The following is an e-mail series Arian sent me in January and February 2022 on how to cast a holy grail in bell metal bronze using the lost wax casting method. This guide could be more refined, and should become more refined over time. For now, I want to make sure this information is available, and this format is "good enough" to achieve that end.
For information on the lost foam method for casting a grail, see How to Build a Holy Grail Blank and Changes to the Holy Grail Building Method. Currently, information on the foundry Arian built is only in All E-mails from Brian. See e-mails #381-386: choose the pdf that contains pictures.
All I've done at this point is remove the majority of the blatantly irrelevant information from these e-mails. Otherwise, they are mostly true to their original form.
Photos will be added in due time. All of the linked videos are also in our YouTube playlist: see videos #147-184.
January 7 2022 2:06PM
I agree about the grail. Those were the same assessments I was eluding to a couple of weeks ago. Besides the fact that you're driving to and from the makerspace to do all of that work, there's a lot of planning for the foundry that's yet to be done. Focusing in on the engine is a wise decision. The grail is a much more complex task. I also don't like thinking about you driving around in the winter weather, but that's my protective side coming out. You're an adult; a very smart one at that. You're capable of making your own decisions, but I do think about that a lot. I'd also feel more secure if you had a pistol for protection, especially knowing you sleep in your car fairly regularly. That's something that I've done for everyone on this mission, and I apologize for not having the means to procure one for you. You're very special to me and I don't want you to fail, or otherwise end up unable to follow your desired path. I try to keep my worries close so I'm not adding stress to your already stressful situation, but sometimes I just have to let it out... like now. Anyways, I think that's a very smart decision to slow down on the grail. You're doing great with it, but I more than anyone know how difficult making one is. Seems strange though, right? I mean... it's a cup; a fucking cup. A very large cup, yes, but still. Incredibly complex project for being simple in appearance. I know you can do it. There's no doubt in my mind. I also want you to be successful, and as stress free as possible under the circumstances, though. I think it's wise to wait until you at least have your own lathe (wood or otherwise) just in case something happens to your blank. I'm in no way disappointed in you focusing your efforts elsewhere...
I've been trying to find something that can show you the lost wax method for months, but there's just nothing that really shows it well. After this email I'm going to do some drawing, but I don't want you to act on any of it until you're absolutely certain you fully understand the process. There's no need to waste time, effort and money until you are comfortable. So, any little thing that you're unfamiliar with or uncertain about, ask me. Don't just "wing it." Then, after you have the full spectrum, you'll be able to make a decision if that's the direction you want to go, or if you want to keep pressing on with the foam blank. I've also done a lot of thinking about the process and I'm not so sure an inverter mechanism is completely necessary. It'll take a lot more refinement work after the pour, but I think there's a way to drain wax without inverting the mold and flask. It'll be tricky, and I'm not certain it'll work, but it's a possibility I hadn't really considered before. Anyways, long before I get to that, I have to first explain how to set this up. Expect a few drawings...
This open house you talked about... I don't get it. Is the makerspace like a school? Who would come to an event like that, and why? Potential clients? Spouses or parents of the people working on projects there? It sounds interesting. I just don't really understand the format that would have that kind of event. That is a fantastic CAD file you linked me to. Very detailed and complete. Gives me the impression that there's others out there somewhere working on them. I'm also very excited to see you're "spreading the word" about them, and the people you're talking to are interested. That engine really does have the ability to drastically improve the capability to be self sufficient. There's a lot more that needs to be done in order to make that technology viable (tanks, piping, windmills, etc), but just having the Di Pietro engine is where it all starts, and everything else is easy in comparison. I don't know what to tell you about the best method for making those internal parts. If they're cast or machined from a solid billet would really depend on capability and access to raw materials. I would assume for you right now, given your skillset and lack of foundry that machining them from bar stock would be the easiest, and quickest way to finish the project. One thing I will say is that if the larger diameter tooling is not available in the shops you have access to, my gut instinct, based on what I've seen of the irregularity in those parts, I'd start with a rotary table. There'll be lots of passes to hog off material, but the setup of the bar stock itself would be pretty simple comparitively. Getting off center, or irregular cuts like that on a lathe is a simple process, but the setup is time consuming, and you'll need an independent 4 jaw chuck on a lathe, while the former is mill based. I tend to gravitate towards mills anyways. It always seems easier and less burdensome on the body (especially right arms, lol [sorry for the "mark of the beast" humor]). But yeah, the dialing in of centering 4 jaw chucks is a skill most don't like to learn. There's other ways of off centering self centering chucks with the placement of irregular shapes, but even that is a bother. My mechanics on YouTube is great at figuring out those kinds of things. I've always been more of an independent 4 jaw guy, but there's always other options. The simplest way is to use a rotary table, though, on a vertical mill. Once you've completed one part, it'll be a breeze to jig the rotary table as well, if you're making several of the same parts. It won't cut down on machining time, but the setup will be very easily replicable. That's my opinion at least. As I'm sure you know now, there's always dozens of ways to make a certain part, and it really all comes down to what works best for your machinery, tooling, and skill level. So, I think you have a much better understanding of what you have access to, than what my opinion says. Since you've made friends that are interested in the project, if any of them are machinists, they might know of the best methods for those machines. Might be a good idea to bounce ideas off of them.if I had access to the shop you're using, I'd have a better idea of what you have access to and could give better advice, but ya know...
I'm going to get started on this write up and drawings for the lost wax method. It'll be difficult to draw because everything is 3D, but if something seems off, or confusing, don't hesitate to ask. I'll try to keep everything segregated to minimize confusion. This should be interesting... Talk to you later.
January 7 2022 8:42PM
First things first, you have to get a lazy Susan bearing. This is what will allow your base to rotate, which will make refining the shape easier than trying to freehand it. Think of it like an upside down vertical lathe (yes I said lathe). Installing these is a very easy task that only takes a few minutes. In one of my old houses I had bought a couple of these bearings to make a shoe rack lazy Susan for my wife at the time. It was going to be a full closet remodel and I made extensive and detailed plans on Google sketchup, but we ended up selling that house, so the bearings didn't get used. I kept them, though, and did plan on using them for this purpose, but we know how that turned out. One strong suggestion: get very strong ones. They're not expensive, and if you're really motivated, making one yourself would not be difficult, but since they're so cheap I recommend just buying one. There's going to be a lot of weight on this bearing when the mold is finished and poured; several hundred pounds, so don't use this as a place to save money. The bearings I bought were about 10 bucks, and they were rated for 1000 pounds if memory serves, just to give you an idea. Here's a video showing the installation of a lazy Susan bearing. They're pretty much all the same.
No drawings are necessary for this part. Almost everything else can be bought locally or sourced easily, but these bearings, again if you don't make them yourself, will probably need to be ordered. A word of caution: be careful with them. The pieces are punch pressed, and die cast to form. Meaning there's not much refinement there. The edges are not deburred. They will cut you. They cut both myself and wife when I first handled the ones I bought. Just saying. Be careful. By the way, I got mine on Amazon. Here's the installation video to get you familiar with them.
There's other styles for these bearings, too. This particular style is fixated top and bottom, meaning that the bearing stays together. The more remedial style allows you to pick up the top section from the base, right off of the ball bearings. This next video shows what the maker of this video calls a "flat wood thrust bearing." I've always called every variation of these, lazy Susan bearings. Same exact principle, just different configurations. Like I said, if your motivation is stellar and you want to make even the bearing yourself, I'd recommend taking this route. Just make sure your ball bearings are precision ground, and your channels are machined precisely.
This is the first step to the lost wax method of building a holy grail the ancient way. It's essential to have a rotating base, and this bearing is how you do that. More to follow...
January 8 2022 9:46PM
I did another write up, but when I went to draw the picture, it went away somehow... oh well.
Before I rewrite it again for the next step, I wanted to mention materials for the base; the parts you'll mount your lazy Susan bearing. Don't use anything that will melt. Wood is okay to use, but a solid metal plate is best. The entire mold, lazy Susan bearing and all will be put into an oven to melt the wax out of the mold. Which also means that if you make your bearing yourself, don't make it out of a material that will melt. I would assume you're going to use wood for the base. A solid metal plate would be fairly expensive. If wood is the option, consider dressing the top with a steel sheet. This will make cleaning easier when the grail is finished. Plus it will give you a barrier between the wood and mortar, which cuts down on warping the wood, and possibly causing cracks in the internal mold section as the wood and mortar dry.
I also wanted to mention that you'll want to make this entire apparatus mobile consider mounting the underside of the base to something with casters on it. It could be anything; a simple dolly, a push cart, whatever. This isn't entirely necessary, but if you're doing the entire project alone, moving the mold around after it's filled with mortar will be quite the task. Think and plan ahead. If you're going to build an oven, make sure the entire setup fits, and can roll into it without a struggle. I have some ideas on how to make one, but that's for later on. Plus, consider where your foundry will be when the pour happens. Ensure you have very easy access between the oven and the foundry. No huge bumps or cracks in the floor that the mobile base will have to roll over en route. After the wax is melted from the void, you don't want to jostle the mold. The void will be very thin, and a crack or break internally will create a serious issue.
Another thing I should mention is that the melting of the wax, and the pouring of the metal should be steps that happen very quickly together. The hotter the mold is when you pour the metal, the better. You also don't want to allow the mold to cool because that's usually when cracks happen. Almost every step can have a long grace period between them, except the melting of the wax and the pouring of the metal. Just make sure those two steps take place one right after the other. That means cleaning the floor of debris, getting your PPE ready before hand, and having the metal at least warming up when you start melting out the wax. If you're planning on having help during this portion, which is highly recommended, go over your gameplan before hand. Do mock walkthroughs several times even if it seems tedious. Make sure you're both very comfortable with exactly who is doing what, at what time. The time between the melting of the wax and the pouring will be rapid, everything around you will be extremely hot, and dangerous. That's not the time when you want to be deciding who will be doing what, and you don't want to stumble on anything laying on the floor as you're pushing a very large, very hot mold across the floor, nor do you want the mold to fall down and shatter. Am I being clear enough here? Make absolutely sure, when you get to those steps, your confident, calm, and have a plan that everyone involved is comfortable with. Don't just wing it. Don't allow yourself or anyone else to get cocky. Don't fuck around and joke during these steps.
This is entirely different from the lost foam situation. You will be transporting a very delicate, extremely hot, and large mold. The lost foam method allows the foam to be encased in cool material, and the foam itself maintains the void until the pour itself. I'm stressing this because the lost wax method is more dangerous, and there's things that can go wrong quickly in comparison. That said, if it's done correctly, you're essentially ensuring an almost perfect grail the first time you pour. I just don't want you to relax and think it's going to be haphazard. You CANNOT be sloppy with the lost wax method. You could end up injuring yourself badly, or burning down the shop you're working in. THINK AHEAD! Plan for possible problems with every little detail. Besides the injury and property loss possibilities, if you get all the way to the pour and your mold tips over, it'll be heartbreaking going through all that work and having to start over again. Just making sure you put your game face on well in advance... if this is the method you choose to pursue. I'm not trying to scare you, just want you to be prepared.
Okay, I'll get back to writing the next step now, heh...
January 8 2022 11:23PM
Most of them use a system of train tracks and large belly dumping carts that move from station to station: molding, packing, oven, pouring, and demolding. All on a conveyor like system. Plus, most molds aren't so awkward and thin walled so the systems that aren't on tracks, aren't so delicate. Either that, or there's a lot of gating that's machined off later. Of course those setups have large forklifts, huge drive in ovens, 20 foot lathes, etc. Your situation is precarious because you're making a very large object in a small shop. The precautions you have to make are numerous, specific, and have great risks attached.
January 11 2022 2:38AM
I've been reading and watching videos for two days straight now trying to answer a question that I'm almost positive you're going to ask: what is the proper mortar mixture for this project? The truth is that there's no real definitive answer to that question. There's hundreds of opinions on it, and none of them are specific to this particular case. The problem is that you're going to have to start with a large portion, allow it to dry, then shave it down into the shape you want. I've yet to find anything that explains the mortar in that way; where you're sculpting the mortar itself, then forming the wax to the sculpture. Everything I've seen is a process of sculpting the wax statue, then either dunking the sculpture into a tank of slurry mortar mixture and allowing the layering to dry and build up (like Kelly Cofield), or suspending the sculpture in a flask, and pouring the mortar into the void, then allowing it to dry solid. This grail process is unique. I can give the best "blind" advice about how to make this decision, but it might be a better idea to ask a professional for advice. This isn't the first time I've looked into this exact dilemma, and I came up short then too. However, while trying to find the best "lost wax plaster mixture DIY" on YouTube, which is what I searched for, I happened upon a set of instructional videos I haven't seen yet. I've gone through quite a few of them now, and they're informative for a lot of reasons. This was the video that I first saw...
He has a lot of instructional videos about lost wax. I've watched a few of them now. One stood out to me because it explains the reason for why having a kiln/wax burnout oven is important. Of note, he says that burning the wax out without a kiln manually will ruin the ceramic shell 9 out of 10 times, plus it's difficult to vitrify the mortar in preparation for pouring. Here's that video...
Other than this guy's videos, and Kelly Coffield for that matter, who both use a professional mortar mixture, which I'm assuming is the most expensive route to go, a fairly simple mixture is used by almost every DIY'er. Plaster of Paris, very fine silica sand, and some (not all) use bentonite clay as a binding agent. The ratios change from person to person. I'll say that when the realization was complete, this was one of the more intricate points that required some experimentation and research, and I was going to start very simple in my approach, but there's one caveat: I was planning on using a vacuum to remove as much air from the mortar as possible. Here's a video that I saw years ago that shows this process. I highly recommend doing this step, but I'm also aware that it might not be an option for you... which is exactly why I'm going through all of this research right now. I'm essentially trying to guess what materials and tooling is available to you in your current situation, and I'm guessing you don't own a large vacuum chamber. Just something to keep in mind as this instructional process continues. I'm not always going to explain "the best" practices, but more so what's available to a DIY'er. You eluded to that when you mentioned how much safer large scale production is as opposed to garage projects. It's not just safety, although that's the most significant difference, but also building practices and material costs. Buying in bulk is always cheaper per capita, and the materials are usually superior. Anyways, I'm trying to walk a line between what I'm guessing is available to you for this project, at home in your garage, and what's going to be the best possible solution with no problems or shortcomings. I'll try to explain this as I go for each step, but remember as this goes that what I'm explaining would be different if we had access to a manufacturing facility and unlimited funding. That said, this was going to be one of the steps I used for my own garage style mold...
Also, while researching, I came across this video. It explains a bit more in depth about terminologies for plaster, mortar, and/or investment... which is essentially the same thing. Trying to determine what's best suited for the grail lost wax method is tricky, but having a better understanding about what materials do what, can help narrow down the process of experimenting. Here's the video...
I also watched a lot of videos made by "Veg Oil Guy," "Black Beard Projects" and "myfordboy," but nothing was really to scale for the grail lost wax method. During this process, I'm predicting that it will be quite difficult to find relatable video material that will show what I'm trying to explain. You're going to be stuck filling in a few blanks in this regard. We can discuss it, and of course the whiteboard will be in use, but I'm just preemptively saying that not everything is cut and dry, SPECIFICALLY... because of the scale we're trying to work with. Okay, enough of the precautions.
After you've constructed the lazy Susan bearing plate apparatus, and laminated the top of it with a metal sheet, you'll want to decide if you want to use a dowel or not. I recommend using one for your situation for a couple of reasons. 1) You will probably have to move the mold. This means that the mortar will be jostled as you move it. The dowel will help provide rigidity to your internal structure, and if it does crack, the internal will not lean against the external wall and cause a hole, or very thin wall. 2) Cleaning out the mortar after you've poured the grail will be much easier with a dowel void, than with a solid internal mortar structure. The dowel idea is not completely necessary, and there are some risks to using it. The most prominent being that materials expand when heated. If the dowel itself expands, you run the risk of cracking the mortar from the inside. I've thought this part through, and if you construct the dowel properly, you can minimize the expansion issue. However, it's not entirely mitigating, so using a dowel will have a risk. Just know that. The whole reason for using one is based on the fact that after the wax is vacated, you'll have to move the mold. If you're in the position to not have to move the mold, and you can pour the molten metal directly after melting the wax out, the dowel is unnecessary. I'll assume you want a dowel, though, and explain what I've figured out.
