June 2013

Where did the last 6 months go ?

It is now the end of June.

Sales began to slow end of March gave a quick spurt again in April and then steady through May & June … so seasonal yes but not dropping to zero which is what I had expected come the thaw !

My thoughts have now turned to building stock of the lower cost components in advance of what I hope to see as a busy Autumn / Winter season. The plan being to build the sub-assembly stock and then order the more expensive parts in medium sized batches to complete a minimum stock holding and avoid the delays experienced in the last year. That being said, no orders were cancelled or lost as far as I am aware as a result of my not having  stock….but then would I know ?

A couple of developments underway, the first being to get on line with the manufacture of the fan hubs from bar stock and complete the cost reduction of the base production. Both projects involve cutting the bar stock to length prior to turning out the product on my metal lathe.

Having spent a few hrs cutting 3″ diameter aluminium bar into 15mm disk blanks for the bases and then hrs cleaning out the swarf from my large vertical bandsaw. I decided to look into the options for alternative methods of cutting the stock. Additional Capital expenditure on new kit was to be avoided as reserves were being held of working capital / stock – low cost used bits of kit were of dubious reliability and borderline scary in use – YouTube research to the rescue – I found video footage of a DIY metal hacksaws big enough for my requirements and small enough for my budget.

The downside of this £60 investment is the huge under estimation of time required to complete the manufacture of the various parts required…. some of which I am still making on the lathe & by hand. That being said, the learning experience has been great and I now have a entire new section of working skills to use words I am unable to put into print for fear of offense.   The years I spent hustling a department of engineers to get a move on …. I can only now really appreciate the fact that certain things just take time when its a one off !

Of course the low budget precluded my buying much in the way of new bar stock to size, so the local steel scrap yard has become a new favorite trip – exchanging bags of separated metal swarf for new lumps of rusty metal to convert into more swarf !

The new power hacksaw, is currently awaiting my finishing the vice and then base stand and electric cut off switch . The good thing is that it is already cutting the steel parts from bar stock for me to then turn or file to size etc. Whilst not likely to be faster than the bandsaw, it will be less expensive to run (£1 per blade v’s £35 for a start) with its 250w motor instead of the 1750w bandsaw drive – importantly, once set off, it will cut through and then stop without supervision leaving me to work … well once I finish the electrics’  – whereas the bandsaw required my hold the bar stock under pressure against the blade throughout the cut – hot hands (no coolent) and quite hard work after an hour.

This lot will enable me to recover the lost margin from the postage hike by Royal Mail and the international postage for the TEG units, saving as it should best part of a £5 per fan assembly.

Pictures to follow.
But these are the two I like most of all :-

This because it just looks under control, however, getting hold of a suitable reduction gearbox proved troublesome – at £65 plus for a well used 3phase motor an dworm gearbox or lots of work making pulleys etc. So I went for this, not least because I could buy a set of plans to later ignore !

The chap is quick to reply to email and offers online support. Not one of lifes talkers if the videos are anything to go by. His other videos are very well put together and a good source of ‘how to’ as have been those from Tubal Cain on all things machine shop. The following video solved a problem for me of cutting very low angle tapers by accident. It was driving me mad.

I have to say, the accent helps soothe the troubles away.

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