Sunday, June 11, 2006

Molten Metal is Cool

Thankfully (sadly?), no bubblelicious stories to relate yesterday. I signed up for a 4000 FPP Main Event satellite at Stars, with 370 or so friends. On the third hand I'm dealt KK UTG, raise it to 150 and only the button calls. Flop is 2h 8h Qc. I bet out for 500 or so, button min-raises me, and I push. (I know, but the idiot factor is pretty high in these, especially at the early stages, and I've given up trying to give people credit within the first five hands in situations like this.)

Button insta-calls and I'm expecting to see a set. Instead he rolls over J5 of spades. No, really. Turn is J, river is a 5, and all my chips are belong to Miss Cleo. I can't even to begin to explain what just happened so I shut the computating machine down for the day and went out to the yard to melt some metal.

Pictures are forthcoming, but I'd cobbled together everything that I needed and built my mini-foundry, so it was time to give the thing a whirl. The set-up is pretty much the simplest thing in the world, as it's essentially a kiln (refractory cement poured into a steel galvanized bucket, with room in the middle for a crucible) with a lid, and a hole in the side for a blower. You put the crucible in the empty space in the middle of the cement-filled bucket, surround it with charcoal, put the lid on (which is 3-4 inch thick cement, with a vent hole in the center), and turn the blower on.

The surprising and cool thing is that it only takes it about 10 minutes to get up to temperature for melting aluminmum, which is about 1500 F. And that's with just a few handfuls of backyard-grilling-variety charcoal in there for fuel, and a hair dryer blowing on low/cool for a blower. Pretty damn cool.

I'd scavenged a big box of aluminum scraps from a local place in town that makes trophies and plaques and what-not, so the first few runs were just to melt down scrap and pour some ingots, for future use. No real hiccups, and I ended up doing two runs, eventually producing four or five pounds of aluminum ingots. It's kind of a pain in the ass, as the foundry is pretty wee, so the crucible has to be correspondingly wee, and it's not the best for cramming odd-sized scraps into, as I spent about as much time cutting down scrap pieces as I did actually melting and pouring metal. Once I melt down what I have I may take the lazier route in the future, and simply buy ingots in bulk, or build a bigger foundry that I can load larger scrap pieces into.

Next step is to create some molds of assorted things to pour, to try to actually, umm, make something. The first batch is likely going to be lost wax molds, like I used for the bronze casting class I took, which basically mean you make something out of wax, pour plaster around it, stick it in a kiln to burn out all of the wax, and then pour molten metal into it, which will flow into the cavity created by the wax. A little time consuming, all the way around, but still pretty damn cool.


Jason said...

Guess he just 'knew' he was gonna runna runna two pair... Whatevs, can't be those kinda know-it-alls at pokur... ;)

John G. Hartness said...

Does that mean we're all gonna get neat Scurvy Original Card Protectors for Xmas?