Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
Web Site:
Associate Editors: Geo. Butts, JR Shroeder, Steve Henegar
and Margaret Malm

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No 234 - Wed 9/29/1999
2. NEW: Collecting Oregon Sunstone
3. NEW: Sphere Machine Motors
4. NEW: Can You Suggest a Book on Agate/Jasper?
5. RE: Notes from Lightning Ridge
6. RE: Black Onyx
7. RE: Black Onyx
8. RE: Need Parts for Vibra-Tek Vibrating Polisher
9. RE: Mineral Oil As A Saw Lubricant
10. RE: Polishing Yowah Nuts
11. RE: Healing Fractures in Stones
12. BIO: Gary Truesdail
13. WTB: Medium Size Slab Saw
14. FS: Cutting & Tumbling Material
15. FS: New Rainbow Smithsonite
16. FS: 8" Trim Saw


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 234 - Wed 9/29/1999

There was a big boo-boo in the last issue. You may have
noted two stray letters at the end. This was actually one
note for setting up the next issue, but it accidentally got
read into the machine before the last issue was sent out.

We have the third 'Notes from Lightning Ridge" below. James
writes these about once or twice a week, and tells about
mining opal and life in the opal fields. How do you feel
about things like this? Like it? Lemme know.

James Dumar sent several pictures which I cant add to the
Digest, but I could add them to the Website, if you really
want to see them. Lemme know.

As I have told you before, be sure to hug and kiss the ones
you love and make them feel secure in your love. But above
all, have FUN with your family each and every day.

Thanks, guys, for all you have done for me.


Subject: NEW: Collecting Oregon Sunstone

Rumor has it rockhounds are no longer allowed to dig for
sunstones in Oregon. Only pickup! Can any Oregon rockhounds
confirm or deny this dastardly rumor?


Subject: NEW: Sphere Machine Motors


The material sent to me by Ms Lila Trudel finally got me in
motion. I'm about two thirds done with my sphere maker(I
work slowly). I would like to pass on to others a relatively
inexpensive source for gear motors.
C and H sales Co.
(800) 325-9465
The motors that I have purchased are GE gearmotors, 105.7
RPM, about one-sixth HP. They were removed from equipment
(some kind of printer, I think). A friend of mine has been
using the same model in his sphere maker for several years,
and he regularly makes six inch spheres on his machine. So
the motors have plenty of power and torque for our purposes.
They cost $34.50 each.

I really enjoy the Lapidary Digest.

BRAVO ZULU!! (well done !!)

Subject: NEW: Can You Suggest a Book on Agate/Jasper?

Can anyone recommend a very good book with different agate
and jasper pictures and/or the rarer rocks (minerals?) like
Pietersite and Charoite etc.?

I'm just getting into lapidary and my greatest problem is
identifying material so I can sell it. Most gem and mineral
books either are limited to gems and mineral specimens and
stay away from things like the different agates and jaspers
or get into the granite/marbles etc.

Please let me know if you know of a great identification
book - even if only from one particular state that has a
wide variety of these rocks.

Lenny Salandi from Seattle
Lenny: I assume you know about Roger Pabian's website in
which he gives pictures of agates from all over the world?
Where else, guys can he find clear pix? hale

Subject: RE: Notes from Lightning Ridge

Hi Hale and Others:

I thought I would tell you a bit about the human landscape
here. As you may expect, we are an unusual group of Native
Australians, Croatians, Serbs, Scandinavians, Americans,
Canadians, Koreans, Chinese, Philippinos...... I won't
enumerate the entire list of 52 nations, but most of us
answering to one of the above are now proudly Australian. No
friction between the various diverse cultural groups to
speak of, even when there is a scrap between the mother
countries. I know a yank and Serb who were mining partners
during the late unpleasantness in Europe.

As you can imagine with our broadband ethnicity, we eat well.
I saw my neighbor Father Nick the Russian Orthodox priest
with his smokehouse fuming yesterday. Must be doing some
hams. He also does some baking in a little wood fired stone
and mud oven in the yard.

Lots of people grow good little gardens with the water from
their sink. The European tradition of artisanly produced
beverages is alive and well and could even be dual purpose
as fuel, if you catch my meaning. We do have an enormous
supermarket, restaurants, cafes and pubs so we do these
things by choice.

