Work in progress (already in progress)

It’s time for an update on the shop, with the help from a few pictures of what’s been happening lately.

Since the shop didn’t have it’s own electrical power, I ran some to it. My air compressor has a 10hp three phase motor, so my options for using it were pretty much “run three phase power” or get a smaller compressor, so I ran three phase power.

This is what my driveway looked like earlier this summer. The raceway to the shop required 24″ of coverage. I dug the portion next to the fence by hand and rented a brand new trencher for the rest. Can you see the difference? From there, I contracted a pneumatic boring service to run under the concreted portion of the run and to the meter base.

After the meter base and disconnect were mounted, the service was pulled……and the service inspection was passed and the meter was finally set.

Then the real fun began… Hot, 110 degree sweating up on an extension ladder, FUN!A whole lot of this……then some of thisAnd more of this…

The compressor is live and had an oil change, there are now plenty of 120&240v receptacles, and with the help of 40,000 lumens provided by only two lights (with plans for more), the little 1200 sq. ft. RetroFIX shop is ready for work to begin.

Or so I thought…I thought making the transition back to the T30 compressor wouldn’t be a problem, but I overlooked one thing…

My plumbing… I have plenty of material, but my vise has not yet been mounted, and trying use a three foot cheater on a pipe wrench while standing on an unmounted vise, well…. doesn’t work.

The shop has 2″ ID pipes for freestanding supports and a couple had been cut flush at the slab. So with a new pipe set inside and welded on, I began to make my vise base.

I cut and pinched a 5″ rigid nipple to fit the 2″ ID and welded it to the cut pipe.

The pipe for the vise leg was the upper portion of the cut pipe, still attached to one of the ceiling truss’s. Since my current vise is quite small, I cut an additional inch off the pipe so that the jaws now sit at 38″. When I obtain a larger vise this will help out as I plan to have the top of the jaws closer to 39-40″

The bottom of the leg was drilled for plug welds… ..and the top underwent much hand filing to mate with a piece of 1/2″ plate I found welded to a piece of 4″ angle. I removed the angle and washed as much of the welds before a piece of slag burned through my acetylene line right at the torch. Looking down to see why your wrist is getting warm while sitting next to some really big bottles of oxy/acetl, only to see a flame coming from the line is not something I ever want to experience again.

Persevering through my near explosive evening, I finished welding the base and attached my vise through holes I previously milled on the press.

As I previously mentioned, my current vise is rather small, and cheap, but now that I think about I’ve had it since my RC car days and it’s almost 20 years old now. I’ve formed, cut, and welded things on this vise that I probably shouldn’t have been able to. In a pinch, I welded one of the jaw inserts on (fixed), I’ve over-sprayed paint on it (wire-wheeled off, note pink tinge), test stamped into the anvil, struck arc’s on the anvil, and anything else you can do to damage a piece of equipment.

I’m happy with the height of the base plate, about 31″, and I think I’ll keep the old girl on there for a while. It’s such a great feeling building up the shop, using it’s own power. And now…

With a proper vise setup, I can begin plumbing my air, more to come…


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