My First Punch and Die - Makers & Builders

Back in the mid 90s atleast partly with help from this group I made my first "punch" and "die." I needed to install some photo beams at a port of entry
for a pedestrian counter. I designed the "system" using a variety of parts and components, but I was concerned about the photo beams themselves. They had something like a 5 year warranty, but the lenses were polycarbonate. Each set of beams had to be placed in a walkway between counters. My concern was that people brushing by would quickly wear the lens as clothing bags, and misc items brushed against the sides of the walkway. I didn't want to be that guy who everybody there got to know because I was always there fixing it. I had the idea to recess the emitter and sensor so that only the most aggressive brushing up against might contact the surfaces. I looked all over, but nobody made a recessed electrical plate that I thought would work. I took a piece of hot rolled (didn't even know what it was called at the time) and cut one pieces with a rectangular hole in it to mate with the back of an aluminum electrical blank plate. I chamfered the edges by hand with a grinder so it was a decent fit. Then I cut a small piece to mate with it about plate thickness smaller all the way around and hand chamfered it as well. Then I just mashed a cover plate between them with my hydraulic press. (had it for automotive work, not machine work) It looked amazingly good. I doubt the guys at GSA ever noticed that was a custom piece.
As a new (mostly black box) system it had its development issues, but lens wear of the emitter and sensor was not one of them. It was in use for years until they went to a new system with some big contractor at all the ports.
That was definitely metal working. I doubt it was really machining though except in the crudest sense. I take that sort of approach to a lot of what I do. I don't have a stick up my butt about being a "machinist" "welder" "fabricator" "mechanic". In fact my knowledge is lacking really in all of those areas even though now I make my living as a niche market mold maker. I can weld. If its important to look pretty I do some practice welds and then do the real weld after I've taken a break and I am fresh. If it just has to stick I burn it together and clean it up with a grinder. I know less about welding than almost anybody else in this group, but oddly enough I have five electric welders and an OA rig and I have welded parts still in use today with all but one of them. (Just got a new AC/DC pulse TIG a couple days ago.) Fabricator is a tough term to define, but I've built and converted trailers a welding table wood storage rack and various other things to fit needs.A lot of welding there, but various other fabrication skills as well. Still I don't consider myself a fabricator. I do have people bring me things to make or fix, but I turn down a lot of it unless they are friends and they stay to help. What about a machinist... No. Just ask any old manual machinist. I'm just a hack, button pushing, shade tree, wannabe by the very fact that I never serviced apprenticeship for 3 lifetimes in a steam powered line shop. LOL.
Since I'm no longer a contractor (retired and sold out) what does that make me? There is a lot I don't know, but very few projects am I afraid to try to come up with a solution. Atleast for myself. I won't always take on projects for others. If I don't know I learn how. If I can't figure it out myself I ask questions. If I don't have the recommended tools I think about it and see if I can find alternatives. If I still have to have the tools I put them on the list and when I have money I buy them.
The term "Maker" always bothered me. It didn't sound quite right, but ultimately I think that's what I am. A maker. I find ways to make what I need and I don't worry to much about being true to any particular trade. If it works it works.
I'm a long time member of this group of course. Saddens me to see that signal to nose ration what it is today. I'm a member of various other groups. Some very specialized around a particular piece of equipment like the Yahoo mailing list for the mini lathe and others more broad like Home Shop Machinist, so when I started my own group (on Facebook) what did I call it? Makers & Builders. https://www.facebook.com/groups/MakersBuilders/ Visit or don't. I'm good either way.
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Hmmm, at age 18 I did operate machine tools in a factory with overhead line shafts and leather belts. Can I call myself a machinist?
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On 4/25/2019 1:42 PM, Jim Wilkins wrote:
> >> ...What about a machinist... No. Just ask any old manual machinist. >> I'm just a hack, button pushing, shade tree, wannabe by the very >> fact that I never serviced apprenticeship for 3 lifetimes in a steam >> powered line shop. LOL. >> > > Hmmm, at age 18 I did operate machine tools in a factory with overhead > line shafts and leather belts. Can I call myself a machinist? > >
Only if it was steam (water wheel is ok) powered and the old guys in the shop always sneered down their noses at you and said you weren't a real machinist if you didn't serve an apprenticeship beating metal over an anvil first.
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A 200 HP electric motor ran the line shafts. Does it count that some of the electricity was low head hydro?
I didn't have a proper anvil until I was a teen; it was on a shelf in a friend's garage and had my name plainly stamped on the side, WILKIN(son), the last 3 missing over a depression. They were a family of lawyers who had no use for such tools.
Before that I had to pound metal on rocks and stumps and chunks of discarded scrap iron my grandfather and uncle had brought home from that factory. Stumps work surprisingly well and leave a smooth finish. Rocks, not so good.
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"Jim Wilkins" wrote in message
I didn't have a proper anvil until I was a teen; it was on a shelf in a friend's garage and had my name plainly stamped on the side, WILKIN(son), the last 3 missing over a depression. They were a family of lawyers who had no use for such tools.
Before that I had to pound metal on rocks and stumps and chunks of discarded scrap iron my grandfather and uncle had brought home from that factory. Stumps work surprisingly well and leave a smooth finish. Rocks, not so good.
**************
I have pounded metal on the ground in the sand before. It was in fact inspired by this group talking about using a leather covered sand bag to beat sheet metal into shape. I had a badly dented motor cover interfering with the operation of the cooling fan on a motor. I took a ball pein hammer, walked out in the yard, and set the cover in the dirt, where I proceeded to beat on it with the hammer. It looks hammered, but its roughly back to a suitable shape and has been in use for a dozen years or so.
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wrote:

