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   Decmber 1994 Edition

Dear Ultra Tec Cousin,
I often credit some Ultra Tec cousin for getting me to do a Newsletter - someone who stirs me out of my lethargy. During the past year, several people stirred me pretty good ( I suspect that age makes one harder to stir ), but something always conspired against it - and the year almost got away. But finally, in time to serve as a Holiday Greetings ( Yes to you all! ) is the Ultra Tec "Some Times"


My son Robert has now joined Ultra Tec full time. He graduated from the University of So.California in June with a degree in Business. I tend to question the practical value of "school learning", but he's already contributed to shaping us up. We might actually start to run like a business.

Several of you have asked if I plan to retire. I consider that I retired over 20 years ago, when I made the Ultra Tec business my hobby - a hobby I plan to pursue for at least 30 years more. I am going to try to take some more days off (I here declare it publicly in hope that it will help me really do it).

[Now, for those of you who are sceptics in regard to "the conspiracy that prevents me from gettmg this letter done--at this point in the writing, the phone rang, and it was Maxine, who had gone out to the local pharmacy, reporting that our car had just been stolen. The next hours {set aside to do this letter) were devoted to police reports and finding a rental car on Thanksgiving eve--not easy) so that we could get to the airport to pick up visiting relatives (our other vehicle being a pickup truck)--OK? Conspiracy or not.] Well, back to the matter at hand--quite a few days later:


Michigan--In August we visited the annual Faceting Seminar given by the Midwest Faceters Guild. It's held in Hartland, Michigan, where a school is available, with a very good setup--different classrooms for different levels, ranging from beginners to experienced facetors.

Having visited this group before, I knew to expect a lively, enjoyable, and of course, educational weekend. The Guild members really pitch in and help - I'd like to give recognition to them all, but I'd run out of space - in particular, however, I want to mention Kathleen Myers and Bill Horton, who chaired the seminar.

(Bill, incidentally, was awarded the Crystalite "Outstanding Gem Cutter of 94" - well deserved). One of the best things about any of these visits is the chance to get together with the "good ol' boys, and girls". Many I'd met before; many others I'd spoken to on the phone; and, of course, there were new friends too. Among them was Joe Kossak, who passed along an idea for a Transfer Fixture Calibration Rod ( the "Kossak Kalibrator"? ) - more about that later on in this letter, under the "New Stuff" heading.


On to New York

New York was our next stop, where we had a chance to visit with the faceting group of the Nassau County Gem and Mineral Society. We found their very nice facility in the Garvey's Point Museum, in Glen Cove.

George Castas, the faceting instructor, was leading a group of about 15 facetors on the day we visited (many of these were Ultra Tec facetors, I was pleased to see)

There were perhaps 40 people in various other lapidary activities in the busy workshop. Talk about meeting old friends! Maxine spotted the name Seymour Trepel on a locker - he was there- a neighbour of 50 ( ! ) years ago. They had plenty to talk about - like what ever happened to .....?

Southern California Facetors Guild

- Much closer to home - I spoke at their October meeting. I took the occasion to add an old Ultra Tec mast, one of the first ones made,to their collection of "faceting antiques". That was a good lead-in to my talk, which was about changes on the Ultra Tec machine over the years. Some changes are very apparent, but others (I added up about 20 changes) not so apparent - and some completely hidden. Going in, I was afraid a technical discussion about the equipment (rather than about faceting) might not be interesting to the group, but it went well (quite a few of them are Southern California engineers). Anyhow, they said they liked it - and few things were thrown at me.


Ultra Tec attended two shows--the Southern California Faceters Guild Show, in September, at the Orange County Fairgrounds, and, in November, the Northern California Faceters Fair in Sacramento, at the California State Fair Grounds. I worked the first day of the Southern show, and Robert Rubin and Gus Munoz worked the second day--(following up on the plan to have the young folks involved). I learned that Ken Leifeste (we wrote about him in an earlier letter, when he won an Ultra Tec Award), an active Guild member, who was demonstrating on his Ultra Tec, as he had often done, was retiring "home" to Texas, near San Antonio. We'll miss him around here, but I'm sure we'll hear from him. Maxine and I had planned to be in Sacramento, but then we learned that an overseas customer was to be in town--and so Gus and Delores worked the show (they have three children now, but with Grandma and Grandpa to do the baby sitting, the trip worked out--and, of course, they enjoyed it, for more reasons than three). Gus reports that we had several demonstrating Ultra Teckers, and our appreciation to Les Sylvester, Charlie Dortch, E.R. Buchanan, and Dan Lutton.