First you have to decide what kind of material the main body of your dowel will be. Optimally, a solid steel dowel is the preferred method. However, finding a large enough dowel to extend into the internal shape to be effective, will be a chore. It will also add significant weight to the entire setup when all is said and done. Plus there's the cost. You'll want the dowel sturdy, so using a solid steel bar stock length will need to be roughly 2.5-3 inches across, and about 2 feet tall. I don't recommend this for the aforementioned reasons. Next option would be to use a section of pipe. One of the problems with this is trying to figure out how to close the pipe off at the upper opening. Ideally, a piece of sheet metal would suffice, but that also requires a welder. Using a pipe end cap will not work because there will be an under hang lip that will act as an anchor for the dowel when you try to remove the dowel after casting. The idea is to create a falace object that's smooth along the entire structure. Next option, which I'm assuming will be easiest for you to use considering your situation, is a wooden dowel. Making one that's smooth with no over hangs or under hangs is quite simple if you have access to a wood lathe.
The problem with a wooden dowel is expansion first during heating cycles, and the investment, or mortar soaking into the wood itself, particularly if you're going to use a vacuum to vacate air. There's ways around this, though. Not so much the expansion dilemma, but the soaking can be worked around. One option is to use resin to encapsulate the wood. This is the easiest way, and should minimize expansion fairly well. Next would be wrapping the wood in cellophane. Not the best option, but probably the cheapest and least laborious route. It'll keep the mortar from penetrating the wood, but will do nothing for expansion. Something to consider. However, if you're planning on trying this, the cellophane will melt during wax burnout, so removing the dowel will be very easy, BUT, allow for the gas to vent, otherwise the expansion of the wood won't be the only thing expanding. The best option would be to wrap the wood in metal. Aluminum foil is an option, but there's a chance that it could melt. Stainless steel foil is a better option. The best option is to use very thin sheet metal and form it to the dowel. Using tape to hold it in place is easy. Then you can cold forge form the top around the wood and seal any cracks with tape. This is the best option for minimizing expansion, keeping removal of the dowel easy, and maximizing strength of the dowel while moving the mold around. This is a decision that's best left to you. I'm just trying to explain the different methods I've contemplated. Again, a dowel is not completely necessary, but does add a lot of insurance to a garage style setup. In other words, you don't "need" a dowel. It's just peace of mind considering all other factors. My drawing will include one, in anticipation that you will decide to use one.
Attaching the dowel to the lazy Susan bearing plate does not need to be complicated, but I'll offer some suggestions. The easiest way would be to drill holes into the bearing plates in the middle, use a large washer and bolt, and then bolt the dowel directly to the plate. It's easy, secure, and you only have to drill 1 hole. Once it's attached, use some hot glue to air tight the bottom of the dowel, but be very conservative with it because you don't want a large void forming in that area when you melt the wax out. Just a tiny bead around the bottom. If you use cellophane to airtight the dowel, you might not need any glue. If you use metal to airtight the dowel, you'll need to secure that area before adding the internal investment portion, or you could make a mess. It should go without saying that when you bolt the dowel to the plate, make sure the dowel's bottom is flat, and perpendicular to the sides of the dowel. You want the dowel to go straight up; not leaning. The other way to secure the dowel is to use 90 degree brackets that bolt to the sides of the dowel, and top of the plate itself. It's harder to keep this kind of setup perfectly perpendicular and centered on the plate. It could shift during the pilot hole drilling and throw off the centering and/or the angle of the dowel. The whole idea of using a dowel is to provide stability and rigidity, so even if you develop your own method of securing the dowel to the plate, make sure it's bolted. Don't just glue it or tape it to the plate. I'll draw an example. I'm adding the possibility of angling the dowel to a taper. Not really necessary, but it's an option. The picture is a cross section view... it's easier to draw. Let me know if it's confusing or you don't understand. This would be a great time for a 3D model drawing, but I don't have access to my Google sketchup license right now. I'll try to make better drawings, but I'm limited for now.
January 11 2022 3:08AM
I'm reading your emails, but I'm trying to stay focused on this instructional stuff. It's a unique process. The investment mold will stay on the cart, probably the entire time. It really depends on what materials you decide to use for the plates. After the plates, lazy Susan bearing, and dowel portion is made, that's when you start to get to the sculpting portion of this process. The thing is, you'll end up sculpting the mold/investment after it dries, but before you add the wax. Like I said, I've tried to find a similar process for what I'm trying to explain, but it's unique so I can't find anything. Most lost wax procedures have 1 molding, or rather investment step, or, you build up layers around the wax of slurry, then cover each layer in sand to strengthen the ceramic. In other words, the grail lost wax method is nothing like that.
Anyways, I don't want you to think I'm ignoring the other stuff you're talking about. I'm just trying to focus on getting these steps correct, in order, and specific to your particular situation. I'm also trying to give as many perspectives as possible, with as many intricate elements to each section as I can think of, or have thought of before. I'm doing an ordinarily large amount of skimming videos and reading references while doing this. I've recharged my battery 4 times a day for the last few days, just to give you an idea. This would be a lot easier in person, or if I had access to my sketchup license, but I'm trying with what I have. I'm going to keep pressing on. It might take another day or two to write up the next step. Don't think I'm ignoring you. I'm actually quite busy... unless my battery is charging, heh.
January 12 2022 8:19PM
Before I discuss the next step, I'll answer one of your questions/concerns about timing. Yes, there are many different ways to preheat the mold before pouring. The majority of people do in fact melt the wax out, vitrify the mold, then allow it to cool down and reheat the mold before pouring. The whole idea of preheating the mold before pouring is to not shock the metal into solidifying before filling out the void, but also to not shock the investment into cracking. Usually, the lost wax method is used for making many smaller, more intricate parts, that require a higher degree of precision than sand casting. In smaller setups, usually art or less than professional outfits, they try to make the pouring step work for several molds at a time. That means building up an inventory of molds before casting them. In most of those cases, they're basically forced to allow the majority of their molds to cool down after vitrification. Sometimes the mold is set days before the pour. This is at least what I've observed from my perspective of studying. Looking into the more professional setups where one off prototypes are common, or the items being cast are very large, both of which fit the grail project, they usually go straight from vitrification to pouring. Here's a good example of a professional outfit. At 3:13 of this first video in the series, they show a chart that lists the proper burnout cycle.
Of course your situation is unique. You will be making two different sets of investments. Additionally, if you use wood as the base plate material for the lazy Susan bearing, doing a full vitrification process will catch the wood on fire. I'm assuming, and this might not be the best guess, but considering how thick your investments will end up being when you pour the metal, AS LONG AS YOU COMPLETELY RID THE INVESTMENT OF MOISTURE, you shouldn't need to vitrify. Now... if you don't vitrify the investment, the goal should be to pour immediately after the wax burnout. I'm saying this in this way specifically because of how you asked your question. Just to be clear, yes, vitrification, the heating cycle directly after demoisturizing, where the investment is heated to its highest temperature, should be done. However, considering your situation, where wooden plates and dowels are likely to be your preferred choice due to access to materials and cost, the complete vitrification cycle is essentially an impossibility. I hope I'm being clear here. There's a right way to do things where problems are almost entirely mitigated; the professional way. There's the "backyard boogie" garage warrior style of doing things where caution and intelligence is thrown into the wind; the hobbyist way. I'm trying to explain how you can get as close as possible to the professional way without having to spend professional money to get there. That's why these lessons are so long winded. I too was in the situation of not having professional type funding, so I've devised many different tricks over the years to narrow that gap. I know full well what the professional way is, so I'll explain that... along with what I think would best suit you and your situation. Hopefully that explains why I'm strongly suggesting you plan on pouring metal immediately after you demoisturize in the heating cycle of your mold.
Okay, I'll move on now. After you have constructed the lazy Susan bearing plates, fixed your dowel to the plate securely, and sealed the dowel in cellophane or foil (assuming you go with a wooden dowel), the next step is to make a flask. You want your flask to be sturdy and rigid. You'll be using this flask twice, so the preferred material should be metal; steel specifically. The type I'm thinking will be best suited for the size for this application is the 30 gallon mass produced steel barrel type. The dimensions are 18 inches across at the opening, and they're 28 3/4 inches tall. These barrels are frequently used by all kinds of manufacturers for many reasons. Lots of lubricants and other chemicals are transported in them. That means there's going to be a surplus of them stocked up all over the place. The trick is to find one of these stock piles and buy one of them used. Brand new these barrels are about 100 dollars, but used? They might even give them away depending on how difficult it is to store the empties. Ask around the people you know who have manufacturing experience if they know of companies that use them. If that doesn't work, call around. They're probably common at scrap yards, junkyards, and large mechanic shops. Almost everyone uses this style as scrap bins to sort metals and trash because they have an easier to handle by hand size compared to a 55 gallon barrel. Getting one for this purpose should be one of the easier and inexpensive tasks.
When you have one, you'll want a removable top. The open end will be placed over the dowel and set on top of the plate. Then use hot glue to to seal the barrel to the plate. The seal between the bottom of the barrel and plate is important because this is one of the vacuum seals, just like the bottom of the dowel spoken about earlier. The first use of this flask will be to make a smaller cylindrical shape than the second/final investment before doing the wax burnout. You're making a cylinder that will be carved, so the goal is to make removal of the flask easy after the first investment. What I've come up with after contemplating this is to use 1 3/4-2 inch slats of wood to line the inside of the barrel. At least that's the cheapest solution to this problem. Of course you don't want that wood exposed to the mortar, so sealing it off with tape is essential. This should give the final dimensions of the first investment about 14" across, and about 2 feet tall from the bottom of the plate to the top of the investment. I'll try to draw this out for you. It might seem confusing. Of note, you'll want to line the inside of the barrel with the wood slats BEFORE you place it on the plate, and seal the bottom. Otherwise there will be a leak. Also of note, you don't want your wooden slats to be too tight to the flask. After the investment is dry enough to sculpt, you'll be removing the barrel flask and slats. If it's too tight, you'll have difficulty removing the flask, and/or damage the investment. The goal should be to be able to slip the flask off of the wood slats after cutting the tape, then removing the slats by peeling them off of the investment with the barrel flask removed. This method should preserve the integrity of the investment.
Next comes the vacuum. The vacuum is essential. Most investments fail because there's trapped air in the matrix of the mortar when it sets. Air expands when heated, so any air trapped in the investment will expand and cause cracking. The best practice is to vacuum before you pour the mortar, and after it's poured into the flask. This process is done in conjunction with a vibrating system to agitate the mortar and release as much air as possible, at both stages. Professional setups use a dome with a vacuum base plate. However, these systems are fairly expensive, and finding one with a dome large enough to accommodate a 30 gallon barrel flask won't just be difficult, it'll cost thousands of dollars... if you even can find one. I'm going to assume that the professional method is out of reach for your budget. It was going to be for me at least, so I've thought this problem through, and have come up with a much cheaper solution. There's some caveats with using this method. The most prominent being the risk of collapsing the flask. That's why using a strong steel flask is important. Reinforcement of the flask might be necessary on the second investment, depending on how much pressure you want for the vacuum. But, on the first investment it shouldn't be too much of a concern because the wood slats will add strength to the flask itself. So collapse of the flask is much less of a concern on the first investment sequence. All of that said, what I'm suggesting, and what I was going to use is a heavy duty plastic bag vacuum system. You might have to customize this setup. Just make sure it's strong plastic. Malleable, but also very durable. I saw an infomercial decades ago that gave me this idea, but I've seen many videos since that use a similar system to make vacuum systems easier and cheaper than creating a vacuum chamber with a dome system. Here's some examples. Don't let yourself get stuck on needing one of these exact setups, though. Like I said, you'll probably want to customize this part...
And although I've already shown examples of the professional dome vacuum systems in prior videos, here's a refresher. Just imagine this version scaled up.
That's the basic gestalt on how to make a more budget friendly vacuum. This vacuum situation is very important due to the type of mortar you will want, specifically because of how large the investments will be. Using a hybrid system is also an option. These bag systems do not create large suction, at least that's not really what the pumps are designed for. With that being said, if you're planning on using one of these pumps and bags alone, definitely plan on using vibration. Agitate the flask a lot! If you're planning on trying to upgrade the system for less money, or you're unable to adequately incorporate vibration, I've contemplated a hybrid system. This might require some reinforcing of the structure, but it will offer more pressure than a vacuum bag system directly against the walls of the 30 gallon barrel flask. Using a 55 gallon barrel surrounded with a vacuum bag system is a good idea. Basically the same as a dome system, but you cannot see inside, and the structure of a barrel is not made for a vacuum; more so outward pressure than inward. A series of steel rings welded to the internal walls could help this problem. Or, if you're very dedicated, you could coat the inside of the barrel in epoxy resin, essentially turning it into a makeshift dome.
What's great about using these barrels is they have bung holes on the lids. You'll want to position the vacuum port at one of these openings when you vacuum pressure the flask. Otherwise you'll pull vacuum, but the lip of the port could seal to the flask itself, making the evacuation of air in the investment more difficult and lengthy. Whatever system you decide to use, make sure to think these types of scenarios through. Also, remember that the barrels can hold a vacuum, but they are not designed for that direction of pressure. Just be mindful of it. Even the bag system can collapse, oblong, or otherwise deform the flask if given enough pressure.
I think this is a good place to end this email. I realize there'll be questions from this section, so before I move on, I'll wait for your reply so we can get on the same page with the progress this far.
January 13 2022 5:39AM
"Anyway, I didn't realize that the plate above the Lazy Susan bearing was going to support a 30-gallon, and potentially even 55-gallon, steel barrel. The plate is supposed to go in the oven, too. Damn, what kind of Holocaust-size oven is this going to take? At over two feet tall and two feet wide, it's just large enough to accommodate an emaciated rabbi."
I haven't gotten to that part yet, but since you asked... the oven is going to be made out of a (possibly 2) 55 gallon barrels. They're also very cheap and plentiful. If... the full vitrification process is a no go due to material selection, no kwool is necessary because the temperature won't get too high. If the goal is full vitrification, line the inside of the barrel in kwool. Should be a perfect fit for a 30 gallon barrel flask, which when the second investment is done, will be the external widest dimension: 18 inches/1.5 feet. Not 2 feet wide. The 55 gallon barrel reference was for making a vacuum dome. That would fit over the top of the 30 gallon barrel flask, and be sealed to a rubber or plastic mat that the lazy Susan bearing, and 30 gallon barrel flask would be sitting on top of. Think of it like one of these, just upside down... and with the flask inside...(10:39)
Incidentally, this would be a very inexpensive way to make a very powerful vacuum chamber, if you decided to go that route. Just try to imagine the pot in the video is the 55 gallon barrel, and the plexiglass is the mat on the ground. Get it?
The wax portion will eventually become the hollow portion of the grail, yes? So at what point does this wax get applied and shaped? Does that occur after the addition of the dowel and before the addition of the flask?
You're jumping ahead. I'll explain this after the next lesson. The wax portion comes between the first and second investments. Don't worry, I'll explain it all.
Here's what I think the order of the process is, based on what you've told me. The main thing I'm unsure on is whether vacuuming and vibration are necessary for the first investment.
1. Construct the lazy Susan bearing plates
2. Fix dowel to the plate securely
3. Seal the dowel in cellophane or foil
4. Reinforce inside of 30-gallon flask with taped-over slats of wood
6. Place flask over dowel; seal bottom of flask to plate
7. Vacuum mortar mixture?
8. Pour mortar for first investment
9. Vacuum set mortar?
10. When investment is dry enough to sculpt, remove flask
11. Remove slats from flask
12. Carve mortar to external shape of grail?
Not external shape. Internal shape, but again, I haven't reached this part yet in the instructions. However, so far, you've gotten the instructions perfectly.
13. Set up vacuum system
This (13.) should be between steps 7 and 8, or just after step 8 on your list.
14. Vacuum mortar mixture + vibrate/agitate flask
This (14.) Should be just prior to step 9 on your list.
15. Pour mortar for second investment
This (15.) Will happen after the first investment is carved to the internal shape of the grail, the wax has been poured and shaped to the internal investment, the flute has been fixated to the top (which will also serve as a pour spout for the metal), the cope has been designed and implemented, and the wax channels for the burnout have been carved, then sealed to the walls of the flask. Confused yet? heh. That's because I haven't reached these steps yet. I'm trying to be as chronologically precise as possible, while also giving as many perspectives and options as possible. We're at the construction of the flask for the first investment so far on my instructions. Number 15 on your list is just before the final burnout and casting of the grail. I'll get there...
16. Vacuum set mortar + vibrate/agitate flask
Yes. This (16.) Is after 15 on your list, but there's much to do before this is even considered.
