Machinery designer and die maker by day, mad scientist the rest of the time

 

restored high school chandelier
Restored chandelier at Cleveland Heights High School

(Courtesy of HGR Customer and Guest Blogger Christopher Palda)

Christopher Palda

How I became an HGR customer

I heard of HGR Industrial Surplus mainly from word of mouth. I used to deal with McKean Machinery where my boss sent me until it was bought by a New York firm and they got rid of the odds and end. As a result, they lost some customers. Many people that buy the little stuff at HGR see the large ticket items and send others they know who need these items. Employees left McKean to start HGR; so, it was a natural transition. You’ll see some of the things I’ve bought at HGR mentioned in the story below.

Recently, my workplace bought a MIG welder at HGR for the construction of Dan T. Moore Company’s plastic extrusion and rolling machine that is the size of a room. It’s for extruding plastic and rolling it into film. What they had at the welding supply store was not what we needed. We required a 100-percent duty cycle machine that could run all day long and found one at HGR.

What I do for work

I’m a die maker and do die repair, hydraulics, welding, machine tool wiring, basically an industrial maintenance technician who handles anything electrical, hydraulic and mechanical. I work for Mahar Spar Industries. A spar is the main strut in a sailboat, and the founder’s name is Mike Mahar. He started out making spars and sailboat masts in his garage in his spare time, and the business evolved from that point. Many ask me the origin of that unique name. I’ve been there for 20 years, and prior to that I was at NASA Glenn Research Center doing composite metallurgy research for jet engine applications and at the same time on a joint project working at Cleveland State University doing metallurgical research in the chemical engineering department where I built the metallurgy lab.

Some of the things I’ve built

One of the items that I am proud of that mostly came from HGR is a hyperbaric chamber. My doctor said that it would be helpful for my health to use one, but medical insurance wouldn’t cover treatments for this off-label use that was proposed; so, I came to HGR and built my own from used air compressor parts for pennies on the dollar. A new one for medical purposes costs $75,000. They usually are purchased by hospitals and medical facilities to treat diabetic patients with wounds that won’t heal, necrotizing fasciitis, carbon monoxide and cyanide poisoning, and scuba diving accidents and are used in clinical studies and trials to increase brain function in people with autism and a few other applications. I am a diver, but luckily haven’t had an accident yet and have not had to use it for that purpose. It cost me about $4,000 to build mine. By dumb luck I found a medical air compressor at HGR normally used in a dental office for the chamber along with a $1,200 medical oxygen regulator for $15 that just needed to be rebuilt. It basically functions as an isolation chamber, and you breathe pure oxygen through a mask as the oxygen regulator increases its output by using the chamber pressure as a reference point.

compressor tank from HGR before it was converted into a hyperbaric chamber
compressor tank from HGR before it was converted into a hyperbaric chamber
hyperbaric chamber side view
outside of completed hyperbaric chamber
inside of handmade hyperbaric chamber made from surplus at HGR Industrial Surplus
inside of finished hyperbaric chamber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bike trail cutting machine
bike trail cutting machine

We do projects for the Dan T. Moore Company, who also is an HGR customer. Dan believes Cleveland doesn’t have enough bike trails; so, he dropped off a small bulldozer and wanted it converted into a bike trail cutting machine. With our custom attachment it became something that looked like a bulldozer, meat grinder, snow blower hybrid. Some of the hydraulic parts came from HGR. He also wanted to build a steel mill in Bolivia at one point in the past, and we were doing a mockup of the process. We needed a large blower. His people were going everywhere else looking for stuff. I found one at HGR that looked and roared like a jet engine that was 125hp, and it worked great!

bakery oven
bakery oven

Additionally, I do maintenance work at a bakery that has a huge electric oven made in Italy that you can’t get parts for; so, you have to manufacture the parts yourself. Its internal electric flash boiler caramelizes the bread giving it that hard crust by explosively filling the deck with wet steam at the beginning of each bake cycle. The original boiler could not keep up and self-destructed. I copied the basic design with some improvements and made one five times larger. Some of its parts came from HGR.