We have a lot of large and healthy wild pigs thru this
inland country and the white ones are not acceptable for
the German wild pig market; we locals get those instead.
How do they get the pigs for export? With a 2 kilowatt light,
a 4wd utility, (ute, pickup truck) and a rifle. A good
shooter can make A$500/night. These animals are a feral
menace both to human works and native wildlife. Some people
hunt them for sport with bull terrier cross dogs covered in
leather armour. The dogs grab the pig(s), and the bloke(s)
jump aboard the large black vicious boar and stick 'em in
the goozle with a bowie knife. They then sew up any dogs
wot needs it, and orf home with the prize(s). It is not my
thing, but I do like wild pork.

The fishin' is real good here too....but after the foregoing
I don't want to go any further on local food gathering
techniques. I suspect I have already tried your credulity
enough for one day.


james dumar

p.s. Reading over the above I realise that we sound like a
polyglot bunch of mad max hippies, but that can't be cuz we
all have short hair. In the next issue: alternative power
and why opal mining is good for the environment. Am sending
a picture of a pig and a sheep at Marjan(aka Hercules, aka
Romeo aka Uncle) Babic's 60th birthday party last week. The
second pic is of Marjan And Mario (hurt in a cave-in a few
days ago)

Subject: RE: Black Onyx

Your black onyx was most likely dyed onyx and the dye did
not penetrate well into the stone. Maybe cutting and
removing the oil by washing the slab caused the lightened
of the color. I don't know if the heat caused from
working the dyed onyx could affect the color.

It is possible for you to dye the slabs yourself using
sugar and heat (there is a formula I have read about) and
others may have this for reference.

Vi Jones

Subject: RE: Black Onyx

Hi Hale,
It sounds as though the black onyx isn't really black onyx.
It's black jasper, or Basanite. There is a lot of this being
sold as "black chalcedony". It has a streaky appearance when
polished in larger pieces. You can cut small cabs which will
polish a good, solid black.

I get the best polish (and appearance) by finishing on
cerium oxide on hard leather, after 1200 grit sanding on a
canvas belt impregnated with 1200 grit diamond paste.

Jim Small

Subject: RE: Need Parts for Vibra-Tek Vibrating Polisher

I hope this will help you. The new owners of Vibra-Tek are
Jane and Ken Fitzgerald. The newly founded company is named:
FitzCorp Inc.
Box 565
29 Oak Hill Drive
Point Blank, Texas 77364
(409) 377-2409
I bought one of his new revolutionary vibrating tumblers/lap
combos and I love it. He is very interesting to talk to and
since I purchased the machine from him last June we have
become good friends. Jane his wife runs the business and
well as drives over several thousand mile a month running
from show to show. Ken is the inventor and master salesman.
They are pretty hard to catch but leave a message! He is
very nice and loves to talk rocks! I hope this will help you
find the parts you are looking for.


I talked to Jane; they did not buy the remaining inventory
from Vibra-Tek, but bought the rights to their technology,
as I understand it. So I still don't know where you can
find replacement parts for tubs and inserts, Bill. Sorry.

Subject: RE: Mineral Oil As A Saw Lubricant

I am finding that the heavy oil does not settle as well and
turns to mud after only a couple weeks of heavy cutting. I
have called to price light mineral oil and it is 3 times as
expensive -$50 per gallon, and you have to order it.

Is there any other oil out there that won't break the bank
that is odor free ? Please help!!

The other thing I was thinking is: are there any thinners
that will cut the oil so it is not so thick without stinking
up the whole neighborhood? :) I am mostly interested
because the standard Shell Pella makes me sick and burns my


Subject: RE: Polishing Yowah Nuts

In LD Issue 233, Joyce wrote:

<<I ..(snip).. purchased some Yowah opal ..(snip).. Some
of it has numerous pits in it. Does anyone know how these
might be filled? I tried Opticon and some glues but they
don't work well. ..(snip).. Also the opal I have polished
does not seem to have the beautiful finish I saw on pieces
in Yowah. I have been using Linde A on a felt cushioned
pad ...(snip)... If anyone has any ideas or suggestions
please let me know.>>

I've been working a few hunks of Yowah that I got from a guy
who sells via the net and ebay. The last couple of pieces
got a fantastic polish, using a polish called (I'm not
making this up) Holy Cow! I've seen this at some Florida
rock shows, and it's recommended by Phil Magistro, who
teaches intarsia around here, and who was featured in
Lapidary Journal a few months ago. Other than that, I don't
know who makes it or where to get it, other than the guy I
got it from, Guy Clark from Clark's Rocks in Clearwater, FL.

It's expensive at $10/oz, but does put a wonderful finish
on the two stones I've tried it on so far, opal and jasper.
They advertise it as good for polishing pretty much anything,
including metals.

So has anyone else heard of or use Holy Cow!, and know more
about where to get it, etc.?

