Machine Shop niche areas

I met a guy at the local scrap yard. He was dumping a couple of 55 gal dru
ms of swarf. He invited me to see has shop and I have since visited his sh
op a number of times. He has had the shop for about 6 months and does not
have any specialty. The major machines that he has are a manual lathe, a t
urning center , and a Bridgeport. And is located in Wilmington , De.
So does anyone have an idea of work he should be trying to cultivate?
Dan
Reply to
dcaster
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I met a guy at the local scrap yard. He was dumping a couple of 55 gal drums of swarf. He invited me to see has shop and I have since visited his shop a number of times. He has had the shop for about 6 months and does not have any specialty. The major machines that he has are a manual lathe, a turning center , and a Bridgeport. And is located in Wilmington , De.
So does anyone have an idea of work he should be trying to cultivate?
Dan
========================
Since I'm not well equipped to make a run of parts to tight tolerance I've watched for one-off custom repair or prototype work I could handle, and not seen much of any sort whether I could or couldn't do it. The small job shops that used to be plentiful in this area have faded away.
Last week at the county fair I asked the owners of antique machinery how they obtained spare parts. They told me that they could buy NOS or newly made spares and mostly needed broken iron castings repaired or replaced. Antique car owners gave similar answers.
I practiced digging with a Mahindra tractor and picked up some ideas to improve my sawmill. Did you know there are sheep and goats with four horns?
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Dealing with inventors is difficult if they need the parts engineered first, which is typical of EEs. Almost everything I've made at home was for my own projects or to show the engineers at work that their creation could be packaged in something better than a Bud chassis box.
A surprising number of the sellers and crafters I've talked to at fairs and flea markets formerly worked in high tech.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
Which reminds me, the Cat tail foundry is not too far away in PA. So if anyone needs something cast in Cast Iron let me know and I will try to help getting a new casting.
Dan
Reply to
dcaster
Any nearby factories that don't make everything themselves? He could contact them and leave a card for when they need some special one-off made, need some parts modified, etc. Leave your card at a few shops, eventually one will need something and call. Once you've helped them out once, you may get a call every once in a while.
Jon
Reply to
Jon Elson
in from local farmers . Could be anything from cleaning up an area on an implement (PTO) drive shaft to machining/fabricating and welding in a new gearbox mount plate on a bush hog . Your guy might want to look into the local auto and motorcycle/ATV/personal watercraft shops . Somebody's breakin' stuff that needs fixin' somewhere near him !
Reply to
Terry Coombs
If you know of any shops that closed up just because the owner died or retired find out what they were making towards the end. You might find a niche, and you might find some cool old machines that somebody is tired of looking at.
Reply to
Bob La Londe
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He is planning on contacting all the local micro breweries, but right now i s busy with other work like rebuilding some right smart size gear boxes. Wh at I think he needs is a injection molder or two. Something that can be se t up and let it run all day. He did have a repair job on a Pizza oven. Bu t he has not been paid for that as of now.
Unfortunately he does not have the luxury of not running it like a business . He has a wife and two teenage sons. We have a 200 k$ per year goal, bu t we will not make it this year. I am not involved except for advice and little things like wiring up the cut off saw and the electric hoist.
Dan
Reply to
dcaster
If you know of any shops that closed up just because the owner died or
Good idea. I will definitely pass that on.
Reply to
dcaster
He has done some of that. He contacted Philly gear and had to buy a set of jo blocks to meet their Quality standards and so far has not gotten any w ork. And has done some turning shafts for A & A gear in PA. Stuff they wo uld have done themselves , but are too busy cutting gears.
Reply to
dcaster
On 9/30/2019 5:19 AM, snipped-for-privacy@krl.org wrote:> I met a guy at the local scrap yard. He was dumping a couple of 55 gal drums of swarf. He invited me to see has shop and I have since visited his shop a number of times. He has had the shop for about 6 months and does not have any specialty. The major machines that he has are a manual lathe, a turning center , and a Bridgeport. And is located in Wilmington , De.
I once got a big job (big for me) for a company in the Ukraine because a big shop thought their job was to small for them and sent it my way. Can't hurt to be friendly with the competition. To be fair the job was also better suited to my skills and general type of work than theirs. (I think.)
Also, don't be afraid to do some design work or help work. I don't like to sell CAD design work time. I prefer to roll it into the cost of making custom and one off parts, but I let a fellow talk me into it a couple years ago. His machinist had all kinds of silly issues with a couple of my designs. I think he thought I was just a CAD designer with no shop floor knowledge. I responded to every concern with how to machine it and efficient options for fast machines vs powerful machines. In one case I had to say, "Just machine it the way I modeled it. You will see. If doesn't work send it to me and I will make the piece for free." That customer now has me working on a big (big for me) order for his next new invention. All prepaid work with a time estimate, but no hard deadline. I'm not comfortable selling my CAD time mostly because there are a lot of tricks I can do in CAM that make the job easier and faster. Its more work to model it for somebody else. In this case I wound up getting his machine work too in the end.
Ultimately it comes down to this if your shop is slow take the work you can get and do the work you can do. Even if its not exactly what you want to do. But also be honest with people. Even if you eat sandwiches from the cheese line this week. Most will appreciate it.
A couple years ago I had a fellow want me to "machine" a largish crude mold. I told him that it was a job for a welding and fabrication shop. Not a mold and machine shop. He tried to insist, but I said a local weld and fab shop would do it cheaper, and they wouldn't have to ship it across the border. I explained how to ask for the job to be done. He was thrilled and I do all his custom mold work ever since. He usually even tacks on things to his orders like specialty parts. He even wanted to buy one of my company hats. (I gave it to him.)
... and don't be afraid to push your limits. Several times I have had requests for things I thought were beyond me. Instead of saying, "no" I say, "I have to think about it for a few days to see if I can figure out how I would set that up. I might not be able to do it, but I want to think about it." Sometimes after a few days I decided I'd need equipment I can't afford right now or even that I just can't figure out how to do it, but sometimes the answer comes to me, and I add another skill set or make a new tool.
If you have no work you might have to discount some work, but remember that most people who get a "deal" will never let you serve them again if they don't always get a deal. Not everybody, but most. Its the cost of bringing cash in the door today sometimes.
One more thing. If you have an area of passion besides machining consider things about that passion that you might make, improve, or invent. If you have an idle time make those parts and try to retail them. Facebook and Ebay are hack sales sites, but they get your products in front of more people. Even if they don't sell somebody might think to themselves, "Hey, maybe this guy can make MY parts."
Reply to
Bob La Londe

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