Progress is good. We finally worked out the hydraulics. The problem was a bad valve, so we got a new one. Now the cylinder can move up and down. I also mounted feet to the CEB frame, so it can stand upright.
I just talked to David Pears again. He pointed a few critical design points, and was very supportive because of where I am going with the project. At the same time, this derails the entire press plate design. A flexible mount, which I presently have, will have troubles with non-uniform soils, which will make the blocks slant on the bottom. To address this, my program was to build up 6 inch walls to the 1″ steel press plate, such that straight up and down motion is assured.
The proven route is making a stiff mount to a 2″ thick pressing plate. This means cutting the end of the 2 1/2″ cylinder rod, followed by drilling and tapping a serious bolt to hold the pressing plate. This requires taking apart the hydraulic cylinder to take out the rod. The rod must be bored, and threads must be turned on a lathe, to accept the press plate holding bolt. I guess another route would be to weld the press plate onto the end of the cylinder rod, but that may be impossible due to the material composition of the cylinder rod.
The above fixed mount proposition sounds like a $500 addition to the budget. It is a professional custom fabrication job, and I approximate 5-10 hours of labor for my particular cylinder. For reasons of cost control, I think it is best to go with the flexible mount design. As long as the sides of the pressing plate assembly are stiff enough, perfect alignment will yield perfect blocks.
Since I already have the flexible-mount compression plate assembly, I will use that for testing. If this produces crooked blocks, I will go from there. That will not cost me anything outside of a few hours. I think this cost-saving feature is worth exploring. This feature would remove the need of expert fabrication skill: I am trying to keep the design simple for fabrication. This particular feature could mean a $500 reduction in machine cost in a flexible fabrication scenario.
Interestingly, certain intellectual property issues already came up. I must treat this issue carefully, since it turns out that some of the details that we came up with independently are presently covered by patents. That’s an interesting scenario for open source development, which could mean that we end up with a machine that is open source but not sellable. This depends on the particular implementation of the details involved, so non-infringement can be easy to come by. In any case, this is all welcome news from the standpoint of subsistence and neosubsistence.