First Time Stabilizing - The Excitement is Mounting!

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egnald

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Greetings from Nebraska,

The title pretty much says it all - I have my trial batch of blanks (Redwood and Walnut) in my new stabilizing rig under vacuum with Cactus Juice. Prior I had dried them in my toaster oven at 220F for about 24 hours, then vacuum sealed them in bags while they were still hot. They have been under vacuum for about 30 minutes now and the foam that started out has now reduced to beer bubbles. I'm hoping it subsides by bedtime tonight (7 or 8 hours from now) so I can let the soaking process commence.

Regards,
Dave

Addendum: Disaster struck shortly after this post. The lid imploded (details in a later post)

Stabilizng Test 1 - 29-Jul-2020.png
 
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egnald

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Disaster Struck at 4:20 - the lid imploded. Still going to let the blanks soak for a few days and cure them. Time to get a new lid (and figure out if I did something wrong). Was I supposed to keep a controlled leak going or something or was it just a faulty lid maybe? - Dave

PS it was a 10-inch diameter, 1/2-inch thick plexiglass. (At least I am assuming it was plexiglass, perhaps Lexan, but I didn't think Lexan would break like that. Can anyone suggest a quality replacement lid?

Stabilizing Test Implosion.png
 

howsitwork

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David

I too have had a lid implode very good for rapid bowel movement , not so good for the nerves ! I question whether the lid is polycarbonate (?) as mine was acrylic and broke in the same way. Any evidence of etching of the plastic by the cactus juice? I was using stickfast and to my amazement it etched the acrylic ( 12mm thick ) and also dissolved cured 24hr araldyte epoxy. I had never seen anything like it!

I replaced the lid with one made from 12mm Polycarbonate , which I first tested by standing a few lengths of it in the stickfast for 3 days , no perfect ok . The polycarbonate was all perfectly intact , even the bits I pre scratched to give it a weak spot to attack.I then made a new lid being careful to round over all holes and edges so there were no sharp edges from which stress cracks could eminate.

Make a new lid and try again mate, good luck !🙏
 

ed4copies

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Half inch glass is safer, in my opinion!!

Also I would mount the plumbing by drilling a hole in the aluminum or stainless pot. When drilling any round top material, you are weakening the structure. Then, when the vacuum is applied, the material breaks as is demonstrated in your picture.

There is much discussion about whether the juice etches "plastics", I'm no chemist, but I know it won't etch glass.

Just food for thought--hope it helps,
Ed
 

egnald

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Half inch glass is safer, in my opinion!!

Also I would mount the plumbing by drilling a hole in the aluminum or stainless pot. When drilling any round top material, you are weakening the structure. Then, when the vacuum is applied, the material breaks as is demonstrated in your picture.
Ed, considering how it broke, I'm guessing that the lid I had was something other than Polycarbonate (Lexan), so initially, I have ordered some 1/2-inch thick Lexan from Granger to try as a replacement. I will definitely mount the plumbing to the stainless pot (my first lid came with a hole in it already, and that is definitely where the fracture started).

If that fails, (or makes me too nervous) I will most likely go with a 3/4 thick glass and make my own Silicone "Proto Putty" gasket. (Maybe 3/4 thick is overkill, but an implosion is something that I don't want to ever experience again).

Thanks for the information - Regards, Dave
 

egnald

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Did you buy the setup from a vendor or make it yourself?
I bought it as a complete setup out of convenience - the pan is solid and is stainless and the pump seems to work OK considering what happened. It wasn't even my first choice of vendors but the price was right. I got what I paid for, but at least it should be salvageable. - Dave
 

1080Wayne

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You may have got what you paid for , but it most certainly was not Lexan . I would be tempted to throw the lid back at the supplier , along with the bill for the Lexan .

