Fascinatin' Stuff - Things You Absolutely Need to Know!
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
The Bull Ant, genus Myrmecia Gulosa, is a large aggressive ant found in almost all parts of Australia. It varies in length from 1/2" (12mm) to up to 1" (25mm) in length. The ant pictured is a Red Bull Ant, typical of the species. The adult ants primarily eat nectar and honeydew, while the juvenile ants may also eat small insects.
The Bull Ant has superior vision, and can see and track objects from 3' or 1 metre away. They have a powerful sting in the tail and the large pincers can lock onto prey. The sting is painful to humans, and the bite from the pincers can also be quite painful. There is an antidote available for the sting, as it has been known to cause death in persons allergic to the venom. The sting of a bull ant is not barbed and does not remain in the victim, unlike the sting of a bee. The bull ant can sting again and again.
Bull Ants usually live underground in a large nest. The entrance to the nest mound is usually guarded by one or two soldier guards. We have some large nests of these ants quite close to the factory.
BullAnts of the Hollywood Foundry kind are not nearly as aggressive, their sting is usually only administered once, at the purchase stage. However they can be quite a lot larger than their Bull Ant cousins, and also come in a range of sizes. You may notice the similarity to our logo ant, although for some strange reason, he seems to have lost a pair of legs and the huge pincers.
Well, contrary to what most citizens of Los Angeles believe, Hollywood is not a particularly American name, and certainly is not limited to the US of A. We live on a small farm in rural Victoria, a southern state of Australia. The property is a 10 acre farm set up for horses. The name of the property is Hollywood Farm, and actually pre-dates the Hollywood in LA in terms of its naming.
Hollywood Farm is located alongside the main Gippsland Railway line in Victoria, a line that features fast passenger services by Bombardier DMUs and large freight trains servicing the pulp and paper industry. In the above photograph, the railway line is approximately 40' behind the photographer.
As the property already had the Hollywood name, we decided to incorporate the name into the company name, and as railway products used to be created in foundries, this gave the second part of the name. The above photograph shows the view from the top end of the property. The area is mostly grazing of dairy herds, but you can faintly see the beginnings of the Great Dividing Range in the distance.
If you would like to know where we are, this link takes you to the Google Map reference HERE. We are the property in the centre of the picture. Our geographical co-ordinates, for those of you who might like to lob a missile on us, are: -38.089504, 145.659463. That should hit about the centre of the paddock, right where the single conifer tree is in the picture above. Ha ha, missed!
All BullAnts, and other products, are hand made by one person, me.
There is no factory full of sweat shop workers or low paid immigrants, just me. I am the embodiment of the single self-exploited-employee. And the boss is a right bastard!
The products are assembled at either of two work-stations. The primary station has a Sherline CNC equipped mill to drill the required holes in the brass spine section.
The first job is to cut the brass 'C' shaped spine section to length. You can see the stock of 'C' section brass in the holder on the left of the bench. We usually have about 400 feet of this in stock.
The spine is cut to length on a Proxxon saw that has been attached to a compound table. The table has an accurate steel rule attached to the front to set the correct length. This is adjusted so that the wheelbase is selected on the scale, then the brass 'C' section is slid into the jaws of the vise up to the heavy brass stop. This then sets the correct length.
The spine section is then transferred to the Sherline mill for drilling. A specially designed jaw has been constructed for the mill vise to hold the spine in the correct position. The drill is a 1.4mm solid carbide drill, and it sits in a cup in the top of a datum peg on the cross slide. This datum sets the rest position very accurately so that all measurements can be precisely taken from the datum.
The mill is controlled by a PC under the desk, with a touchscreen interface, to avoid the necessity of having a keyboard or mouse on the work bench. All holes are automatically drilled by specifying how many axles and what the wheelbase is between each axle.
A BullAnt consists, on average, of 42 parts for a standard 2 axle version, 53 for a 3 axle version. All these parts are stocked, along with a large selection of parts for variations, different wheel sizes and other models like the In-Line, Gozunder and LoBoy. In all, there are near to 250 items that need to be kept in stock, part of the selection shown in the right hand photograph.
The most common parts are contained in a stack of drawers so they can be drawn on quickly. The BullAnts are assembled on a table with a polythene surface and a low wooden fence around it to prevent parts being lost.
The wheels are assembled using a watchmakers press that has been modified for the job and a set of special jigs and tools. Cylindrical wheel gauges are made up for all the most common track gauges to set the correct back-to-back measurements.
A soldering station is set up at the second work-station. There is a temperature controlled iron, plus a resistance soldering unit and a hot-air rework unit. All three devices are used in the assembly of BullAnts and their cousins. The resistance soldering unit is particularly helpful when attaching fixed bolsters to the spine, and the hot-air tool is great for soldering small bearings in place, as you do not have to touch the item during the process.
The second work-station performs final assembly, lubrication and any of the dirty work. A North West Short Line Sensi-Press is used to force the worms onto the lay shafts, again with special jigs used.
A standard 2 axle BullAnt takes approximately 30 minutes to make test and package, 3 axle versions longer.
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