Who’s This RJ Guy?!?

One of the first things that Jason and I acquired was a Caterpillar GP25 forklift.  This machine is capable of lifting 5,000 lbs to a height of 190″ (15 ft).  Before we got the Cat, I had never operated a real forklift before.  Shout-out to Hayne’s Antime Towing who delivered the forklift.  The tow truck driver was cool enough to give me a quick lesson on operating the Cat so I could at least drive it off the tow truck and into our shop (after some parking lot practice).  Below is a picture of the Cat…once we buff those surface scratches out she’ll look good as new!

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Buying the Forklift early in the game was one of the smartest decisions.  It not only allows us to unload all of our industrial grade new additions with ease, but it also has saved Jason multiple slipped discs and hernias.  (For some reason, Jason still thinks he’s a midshipman in his early 20’s.)

Immediately after getting the Cat in our space, Jason went out and impulsively bought a man-cage so we could lift each other up to gain access to our 25ft ceilings.  Hah!  Picture that, Jason strapping his harness to the man-cage and me lifting him up 25ft!  Christmas is coming early!!!!

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Shortly after Jason and I began using the forklift we realized that hydraulic fluid was leaking at a significant rate from the base of the forks.  Jason and I went back and forth debating who’s turn it was to fix a machine and then we both admitted that neither of us felt comfortable turning wrenches on a 2,000psi hydraulic system.  Jason and I have both been in the game long enough to be aware of the dangers of hydraulic pressure.  Do a google image search for “hydraulic fluid injury” and you will see TERRIBLE images of people getting limbs shredded from pin-hole leaks in hydraulic systems.

Lucky for us, I just met this guy, RJ, at a family cook-out.  RJ works on hydraulic systems for a living…and he’s dating my cousin Linsey.  I reached out to RJ and asked if he could come by after work and check out our fork lift’s leak.  I figured it’d be a two-for;  I get some one-on-one time with my cousins boyfriend (to check his man-card) and we get a professional opinion on the CAT.  Below is RJ checking the side-shifter cylinder on the CAT

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Turned out, RJ has a lot of knowledge related to fabrication and welding…and identified the leak on the forklift in about 2 minutes.  Seems that someone had bumped into something and knocked a fitting loose.  Took about a quarter turn with a 5/8″ box wrench to fix the leak.  And no, it wasn’t me that bumped into something and knocked the fitting loose.

I think RJ clipped a little piece off mine and Jason’s man-cards for wasting his time on such a simple fix.  RJ also went over all the hoses and made sure the CAT’s hydraulic system was in good working order, so it was a worthwhile visit for us.  I hope RJ comes by to use our tools once we open!

— Corey

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The Most Advanced Coffee Technology!!!

If there’s one thing that The Foundery will continue to be accused of, it’s going all-in at every possible decision we make.  One thing we know we’ll need in our lounge is coffee.  I could just go out a buy a Mr. Coffee maker at the nearest thrift store, cross it off our list and get back to buying really awesome tools.  Nope.  Couldn’t do it.  If Jason’s going to be walking around with his unicorn coffee mug, he’d better have some high end java in there to compensate.

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Lucky for The Foundery, my wife is a coffee snob connoisseur.  So for the better part of 6 months, I’ve been scouring the web for the best possible coffee recipes, to help reduce our Starbucks spending.

So  I’m going to pull a Quentin Tarantino and tell you the ending first.  then go back and explain it all.

The final Solution:  Nitrogen infused cold brewed coffee served from a tap…like beer.

It turns out the best coffee’s are the ones that require the least amount of sugar and cream to compensate for the natural bitterness of coffee.   That bitterness is caused from acids and oils that naturally occur within roasted coffee beans.  After coffee beans are roasted and ground, the oils and acids become increasingly soluble in water with higher temperatures.

Bottom Line:  The hotter the water, the more acid, the more bitter the taste.

So by brewing the coffee in room temperature water, (Cold Brewing) you can extract the coffee flavor and caffeine with only 1/3rd the acid.  This makes a coffee concentrate that produces a naturally sweet coffee flavor with out all the crap you have to mask with sugar and cream.   I believe it was a young King Ad Rock from the Beastie Boys who once said “I like my sugar with coffee and cream”.

Below is a picture of the cold brew process.  It’s really not that scientific,  you just let coffee grinds soak in room temperature water for 12-24 hours…pretty simple.

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Once the coffee grinds have soaked for 12-24 hours, you pull the cork in the bottom of the white hopper and let the filtered coffee concentrate pour into the glass pitcher.

Now you could stop at this step right here, and you’ll have really good quality, cold brewed coffee that you can serve with ice or heat up in a microwave.  But to take this coffee to 11 (yes Jason, your welcome), lets infuse the coffee with Nitrogen.

