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Micro Engineering

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  • Member since
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  • From: Shenandoah Valley
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Micro Engineering
Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, May 12, 2023 4:06 PM

The company has been sold and is now an other family's business.  They have moved production to their hometown in MO    Ken Patterson interviewed the father and two sons.  There are 4 woman who work 4 10 hours a day in production, plus 2 sons.

Someone can educate me on what 3 phase power is, but they need it to operate their machinery and something that goes in the electrical box is stuck somewhere in the supply chain.  They also talk about some of the quality issues they have had.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

Nil
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Posted by Nil on Friday, May 12, 2023 5:04 PM

Three phase power is neede for very high power from electrical system.  For instance, almos all stationary electric motors over 5 or 10 horsepower (sorry, I don't recall the exact number) take three phase power.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, May 12, 2023 10:25 PM

Three phase AC is what power plants produce.  You might notice that the high voltage lines have 3 wires, or some times 6.  In the distribution system, usually lines serving homes are single phase.  The power company lines in those areas have one live wire and a ground wire.  However, larger industries might have large 3 phase motors.  Lines serving those areas have 3 live wires and a ground wire.

Most modern electrified rail lines are single phase.  It developed that way since single phase motors are variable speed.  Some early electric lines used 3 phase, usuing 2 catenary wires and the rail for the 3rd phase, however, they were essentially one speed motors.  Most of the few still existing 3 phase electrics are cog rail mountain climbing tourist lines.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, May 13, 2023 1:08 AM

BigDaddy
Someone can educate me on what 3 phase power is.

Three phase electrical current is what is produced by an alternator. The difference between the alternator on your automobile and the one behind a 500 HP diesel generator set that produces 480 volts to run a transmitter tower is mainly just the size.

An alternator has three sets of electrical windings in a stator that are connected in either a delta or a wye configuration. The alternator on your automobile uses a matrix of six diodes to rectify this into DC to charge your battery.

The current flows through three points as the alternator rotor rotates through the stator. Current is A/B, then B/C, then C/A.

In industrial applications, three phase electricity is much better for running electric motors, but the motors must be set up to operate on three phase electricity. They will not operate on typical 120/240 black-red-white-ground wiring.

Every power plant I have been aware of produces and transmits power in three phase. Substations convert three phase to current that can be sent down residential power poles and through transformers to 99% of the customers.

Large facilities, like manufacturers or hospitals, receive three phase power from the utility provider and have stand by generator sets (with large alternators) that produce three phase power in an outage.

I don't know if this helped or not.

BigDaddy
They need it to operate their machinery and something that goes in the electrical box is stuck somewhere in the supply chain.

If they need three phase, and they are not currently receiving it from the utility in their business location, they are in for a serious expense.

It might be less expensive to move.

BigDaddy
Ken Patterson interviewed the father and two sons.

I really don't know how anybody can watch these videos. The first two minutes just about drove me up a tree and I had to stop.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by nealknows on Saturday, May 13, 2023 2:01 AM

SeeYou190

I really don't know how anybody can watch these videos. The first two minutes just about drove me up a tree and I had to stop.

-Kevin

 

 
I guess you've never watched his video show. Yes, the first couple minutes are his introduction, which he plays at the beginning of each show. 
 
I've been on his show, and while you never hear the introduction during the live taping, he adds it, just like they do in real life taping.
 
He's had some great guests on the show, and some of the guys have some great ideas. I first saw a new model he introduced which caught my eye, then a couple weeks later, I saw it advertised elsewhere.
 
Next time Kevin, just go to the bottom of the video, there's a line where you can actually move the video up in time (a small box will show you what the video looks like) and then watch from there.
 
You do know climbing up trees can be dangerous, especially the ones we have in Florida. Some of them have iguanas in them! Big Smile
 
Neal
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Posted by BigDaddy on Saturday, May 13, 2023 8:19 AM

Three phase power; Thanks for the explanation.

I didn't think the video was going to be controversial.  He likes to take care of his sponsors and that also carries over into the content of some of his shows.  Since the beginning of the show is always he same, I fast forward that part.

I am still amazed that he uses an electric chainsaw indoors to shape foam.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, May 13, 2023 10:07 AM

BigDaddy
I didn't think the video was going to be controversial.  He likes to take care of his sponsors and that also carries over into the content of some of his shows.

It was probably in poor judgement to share my comment on the video. Just to be clear, I was talking about the first two minutes after the introduction. It was also meant as a general comment about most YouTube model train videos. I really get turned off by Jason Jensen and HO Backshop too.

ASD ASX is the only one I can watch, and not becuase his videos are really good, but because he does everything almost exactly the same way I do, and gets the results I am aiming for.

Sorry for being inappropriate.

BigDaddy
I am still amazed that he uses an electric chainsaw indoors to shape foam.

This is interesting... how does he deal with the bar oil being slung everywhere? Does he use something different in his oil tank?

nealknows
You do know climbing up trees can be dangerous, especially the ones we have in Florida. Some of them have iguanas in them!

I had a four-footer on my back porch last week.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, May 13, 2023 10:36 AM

Ken did this show "live" from Trainfest a few years back and it was interesting to see and hear the process.   He has got energy!   It sounds from the show like the new owners of Micro Engineering have the 3-phase power from their electric company but need certain components inside to make it work with their machines.

The good news is that Micro Engineering, certainly an important firm, seems to be in good (and reasonably youthful) hands.  There were always issues with this company's rather hit or miss production schedule in year's past, and I seem to recall discussions on these forums when important tooling for something in their product line (almost all of which is pretty delicate stuff) was inadvertently destroyed in a shop accident.   

