A few price increases

We’ve had to restock some of our additives recently, and as our costs go up, we have to raise our prices as well. Here is the updated pricing:

Titanium Dioxide

125g 250g 500g 1kg 2kg
$8.10 $13.20 $22.28 $36.00 discontinued

Calcium carbonate

125g 250g 500g 1kg
$1.95 $3.30 $5.45 $8.95

Kaolin

250g 500g 1kg 2kg
$1.45 $2.50 $4.05 $6.85

The titanium dioxide is around 3 times the old price, but then, we haven’t increased that price since 1997.

4WD repairs on my 2013 Dodge Ram 2500

Wiring harness damage

For a while now I’d been having trouble with the 4-wheel drive shifting on my Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck. I would select to shift to 4-wheel drive, and the shift would start but never complete. At least once I found the truck in 4WD without asking for it, and often I would get a warning message about a malfunction.

Last winter I traced the problem to damage somewhere in the wiring harness so I ran a temporary wire to cure it.

Now that the weather is nicer I repaired the harness properly. I had to do this anyway because another wire had failed and the shifting again did not work.

I managed to expose the harness and repair the wires, which seemed to have been damaged just by chafing against another surface. I had suspected rodent damage but I saw no tooth marks in the damaged area of the harness. I repaired the broken wires, re-sheathed the harness, and got it all back in place and working, all detailed in this YouTube video.

I never did figure out how the harness was damaged in the first place.

Now I have a nearly-new shifter motor and Drive Train Control Module (DTCM) which I had tried installing during the winter to cure the problem, and no use for them. Maybe I’ll try selling them on eBay.

National Arts Drive postponed to June 20th

Due to recent circumstances the National Arts Drive has decided to postpone their event until Saturday, June 20th.

The National Arts Drive

https://static.wixstatic.com/media/05d431_baf00304e32f4bd9bab4672aa6cdfbe9~mv2.png/v1/fill/w_632,h_627,al_c,q_90,usm_0.66_1.00_0.01/Join-Square.webpIt is slightly late notice, but this Saturday, June 6th postponed to Saturday, June 20th 2020, something called the National Arts Drive, a sort of drive-by studio tour, will take place across North America. We will be participating in this, with some of handmade and marbled paper on display.

Artists’ studios will be set up to allow viewing from a safe distance.

If you plan on visiting some of the sites, you can register at https://www.nationalartsdrive.com/drive; registration is definitely not required, but it would be helpful to give the organizers some idea of how many people will be attending.

This is in support of the art community, which has been suffering financially due to the pandemic. For us, this has meant the cancellation of several craft fairs which would normally be our main sales venue for our paper and marbling products.

Because of the short notice we’re not sure what we’ll have on display, nor of how many other sites there will be nearby, but we hope some of you take the time to visit your own local studios for this event.

For more information, either as an exhibitor or a viewer (“driver” as they call it), you can visit their web site.

US Display Mat Holder Insert Handle replacement

The Monotype composition caster uses various holders to position the matrix (which has the shape of the letter to cast cut into it) properly over the cavity of the mould. These are installed in the caster instead of a diecase of composition matrices.

One style of matrix, called a US (or “American” or “Lanston” after the original company name) display matrix is a rectangle of metal about 1⅛×¾×0.1″ (28×19×2.5mm) with two beveled corners. This particular mat holder is for holding such matrices when using an American/Lanston mould (the English moulds have the cavity positioned slightly differently and so have their own set of mat holders).

Each mat can only cast a single character so if you are casting, for instance, a font of type, you must remove the mat holder from the caster to change the matrix for each new character to cast.

A Lanston display mat holder insert

Actually removing the mat holder is a bit of a nuisance, as it requires stopping the caster at just the right place in its cycle, uses both hands, and is just generally fiddly to do. To make things easier, this particular mat holder has an insert which is easier to remove than the entire holder, allowing you to remove it one-handed, replace the matrix with your other hand, and re-install the insert all in a few seconds.

The trouble is that the mat holder I owned had no handle on it, all it had was a metal tang about 2 inches (5cm) long which, like the rest of the mat holder, got very hot after casting for a few minutes.

I had a few file/chisel handles which I think I purchase from Lee Valley Tools at one point—I think they were a short-run sale item at one time. They jammed onto the tang quite nicely and made a good handle, but it still occasionally came off, especially when I was actually removing the entire mat holder and not just the insert. You have to do this at first when “adjusting the quad” (i.e. adjusting the caster so the type comes out the correct width), and also when changing between casting type 19 points or less wide and casting wider stuff.

Just recently I finally got fed up with this and drilled a hole through the handle and tang, inserting a metal pin to keep the handle on. I haven’t used it yet, but that should remove one minor annoyance from font casting.

Marbling photos online

We’ve finally taken photos of our stock of marbled paper, at least the larger sheet sizes, and posted them in our Products section.