Stop the splashing
This is an "upgrade"of an earlier tip: when working on a stone's girdle, with the edge of the Splashguard pulled down, there's some splashing that occurs - out of the pulled-down opening. To greatly reduce that splashing, wedge a sponge between the Lap and the Splashguard, right before the opening - it wipes away the water that accumulates along the edge of the lap - from which the water makes its "jump". Here's the upgrade: instead of using a clip to keep the sponge in place - we suggest using a particular sponge: a dishwashing type - with a coarse scraping surface on one side (a brand readily available is 3M Scotch-Brite). The coarse side's pressing against the Splashquard keeps it in place, and the sponge side does its job of wiping away the water (and no clip to wrestle with) - it's nice.

A Water additive
From Dr. Lee Fent, of Newton, Kansas, comes advice for an additive to driptank water. He and the late Dr. Henry Owens ( who supplied us with "Polyflow" which some of you may remember) tried many facet mixtures - seeking one to keep the lap cleaner, make the water wetter, and hasten and smoothen the cutting and polishing process. Dr. Fent says he's happy with the following mixture:

Isopropyl alcohol (70% kind)     one pint
Kodak Photoflow 200                1 teaspoon
Glycerine                                     1 Oz. (30 cc)
Water to make                            1 gallon
(your tap water may be OK--but may have grit in it)

Use a glass jug - some plastic containers are OK, but the ones that aren't separate at the seam.

Dr. Fent suggests that when using an oxide for polish, on a tin or lucite lap, add 1 oz. of 5% vinegar to the solution.

"Extender Fluid"
for thinning diamond solutions. Users of this may notice that it is no longer on our pricelist. We recommend the use of mineral oil for the purpose - the kind you get at a drugstore. If you rub it on your baby, you can call it Baby Oil, and if you rub it on your lap you can call it Extender Fluid. It will cost you less.

This is not quite a faceting idea
but it uses the Ultra Tec Faceting machine and the Saw Kit. It's from the irrepressible Jim Feldman, of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and it deals with cutting pieces for making Opal mosaics. The drawing alone doesn't tell the whole story--so read the instruction (I underlined what I felt was the "key" to this process).

1) Make saw cuts into dopped opal to include desired strata.
    a) Saw at right angles, or any other direction depending on the shape of pieces desired.
    b) Fill all kerfs with epoxy or other cement to avoid corners breaking off when sawing slices (as in step 2).

2) Saw across the chunk, obtaining the desired thickness for use-- perhaps 1 mm (.040").

3) Set the slices with cement attached in solvent, long enough to soften and be removed.

Jim says: "This works!"


There are a few special things - perhaps of the not-for-everybody sort, but interesting:

for transfer fixture. As I mentioned above, this one was recommended by Joe Kossack when I spoke to him at the seminar in Michigan (Yes, Joe, it is a little different--I had to put my 2 into it). This picture tells most of the story:

When we do the assembly of the Transfer fixture, we line up the-part-that-provides-the-keying by using a dial indicator. We tighten the screws well, but suppose you bump it hard enough to move it, or suppose you purposely remove that part and need to remount it, or suppose you're the type that just likes to realign things? This calibration bar lets you realign the keying feature.


I can't say this was "recommended"-it sort of "happened", or better, was "forced" upon us by Stephan Kotlowski of upstate New York. Stephan is a professional cutter who undertook some doorknob-sized stones, and needed a transfer fixture of this size--it allows up to a 6" diameter girdle. The overall dimension is 10" and the maximum distance between blocks is 6"--it's not keyed (it doesn't have to be on such a large stone).

To make one of anything is very expensive (Stephan was shocked at the price asked by his local machine shop - and more shocked when I told him the man would lose money if he took him up on it). But, we made Stephan a deal - he'd pay our out-of-pocket cost (quite a bit), and we'd try to sell more at some price that might work - and if the buyers were there, we'd give him a rebate. It was a deal he couldn't refuse. I thought there might be some people who would like a transfer fixture this size (now, don't ask for a bigger one - or, for that matter, a smaller one - this is a "one size fits all''). There's a grand total of one on the shelf - and we'll make more if there are orders. It's expensive, yes (unless you need one). Its on the price list under "Special Purpose Accessories".

