Last week we completed the pattern for our new Glide handwheels and dropped the pattern off at the foundry. The foundry we're using has been casting iron for 100 years and is located in historic and picturesque Galena, IL. If you're ever in the tri-state area (Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin) you should figure on spending a day walking main street in Galena. We've been visiting Galena since I was a kid, and return for a visit every few years. It's a bit touristy, but the old brick and limestone buildings make it worth it. The front office at the foundry hasn't changed much. It's filled with old newspaper clippings of the great Galena floods, and several of the old cast iron wood stoves the foundry once produced. These stoves kept the foundry going during the Great Depression.
Yesterday we picked up 1000 pounds of castings from the foundry and moved them to our machine shop where they will go into the lathe tomorrow. Then, they will join the first small test run of small handwheels (pictured below), which are nearly complete, for mill operations.
The new Glide handwheel castings are simply jaw-dropping. Once machined, I'll have to find a new adjective that trumps jaw-dropping, because judging by the nearly finished small handwheel I'm looking at right now, they are going to be ridiculous. In these pics, I've placed our previous handwheel casting next to the new ones. They are literally twice as heavy. A good portion of that will get machined away, but these are going to have much more mass. That will translate into sweet fluid movement and effortless control at the vise.
The new handwheels are going through a few more operations than the previous ones due the high level of finish we're going for. Lucky for us, one of our partner shops is located right across the street and they are going to vibratory finish the handwheels.
The media we're using is stainless steel. These little pieces are about the size of a pea, and shaped like a flying saucer. The little points help get into the nooks and crannies. The wheels look incredible after they come out of the vibratory. In fact, the plant managers at this shop took a look at our wheels and they all thought they were cold formed steel. When we told them they were cast iron, they said, well, I can't really write what they said here. You get the idea.
And last but not least, here are a couple pics of the first carver's vise parts. These are slated for release sometime this fall. No promises yet, as we're putting 100% of our efforts into Tail Vises and Leg Vises at the moment.
We should have pricing on the new handwheel-equipped vises in 2-3 weeks, as well as an update on lead times and availability.