I also work for Whitney Stained Glass Studio doing artistic metalwork restoration and conservation along with fabricating window frames. Projects include the windows at Stan Hywet Hall and the restoration of the outside stained glass lamps for St. James Catholic Church in Lakewood after a bird built a nest in it. The owner turned it on, and it caught on fire, which melted the solder. I had to strip the patina to fix it, which is considered a no no because it was covered in plastic. I said, “Watch me age this thing 100 years in minutes.” I stuck it in bleach and salt water and put power to it like in a plating operation and totally corroded the thing in 40 minutes.

welder from HGR
TIG welder from HGR

To put the hyperbaric chamber together, I needed to purchase a large TIG stick welder. I found a Miller at HGR for a fraction of the cost of a new one. It didn’t work and needed a little TLC, but if I buy it and it doesn’t work out it’s nice to know I can return it within 30 days. I got it for the cost of the copper scrap, gave it a bath, found a simple control issue and brought it back from the dead. It pulls 105 amps at 240 when I’m welding heavy aluminum. I would turn it on and watch the neighbor’s lights dim. Is the problem 2B solved or not to be? That’s the question. A trip down HGR’s Aisle 2B for some capacitors solved the problem, and the neighbor’s lights didn’t dim anymore. The effect is like pouring a glass of beer. You want the beer but not the foam. These capacitors get rid of the electrical equivalent of the foam.

You know the big speaker in the opening scene of Back to the Future? I said to a friend, “Cool, let’s build one.” A 5-hp stereo system was born! The neighbor would call me for requests when I fired it up in the summer while he was cutting his lawn as long as I played his stuff. The neighbors didn’t like heavy metal, and that’s when the heavy metal station Z Rock was on the air and when I hit the heavy-metal stage in my development.

Building a fire-breathing dragon for the play “Reluctant Dragon” at a children’s theater in 1985 was a blast. When I adapted an old CO2 fire extinguisher and put red lights in the mouth and eyes, it worked first rate. My electronics business in my parent’s basement when I was 10 or 11 aided in paying for this lunacy.

broken chandelier
mangled chandelier prior to restoration

Cleveland Heights High Schools auditorium has huge 300-pound chandeliers. One of them dropped about 35 feet while they were trying to change the light bulbs and smashed into smithereens — a mangled, twisted mess. Redoing all the artistic metal work was a challenge while many others at Whitney Stained Glass restored the stained glass globes.

Near-death experiences

Back in the caveman days, there were only five TV stations. You had to have a movie projector to watch movies. My dad got two 35mm machines from a drive-in that went out of business and modified the optics to work in a house. We had a movie theater in our basement. I was born with mechanical ability, but I learned and worked with my dad who also was handy and was a self-taught mechanical and electrical and hydraulic engineer. He designed tooling and stamping dies along with pollution control in power plants. I could set up and operate these machines as a kid, and when my dad took off the TV back to work on it I saw that there was what looked like a small roll of film inside the that I thought had the Bugs Bunny cartoons on it. He yelled, “Don’t touch that! That is the fly back transformer and has 15,000 volts on it!’

He fixed the TV but left back off. One day, while I was watching it, the picture got odd. I realized the cat was inside. When I went to grab the cat so she would not get hurt, she jumped out and my hands landed on the flyback transformer and lit up blue. Afterward, I felt like lightning had hit me. I woke 15 minutes later across the room and had a revelation — that’s why it’s called a flyback transformer because when you grab one that is what you do!

Christopher Palda as a child working on a car
Christopher Palda as a child working on a car

Another time, as a little kid in the car at the gas station, I asked my mom why the man had a garden hose and was putting water in the car. Mom said it was gas but she wished it was water because it’s cheaper. At home, I put five gallons of water in the car to save mom money after I noticed the spout on the lawn mower gas can fit the end of the garden hose. We ended up stranded the next time we drove it.

I’ve had eight various experiments with electricity. It’s amazing that I’m still alive. I wondered how a vacuum cleaner worked. My dad explained the process of how it worked starting with electrons moving in the cord. I had to find out what an electron looked like; so, I opened up paper clips and was determined to go to the outlet and pull one out. I had two paper clips, one in each side. When they touched, there was a fiery explosion that burned my hands. I got to see a lot of electrons!

My vaporizer broke when I was sick. My dad fixed it by making a new part on his lathe. I saw how it opened up when he took it apart. When everyone was gone, I took it apart while it was plugged in and threw handfuls of salt at it with water to watch the explosions. The power main want “bang” as everything went dark in the house. A voice from downstairs yelled, “Christopher, what did you do now?”