Wasn't there another "New Thing" in the works?
Definitely yes It came within a whisker of being in this newsletter, and it's almost ready. I'd actually written a descriptive paragraph - we made the prototype - it works fine - but, I don't want to announce something that's not on-the-shelf in its final production mode.

So, perhaps it will inspire a newsletter a lot earlier in 1995. How about this?--you folks send in some "tips". or designs, or any interesting news--that will fill my "ONL" file quickly--and with a "New Thing" ready to go--an early newsletter could result.

[NOTE: people with machines purchased in the past several years don't have to bother reading this section - we used to have a design that used "dop chucks" and unkeyed dops, and this is for people who chose not to convert to the current design.]
Most existing machines have been converted to the current direct-insertion keyed-dop design, and consequently, orders for DR and DRP dop chucks ("Draw-Rod", with a slot--and "Draw Rod, Pin" with a pin) have become very small. A straight business approach dictated a halt of production on these (I'd even told dealers that we would). But, having myself been an unhappy victim to product phase-out, a battle with my conscience ensued--and my conscience won. So, we will continue to supply DR and DRP dop chucks for the foreseeable future. The price has edged higher - when quantity goes down, costs go up. The chuck's front end
is new (we've learned some lessons from the new spindle)--collars and twisting caps are gone, in favor of set screw retention. The dop is held much more firmly, and it is comparatively free from later problems of wear. This sketch tells the story:

It's easy. All you have to do is do nothing.

that's a little harder--you have to send back the enclosed postcard.

Sending a newsletter is expensive and we'd like to pare the list down to interested people. Please don't be lazy about this. We did this before, some years ago, and some people who didn't respond, and consequently didn't get more newsletters, complained, but they knew who was really to blame.


OK, so the heading says "December"--it is December as I write this, but after speaking to our printer I realize you won't get the newsletter until January - well, not too late to wish you Happy New Year...

Avonnia, who was with us for two years, got an offer she couldn't refuse from a prior employer, so she's no longer with us. So, we're seeking a replacement....

New production machine - we've just installed a new computer controlled machine (for you "knowers", it's a Hardinge T-42), and now all our production is done on computer controlled machines. One of the main advantages is the assured quality of parts - with incredible accuracy and repeatability (like the Ultra Tec)....

Anybody for a trek in the hills? How about the Himalayas!? Geologist, and Ultra Tec facetor Alan Bassett has been resident in Katmandu, Nepal, in the shadow of Mt. Everest, for a number of years - and he's interested in taking a tour group up to the gem mines of Nepal. If that's something in which you'd be interested, contact me, and I can put you in touch with him - sounds fantastic.

Many of you know Al Huebler, who represented Ultra Tec in New Mexico until his recent move to Australia, with his Australian bride, Helen. Sad to report - he has written us that he's been stricken with what's known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. I've taken the liberty of sending him your best wishes, along with our own.

On a happy note--did you know Maxine and I are Grandparents now? The baby, a boy (Michael) is now a year old (arriving after the last newsletter) and is altogether an extraordinary child--exceptionally intelligent and handsome. Just ask Maxine if that's not true. He already knows how to turn on a faceting machine (and anything else with a switch or button). And says MAMA and HOT--how's that!!





Here's a 77 design - by who else than good ol' reliable Bob Hall, of Pinellas Park, Florida. We're all indebted to him for his inspirations. This one is the "Krazy Katt" - an eleven fold brilliant. Bob cut the prototype in a light blue synthetic spinel of 12 mm diameter. It has a non-faceted girdle. The angles are for spinel--and if you haven't caught on yet--the index gear is the 77.

Index 77

Angle               Index
1- 60            77-07-14-21-28-35-42-49-56-63-70
2- 50            02-09-16-23-30-37-44-51-58-65-72
3- 46            04-11-18-25-32-39-46-53-60-67-74
4- 42            06-13-20-27-34-41-48-55-62-69-76

Angle              Index
1- 43           77-07-14-21-28-35-42-49-56-63-70
2- 35           02-09-16-23-30-37-44-51-58-65-72
3- 27           04-11-18-25-32-39-46-53-60-67-74
4- 22           04-11-18-25-32-39-46-53-60-67-74
0 Table about 54%

Designs anyone? I do have one or two in reserve, but I'd sure welcome a few more.
To remind you, we offer undying fame - a mention in the Some Times.
Newsworthy items? Do you have a club or guild that you'd like to give some publicity?
Do you have a faceting tip? Whatever - don't be shy. We'll rush them into print.



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