Dueling 6000s January 24, 2021
Last week, we lucked into an accidental experiment. Mike Rollins was at Tranquilo providing tournament support. They have their six year old 6000 with a lot of use and Mike had his almost new demo unit. One of the bed knives they were grinding was out about .016 inches from end to end. So they took the bed knife to the other grinder where it was out by .007 inches. I suggested they needed to make sure there was no dust under the v-support. That changed the readings to .009 and .016. Still to much difference. Next we looked at the pivot bolts they were using and they were pretty chewed up. Mike replaced them with the ones from his van and like magic, both grinders showed a .013 inch variation from end to end. The lessons learned from this are that if you want to be as precise as possible, you need to keep things clean and make sure your precision surfaces are good. It does not take much, as you just saw, to create an erroneous measurement when you are concerned with a couple of thousandths.
This reminded me of a tech that used to work for me when I was in the biomedical industry. We had a special pair of cutters that cost about $500 and were used by surgeons to snip a hole in the side of a vein during surgery. We had it for cutting side holes in polyurethane tubing that we used to make prototype catheters. This tech decided he was going to use them as wire cutters. The steel for these pliers was soft so they could easily be reground. Guess what happened. It put a big nick in the cutting edge. That was bad enough, but after seeing the damage, the tech did not stop but made about a dozen more cuts which trashed the pliers.
The difference in these two situations in that the folks at Tranquilo saw something that did not make sense and tried to figure out what was going on. The lab tech I had continued on fat, dumb and happy (literally) and ruined a $500 tool.
Missing You January 19, 2021
The only thing I will miss about not having to go to GIS is seeing old friends. I mean let’s be honest. The trade show was mostly just a big social gathering and a mighty expensive one at that. With Larry and Mike doing all of the demos and training, I don’t get out much any more, which is one of the reasons I have been negligent about writing this blog. I do not have much material. But this week, we are doing tournament support for Tranquilo Golf Club as they host the LPGA Tour's Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions where I was able to hook up with a couple of old friends and Mike Kriz, the guy who publicly humiliated me. I guess that will have to do for this year.
Mustang Revival January 11, 2021
About a year a go Karl, my son, realized that his 1966 Mustang was not a good daily driver event though he added air conditioning, disc brakes, shoulder belts, 2 barrel carburetor, headers, dual exhaust and, or course, a good radio. He wanted to buy a new Ford F150 but we figured out it was 2 inches too long for the garage. The Ram 1500 was short enough so we went to the dealer with the intention of buying that day. But first, we had to drive it home to make sure it did fit in the garage. It dit fit but by the time we got back to the dealer, he did not want it. Probably his biggest objection is that even with the two wheel drive truck, you needed a step ladder to get in or out. His Mom would not be able to do this. So he settled on an almost a truck Ford Flex. It can haul 7 people or a lot of cargo and it is not a minivan.
When he went to drive his Mustang one weekend, the battery was dead and it would not take a charge. He was so busy with managing SIP and going to school that his beloved Mustang just sat there. So for Christmas, Santa got him an Optima battery, a CTEK battery maintainer, a battery isolation switch, and the Evans waterless coolant system. Santa got all of these because Jay Leno endorses them, without compensation. The only problem is that these gifts have created more work for Karl.
I have been very publicly humiliated (Mike) for not keeping up with this blog and I am truly ashamed. If you want to hear this public humiliation, go to Stephen Tucker’s Turf Addict Pod Cast.
It has been hard to keep it up primarily because of COVID. I worked from home for most of the time since this started. Even now, I only go in three days a week and work from home the rest of the time. Also, I am not traveling much any more since Mike Rollins has taken over as Eastern Regional Manager. But as a new year’s resolution, I will try to do better. It might help if you sent me some ideas you would like me to research or else I can share some of my favorite recipes.
Seriously, you should go and listen to Stephen’s pod cast. He does a really nice job. And have a Happy New Year, It has got to be better than the last one.
Sneak Preview November 8, 2020
You make suggestions and we listen. THE RHOC reel height of cut gauge is one of our most popular products which means we get a lot of feed back on it, almost all very positive. But anything can be improved so keep a close eye on this column to see what we have in store.
Finally II October 24, 2020
When we bought our building about 15 years ago, the back two thirds had tenants so we had the put everything in the first two bays, about 6,000 square feet. To make it work, we put all the raw materials and the saws in the center of the machine shop. We then put the welding, paint and press break in the assembly area. About 12 years ago, one tenant moved out and we were able to spread out. The welding and saws were moved to the back bay which is about 5,000 square feet while painting and shipping were moved to the middle bay, another 2,000 square feet. We did not, however, move the paint booth because it would be a major project which would also require new wiring. Well last week, our painter, Joe, was all caught up so Karl decided “Now is the time”. This week, he completely disassembled the booth and started pressure washing it. It will be reassembled in the paint bay where new wiring will be installed and the ducting relocated. We will also remove all the old fluorescent lights and replace and add LEDs. Not only will this improve our efficiency and work flow but it will also make a lot more room in the assembly area. Now all we have to do is move the press break but since that will require hiring riggers, it will have to wait.
