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Re: [TCML] Tungsten electrode thickness
> The Pt I have is really rated for 1.5KVA and 3KVA is the max I will be
> pushing it to.
> Hmmm, .25 tungsten is pretty expensive. Maybe I will use .25 steel as a
> substitute until I am willing to shell out for the nice tungsten. Or just
> go with the 1/8 and see what happens.
> Whats everyone's opinion on using steel?
> Whats the cheapest place I can buy some.
Steel melts. Hence the desire for tungsten which has the highest melting point of the readily
available materials that are suitable for the job.
If you use copper, which has a melting point a little above that of steel and has much better
electrical conductivity (less heat generated from I^2*R losses) and better thermal conductivity
(heat that is generated gets conducted away better, faster), you can get very good results without
going to the expense of tungsten.
Copper is not easy to find in rods or bars of a suitable size, so most folks use brass, which is
easily machinable, readily available, relatively inexpensive, and mostly copper. Brass has its
drawbacks though, there are many alloys of brass / bronze, some work better than others.
I have found that there are "copper bolts" made for electrical switchgear, or for marine use, that
are made of a modern silicon bronze alloy which is almost as good as pure copper. You can get them
from McMaster Carr Supply ( http://mcmaster.com/ ) and they are not that expensive. I face them off
in the lathe, and turn the hex heads round, then put a "rounded chamfer" on the end of the spark gap
end of the head.
If these are going on a rotary gap, the machining needs to be precise to keep it all in balance. I
used one of those cheezy fits in your pocket electronic scales I picked up at a pawn shop a few
years back to check the "static" balance, just removed a bit of material from each of the heavier
ones until it weighs the same as the lightest.
I made spacer sleeves from 3/4 inch diameter brass rod with a through center hole bored out with a
"letter size U" drill bit (just a tad over 23/64", press fit for a 3/8" bolt) and smeared some of
that silver bearing heat sink grease made for cpu's on the bolts before pressing them into the
sleeves. Of course the sleeves were "static ballanced" too..., and I could have used aluminum
because it is lighter, but I had the brass, and I could have machined "fins" on the sleeves to aid
in heat dissipation, but I didn't.
One advantage to this method is that in order to "upgrade" to tungsten all one would have to do is
bore an undersized hole in the "bussiness" end of the electrode and press in a tungsten slug. I have
a piece of 1/4" tungsten rod just for that purpose around here somewhere. Just he copper bolts work
so well, and I have too many other things to do.
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