Hopefully we can keep this reasonably up to date as we do more marbling and sell them.

2020 Wayzgoose Anthology

Well, this year’s Wayzgoose in Grimsby had to be cancelled because, well, you know why… But the Anthology was still produced!

We haven’t received our copy yet (I asked the GPAG to hold it for now rather than paying to ship it), but, as it is officially released, I thought I would post our submission, which is included somewhere in the book:

All the type was cast on our Monotype composition caster. The Logo and QR code are photopolymer plates we made ourselves. The printing was done on our Challenge MA-15 proof press. The four dots around the QR code look neat but they’re actually the heads of the tacks I had to use to hold the plate to its block, since the double-sided tape I tried using doesn’t stick to endgrain wood.

More workshop Tour: The Myford ML7 lathe

In addition to my Sherline mill, the other main machinist’s tool I have is a Myford ML7 7×20″ lathe.

The lathe is fitted with the Quick-Change Gearbox to allow selection of longitudinal feeds and thread cutting without having to fool around with change gears, although switching from coarse feed (for threading) and fine feed (for turning) does require flipping one oily gear under the left-hand cover. If I ever want to do metric thread pitches I’ll have to modify the gearing as well. It has three regular spindle speeds, and three more slower ones in back-gear.

It is fitted with an Aloris-style ‘AXA’ size quick-change tool post, and I have about a dozen tool holders for it. The lathe has a topslide but that is not fitted in this photo, instead using a rigid toolpost mount which I made.

For work holding I have a 4-jaw independent chuck (shown in photo), a 3-jaw scroll chuck that needs tuning (it is very bell-mouthed), a faceplate, and a drive plate for turning between centers using a drive dog, and a traveling steady rest that attaches to the saddle just to the left of the cross-slide. For the tailstock, I have some dead and live centers and a Jacobs chuck for drilling.

I have mounted a binocular microscope on the cross-slide which lets me see and position things to under a thousandth of an inch. Not shown in the photo, the objective now has an LED ring light which brightly illuminates the work area, even when I’m not using the microscope. The only problem is that the microscope wants to be a bit too close to the work to focus and so bumps into the chuck jaws or the tool post. I would like to get a Barlow lens to extend its object distance just a bit; I don’t want too much extension because that also reduces the magnification and makes the eyepieces higher.

The microscope itself was part of an ultramicrotome which I bought at a University of Waterloo surplus equipment sale. These sales are neither as interesting nor as frequent as they used to be as they now seem to be dominated by superseded computer equipment rather than unusual technical items.

The lathe is mounted on a 5/16″ steel plate on top of a pair of Rousseau cabinets on casters. The two cabinets are bolted together and so form a suitably rigid base for the lathe, and contain most of the tooling and accessories for the lathe. The cabinets are actually a couple of feet longer than the lathe, leaving an open horizontal surface which unfortunately collects junk, dirt, and metal offcuts.

Starter Papermaking Kits information now online

I’ve added a post to our Products section giving some details on the starter Papermaking Kits we sell. There are photos of the kit contents, as well as a rundown on other readily-available things you would have to supply beyond what’s in the kit.

Mobility Cradle for a Vandercook 320 Press

Some time ago, we acquired a Vandercook 320 proof press in need of some repair. So far, about all I’ve done is clean off years of dried ink under the location of the inkplate and chase out the mouse nest in the cylinder. The press has pretty much otherwise acted as an elephant in the room, collecting random junk on top and being generally in the way.

The problem is that this is a very heavy press, and it really has no lifting points. The space between the legs is occupied by a cabinet of shelves, and the bottom of this cabinet is too high off the ground to use it for lifting the press with something like a pallet jack. More importantly, the cabinet is not strong enough to use as a lifting point, as evidenced by the bent area from previous lifting attempts.

Up until now, the press has been sitting elevated about 5 inches on wood blocks, since that was the only way I could park it. The press came with some scrap steel channel, which could be used to move it, but only with the press elevated so the pallet jack could fit under the channels and the channels under the press feet.

The channel was fairly heavy stuff: It measured 5×1¾″ and is officially designated as C5×6.7. After some measuring and planning I found that I could use these two pieces of channel to make a proper cradle for moving the press.The channel was cut to give a long piece that fits between the press legs, shorter pieces that extend under the feet, and yet shorter pieces to use as a vertical spacer. The pieces under the feet were notched on one side so they don’t contact the legs, just the feet of the press. The spacers are just tall enough, and just short enough, that our pallet jack can roll under the cradle. I welded the parts all together and installed them under the press, and they work great.

The cradle in place, with the press raised by the pallet jack, so the “temporary” blocking can now be removed.

The press on the ground at last! The cradle only adds about 0.2″ (5mm) to the height of the press.

I’ve also posted a YouTube video about this cradle.

When we finally get this press fixed up and operational we will be selling it.

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