Back to Normal? October 14, 2020
I am still trying to get back in the groove of doing a weekly blog and I am not quite there yet. I have spent the last week going to the office everyday instead of quarantining at home. We have implemented the new data base and are doing parallel entry into it and the old data base. I need to make more fixes than I had hoped so I have been busy doing that all week.
Meanwhile, Larry and Mike are back on the road again. Larry is mostly back in his same routine and really doesn’t have to worry too much about travel restrictions except in California. Mike is planning his first major solo demo trip for the end of the month. He is hampered a little by travel restrictions in the North East but does have a couple of trips planned. In the mean time, he spent two weeks at Eastlake providing tournament support for the Tour Championship. That’s John Patterson from Atlanta Athletic Club also providing support using Mike’s demo machines they unloaded from his truck, while the competitors’ machines sat idle for the whole time. It sounded like every one from the general manager to the PGA rep was happy with the course improvement as a result of using our grinders. While this was a step towards normalcy, the lack of spectators shows that we are not there yet.
Last week, Mike went to a field day sponsored by our local dealer, Everglades Equipment. That went really well. It was well attended with people in and out of the van all morning, a great lunch, and a round of golf in the afternoon. I guess there was some bar hopping that night, but Mike chickened out.
Heee's Back October 7, 2020
I know it has been a while since I posted here and for that I truly apologize. I have been working feverishly on finishing our AM6 Database. Just to bring everyone up to speed, I have been using Filemaker for about twenty years for our production control software, which includes, Vendors, Purchase Orders, Customers, Sales Orders, Invoices, Employees, Time Tracking (missing from any affordable off the shelf software), Inventory and Work Orders. We used an off the shelf accounting software for everything else. This required us to double enter a lot of information so about six years ago, I rewrote the software to include all accounting functions including payroll which makes Melissa much more efficient.
About two years ago, Filemaker decided to deprecate the peer to peer sharing of a database and will require the use of a dedicated server running their server software. This is a good thing because it provides a more bullet proof system with better security and backup protocols, plus they. provide it for free with a multiuser license. The downside is that I had to rewrite the software to work properly on the server. I decided to rewrite the whole thing again to make it more bullet proof and to make it faster. And I think I have finally achieved that. Last week, I finished the data base and today I finished the first testing phase. I have been doing this from home primarily because of Covid but also, I get fewer interruptions. Tomorrow, I will go out the office and begin the process of updating all of the computers and installing AM6. Once everything is installed, we will be running parallel systems until we are confident everything is working properly. As I do that, I should start going to the office on a more regular basis. I am not sure that I am needed there anymore because Karl, Melissa and Mike seem to be getting along fine without me.
Special Projects July 27, 2020
Yes, I know. I missed a week again, and for that I am truly sorry. As you may know, I have been working on my Accounting for Manufacturing Database in Filemaker and I am working on the last module, Inventory. This is probably the second most complex module after payroll and it requires a lot of concentration. I hope to finish it in about two weeks and then I can start testing and debugging, which should take another two weeks. Then the real fun starts when I bring it on line.
In the mean time back at the shop, we are working on several special projects. The problem is when business is good and you can afford these projects, you are too busy. When business is slow, like it is now, you have plenty of time but no money. So we pick the projects that give us the most bang for the buck. We have a strip along the road which is maintained irregularly by the county. A few years back, we tried putting in some plants but the county just mowed them down and the weeds grew back up. This time, we did it right with weed barrier, mulch and shrubs. I think we probably still need to put up a “Do Not Mow” sign. We also repaired the chain post with a much bigger foundation. People come to the back of our building where it is dark and dump their trash. The last time, some one drove into the chain and pulled the post from the ground. If they do it again, it should cause a lot more damage to their vehicle. The last improvement project is repainting the block on our building for probably the first time in 40 years. Joe, our painter, has taken on the task and is doing a great job using rollers and brushes. We initially thought we were going to have to buy a sprayer but after only a week, he is half way done.
We also have some special projects for new and improved products but I can’t tell you about them yet.
Backup your backup of your backup. July 7, 2020
The three most important things to remember in real estate is location, location and location. The three most important things to remember on your computer is backup, backup and backup. As you might remember, I have been working on a major update to our database which controls all aspects of our company. My primary motivation for doing this was that the software was going to require a dedicated server and server software. The second reason was that Karl, my son, had his computer crash frequently when ever he was entering work orders. I initially thought that it was a problem with the way I had programmed it but, as you may also remember, it turned out to be a bad ethernet cable. Last week, I started working on the Work Order Module and, while I knew there were some problems, I did not realize how bad it was. Out of 14 years of data, only the last two months were not corrupted. I spent two days looking at the backups I had. No one backup had all of the data so I had to restore from four different backups, the first was a 2018 year end backup and the other three were from Time Machine’s incremental backups. Once I had identified those backups, it took me about a day to make a copy of the file with good data. That file was out of sync with our regular file by a couple of days but it only took about 15 minutes to update the regular file. Now our file is completely restored and I don’t feel anal about having so many backups. A few weeks ago, I told you I had 16 different backups. One of those backups is Time Machine which automatically makes hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months. The oldest backups are deleted when the backup disk is full. I have also added a separate weekly back up schedule so instead of 16 backups, I will have as many as 67 plus the incremental Time Machine backup. After what I went through last week, that doesn’t seem excessive.
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