By Gary Parkerson
If its broke, fix it!
I used J-B Weld for years to repair minor cracks and breaks in metal components when I couldn’t justify the cost of a proper brazing-machining repair. It’s great stuff, but it sets quickly – within four minutes – and requires mixing the epoxy filler with a hardener. Worse, because it is epoxy based, it does not accept many desired finishes, including powder coating.
Enter Alvin Products’ Lab-metal and High-Temp Lab-metal, products that have been around even longer than J-B Weld, but that I only recently learned of while watching an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage on YouTube. Lab-metal is not a two-component system – it is ready to use directly from the can – so there is none of the waste associated with mixing more epoxy than you need. It is a thick paste in the can, but can be thinned to a paint consistency using Alvin Lab-solvent, then brushed or even sprayed on.
It uses aluminum as a metal filler and can be milled, drilled, machined, tapped, filed and sanded, leaving an aluminum-like finish. Better yet, it can be painted with lacquer or enamel – even powder coated. Perfect for Aluminum mount components, focuser housings and much more.
In fact, many of the amateur astronomy equipment products we use are machined or cast aluminum, and if it can be dropped and broken, I’ve dropped it and broken it, and now wish I’d discovered Alvin Labmetal years ago.
Clean electronics work better!
I know of few things more frustrating to encounter or more difficult to diagnose than a faulty contact, particularly when it involves the control systems of a telescope mount. But now that ATT Associate
Editor Austin Grant has clued me into CAIG Laboratories DeoxIT contact cleaner, I may never suffer through that misery again.
DeoxIT is formulated to dissolve oxidation and corrosion on metal contact surfaces while it cleans, rejuvenates and lubricates. It’s even reputed to enhance conductivity. All the proof I needed is in the form of an old CG5 hand controller I’ve let get soaked with dew too many times. Before I treated it to DeoxIT, it did not work. After I treated it with DeoxIT, it did. I’ll never again be without a can of the stuff.
Astronomy Technology Today Executive Editor Gary Parkerson discovered early in his amateur-astronomy career that he was as fascinated by the tools of astronomy as by the amazing celestial objects they reveal – perhaps more so. When not writing about astro-tech, he covers industrial technology for a variety of online resources.