Melting aluminum

Today another in my ongoing, seldom-updated series of posts about building my own backyard foundry. Today I’ll describe how the final step works: actually melting and pouring the metal. First, see my previous post on how to make a green sand mold.

Start by assembling all the equipment you’ll need in one place, on a day with no chance of rain. (Click on any photo for a larger version.)

DCIM152GOPRO
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Casting: making a green sand mold

Today another episode in my seldom-updated series about building a home aluminum foundry.

The technique I use for casting aluminum is called “green sand” casting not because the sand is green (though the sand I use is in fact slightly olive coloured) but because the sand is moistened with water and clay rather than oil. I made the sand myself; it’s a mixture of about ten parts olivine sand to one part finely powdered bentonite clay, and then “tempered” with water¬†until it feels right. (Use a spray bottle set to a fine mist and stir the sand as you temper it.) It should feel like perfect sand castle building material: wet enough to hold its shape but not so wet that you can squeeze water out of it. If you can make a “snowball” of sand with a fist and break it cleanly in half, that’s probably good. Continue reading

London and Budapest

I recently spent a week visiting customers and giving talks in Europe and holy goodness, never have I been in so many countries in so little time. I flew from Seattle to London, changed planes, flew to Amsterdam, visited customers in the Netherlands and Belgium, then took the Eurostar from Lille back to London, and that was just the first two days! Continue reading

Funniest Hungarian joke ever

No computer stuff today; since I am actually in Hungary today on business and it is the the anniversary of the happy event mentioned below, today’s FAIC is a rerun. Enjoy!


I’m back from my fabulous adventures in Austria, Romania and Canada and I had a fabulous time, as you might imagine. We were in Romania for a wedding of some close personal friends who live here in Seattle; much of the groom’s family escaped from Romania during the Communist period and settled in Austria, so we spent some time in Vienna and then headed to Bucharest, and then crossed the Carpathian mountains by bus into Transylvania for the wedding. Some of the highlights included:

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Standard and Daylight are different

A couple weeks ago I had an online meeting with some European colleagues; I showed up in the chat room at what I thought was the agreed-upon time and they did not, which was odd, but whatever, I waited ten minutes and then rescheduled the meeting. It turns out they did the same an hour later. I’m sure you can guess why.

If you have been sent a link to this page, it is to remind you that “Eastern Standard Time” is not defined as “whatever time it is in New York City right now”, it is defined as “Eastern Time not adjusted for Daylight Saving Time“. Parts of the world in the eastern time zone that do not observe Daylight Saving Time — Panama, for instance — stay in Eastern Standard Time all year, so it is an error to assume that Eastern Standard Time and Eastern Time are the same time.
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