At least there's 16 steps if I have it right. After 16 is the wax burnout, then get on with the molten metal.
Basically accurate, but like I said, there's a lot missing because I haven't gotten this far yet. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Just try to keep in mind the style at which I'm trying to do this thing. I'm fairly certain you're going to post this, so I'm guessing you're not the only "1" I'm giving these instructions to. I'm trying to be as thorough as possible. I'm also kind of biting my tongue about the actual process and materials the ancients used because it's not necessarily applicable, and would only serve to add confusion. Their grails were massive in comparison, and the workforce numbered in the hundreds-thousands. You're making this with minimal help, occupied and regulated my monetary value resources, and you're employed elsewhere. So... in short, this isn't your only "job" and your focus is somewhat scattered. There's no reason to not utilize modern equipment, tooling, and engineered materials. Nobody, and nothing is keeping score, making sure you do everything exactly the way the ancients did. After this is all said and done, I'll try to explain the old way I saw during my realization. Until then, have no shame using every modern advantage available to you, that you've figured out on your own, or that I've contemplated about in my experience. The ancients were not using refractory mortar and vacuum pumps. Ya know what I'm saying? However, they're available to you, will ultimately save you time, effort and money, and there's no reason not to use these technologies to your advantage. I'm trying to highlight them as possibilities for you. I'm sure in the future, if the future happens, that there'll be somebody who wants to try to do everything in the traditional, ancient method. For now... fuck all that. We're trying to produce a grail, in the shortest amount of time, for the least amount of money possible. Just thought I'd mention that. Good questions, though. Just a little ahead of schedule...
January 14 2022 2:44AM
A little review to start:
1) Build the lazy Susan bearing plates.
2) Fix the dowel to the plate centered.
3) Seal the dowel.
4) Get a 30 gallon barrel for the flask.
5) Get wood and shape the pieces to slats that will fit along the inside of the barrel.
6) Tape the slats to the inner wall of the barrel, leaving them loose enough that removing the flask is easy.
7) Buy or construct a vacuum bag, dome, or bag/dome hybrid system that will fit around the entire setup.
8) Buy or build a vibration system that can attach to the plate, or flask (although this step is not totally necessary, it's good insurance and peace of mind).
9) Seal the flask with slats to the plate, airtight the slats, bottom of the flask, and dowel.
10) Mix mortar and vacuum the air out of the mixture.
11) Pour first investment into the void between the slats and dowel until it's 2+ feet tall. Almost to the top of the slats/flask.
12) Vacuum the flask to remove any remaining air from the investment, and turn on the vibration to assist this process. Allow vacuum pressure to stay for several hours.
13) Remove vacuum, and allow the investment to dry for a couple of days.
14) Remove the flask, peel off the slats, and remove tape... as carefully as possible.
15) Set aside flask for later second investment.
16) Spin the lazy Susan bearing to ensure it still spins well with the added weight. Make sure it's balanced, secure, and won't fall over.
That's about as far as I've gotten. I'll include a picture to show you what you should be seeing at this point. Basically a large cylinder of mortar investment, centered on a lazy Susan bearing plate. Now comes the carving process of the first investment.
The goal is to create the shape of the inside of the grail. In order to make this shape, and maintain concentricity from top to bottom of the bulb shape, you'll need some sort of tool rest, or tool post. There's lots of ways to do this. You could just move something that's heavy, solid, sturdy and immovable close to the investment, lazy Susan bearing apparatus. You could also build a rudimentary system that can be set up next to the apparatus. That was going to be my plan. I'll try to include the system I wanted to build in the picture. The point is that, just like any lathe, wood or metal, you do not want to free hand the tools you'll use to carve the investment. You run the risk of gouging the investment, and/or making the structure irregular/obtuse. This shouldn't be a hard concept to understand if you're making a holy grail. Hopefully you understand why a tool rest, or tool post is necessary. I'm not talking to you Kim. These types of excessively elementary lessons are for everyone else who might try to copy these instructions with zero prior machining experience. Just saying.
This also brings up the question about trying to incorporate a motor, or manual drive system to spin the lazy Susan bearing. It's not a requirement, but it can help tremendously, and the carving portion of the first investment is exactly why. If you're planning on holding your tools against the tool rest, while also spinning the bearing as you carve, you will probably end up not having enough hands. It will be frustrating to say the least. One easy way to incorporate a motor is to hook up a drill to the bolt holding the dowel on. If the clearance under the apparatus doesn't allow for a drill directly under the bearing, you could fashion a system using a bicycle chain and two sprockets. That way the sprocket will fit under the bearing system, and the drill would be upright outside of the bearing system. There's also the method of trying to spin the top plate alone, if reaching the bolt holding the dowel is an impossibility. A simple rubber belt along the outside of the top plate, hooked into any number of systems, be it manual or motorized would be sufficient. This type of motorization is similar to how a band saw drives the blade. Here's an example, but keep in mind this is a display model for a product so there was extra plates and hardware added to hide the belt from the pictures being taken. It would work just fine for the purpose of making a grab by wrapping the belt around the top plate. Additionally, a more simplified version of using the actual drill instead of building a stand alone battery powered motor system is also the better option. This is just an example to give a visual perspective to a very simple concept. You should not get into the mindset that I'm even suggesting doing this exact setup. That said, this is very similar to what I was planning on using. Something very easy to make, and all the materials necessary for making this type of system should already be available... especially if you're making a holy grail.
This is the type of project where there are thousands of options. On YouTube you can find hundreds of videos where people have motorized their lazy Susan bearing. Often times microwave oven turntable motors are used. That type of motor will probably not offer the torque necessary for this process, but it's interesting seeing the different types of setups. There's also very complex and fancier setups where internally hidden gears are fashioned, planetary gears are used, etc. That's not really what this project is designed for. Those types of systems are more decorative than functional. Plus, keep in mind that this lazy Susan bearing will be put into an oven at some point. It's a good idea to make this system easily detachable, which is why the design I linked with the video is probably the best bet. It's also extremely inexpensive; basically an anchor against the bottom plate, a small bearing, an axle going through the bearing, flywheel and connecting to the drill, the belt between the flywheel and plate, and the drill. Simple, detachable, easy to construct, and cheap, but very effective, especially when you're doing this project on your own. Of note, when there's multiple people working on the project, motorizing isn't really necessary. The drill system takes the place of someone helping that can rotate the plate as you carve. This is one of those situations that's unique to your perspective. I also had this dilemma, so I understand.
Now that you've gotten to this point; built the lazy Susan bearing plates, installed the dowel, sealed it along with the flask internally lined with slats, vacuumed the investment mortar (twice), allowed it to dry, removed the flask with slats, set up some form of tool rest, and setup the motorized system, you're now ready to carve the shape. First, we'll discuss tooling. This is a serious concern because if you try to hog off material too quickly, you might end up dislodging large chunks of mortar. The investment material, when dried, is brittle and crumbly. It won't cut like metal or wood. That said, repairing damages to the surface is much more feasible than with most other materials. I'm saying this because during this carving process, you don't have to treat the procedure as excessively delicate, but you also don't want to go full lunatic slashing off massive chunks. There's going to be a sweet spot there somewhere, where you're not cutting too much to cause damage and create more work for yourself later, and you're not wasting time by going down a thousandth at a time. It'll depend on the mortar you use, the setup you have, and the tooling. You'll have to determine all of these parameters on your own as you start carving. There are some pointers, though. A rasp will be a good start; arguably, you could do the entire carving with just a rasp. Very common in drywall shaping, very cheap, they come in a variety of shapes, and you can get them at any hardware store. There's a particular kind of sand paper called "sanding screen," that's made for shaping and sanding plaster/drywall. Don't use regular sandpaper because the grit mesh will just clog up. The sanding screen has a grid with holes specifically made to release the built up powder. It's very cheap as well. I suggest getting heavy grit 80 for roughing/hogging off material, and 220 grit for finishing. Both are probably 5 bucks for a pack of sheets, and again, you can buy this at any hardware store. Other tool possibilities include chisels, utility knives, and if you're feeling frisky enough... Dremel rotary tools. This is entirely up to you, and what you feel your comfort zone is. Technically, if you did use a Dremel, in conjunction with a motorized bearing plate... that's an extremely rudimentary CNC. I meant to also add earlier that if you don't motorize your bearing plate, and end up turning the plate manually, a Dremel mounted to a tool post is a good option to get a uniform and concentric finish. However, I do suggest motorizing the bearing plate over using a Dremel and manually spinning the lazy Susan bearing plate. Why? You will have to sand the surface for a smooth finish. Sanding and trying to manually spin the plate will be cumbersome, and uneven. The safer bet is to motorize the plate. I'm going to link some videos I've been searching through to help give you a visual on how plaster/mortar carves, the tools people use to do it, and help provide perspective on this process more thoroughly. However, if you've ever worked with drywall... it's the same basic concept. Anyways, here's some videos...
Start this one at 33:13, unless you want to listen to this guy talk about how to map carving parameters for his particular sculpture. I'm just showing this for tooling, and to show the basics of how plasters and mortars carve when dried.
This one is interesting because he wraps his sculpture in a plastic bag to retain some moisture in the plaster between carving sessions. Plus the shape caught my interest.
The whole idea of this project is to "machine plaster," at least for the first investment. That's extremely rare, and exactly why trying to find examples of this process is so difficult. This is the only video I've been able to find that even comes close... and not very close to the holy grail, but I thought I'd include it to give you a visual on how plaster machines. Usually this process is for making molds, which is what you're doing technically, but the molds made from machining plaster are usually artistic. Nonetheless, it's hard to find anything relatable to what you're doing...
This seems like a good place to end this email. More informative than instructional. The next one will be about the shape you're trying to achieve. There's some options there that need to be addressed. I'll talk about the reasoning for the inverter, and why it might not be necessary. We're getting there. Patience... if you're getting antsy, heh.
January 14 2022 2:59AM
Yes, the plates should be at least 2' wide. Did I say something other than that? And yes, you're basically doing the opposite of a standard lost wax casting process. Lot of that going on in hell, right? LOL even though it's not really funny, but kind of tragic. Anyways, yes, you're forming the investment TO FORM THE WAX. Essentially the exact opposite of what's taught. Imagine my "epiphany" feeling when I saw this being done during my realization. Talk about an AHA! moment... heh.
January 15 2022 7:57PM
Is it necessary to align the center of the grail void with the center of the investment? My guess is, while it would be ideal, it doesn't have to be perfect. But I will emphasize, it should be as close to perfect as possible.
Yes, it needs to be perfectly centered. After reading this whole email reply, I'm hoping we bridge the gap of understanding. Apparently there's something missing...
It's a good thing I just had to replace a belt on a machine, or the setup for motorizing the plate would be harder for me to understand. Wouldn't it be neat-o if I got to motorize the plate with a Di Pietro engine? It will depend on how the timing of these projects plays out.
Hell yeah that would be beyond badass! Highly recommended if that's an option. Being able to control the RPM of the engine without a charge controller on an electric motor, or having to use a c-clamp or pair of vice grips on a drill trigger wouldn't just be cool, but also very effective and precise. I'm elated that you're thinking about things this way. Good form, young lady.
I imagine one thing that will be difficult is plunging almost 2 feet to carve the plaster. That's about the distance from my thumb to my shoulder, so my entire arm will be in the void to carve the bottom. The concern is not my comfort level, but my ability to achieve precision. I will have to account for how well I can see what I'm doing. The inability to view the outside profile of the object, which is possible when the foam blank is on a lathe, will make it harder. It would help to consider how this process would be scaled up, such as for a 50-foot grail. All I can imagine is a large CNC mill or router, but I'm limited by experience, and I know that is not what you had in mind for the manufacturing facility. In ancient times, they might have used ladders to climb to the top of and then inside the void of the investment to carve it. Exciting to think of, but I have no idea, heh. One potential strategy for me is to start by drilling/boring in the center, all the way to the bottom, a bore just large enough for me to reach down into and carve the bottom. It might be easier for me mentally since starting from the bottom is the process used for lost foam. Still, I can't avoid having to shape higher portions as well as I go along, or I just won't be able to see and access all of the lower portion.
Next the wax gets poured into the carved out void. What I can't foresee yet is why we are carving the internal shape instead of the external, unless I've overlooked something you said. But that explanation probably gets accounted for in the next steps, so I will wait to hear about those.
Okay... there's definitely a gap between what I'm trying to explain, and your understanding of it. After the first investment is solid, you'll remove the slats and flask. There will be a solid cylinder of investment mortar (with a dowel in the center of the investment that can't be seen) sitting on top of the top plate of the lazy Susan apparatus. There won't be any carving of internal space on this cylinder. The entire shape will be carved on the outside of the investment. My assumption is that you're trying to think beyond what I've explained so far, and it's not making sense. I'm extremely familiar with this exact dilemma, lol, so I'm used to it. I'm going to take this time to thank you for attempting to do this very thing. It means you're trying to understand. I can't tell you how many times I go into technical discussions with prototype like instructions, and people, simply out of ego driven pride, try to pretend they understand what I'm saying, and end up making themselves look like a fool. I asked you to ask questions, and you did. Again, good form, young lady. That said, you're getting some experience right now... in how most people just cannot understand the complexity of what I'm trying to explain. You've eluded to the strangeness of Kristin, Robert, Dave, etc, making snap judgements on me, and ultimately fucking me over. Where they failed, and you're succeeding is in these exact types of conversations. Just from what you've asked me, I can tell what you think is happening in this grail making process. You're missing information, which is causing you to think through the steps I haven't taught yet incorrectly. Very common by the way. The difference is that you're willing to explain it to me so I'm able to understand what you don't understand. You're not just giving me insight into how you're doing in trying to understand, but interestingly enough, this should also give you insight into how almost everyone else has fucked up, and not had the meekness, humility, or curiosity to explain to me why they're unable to understand. What usually follows is a lot of contempt for me. Not because of what I know, but what most others think they know about what I'm trying to teach. I'm glad this happened actually, for a few reasons. Hopefully one of them is to give you perspective on why everyone else has fucked up, and why I've grown so frustrated during this mission. If everyone was like you, and Shane for that matter, I wouldn't be frustrated at all. He also acted similarly, which is exactly why we became such good friends, so quickly. I'm never upset if I'm not understood. What makes me go full REEEEEE is when people interject, or put words in my mouth that were never said, and try to represent that their understanding of things is exactly what I've explained. Usually this is done behind my back, and with other similar derelict intellects. This is the essence of a snap judgment. So much easier admitting that something seems strange or incorrect directly to me, right? It's stunning how many people haven't done this. Thank you for making it easy on me...
Alrighty then... let's move on. So, at this point you're looking at a large cylinder of investment mortar that's been dried, and you're about to start carving. The goal here is to make the bulb shape of the inside of the grail. Roughly 4ish inches across at the bottom, 12ish inches at the widest point, a dome at the top, and about 2 feet tall. Imagine you were to fill up a foam blank of a grail with investment mortar, then after it dries you rip off the foam. That's the shape you want. You'll go from a cylinder to a bulb with the narrower side down. I'm going to draw a cross section of this shape. It's difficult to do a tilt view and make it look realistic enough that it won't confuse you. You will have access to the entire bulb shape the entire time you're carving it, and by using the tool rest, the bulb shape should be perfectly centered. You're not carving the external surface of the bulb. You're carving the investment for the internal portion that will be the surface of the inside of the grail. Hopefully when you understand how the wax is poured onto this shape... after carving, you'll have an "oh, I get it" kind of moment. I'm not trying to be a smartass or demean you. I just don't know what exact words to use to convey the shape I'm trying to explain.
There's something else that needs to be taught here too, which is why I'm not jumping ahead. Remember how I discussed an inverter for the flask, and I thought I had found a way around it? Well, we're at that stage. At the bottom of your carving, maybe 1/2-1 inch tall, your going to make a downward angled lip. Again, I'll include this in the drawing. This lip is going to have filament strips of wax later that will act as drainage ports during the wax burnout. However, that may seem confusing before I explain the process of shaping wax to the investment you're now carving. First, before we get ahead of ourselves, I want to make absolutely certain you know exactly what shape you're carving from the first investment. Refer to the picture... Think of it like a wine glass without a flute/stem like one of these... https://www.eater.com/platform/amp/22252365/best-wine-glasses-to-buy-stemless-versus-stem but turned upside down with the opening being smaller than that reference, sitting on top of an upside down dinner plate. Another way to try to visualize what this will look like is a hot air balloon fully inflated, sitting on a short hill. That's the shape you're trying to carve from this first investment mortar cylinder.