Cleveland Job Corps needs help starting a manufacturing technologies training program that will feed area manufacturers with a skilled workforce

HGR lathe

The WorkRoom Program Alliance, part of the Dan T. Moore Company, is partnering with Cleveland Job Corps, Coit Road, Cleveland, Ohio, to create a manufacturing center at the Job Corps facility in order to offer manufacturing technologies training. This is about workforce development and creating a skilled workforce, folks! Something that every manufacturer I know worries about: filling those vacancies with skilled labor.

Here is their needs list so that they can align with federal standards. As you can see from the list of equipment, this is a seriously valuable program for local manufacturing.

Can you or anyone you know help? HGR is checking its showroom to see what we have that would be suitable, but I’m sure other organizations in the area might be able to make an equipment or financial donation to get this program off the ground. Contact Gina at HGR if you can help: gtabasso@hgrinc.com.

QuantityEquipment
1Comparator
1Drill Press
1Drill, Electric, Portable DWT
2Gauge, Height RUT
1Grinder, Bench, Electric
4Grinder, Die, Pneumatic
3Grinder, Die, Pneumatic
1Grinder, Metal, Floor, Electric BAL
1Grinder, Metal, Floor, Electric FALCON
1Grinder, Metal, Universal SHOP FOX
1Grinder, Portable, Electric DELTA
3Grinder, Portable, Electric DUM
1Grinder, Surface CHEV
1Lathe, Computer Programmable
1Lathe, Metal, Engine, Permanent
2Lathe, Metal, Engine, Sliding Gap KIN
1Lathe, Metal, Engine, Solid Bed ACR
1Lathe, Metal, Engline, Permanent ACE
2Lathe, Metal, Engline, Permanent JET
1Machine, Bending CHI
1Machine, Forming PEX
1Milling Machine, Computer Programmable EMC
1Milling Machine, Computer Programmable INT
1Milling Machine, Computer Programmable TEC
1Milling Machine, Computer Programmable TEC
1Milling Machine, Metal, Vertical ACE (1)
1Milling Machine, Metal, Vertical ACE (2)
1Milling Machine, Metal, Vertical ACR (1)
1Milling Machine, Metal, Vertical ACR (2)
1Milling Machine, Metal, Vertical DAY
1Milling Machine, Metal, Vertical FALCON
3Plate, Surface, Stone
1Router PTR CBL
2Sander, Portable, Orbital SKIL
1Saw, Circular, Portable, Electric DWT
1Saw, Metal Cutting, Band WIL
1Saw, Metal Cutting, Circular MIL
1Saw, Reciprocating PTR
1Sharpener, Drill Bits OTMT
1Vacuum, Wet/Dry
  
 
QuantityTechnology
1Combination TV/VCR/DVD
1SMART Board technology
13D Printer
15Scientific calculators, such as TI-30xa
  
QuantityFurniture
12Student Desks
12Student Chairs
2Student Computer Work Station
1Instructor Desk
1Instructor Chair
 
QuantityHand Tools
 QA and Measuring Tools
10Set of 1″ Mics, 6″ dial calipers and 6″ scale
16″ digital calipers
10Metric scales
1Gage blocks, 81 pc. Set, grade B
2Surface plate, 18 x 24, lowest grade
1Surface plate, 24 x 36″ with stand
2Height gages, vernier
2Height gages, 12″ dial
3Angle plate
1Plug gage set from .011 to .500″
5Holder for plug gages, to make go/no-go gages
2Machinist square
6Combination square
10Tape measures
5Drop indicators with magnetic stand and 22 pc set of points
3Vee blocks, set of 2
3Test indicator set
3Radius gages, set covers 1/32 to 1/2
1Set of 5 micrometers covering range of 1″ to 6″
2Thread gages for 1/4-20 UNC-2B, for NIMS benchwork project
1Optical Comparator, 14″, new, with Fagor Digital Readout and cabinet, Suburban Tool
1Stage center for Optical comparator, MV14-CTR
1Estimated equipment shipping costs
 Metalworking Tools
5Scriber
5Hammer, ballpeen, 8 oz
1Parallels for milling vise set
1Milling vise, TTC, swivel base, 6″ wide jaws, opens 5-1/2″, wt. 100#
1Vise, angle, for drill press
10Allen wrenches, set
5Oil cans, small
12Files, mill
12Files, rattail
12Files: bastard
20File handles
1Tap and die sets, including wrenches
2Hammer, ballpen, 16 oz
5Power hand grinders, (Makita)
1Drills, complete 1 to 60, A to Z, 1/64 to 1/2″, set
5Reamers, for specific projects
5Dead blow hammer
3Bench vises
4Worktables
8C-clamps, assorted sizes, 2 of each
10Eye loupes
1Tapping head for drill press w/ collets
5Prick punch
1Soft jaws for vise
1Drill chuck for milling machine, for NIMS
2Magnetic base for indicator
1Millermatic 210 MIG welder
1Miller Synchrowave 180, TIG welder
1MSC 3-in-1 metalforming machine
  