The only plastic which I know from experience to be affected by cactus juice is cellulose butyrate , commonly used for small clear storage tubes . I once put some small seeds in a few , with holes drilled in the metal lids to allow the juice to enter , thinking I could remove them intact after stabilizing . NO ! Cellulose propionate is also used for tubes , and I would expect might behave similarly .
 

Dehn0045

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The old saying in chemistry is "like dissolves like". CJ is a mixture of acrylates, and it doesn't play nice with acrylic plastics (Plexiglass). It's not immediate and if you avoid liquid contact with the lid a Plexiglass lid can last quite a while. I think this case is pretty clearly a faulty lid, if it had been used a couple dozen times before failing then I'd suspect material incompatibility.
 

MRDucks2

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I have a similar setup except my lid is 1” thick. If you look at your first photo posted, I believe you can see the crack just below the valve handle. When I shopped for my chamber it was specifically listed as being usable for vacuum stabilizing wood and being safe for use with Cactus Juice. Several others specifically excluded this use in the details of the fine lettering.
 

pensmyth

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Go to glass vac's web site they have glass lids for $48 I replaced my acrylic one with it and moved the valves to the side of the tank. I just started stabilizing a couple of months ago and noticed very fine cracks in the acrylic top after just a month of use. Didn't want to risk a butt pucker moment so I replaced it. https://shopbvv.com/collections/glass-vac
 
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I could be wrong on this Dave but the first picture has lines on the cap on the right side that I thought were just a reflection or something. However, when I looked at the picture showing the broken top it sure looks like the fractures came on the same lines. If this was brand new I'd sure get in touch with the vendor and have them ship a replacement. FWIW, I bought all of my stabilizing parts, except the pump, from TurnTex and have had zero problems. The tube is clear so you can see the bubbles as they diminish over time but the top is one solid piece that doesn't allow for viewing. Best of luck on getting your system up and running again.
 

egnald

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Hello everyone that is following and thanks for your comments so far.
I agree, it looks like the crack had already started before I took the first photo which was about 10 minutes after applying vacuum. I'm surprised I didn't notice it then.

Anyhow, here is where I am at today, Friday morning 30-July-2020:

I have two pieces of Lexan polycarbonate on order 1/2-inch by 12-inch square. I plan to leave one 12-inches square and make a gasket from silicone "Proto Putty". I will of course round off the corners and sand and polish everything to help prevent cracks from starting. The other one I am going to try to cut into a round and polish to fit the existing gasket. After I had the Lexan on order and moving, I still took Andy's recommendation and ordered a new lid from Glass Vac.

I made a trip to the hardware store this morning and bought an elbow and hex nipple so I could re-mount the plumbing to the side of the pot instead of through the lid. That was some tough stainless steel, but after I got an initial hole punched through a good quality step drill made short work of getting the hole up to the right size.

I'm determined to not let it beat me, but because of the implosion I'm sure my anxiety level is going to be heightened for a while.

I think I can just re-vacuum the pieces of Redwood and Walnut as they were in a separate, inner container, that survived and are still weighted down under a layer of Cactus Juice. Whatever has already soaked in should just be drawn back out along with any remaining air in the wood.

Regards,
Dave
 

Charlie_W

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Dave,
Another topic with your vacuum pot is the vacuum gauge. I see it is an oil filled gauge. In your second pic with the broken lid, the vacuum gauge is still showing vacuum. Make sure the plug on top of the gauge is vented and open to the atmosphere so you get a true reading. It should read zero when no vacuum is applied. Sometimes a gauge vent on a vacuum system for a lathe will become plugged with dust and the oil. Regularly making sure the vent is open will assure your vacuum reading is correct.
 

