Category Archives: Miscellaneous

AB Arboga U2508: adding a “z-axis” digital indicator

The U2508 quill only has a rather coarse indicator, merely, a printed scale (which I had to replace with a new scale, because the old one was completely worn). Still, the quill can be adjusted quite precisely by using the handwheel that will allow a rather precise adjustment, with 2 mm pitch per turn.

The machine has not enough space for a glass scale, and this would be an overkill anyway. Looking around, I found this Wabeco model 11371 digital caliper, 0.01 mm resolution, and usually accurate to within 0.08 mm – most are better than that. The price is quite reasonably, found one set for EUR 38.99, delivered.

For such price, don’t expect too much precision – the mounting holes were quite off-position, and Wabeco confirmed that this is quite common for these units… well, you have to machine the bracket to the caliper’s mounting dimensions, but we aren’t going to produce these brackets in series anyway.

To connect the indicator to the quill rod, a quite sophisticated piece was machined from a scrap piece of high-tensile aluminum alloy.

A few holes drilled and tapped, and – it’s working quite fine.

Another view…

For the mounting of the readout unit, a simple strip of brass was found to be good enough, mounted with two M3 screws to the U2508 – so it can be easily removed, in case the future owner of the U2508, if any, doesn’t like the addition.

Some tests were done, and within 20-30 mm of travel, I could not find any measurable deviation. Don’t have any long gage blocks here but may check it later in case I need super accuracy for some special work.

Chuck tender/Bug Filet: Just let it soften in the oven

The chuck tender, also called “bug filet” or “fake filet” in German, is ideally suited for slow cooking. Here my favorite recipe (most just to remember myself, but you may give it a try as well!).

Bug filet marked in red:

Step (1): prepare/wash/dry the meet, about 3-3.5 pounds are ideal.

Step (2): roast all around in hot oil, in a large pot. When almost finished, add about 4 onions, cut into mid-size pieces, and roast further

Step (3): put the meat into a roaster, or other container that is fire-proof and has a lid.

Step (4): add a mixture of about 200 mL of water, 50 mL balsamic vinegar to the onions in the pot, stir thoroughly to remove and dissolve all residue from the pot, and add the liquid to the roaster. You may add some other root vegetables, carrots etc.

Step (5): cover the meat with a mixture of mustard, salt and pepper. Cover.

Step (6): put into the preheated oven, at about 130~140°C. Let cook for about 4 hours. Usually no need to touch, open, etc. – provided the roaster is tightly closed. You can also cook it at 120°C for 5 hours. Under no circumstances use a temperature above 140°C, or any type of short cooking with this meat – it will be tough, and can’t develop the flavor.

Step (7): take the meet from the roaster (check core temperature if you wish, should be about 80°C). Let it rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime, bring the liquids in the roaster to a boil, add some salt, as needed, and add a bit a mixture of starch and water (while boiling and stirring) to give the sauce some texture.

Step (8): cut the meet into rather this slices. Serve with some mashed potatoes.

This dish can be easily stored in the freezer, and re-heated any time. The meet even improves in tenderness and taste.

Steamed dumplings: Dampfnudeln (original Swabian German type and recipe)

These are really delicious. In case you want to try, here is the recipe.


70 mL milk
60 g sugar
1 pck active dry yeast (or 1/2 cube of yeast)
300 g wheat flour
2 eggs
60 g butter

Prepare a soft dough, let rise for about 1 hour or double size.

Then, knead properly and form 7 pieces, and let rise for about 15 minutes.

In a deep (or medium-deep) pan heat a mixture of 100 mL milk, 30 g sugar, and 20 g butter.

Put the 7 pieces into the pan, and immediately close with a tight-closing lid (never open until done!!). Bring to a strong boil, for just a moment, and then regulate down the heat to mid-head (best done on induction or electric stove, may be hard to avoid burning the crust on a gas stove). For my local stove, I use setting 4 of 8 (max).

After about 20~25 minutes, the dumpling will fill the pan, and are done.

Best served with vanilla sauce, strawberry sauce, or similar.

Chair Repair: build in 1991, refurbished in 2017

My good old office chair has seen better days, with permanent use sind 1991, during all my study and overseas activities. At least, it is not a cheap imported chair, but a good old German made and top quality office chair, purchased for about 300 Deutschmarks in 1991. A very generous gift of my parents, who took care of my back even at those early days.
But now, all the fabric is work, and even holes showing up, and threads loose.

Sure, there are many professional repair shops that can do a full overhaul of such chairs, but what about the do-it-yourself spirit? So I decided to fix it myself, using simple tools, like, a nail gun (see below), a razorblade, some fabric (corduroy, available from a local shop at low cost), and a fleece (non-woven, anti-slip impregnated) fabric (about 100 g/m2 weight).

This is the nail gun I use, a Ferm ATM1042. It’s quite sturdy, and a great deal for the price!

