How to access the coolant in impossible machines.

Zero Vertical Access Tube SkimmerClark Manufacturing
The Sidewinder

John Stein, head of maintenance for Clark Manufacturing (Traverse City, MI) takes a foresighted approach to problems. He solves them before they happen. One of the toughest challenges he faced in keeping his coolant tanks clean was how to access the coolant in impossible machines, efficiently and economically. He solved his problem using the Sidewinder Zero Vertical Access Skimmer from Zebra Skimmers (Cleveland, OH). Sidewinder reaches tramp oil where it could never be reached before. Clark Manufacturing originally paid $5,000 to have 6,000 gallons of liquid waste removed each year, containing mostly coolant, water, and some oils. Today Clark only has to dispose of half as much waste, composed mostly of oils and coolant. At a cost of $.40 a gallon, including trucking and everything, John is saving Clark $3,800 each year. Best of all, John went from changing coolant tanks once a week to only once a month, leaving him more time for salmon fishing.

An integral part of extending coolant life is keeping it free from tramp oils. John knew skimmers were the best way to remove tramp oils from the sumps. And of all the firms, he chose Zebra Skimmers. They not only have the best solutions, but also supply him with replacement parts for his other skimmers. In fact, Zebra units can go where no others can, and they ensure that virtually pure oil is extracted from the coolant. Having no coolant in the output saves John money and solves one more problem.

But there were three machines that posed great access challenges. Traditionally, with machines that are impossible to access, John would have to shut the machine down, drain the coolant, cut a hole in the coolant tank, and weld a new tank extension over the hole. Once this new extension was in place, he would recharge the coolant and place a regular skimmer there.

Then John learned of the Sidewinder, then under development at Zebra Skimmers. The Sidewinder is a new type of tramp oil skimmer that uses an O ring arrangement to drag the oil out of the sump. The ring goes through a scraper removing the oil from the ring. The clean ring then passes back into the machine. Its oil removal capacity is engineered to that of the machines it works on, pulling out about a quart of oil a day. Because its rate of oil removal is matched to that of the machine it works on, there is virtually no coolant removed. With a continuous duty motor, it can be on all the time, and it is made of indestructible space-age plastics. It fits in your hand, and can mount under a chip conveyor, or on the side of any tank in a matter of minutes, with no down time. And since the O rings can be any size, Sidewinder can reach anywhere.

John's Leadwell VMC 760XL had little overhead for any skimmer to fit. So John used the first Sidewinder ever made, mounting it over the offboard coolant tank. He had to make a custom top mount for it, but it was easy to do because the hole pattern is supplied with the unit. The skimmer slipped into its position, and took the oil out right away. And just as quickly, John saw that the his coolant lifetime increased dramatically.

The same overhead problem existed for the Mazak Slant 40 lathe. Here, a Sidewinder went on the inboard coolant tank. Because there is a second wall a few inches in, no disk or belt skimmer could be mounted unless modifications were made. With Sidewinder, John was able to mount the unit in minutes, by extending the O ring over the second lip.

A third Sidewinder is on the HEM saw, where traditionally no skimmer ever goes. This is a side mount, as shown in the photograph. John cut a small slot in the side of the coolant tank (above the coolant line) so that the bucket fits just underneath it. The oils Sidewinder deals with here are unknown, as they can be anything that the steel supplier has put on them. He has Sidewinder come on when the saw is on, so that it continuously removes whatever oils float on the coolant. Before skimming, John changed the coolant often. With Sidewinder he doesn't have to worry about it for months.

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