Dave Nelson

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, May 14, 2023 11:24 AM

Just for the record: the first actual mention of model-railroad product is (briefly) at 5:22, then he discusses the 'do-ability' of the Navajo Mine Railroad operation as a whole consist until 6:46.  The real 'meat' of discussion about Model Engineering really starts about 8:08 and you should scroll directly there if you're impatient with boilerplate and PBS-style mentions.  (That said, just as with Kalmbach support his advertisers, and let them know where you saw it, if you actually need anything he promotes...)

Three-phase is a special form of AC, and a shop of any size doing 'model' size operations would almost certainly NOT be using three-phase motors to drive the individual machines.  What they probably have is some kind of static CONverter (I mistyped 'inverter' at first) that transverts the 3-phase to single-phase -- and some component of that device has failed and, for whatever reason, replacing it takes time.

Railroad three-phase is "difficult" because only near synchronous speed does the motor make high power.  You can make the motor to run at two speeds, but those are your speeds, and unlike the 5-notch 'subway' style controllers, you can't use the brake to run at intermediate speeds...

The railroad answer to this is interesting.  Many early 'successful' programs used motor-generator locomotives, which in this context had a three-phase motor that ran at its best constant speed (much like the prime mover for a train with HEP but with no genset 440V power) and then modulated the DC field to get fine control for DC traction motors.  

Modern AC diesel-electric locomotive drives, as they have evolved, are interesting.  The power from the traction alternator is rectified and smoothed as HVDC (currently around 1200-1500V) -- called the DC-Link voltage -- which is then used to synthesize three-phase power of appropriate strength, waveform, and speed to turn the simple induction traction motors to produce the desired road speed.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, May 15, 2023 12:04 AM

Overmod
Three-phase is a special form of AC, and a shop of any size doing 'model' size operations would almost certainly NOT be using three-phase motors.

I was thinking the exact same thing. 

Why in the world would anyone manufacturing toy trains need three phase motors?

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by maxman on Monday, May 15, 2023 12:47 AM

Maybe not for motors.

Possibly for the heating elements used in the moulds?

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Posted by Morpar on Monday, May 15, 2023 12:52 AM

SeeYou190

 

 
Overmod
Three-phase is a special form of AC, and a shop of any size doing 'model' size operations would almost certainly NOT be using three-phase motors.

 

I was thinking the exact same thing. 

Why in the world would anyone manufacturing toy trains need three phase motors?

-Kevin

 

Short version? Because most industrial equipment is designed to use 3-phase. Once the initial cost of running 3-phase to the building compared to single phase is paid off the operational cost is lower. 

Good Luck, Morpar

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Posted by gmpullman on Monday, May 15, 2023 1:43 AM

I remember a friend of mine who had a machine shop in the 1970s and he had just bought his first EDM machine. It required 3Ø and the power co. wanted some four thousand-plus to run about a quarter mile of feed for him. He found a way to rig up a three phase motor that he started using another single phase motor then electrically switched the motor into an alternator (I guess like an M/G set) and it somehow produced three phase. (Rotary Phase Converter)

From what I gather many injection molding processes use EDM for making their molds from copper electrodes. (This video will start at the EDM process)

If ME is going to continue or expand any plastic injection lines for tie strips for turnouts and such or bridge girders, etc. they would probably want to do die work in house.

Even our small FHP motors at GE were 3Ø. 

Regards, Ed

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Posted by gregc on Monday, May 15, 2023 4:13 AM

a typical house has two power lines from the street plus a ground wire, literally connected to a water pipe.   the phases if each wire from the street come from a transformer and are 180 degrees different.   both wires could be connected to across some device (motor) to double the voltage.

in 3-phase power, the 3 lines are 120 degrees apart.   i can't say for sure what the benefits of 3-phase motors is, but with conventional power, there is no voltage every half cycle while with 3-phase, there is a peak every 1/3 of a cycle.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by wrench567 on Monday, May 15, 2023 9:42 AM

  There are 3 phase converters. American Rotary is a prime example for converting single phase to three phase. Everything on our crushing and screening plants was 3 phase. It also allows for more amperage to be split up into smaller wires. We had 100 horse power motors running off of 4 AWG wire. In a single phase the cables would need to be immense in size. Most industrial equipment is 3 phase. It's up to the local utility company to bring the 3 phase to the building. Their electrical engineer would determine how much current is needed. Just because the pole outside has the three single phase wires already doesn't mean they can handle the load that will be placed on them. It's quite possible that the whole distribution system needs to be upgraded to handle the foreseen load. Phase converters can do some but like anything else in the universe, there are tradeoffs and limitations.

     Like someone already said. It may be better to move.

      Pete.

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Posted by Geared Steam on Friday, May 19, 2023 10:26 AM

3 phase draws half the amps of single phase (give or take) , more energy efficient, lower electric bills, smaller copper wire to feed, no start or run capacitors, or centrifugal switches to fail.  

Most industrial machinery runs on 3 phase, because it makes sense.  

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."-Albert Einstein

http://gearedsteam.blogspot.com/

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Posted by kasskaboose on Friday, May 19, 2023 11:05 AM

Here's hoping the quality of their products doesn't decrease.  I swear by their quality Code 83 track.  It doesn't bend back after curved.  You just need to cut off the "V" shaped ties but, not a deal breaker.  While more expensive than some other vendors, worth it!

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, May 19, 2023 2:52 PM

I'm only now just starting to appreciate feature.  Yes you can solder all your joiners, but if you don't as in building a modular layout, the Atlas wants to straighten ever so slightly.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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