Cheap suds!

by Doc Nickel

"Suds" being the slang term for machine coolant, of course. happy.gif

One of the things I never really got into using, on my old manual machines, is flood coolant. If you don't have an enclosure or proper drip trays, it's a mess to use, and on manual job-shop machines that aren't worked constantly, water-based coolant can cause rust, or just start to smell as gunk grows in it. (Most coolants have a biocide, but even still, with a layer of 'tramp oils- non soluble oils- on top of the water, anerobic bacteria can eventually grow.)

However, the benefits of coolants are rapidly outweighing the drawbacks, and I've been planning for a while to set up flood coolant on the horizontal bandsaw, the surface grinder (which came built for it, but which I haven't used yet) and at least one, if not both, of the lathes.

Yeah, yeah, I know some of you CNC guys are saying "Geez, welcome to the twentieth century, Doc!" happy.gif

I'd also like to set it up on the mill- one of the mills, anyway- but while the lathes at least have drip trays and rear splash guards, the mill is a little more difficult to contain. I've been thinking about an add-on enclosure, basically a box that surrounds the vise. Most of my work is relatively small, so an enclosure wouldn't get in the way too often. It would, however, be a right pain in the sphincter to take down when I need to work on a larger part, so this one is still in the theoretical stage.

Now, that said, one of the most useful places for flood coolant would be the turret lathe. I've been doing more and more batch parts, and, in fact, the Logan was at one time a factory turret lathe with coolant. It came with front and rear splash trays and a drain built into the drip tray, though I removed the trays when I brought it home. Also, the legs of the lathe bed had been "potted", or sealed with epoxy or some other kind of sealant, so coolant won't drip on the motor or belts.

This weekend, I'd been having some problems with some stainless parts galling slightly as I was drilling them- it was a deep drill, and couldn't clear the chips well enough. So I finally decided I'd give the coolant a try.

Now, I am not yet convinced it'll work for me. It may be more trouble than it's worth, and if I start having rusting issues, I'll probably bag it. So I didn't want to invest a pile of money into parts I might not use, or even just parts I decided against when I change my mind as to how I want the coolant set up.

Fortunately, I'm a packrat. happy.gif With a little digging and a couple of special-made parts, I put together a complete coolant setup for a grand total of $5.98 (I bought the plastic tub.)

The first thing was to dig out the old front splash tray, which I'd saved. (Again, packrat.) The lathe originally had a lever-operated turret, and I'd refitted it with a capstan-wheel turret. The full-length tray interfered with the handles.

[linked image]

Well, the tray didn't necessarily need to be full-length, so I chopped it down with the plaz, and capped both ends to help contain any overspill.

[linked image]

I had a pump salvaged from an old X-ray processor I'd dismantled a few years ago, and using a bucket and some tubing, I discovered that, while it was nearly completely silent, it was not self-priming. Once primed, it worked great, with plenty of flow. But if it wasn't primed, it'd sit there and just hum all day long.

The pump was not submersible, so I had to come up with a way to keep it dry, but also below the fluid level in my reservoir. So since this was a quick-and-dirty test run, so to speak, I whipped up a sort of "bulkhead" fitting out of 1" aluminum round:

[linked image]

It was made mostly to "that looks about right" spec, and I didn't bother putting wrench flats or slots on the parts- a couple of pliers tightens 'em up just fine.

[linked image]

For my reservoir, I measured the space I had under the lathe, and hit the nearest Big Box Store for a plastic storage tub. The one I found was smaller than I wanted, but the next size up was too big to fit. But for a whopping $5.98 it was a cheap solution. Two old O-rings from my parts stash and it works like a champ.

[linked image]

Giving it a try with plain water, she's leak-free, high flow, and quiet as a mouse fart. I didn't get pictures, but a second quickie connector can be seen on the pump output line- the clear stuff is some food-grade vinyl line I salvaged (packrat) from an old soda fountain, which I'd dismantled for the CO2 regulators. It was 3/8" ID, and the pump's ports are 1/2", so I just made an appropriate stepped adapter, and used two chunks of old 1/2" ID heater hose as connectors.

[linked image]

And it all tucks up under the lathe like so, out of the way, and well protected.