When this shape is carved, sanded to a fine finish (smooth all over), and centered on the plate. You're now ready to start adding wax. Adding wax is simple but kind of messy. You'll want to melt your wax in a pot with a handle. Once it's melted, you'll pour the wax over the investment as evenly as possible. Cover the entire carved investment mold like the picture I drew. The wax should have a thickness of 3/16" to 1/4" at least. The relief area at the bottom of the investment should be free of wax. It'd be a good idea to cover that section (the area that looks like an upside down plate) in masking tape. Then remove it when the wax is cooled and solidified. It's not imperative that you do that, but it will make cleaning easier. After there's a fairly even coating of wax all over the surface of the investment, now it's time to refine the surface of the wax. The motor should still be connected to the plate after carving the investment. If you've disassembled it to pour the wax, hook it back up.
Tooling for shaping the wax can vary. A hot butter knife is a good option. They're cheap and readily available. You could also use a putty knife (large or small). Whatever you do use for refining and shaping the wax, the easiest way is to heat the tool. That way you won't be cutting away the wax, but more so smoothing out the surface as you sculpt it. You can also try to cut away the material by using a cold tool system. This would be like carving it. There'll be a lot of wax chips and shavings doing it this way, but all of the chips can be recycled back into the pot. Keep the wax in the pot melted during this stage to build up areas that are thin, or to cover deep scratches and other mistakes that will get made during sculpting. Checking the thickness of the wax is kind of tricky. The way I imagined doing that is by flattering out a small nail. Leaving the flattened tip exposed in metal at 1/4". Paint the rest of the nail white. Then heat the nail and plunge it into the wax all over the place. The flattened tip will stop the nail on the surface of the investment, the exposed area will be in the wax, and the painted area will be visible. If the wax surface is in the painted area, more carving is necessary. If you can see the metal exposed area, you need to add more wax. You'll have to do this at several different areas to get a uniform depth of wax everywhere, along the entire surface of the investment. Once there's an even coating of wax, you're ready to move forward. This is going to be a tedious process. Lots of checking, refining, fixing, depth checking, and filling in the places you've checked the depth of, and smoothing out the surface. You can smooth the surface with a brillo pad, or very fine sandpaper, but be careful to not clog the sandpaper. Be meticulous during this wax portion. You're aiming for the smoothest surface possible, total AND EVEN coverage. The wax section will become the actual void that you'll pour metal into. Whatever the shape of the wax is, is exactly what the grail will be when all is said and done...
After you're satisfied with the refinement of the wax, you'll want to mark where dead center is on the top. Next you'll want to design a flute for the grail. We've discussed several different styles for the flute while talking about the foam blank. You have some leeway here to do whatever you want. I suggest something simple, though. Something with an easily mountable section that can be bolted to a plate. Anyway you make it, be sure to make it balanced, and sturdy. The area between the flute and the bulb of the grail will be under stress during operation. It's a good idea to smooth out the transition between the flute and bulb area by thickening the wax in that area a bit. The flute should be machined or sculpted using a silicone mold to ensure balance. Once you've completed your flute, align it with the center mark you made on the top of the wax surface and "weld" the flute to the bulb surface. I've included a picture to show what this will look like.
On the next lesson we'll discuss more in depth why the plate area at the bottom of the investment carving is necessary. Also how to add copes, and drainage channels for the wax, just before you pour the second investment. Is it starting to make sense now? One notable thing that might add some confusion is the way I'm drawing these cross section pictures. It's just too difficult with a whiteboard to draw 3D, or anything very detailed. The pens have fat tips, and when I try to use a ruler or other shapes for rounded edges, the lines I draw smudge and get erased very easily. Try to see them as if I've cut right through the middle of the entire apparatus. Kind of an x-ray view. I'm unable to pinpoint exactly what I'm saying or drawing that's creating confusion. That's why your questions, however strange they may seem to be to you are very important. I'll wait to move on until we conquer this issue first. So I'll end by asking you, how confident are you to this point of the instructions? Is there anything I can do to help explain things better?
January 17 2022 3:06PM
On Sunday, January 16, 2022, KimZNow <KimZNow@protonmail.com> wrote:
"Something with an easily mountable section that can be bolted to a plate." I just want to note this since it means the flute will have to be drilled and tapped (or perhaps punched) after casting. Right? Or will the plate get cast as part of the grail? I know we haven't discussed this for the lost wax method specifically.
The ancient way (the majority of plates made) was to cast the entire grail and plate together. That said, making plates for hieroglyph/pictograph etching was extremely rare in the grail making process. Most of the grails made were made for quarrying, and refining megaliths. In those cases the tool section was almost always cast to the bulb section. There were a lot of long flutes/stems with half spherical shapes that held diorite stones. In the case of places like Peru, the tool section looked kind of like a large c-clamp that sat atop the stones as they formed themselves. And yes, all of those were cast directly to the bulb section, and many of them had short flutes. The hieroglyph/pictograph method is more involved, and takes a lot more skill/engineering. The ancients didn't even start making them until very far into their civilization. For the majority of their epoch, there were no hieroglyphs or pictographs anywhere, and it looked a lot like Peru... where there's no real hieroglyphs at all. It's all interesting; every method, but making the hieroglyph making plates is by far the most difficult and intriguing method. Even so, it's also the most rare, and was only used towards the very end of the ancients' epoch. Also, probably 90%+ of the hieroglyphs and pictographs were carved using chisels by the following usurper cultures to the region after we left the area. It's wrought with misinterpretation, sparse recollection, imagination, and lies. More indicative of graffiti than anything teachable. That's one of the premier reasons for why there's none of that graffiti type stuff in the great pyramid; for the majority of the last 36,000 years, the resonance chamber was sealed by "us." To the usurper cultures (the Arabs), they didn't even know how to enter it, nor how to remove the sealing stones. If they did, the fools would have probably scribbled all kinds of garbage on the walls.
Anyways, the stem/flute could be drilled and tapped to connect to a plate, yes. That's one way to do it. That will however make a weaker stress point. Plus it might not be as effective centering the vibration to one small threaded dowel cast on top of the plate. The way I was going to make the "footing" for the foam blank grail was to spread out the connection points. Then cast 4 dowel cylinder shapes to the back of the plate, use a die to thread them, drill holes into the footings of the flute/stem, and use nuts to bolt the bulb to the plate. I'll try to draw this in detail to give you a more detailed description of what I'm trying to say here. If worse came to worse, you could weld the flute directly to the plate by brazing, or gas welding. The bulb area itself is what needs to be free of seams and welds. The bulb vibrates and flexes very rapidly, and if the frequency is loud enough, very violently. Welding the bulb, as many coppersmiths would try to do in today's society, then using it for these purposes, would crack the bulb or distort it dramatically, very quickly. However, the connection between the bulb and plate? I don't know. "We" never did it that way... but it might work? One issue in connecting the two parts like that would be the annealing of the plate metal. You might end up getting chipping or uneven wear where the welds on the back side of the plate are. I just don't have any experience or visions of anything like that. That said, almost every grail made with a hieroglyph/pictograph plate, where the bulb is straight up, and the plate is straight down, was cast as one solid piece. To do that with the size of grail you're making would require a very large crucible. One that would hold 100-150 lbs of bronze. In that type of setup, the pouring spout and copes would be made around the rim of the plate. As it sits now, your pouring spout is the flute itself. Much more practical, and more feasible to your scale of operations. The point is there's lots of ways to make that connection. I can show you what I was planning on doing, but if you can think of a better way, or want to try something else, more power to you. Just be mindful of the complications that may arise, and try to make the connection between the bulb and plate evenly distributed, balanced, secure, and as solid as possible. When this grail starts vibrating and dancing around, any loose fittings could cause a catastrophic failure. That is if you're planning on using it as a tool, and not just a display piece. This advice is based on you wanting to actually cut stone with the grail. If it's just going to be a mantle piece, fuck it... I'd just weld it, heh.
I don't think I'm confused about much of anything else up to this point. I'm mainly curious about things you will probably tell me next, such as where the metal will get poured in. When I first saw your drawing, I assumed the flute was going to act as a funnel to intake the metal, very similar to the bull sculpture in the Lost Wax Kilncasting pdf. However, upon re-reading your e-mail, I realized that is the flute, and we don't want it to have an opening in the bottom where metal would get poured in. It likewise is not clear to me yet how the lip will not affect the shape of the grail opening, because it looks like it could cause the opening to become angled instead of flat.
Yes, the flute is the pouring spout. There shouldn't be any trapped air pockets or voids after pouring. That's why I suggested going well beyond the amount of weight necessary. I guess this gives a good reason to explain more in depth how to determine the weight ratios we discussed before this lesson started. Plus, it'll be much easier to explain with wax. It's like this... cut yourself a 1"x1"x1" cube of wax. Not all waxes weigh exactly the same, so do this with whatever wax you're planning on using. In all honesty, I am assuming that you don't need some perfectly formulated machinable wax for this project by the way. You'll be melting it out of the void, so almost any wax will do. Anyways, whatever wax you use, make a 1"x1"x1" cube, then weigh it. Using this calculator for paraffin wax, 1 cubic inch weighs 0.538 ounces ( https://www.aqua-calc.com/calculate/volume-to-weight ). According to this site ( http://www.russianbells.com/founding/bronzealloy.html ) bell metal bronze weighs 4.71 ounces per cubic inch. So, your ratio, if you're using paraffin wax that is, to calculate how much bronze you will need for your grail, is 0.538:4.71. Now that you have your weight ratio, all you need to do then is weigh how much wax you use for the project, and calculate how much bronze you will need to fill that void. So, let's say you use 6 cubic inches of wax total, just for the sake of argument... the equation would be 6x0.538=6x4.71. If you use 6 cubic inches of wax total for the project (3.228 ounces), you will need 28.26 ounces of bell metal bronze (or 1.766 lbs [16 ounces in a pound]). Does that make sense? The original weight ratio is all you need to calculate how much bronze you'll need for the project, but you have to first figure out what the weight is of whatever material you're using for the blank first. In this project's case, it's wax. A while back you were asking me how to calculate this ratio for foam, but the problem is that all foam is different, and the weight varies greatly. Plus it's a lot lighter than most materials. The ratio for foam would probably be best calculated using grams instead of ounces. Using the same calculator as before, it says 1 cubic inch of styrofoam weighs 0.82 grams. 4.71 ounces (1 cubic inch of bronze) is 133.526 grams. So there's the ratio for styrofoam (based on that description of foam [you would have to calculate exactly what 1 cubic inch of your foam weighs to be accurate])... 0.82:133.526. Get it? Let's say your foam blank weighs 1 lb total weight. Instead of doing the math freeform, you can use a ratio calculator like this one... https://www.calculatorsoup.com/calculators/math/ratios.php to plug in your ratio. The equation would be 0.82:133.526 = 1:?. You plug in the first three values and hit calculate. The answer for the ? is 162.836 lbs. That's how you use a metal alloy calculator to figure out how much bronze you'll need for the amount of material you're using for a blank. Of note, doing this for a grail blank made of foam is inaccurate because you're not just using foam. You're also using glue between your foam layers, and wax to seal the foam and glue. You could be hyper-vigilant and measure exactly how much wax you use, exactly how much glue you use, do the calculations for those materials, weigh the finished foam grail blank, subtract the weight of the glue and wax from the total, then calculate the foam weight into the ratio calculator... but that's a lot of tedious math. Wax is a much easier material to do this calculation with because that's the only material you're using. I hope this clears up the confusion about the metal alloy calculator. Remember that these numbers I've used to explain this are not universal. You HAVE TO weigh your own materials to get accurate equations. You don't have to use the 1 cubic inch standard either. That's where the metal alloy calculator is extremely useful. You might buy a 1"x3"x6" block of wax. Then you use the metal alloy calculator to figure out what a 1"x3"x6" block of bell metal bronze weighs, and do your calculations from there. The starting point is to figure out your material, weigh it accurately at a specific shape, then use that shape to calculate the ratio by using a metal alloy calculator. This has been in my head since we had that conversation, and I felt it was unresolved to you. Hopefully this clears that up...
The bottom lip of the investment will not be part of the bulb structure. There's two reasons for making it. 1) The downward angle will give head for the wax to drain out during the wax burnout. That'll significantly help drainage and not allow the wax to pool up, or get trapped otherwise. 2) In regards to pouring the metal, that lip will help insulate the extreme heat from your lazy Susan bearing plate. If you look closely at the drawing I sent prior, the red/wax is not touching that lip except in the corner. When I show you how to set up drainage and coping, it should make more sense. We're getting close now.
After draining my battery twice searching for those websites listed above, and the density of this email, I'm going to wait to move forward. I want to make sure you are up to speed with this tangent I delved into with the calculations above, so we don't start having emails with several different topics condensed into 1.
Best of luck, no matter what you choose to do. Talk to you later...
January 21 2022 4:13AM
Yeah, it's been a long time since I even needed to use that type of math. We're talking grade school here. Lost the ability. Plus having computers really corrupted my memory in a lot of subjects. If I really had to I could look it all back up again, but there's no real practical reason. Seems to me as though the more complex math in society has to do with our inability to utilize permanent materials. The bulk of engineering relates to this point. Building bridges, skyscrapers, piers, etc, all have engineering equations tied into them based on the strength of steel, concrete (reinforced with rebar), wood, and whatnot. Tensile strength is the primary concern. The more complex the structure and more diverse the materials, the more complex the math. There wasn't too much of a concern with those kinds of intricacies in the ancient world because they used the best of the best material, and everything was as solid as a mountain... literally. They built things to last for millennia. It never ceases to amaze me how that type of system seems so foriegn to modern society. It's also quite strange to me seeing the lengths "intelligent" people go to just to build derelict systems. Hyper-complex math is one of those things. It's a headscratcher. So much effort for such a menial return, at least in the grand scheme of things. Anyways, I thought you were trying to determine the volume of material, not surface area. If I had to figure that out, I'd just use sketchup and have the computer do the calculations. That's going to be one seriously complex equation because there's no sharp angles, and the entire grail is rounded with no real constants. If you do figure out how to make an equation for that, I'd like to see it, heh.
The only thing you really need the metal alloy calculator for is if you're trying to determine the weight of random shapes. I wasn't expecting you to buy wax blocks exactly 1 cubic inch standard. I picked on that to explain the equation, plus that's a very common shape for determining mass volume for a wide range of materials. Most candles (if you're going to use them for your wax) come in a variety of cylindrical shapes. You don't have to widdle a 1 cubic inch block from the cylinder to determine the weight ratio. That's where the metal alloy calculator is extremely useful. Let's say your candle is 3" diameter, and 6" tall. Then all you have to do is weigh the candle as is, and plug the dimensions into a metal alloy calculator to determine the weight of what a bell metal bronze 3"x6" cylinder weighs. Then you'll have your base ratio. It's all about volume. Anyways, if you're trying to determine surface area, it's not very useful. Very helpful for determining how much bell metal bronze you'll need by weight, though, because if you buy ingots of premixed alloy, they won't come in the shape of a candle. Let's move on, shall we?
After the last set of instructions, we've reached the point of gating. I've been trying to study as much relatable material as possible, but again, this project is very unique. I have found some videos that relate, but I wanted to just say again that there are some decisions you'll have to make about the extent of how far you want to take this. 1 gate, 2, 3, 4? 10? The size of your gating structure, the type of wax, etc etc etc. I'll try to add as much of my own conclusory information, and of course do the best I can to answer any questions about what I've learned researching, but there's just too many variables to have a definitive "this is exactly how you do this" method for gating a casting this large. One thing I will say now that I haven't really hammered home before is that gating adds a significant amount of bronze to the equation. In the lost foam method, gating isn't necessary because the sand itself is the air and vapor relief. Gating in lost foam is centered around ensuring the harder to reach areas of a pattern/blank get filled in with metal adequately. Gating in lost wax investment casting is to ensure the metal flows freely from the spout (sprue) to the lowest depths of the casting, without air pockets trapping and impeding the flow of metal during the pour. Sand releases this trapped air, while mortar investment seals it in. So the strategy for gating is very different than lost foam, green sand casting. There's no getting around it entirely. If this step is not done, the finished grail will be messed up in some way. That creates the dilemma of accounting for the additional bell metal bronze that will be dedicated to filling the gating voids. It could end up being a significant addition depending on your particular gating strategy. Just remember that whatever gating you do add will increase the overall weight of bronze necessary; bigger crucible, heavier duty tooling, more people to help pour, etc.
