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The Machine Shop

Not only does "Bob's Bunker" underground workshop have a wood shop, but I also love metal working. I have always leaned more toward being a machinist than being a woodworker. I guess it's because I don't like the many hours of sanding and finishing associated with woodworking projects. Also, being rather precision oriented, I enjoy the precision that comes with running a milling machine or a metal lathe. I can fabricate just about any kind of metal parts I have a mind to. Often, a small metal part is broken on a TV set that I am restoring, and the machine shop affords me the ability to replicate or repair just about any metal object I need. I have fabricated replica chassis and metal backs for console TV sets among the many items I have created. As they say "necessity is the mother of invention"

The machine shop is located at the west end of my underground workshops, underneath the footprint of the garage. Yes, under the garage. We park 2 cars in the garage directly above the machine shop. The footprint of the machine shop is 22 feet wide and 19 feet deep. There is a 4 foot wide stairwell at the back of the machine shop that leads up to the ground level with an exit door to the back yard and a fire door that leads into the garage area. This photo shows that stairwell. The door straight ahead at the top of the landing, opens to the back yard and the steel fire door on the right opens into the garage.

Under the stairwell is a mechanical room. A sump pump, and sanitary lift crock, HVAC furnace/air cond. and a central de-humidifier, to keep the bunker dry during the humid Milwaukee summer months. De-Humidification is necessary because much of the machinery in both the wood shop and the machine shop are made with large cast iron castings. Cast iron will rust very easily in humid climates and so the central de-humidifier completely eliminates that issue.

In addition, I installed my 5 horsepower 60 Gallon vertical compressor in this mechanical room because when the compressor runs it creates a lot of noise, and so putting it in the mechanical room under the stairs behind a closed door eliminates about 80% of the noise. Some years ago a friend gave me his old compressor that he did not use any more. The pump and motor were rather small. But the 60 Gallon tank (manufactured in 1947, the year I was born) was usable. So I bought a large 2 cylinder 2 stage pump and added a new 5 Horsepower single phase capacitor start motor. It produces 17 cubic feet per minute at a pressure of 150 PSI. The compressor is plumbed with 3/4" copper to pressure regulators and a hose reels, in both the machine shop and the wood shop.

This photo is a general overall view of the machine shop as seen from the bottom of the staircase that leads up to the ground level. If you look closely you can see the compressed air hose reel with it's lime green hose at the top of the photo above the pedestal grinder.

Hardware and raw material. Any machine shop worth it's salt will need lots of hardware, nuts, bolts, screws, fasteners, and a stock of machinable metal to create the items you need. With such a large pile of stuff to keep track of, organization comes into play once again. In the machine shop I put up more Edsal shelving to accomodate the vast quantity of stuff I have accumulated over the years. The first photo shows the south shelving unit, holding screws, bolts and the like. The center photo shows shelving units to the right which holds my Sams PhotoFact library, which contains the electronic schematics for the antique tv sets. The right-hand photo shows the north shelving unit which is used to store machinable aluminum, steel, brass and copper stock. The door shown on the left opens into the mechanical room under the stairway, where the HVAC and Compressor are located.

Working on metal often means you are hammering and banging away on something, or perhaps using an arc welder or an Oxy-acetylene torch. You need a good studry metal-working bench with a hefty vice. I contracted a local steel fabrication shop to construct a custom steel workbench top for my machine shop. It is made from 3/16" steel plate reinforced with 1.5" square tube gussets underneath. I can pound on it as hard as I want and it dosen't flex a bit.

Welding is a basic skill in the machine shop. I have two rather common welders. Everybody's favorite the Lincoln 225 AC stick welder is great for structural steel fabrication on heavier gauge steel 1/8" or greater in thickess. For aluminum and lighter gauge steel I have a Century Poweremate 70 MIG welder equipped with Argon shielding gas for use on aluminum.

For tool grinding I restored an old Speedway bench grinder and mounted it on a Delta grinder stand. Based on the design of the Speedway, I estimate that it is late 40's or early 50's vintage.

One of the most unpleasant aspects of metal working is sawing metal with a hand held hack saw. I am not normally a lazy person, but hard physical activity is something I dislike. Never liked sports either. And so it follows that I needed a labor saving machine to cut my raw metal materials. To that end I purchased the Enco horizontal/vertical metal cutting band saw shown in this photo. It has a cutting capacity of 12" wide x 7" high. It is powered by a 1HP motor and has a coolant tank and pump if you prefer to do wet sawing with blade coolant liquid. I use this saw dry, because unless you maintain/replenish the coolant and clean the machine, the coolant tends to get stale over a period of time, and it will start to stink due to mold and such growing in the coolant. It can get messy so I keep things simple and saw dry.

Tools, tools, tools, sometimes I think I have too many tools. However, I have always subscribed to the philosophy that if you need a tool, go out and buy it because you will probably need to use it again someday. But with all those tools, you need a place to store and organize them. So one day I was Harbor Freight and they had this on sale. It's as strong as any $2000 commercial mechanics tool box you can find, and was about 1/3 the price. Filled with tools, I can hardly move it. The tool chest alone weighs 388 pounds EMPTY.

My milling machine is probably the most versatile of metal working tools. This one is a Bridgeport clone made by Enco. It has a 9" x 42" bed. This one was manufactured in the mid 70's and was seldom used by it's previous owners. I purchased it in an ebay auction from the seller who was located in Florida, and I had it shipped by truck to Milwaukee where it was stored along with the other large machines until the crane lowered it into the Bunker just prior to the Bunker's concrete roof being poured. Shortly after I got the mill up and running I purchased the 2 axis DRO (digital read out) directly from the manufacturer out of China. The photo on the right is the tool shelving for all the milling machine tools. Buying a milling machine is just half of the equation. You also need a huge number of cutters and other accessories to be used on the mill. I probably have as much invested in the tooling and accessories as I do in the mill itself.

Prior to embarking on this project, I had an old 1920 vintage 16" x 60" engine lathe that I had set up in my brother's factory. But that old lathe was very worn out and tired, not to mention it was far to huge to fit comfortably in my new machine shop. So I abandoned the old girl and she went to the scrap yard. I then ordered and new Grizzly G0709 14" x 40" Gunsmith lathe. Accuracy is excellent and I have made many small parts on it already. In the second photo you can see my old tool chest which has been re-purposed for holding the tools and accessories for the Grizzly lathe. In the background of this photo you can see where the stairwell to the ground level starts.