Patrick and Lance are so excited and yet nervous at the same time because we have put up our first two YouTube video on our YouTube Channel and the lives of these two best friends living and working in a small rural desert town will likely never be the same.


  • Movers delay Levin Lathe rebuild.
  • Levin Lathe rebuilding begins, it’s a permanent table mounted machine.
  • Removing the tape and tape residue from baking on the epoxy and enamel paints.
  • Painting or repainting a dozens of parts, Levin Lathes, Flume Lathe, Bergeon Carbide Tool Sharpener and an Indicator Stand.
  • Lance destroys then repairs a painted headstock that had many hours into it.
  • Sanding before more painting continues.
  • Machining a Levin & Son part to factory specifications.
  • Trying out a new additional YouTube camera.
  • We launched our first YouTube video / Filming Video #2.

LET”S HAVE SOME FUN - Come be our friend

Bad Movers Destroyed our Laminated Levin Lathe Table Top

Years ago when we moved to our current location, we had hired movers for about a dozen items where all of the rest being very fragile, so we moved these ourselves.

This Levin Lathe table was one of the items the movers took for us and they stacked so much stuff on the top of it, that the integrity of the press wood top failed and that lead to our discovering the bowed top recently.  We only noticed this problem when we decided to rebuild the actual lathe that gets mounted to this table top and it will be the permanent home of this fine micromachining precision American Made lathe.


Replacing a Bad Table Top (also an Upgrade)

The vintage Levin Lathe table top and home for one of the two lathes (the 1940’s instrument lathe with chip tray) is being rebuilt and needed to be replaced. We went with a 2-1/4 inch thick maple table top which for a guy who is more a fan of metal over wood, these table tops are really well made and precision leveled via a plainer. They are really tough too and will last a lifetime.

Years ago, we had powder coated the metal frame of the machine table including the two drawers that also attached under the wood table top in a beautiful blue color. This Levin & Son table base stand or legs was our first ever experience with powder coating and after going though that process and dealing with a nice company that performed the work, we thought (like usual) that we can and should learn to do this for ourselves looking forward.

After some research and pricing along with the amount of vintage machinery that still needs rebuilding, we thought it made great sense to enter this skill set into the things these two men on a journey know how to do and will learn to do even better over time. This whole process truly intrigued these two desert dwellers enough after reviewing the color match, quality and durability, that all this lead us to make our own little paint booth and oven so we could powder coat many of our smaller machine tools components and a few occasional parts for our Jeep.

This particular table base is made of these two separate leg stands with a single cross member about half ways up from the total overall height, meaning there is no support between these two leg stands.  So we added ¾ of an inch in thickness to the original table top and utilized maple wood to add strength as we want our currently rebuilt Levin Lathe to have a safe, strong and extremely ridged place to call home.

The laminated table top was not the original one anyways, though we did add back onto the front of the table edge, the Levin plaque that came with the original table when we bought it years ago. We will once again be adding the metal Levin table tag and 2 miniature screws to screw it in place that we hope will be for the final time.

It is interesting to note that the original Levin table top was also laminated but in solid white. However prior to the use of this laminated table top, Levin once used a maple top but not as thick as the maple top we just installed.

The twin drawers are mounted to the underneath of the tabletop with 4 screws per side, making it very ridged as well. The final detail is the small hook that holds our airline gun in place for easy access during machining operations. We will now add the new maple table top and the Levin badge back to the table before we begin rebuilding the lathe that mounts to this table.

Old Baked On Tape Residue that is also Baked On During Paint Curing

Tough times come when you leave masking tape on painted parts as it is but when you leave the tape on the painted machine parts for a few years and that tape was baked on, it becomes very difficult to remove it as the paints we utilize are generally 2 part epoxy, enamel or powder coat.

This tape and tape residue become a tough and challenging effort that requires very skilled labor techniques and knowledge earned over the years of how to complete the task at hand.

A special tape residue cleaner no longer legally sold in California, was required to save these painted parts from a total redo.  Being California residents, we were fortunate to have purchased a case of this residue cleaner years ago but we don't look forward to the day when our stock is depleted.  Thanks to the low-VOC standards as set by California which also prohibits the sale of 99% Isopropyl Alcohol.


