Cross-posted to a fistful of farming, metalworking, and engineering communities, by way of introduction.
Hi! My name is Ben. My family owns a small vineyard in eastern Washington State. I am in charge of several projects, including the daily operation and ongoing upgrades/rehabilitation of a 50-acre Concord grape block that we are in the process of getting organic certification. Three years ago, I was severely burned when I fell into a concealed hazardous waste dump site the previous owners had illegally buried on the property, so I am also interested in developing new waste recycling technologies and projects. I haven't posted regularly to LJ for quite a long time now, and although I've found a few more specialized message boards off-site, my needs and interests now overlap with so many different fields, so I've decided to knock the dust off my account and send out some feelers in all directions.
Last year I came to the conclusion that from here out all of my equipment needs to be custom-made, and my local shops aren't quite up to the task of doing any kind of R&D, so I broke down and bought the Harbor Fright starter kit, and have been rallying hard since last September to churn out my first big project -- a hydraulic sickle mower mounted to a custom 3-axis vertical tool carrier on the front of my Kubota -- to get a leap on pruning earlier this year. I never took shop in high school, and considering my total lack of experience I'd say it was an overall success (I got the entire field pruned nearly 2 1/2 months earlier than previous years of using sucky hedging shears), although there are some considerable alterations I need to make to both the pruner and my workshop.
So, now that I'm not quite so under the gun with that particular project, I figured I'd take the time to join some new communities, introduce myself, and solicit some help finding some good machinist groups that have nothing to do with Christian Bale. I've got several other ongoing builds and field projects I'm going to post some entires on in the next few weeks as I have some downtime when the vines start to bud out. In the meantime, the biggest problem I've had with my pruner is the kludgey reciprocator crankshaft I welded together literally out of scrap gears and bolts -- I desperately need advice on turning and heat hardening, and can't find any active lathe-working communities. My next shop project is to build an Arduino-driven dividing head to turn out a new crank in my drill/mill, but I already let the blue smoke out of my first Uno, so some computer and electrical engineering help would be, well, helpful. Finally, since I'm trying to find a use for all this dead vine material I'm chipping and bagging (another post) and I have both a need for medium-sized metal casting and a growing pile of scrap metal, I think I'd really like to build a wood-gasifier forge slash meat cookerizer so I can throw some of the most metal BBQs in town. Unfortunately, most of the metal casting communities I've found are for jewelry making, so if anyone can point me towards something a little more industrial, that'd be great.
Anyways, I'll be posting more entries later or sooner to introduce some of the individual projects I've got lined up. I'll try my best to keep them organized separately, although they do all converge together on a common larger purpose, which hopefully will make sense as I go along. Thanks for reading!