The next thing to consider is the design modification I'm suggesting you do to remove the necessity of an inverter mechanism. This gating section is where you and I need to have complete understanding of what I'm saying, why I'm saying it, and no other confusion is present. It's a safety issue. There's a strong possibility that this modification to avoid using an inverter can cause spillage of molten metal later during the pour, and create a significant fire hazard. It's imperative that we're on the same page for what you're doing and why you're doing it. I'm nervous about this modification in all honesty. An inverter is the preferred method, but I completely understand why that's not really an option for you at this time, and the risk is worth the added safety concerns. If done correctly, I don't really see too much of an issue, but that's why we need to be on the same page. If any of this is confusing as to why you're doing something, be vocal about it, please. This is the best, most applicable video I could find. It has some good references for why things are being done, but it's not really a completely accurate way for gating this grail blank. I just wanted you to see it to help give context for why certain things are being done...
One interesting thing to note in this video is the usage of pins (starting at 2:52). You don't have to do this. The dowel in the center of the first investment is doing what these "core pins" are doing in this video. The whole purpose is to stabilize that internal investment mortar, but this is the first reference I've seen. It's just interesting to see a similar system, and I didn't see this video until researching videos to show you gating or I would have used it earlier. I also like the animation screen in the lower right corner of this video. The next sequence talks about "string vents." This is an interesting way to make wax channels and connection streams in the gating that I also haven't seen done in this way until watching this video. The core of these string vents is cotton, which means during the wax burnout process, the heat will have to be high enough to ignite and vaporize the cotton... if you plan on using this method for additional gating. I'm more familiar with "disclosing wax." It's a very soft wax that's pliable and can be formed in small strands for the smaller gating channels without breaking or cracking. The "string vents" in the video are a good alternative for disclosing wax if you want to use the same kind of wax throughout the project. However, I've never seen that method, and you'll have to account for the cotton being burned out. I was going to instruct you on using disclosing wax throughout this entire portion, but I just saw this so I thought I'd mention it as an alternative. This is basically the first decision you'll have to make regarding the gating. The disclosing wax isn't too expensive (although more than common waxes), but it is just one more thing you'll have to get. If you use this string vent process instead, I'm assuming you can use the wax you were already using for the grail bulb and flute. Otherwise, if you're looking for an alternative to either of those options, you can try to sculpt wax filaments. They do break, so this would be one of the more delicate procedures of the whole process. It might work to have them soaking in warm water before applying them as gates, but that's a process you'll have to figure out as you go. If the water is too hot the wax will just melt, and if it's too cold the wax won't be malleable. Every type of wax is different, so it's a trial and error process no matter what method you decide on. The point is that doing the gating is a process that requires irregular shapes. There's lots of ways to make that possible, but these are the ways I've seen. You might even figure out a better method, but if you do, I'd like to be taught what you learned, heh.
So... your grail bulb body wax is set, smoothed out, and the thickness of the wax is uniform everywhere. Your flute is centered on the bulb, and welded into place. Now your attention turns to the lip/upside down plate area. The main channels of this section of gating should be fairly large; about 1/2"-3/4" diameter. It could be square or circular. That doesn't really matter. Next you have to decide how many of these channels you want spread around the lip connecting to the bulb. I would suggest at least 2, but to be on the safe side, I would use 4. In reality you could use 10 or more, but that's kind of overkill, plus that's going to take a lot of metal to fill. 3 is also an option, just make sure they're evenly spread around the lip. I'm going to draw this as best as I can. The string vent portions will connect to exterior walls of the bulb, and the thicker cope risers. I'm not certain how many of these per cope is necessary. I'm uncertain if any of the string vent portions are necessary at all. When I was first conceptualizing this method, I wasn't planning on connecting any of them to the copes at all. They've been included simply because of how often I've seen similar procedures incorporating them during studying and researching lost wax casting. Not everyone uses this strategy, but I've seen it enough that I've concluded it's a decent insurance policy. Their addition to the equation does create more work after casting. There will be a lot more hacksaw points, and more grinding, filing, and sanding, but there's also a greater risk that pockets of air will create voids without them. It's a risk reward ratio. You'll have to decide if you include them, or take your chances with just the cope/copes. The copes are absolutely necessary, though. Without them, you are assured to trap air pockets and the grail bulb section will not fill in. String vents? Totally up to you. Copes? Absolutely required.
The goal here is to create a flow of molten metal going into the sprue/spout/flute of the grail, down the walls of the bulb section, and up the copes. The string vents are insurance against the metal solidifying early, plugging the copes before reaching the top of the mold from the flow, trapping air and causing voids in the walls of the bulb section. This means that the orientation of the string vents should not be positioned to have metal flowing into them. They're essentially chimneys. Imagine a chimney pointing at a downward angle from a fire. It doesn't work that way. So if you're going to add string vents, ensure that the flow of metal passes by them, until they backfill as the bulb section fills up. If the entire pour is perfect, the grail, copes, and string vents will fill completely before anything is solidified. There's no shortage of luck necessary to make that happen. It's a very tall mold with thin voids. It might just be wishful thinking that every void you're creating with this gating strategy will completely fill in. Beyond just hoping, I've tried to minimize the impact of every mitigating aspect of solidification that I can. This is why the reasoning behind pouring directly after the burnout is the best course of action. The hotter the mold is when pouring, the slower the solidifying. That's the entire reason for everything in this portion of lessons: to minimize the impact of early solidification.
Next comes the theory of the drainage holes on the flask. This is where the wax will drain from. In order to not have an inverter, a couple of extra steps are necessary. They'll be explained in greater detail after the second investment process. For now though, the coping strategy might seem strange. It will appear as though this particular drainage system will also allow the metal to pour out of the wax drainage holes. That's not the case, but if you've equated that as something that might happen from constructing this type of system, good eye. Just wanted to alleviate any concerns that might be forming. The gating strategy would be fairly similar looking if there was an inverter, but the drainage holes would not be there, and the steps I'll explain after the second investment process would also not be necessary. However, if you're not going to have an inverter, this is the best strategy I can formulate.
The internet has been down here for a couple of days. I saw that you sent a couple more emails but I'm just reading them now and will reply tonight.
January 21 2022 4:14PM
So that's how the protrusions formed on the stones.
Yep. That's how they were formed. Then when they were formed the stone was flipped over and the protrusions were clamped onto with a tool that kind of had a G shape. I'm very glad that you understand this process now. It all starts making sense to people at different times, but it's amazing how much other information is necessary before something like that really starts to resonate... right? (Pun intended) You've come a long way. Now that you're here, looking back, it might make more sense why so many people don't understand. From this perspective though, it really does seem easy, doesn't it? I'll never forget that feeling during my realization of "it's so simple" and "how could I have been so stupid to not figure this out sooner?" The humility was overwhelming, but I was so excited to finally get it; to really have confidence. That's the other overwhelming aspect... knowing how many others were/are faking it, and for how long. 36,000 years and only a handful of people truly understand, or rather understood, what these things are, what they were made for, and by proxy the foundation of human civilization. It's exciting, but simultaneously frightening considering everyone that's wrong, and how invested they all are in their delusions. What's worse, the best they can hope to achieve is some bragging rights. You? You're going to create a legacy that will last for millions of years... if everyone else can find that same kind of work ethic, purpose, and humility. Simple, seemingly minuscule decisions have huge impacts. You chose wisely. Let's hope everyone else can figure it out...
That's interesting about the hieroglyphs. I would guess that nearly all the paintings, especially the ones containing dark-skinned figures (like "we wuz dickwashers"), are from the usurper cultures.
Correct. We had no reason for such things. Function over form. Anything otherwise is just ego driven subversion. In a nutshell... the exact opposite of hell.
I wonder whether any "experts" on ancient Egypt have addressed this matter. I haven't heard it anywhere else, but I've mainly read just Graham Hancock's work and a handful of webpages that talk about the Dendera Bulb hieroglyphs. It's funny that the hieroglyphs depict exactly how they were made, but no one has picked up on this except for you. At this point in the game, it's really funny to me, actually...
There have been several people that have understood that there's no way those pictographs and hieroglyphs were made using a hammer and chisel. Unfortunately they're all part of the "ancient alien" crowd, and surround their theories with copious amounts of similarly ridiculous leaps in logic, so while the starting point of "there's no way that was done with the prescribed academia induced narrative," their pathway to reason is as equally ridiculous as the "chisel narrative" dolts. Just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are equally wrong, albeit for different reasons. One side tries to sell the general public on the imaginary perception of their superiority (Arab usurper cultures claiming that they founded the civilization responsible for ancient Egypt). The other side is trying to sell the ignorant masses books, TV, movies, and collegiate courses in their theories. The worst part is that none of them; neither side of that propaganda system really know how to do anything. There are exceptions (Christopher Dunn being one of them), but the majority of blind trusting followers are so helpless to themselves, they're willing to accept anything from what they perceive as authority. Boomers are notorious for this shit. It's one of the main reasons why having actual relatable experience in designing, building and maintaining objects, whether through machining, foundry work, masonry, etc, is the only way to truly understand. Without those basic skills, the imagination runs wild, and usually ends up concluding something asinine.
For posterity, I didn't "figure out" the Dendera sequences' chronology or inherent information. That was given to me. I cannot take credit for that. The timing of the media about those hieroglyphs wasn't even my doing. It started the weekend before the realization began. Prior to that I was indifferent to most of that knowledge. Kristin and I were finishing up working in the yard, then cooked dinner. For an unexplainable reason she wanted to watch Egyptian documentaries because we hadn't saved anything else to watch. It was strange to me; very unique because usually I wanted to watch educational programs, and she generally went for mindless relaxing programming like "real housewives of wherever-the-fuckistan." Usually I'd just read while she got her fix. That particular day though, she suggested it, and I jumped at the opportunity. I can't recall exactly what show we decided on, but it was on Prime. About 30 minutes into the show she fell asleep. As soon as she did I went to my shop to work on the dust collector and work table for my new vise. A few hours into it and I walked my dog, which was a usual kind of day for us. Nothing really out of the ordinary, other than Kristin choosing the show to watch, but I didn't really think anything of it at the time. That following Friday, after I finished my dog's truck ramp (that I showed you the picture of) I took him to the vet, showed the vet techs the ramp (which they loved) because Tank was being seen for reoccurring leg problems, then came home. I was tired from working all night, so I turned on the Prime app, and in the recommended section were those Brien Forester documentaries. Watched one, took a short nap, then went out to dinner with Kristin to explain in depth my "invention/discovery." The next day the realization started, I got the first few downloads, and most of the information was Egyptian in scope. At that point I was seriously kind of freaked out by the significance of what I had discovered, and the enormity of what it all meant. I was trying to make sense of it all, so I watched those documentaries again, during which I wasn't even really paying attention. The downloads were entirely encompassing to all of my senses. When the Dendera part began, I was able to watch them again, and immediately thereafter received the downloads particular to those sequences. So, neither the reason for the Egyptian documentaries being prevalent to my perception, nor the downloads themselves were of my doing. I'd be lying if I took credit for any of that. In short, "figured it out" is a misnomer. It's pertinent information if you're trying to discern the truth about what actually happened, and I know you're that type of person. Just wanted you to have the absolute most accurate account of that series of events.
“'To the usurper cultures (the Arabs), they didn't even know how to enter it, nor how to remove the sealing stones."
Are the sealing stones the four big chevrons on the outside of the pyramid?”'
The sealing stones were on the outside of that area, and they sealed the "ascension tunnel" that led upwards to the gallery. This part is argued vehemently by everyone involved in Egyptology, so take that for what it is, but the ascension tunnel, gallery, and king's chamber was completely unknown of until about 1000 AD... depending on who you ask. Below the chevrons entrance that was sealed, sometime around 1000 AD, some Arab royal or politician authorized a group of people to break into the pyramid. It's also theorized that he was leading a group of thieves while doing this. Like I said, depends on who you ask. Either way, the passage they created is referred to as "the robber's entrance." To make that entrance, they smashed into the walls with massive battering rams to break through the stones. That's when they dislodged several of the main entrance (the chevrons) sealing stones, but didn't realize it at the time so they kept smashing inwardly. During their smash fest, they also dislodged the sealing stones to the ascension tunnel, which fell out and blocked the descending tunnel. As soon as they reached the descending tunnel, they were just a few feet away from the ascension tunnel. They then smashed the sealing stones that had fallen out, excavated them, and explored. My assumption is that they located the main entrance from behind the sealing stones and excavated them there following. However, even to this day, tourists still use the robber's entrance to enter the pyramid. Prior to 1000 AD (ish), there's no accurate account of anything internally existing at all, at least not in the academic record. Even after that soriee/the creation of the robber's entrance, the Sphinx and Pyramids were swallowed by desert sands, buried, and basically forgotten about for several hundred more years. The first western account was (to the best of my recollection) Napoleon Bonaparte digging everything out once more, and I'm fairly certain it's remained that way ever since, but I could be mistaken. I'm not really a western academic history buff, but I remember certain events, although admittedly not precisely. Anyways, prior to the robber's entrance creation, and the many other excavations of sand there following, nothing was known of the internal structure of the great pyramid. It was sealed off when "we" left, roughly 36,000ish years ago, and stayed that way until about 1000 ADish. The sealing stones were at the entrance, yes, but the ones I was referring to were the stones dislodged by creating the robber's entrance by using brute strength/having a smash fest, then falling out of the ascension tunnel.
Now for the plate. So the order of the "components" of the grail, from top to bottom, is as follows: 1. Bulb 2. Flute 3. Legged connection, ideally cast along with bulb and flute 4. Threaded dowels cast to plate (held to legged connection via nuts) 5. Plate
I will bear in mind that this is different from the ancient method, which was to cast bulb, flute, and plate together; but it's being done this way for the sake of practicality, given the means available to me. Thank you. Seeing that four-legged connection completes the picture for me.
Correct, and well said. I'll jump right into the next email now... talk to you soon.
January 21 2022 11:05PM
Now that you've constructed your gating, coping and possible string vents, it's now time to move on to the second investment process. First, a modification to the flask is necessary. After the gating is done, very carefully set the flask over the whole setup and rest it on the wax drainage pieces. I didn't mention this before but make sure when you make your gating copes, those bottom extensions are all extending beyond the flask walls. Almost to the edge of the lazy Susan bearing plate. When it's resting on the wax drainage extensions, mark on the bottom outer edge of the flask where they are located. They might not all be uniform, so make sure you mark also which drainage extensions go where. Your cuts on the bottom of the flask should be slightly larger than the wax. After cutting those holes you want the flask bottom to be flush with the bearing plate. The bottom of the flask should look like a castle nut (castellated nut) with the wax drainage extensions sticking out of the cuts in the flask.
Next you'll want to, as evenly as possible, space the cope risers an equal distance from the upper lip of the flask. Just nudge the flask until it's positioned with all the copes away from the edge of the flask wall. This isn't a deal breaker if it's not perfect. The copes probably won't be exactly the same. You're also not really worried about the flask being exactly centered on the bearing plate. The "machining the investment" portion is over. If the flask is off center, it's not a big deal. Once it's positioned to your satisfaction, it's time to start sealing the flask to the bearing plate. Lots of ways to do this. If you want to just keep using wax, that'll work. If you do use wax though, make sure you use it liberally. You want a good, tight all the way around seal. I'd probably use hot glue to seal it. Not only does it seal well, but it will work better ensuring that the flask doesn't shift when you pour the second investment. Wax can be slippery, and there's a chance that it might shift, or crack when that pressure is applied. Then you'll have a mess; the investment mortar will seep out of the bottom and go all over the place. I say this because you'll want to use vacuum pressure again during the second investment process. It's not as critical as the first investment, but it's always a good idea to evacuate air from the investment. During that vacuum sequence the wax seal at the bottom of the flask could crack or shift. It's something to consider, especially if you're going to use a bag vacuum system. The bag itself will be trying to collapse the flask walls. Much less of a concern if you're going to be able to use a dome, or a dome-bag hybrid system, like we discussed earlier. There'll be pressure with those systems, but substantially less than that of a bag system directly against the flask wall. You also won't have wooden slats to add rigidity to the flask. It's just a 30 gallon barrel wall with the bottom removed. So it will be flimsy. Regardless of what material you use for the seal, just make sure it's sealed along the entire seam between the flask and bearing plate.