Lacquer Paint is no Different then any other Paints

These paints like all paints require attention to detail such as prep, sanding, bead blasting, masking, cork plugging many holes, the environment, ambient temperatures, humidity winds etc.

Though paint is paint and paint acts like paint, lacquer for this articles content purposes, require that the paint comes into the masked holes and leaves a lip, slight as it should be, it bonds the paint into the usually sharp corner edge of the precision bores and holes, leaving the holes edge with the appearance that that the paint just flows up to the around and across the hole diameter within a seamlessly look.

The paint edges, holes and bores that are masked internally away from the edge then need a required skill of removal at a surgical precision removal level to allow the precision bores or holes in the machine tool to still allow the fit with other components during re-assembly of the machine tool.

Lance Drops a Part and the Efforts Applied to its Finish are Destroyed

The part is the open style headstock for the vintage Levin Lathe instrument lathe model with chip tray (though the chip tray was not involved in this incident) was being unmasked very slowly very methodically as to not chip this particular shade of beige, like a very light tan that was specially prepared for us to an exact color match of the Levin Lathe branded color.

The paint is a Nitrocellulose Lacquer Aerosol Paint and while it comes in a can format, it does require that you bake the paint on as we do with all of our painting regardless of the type of paint applied.  It is important to note that this paint type is for Industrial Use only and not for Consumer Sale.  A professional style breathing mask is a requirement when using this type of paint.


Sanding and Painting Parts


Sanding and painting are never performed in the workshop, only miniature, micromachining, micro finishing ultrasonic cleaning little watch or timing mechanical device services and repairs are allowed. Even a little micro brush paint touch ups that are performed in the Workshop scares the boss (he thinks he is) around here, his name is Patrick.

Additional Machine Rebuilding Parts need Paint

We have around a dozen machine components to get painted to meet our standards but first we must do some Precision Machining.


We have about a dozen parts to still be painted that requires machine work to be performed to the Levin & Son factory specification. A machining operation on a milling machine will be performed prior to the painting operations that will follow.

Why Additional Machining of a Vintage Machines Component is Required?

Levin makes the Levin Instrument Lathe headstock pulley and belt cover to be mounted under the wooden machine table top and the belt runs through the table top from the lathe to the motor mounted below. Levin makes the cover and provides it with a single cutout that is for mounting the motor under the table top but in our case, we want the motor and all machine operation components mounted above.  Mounted onto the actual table top, takes more table top space but is easier for us to maintain and such.  This configuration also allows to run the Idler Pulley belt from the same motor that drives the main lathe headstock spindle.  The Idler Pulley is used for driving Levin Accessories that are used for tasks such as for drilling, grinding and polishing at a very precision level.

To mount the Levin Lathe motor and pulley on the table top surface, an additional cutout must be added to an opposing side of the headstock pulley cover affording us this motor mounting ability. To maintain a true precision machine (even for just the cover of these vintage machines) we must cut this on the mill with great precision to dimensions provided by Levin & Son to assure the reputation of these great American Made Machine Tools is maintained for generations to follow.

We are then going to paint these additional Levin Lathe components including some Flume Lathe bed parts and a vintage dial indicator stand.  And let us not forget, even a tool from Bergeon which is a Machine Carbide Tool Sharpener.

Outdoor Patio or in the Machine Shop Areas are for Painting

These two areas are the current go to places to sand metal parts before acetone wash, fill, mask, cork, putty, prime, paint and bake.

The Patio is fair but it has no cover and is just an open air cement pad attached to both the garage or as named The Machine Shop (464 square feet) and The Workshop (300 square feet) on another one of the four sides of the pad.

It is me, Lance and I have been sanding, cleaning, bead blasting, masking, corking (putty sometimes used in T-Slots before paint) priming, painting in either of these two areas at our home based precision machining operation since the beginning.  One day, we might add an additional area depending on the rebuilding and painting or coating demands we see in the distant future and we would likely name it The Paint Shop.


We go Live on YouTube

The date for our first video is out of the can. We have already uploaded our first two weekly videos to our YouTube Channel at the following link.

We like, NO WE LOVE what it is we d, and we do what we love all day, 365 days a year, and no, I am in no way kidding, we work 7 days a week 365 days a year.

We do not get distracted from outside activities so why not share the skills of these two desert dweller craftsmen of fine metal machines and tools from an era of vintage machine tools gone by, that is in our minds, more demand now then anytime since the great American Made mechanical and electro-mechanical machining tools for products industries of the era dating from 1940 through 1982.


