Traveling back in machine-shop time

The basics-of-machining class ended today, and I had a chance to do some work on a lathe. Renton Tech has a lot of equipment that dates back to its start as a training center for Boeing’s B-29 plant in Renton. The lathe I worked on was some of that gear.

American Pacemaker

I was learning how to handle a four-jaw chuck, which is kind of a pain. Nonetheless, I was able to get my work dialed in within a tolerance of a tenth, or .0001″. Not that I’m slick or anything, but that was 10 times more accurate than the work you would do with this lathe. It’s pretty amazing to see the degree of accuracy that is possible with tools from 80 years ago.

There’s been no new progress since completing the first take at a rudder and getting empennage parts delivered. Now that I’ve wrapped up machinist training it’s time to focus on nailing the checkride and making a few changes in the garage to make room for airplane stuff.

They’re more than just holes in metal

I present to you my initial work as a student of precision machining at Renton Technical College, in Renton, Wash. These are blocks of carbon steel and aluminum drilled to tolerances of no more than 30 thou. (That’s 0.030 inches.)

Eventually, this course leads to a program in Aerospace & Industrial Production Technologies — it’s a pipeline to Boeing, which of course builds 737s at a plant about two miles away from the college. It also gives me access to resources that will be useful as I build a Cruzer rudder and toy with the idea of building an airplane.