Next, you'll cut the wax drainage extensions about 1/2" from the flask wall. Then you'll use a hot knife to melt that extended piece to seal the cuts you made. Just work it back towards the flask until there's a healthy blob sealing the holes completely. Once that's done you should have the entire flask bottom sealed to the bearing plate. No gaps anywhere. I'll draw a cross section of what this will look like with the investment added. All that's left to do then is pour the second investment into the flask, vacuum the investment, and let it sit for a day or two to fully cure. A couple of notes... If the copes are not as high as the top of the flute, you can use a paper cup to extend them upward. The top of the mortar/investment should be flush with the flute. I'll add to the drawing what this will look like. It's not totally critical that this happens, but it'll save you time later. If the investment mortar does end up being higher than the copes or flute, you just have to dig down through the cured mortar and open up the access to them. Not too big of a deal. It's probably going to happen to some extent anyways because when you vacuum the investment, the mortar bubbles up, expands, releases the air, then settles again. There will be mortar covering the tops of the copes and flute. But how deep it is is what will cause you more or less effort to free them later. Another thing is that you have to use the top lid of the flask during the investment vacuum. Otherwise you'll have a mess. When vacuuming the mortar rises. Usually professionals extend the top of their flasks while vacuuming with tape. You can try that, but I recommend using the lid. Just make sure that if you do use the lid while vacuuming, you remove the bungs. You have to give an escape to the air you're vacuuming. There'll be a small mess, but much less of a mess than if the investment is allowed to expand freely upward without a lid. After it's vacuumed just remove the lid and allow it to cure. One last thing, I do recommend using a vibration system... BUT! Do not install it on the bearing plate. You will have solid, and cured investment on the inside that's rigid, and touching the bearing plate. Sending vibrations through the plate will also vibrate the solid and cured investment. Very high chance of fracturing the first investment, and there won't be any way of knowing until the entire process is done. If you do use vibration, I'd suggest installing it to the lid as you vacuum. That should focus the vibration onto the flask walls only. The whole job of the vibration system is to liberate the air bubbles that get trapped in the mortar, and the collection of those bubbles having difficulty liberating themselves from the mortar. That's what causes the upward expansion in the investment as you vacuum. All you really need the vibration for is jostling the mortar to free those bubbles. It's not necessary to vibrate the entire setup to do that, and during the second investment, it's downright detrimental to maintaining the integrity of the first investment.
I'll send this with the picture and wait for your reply. I covered a lot today with the internet going down. So I'm going to let this marinate with you and predict I'll have some more questions to answer before moving on. Not much more to explain now. We're getting really close!
January 23 2022 12:01AM
Take your time. I want to make sure you're completely comfortable with the lost wax method. Hopefully it's getting easier to comprehend, but if not, I want you to speak up about it.
January 23 2022 9:31PM
1. Metal will backfill up the string vents from the bulb walls, while also rising directly up the copes from the cope-bottom-extensions. Could any issues arise from this metal flowing to the same location from two different places? I could draw/edit a picture to show what I mean, though it would just be an arrow pointing up the cope, and another arrow along a string vent that also points upward toward the cope.
This shouldn't be an issue, but even if it becomes an issue at the convergence point of the string vent and cope risers, that's away from the bulb wall and won't hurt anything important. Like I said, if it turns out "perfect," every void; bulb walls, copes, string vents and copes will completely fill with molten bronze before solidifying. Then the entire void matrix will be one solid piece. That's not likely to happen though because the bulb walls are thin, and so are the string vents. What's likely to happen is that as the system of voids backfill upward and the string vents fill in, the string vent voids will terminate by solidifying before that bronze reaches the copes. That's not a problem. Their entire purpose is to vent air as the bulb fills in, and if they solidify, the metal has already filled in above them en route to the next string vent... in an upward, back filling motion.
I've seen many very small castings that use string vent type setups to ensure the very small areas fill in. Most of them look like the string vent voids terminated by solidifying early. Those sections get cut away and grinded anyway so there's not much of a concern. To give you a visual about what I'm describing...
At 2:45 he sets up the string vents. Then at 10:44 he starts to look over the finished castings. You can see how the string vents terminate early from solidifying. It doesn't hurt the casting because they did their job regardless of how large they ended up being.
2. How many wax drainage extensions will there be at the bottom-- two, or four?
If I were to do this, I'd probably aim for 4. However, that's going to add a substantial amount of metal to the equation. Bare minimum, I'd say 2. In the cross section picture I sent showing the copes, string vents, and bulb with the second investment poured, that picture was representing 2 copes with string vents. In the tilt picture from the same email, that represented what 4 would look like. I mentioned this in a previous email, but the addition of more copes is your choice. I would assume "the more, the better," but there's also the element of budget and tooling here. The more are added, the larger the crucible will have to be, more bell metal bronze, more workload and preparation, etc. Ultimately it's up to you what the budget and tooling available is able to account for. The goal is to have an even distribution of molten bronze flowing through. The exact number of copes and string vents has yet to be determined until we/you actually cast a grail, and we have data to look back on. Until then, a lot of this is just the best possible educated guess, and a lot of luck. Mitigating the luck factor going the bad way is the real goal here...
3. You mean the barrel won't need slats for the 2nd investment pour regardless of the type of vacuum system? Or would it need slats to deal with the pressure of a bag vacuum system, but not a dome vacuum system?
No slats for the second investment. There's no room for them even if you could add them. They'd be pushing against the cope-string vent "trees." Plus, you're not going to remove the flask after the second investment is poured and cured. After the second investment, the flask stays until the casting is completed. A dome vacuum system would not require slats to add rigidity to the structure at all, neither during the first nor second investment. They'd still be necessary during the first investment, though, because you're carving the internal shape of the bulb from it. Without the slats added during the first investment, it'd be difficult to remove the flask to carve, and you'd be wasting a lot of mortar in the process. Those slats take up volume within the flask during the first investment and minimize the amount of mortar necessary... as well as providing structural strength to the flask itself during the vacuum. There's no room for them on the inside of the flask on the second investment pour.
4. Why are you referring to the copes as such? I thought a cope is the top half of the type of flask used in sand casting.
I'm not a professional foundry worker, so I'm using as much referential terminology as possible as I go. That might not be the proper terminology for what I'm referring to. Thing is is that those terms change frequently depending upon who is using them, and how those structures apply to each individual, often prototypical casting. I've seen the voids I'm calling copes referred to as risers also. However, a riser, as most professionals I've researched describe them, have a different type of job within the cast during pouring.
Risers are reservoirs of metal that provide extra material during the cure. On average, all castings lose 2% of their size when the metal transitions from molten to solid. They contract and shrink as they cool. Usually this causes the casting to want to draw in more material. The risers are the available material during a pour to compensate for this shrinkage, or retraction during the cooling process. The "copes" that I've described during this project will be the risers as I've described in this context. If there is a retraction of material back into the bulb section as it cool, the copes is where that additional material will come from.
From what I understand of the terminology, adding a cope has a different purpose than a riser, gating, or string vent. As I said, without them, there would be trapped air pockets at the bottom of the void. The metal pouring down on top, along with the airtight structure of the mortar investment would form a seal, trapping the air and not allowing the metal to fully penetrate to the bottom of the casting. What the cope is doing is "coping" with this dilemma... at least that's how I've come to understand it. I could be misusing that term, but I'm trying my best to be as accurate as possible with this particular project as it stands. There's a lot of other factors in play that would be significantly different if money wasn't an issue, you had unlimited access to tools, and other things. Gating as a whole would be very different. I'd use an actual sprue instead of pouring directly into the flute. I'd use vacuum during the pour. If we get to a point where this instruction list is complete and you're comfortable, I'll show you the variances of what I'd do under optimal circumstances, as well as the ancient methods. However, for this project's sake, I'm trying to keep the process as narrow as possible. I'm curious to see what a professional would call what I'm calling a cope, but as long as you know exactly what area I'm referring to by saying cope in that way, we're solid.
I might send you another e-mail later about personal matters... But we'll see. Maybe I'll end up satisfied enough with my own thoughts for the time being, to the point where I don't need to interrupt the lost wax conversation again.
You don't have to worry about "interrupting" the instructions. I'm okay with it. I'm just trying to keep everything I'm sending you as focused and condensed as possible because I'm fairly certain you're going to post all of this. I just don't want you to have to go back and edit out all of your personal stuff from the main body of the instructions. I enjoy hearing about your progress, and not just in the professional sector. Plus I'm a good listener, and believe it or not, which is ironic, but I'm not judging you on personal matters. Let it out if you want. No pressure if you want to keep it all to yourself either. I understand either way, and I'm not upset about it either way. Talk to you later.
January 25 2022 2:29AM
I was going to mention that as a possibility. Foam would definitely be easier to set up gating with. The only drawback would be correlating the weight difference for figuring out the bell metal bronze weight. It wouldn't be an issue during the burnout other than the release of toxic fumes, but it's no different than anything oil derivative wise burning, and there's plenty of that, heh. The wax would melt out long before the foam vaporizes. So, there is a possibility of damming the wax within the void if the entire gating system is made of foam. That might make the wax expand and crack the investment before the foam vaporizes and allows the wax to drain. That's something unique to this gating strategy, but if the system integrated an inverter, there wouldn't be a "foam dam" in the way. I hadn't really considered telling you about this, but it's good to talk about all the possibilities so you can decide what's best for you. Ultimately, no. The foam vaporizing wouldn't be an issue for the investment. However, it might end up being an issue for the wax if the foam blocks the wax from draining before it vaporizes.
Using foam like that is no different than what Kelly Coffield does with his refractory coating. I was strongly considering lining the inside of my foam grail blank with refractory mortar because it's much more difficult to refine the inside of the grail than it is to refine the outer walls. I'll assume we're caught up, though, and move on to the last couple of steps. Talk to you later...
January 27 2022 3:30AM
Okay, we've reached the burnout phase. At this point in the instructions, the second investment was poured, and is now cured. First thing you do, if you used hot glue to seal the bottom of the flask, rip off the glue. You don't necessarily "have to" do this, but if you don't it'll mix in with the wax during the burnout. It's reason for being there was to stop the leaking out of investment, and that should be cured at this point. Next we have to discuss options for clay. This is important because there's lots of different kinds of clay. Some are made to melt like wax, some cure to behave like silicone, and some kinds are made for ceramics like pottery. You're going to want the kind that's made for ceramics. You're going to want the clay to firm up rigidly. Very important. I only say this because you might end up wanting to buy the clay instead of making it yourself. Store bought clay might have additives added into it, so if you do buy it, read the manufacturer's description before you do.
Luckily, you seem to want to do things on your own, and making your own clay is extremely easy. A bit messy, but very simple, and if you make it yourself there's no concern for additional materials added to the equation. I do recommend making it yourself, but I also understand how busy you've gotten so this might be one of the steps that you would rather purchase materials for instead of adding in the additional labor. It's such an easy process that I'm not going to write a bunch about it. Here's a video showing you how to make your own, if you decide to take that route...
There'll be more on this later, but for now we'll move on to what you do with the clay. Around the outside edge of the lazy Susan bearing plate, you're going to want to construct a kind of dam for the wax. It'll be about 90% of the outer edge. You'll leave a small 1.5" area clear. The idea is to form a spout of sorts, and the reason for that is you're going to want to collect the melted wax in one area. This isn't a must do thing, but if you don't do this you'll have wax pouring out of four drains (if you make 4) all over the bearing plate. Collecting it for reuse will be a very messy process. I highly recommend doing this, heh. I'll draw a picture to show you what I'm saying. After this clay berm/dam is done it's time to move the flask into the oven. We haven't really discussed types of ovens, whether they're gas, electric, or otherwise powered yet. There's many ways to make that type of oven (technically called a kiln), but the best advice I can give is to heat the oven from the bottom, and hopefully you're able to heat it slowly. The first stage of heating is to just melt the wax. You don't want to just go full blast while melting the wax out. It's not like a foundry. The wax can smoke, vaporize, and in some waxes case, catch on fire. The goal is to melt it out completely without burning it, and to melt it out from the bottom up. Remember, wax expands when melted. So if you melt it from the top down, or melt it at a high temperature where the entire wax system liquefies immediately, you risk cracking the investment. How you choose to construct the oven will definitely play a part in this. I have some ideas for what style fits this type of project, but I'll leave that up to you unless you want me to explain it. Point is, you're at the wax burnout stage.
At this point you've loaded the oven, and have started the heating element or burner. The wax is flowing into the collection pan. Allow it to flow out of the drainage holes until there's no stream and the wax has stopped dripping into the collection plate. There should be no wax at all in the drainage holes. You might have to squeegee some of the wax that pools on the bearing plate into the collection plate. After ALL of the wax has been drained from the drainage holes and bearing plate, turn off the burner to the oven. You don't have to wait for the setup to cool down, but prepare to be working on the hot surfaces. The clay comes into play again at this point, and this is why the clay has to be of the ceramics variety. You're going to make 4 plugs out of the clay to plug up the drainage holes at this point. After they're plugged, they'll dry out and solidify rather quickly, which is why you want to make sure ALL of the wax has melted out. Be liberal with the clay plugs because they're there to halt molten bronze from flowing out of the bottom of the flask. Make the plugs large to where they'll go into the holes an inch or two, and you can peen the outside of the plug into a kind of mushroom shape. The outside should be much larger than the actual drainage holes because shrinkage of the clay will happen as the water evaporates from it. Be liberal and make sure the clay is widespread. You'll have to do this step fairly quickly because the flask will be hot. It won't be a comfortable procedure. Just be quick, but thorough and precise. These plugs are extremely important for safety later. If you haven't figured it out yet, the gating, coping, and drainage channels are the actual idea for circumventing the inverter system. These plugs are the most important aspect of this idea. It's an untested thing, but logically it makes sense. If the plugs aren't made large enough, or they're loose, when you pour the metal, they could break loose and you'll have a blowout. NOT GOOD. Take special care to really plug those drainage holes well. They'll be holding back close to 100 pounds of molten bronze from spilling all over the ground, and possibly you. Be careful, and don't rush it. It's going to be hot, uncomfortable, and right in your face, but if it's rushed and done hastily, the aftermath during the metal pouring could be disastrous.
After you're content with the plugging of the drainage holes, turn the burner back on and close the oven. This next part has more to do with the type of investment you've decided to use than my advice. This part is the burnout cycle. After reigniting the burner, the heating steps are usually fairly long. They're hotter temperatures than the wax burnout phase, and usually last for hours. First is the moisture evaporation phase. Normally this is also NOT a full blast procedure. It's hot, yes, but again, not a foundry kind of situation where the burner is turned on full blast and left alone to cook the flask. You don't want to do that because steam also expands. You're also evaporating it from the entire investment matrix, so turning the deeper moisture in the investment into steam will crack the investment. It's a gradual process. Take your time with this. In most failures I've seen, the reason why the failure happens is because steps are skipped, rushed, or just simply overlooked. This moisture burnout phase is critical to the grail lost wax method. There's a lot of investment, and many ways for the structure to fail. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (on average). Even if the manufacturer of the mortar says to do your moisture burnout phase at well above that temperature and for a certain amount of time, go slowly while reaching that temperature. Give the investment time to gradually heat up. Once it's at the moisture burnout phase temperature, THEN hold it there for the duration suggested. Keep in mind that this is a unique process. Do everything slower and more methodical. Don't just take manufacturers' instructions at face value. I'm certain they didn't write them based on a casting project like this, heh. Usually this phase also lasts a couple of hours.
Next is the vitrification phase of the burnout cycle. If there is ANY wood anywhere in your entire setup, I highly suggest NOT doing this phase. Vitrification is extremely hot; like above the ignition point of wood hot. If there is any wood, it will vaporize through pyrolysis, turn into coal then ash, and/or catch on fire. Optimally, everything would be made out of steel. Bearing plates and dowel. Solid steel; all of it, but that's a much more expensive proposition than using wood. However, if you're able to use nothing but steel, yes... do the vitrification phase. Again, it depends on the manufacturer's instructions, but I'm fairly sure the vitrification phase is an actual burner at full blast procedure. It depends on what type of mortar investment you've chosen, so be thorough about reading the instructions for that particular mortar. If wood is used, just maintain the temperature after the moisture burnout phase, and start melting the bell metal bronze.
Not much more to explain here. When the bronze is as hot as possible without causing oxidation, or vaporization, hold the temperature steady in the foundry. Turn off the burner in the kiln oven and immediately wheel the flask to the pouring area. Then... make a holy grail. Turn the foundry burner off, use your tooling to pour metal directly into the flute. One note here is that once you start pouring, keep the pour steady. You don't want any pockets of air going into the flute as you pour. Fill the flute as quickly as possible, and keep it full until the cope/risers have molten bronze reaching the top of the investment, or the metal solidifies internally, and the flute/spout spills over. Very important. Once you start pouring, don't slow down or stop until the entire void is full; bulb, copes, flute.
