Tuesday, October 20, 2015

One Drop of Solder

You have probably heard the story of how John D. Rockefeller in the early days od Standard Oil asked the guy who sealed up the cans of oil how many drops of solder he used to seal the cans.  The answer was 43.  "What would happen if you used 42?"  It worked, and saved 6/10ths of acent per can, $43 million a year increased profit.

At ScopeRoller, I am always looking for a way to play Rockefeller.  Switching from boring out cylinders of acetal to a round aluminum sleeve that bolts on to the tripod leg both reduces materials costs, labr, and made a more durable product. 

We were making a set for the Losmandy 8 Lightweight tripod.  These are a rectangular sleeve instead of a round one, because the tripod leg is square.  The labor was substantially reduced.  The sleeves being square are easy to locate in the drill press vise, easier to drill and tap, and the acetal part that goes in the end in which the casters  sit is now a rectangle, easy to make exactly right sized with a planer, insteade of turning on a lathe.  So I wondered: why are the sleeves for most of these legs round?  Just because the tripod leg is round?  The sleeve holds to the leg with three bolts.  Going to a square sleeve means using four bolts which reduces the force required on each bolt, producing less damage to the tripod leg and less stress to the threads.  Square tubes weigh slightly more and cost a bit more than round, and 4 bolts cost more than 3 bolts, but labor saving is substantial and the holes are more precisely located.

This morning, as I started gathering materials for an experimental set for one of my telescopes that the tripods that sent me buying a CNC mill could benefit from this as well.  The Vixen tripod legs are rectangular:

I have produced a solution in the past that goes inside the leg, replacing the foot at the right side of the above picture.  It's a somewhat odd shape: hence the CNC mill.  But better to produce a rectangular sleeve like the others that slides over leg and foot and bolts on.  Trivial to make, lower labor costs and not dependent on the exact locations of the screws that hold the foot in the leg.  This way I can either reduce costs and increase profits, or reduce selling price and increase volume of sales.


  1. So.. one drop of solder at the time this was said cost .6 cents?

    One big ass drop.