Sunday, December 14, 2014

Learning new skills

Today I finished building a #2 Morse taper.  Which may not seem like all that great an achievement or it may seem like a major accomplishment, depending on your perspective. 

It turns out that tapers are a common means of attaching tooling to lathes or milling machines and there are a few common standards in use for what is essentially a piece of steel turned to a slightly conical shape.  The old boy that invented the Morse taper – presumably Mr. Morse – evidently was shooting for 5/8 of an inch per foot but his tooling wasn’t perfect.  So depending on the size of the taper – they’re numbered 1,2,3,4, etc – the taper ranges within 1000’s of an inch either side of 5/8” per foot.  All of which means jack shit when you actually cut one of the things.

Initially I tried setting the compound at 5/8” per foot, reasoning that for the accuracy I was likely to achieve, 5/8” per foot was close enough.  Officially a #2 Morse taper is .5994 inches per foot (0.625 would be an exact 5/8” per foot) so the old boy was way off on his spec for #2.  But like I said, that’s all pretty well moot when you get right down to cutting the taper.  When I set the compound at 5/8” per foot I neglected to take into account the fact that the compound should be set for exactly half of the total taper so when I set it at 5/16” for 6 inches I was setting it at twice the angle I should have been using.  That became immediately apparent when I tried my first effort in the tailstock – it was way loose at the tail. 

Next I tried narrowing the angle by eye which got me closer but there wasn’t a hope in hell that I was going to randomly arrive at exactly the right setting.  Time for Youtube and Google. 

My final and successful effort involved a dial gauge and an existing taper thus:


That’s my tailstock drill chuck in the headstock chuck with its #2 Morse taper extending.  Setting the compound was simply a matter of setting the runout on the taper to zero.  I say “simply” but it took a bit of fiddling, although not as much as I expected. With the compound thus set it was pretty straightforward. 

20141214_130702 After all that effort, this is the end result – not much to look at is it?  My initial goal was to build a spring loaded tailstock centre which would be very useful for starting taps in the lathe.  My taper ended up eating up too much of my stock to continue with my original design but the taper will come in handy at some point.  Next time I’m at a farm auction where they’re giving away broken tools I’ll be looking for a 1/2” (or larger) dead electric drill that I can cannibalize the chuck off of.  In the interim I learned a lot.

UPS Ripoff_1


If you zoom in on the image you will see that it is a UPS invoice charging me $34.41 in order to collect a total of $3.23 GST.  (for those of you that argue that the total GST is actually $4.71 when you include the GST on the usurious collection fees I say “PHOOEEY to you”).  This happens occasionally and it is the reason that I avoid using UPS as a delivery option for online purchases.  I actively avoid using suppliers that only offer UPS as a delivery option.  Occasionally though it is unavoidable, as it was in this situation.  Usually what happens is that the driver arrives and then holds my parcel hostage until I pay the blackmail.  This time for some reason the parcel slipped under their radar and I received it followed by this invoice.  Today I mailed a cheque for $8.23 accompanied by a letter outlining my concerns with their attempted blackmail.  I arrived at the sum of $8.23 by totalling the legitimate $3.23 GST and a more reasonable $5 service charge to collect that $3.23.  The reality is that this is simply an electronic transaction for UPS.  Banks generally charge fractions of a dollar for electronic transactions so I think my $5 allowance was more than generous.  I also sent the whole mess to CBC’s GoPublic.  I don’t suppose that will go anywhere but a quick search will confirm that I’m not the only one dealing with and detesting UPS’s attitude on this matter.


Other than minor skirmishes with UPS and learning to use my lathe this has been a pretty quiet week.  Marilyn has been completely occupied with recruiting her replacement at the village office.  She is extremely motivated in that regard because I have made it clear that I absolutely will go to the coast in the middle of January, with or without her.  After the Regina adventure she takes my threats seriously.  More importantly we have a commitment to deliver a lecture to our yacht club at the end of January.  Our topic is “Cruising Off-Season in BC and Alaska – What were we thinking?” 

Most of our fellow club members never untie their boats between the end of September and the middle of May so our winter cruising habits are a great source of entertainment.  Our experience however has been that there are great advantages to winter cruising.  At the risk of spoiling some of those advantages by encouraging others to clutter up the docks and marine parks, we agreed to do the lecture last spring before we came back to the prairies.  Now that the date is looming it is also providing a convenient deadline by which time the village absolutely needs to have a replacement for Marilyn in place.  If it wasn’t for that hard date I suspect we would be sticking around here for at least another month and likely right through to spring.

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