Fixing old machines is always an adventure

Posted by on Oct 20, 2011 | No Comments

As we continue to bask in the joy/relief of our successful inaugural run of the Orphan Annie sorts caster, I’ve been reflecting on some of the mini-projects it took to get the machine working again. These projects, which always are about problem solving and sometimes also are about inventing creative solutions, are as much a part of the “working” aspect of our Foundry museum as are the routine maintenance tasks and machine operation.

One of the challenges of working on machines of this vintage is that there isn’t a Monotype parts store around the corner. Hence the need to make and repair parts, and on occasion, make tools. Last week, I made a spring compressor on my venerable (also vintage) drill press. The reassembly using this spring compressor was one of the final steps on our way to getting the Orphan Annie up and running.

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Spring compressor on the drill

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Spring compressor on the Orphan Annie

But it wasn’t the final step… The Orphan Annie requires cool water to counteract the heat generated by the molten type metal. Since our museum space doesn’t have a drain, we decided to build a stand-alone, recirculating cooling unit–or “contraption” as our landlord put it. We had to get the unit up and running and capable of handling the volume of water running through the caster. (In a test run, we discovered the first motor we tried wasn’t up to the task.) The unit was inspired by the cooling system used on the Ludlow, another type of type casting machine, and was designed with a lot of time spent perusing the McMaster-Carr catalog. The bigger motor did the trick and we were in business.

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Cooler hook-up to the Orphan Annie

It took a mere six hours of final machine adjustments before we cast our first sort of Stern.