I'm fairly sure it's a mix of oxides. It's a white powder
that you mix into a thick, cream like consistency. You
apply it to your polishing pad with something non-metallic.
I polish with it on a leather pad, and although it does tend
to get thrown off the pad, it isn't worse in this regard
than, say, cerium oxide.

As for the small round pits in the Yowah, I believe that's
what's called maggoty Yowah. I just leave them. Each pit
is ringed with fire, and I think it's attractive as-is.

Hope this helps, and I'd be glad to help answer anything
offline by email.


Bob Lombardi W4ATM in Melbourne, FL (ex-WB4EHS) or
Visit the ATM's Resource List:
Or visit me at
Bob: Last week, I tried Holy Cow and it worked great on my
miniature heart and cross! (Sold to me by Tom Benham -a list
member, who taught intarsia at Wildacres. He said that he
got it from Guy Clark (mentioned above) who 'invented it'.
About the name, Tom said they first thought about calling
it: 'Holy S---', based on the job it did, but thought it
didn't sound proper ... thus the name. Tom thought it was
a mix of Linde A and another polishing powder. I don't know
anything 'cept it is a good polish!! I'll try to get Guy
to write up something for the Digest. -- hale

Subject: RE: Healing Fractures in Stones

Hi Hale,

The one thing missing in this discussion is that normal
epoxy is too thick to work with fine fractures. The good
news is that epoxy can be thinned.

Immediately after mixing the epoxy and hardener, add up to
15% (by volume) MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) and mix it
thoroughly. For example, use about 8 drops of MEK to about
50 drops of mixed epoxy.

As always, avoid the fumes and use latex gloves...

Bob Braun
Bob: Your note reminds me of another way: Squeeze a tube of
Hughes 330 polymer and a tube of 330 hardener into a quart
of acetone, and close tightly in something like a wide mouth
Mason jar. Shake till the epoxy is well dispersed throughout
the solvent. Put the item with the cracks into the jar and
close tightly. Leave for two or three weeks (or longer). The
mixture will slowly sneak into the cracks. When you take the
item out, wipe it and let it sit for a week of so while the
acetone evaporates. As it evaporates, the epoxy will
polymerize in place. This was first reported in Issue 17
by Vince King ...... hale

Subject: BIO: Gary Truesdail

Age: 57. Live in goldrush country, foothills of Calif. 50
miles out of Sacramento, surrounded by 24 excellent
wineries. Like: rockhunting, seeing the geology of new
areas, especially in Nevada, camping, cooking, good

I participate in a yearly ritual with 4-8 other families of
similar age, retired teachers, by camping at selected spots
in Nevada during Easter break. Once we arrive at our
destination most of use off road motorbikes to explore for
rocks, artifacts, wild horses, ghost towns, some of which
are not on any maps (we've found a few new ones).

Geology has always been my first love but except for two
college courses, I haven’t been able to participate. Just
this year I built a workshop, bought new cabinets and
countertop space specifically for setting up my yet to be
purchased lap equip. I will rejoin the hobby within the

Gary Truesdail

Subject: WTB: Medium Size Slab Saw

If anyone has a used, reasonably priced (cheap :>)) 10"-18"
rock saw with automatic feed, please contact me offline at

Lenny Salandi from Seattle

Subject: FS: Cutting & Tumbling Material

We have recently made a purchase of various cutting and
tumbling materials collected in the US and Canada during
the 1950s-60s, and are now offering them for sale by the
pound, including:

Fire Agate, Crazy Lace Agate, Vaquilla Agate, Brazilian
Agate, Petrified Wood, B.C. Picture Stone, Various Jaspers
plus much much more!

For more information and pricing, please contact:

Rocks 'n' Things
Box 189
Wilberforce ON
K0L 3C0
(705) 448-1706

Subject: FS: New Rainbow Smithsonite

Hi Hale and All,

I now have a large selection of New Rainbow Smithsonite
from Mexico. It has beautiful iridescent colors similar to
opal. I have fantastic specimens for you collectors at only
$40.00 per pound. I also have rough for cabbing that is
really great because with the botryoidal top it doesn't need
polishing. The rough is now only $20.00 per pound and the
colors are superb. Rough is pieces that have been broken or
cut off larger specimens, but still plenty big for cabbing.

Duane Pearson

Subject: FS: 8" Trim Saw

I have an 8' trim saw that I am selling on E -Bay.
You can see it by going to:

It is a bare bones saw manufactured by Belmont of
Portland, Or.

Steve Swartz
Carson City, NV
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