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4 Simple, Cheap tools for Africa (v2)


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Describes four simple but powerful tools that can be built anywhere in the world using local materials. They can be used to build or repair agricultural equipment and other machinery, and can be used in a small village, urban neighborhood, small factory or trade school. One variation can use human power to generate electricity to charge cell phones and power LED lighting.

These machines are part of an open source project supported by a Yahoo group composed of machinists, engineers and enthusiasts.

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4 Simple, Cheap tools for Africa (v2)

  1. 1. 4 Simple, Cheap Open Source Tools for African Rural Development Need to make a plow from scrap steel? Need village lighting and cell charging? Need machine tools for training, shops or industry? No problem!
  2. 2. 1. THE DRILL 2. THE MULTIMACHINE 3. THE GENNY 4. THE CONCRETE LATHE Together, they create a full-scale machine shop – or a small factory or trade school. Plus, the Genny can provide power for a village. And, they can be built using leftover materials available anywhere junked cars exist.
  3. 3. 1. THE DRILL Making a plow or almost anything else, takes a drill. This uses a long forgotten technique that could cost as little as $1 (plus some scrap wood) . It needs no electricity. <ul><li>Power drills normally turn the bit at high speed and low pressure, but blacksmiths in the 1800s used a tool to press down very hard on the drill bit while they turned it slowly by hand. Their drills (and this one also) can make large holes in very hard steel, something modern drills usually can’t do. </li></ul><ul><li>3 things to remember: </li></ul><ul><li>Use a lever to press down 500 to 1000 pounds on the bit </li></ul><ul><li>Keep the pressure even </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t let the bit wobble </li></ul>
  4. 4. 2. THE MULTIMACHINE <ul><li>An all-purpose (10-in-1) metal-working machine tool that could be built for under $200. </li></ul><ul><li>The MultiMachine is an accurate all-purpose machine tool that can be used as a metal or wood lathe, end mill, horizontal mill, drill press, wood or metal saw or sander, surface grinder and sheet metal &quot;spinner&quot;. It can be built by a mechanic using just common hand tools. For machine construction, electricity can be replaced with &quot;elbow grease&quot;.  </li></ul>Made from scrap auto parts and used steel pipe and bar. Shown at 2007 Maker Faire Austin, Texas and 2009 Maker Faire Africa. Featured in a national magazine (Popular Mechanics).
  5. 5. 3. THE “GENNY” Inspired by a 2009 Maker Faire question – how to use an automobile alternator to generate power for a village or neighborhood? Problem: One person is not strong enough to power an alternator My solution: A multi-person treadle-powered alternator strong enough to last through long, heavy use and built with materials found everywhere. It also needs no welding. I used a worn-out engine block with 3 of the pistons removed and the last piston put in upside down so that it could power the crankshaft from the bottom.
  6. 6. <ul><li>Build one in a day! </li></ul><ul><li>Just dissemble a junked car engine block and turn it into a “Genny” </li></ul><ul><li>Chisel off any iron that gets in the way. </li></ul><ul><li>Drill and tap main bearing and the one rod cap for grease fittings. </li></ul><ul><li>Drill grease holes in the bearing inserts. </li></ul><ul><li>Make pulleys and a frame from old plywood. </li></ul>
  7. 7. The all–important upside-down piston for the “Genny”! Use bolts to connect the piston to the treadle. This connection must be very strong! Use engine-belt idler pulleys to insure that the belts wrap around the small pulleys as closely as possible. If you are using this treadle to power an alternator, use a small resistor in the field circuit to make the generator easier to start. The Genny can also provide mechanical power for grain mills or pumping water With just a couple of people working the treadle, the “Genny” can provide power for LED lighting, cell phone charging and other uses. Car batteries can store power for later use.
