first fruitOur third plane in brought a few flats of fruit in from South America – pears, apples, and oranges. We each got to pick one piece, a very nice treat at the end of a long day!

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Turner’s Cube

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:turners cube 0

In terms of construction, the first step is to hack off a bit of stock – this is 4″ aluminium round, I think 6000-series, but it doesn’t really matter for this project.
turners cube 1

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.turners cube 3

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.turners cube 4

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:turners cube 5

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.turners cube 6

Once three adjacent faces were done, I could see that the math worked out!turners cube 7

Finally, after a bit of tedious filing to de-burr the edges and corners, the end product was tested to hold down a piece of paper!turners cube 8

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New Arrival

first planeThe last few weeks here at South Pole have been somewhat hectic. In the midst of the other goings-on, we met our first outsiders in 8 months on Wednesday.

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gogglesToday, it got bright and windy enough to justify switching back to the tinted lenses. Feels much more like summer out!

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Volunteer Work

pulling 10k to airfield

Sherrie Ann and Southern Belle, pulling a half-full 10,000 gallon fuel tank to the runway.

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!

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Machine Shop Project

headspace gauges 1

headspace gauges 2Last week, I made a set of headspace gauges for a possible post-ice project (deer hunting) from a bit of scrap stainless steel and the cuff of a pant leg from the craft room’s bin of denim scraps. I’m considerably happier with the machining work than the sewing, but they should work fine.

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Winterover Photo

2014 winterover photo

-90 South, -90 Fahrenheit

One of 300-odd candidates for the South Pole 2014 winterover photo – this happens when two Canon 6Ds are left to run at full tilt for a couple minutes. It was a cold day out, so it was difficult to catch a majority of people with their eyes open and without clouds of respiration at the same time.

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