QuantityPersonal Protective Equipment
1SDS “Right to Know Station” and HMIS labels
1Red can for rags
2Fire extinguishers, recharble for student practice
1Eye wash station
1First aid kit
1Lock out/tag out kit with forms and 10 booklets
1Spill clean up kit and additional “snakes” and oil-dry
1Hand washing facilities
  
QuantityConsumable items
1First aid supplies
1Red and green labels, for good and bad parts
3Layout dyes
1Dye remover
20Hacksaw blades
3Replacement files: bastard, mill, rattail
5Handles for files
1Replacement files: bastard, mill, rattail
5Deburring tools, countersinks
1Metal for projects, should be donated but if have to purchase
26″ buffing/polishing wheels, for pedestal grinder
50Discs for hand power grinder/sander, abrasive
20Discs for hand power grinder/sander, polishing
10Cutoff wheels for hand power grinder
1Sandpaper, sheets: series of rough to fine
20Scotch-brite pads, medium and fine
1Oil, lubricating
3Cutting fluid (tap magic)
1Surface plate cleaner
2Stones for surface plate
1Sharpening or replacing reamers
3Recharging fire extinguishers
1Misc
1Shipping
1Curriculum, workbooks, and certification testing
QuantityOther Items
1Annual Contracted Machine Maintenance, Service & Repair

HGR drill press

Local, no-cost, residential-training program graduates skilled workers

Cleveland Job Corps graduation

    The background

Are you aware of a skilled-workforce resource in your own backyard that can help your business fill positions or help someone you know get no-cost job training? At 13421 Coit Road, in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland, there are a bunch of yellow buildings behind a fence that look like a small college campus or a military base. They house Cleveland Job Corps offices and classrooms, its 100 employees and space for 346 residents, aged 16-24.

In 1964, as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty program, which also included Head Start, Job Corps began repurposing and renovating former military installations into dormitories and classrooms.

The current Cleveland location is the third in the area and was built in 2007-2008. The first was on Ansel Road near Martin Luther King Blvd. The second was in the Tudor Arms Hotel on Carnegie Ave. There are 126 Job Corps locations in the United States with at least one in every state. In Ohio, there are three locations: Cleveland, Dayton and Cincinnati.

Owned by The U.S. Department of Labor, the facilities are operated by private contractors. Serrato Corporation of Tucson, Arizona has operated the Cleveland facility since 2012, in addition to Blue Ridge, Virginia, and is a subcontractor at the Charleston, West Virginia, facility.

Mr. William Houston has been the Cleveland center’s director since 2012. He has been with Job Corps for 17 years and is a Dayton, Ohio, native. He says, “We have evolved from an organization that was perceived as a last-ditch effort if a student didn’t finish high school and have shifted to a residential vocational-training center for. We are seeing more students who finished high school and who want to take advantage of free technical career training. Often, students were homeless because of the current trend of couch surfing or crashing temporarily with family and friends. They usually have had jobs but want a career and don’t want to pay $10,000-20,000 for a college training program.”

How it happens

There are five phases to the program:

  1. Outreach and recruitment
  2. Career preparation orientation (60 days receiving employability skills, customer service coaching and an array of self-assessments, as well as basic certifications, including information technology skills and program-placement assessments)
  3. Career development (six months to one year of training in the facility, offsite at Cuyahoga Community College and in work-based training internships; all transportation is provided)
  4. Career transition (one to two months prior to leaving, students work with staff to develop a departure plan while obtaining employability certificates and credentials , as well as resume and portfolio preparation)
  5. Student placement services for up to 1.5 years from graduation (centers are held by the government to a 92-percent placement goal for graduating students, which includes employment, the military, a college or advanced training)

During their time in the program, students receive free housing, basic medical care, meals, education, training, entertainment and recreation, and a biweekly living-allowance stipend that some save in order to become independent. They also are exposed to a positive normative culture with a zero-tolerance policy (no drugs or alcohol, bullying, violence, weapons or arrests). Students can go home on the weekends and during the holidays. They are drug tested upon admission.

