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TaleSpinner

Boxer Rebellion: Box-Turtle Folk, WIP

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I thought I heard my name...

 

Sounds like it's time to get a long extension cord for your shop vac so you can plug it in on another circuit!  That's what I'd do if these ingot-chopping sessions are going to continue to be just a twice per year thing... 

 

That's silicon bronze, yeah?  I did not immediately realize how red the oxidized surface of my ingots were.  Just thought it looked kind of golden brown until I set some next to a sample of aluminum bronze (on left in pic below), which is much more yellow.  That really made the redness stand out in the silicon bronze (right in pic).  It really is beautiful stuff!

 

albrz_vs_silbrz.jpg.59b94e6f46df5614e7a333b64ee2a834.jpg

 

I haven't melted any of mine yet, but from what I've read it behaves really well - hardly any dross forms, so there should only be minimal losses.  Possibly less than the sawdust you are generating with your chop saw.  Too bad you (presumably) don't live closer or I'd offer to melt yours all down for you in my big oil-fired melting furnace and pour you some little cupcake sized ingots.  I don't know if the little bit of dross that would be generated would outweigh the sawdust, but it would be interesting - and fun - to find out!

 

Take care of that back, and may the foundry gods smile on your upcoming pour!

 

Kang

 

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56 minutes ago, Kang said:

That's silicon bronze, yeah?  I did not immediately realize how red the oxidized surface of my ingots were.  Just thought it looked kind of golden brown until I set some next to a sample of aluminum bronze (on left in pic below), which is much more yellow.  That really made the redness stand out in the silicon bronze (right in pic).  It really is beautiful stuff!

 

Kang

 

 

Yep, it's a silicon bronze called Herculoy.  It is an alloy of copper, silicon, and a bit of zinc.  I wanted Everdur which is about the same, but no zinc, but the company I ordered it from switched their offerings from Everdur to Herculoy.  Other places didn't offer the Si bronze in such small amounts.  I have a supplier I can get whole 11 to 15 lb Everdur ingots from, but didn't want to shell out the cash for them until I know how the bronze works with my setup, so I accepted the Herculoy switch.  The guy said it melts and behaves very much like the Everdur; my only fear is that the zinc will off gas as I melt it, but I guess that is why I have an elephant trunk vent over the melter.

 

I was amazed at just how hot the bronze got as I cut it.  I was expecting it to heat up, but it got hot enough to instantly boil water.  I'm sure that some of the red coloration you can see in some of my cuts is firescale from the heat.

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I don't know anything about herculoy but it'll probably work well.  Also, it has a really cool name!

 

White smoke is the sign of zinc fumes.  Try not to breathe them.  If it starts snowing indoors, grab a respirator, I believe P100 filters are sufficient but you should look it up to be sure.  Hopefully it won't happen and if it does your fume sucker hose can keep up.

 

Good luck!

 

Kang

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I don't mean to second guess your process as it is interesting to watch and you can't deny the results....but it seems like a LOT of extra work. Couldn't you just take the original green, have it molded, and just modify the master castings? I suspect if you added up the time and extra resources you had to use so far to recast these yourself it would have been way cheaper and saved you a bunch of time. 

 

I totally get it though if you are just into doing all of this extra molding and casting, if you enjoy it that is a reward unto itself. But this has to be eating into your sculpting time, and you are get paid for completed sculpts. Productivity wise I would totally go with completing more sculpts so I make more money and having someone else cast dollies so I can not have the overhead of casting them myself.

 

Again, I am not knocking how cool the process looks and how cool the results are, I have nothing but respect for you. I am just curious from a professional standpoint.

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15 hours ago, GHarris said:

I don't mean to second guess your process as it is interesting to watch and you can't deny the results....but it seems like a LOT of extra work. Couldn't you just take the original green, have it molded, and just modify the master castings? I suspect if you added up the time and extra resources you had to use so far to recast these yourself it would have been way cheaper and saved you a bunch of time. 

 

I totally get it though if you are just into doing all of this extra molding and casting, if you enjoy it that is a reward unto itself. But this has to be eating into your sculpting time, and you are get paid for completed sculpts. Productivity wise I would totally go with completing more sculpts so I make more money and having someone else cast dollies so I can not have the overhead of casting them myself.

 

Again, I am not knocking how cool the process looks and how cool the results are, I have nothing but respect for you. I am just curious from a professional standpoint.

 

But this IS what I am doing, but instead of hiring someone else to cast copies of them, I am doing it.  See the point is to be able to make many variations on the theme, so I need copies of the base repeatable structures.  

 

Lets put it this way, I have currently logged about 3 hours into the casting of this Turtle shell armature and will need about one more to cast them.  It took me 5 hours to sculpt it.  My client wants 3 turtle-folk to start with and likely 6 to 12 in time, but lets just take the 3 figure.  If I were to sculpt them outright, it would cost me an additional 10 hours of sculpting, so I have saved myself (and my client) 6 hours and set myself up for even greater savings as we make more of these down the road.  Future castings won't take nearly as long either as I already have the mold made and that is the most time consuming part of it all (2 of the 3 hours).

