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Cating on the cheap [Was: Kathryn Columbus]


Here’s what I am doing to assemble a casting shop cheap. I got
an old Ford air conditioner compressor and a washing machine
motor and mounted them on a board and connected them with a V
belt of appropriate size. Compressor about $25 at your loca
junkyard. You’ll have to hunt around for pieces to connect it to
your vacuum table, so look at the fittings on it before you buy
if you go this route. There will be an “S” or “suc” by the
suction port. You will have to drill three holes in the flywheel
between the inside and the outside, because the thing has a
clutch which you will disable by screwing sheet metal screws into
the three holes. You can do similar with a compressor from an
old refrigerator — try an appliance repair shop. Mine will
pull about 27", will boil water if the water is 75 degress or so.
Your vacuum gage is from the auto supply store or a garage sale,
or you can listen to the pump and the sound will about tell you
when it’s pulled what it is going to. For a bell jar you could
try an old wine bottle with the bottom cut out lapped flat on
emery paper. Use a lab style rubber cork and put your vac line
in there, but I have to say I chickened out and bought a bell
jar. Be very careful trying out a homemade one in case it
shatters. Could also make one from acrylic sheet, I think. Use
the glue the supply shop sells. The hose I use came from Home
Depot. Look in the Complete Metalsmith for ideas about vac
casting. You can use tin cans with the bottoms cut out for
flasks. You will need to buy the silicon gasket for the flask to
sit on. You can make a jiggle table for the flask to sit on with
springs from the hardware and a piece of scrap metal. You will
need a burnout oven, there are plans, but it looked too complex
and time comsuming for me. You can burn out in a flowerpot oven
(inverted flowerpot over an electric range or hotplate burner)
lined with aluminum foil. I got a burnout oven that needed
repair for $40. You can probably find one.

If you want centrifigal, look in Jerry Wykoff’s book about
jewelry design. There are plans there for steam casting, vac and
centrifigal. E-mail if Q’s. Good Luck!