.
Metal cutting blade in the bandsaw and it’s cake!
Speaking of Jim’s place (the ideal place to get parts made online!) got a new finishing option announcement from them this week:
“Black oxide is a functional surface finish formed by immersing parts into a hot alkaline bath. Typically matte black, this coating reduces glare and enhances corrosion resistance. Get your next batch of parts black oxide coated or finished with one of our many other options….”
Worth a click over to https://emachineshop.com just to download the free software and design that new Hummer or replacement barrel for that Barrett 50 you’re restoring for your “reach out and touch” plan…
Now the Deadly Serious Part
One of my next purchases will be another 70 or 100 pound propane tank. Plus there are a number of $200-$300 class small melting furnaces available on Amazon. Some with tools and a crucible. Add propane and you’re good.
While there is still a supply chain, I figure it might be worth it to have a backup to our Lionel’s Backyard Metal Casting furnace kit. I don’t think these are available any longer, at least that’s my sense from reading Lionel Furnace Build | over at The Home Foundry. Home Foundry dot org is a goldmine of metal casting knowledge.
Our tasking list around here still has a number of big projects to run with before we get to the highest risk window of “stuff hitting the fans” in March-April of next year with Taiwan.
But, if there’s a 10-day string of good weather in the South China area in mid to late October – assuming the ‘stan will be in full blooming blow-up by then thanks to the genius-in-chief, then an earlier start to festivities is possible.
Close as we can figure it, we’ll want all the materials on hand before market crash time for such diverse projects including:
- Two years worth of all filters, all belts, all hoses for all vehicles. Which would include the lawn and big tractor. Lube oil, hydraulic jugs and filters.
- At least 250 gallons of long-duration storable gas and 300 gallons of diesel for the tractor.
- Parts to build a squirrel-proof 12X 16 (or larger) greenhouse adjacent to the house.
- Replacement of the old deck done by then.
- Maybe another freezer and the possible addition of more solar assets.
- Plus the ultra high performance ham antennas.
Seems like a pretty ambitious run, to be sure. But, it’s better to spend and have than save than have-not at this point, we figure.
Of course, we’re nuts, live at the end of the string, and at our age, could be early onset something-or-other too. Causing delusions, perhaps?
No…we just checked the TV. We’re not crazy, but we won’t comment here on the rest of the world!
This morning’s key takeaway is?
When the crap hits the fan, should it do so, there will be high value people and no value people. No value people are presently mostly expert at dividing people, at yammering social justice, at pontificating and rabble-rousing. All of which becomes instantly useless overhead when the meals stop. Bullshitters lose out.
When order leaves, hunger, thirst, and medical issues arise, the people who will be high value in [whatever comes next] will be those who can supply tangible deliverables.
For these refer to the seven major systems of life:
- Food: Can you grow it? Experienced?
- Water: Can you harvest and filter? (subset of food)
- Shelter: Can you improvise something out of the rain?
- Comms: Can you communicate? Handle basic radio, Morse?
- Transport: Got a ride that still works. Need a road? EMP proof? Stored fuel?
- Energy: Can you come up with clever sources of power?
- Environment: Medicines and toilet paper are more useful than CRT, right?
- Finance: Got items you can barter? You can’t eat a bitcoin.
That’s our big picture strategically: If you can’t run a good assortment of shop tools and don’t have other required skillsets, you don’t want to fall into the disposable human category. That’s a group that the “news” seems to tell us is growing by the day. You don’t want want to be one.
The woke will get buried. The producers will survive. History teaches us this never really changes.
Horrific as it is to “think like the Taliban” look who they keep and who they don’t. Ideas don’t matter, much. Actions speak louder. Calories and water scream.
Wednesday we’ll give PN readers our one-decision investment of a lifetime that’s now in view with all these pieces swirling around the bowl…
Oh, and Lucky Gunner had the best prices online this week for our shopping and topping-off the “reach out and touch” tools. Subsonic 22s remind me of cap guns when the Major and I were kids…
Those were better times. Before corruption became an industry.
Write when you get rich,