Also known as a toque ouef, egg topper, or probably some other names – it’s a silly kitchen tool for putting a circular hole in the top of a soft boiled egg. The cup end is set on the top of an egg, then the captive brass ball is dropped onto the back of the cup. This was just a fun excuse to try out the radius turning attachment to the lathe and make something shiny out of brass and stainless steel.
There’s so much snow around here that it sometimes can escape notice, but that’s not been the situation for the last few weeks.
Early on a Sunday morning nearly four weeks ago, we had a problem with the Rodwell pump. So far, the problem has proven unfixable, and we’ve had to resort to a snow melter to supply water. The snow melter is a lot of work to operate – it gets fed by a tracked loader, which has to be driven back-and-forth to the “snow mine” where the snow hasn’t been driven on in a long time, and so is very clean. Water is pumped out of the snow melter in a fairly labor-intensive process. The net result is that the snow melter can’t practically supply as much water as we had been using from the Rodwell, and so we’ve had to cut back on water usage.
Several of us have ended up hauling snow into the station to melt for our lower-priority water usage. We use melted snow like this for mopping the floors, some kitchen projects, humidifiers, etc. Early on, we had to cut back severely on showers and laundry, so I made up a little shower that was completely independent of the station’s regular water supply.
Then, there’s been some weather. We’ve had a couple Baslers on station for nearly a week, they’re en route to McMurdo, but keep getting held up by bad weather here or there. One of the planes is meant to turn around and come right back to Pole, with some tools and people to work on fixing the Rodwell. Our recent storm caused quite a bit of drifting, which has required subsequent shovelling. Here is a drift that formed downwind from one of the planes getting cleared out.
Finally, we’re getting station all cleaned up and ready for the new crew, as they should start arriving within the next week. There’s quite a lot of shovelling involved in cleaning up things outside, especially in areas that didn’t get much traffic in the winter. This is the upper deck of ICL, before we started shovelling it out yesterday.
Recently, I had a good excuse to finally make a “turner’s cube”. It’s a project where the end product serves little purpose, except maybe holding down papers, but where the process can be a good learning experience.
The first step is to do a bit of planning – with my winter-addled brain, this was a little more challenging than it should’ve been. Here’s what I ended up tacking on the lathe backsplash board, the perspective is a bit weird, but it did the trick:
A 4-jaw chuck is used to make the cube. Unfortunately the jaws on our chuck weren’t long enough to hold the cube for the 3rd face, so I had the option of either spending a lot of time on making up a jig for that cut, or cheating a bit and using the mill.
The mill made quick work of flattening off some bits of the cylinder to make the part chuck-able in the lathe. I left some extra material, so that the final cuts would all be done on the lathe. This saved time on the milling operations, and made those nice concentric machining marks on each face of the resulting cube.
Although I designed the cube to be made with carbide insert boring bars, the ones we have available can’t handle the required overhang. For the larger tapered hole, I ground a 1/4″ HSS cutter to go in a boring bar holder. For the smaller conical holes cut out, I ended up using a small carbide grooving tool as a boring bar. Doing that required an adaptor, which I made with a bit of O-1 drill rod:
For a couple days worth of spare time, the cube was known as my “boring project”, as there was a lot of boring work to be done. In the end, each face required facing off, then a pilot hole, a 3/4″ hole to remove material, flattening the bottom of that hole with an endmill, then using a sequence of four boring bars to make the tapered holes. Each of those operations took a separate tool, so there was a lot of indicating in new tools in the lathe. Every-other face also included a 1/4″ hole to go through the innermost cube – I like the aesthetic, and it made turning the flat-bottomed tapered holes a bit easier.
We’re a bit over a week away from the first planes coming through S Pole, so it’s time to setup the fuel system to handle them!