I tripled up the pictures into one because it saved space. Let me know if it's confusing. Not much more to explain unless you have questions. One thing I'll say is that you don't want to douse the grail in water after the pour. Let it cool down slowly. Might take an entire day or longer, but that's the proper annealing process. Dousing it will stiffen the metal and shock it. It's going to be hard to have patience at that point. You're going to want to demold and see the grail finished. Fight the urge. When it has cooled down, removing the investment with a pressure washer works well. Don't bang on it with a hammer. Cut away the gating, copes and string vents, then carefully file the nubs. If you want it to be pretty, sand the whole thing with 220 grit until the finish is even, then graduate the grits upward until you get to 3000 grit. Then use polishing compound until it's a mirror finish... if you want it to be pretty. I'll be looking forward to your questions. Hopefully I was thorough enough on this.
Appendix: Plaster Recycling and the Ancient Lost Wax Method
January 30 2022 6:57AM
“I read that vitrification, at least for ceramic shell casting, causes the ceramic particles to melt and fuse together, which strengthens the mold to better withstand the pressure of molten metal. So if I use a wooden plate and have to omit vitrification, I am increasing the odds of failure, correct?”
Technically yes. However, bronze has a lower melt temperature than than steel or iron. Most instructions are created to include all possible casted metals. It's a risk either way to not fully vitrify, but the risk is lessened by the actual metal you're using. The real danger is in not completely evacuating moisture from the investment. To maximize safety without vitrification, extend the moisture burnout phase no matter what the instructions say. The vitrification phase eliminates the possibility of moisture at all, so if it's not completed, that's the real danger with this particular project. Usually investments are not this large. If you don't release all of the moisture, this will happen...(6:54)
This guy is the epitome of backyard hobbyist, but I'm not trying to be insulting to him. It's noble to have these types of hobbies no matter what the skill level is. That said, this entire video is a comedy of errors. Everything is rushed, and few if any safety measures are made. Even so, the part to focus on is the actual pour (6:54). He says earlier in the video that allowed the investment to "dry." Could have been days. Next he does a wax burnout phase which did indeed melt the wax out. Even after drying the investment, and doing a wax burnout, the moisture still was not evacuated totally, and as you can see, that creates a severe problem. Understanding how moisture releases from cured investment mortar is somewhat complex. It's better approached from the recycling system of mortar.
That's the basic idea, but with all things, the situation is much more complex than what the video suggests. I'm not a chemist, but I've researched the intricacies of recycling mortar during this mission several times now. I was gearing up in case you asked about it, but that didn't really happen. It's applicable now because of this question though, so 2 birds, 1 rock.
"Gypsum is CaSO4-2H2O. Plaster of Paris is formed when gypsum CaSO4-2H2O is calcined (heated) and partially dehydrated to form the hemihydrate (CaSO4)2-H20. The hemihydrate form readily re-hydrates to the dihydrate. Plaster of Paris is the hemihydrate. The calcining process is carefully controlled to prevent complete dehydration as the anhydrous CaSO4 does not readily rehydrate. It does not READILY rehydrate. Ball mill for 24-48 hours : 1 mol of anhydrous CaSO4 with a half mole of H20. Or 136.14 grams of your over heated CaSO4 with 9.05 grams of water and it should be then usable again. You are not going to be able to avoid this as you already drove the water of crystallization off when you fired your molds. Your second heating is completely pointless, just grind it up and ball mill with the proper ratio of water and you should be able to fix your problem. If not you will ball mill with more water, then calcine at 100-150C (300F) to get usable plaster of paris."
This was a quote I found when the dilemma of super heated/vitrified mortar (plaster of Paris/gypsum) was the topic of recycling. Apparently, anhydrous gypsum is very difficult to impossible to utilize as mortar. There needs to be a percentage of water available within the gypsum crystalline structure in order for the gypsum to rapidly hydrate and form mortar. In casting, this is a problem. Any water that comes in contact with molten metal vaporizes, and causes rapid expansion. That's a surefire way to crack a mold investment, or cause explosions, as was shown in the first video of this email. So, the dilemma is to remove all water. Instructions handed down from mortar manufacturers, especially when the purpose is for casting, is based on that dilemma. Full vitrification is the assurance they offer to combat that dilemma. Is it 100% necessary to vitrify? No, but it is 100% necessary to remove all water from the investment. That means that without vitrification, if you're only going to be able to do the moisture burnout phase, as would be the case with wooden accessories, you're going to want to extend that moisture burnout phase a couple of hours. Yes, vitrification is what turns mortar/clay/sand into a ceramic, or glass. Doing this also increases rigidity and solidifies the matrix of the investment. Is it absolutely necessary to do that in order to have a successful casting? No. In order to have a successful casting using an investment strategy, removal of the moisture is the main concern. To answer your question, yes, you are at more of a risk of failure without vitrification. However, the real issue is moisture retention. If the investment retains water, you're assured failure. Moving the mold around without full vitrification is also a concern, but I already discussed that previously. That's the basic logic for why a dowel exists in the first place. If possible, move the oven/kiln to where the pour will take place. If that's impossible, be careful moving the flask to the pouring area. Without a doubt, full vitrification is the best possible solution. That also means making the bearing plates and dowel out of solid steel... which might not be an option. The next best thing is to extend your moisture burnout phase long enough to ensure complete moisture evacuation from the entire investment... without burning the wood. Hopefully this covers the basis for why I've said what I said previously.
“That's basically it for this e-mail. Properly plugging the drain holes in a timely fashion will be a challenge. And yes, I would prefer to make my own clay: I'll have to ensure that it's the right kind (i.e. for ceramics).”
If you do make your own clay, we might want to discuss plasticizers. That's where the bentonite comes into play. It's not really necessary for what you'll be using clay for during this project, but it's important information that pertains to the ancient method. I'll hold off on that spiel for now though so I can keep the focus on the ancient method when I explain it. That's quite a ways into this project so no rush. If you have time and you're in the position to start making your own clay, you might want to look into plasticizers is all I'm saying. Bentonite is the natural version, while veegum is the industrial type. Both are considered a "smectite," but we're getting ahead of ourselves. I'm still trying to stay focused here, heh. Point being, you don't really need a plasticizer for the clay you'll be using on this holy grail project as it stands now. Just wanted you to know.
You mentioned in a previous email that this is a lot of work. Well hell yes it is! But... I can't think of a more rewarding project in all of humanity currently. What's surprising to me, even now, is how much effort and work went into learning all the applicable skills to be able to do this. I really do think that's what most people miss about my mission. They seem to be incapable of understanding not just the aspects of how a holy grail functions, but also the spectrum of different qualifications "1" requires to actually produce one. You're definitely getting an up close and personal (rapid succession to boot) direct education in that regard. Do you ever reminisce about our earlier conversations when I would ram home just how much effort was necessary for anyone taking on this burden? I wasn't joking... was I? Nevertheless, you have a remarkable work ethic. Good form, young lady, and thank you for being in a position to understand just how much effort went into this. Everything, was "a lot of work" in my life, and all my other lives for that matter, lol.
Anyways, I was posting on 4chan the other night and got into a discussion about forever chemicals. There were a couple of guys interested if I had any other information, so I went to the video list you made and noticed something that pertains to the project at hand, but evidently I didn't explain it earlier. I watched this video years ago when it first got posted. I used to watch all of this guy's videos as soon as they got posted, actually. I know I've mentioned him before, but I don't think I've directly linked any of his videos to you because I didn't see any on the list. VegOilGuy, or just simply VOG does all kinds of casting stuff. I remembered this one video from a while back when thinking of ways to trim budget for you for this project. It shows an inexpensive way to make a vacuum chamber and manual vacuum pump. Definitely an option worth considering, and after seeing he's not on the list, it'd be nice to see him added. Learned a lot from this guy over the years. Here's the video...
That ought to do it for this email. I've seen an uptick in people looking at my book, but I haven't posted my link in a while. I have posted your links, though. Just curious who's sending people there still. Talk to you later.
February 3 2022 5:16PM
So the mortar needs water in order to be mixed. Then, once the mortar sets, all that water has to be removed before casting. Ball milling the calcium sulfate for 1-2 days seems like an awfully long time, though. It takes that much agitation for it to rehydrate? I've been trying to think of the most efficient setup for this since running a vertical mill for hours on end is a power hog. Maybe a drill set up on a stand, so that the bit can be inserted vertically into the solution. It depends on how big the solution is, though. The amount of solution that a drill can stir might not be much relative to the amount of mortar we are using.
It only takes that long to rehydrate after all of the water has been baked out of it, or it goes through vitrification. This is only applicable for recycling, and if the mortar being recycled has had all free water, and chemically bonded water removed. There is a caveat to this type of procedure, as that rather technical reply I sent you suggested: there's also water added to the ball mill during operation. It's a specific ratio of water to anhydrous CaSO4, or "1 mol of CaSO4 to a half mol of water" as per the reply. I'm assuming the long duration in the ball mill is specifically because the completely anhydrous plaster is very difficult to rehydrate into the hemihydrate state. I'm not a qualified chemist, but it makes sense to me.
As for the ball mill setup, that's another great usage for a Di Pietro engine. Ball mills don't (or shouldn't) run quickly, so they'd be very efficient with a Di Pietro engine. You wouldn't even necessarily have to run the system in a constant state. Since it is a long duration type thing, might be a good system designed to run when excess energy (air pressure) is being released due to maximum capacity in the storage tanks being reached. It could be a passive system in other words. Normally for a hobbyist, ball mills are pretty small, but in the case of recycling mortar, specifically anhydrous plaster, AND for the volume of that type of mortar investment in holy grail manufacturing, a much larger ball mill would be optimal. There's other options, yes, but mortar is ground up into a fine powder, even in the hemihydrate state, so maintaining an enclosure capable of centralizing that powder is important. Another option is a hammer mill. Hammer mills work by pulverizing in a more direct manner, while ball mills use slats/riffles to elevate the lead or iron balls to drop them onto the mortar. I don't know which system would be more efficient to rehydrate anhydrous plaster back into a hemihydrate state, though. One thing I do know is that a ball mill is much more versatile than a hammer mill, and can be used for many applications that don't involve pulverizing the material. "my mechanics" made one from scratch to clean parts with polishing stones that I'm assuming are made from porcelain. And then on the more industrial scale, mbmmllc (Mt Baker Mining and Metals) manufactures, sells, and uses a much more powerful system. If this scaled up version were the applicable choice for the scale of production, I'd suggest setting up this type of system to a direct drive hydro system. Then the energy input could be designed to always run efficiently, no matter the material being processed. This was the basic strategy of all milling operations for hundreds of years before the oil economy came along, and electricity became the standard energy input. Here's some videos to show you what I'm talking about...
The basic strategy is to firstly determine what stage of the mortar you're in. The three stages are anhydrous, which is completely devoid of water, hemihydrate, which is where the plaster has chemically bonded water to the molecules, and dihydrate, where the plaster is in a slurry, or in the process of curing to the hemihydrate state. If the plaster has been vitrified in a kiln, or has undergone an extensive moisture burnout phase, it's anhydrous. That means that the plaster must return to a chemically bonded water state. No other way to do that quickly, other than a ball mill. In nature the process is more subtle, but also more inundating. The thick layers built up in the ground are under pressure, and water submerges those layers repeatedly during storms or floods. Mined gypsum is very rarely (if ever) anhydrous. Usually the first process in a gypsum production plant is to heat the raw material, and remove a certain percentage of water. Then the material is rehydrated to the company's standards and hammer milled to whatever mesh size they're selling. It's a very rapid process. That said, every company differs in some way, and not all gypsum is exactly the same. To the best of my knowledge, however, none of them recycle vitrified molds, nor mine anhydrous gypsum. So... all of this information is important to you, only if, you want to recycle the investment mortar. In reality, if you're not using a carbon neutral source for the energy to power the reclamation ball mill, it's much more economical, efficient, and convenient to buy, or locate the mined gypsum yourself. The energy input to material retention process does favor mining currently, so... as long as the oil economy is still there, it's more economical to locate the hemihydrate gypsum than rein-fuse water to anhydrous gypsum. This is basically just an academic thing for your personal benefit.
That all said, as is the case with most of your questions, you're touching on the subject of clay production. It's essentially the same process, albeit with different materials. Might as well move on to the next process: the ancient method. First, I'll explain the process of clay manufacturing currently because it's relevant to the process of using mortar. Clay is formed in layers just like gypsum. There's thousands of variants to clay, but for our purposes we'll focus on three basic categories: earthen, stoneware, and porcelain. Earthen clay is the most common, is fired for vitrification at the lowest temperature, and used the most frequently because of its abundance. Terracotta is an earthenware product, most pottery, tiles, roof tiles, etc are made from earthen clays. There's a massive range of varieties, but the general composition of these clays is that they're fairly dense, while also relatively light. If you were to dig your own clay from your backyard, more than likely, this is the clay you would produce. It's common because it's a byproduct of granite having gone through formation, tempering, and then being pulverized by upheavals like floods, landslides, volcanic ejections, earthquakes and whatnot. It's essentially the basis of all life on Earth, but that's a different subject... kinda, heh.
Next there's stoneware clays. Again, many different variants numbering in the thousands. Same basic story to its formation as earthen clay, but these clays have a higher vitrification temperature, and they're much more dense. Extremely heavy compared to earthen clay, and much more durable. These types of clays are used for sculptures, generally speaking. They're interchangeable with earthen clay, but the added weight and higher temperature necessary for vitrification makes them less desirable for construction. Even so, the durability does offer more comfort, so most dinnerware, general ceramic usages, and even construction materials like tiles can, and are usually stoneware clay based these days, or are a mixture. Depends really on what era one is researching for the most commonly used clay. For the majority of humanity's most recent interglacial period, the overwhelming majority of usage goes to earthen clay, while the modern society uses mostly stoneware clay. Might be a little confusing, but different eras call for different explanations, and we're talking about the ancient techniques (long before the last cataclysm/interglacial cycle began). Next category of clay is porcelain. Porcelain has a very high vitrification temperature. It's also light, durable, and if made thin enough, it's almost translucent. Porcelain has different minerals added into it like quartz, feldspar and silica, along with the clay base. It's elegant, and easy to work with, but less durable than other clay base ceramics. Technically, all porcelain products are ceramics, but not all ceramics are porcelain. It's also much more expensive to purchase raw because of the additional minerals. The uniformity of particulate size is important to the mixture, so along with the clay base being pulverized to fit screening (which is easy, cheap and fast), the other minerals also have to be pulverized to fit the uniformity (which is not cheap, easy, or fast). Porcelain is known as "fine china" because of the elegant appeal and sheen to the finished product. It's also used as a non conductive insulator. Many professions require porcelain toed boots as an example, because steel is conductive. Anyone working around electricity should use porcelain. Porcelain is also used to insulate the tips of spark plugs for internal combustion engines so the spark doesn't contact the engine body. Durable under high temperature, but not as durable for repeated handling. Most "fine china" should be hand washed with soft towels while ceramics like earthenware and stoneware can be brillo pad scrubbed repeatedly before showing damage. Porcelain is very nice for elegant ceramic usages, but terrible for clay investments. Stoneware is applicable to clay investments, but the higher vitrification temperature and denser formulation also makes it less desirable for clay investments.
A quick note, the word "ware" is referring to ceramics, and glass that has completed the vitrification process and is usable. When I worked in the glass factory we called all finished products ware. Earthen'ware", stone"ware", etc is referring to the manufactured goods, although that's often included in the nomenclature. Earthen clay is just the predecessor of earthenware before vitrification. I thought that me inter changing those terms might cause confusion... but this might help quell that. And now you know how the term "warehouse" came to be, heh. Moving on...
