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Confession- and something different

08 Aug 2015
@ 11:21 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Several years back, I was on my way into the hills of an evening to glass for pigs. On my way into the bush, I came across two hunters using the same access route to get to a neighboring hunting block. A couple of rookies I suppose. Within a short period of time, the guys were given my usual treatment, hunting tutorials and gun work overs. Both guys are these days very successful hunters and great friends.

Fast forwards a few years and I have just finished my long range Cartridges book and starting the Accurizing book. One day I get a call from one of the guys- he owns a business called Superior Stainless and he has a man down, away on sick leave- can I help knock out a few sink benches? Surface finishing is one of my areas of expertise (hence my views on barrel break in procedures) so both Steph and I trundle along, do the bizzo for a few days, all good. It's no big deal and makes for a nice change from writing. Its good to keep in the loop too. During the few days, several folk from within the industry come along for a catch up, guys I haven't seen in years- all good.

Fast forwards again to current events. The owner of the business has gained a large contract to build milk tankers. Superior stainless has now grown to what might be considered a perfect size. The business is big enough to tackle large contracts but trim enough to survive industry highs and lows. The staff are a great bunch of guys. The business is worth supporting.

And so I get the call- can I help. This time I am asked if I can train staff or help in any way, again with regards to surface finishing. Floods have prevented me operating our hunts for a while, the only issue being that I want to get the final book in the series finished in a timely manner. My readers need help via the final book- yet the guys in this workshop also need my help. Bugger. Ultimately I decide to offer a short period of time to help with the tanker contract. For the last few weeks, I wake up, answer my mail and help with customer rifle projects, then off to the industrial sector of New Plymouth to help with the tankers, arrive home late feeling half dead before starting the whole process again the following day. Steph takes care of all other business matters during the day. I feel quite disloyal to our readers but at the same time, I feel compelled to help with this local project. I enjoy working with the guys. I learn to make peace with the situation. Besides, too much writing can make you soft- and ultimately, that's how I justify the situation to myself.

So here is what I have been up to. I am very sorry for my partial absence from the forums of late but to be honest, I have been answering questions every day now for several hours each day for a number of years and I have needed this short break. The project is now pretty much over and done, allowing me to finish the book which is nearing its final stages now.

fabricating the tanker bodies.

I prefer to use a Bosch 9" grinder and 60 grit sanding discs to break down the welds (step 1). I go through 12 discs per seam which takes 20 minutes. We then move to heavy straight grinders and flap wheels (Straight grinder picture further down). This allows the steel to be brought up to a food grade finish. Hard yacka holding the tools at eye level all day but makes your rifle feel light in comparison. I tend to allow 3 hours per seam though it pays to allow 5 hours for noobs or unforeseen stoppages.

Initial view of a seam

Halfway through a dome seam. The seam has been disced (right) and is now being brought up to a higher finish with flap wheels (left). The upper blackened section of the dome will be polished after I have dealt with the seam. I break the job in two because the upper section must all be done over head- Waive your hands in the air like you just don't care... and keep grinding.

Staff training. The staff member is learning how to use a combo wheel for the final food grade finish.

Life on the inside of a tanker can be a bit glum. Positional welding and polishing jobs seem to go on forever and you can never quite get comfortable. This pic shows the baffles which stop milk (or wine or any liquid) sloshing around too much. The wobbly lines are not wayward polishing but are simply where the PVC was pulled back, allowing dust to settle.

Polishing the vortex breaker with air tools.

On the outside of these tankers, the finish is of a decorative nature as opposed to the basic food grade finish on the inside. In this instance, we have hard disced the weld off the end cap, stickit disced to 400 grit and I am now bringing it up to a mirror finish with sizals and mops prior to brushing. The Flex straight grinder I am using is to the polisher, what the sword is to the Samurai. This one goes around 4500rpm and weighs about the same as medium weight rifle. My favorite weapon is a Fein straight grinder, commonly dubbed the Fein hi cycle. These can go around 7000rpm. But alas, the brushless Fein is quite expensive and needs a converter box for its power supply. I find the Flex grinder is now more common and it performs very well. In this pic, I am using a white stitch wide stitch mop and yellow LEA compound.

The finished product.


09 Aug 2015
@ 02:07 am (GMT)

Richard Butler

Re: Confession- and something different
Nathan, the conversation between contributors while you were away sounded pretty healthy to me.
09 Aug 2015
@ 05:02 am (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Confession- and something different
Yeah we'll let you off to play with the Polishing wheels. Next time you want to run off you will need to get a note from Steph and get us all to sign it!
09 Aug 2015
@ 09:13 am (GMT)

Ben Law

Re: Confession- and something different
You've got to do what you've got to do nathan.

There's definately a few of us looking forward to the new book.
10 Aug 2015
@ 09:35 am (GMT)

Derek Drinkwater

Re: Confession- and something different
Nathan, we thank you for all of your hard effort at Superior Stainless, this project would have been extremely hard without your help, the client is very happy with the finished product and has voiced interest in us building more tankers in the near future, best you be working 26hrs a day on that book because we might need you back sooner than you think!!! cheers Derek
10 Aug 2015
@ 10:13 am (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Confession- and something different
Derek only if you sponsor the Web site lol He needed a break in solitary confinement. I'm sure that one of those tanks is as good a place as any to confine a man. Pretty awesome setup you have mate.. you know that they are a Think Tank with Nathan working in them? Until he farts then it's a stink tank!


We are a small, family run business, based out of Taranaki, New Zealand, who specialize in cartridge research and testing, and rifle accurizing.