By infusing the coffee with Nitrogen, it adds a slight creamy/velvety texture with a foamy head similar to a Guiness or stout beer.  Disclaimer:  I did not come up with the “creamy/velvety” adjectives, those are how it’s described on the web.  I can see my older bother Dan, making fun of me for using those words at Thanksgiving dinner next week.

Infusing with Nitrogen is really simple, you just have to pressurize the brewed coffee in a nitrogen environment.  I did this by converting a kegorator kit sold for serving beer on tap out of a 5 gallon keg and adapting for Nitrogen.  Most beer kegorator kits are designed for carbon-dioxide which would have produced a far too bubbly coffee.  Both are inert gasses so you can guy bottle adapters to hook up a carbon-dioxide regulator which comes with most kegerator kits to a nitrogen bottle that you can get from a welding supply store.

Below is a picture of my cold brewed coffee in a 5 gallon keg, hooked up to a pressurized nitrogen system.  I keep the regulator at 30 psi.

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This was my first attempt at creating a nitrogen infused keg of coffee…and it turned out awesome!  I keep this out on my back deck where it’s been pretty cold during the evenings.  It’s pretty nice waking up and being able to pour a cup of cold coffee every day.  Pretty soon I’ll have this hooked up inside a mini-fridge for my own little coffee-erator…or java-erator.   I know, both those sound terrible, I’ll work on something more clever.

Here’s what a glass of coffee looks like poured from this system.

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I tried to get a close up so you can see the nitrogen bubbles rising up within the coffee.  This was one of my very few projects that worked out great after the first attempt.  If you’re curious to how nitrogen infused cold brewed coffee tastes, swing by The Foundery when our doors open at City Garage.

— Corey

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These Go to 11

The other day, Corey was on the phone with the company that makes our big CNC router when the rep asked him what the intended use of this 20,000 lb. piece of industrial equipment will be.  When Corey told him, the rep remarked, “Wow, that’s rather ambitious.”  His equipment typically goes into large-scale production facilities, such as furniture manufacturers. I told Corey “That’s because the Foundery goes to 11”

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After I finished explaining the reference to Corey, who was still a toddler when one of the all-time greatest movies came out in theaters, it occurred to us that we have a conscious bias towards selecting equipment that is not typically found in a makerspace.  It’s not really about having the shiniest toys with all the latest bells and whistles, but rather looking for features and capabilities that will be most useful and productive to our most demanding members.  We expect those to be small manufacturers and entrepreneurs who are looking for speed, capacity, and precision that isn’t found in consumer- or shop-grade equipment.  We want to be able to support commercial production, and that means we need professional-grade equipment.  The downsides can include longer learning curves and higher costs to purchase, operate, and maintain, but we think it will be worth it to have equipment that you expect to find in an industrial setting (and that’s exactly where a lot of our tools were before they arrived in our shop).

Ambitious?  Overkill?  Perhaps.  But these go to 11.

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The Water-Jet

I can’t believe I beat Jason to posting about the water-jet.  This tool is what The Foundery is most proud to own.  If you are not familiar with abrasive water-jets, this machine (pictured below), uses a high pressure stream of water and abrasive to cut through virtually any material. The “sweet spot” for cutting, is any thickness 3 inches or less….3 INCHES!!!  Which means this machine can precisely cut through 3″ thick steel plate to any profile you can think of.  The machine maxes out at ~10″ thick.

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And here is the water jet and myself posing for an Us-sie:

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If you look closely you can see that the water-jet is fresh off the delivery truck and still several weeks away from being fully assembled and installed.  Once operational, the machine will have a working area of 10′ x 5′ and will be able to cut through 1″ thick plate at a speed of ~5″/minute.

Materials commonly cut on a waterjet include: Aluminum, steel, wood, plastic, composites, foam, glass and even granite.  The only material I know can’t be cut on this machine is tempered glass, because it would shatter into thousand’s of small cubes.

I just googled “stained glass water jet cut” to make sure you really can cut glass on an abrasive waterjet #factchecking.  I came across this stained glass gem! designed and cut on an abrasive water jet by Chip Hunter of Holbrook NY.  (http://www.arborimage.com/C2Resource/C2ResourceStudio.htm)

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Waterjets are regularly used to cut functional parts for mechanical designs, but I think the art stuff is more impressive.  Below is a photo of my kids I converted to a vector file and had cut on a water-jet in 1/8″ thick aluminum.  I spray painted it black and BOOM!  Christmas gift for my parents!!!

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I’ll probably make something like this for my wife once we get our water-jet up and running.  She’ll think I put a lot of time into it when really, the machine will do all the work while I sit back and update my fantasy football line-up.