Earthen clays are also more desirable for investment casting strategies because it's an easier substance to work with while relieving the material after the casting is completed. However, molten bronze does increase vitrification at the convergence point of molten metal to clay, so cleaning out the material from a holy grail casting is more difficult than investment refractory mortars due to its lower vitrification temperature. This is why I explained what I explained to you in the hotel room. Your questions were specific to the ancient method, so I was specific in answering them at the time. Given the enormity of your recent dedication, and this particular lesson, hopefully those drawings and conversations will make more sense. Given the tough nature of removing the internal clay investment, the grails the ancients made were much more cylindrical. That's also why they look more cylindrical in the Dendera bulb depictions. It was simply easier to widen the opening to the bulb during casting and clean out the clay investment, THEN refine the opening to a more narrow opening after the fact. Do the tools I drew for you and the refinement strategy make more sense now? Hope so. Anyways, you building a grail by yourself, as opposed to hundreds of "us" building a 20 foot tall grail using the ancients' materials and workforce is drastically different. The investment materials play a part in that, not just in manufacturing capabilities to scale, but also refinement strategies. The lost foam and lost wax method I've been explaining are designed to be useful directly after casting with minimal refinement. The grails of old were cast knowing refinement was necessary... and clay investments were a major reason why. Another reason why those grails were less tapered and more cylindrical was because of the wall thickness of the bulb. A 20 foot tall grail requires a much thicker wall than a 2 foot tall grail. A 3/16" thick wall on a 20 foot tall grail would cause a problem for removing the clay investment. There would be unrepairable damage just removing the clay. There would also be warping and concaving during transport and refinement. So while these two strategies; mortar investment, and clay investment are essentially the same in strategic terms, scale matters, and trying to use a clay investment on the scale of the mortar investment I just explained in detail, are not interchangeable. Make sense?
In the ancient times, the giants taught us where to locate the proper clay, and mine it. There's denser quarries with minimal refinement from mineral inclusions, and this was one of the first lessons our creators taught us. These days the process is much more technical in scope. Mined clay sources are heated up and dried in a tumbler. Next the mixture is separated in a similar way to winnowing chaff from wheat. Air pressure is forced upward in a column. The dried material separates with the smaller, lighter clay particles floating upwards into a collection level, while the heavier minerals like silica, quartz, metals, etc, fall away from the clay. In ancient times that wasn't a necessary process, but in this society where chemical precision is desired for a plethora of reasons, this is the current process for refining clay before using it. Unlike the anhydrous dilemma with gypsum, clay is recycled simply by pulverizing it again after vitrification. The chemical bond of a hemihydrate state does not exist with clay, but... vitrification requires a pulverizing to a fine powder in order to become viable for sculpting once again. Clay is definitely more versatile than gypsum from a chemistry and recycling perspective. Nevertheless, our creators taught these basic concepts to us of how to locate, mine, construct, manufacture, and recycle clay. Similar to how modern society does these things, but less intricate because of the usage strategies.
The same basic concept of creating the "first investment" was done with clay. The major difference being that the bearing plate was made of stone. The clay was molded to the internal (but more cylindrical in appearance) shape, and allowed to reach the "bone dry" state. That's where the clay has essentially air dried completely. Normally this created cracks and blemishes. Filling in those blemishes is exactly the same process as it would be using mortar. You simply add more hydrated clay, and refine the shape. You do this until the entire first investment structure is smooth and solid, while also bone dry. Next came the beeswax. Same strategy as the mortar procedure for adding wax. Just melt it in a pot (in the ancients' time these pots were also ceramic) and pour it over the investment, and/or brush it on until the desired thickness is achieved. Then the flute was welded using wax at the apex (or, after the pyramid was completed, a "knob"). Next came the gating which during the ancient times was very minimal due to the much more increased wall thickness of the grails of that era. Basically just one cope, possibly two, that was removed after completion. I do not recall seeing any "string vent" type shapes in the gating during my realization. It just wasn't necessary. The inverter mechanism was made using felled trees formed into a tripod on both sides. Then the flask was built with the inverter shafts integrated, and the flask was then sealed externally with beeswax. The second investment process used what's referred to today as "slip." It's the same exact clay, but with much more water added to make it more of a slurry. The second investment was then poured into the flask and allowed to dry until it too was bone dry. After it was dried, the flask was inverted, stone bearing plate and all, and set atop stones to allow the wax to drain.
Next, a quick and simple kiln was constructed around the flask that was also made of clay bricks. The firing of this stage did not get very hot. Just hot enough to melt the wax out. After the wax was melted out, the kiln structure was removed, and the flask was inverted with the flute pointed upwards once more. Then the flask wood and tripods were deconstructed. A newer, much more insulated and beefier kiln was constructed around the investment. The vitrification process followed after the kiln was dried, then the pour immediately followed. The cast grail was given several days to cool off. When it was cooled down, the clay was cleaned off, the grail was moved to the refinement area, and the final shaping and tuning took place. That process took days to complete. Everything was very large, very hot, and precision oriented, while the actual casting process was more elementary; almost sloppy in comparison. And that's how the ancients were taught to make holy grails. I do hope that our conversation in the hotel makes more sense to you now. Certainly, the pictures I drew do, heh... hopefully. You can't imagine the time I've put in trying to find a video that shows anything remotely close to this casting strategy, but this is the best one I could find. It's sorta somewhat like what I've just explained... and also shows the processing of malachite into copper. Best I have been able to find so far.
Now, the later period of time where hieroglyphs and pictographs were made had very similar elements, but when multiple plates were necessary, as I explained when making vertical etches on walls already constructed, there was a molding process. Making exact pictograph plates is a fairly simple concept. First a wax plate is made by making an external clay dam in the shape of a rectangle, melting wax, and pouring it into the area. So you just have a thick, wax block roughly 2' x 3' and about an inch thick. Once it's cooled and solidified, the cay is removed from the perimeter and the sides are squared. Next the artist carves the imagery in the wax. After that's complete, another dam is made of clay around the perimeter of the refined wax plate, a couple of inches taller than the wax. Then slip clay is poured over the wax filling up the dammed area. The clay is allowed to dry over several days. When bone dry, the clay portion is removed from the setup, fired until vitrification is completed, and then you have a negative mold where several beeswax plates can be made, exactly the same. Sometimes several plates of wax were cast from this negative clay mold, then cast in bronze in case the plate got damaged during etching and the precision was necessary to convey the message. Not that it really helped for 36,000 years due to humanity's arrogance and general stupidity, lol, but that was the logic. Making negative molds is a very well known process, but in modern settings the general material of choice is usually silicone rubber. Here's a video to get you closer to the mark of understanding so you can see it instead of just reading it...
Although this was a 3D object, and he's using a drier clay, then constructing the mold out of silicone, that's the basic strategy of making a negative mold. This process can also be completed after the first bronze plate is cast. Same idea. You just build up a clay dam around the perimeter of the bronze plate, fill it in with slip clay, wait for it to dry completely, remove it, vitrify the new negative clay mold, then use it to pour as many wax plates as you desire. They'll be exact replicas of the original. So... does all of this make sense?
On that note, I made a blog post yesterday. For now, it's just in the main archive.
I read it. I understand the frustration in not knowing how to be succinct and properly chronological with the overall scope of this mission. Imagine my mental state during the first few days of this mission with my wife and her dad. I've spoken to you a lot about extremely technical, highly involved, and prototypical knowledge. It's taken quite a while, but you've been receptive and enthusiastic to learn. Even still, it still takes a lot of time to properly convey how things are done, as well as why they're done. It didn't take long to understand that in those early days, neither my wife nor father in law really wanted to understand what I was trying to explain. Their questions bounced around between the why and how categories, and although they seemed to be trying to learn, in reality all they were really trying to do was catch me in a lie, or otherwise search for some sort of "gotcha" statement where they could prove to themselves that I was just pretending or making everything up. When that's the focus of investigation, nothing sticks, and repeating topics already explained is the norm. Extremely frustrating, wasteful and unnecessary. There's a lot to understand, and trying to form it all for anyone who relies on arrogance and ego to navigate life's obstacles is a living nightmare. I don't really know what to tell you to improve your ability for encapsulating the information better than I could with my book, or our many conversations. All I can say is I understand how overwhelming the task is, and more so why it's overwhelming. The information is not really the problem... the people you're trying to explain the information to, are. What's worse is almost all of them will blame you for not being able to teach them in the manner they've grown accustomed to. You will be the problem in their eyes. Welcome to my world, heh. All I can say is I've tried breaking through ego armor in every way I can think of, but evidently I'm only really effective when people want to understand, like you. The "broadcaster" position in this mission is foriegn to me for those reasons. I can only hope you're able to be successful where I wasn't. You're definitely a better writer than me, but I fear it's not an issue of how I or you write. The listeners have the decision to make ultimately. I'm very much so looking forward to seeing your thesis on everything that's been explained either way. Let's just hope others are equally as enthusiastic.
I see that you wrote another email just now so I'm going to wrap this one up and get to reading it. Apologies for the haphazard nature of the ancient method instructions, but I figured you'd be able to relate a lot of the information to the lost wax method I just finished. Feel free to have me clarify anything that seems confusing. Talk to you later.
February 7 2022 5:17AM
Making a ball mill:
Yes, ma'am. That's the basic premise of what I was explaining about the molding of the handles. Although that particular procedure is more so for making a two part mold. There's lots of uses for that type of mold. Sometimes those are made of metal for large scale production, and other times those molds are made of plaster for slip casting. That's an interesting process because the plaster mold is filled with slip, then the slip is allowed to dry for a couple of hours by leaching the water from a layer into the plaster itself. After a certain amount of time, the rest of the slip is poured out and left behind is a hollow sculpture that then gets demolded and vitrified. Those molds can be very complex with three or more sections to pick up all the details of under hangs or other awkward surfaces in the sculpture. I'm pretty sure, but can't remember exactly, that the molds I was describing for your handles were a 1 piece system. Fairly simple. You just cut into the silicone to release the casting, or just push it out after it's cured without having to cut into it. I'll show you a couple of examples to explain what I'm talking about.
And I'll include the my mechanics "ultra professional" style. You're right, he does make everything look easy, heh. He does the tire molds at 10:26, and the handle molds at 25:50 if you don't want to watch the whole thing. This is one of my favorites of his because he really goes above and beyond on this one. I can't imagine he used the handle molds for anything other than this one project, but even so, he made extremely nice aluminum molds. Very impressive, although excessively wasteful. Just the broaching of the riffles is exceptional alone, but to go to that amount of effort for two handles is just... wow. He also nickle plates the original chrome handle bars. Just the reservoir for that alone is professional.
My Mechanics makes everything look easy, though. Would a similar setup to his (with the electricity replaced) be viable for recycling mortar, or would a metal tumbler be more appropriate?
It really depends on how versatile you want your ball mill to be. You could always make two different versions; one for flammable material and one for inert materials, but that more so depends on budget. There's a give and take for either method no matter which direction you go. Ball mills for cleaning parts (like the one in the my mechanics video) are very similar to a ball mill made for flammable material. The sidewalls of the vessel are smooth meaning that the media/balls do not fall from the top of the mill in a crushing motion. They more so roll on top of the other balls, so it's not as violent. The tank is also made of material that absorbs impact from the media. Much less rigid. In the my mechanics video it's a plastic barrel. That setup is essential for making materials like gun powder or thermite. You want to minimize the opportunity for sparks. On the other hand, it takes much longer with that type of system to pulverize recycled gypsum or clay that's been vitrified. It can still accomplish the goal, but it's also going to take much longer than a more rigid ball mill. Rigid ball mills use steel balls as opposed to lead balls, which are favorable for flammable material. Steel is much more prone to sparking than lead. In the rigid setup where sparking is not a concern, there's slats installed along the steel drum. As the slats rotate through the media as the ball mill rotates, they pick up the balls and drop them onto the material from the top of the barrel. That's great for recycling gypsum or clays, but extremely dangerous for anything flammable. You would save a lot of time in the recycling process if you made a steel drum ball mill with slats, that used large heavy steel balls, but you'd only be capable of processing inert materials. Lots of metallic ore is processed that way as an example outside of the materials we're discussing. There's many uses for them, just not for flammable stuff. This all said, it'd be very easy to make the ball mill capable of swapping barrels. So you don't really have to make two complete setups, as long as the barrels are interchangeable. Keep in mind that these barrels full of media, water, and materials being processed are going to be extremely heavy, but it's possible. Chain hoist, forklift, mobile gantry crane, etc. Something like that will have to be included if you're planning on making the barrels interchangeable. That type of setup also creates a dilemma for a direct drive system. My vision of a direct drive system is to have a mandrel, or drivetrain shaft connecting the power source directly to the barrel. That's the most efficient system, but that's rarely if ever used today. The my mechanics video doesn't have direct drive for example. It's set up to a gearbox (transmission) that's rotating a shaft with wheels on it that actually spin the barrel. There's a loss of power there at every transference: gears, shaft, wheels, and all bearings are using part of the input energy. A direct drive system has essentially zero loss, but it's also more dangerous. Direct drive systems only stop when the power source itself stops, and the kinetic energy inherent from the weight of the system balances out. A ball mill full of media, material and water being driven directly from a water wheel will not just stop on a dime if something happens. There's a lot of inertia there. All factors to consider with a question like this. So, before I can really answer it honestly, I need to know how versatile you want the ball mill to be. Here's a couple of examples of making flammable material. I like this guy. He's funny. Been watching him for a while now.
This is him making gun powder from various different types of carbon inputs. His ball mill is small but similar to the type used by my mechanics. He also makes safety a priority by setting up the actuator remotely and enclosing the ball mill with a box in case of an explosion.
Here's the previous video of him using pyrolysis to convert the willow wood into charcoal to be processed in the ball mill. Not really relevant to this discussion, but I thought you might want to see it. He uses a paint can and vents the syngas directly back into the fire. That's one way to do it...
And here's him making the ball mill.
And just for fun, because I'm guessing you're wondering about it after I mentioned it, here he is making some rudimentary thermite. Keep in mind that his iron oxide and powdered aluminium is not proper processed or rationed for the optimal thermite reaction, but it's the basic premise.
Ball mills with slats are rarely used anymore, so I couldn't find a video for an example. The general idea now is to equate the RPM optimal speed for centrifugal force to raise the media/balls high enough along the barrel wall so that slats are unnecessary. I've seen slats in a ball mill in person, but not on any videos. While searching for one, I did see this example, which is technically a ball mill, but should actually be called a "tube mill" because it doesn't rotate. Instead it uses vibration to jostle the balls. It's interesting so I thought I'd add it for you, but this is more of an ore processor. I don't think it'd be relevant to recycling clay or plaster.
“As for the ancient grail production method, that's interesting that they construct kilns on the spot.”
Oh yeah, that's easy and fast. You could build a a kiln your height, by yourself in a day. With a few dozen workers you could build something very large quickly. And the building materials are all easily recycled right on the spot. Building, tearing down, then rebuilding again, especially out of clay is fast. It also explains why there's no real evidence left behind of the actual toolmaking procedure during that era. The bronze would all corrode away in just a few years, and for the kilns, a couple of rainstorms and they'd transform right into mud and get swept away by natural erosion. Here's an example of how quick it is to build something like that...
He starts building the kiln at 6:39. The rest of the video is interesting because he's making that kiln for iron smelting. The other videos in this series are interesting, too. Gathers rocks, heats them, crushes them, and processes the ore. Then later makes tools for forging other tools that he builds a dam and water wheel with. But yeah, building anything out of clay is very easy and fast.
This guy has been around for a while. He's really the first to start making these kinds of videos, then all the Chinese guys copied. This kiln was made to smelt iron without bellows. He calls it a "natural draft furnace." This should show you how easy the process is though, even if you're doing it all by yourself.
Well, I better wrap it up. Hopefully the drive wasn't too slippery and you're home safe.
February 7 2022 6:25PM
Found one... The guys put slats in their ball mill.
February 8 2022 2:51PM
There was an interesting video on the suggestion list that I thought you might enjoy. The first half of it is the process of constructing molds of different varieties, and casting a cannon made of gun metal bronze. He makes several mistakes, but is man enough to document them and explain why they failed. Most people would try to hide that. It also shows how difficult it is to pour a casting of that size (roughly 60 lbs), using conventional hand tools from a foundry. I realize that you don't have much applicable experience doing these kinds of things, but I also have seen that when you see something for yourself, you get a better idea about the complexity of what I'm explaining. There's almost every type of failure in this video that I've tried to warn against, including the lifting mechanism that I built on my own foundry. The vertical orientation of the mold is also shown... after watching this poor guy fail trying to circumvent that. Additionally, although I don't really consider this a failure in this video, he shows that making a solid billet casting, then machining the internal shape is very difficult... and he was making a cylindrical hole. We've done a lot of talking about these things in regards to casting a holy grail, but this is by far the best video footage I've been able to find that shows anything remotely close. Plus it has real impact due to the failures accumulated by trying to cut corners. All the different warnings I've given are in this in one way or another. He even tries a dry greensand lost foam method. This is an important video to watch, and I don't usually say that. It has the ability to sway someone away from trying to take the easy route and cut corners. There's a reason why I've explained what I've explained about casting a holy grail, but as you know, I just didn't have the budget to show it on video. This, as far as I'm concerned, is the next best thing.