The program is self-paced; so, students can start any day of the year and graduate all year long, not in a set semester-style like other schools. Last year, Cleveland had an 89-percent placement rate. But, to keep that percentage high, they need the help of local companies.

What’s in it for employers

The Job Corps screens graduates and works with employers as a pipeline for graduate placement. The organization produces future workers and feeds the workforce with well-trained, motivated, entry-level employees. Employers can provide students with the training that they need while, at the same time, giving the student a “trial run” in a paid or unpaid internship. When students graduate, many companies end up hiring them because the students already have basic safety skills, life skills, industry certifications and on-the-job training, unlike hiring someone from a temporary or job-placement agency.

Some of the local companies that have benefited by hiring graduates include Donley’s Construction, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, John Carroll University, Swagelok and Pipefitters.

The Cleveland facility trains students in four industries: advanced manufacturing (facilities maintenance, machine technology and welding), construction (heavy equipment operator, bricklaying and carpentry), health care (child care development, clinical medical assistant, medical administrative assistant, nurse assistant/home health aide, emergency medical technician), and security and protective services. Job Corps currently is partnering with Dan T. Moore Company and Workroom Program Alliance to equip a welding and machine shop on campus so that students do not need to travel to Tri-C.

In closing, Houston says, “We want to increase awareness that there’s a training facility preparing young adults for the workforce right here in Cleveland at no cost to the student. Our mission is to get young adults ready, and they are willing and able. These are the youth who stood up and decided to be proactive. They’re here, not on the streets. They have the skills, training, education and drive to become your next great employee.”

If you’re interested in partnering with Cleveland Job Corps, you can contact Harriet Hadley, business community liaison, at 216-541-2526 or Hadley.Harriet@jobcorps.org.

Cleveland Job Corps facility maintenance studentCleveland Job Corps carpentry studentCleveland Job Corps bricklaying studentsCleveland Job Corps brick student1

Stakeholders gather at Cleveland Workforce Summit to formulate a workforce-development plan

Cleveland Workforce Summit

On Monday, Dec. 12, a roomful of manufacturers, educators, political leaders, nonprofits and others gathered, according to Jason Drake of the WorkRoom Alliance Program, “to initiate a discussion about curriculum and programming in the service of workforce and to start developing a strategic plan that will help refill the talent pipeline for local companies.” He adds that “our ultimate goal is to bring as many local, state and federal assets into alignment to support an educational program for public schools that emphasizes foundational mechanical skills, career awareness and counseling, robust and diverse work-based learning experiences in career clusters with significant opportunities available in the local job market, and protocols to pave smoother pathways from classrooms to careers.”

WorkRoom Alliance Program is working to create maker spaces as neighborhood cornerstones in order to upskill and reskill youth and adults in the skills needed by manufacturers. The organization is partnering with Cleveland Job Corps, a residential training center with a capacity to house 440 students aged 16-24 where they can go for no-cost technical and academic training for two years with one year of job-placement assistance. The third partner is Dan T. Moore Companies, a portfolio of 18 R&D companies that find and solve unmet industrial needs.

Dan Moore states, “We can’t get enough qualified people with mechanical aptitude to apply for the jobs that there are. And, with manufacturing as the fastest growing component of Ohio’s economy, we need machine operators who can do advanced manufacturing, not engineers.”

The group, with a host of member companies, is seeking to put in place a plan, locally, to introduce students to the foundational skills for a mechanical mindset starting in the fifth grade and continuing through high school and beyond. Its goal is to open a training bay at Cleveland Job Corps with a manufacturing facility and curriculum that align with the local job market’s needs. Job Corps will fully fund the program if Cleveland Workforce Summit partners will supply the equipment. This program will offer pre-apprenticeship training. Students then can go to apprenticeship training programs through organizations such as WIRE-Net and/or college to earn stackable credentials.

Jack Schron of Jergens Inc. adds, “Our goal is to make Northeast Ohio the entrepreneurial maker and manufacturing capital of the country.”

If you are interested in participating as a partner in the Cleveland Workforce Summit, hosting tours for students or supplying equipment, Jason Drake can be reached at jdrake@dantmoore.com.

WorkRoom Program Alliance logo