Volume 4, Number 6 - June 1999
Journal of the Home Metal Shop Club of Houston, Texas. See back page for meeting information.
President - George Carlson, V. Pres.- J. D. Wise, Treasurer - Gordon Lawson, Secretary - Keith Mitchell
Editor - Keith Mitchell Hm (281) 391-2406 Wk (713) 215-8123 Email kmitchl@wt.net

Membership Information

Membership is open to all those interested in machining metal and tinkering with machines. The purpose of the club is to provide a forum for the exchanging of ideas and information. This includes, to a large degree, education in the art of machine tools and practices. There is a severe shortage of written information that a beginning hobbyist can use. This makes an organization such as this even more important. For membership information and forms, call George Carlson at (281) 376-4606.

Notes from the Editor
By: Keith Mitchell

The Plasma Cutter

I recently bought a plasma cutter from e-bay. I wanted to share the experience with you. It's Thursday evening and I'm scanning the Miscellaneous, Tools, Industrial section. This is where the machinist tools are normally posted. I noticed a 20-amp plasma cutter at a good price for sale in Pearland, TX. A plasma cutter was not a high priority shop addition at this time but the price was right. In addition, my wife had noted at a restaurant several weeks prior a pattern cut scene in sheet metal and commented on how she would like something similar for a fireplace screen. You don't get many opportunities like this; a chance to expand your shop equipment and to make points at the same time.

The auction close was about 2 hours away so I began to do the customary things before I bid on an item; search the completed items to see what similar items have brought in this market and check the seller's feedback. The searching for similar items sold recently did not reveal much. The seller's feedback was a revelation. I noticed that George Carlson had posted positive feedback that same day. I called George and he confirmed he had bought a Syncrowave 250 from this same company. He had a lot of good things to say about them. With a few seconds remaining in the auction, I placed my bid. When the auction closed I was the successful bidder. I sent e-mail to the seller and advised that I live in Katy and would like to make arrangements to pick up the unit on Friday. The seller was concurrently drafting e-mail to the same effect. Their e-mail contained the company name, Affiliated Machinery, and names and a phone number for their Pearland location. I called on Friday and made arrangements to pick up during lunch. They are located on Hwy 35 about two miles South of the Beltway. No problem finding the place. Affiliated deals in both new and reconditioned welding equipment. They had some MIG welders at a great price. The plasma cutter was everything I had expected. The transaction went smoothly. I left a happy camper ready to go home and start creating excuses why everything else was higher priority than a fireplace screen.

When I checked my e-mail at home that evening, I had a message from Affiliated to please give them a call. After I left, they became aware that the torch on the unit I had received had been phased out of production. The consumables were becoming difficult to locate. They offered to bring a later higher capacity model unit to me in Katy on Saturday at no additional cost.

Needless to say I was floored. I bought this item at what I consider a bargain. The offer of an upgrade at no extra charge and to deliver in addition to that really blew me away. I'm a Harry Homeowner size customer; not one who will spend a significant amount of money every year on welding equipment.

It's refreshing to find a supplier who doesn't mind dealing with small time buyers who may ask some very rudimentary questions and a supplier who is very proactive in the customer satisfaction department. From what George told me he had the same experience with this company. If you have a need for welding equipment, I highly recommend you give them a call.

One of the challenges of being a Home Shop Machinist is obtaining materials, equipment and supplies. Some of the vendors I've approached treat the HSM as a nuisance type buyer. From a business aspect, nuisance buyers are those who as a group contribute less than 10% to annual sales, yet require proportionately more resources to service than the large accounts. I don't condemn those who take this approach to the market. It's a business decision and they are after all in business to maximize their return. I had one used equipment dealer tell me it took him no less time to turn a deal on a $100,000 machining center than it took to sell a $2000 lathe. I don't doubt he is correct.

Perhaps the relevance of all this is we have a number of suppliers who are willing to work with the HSM and who have been very supportive of the Houston Home Metal Shop Club. One of the benefits of club membership is the networking available to identify those suppliers. The best way to acknowledge their support is to give them your business and where the opportunity presents make others aware of the good service they supply.

May Meeting Minutes
Reported by: Keith Mitchell

Chips Meeting - 1:00 P.M. May 15, 1999, Oak Forrest Library
Attendance - 22
In the Chips Meeting the following activities took place.
1. Past Issues of HSM and PIM - David Whittaker is in the process of cataloging the back issues of HSM & PIM. Once cataloged, these will be available for loan from the club library like the tapes and other publications. It was agreed that David should purchase suitable magazine boxes and a container for the library. The current plan is to have members request specific issues prior to the monthly meeting. David will bring the magazine to the next meeting.
Veterans Memorial - Malcolm Browne and Don Price of the Tomball VFW presented an overview of a Museum commemorating our Military Veterans to be built in the Houston area. They are actively involved in the fund raising efforts and are looking for help to construct a model of the completed structure to be used in presentations to various groups involved in this project. If you would like to get involved in this project please call Malcolm Browne at 713-781-3552 Ext. 214.
3. Show & Tell - Joe Williams brought a hoist he uses to install chucks on his lathe. It can also be used to lift a mill vise on or off the table.
4. Presentation - Keith Mitchell gave a presentation on Welding as applicable to the HSM.
5. Newsletter - We are developing a list of resources to assist others in preparation of newsletter articles. These are people who can do word processing, CAD drafting, photography, etc. to assist others. The goal is to provide assistance to those who are willing to prepare an article but lack some of the skills or equipment required. Volunteers are needed!