  8. 8. 4. THE CONCRETE LATHE Now! Your first look at a world-changing idea! <ul><li>It’s already changed the world… 95 years ago, to be exact. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s a kind of metal lathe but what is that? These rigid tools remove material from a rotating work piece. A lathe is necessary in the production of almost everything. It has been called the “king” of machine tools and lathe operators are among the most skilled of all workers. </li></ul><ul><li>Lathes usually cost thousands (often many) of dollars and our new design is probably the first that’s cheap enough ($30) and easy enough for students to build for themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>The drawing is from the 1915 patent drawing of the CONCRETE lathe made especially to manufacture millions of cannon shells. Such a lathe could be built in a day instead of months and at a small fraction of the cost of a regular lathe. </li></ul>
  9. 9. CONCRETE LATHE The original design does need a few changes! Change 1: The “carriage”, the part that slides back and forth is made from concrete and not cast iron or steel. Iron foundries were common in the “olden” days but not now. This change is much easier and less expensive to build. Sorry for the technical points but this is really simple stuff.
  10. 10. CONCRETE LATHE Change 2: This lathe has a longer bed or “frame” than was needed for the production of cannon shells. Not only can the machine be made in almost length, it can also be made large enough to fit jobs 5 feet in diameter!
  11. 11. CONCRETE LATHE Change 3: The original design was quite short because long, round lathe “ways” (the rails the carriage slides on) tend to flex even if they are heavily made. This added support is a steel bar turned on its edge. It will support the round “ways) and stops such flex. This simple change really is a big deal because it allows the lathe to be made almost any length and size.
  12. 12. CONCRETE LATHE Change 4: <ul><li>More about machine size </li></ul><ul><li>A hobbyist may need only a 2’ long machine. </li></ul><ul><li>A trade school may only have money and room enough for a few 3 ‘ machines. </li></ul><ul><li>A 6’ long lathe is a common shop size. </li></ul><ul><li>A big food mill may need one 20’ long and 10 ‘ high. </li></ul><ul><li>The same basic design will work for all of them : </li></ul><ul><li>A student trained on a small lathe can easily transition to a larger one </li></ul>
  13. 13. CONCRETE LATHE Change 5: Many types of carriages and tail stocks can be used and easily interchanged to make more specialized machines. One example is this carriage used on a Multimachine.
  14. 14. CONCRETE LATHE Change 6: Alignment Without accurate alignment all our machine building efforts would end up as junk. The original machines were built in factories where everything could be accurately aligned while molten type metal was poured over to hold every thing in place. We don’t have factories or fancy alignment jigs but we do have $10 dial indicators and these wonderful devices made by Pratt&Whitney in 1870. These will work just as well as any factory jig and can be made for just a few dollars. They are shown on different shaped ways but will work just as well on our round ones.
  15. 15. CONCRETE LATHE Change 7: The original factory jigs held things temporarily in place while pouring molten type metal to lock things in place permanently. Simple steel wedges can be used in place of giant jigs and epoxy or cement in place of type metal (which can no longer be found).
  16. 16. CONCRETE LATHE Change 8: Threading The original machines had no provision for threading but every lathe should have some sort of threading capability. This simple type is called a thread follower. This is one is shown on a Multimachine and is driven by a bicycle chain..
  17. 17. What else do we have for you? Links to thousands of carefully chosen machining lessons, plans, videos, articles and full length books are on our Yahoo Multimachine group site <ul><li>X,Y,Z movement lathe carriages </li></ul><ul><li>A powered auxiliary spindle </li></ul><ul><li>Roller type, low friction lathe carriages </li></ul><ul><li>Tangential (broken drill bit) cutting tools </li></ul><ul><li>A unique bearing adjuster </li></ul><ul><li>Plywood pulley plans </li></ul><ul><li>Cheap, simple machining fluids </li></ul><ul><li>Treadle powered wood and metal lathes </li></ul><ul><li>Lathe chucks </li></ul><ul><li>Ball bearing size charts </li></ul><ul><li>Taper charts </li></ul><ul><li>High strength casting alloys </li></ul><ul><li>Gas engine powered alternator welders </li></ul><ul><li>Welding rods </li></ul><ul><li>Almost everything you need to build almost anything without having to buy stuff! </li></ul>
  18. 18. For much more information about building any of these machines go to For the Genny, also go to For the original L.I. Yeomans concrete lathe patent, look on the Multimachine group site or Google for patent number 1,154,155 For personal help on any of these projects: email Pat Delany [email_address]