[linked image]

The return line was easy; there's a drain in the middle of the drip tray behind the lathe bed. I simply screwed a short section of 1/2" pipe into the bottom of it (already tapped for a hose) and slid a foot or so of 3/4" heater hose over that, and into a hole cut in the lid of the plastic tub. It's pretty much a straight shot from the drain down into the tub.

I was concerned, however, of debris clogging the drain (I'd had to vacuum several inches of swarf out of it just to open it up, as I'd never used for anything) so another quick and dirty fix was to take a chunk of leftover window screening, snip a chunk, roll it up, and just jam it in the hole:

[linked image]

Worked great!

Now, it was kind of tricky to get the "reservoir" under there with the various hoses and wires, so the easiest way to fill it was to just dump two gallons of mixed coolant right in the drip tray.

[linked image]

I used a jug of Prolong, which I bought for $9 a gallon at, interestingly enough, one of the local secondhand shops, back when I got the surface grinder, and was thinking of trying out the flood coolant on that. I mixed it fairly rich at about 15:1, since, again, I'm concerned with rusting.

I will say, though, that a trayful of coolant is a great way to break the habit of laying tools and rags in the drip tray... happy.gif

For a spray nozzle, I dived back into my stashes of parts and boxes of junk. The base is an extra magnetic indicator base (I have about six or seven) and a clamp, a short chunk of bent stainless tubing and a Swagelok elbow, a small ball valve that originally came on a TASO fill station I bought back in the 90s, and a piece of 1/4" copper tubing soldered into a female 1/8" pipe fitting.

[linked image]

The vinyl hose slides over the stainless tubing for a perfect clamp-free fit (the pump can't make much pressure even with the valve blocked) and the soft copper line lets me adjust it wherever I want. Not as good as loc-line, but hey, I had it on hand. happy.gif

Today's test project was some drilling, using an indexible carbide spade bit, and everything worked flawlessly. Big improvement in surface finish, since it wasn't galling anymore, and the parts weren't 150F when I pulled 'em out of the chuck anymore. happy.gif

[linked image]

Now, assuming I don't have any real problems with the coolant itself (going rancid, rusting parts, drying out and gumming up the pump, whatever) I'll eventually rework it with a better reservoir and spray nozzle. But for the moment, for a couple hours work and six bucks expended, I thought it came out pretty well.


Posted on Apr 8, 2012, 10:33 PM

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  1. Plexy and some magnets work awesome on the mills. Jfransome, Apr 8, 2012
  2. A few suggestions?. Nighthawke, Apr 8, 2012
    1. A few replies.... Doc Nickel, Apr 9, 2012
      1. Coolant through ideas. Shargo, Apr 9, 2012
        1. Coolant-thru.... Doc Nickel, Apr 9, 2012
      2. Crud in the coolant: A comment. Urban Werebear, Apr 13, 2012
      3. Re: A few replies.... Roy Smith, Apr 17, 2012
  3. What about mist cooling?. Someone, Apr 9, 2012
    1. Ugh. Irregular Logic, Apr 9, 2012
    2. Mist cooling.... Doc Nickel, Apr 9, 2012
      1. yeah, mist sucks.... sniper1rfa, Apr 9, 2012
    3. Mist & flood at my shop.. MephitMark, Apr 9, 2012
      1. tramp oil skimmers.... sniper1rfa, Apr 10, 2012
        1. Very true, normally.. MephitMark, Apr 11, 2012
    4. Microdrop works for me. Russ Kepler, Apr 10, 2012
  4. Sudsy update.... Doc Nickel, Apr 10, 2012
    1. wrong kind of paint, maybe?. Irregular logic, Apr 10, 2012
      1. Cheap epoxy paint?. Doc Nickel, Apr 11, 2012
        1. You might consider waiting till spring.. MephitMark, Apr 11, 2012
    2. Imron or Emron.... Nobody, Apr 10, 2012
      1. don't spray IMRON in your garage!. Maker of Toys, Apr 10, 2012
        1. I've got a second mill I need to paint. Someone, Apr 10, 2012
          1. depends. . .. Maker of Toys, Apr 10, 2012
          2. Ive seen some luck with Magnet paints. Renegade_Azzy, Apr 11, 2012
      2. don't spray IMRON in your garage!. Maker of Toys, Apr 10, 2012
        1. They used IMRON on the PAS floors in Korea. Eric, Apr 22, 2012

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