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Thread: Custom Flange Fabricator

  1. #1
    Cameron Cornell
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    Oct 2016
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    Washington State
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    Custom Flange Fabricator

    I am in need of a new flange to fit a brass 13" Wollensak Vitax. If you read my thread earlier this month about polishing brass lenses, well, this is the same lens. The flange that came with this lens was billed as the original, but it only threads easily about half way down before becoming very difficult, or jamming. I have carefully cleaned and then lubricated the threads with a tiny bit of Molykote G-N, but the problem has persisted. There are no visible problems with the threads on either the lens or the flange.

    OK. So SK Grimes, right? That's fine. But are there any other shops out there that also do this work? I had SK Grimes fabricate a custom flange for my 16" Vitax (I seem to have bad luck with Vitax flanges), and the flange they made is perfect. The only downside was that it cost almost $200 and they took ten weeks to do the work. I have sent emails to eight local machine shops, but so far I've gotten six rejections, mostly due (apparently) to the one-off nature of the job.

    I'd appreciate any thoughts on other companies I might check with before sending this off to SK Grimes. I would like to shoot with this lens before July if at all possible.

    Cameron Cornell
    Washington State

  2. #2
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Custom Flange Fabricator

    One of my several experiences with SK Grimes was when Steve was alive. I sent him an old brass lens for which he made a flange. His work replicated the subtle taper of the lens-to-flange typical of the era, something no typical contemporary machinist would know how to do.

    Today the company is largely of his well informed apprentices, who are now masters. Write to them. They respond eventually. I have never been disappointed with their work for my later needs.
    .

  3. #3
    ghostcount's Avatar
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    Re: Custom Flange Fabricator

    3L Machine Shop
    Larry Linville
    37635 River Road
    Lebanon, OR 97355-8900
    (541) 258-6602
    "Sex is like maths, add the bed, subtract the clothes, divide the whoo hoo and hope you don't multiply." - Leather jacket guy

  4. #4
    Les
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    Re: Custom Flange Fabricator

    Cameron, if you come to Seattle sometimes....we can go to "my" machinist. He's pretty fast 2-3-5 days. Now, if he has to do this in brass....the cost (no doubt) will go up. Hmmm, can't put any bets on it, but certainly he's pretty reasonable. Having a brass piece in hand, however, will likely make a difference in final price.

    He might be willing to send this item back to you (?)...and if not, I can intervene and drop it off at PO or UPS.

    Les

  5. #5
    RedGreenBlue's Avatar
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    Re: Custom Flange Fabricator

    Three years ago I stopped by a machine shop in town that advertised custom work. I brought in my Vitax lens and a sample large flange as a visual aid. The owner/operator agreed to give it a shot. He handed it off to his apprentice. To keep the price down I agreed to have it turned out of aluminum. He quoted $200 and when I went to pick it up a week later he mentioned they under bid it, but kept to his quote.

    Here's a photo I took at the time of the flange mounted on the lens. He did a perfect job. I was happy. I'm not sure if he would give me such a good deal again though.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #6
    Cameron Cornell
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    Re: Custom Flange Fabricator

    Thank you, fellows- that is all really helpful. Leszek, I'm going to send you a message in regard to your contact in Seattle.

  7. #7
    Les
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    Re: Custom Flange Fabricator

    Quote Originally Posted by Cameron Cornell View Post
    Thank you, fellows- that is all really helpful. Leszek, I'm going to send you a message in regard to your contact in Seattle.
    Just responded to your note twice....and finally (third time the charm) succeeded. The system seem to be out to lunch.

    Les

  8. #8

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    Re: Custom Flange Fabricator

    It is a horrid fact of life that getting a commercial company to make flanges is always going to cost 200 + or ++ dollars.

    Cutting a large internal thread (not always a modern standard) is going to take quite some time and needs a skilled operator.
    The only way to get the price down is contact with an amateur who is looking for a change/challenge for his lathe and skills!
    Or someone with a lathe which has a dedicated set-up for exactly this sort of work, which is probably what Grimes, mentioned here, have.

  9. #9

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    Re: Custom Flange Fabricator

    Quote Originally Posted by Cameron Cornell View Post
    ...., but it only threads easily about half way down before becoming very difficult, or jamming........



    Cameron Cornell
    Washington State
    If you can screw half way in, then the solution is to use a "cutting compound" rather than a lubricant! The thread must be quite near a reasonable to get this far. Apply engine value grinding paste to the thread and screw in and out for a couple of hours, whilst doing something like watching the news from Washington or London. I always put stickers on the two parts so that I can see progress small progress each time. Do not screw with too much force or it can jam.

    You won't change the thread on the lens enough to make later use of genuine flange impossible.

  10. #10
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Custom Flange Fabricator

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post
    If you can screw half way in, then the solution is to use a "cutting compound" rather than a lubricant! The thread must be quite near a reasonable to get this far. Apply engine value grinding paste to the thread and screw in and out for a couple of hours, whilst doing something like watching the news from Washington or London. I always put stickers on the two parts so that I can see progress small progress each time. Do not screw with too much force or it can jam.

    You won't change the thread on the lens enough to make later use of genuine flange impossible.
    This changes the threads slightly on both lens and flange. This might cause problems for someone many years in the future.

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