The nails used are 5.8×13 mm, quite easy to worth with, using an air-pressure operated gun.

The fleece serves an important purpose, it covers the old fabric (nothing removed from the chair), and gives it some new firm touch. And, because of its anti-friction properties, it will not slip between the old and new fabric. And, it is available locally, at low cost. I used a single layer for the back rest, and two layers for the seat, cut to size.

Here you can see progress on the back-rest. Make sure the fabric is aligned property, then first fix two opposite sides with the needle gun. Then, continue with the perpendicular sides, then diagonally, and so on. Always apply an even “pull” to make sure the fabric looks nicely stretched around the corners. Avoid any wrinkles by pulling the fabric straight, and by applying more nails from the gun. After all, don’t safe on nails!

For the seating surface – the same procedure.

Voila, all done, and ready for at least 10 more years of service!

Xmas Cookies: Heidesand

It’s never to early to prepare for Xmas, and certainly not too early to bake some cookies anyway.

These cookies are a specialty of our family, called “Heidesand”, but it is a modified recipe, and a bit different compared to the Northern German original.

For the dough, thoroughly mix and knead:

250 g butter (soft)
100 g finely powdered sugar
100 g marzipan paste
300 g wheat flour type 405

The dough will be rather soft after some kneading, but don’t worry!

Form to rods of about 1″ diameter, wrap in aluminum foil and let cool/solidify in the fridge overnight.

Cover with some egg jog, and roll in sugar to fully cover the outside with crystals.

Immediately cut in slices, about 3/8 of an inch thick. Put on non-stick paper with a good distance between the slices. Don’t let the rolls warm up! For best results, only cover one roll with the sugar coating at a time, and cut it into slices, before proceeding with the next roll.

Bake at 175°C, circulating air oven, for about 11 minutes (perimeter of the cookies must be brown, inside only lightly colored).

Everything done right – the cookies will look like this, and taste even better:

Cast Aluminium Wok with Gas Burner: a 10.5 kW cooking arrangement

With frequent trips to Asia (almost half-time living there at the moment), I don’t really get sick of Asian food. Even more so, if we can all it European style food, cooked in a wok. All fresh vegetables, some meet, some fried rice, cooking limited to a few minutes, and not a lot of dishes to wash up afterwards.

This is the arrangement. The wok, from Thailand, is cast aluminium, and very good for all kinds of wok cooking styles, including stir fry, fried rice, deep fry, steam cooking, and so on.

wok arrangement

The real key to wok cooking is not so much the wok itself, which comes in various types of materials (never take anything that is coated, either black steel, cast iron, or aluminium give the best result). The real key is the burner, and its power. Unless, if you have a really strong custom build induction coil heater… more about his later.

The burner, it is propane fired, and comes in an easy to assemble set of parts, for about EUR 40, delivered. Great value.

wok burner

See the data. The power is pretty good, and can be regulated down a bit if needed. But most times, I use this thing full power, along with a 5 kg propane bottle, which seems to last for a while.

wok burner1

Before you use a new wok, be sure to clean it properly, and then burn-in by using some vegetable oil (heat resistant, don’t use olive oil). With some paper towel, and a wooden stick, wipe the wok inner surface, while it is really hot, and until some brown layer is forming. This should all be done on outside, and only use a small amount of oil, and never hold your head anywhere close to the wok, because the fumes may catch fire any time. At my end, everything worked out nicely and quietly, but not without the smell or burning hot vegetable oil.

wok burn in

After cool down, time for some first dish. This is not a cooking block, sure you will find your own recipes.

work 1st dish

Cleaning is easily accomplished with hot water and a very minor amount of a mild cleaning agent. If at all possible, just wipe out and clean with water, no cleaning agent, and use daily, to preserve the anti-stick properties of the surface.

Really Hot: Brick Oven Pizza at Home

To prepare a brick oven pizza, no doubt, the most suitable apparatus would be a brick oven, wood fired. However, it is hard to come by at your home, and not quite viable to heat up such massive equipment just for one or two pizzas.
Time to try out a present received for xmas, a brick, which fits my oven very well. The material is Schamotte, a Mullite-type Si-Al-Oxide material. Make sure to get a food grade stone, because many refractory bricks intended for industrial use contain heavy metals, and this is not what we want for the pizza.

pizza schamotte stein

For the dough, there are a few things to consider. It can’t be too soft, otherwise, it will be difficult to handle. Some good recipes:

Basic Recipe

500 g wheat flour (unbleached, German type 405)
–> can be substituted by a mixture of 150 g of whole wheat flour, and 350 g of wheat flour.
15 g of salt
3 spoons of vegetable oil
1 spoon of sugar
270 ml warm water
10 g of yeast, or sufficient active dry yeast

To prepare the dough, dissolve yeast and sugar in water, and add salt, oil, and about 3/4 of the flour. Mix thoroughly, add remaining flour, mix, and knead with your hands until the dough is nice and firm.
Let rise for 1-2 hours, or longer, depending on temperature.