egnald

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Dave,
Another topic with your vacuum pot is the vacuum gauge. I see it is an oil filled gauge. In your second pic with the broken lid, the vacuum gauge is still showing vacuum. Make sure the plug on top of the gauge is vented and open to the atmosphere so you get a true reading. It should read zero when no vacuum is applied. Sometimes a gauge vent on a vacuum system for a lathe will become plugged with dust and the oil. Regularly making sure the vent is open will assure your vacuum reading is correct.
Charlie, Yes, I saw that as well. I checked it and the gauge still works (deflects under vacuum), but it is off by about -7. The indicator deflects well past perfect vacuum at my elevation when the vacuum is blocked off (theoretical should be -28.41 inHg). I priced out a nice stainless steel replacement at Grangers for about $40, but for now since it still works (somewhat) I need to wait until I get my August allowance. :) - Dave
 

egnald

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Greetings all, Update 3-Aug-2020, 6:45 CST:

My 1/2-inch thick piece of Lexan arrived from Granger this late this afternoon.

Completed previously, I drilled a hole in side of stainless steel pot and mounted the vacuum fittings to the pot (previously they were through a hole in the lid). I also wrapped the pot with a layer of foil/plastic insulation to help isolate any heat generated by the vacuum pump from elevating the temperature of the pot and it's contents.

First, using the broken lid (puzzle reassembled) as a template, I drew a line on the new piece of Lexan and cut close to the line with my bandsaw. Second, continuing to use the broken lid (puzzle reassembled) as a template, I used a pattern tracing bit in my router table to clean up the rough sawn edge to get my circle back. Third, I sanded the edge progressively with 120 grit to 400 grit following by a buffing to make sure there were no sharp edges where cracks could start. Finally, I installed the old silicone gasket onto the new lid and viola - I am nervously back in business with vacuum on the chamber pulling more air out of the Walnut and Redwood blanks.

Keeping my fingers crossed and my sphincter clenched!
Dave

IMG_1272 Back in Business 3-Aug-2020.jpg
 

howsitwork

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Dave

dont think the pump will cause any heat in the pot. The pump gets hot but any transmission would be via the air as the vacuum provides excellent insulation so 7nless you stand it next to it and in contact you should not have any issues.

Keep us updated as and when finished.
 

egnald

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Dave

dont think the pump will cause any heat in the pot. The pump gets hot but any transmission would be via the air as the vacuum provides excellent insulation so 7nless you stand it next to it and in contact you should not have any issues.

Keep us updated as and when finished.
Great, thanks. I put the second batch in this morning while the first one is soaking.I will probably drain the first ones on Friday so I can get them in the oven to cure on Saturday.

Dave
 

egnald

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Yikes - small, shallow stress cracks started to show up near the center of the polycarbonate late in today’s batch. My glass lid is supposed to be delivered before the end of the day today. I think I might even be developing stress cracks from the whole ordeal!:oops:
Dave
 

egnald

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Friday, 7-Aug-2020: My first batch went into the toaster oven this morning. I'm sure I will let it bake far longer than is necessary, but I want to make sure the Cactus Juice is as cured as it is going to get all the way through the blanks before I pull them out. TurnTex says typically it takes 1-1/2 hours for the internal temperature to reach the 190-200 F and that it only needs to be held for 10 minutes. So I figure 4-5 hours should do the trick (I'm still a little nervous though due to my inexperience with the whole process). - Dave
 

ramaroodle

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Friday, 7-Aug-2020: My first batch went into the toaster oven this morning. I'm sure I will let it bake far longer than is necessary, but I want to make sure the Cactus Juice is as cured as it is going to get all the way through the blanks before I pull them out. TurnTex says typically it takes 1-1/2 hours for the internal temperature to reach the 190-200 F and that it only needs to be held for 10 minutes. So I figure 4-5 hours should do the trick (I'm still a little nervous though due to my inexperience with the whole process). - Dave
Practice makes perfect. It's not an exact science. You'll get the technique down that works for you and perfect it. When you watch the youtube vids you don't see all of the stops and starts and edits. For instance, I put foil under the rack rather than wrapping the pieces as it's a pain scraping off the hardened resin. Make sure you dry the pieces in the oven at least overnight and put them in a plastic bag if they aren't going in the juice right away.
 
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