— Corey

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Built Spaces

We are close to approving plans that will go out for bid and I thought I’d share some of those ideas for the buildout. The overall footprint of our space is a bit under 20,000 square feet, and our goal is to keep walls and partitions to a minimum. We want a space that is wide open, where work areas flow into each other and you get a sense of the entirety of the space anywhere you stand within. This notion presents challenges for dust collection and fume extraction for sure (will cover that in a future post), but we also want some enclosed space for classroom training and presentations. We want members to be able to hang out in this space when they’re heads down on a design, pulling together a brainstorming session, or grabbing a cup of coffee or a snack. That’s why we are designing a single large space called the Multipurpose Room to accommodate all these uses. It will include kitchen facilities as well. Other built spaces include the front reception area where there will be some seating for guests, our front desk/office, and some display/retail. There will be restrooms and a janitor’s closet too, but for the most part, the other 16,000+ square feet are reserved for tools and workspace.

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The Foundery’s built spaces

Stay tuned as we detail more parts of the space in future posts!

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Can it Cut a Sandwich?

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Our CNC laser cutter/engraver is the most commonly used tool in our existing space.  It features a 100 watt laser with a work area of 4ft x 3ft.  It can cut through wood, plastic and foam sheets up to 3/8in thick in a single pass.  It can etch most materials, including glass and anodized aluminum.  Using this laser is about as simple as sending a document to a printer.  This is an amazing tool for artists who want to cut out large stencils, crafters who want to engrave wine glasses and beer coasters or inventors who need early stage prototyping.  Here are a couple examples of some things Audrey has made on it.

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Our most commonly asked question though is: “Can it cut a sandwich?”.

UPDATE:  It turns out I was wrong, no one has actually ever asked if the CNC laser can cut a sandwhich…lame.

So in the name of science, I used the last two pieces of bread in my house to make a sacrificial PB&J.  The video below shows the laser running at 100% power and traveling at a speed of 12 mm/sec while it attempts to turn a 2 second knife task into a 30 second engagement!

Due to the thickness of the sandwich it took, 3 passes to cut through the sandwich.  not because it didn’t have enough power but because the laser’s focus was too far from the bottom of the sandwich.  To make the final cut I had to lower the laser head for the final pass.  I call that a win for science!!!!

Extra Credit:

For those of you who have also shared the nightmarish feeling of  assembling a sandwich and then realize you forgot to toast the bread…I tried out the etching operation 😉

BOOM! I should have etched Elvis Presley’s face and sold it on Ebay…next time.

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-Corey

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Working the Work-Benches

For a while now, Jason and I have been going back and forth on buying work-benches or building our own.  Since we’ll need at least 30 work benches to fill our open work area, each option has it’s perks.   In the end, we figured if we’re going to make a maker-space, we may as well make the benches…we have all the tools!

So here’s a glimpse of what we came up with:

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Speechless…I know.  Pretty basic, not really worth blogging about, but I’m excited to start knocking these out by the dozens.  I’ll get to the obvious question now, “can you build a go-kart on it?”.  I would assume yes, but since I’m an engineer and love turning things into science projects, I ran the finite element analysis.  Below shows a simulation for 2,000 lbs sitting on top of the work bench, the equivalent of me jumping up and down on top of the table with Jason sitting on my shoulders…or six people river dancing.

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So, from the results, the 2″ box tubing can support 2,000 lbs of loading with stresses on the order of 10 ksi.  The A36 structural steel has a yield of 30 ksi so we have plenty of margin for safety.  The displacement model shows a sag of less then 1/8 of an inch.  Nothing but the best for The Foundery!!!

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Now THIS is a Bandsaw!

This is just about the biggest bandsaw I’ve ever seen.  We scored a Dake VH-40 bandsaw for the metal shop.  This baby has a 41″ throat and 13″ work height, a hydraulic power table with 10″ travel, speed range from 50 – 5,000 FPM, onboard blade welder, and even a micro-drop coolant system.  This beast will power through just about anything made of metal!

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Scotchman Iron-Worker

We just purchased a used Scotchman 40 ton iron-worker from Montana, which is due to arrive next week!  If you’re not familiar with an iron-worker, they’re like giant Swiss-army knives for hydraulic forming.  The Scotchman machine we now own is capable of shearing 3/16″ plate up to 14″ wide and can punch 1″ diameter holes through 1/2″ thick steel plate.  Instead of spending ten’s of minutes drilling holes though thick plate, this hydraulic Sasquatch can punch them out in seconds!

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The Foundery @ City Garage

We’re building a brand new Foundery in nearly 20,000 square feet in Port Covington, and we’re going to use this blog to document the entire process. Be sure to subscribe for updates on construction progress, new tool unboxing, and more!

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