The actual machinery age began in 1880 and lasted through 1945.

These two life events are different from one another, yet the machinery age lead to the precision machining tool age, and now we and the world are in the CNC programming for machines to 3D Metal printing age beginning around 1979 to current times.


We Have and Share the Making of Precision Machined Parts

During some of those times Lance worked in the aerospace industry from 1973 through 1993, before that it was my dad and before that, it was his dad and right back to the early 1940’s, it was my dads, dads, dad making great American Machined parts and completed products. So I and three prior generations started into the beginning of manufacturing era that helped build and shape America while providing a modest means for each generation of my personal family and many American families for these decades.

I personally got in a decade of those 42 great American Machined products years when Americans made great things and people made great money working in the manufacturing industries that we are seeing return again currently to America.

Patrick and Lance are both very qualified in the making of machined precision products, both manually and CNC programmed from start to finish and for this, we are two skilled men of modest means that will be sharing via YouTube.  And this includes the many social networking platforms that offer us a window to open up and let in a little air, and the elements and in exchange we will share our knowledge with those expressing interest in us while we make American precision machined products in the vast open desert of California from within our rural town we call both home and work.

Meet the team and their backgrounds at Active Atom Precision Machining.

We Added yet another Fine Camera

To capture the continuous action occurring around this living and work space, we added an additional and more mobile camera to capture much more fine moments for our weekly video series.

Our primary camera is permanently mounted on a quality heavy tripod which we use when the view will not change such as for our video introductions or when filming a scene that will not change such as a machining process.  Our secondary camera is mounted on a combination hand-held and table-top tripod that is great for filming scenes that are constantly moving.  We will be uploading all our Youtube videos in HD 1080p format.

The first 2 videos are out now and it covers the beginnings of the rebuilding of two Levin Lathes.

Fun in the California Sun

We at Active Atom Precision Machining have been writing for many years and sharing our business, our skills, our products, our relationships, meetings, even the items we purchase but we now have this great new addition of video as yet one more way to share while adding what personalities we have as well.

The two of us do have personalities, though through our writings it is often not possible to convey this so now that we are on YouTube and have our own channel, it is going to be fun to be seen and heard and be enabled with the ability to convey our personalities through video to you our viewers.


Meet California’s Number One Tour Guide

Once upon a time (up until his death in 2013), a man named Huell Howser, a California TV personality that we saw (never met) at brunch one day out with friends in Palm Springs, California had always said this distinctive statement while filming the series about obscure locations across California through a few of his show series named California’s Gold or Visiting With Huell Howser.

These distinctive statements came through with the hosts native Tennessee accent that went a bit like this quote “Oh boy this is going to be (or get) exciting” or “That’s Amazing”

These televised shows were only shown on Public Television Stations in California, sold on DVD and some were uploaded to YouTube for sharing. See and hear how he, Mr. Howser looked and sounded like and what likely made him a California personality that will live on through the videos he filmed and produced with minimum people involved in the total production of these timeless films.

Please see Huell Howser’s videos at

Please Know This

While he traveled up and down and inland of the California state and even out into the Pacific Ocean, he partly lived and filmed here in the high desert Morongo Basin, owned a home in Twentynine Palms, filmed a lot of Joshua Tree National Park and he had a home in the neighboring lower desert Palm Springs Coachella Valley of California areas where he also filmed a lot.

We mention Huell Howser because like Huell, we Patrick and Lance want to leave (someday) a lasting education about how to do and accomplish the skills we have been doing our entire lives.

This is our own version of California history to pass on to others and to mainly help the people looking for ways to solve the challenges for making American Machined products or the rebuilding of or repairing of mechanical things from home shop repairs to machines and tools to the making of lasting American Machined products, even how to CNC program like we do.


We do know a little about a lot of topics and we are going to be covering them to the best of our abilities.  So please let these two desert dwellers ask you to join them and to share their journey and their craftsmanship with you.

Come Join Us and Be our Friend

Please if you have not already signed up to be on our email list, you can do so by going to our website at and entering your email address at the bottom of the page.  Also YouTube channel and be sure to subscribe and click on the BELL.  We are also on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or just pay a lot of attention to these two best friends when you can.