Form into round pieces, about 100 g each for small size pizza, and let these pieces rest for about 35-45 minutes.

pizza dough

Above, this is what it should look like.

Then, roll out the pieces, without any further kneading, and use some flour and semolina as an anti-stick agent.

Make sure the stone is pre-heated at full power, 250°C temperature.

pizza before

Put the pizza on a wooden panel of appropriate size to move it around, and slide it on the stone. Don’t add too much sauce, otherwise, the pizza might get stuck to the stone.

pizza after

MMMMMMHHhhhh delicious!

pizza breads

Needless to say, there are many uses for the pizza stone, like, baking bread rolls, onion breads, or flat breads. A great opportunity for some experimentation!

Phillips Senseo Coffee Brewing System: the serious consequences of a broken wire

With close to 40 million sets sold, the Phillips Senseo coffee makers are in widespread use in various parts of the world, predominantly, Europe. Also at my workshop, this machine provides the essential supply of coffee. However, recently, this supply came to a sudden and unexpected hold, leaving me in a serious situation – stuck without coffee.

The defect was not related to any of the electronic or electric parts, but to the closing mechanism of the head part. It just would not close properly.

First we need to have a look inside. Using a screwdriver, the lid can be easily disassembled, by prying out the inner part with a screwdriver (needs to be done left and right).


Inside, a broken wire spring, which is 1.5 mm in diameter, and made from some rather stiff stainless steel spring wire.


Where to get a spare wire? No 1.5 mm spring wire around here, but an old egg beater (maybe you can use some steel wires of an old umbrella?). So I decided to sacrifice one of its wires to the coffee machine repair.


Here, you can see the wire installed. It is not quite 1.5 mm thick, but still, it works.


After this quick fix, coffee again!


1″x30″ Belt Sander: re-wiring a capacitor motor from 115 VAC to 230 VAC

The world could be a better place if all people would agree to use the same measure, voltage, frequency, etc., but this is not going to happen soon. For me, constantly moving forth and back and living on various continents, this causes additional hardship. In the US, I own a 1″x30″ belt sander, which is available from Harbor Freight, at about USD 50. That’s a remarkable price, because the unit is actually quite well-build, has roller bearings, polyamide rollers, a motor, a cast-aluminum case, a base plate, and so on. No idea how the Chinese make this for less than USD 50 – the 4 6202RS bearings alone are more than $10, if not more.

beltsander hf

Moving back to Germany soon, this nice litte machine will be a heavy doorstop – because there ain’t no 115 V power in Germany. What about the motor?

belt sander motor

As it turns out, it is a capacitor motor, more precisely, a permanent split capacitor motor – the capacitor remains permanently connected to one of these windings. Such motors don’t have massive torque at start-up, and are typically used for fans, pumps, and the like. While some of these motors can be easily re-wired to 230 V, the belt sander motor only has 4 wires coming out.

So, we need to have a look inside. Make sure not to damage any of the windings!

beltsander 115v wiring

A quick schematic – there are two main coils, and one started coil. Great! This means, we can rewire it…

beltsander schematic

Be sure you know what you are doing – this is all mains voltage, and the wires need to be properly wrapped and insulated (especially, the now exposed connection point inside of the motor).

beltsander rewired

Still puzzling how such a nice machine can be made for so little money… the motor alone – just rewiring it takes the better part of 1 hour…. all nicely wrapped.

beltsander wire wrap

The capacitor, a CBB60 grade, 250 V, PP metallized capacitor. 12 µF.

beltsander ccb60 12uf capacitor

Finally, the belt sander assembled again – and ready for 230 VAC.

beltsander assembled

Some consideration of belt speed – the sander has a 95 mm diameter drive roll. A 60 Hz 2 pole induction cage capacitor motor will have about 3300-3400 RPM at full speed – that’s about 16 m/s grinding speed – OK for most materials (you might want to go a little faster on steel, and slower for touch-up and last steps of sharpening of knives, and similar objects).
Running at 50 Hz will reduce the speed to 13-14 m/s, fair enough.

Ordinary Wheat Bread: well-proven US recipe

This is a good, fast and simple wheat bread. Optimized for baking in gas-fired ovens.

1600 g wheat flour (1:1 mix of ordinary and bread flour; up to about 300 g wholewheat flour is OK)
30 g salt
1 package dry yeast

Dry-mix thoroughly.

Add 1200 mL of warm water.

Mix/knead. Let rise thoroughly. Knead again – add some flour as needed.

Form elongated shape breads. Let rise.

Bake in pre-heated oven to 425 F. For best result, add water in tray at start of baking.

ordinary wheat bread