 

As for consumables, It is about 10 to 15 dollars worth, considering the bronze, wax, mold rubber, and investment.  I actually shouldn't count the investment, as I am still working through the bag I got a year ago and if I don't use it soon, it will go bad and I'll have to throw it away.

 

If I were to hire someone else to cast these for me, I'd have to pay at least $300 to do it, and would then get the armatures back in an inferior material (bronze is way better than pewter for an armature, and about half the price).  Total cost (including labor) for me to cast them is about $90, which is $210 I can save my client by being able to do this myself or just plain take less time in the total sculpting of the project.  That makes me more attractive as a sculptor to customers as there are few others who can do this stuff themselves.

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10 minutes ago, Kang said:

How long is the burnout on a flask that size?

 

Kang

 

About 11 hours.  Nice thing is that I don't have to do anything during the burnout and yet don't want to leave with the hot oven in the basement, so I tend to get a lot of sculpting done on casting days.

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17 hours ago, TaleSpinner said:

 

But this IS what I am doing, but instead of hiring someone else to cast copies of them, I am doing it.  See the point is to be able to make many variations on the theme, so I need copies of the base repeatable structures.  

 

Lets put it this way, I have currently logged about 3 hours into the casting of this Turtle shell armature and will need about one more to cast them.  It took me 5 hours to sculpt it.  My client wants 3 turtle-folk to start with and likely 6 to 12 in time, but lets just take the 3 figure.  If I were to sculpt them outright, it would cost me an additional 10 hours of sculpting, so I have saved myself (and my client) 6 hours and set myself up for even greater savings as we make more of these down the road.  Future castings won't take nearly as long either as I already have the mold made and that is the most time consuming part of it all (2 of the 3 hours).

 

As for consumables, It is about 10 to 15 dollars worth, considering the bronze, wax, mold rubber, and investment.  I actually shouldn't count the investment, as I am still working through the bag I got a year ago and if I don't use it soon, it will go bad and I'll have to throw it away.

 

If I were to hire someone else to cast these for me, I'd have to pay at least $300 to do it, and would then get the armatures back in an inferior material (bronze is way better than pewter for an armature, and about half the price).  Total cost (including labor) for me to cast them is about $90, which is $210 I can save my client by being able to do this myself or just plain take less time in the total sculpting of the project.  That makes me more attractive as a sculptor to customers as there are few others who can do this stuff themselves.

 

Ah, I see. I take it then that your client can't just mold and cast them for you? Pretty much every time I have done this sort of thing the person hiring me has done the molding and casting, I didn't pay anything and it was minimal extra cost for them. I also didn't have to buy benches, crucibles, venting hoods, casting machines, etc or upgrade the wiring in the basement.

 

I can't speak to pewter vs bronze armatures as I have never used bronze armatures or dollies, only pewter ones, but I have never had any problems with pewter ones. I would actually prefer pewter as I'd imagine it would be easier to cut with hand tools. But there may be no right answer here as it probably just depends on the sculptor!

 

Again, I'm not trying to knock what you are doing, in fact it is cool to watch! But as you said sculptors that would even consider doing this themselves are pretty rare, I think in the past 20 years or so I have heard of maybe one other guy that did their own casting for customers on a regular basis. 

 

I suspect you may also be attractive to customers simply because you are a really good sculptor!

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6 hours ago, GHarris said:

 

Ah, I see. I take it then that your client can't just mold and cast them for you? Pretty much every time I have done this sort of thing the person hiring me has done the molding and casting, I didn't pay anything and it was minimal extra cost for them.

 

No, he is a small company that contracts with other houses for his casting needs.  You are right though; if I were doing this for someone like Reaper who have their own casting ability, I'd just send it to them directly and let them make me the armatures...well, maybe.  I do like being able to do this myself and every one I do is a learning opportunity.

 

I guess another good thing to know about me is that I am not a full time sculptor.  Sculpting minis is a passion and a learning adventure.  The fact that it pays for a trip to ReaperCon every year and buys me cool toys like this casting setup in my basement is just plain awesome.  For me, at least at this point in my life, it is far more about the journey and the discovery than it is about the money.  Someday I'd like to take it full time as a retirement career, but for now, it is the thing I get excited about that makes life exciting to me right now.

 

 

Quote

I also didn't have to buy benches, crucibles, venting hoods, casting machines, etc or upgrade the wiring in the basement.

 

Remember that this is only one of the reasons I bought the setup I have.  My real ambition in this with the casting and such is to become a jeweler.  Being able to make my own armatures and mini parts and such is a nice benefit, but if it wasn't for the jewelry aspect, it would not likely be worth the investment. I would have been better off investing in Z-Brush and a jewelry quality 3D Printer (which is in the 5 year plan).

 

Wait until I show you guys some of the rings I am developing. ::D:

 

 

Quote

I can't speak to pewter vs bronze armatures as I have never used bronze armatures or dollies, only pewter ones, but I have never had any problems with pewter ones. I would actually prefer pewter as I'd imagine it would be easier to cut with hand tools. But there may be no right answer here as it probably just depends on the sculptor!

