30 November 2007

Trouble In Engineering

Joe checked my work yesterday, verified that he'd forgotten a hole, congratulated me on my jury-rigged solution to the problem, and pointed out a few extra things that I needed to do. He does that a lot... explains the basics, sends me on my way, and then comes back later with more information that would have come in handy before I started the order. He's an engineer. It's what he does.

As an engineer, he also has a habit of only seeing what's on the computer screen, and not what really happens in the shop. The big adapter plates I did last week were pasted, cooked, and then machined true (guaranteed flat) on top. Today I started attaching the skirts to the edges. And I developed the intense urge to smack Joe in the head.

When a piece is pasted and then cooked in the vacuum furnace, the copper paste spreads over the steel and bonds with it, forming a much stronger material. It also has a tendency to settle in corners. This isn't a big deal most of the time, but the skirts are supposed to sit flush on a ledge against the edge of the piece, and with that little bead of paste there... they don't.

Attaching skirts is difficult enough to begin with, but when they don't sit flush, the job gets considerably more difficult. If the skirt and the edge aren't touching, the edge material won't fuse with the skirt material when it melts, and the skirt will fall off. There's no way to fix it after the fact except to put a really ugly tack at the bottom of the skirt.

This batch of plates has a lot of those ugly little tacks. Ugh.

I'm going to keep repeating, "I will not hit Joe, and the plates will be fine," over and over again until I brainwash myself into believing it.

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