Actually I'm old enough that when I served my apprenticeship there were still a few of those old guys around. My "apprentice master" was well into his 60's and had "gone in the shop" when he was 14 years old. I never heard them talk about beating metal over an anvil. About the only ones left that did that when I was a boy were Farriers, who shoed the few working horses left and they worked to tolerances of, "well about that much" :-)
--
cheers,

John B.
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My apprenticeship was at a small company that built custom production test equipment for the auto industry. I had to learn manual and machine metalworking and industrial electrician practices but already knew drafting from school and quite a bit of analog and digital electronics from the Army.
I've never seen a good title for the skills necessary to specify, design, construct and test custom electrical + mechanical equipment. "Engineer" tends to imply a designer with clean fingernails who passes the hands-on work to technicians. Maybe that multitasking is only for small companies like Segway where titles and job descriptions don't matter, the shop was open for anyone to experimentally machine or modify the parts they'd designed. Sometimes I had to wait until midnight for CNC machine time.
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On Fri, 26 Apr 2019 08:49:54 +0700, John B.

If it has any bearing - my maternal grandfather shoed his first horse when he was eight years old. Latter life saw him modify the steering system on the Ford 999 to suit Barney Oldfield's cycle racing experience.
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wrote:

Did you get any photos of him with 999, Gerry? That's quite a piece of racing history.
--
Ed Huntress



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On Fri, 26 Apr 2019 00:39:05 -0400, Ed Huntress

Unfortunately not, and the only photo of his Cadillac with the Ford motor after the original was burned, was stolen from my uncle when he took it to school (U of T) for "show & tell". However my son still has the dinning room table where my Grandmother found him refinishing the damaged body when she returned from visiting her sister in Canada. He did have some great stories from his experiences working with automotive pioneers. When I took my son to see the 999 several years ago, his first comment was "Dad, it's made of WOOD!"
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wrote:

It's good to have a family connection to something like that, for your son to remember and appreciate. The people who drove those cars had guts that are hard to believe. During one year of circle-track racing in California in the early '20s, an average just under one driver per race died in crashes.
--
Ed Huntress

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That was little different from the chances an aviator of the time willingly risked.
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On Sat, 27 Apr 2019 07:47:21 -0400, "Jim Wilkins"

Right. And I sometimes wonder what the hell went through their heads.
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Ed Huntress

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On Sat, 27 Apr 2019 10:18:16 -0400

That the odds were for those "other" guys. It wasn't going to happen to them...
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Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI
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wrote:

Yeah, some version of that. But there must have been more. Stirling Moss, the great race car driver, said that the danger was a big part of the atraction for him. He was drawn to it.
I don't get it. My personal risk/reward ratio doesn't include getting off on risks for the sake of thrills.
That's why I don't go rock climbing. <g>
--
Ed Huntress

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On Sat, 27 Apr 2019 11:18:58 -0400

<snip>

Stuff I would have done in an eye-blink during years past are a no-go nowadays. What's changed? My calculated risk. Broken bones or any serious injury now will be very expensive to fix and quite frankly may just be all-she-wrote. Medical care/cost has gone bonkers. Plus I don't have anyone watching my backside either. The will is still there but the possible consequences has become too great, calculated risk is just too high.
Stuff you feel comfortable with may look crazy to me and vice-versa. It all depends on what you know you can do, could possibly go wrong and the likely hood you can pull it off ;-)
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI
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wrote:

I agree with all of the above, but I would add an important question that has arisen since the days I rode motorcycles in scrambles and sports cars in road races.
The question is, "Why?" d8-)
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Ed Huntress

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On Sun, 28 Apr 2019 17:04:08 -0400

At this point in time we know what it's like (no longer a new experience) to do some of this stuff or similar. AND we know how much it can hurt, maim, cost us when things go terribly wrong ;-)
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI
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wrote:

I think that some of us are lucky we lived through the stage of being immortal. Perceived immortality wasn't all it was cracked up to be. d8-)
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Much of the "FUN" things I did in my misspent youth are now a felony.
Best Regards Tom.
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