 

I use Pewter too, but it is very brittle and takes a lot of care in the posing.  Bronze has a high ductility and can be bent and re-bent.  Plus when it gets too work hardened, you can anneal it.  Plus it is about half the price of pewter.

 

 

Quote

Again, I'm not trying to knock what you are doing, in fact it is cool to watch! But as you said sculptors that would even consider doing this themselves are pretty rare, I think in the past 20 years or so I have heard of maybe one other guy that did their own casting for customers on a regular basis. 

 

Yep, even I am not setup to handle anything but low volume casting.  The investment it takes to do pewter spin casting is just too high for me to consider at this time (about $15,000 to get started).

 

 

Quote

I suspect you may also be attractive to customers simply because you are a really good sculptor!

 

Thank you! :blush:

 

 

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15K?!  I almost spit-take'd (took?) 

 

OK now I am really curious - What is the big ticket item there?  Been hanging around online chatting with internet weirdos who build their own foundry gear from scrap for too long, I guess.  Easy enough to see why they do though, when numbers like that start flying around! 

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52 minutes ago, Kang said:

15K?!  I almost spit-take'd (took?) 

 

OK now I am really curious - What is the big ticket item there?  Been hanging around online chatting with internet weirdos who build their own foundry gear from scrap for too long, I guess.  Easy enough to see why they do though, when numbers like that start flying around! 

 

Base level spin caster: $4000

Vulcanizer: $4000

Melt Furnace: $750 to $3000 depending on your volume

Mold Frames: $350 to $1500, depending on the size you want to run

Venting and electricals for the Melt Furnace: Depends on the setup, but likely $200 to $500

 

None of this includes the cost of expendables.

 

I keep looking for used versions and they are hard to come by.  The melt furnace you can probably get used.

 

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Those prices take the small-time operator or hobbyist right out of the game.  Hence the DIY approach taken by most foundry hobbyists I've come across.

 

This guy sure didn't spend any $4K on his spin machine!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYVIVzCmH10

 

Though I will not deny that thing is hideous and probably plotting to send him to the burn unit.

Still, adding more splash guards and a coat of paint would be cheap and easy enough.

 

How much better would a commercially made vulcanizer work than his 4 C-clamps and a couple hours in the oven approach, I wonder?  Possibly a lot, but $4000 better?

 

All I'm really saying at is, if you can't beat that 15K setup figure by at least 12 or 13K by building your own gear, I'll eat my hat.

 

Stay safe, and good luck with the upcoming bronze pour!

 

Kang

 

 

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I bought a used Contenti spin caster back in 2001 for $1500 from a resale place in Rhode Island. For some reason that was the used casting machine resale at the time, I wish I remembered the name of the place. A used melting pot cost about $800, I want to say the vulcanizer was about $1200, I forget what the cost of the mold frames was. We did have to pay freight fees to get it all delivered, and the wiring in the shop had to be redone for the new machines. I would add that you'd want some sort of downdraft table to keep your molds cool and talc from going everywhere, and make sure you have a venting hood if you are working in your house. 

 

Ah yes, don't forget about an air compressor...and you may need a gas line put in for the melting pot...and you need to buy molds....plus buy metal...

 

That was also 17 years ago. I assume, if you can find the machines used, you may be able to shave a few thousand dollars off of your costs but overall Talespinner is making a lot of sense.

 

Use C-Clamps, a frame, and an oven? Um, no. If you are seriously making molds you buy a vulcanizer. I used to do this sort of thing for a living, I wouldn't even consider anything other a vulcanizer.

 

Sure, you can rig up a spin casting system from scrap, but again if you are serious you want to precisely control clamping pressure on your molds and how fast the molds spin, and you want your machine to hold up to heavy use. You can put in the time, money and skill needed to rig up a machine to do all of those things as well as a commercial machine...but it is just easier to just get the commercial machine. Unless you are just really into rigging up machines, if so then more power to you!

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Thanks for setting me straight GHarris, I kind of figured the c-clamps might be too good to be true.  ::D:  As a self-taught amateur in foundry work for the past 4+ years, one thing I've learned is to always take note of the voice of hard-earned experience. 

 

I have built a couple of melting furnaces and other foundry tools for the hobby foundry in my backyard, but I haven't done any lost wax casting or spin casting, and I've definitely never cast anything this tiny and detailed, so your insight is appreciated.   My experience with making larger castings in aluminum and bronze in greensand molds has taught me that there are good and bad places to take a DIY Approach - ie. assuming there is no big hurry, DO save money by building your own melting furnace and welding up your own crucible tongs... But if you want your gear to work well and work safely and last a long time, DON'T line said homemade furnace with homemade refractory or try to make your own crucibles...

 

Not ready to eat my hat quite yet though - I only said a spin casting setup could be built just as well for a fraction of the cost of buying one.  Your numbers (although fairly old) have already shaved 5-7K off Talespinner's pricing without even considering any sort of DIY...  I'll concede that building a setup like this from scratch that works as well as a purchased one would not be practical for most people. 

 

Kang

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