Tag Line

"Built Dam Strong!"

25 January 2015

Midweekend (sort of?) Update on the Funks' H-prod 1G CRX

I posted a few of these pics to FB, but I'm happy with how it has turned out so far. I'll fill in some more details here, since I really don't like bothering to do that on FB.

During the past week, I got a few things done in preparation for this weekend's activities. Firstly, I made an extension cord for my Everlast 200DV so I could run it directly off a 220V breaker:

 Since it has been so dang cold out, I wanted to have the extra amperage available to weld the aluminum correctly without having to bother pre-heating it with the torch at work which isn't my favorite way to preheat aluminum.

Here's the welder set up and ready to go:
 I was lazy so I just slapped in a 2% lanthanated 3.32" tungsten to the #4 cup I had used for the pedal box repair the previous weekend:
 That cup was glowing red hot by the time I finished welding everything. LOL!

Here's the bumper support as it was tacked the last time I was at the Funks':

It took a few minutes to orient my brain in "aluminum TIG mode" but I turned out some really decent beads:

Here's one of the nicer beads and one of the not so nice beads, but hey, it's solidly on there:

So now we come to yesterday's work. I was running back and forth between working on the bumper support, consulting with Ed about seam welding the front subframe and giving Steph welding lessons. It was fun!

I got the support up on the workbench:
 And scribed lines that I thought looked good:
 Then cut off the corners:
 Then I cleaned up the edges and made cap plates:
 If the mounts had been located more towards the center of the car, I'm not sure I would have bothered to cap the ends, but, since the mounts are directly under the cutouts, it is best for strength to cap the ends. The being said, you don't need to bother putting in material as thick as what was cut off for the cap! As you can see here:
 I just used some thing (16g?) stuff that was laying around which is more than enough for the purpose. You can also see in the above pic that I chamferred the edges for maximum penetration in anticipation of grinding down the welds.

To make my life easier, I simply angled the support so the cut was flat and plopped the plate down on top for tacking and welding:
 Then got busy welding:
 A little while later:

All this was done on a 110V circuit with the Everlast. It wasn't even an issue! I love this TIG box. 
 I know some of you are wondering why I bothered to grind down the welds:

This is a racecar. Ounces count. 
 Also, in the event of some bumper to bumper contact, not having raised ridges will allow for slippage, not snagging. Theoretically. heh

Here it is in place waiting for a bit more work before calling it done:

The next job I took on was reinforcing this aftermarket panhard rod mount:
 The last time I was up, I saw that and was pretty dissatisfied with it. I could tweak it by hand. That's not particularly confidence inspiring  for a mounting point of a long lever that is supposed to located the rear axle beam. Long means a lot of leverage. Leverage means that mount was going to be moving around tweaking the panhard rod placement making the back end not feel as consistent. I didn't like that at all!

Here's another view:

 Ed and I put our heads together to come up with some way of increasing the stiffness of the structure while not interfering with the panhard rod mount, the axle or any of the other suspension pieces that occupy the same area all in close proximity.

We decided to use three pieces of steel as reinforcement. The first is this piece of 3/4"x3/4"x1/8" angle on the INSIDE of the long, skinny piece:
 If you maximize the picture, you will notice that I clearanced the flat end at the top to provide a tight fit around the existing weld and that I angled the bottom end since there was no need for there to be a squared off end.

I welded the angle in place, then welded in a piece of 2"x1/4" flat bar onto the rear:
 Another angle:
The flatbar rested on the horizontal brace and was welded to the round tube, long, skinny piece and the horizontal brace. I forgot to get a pic of the piece of flat bar I welded onto the front in the same fashion as the rear piece.

With the additional bracing, the mount is EXTREMELY solid. You can shake the whole car instead of wiggling the mount. Both Ed and I are much more satisfied with the mount situation now.

And that is that. I hope you enjoyed this update and look forward to more from Today's work.

20 January 2015

Tool Review Tuesday, 04: Smith SC179 17", 90* Straight Cutting Torch

What is it?

The Smith SC179 17", 90* Straight Cutting Torch is a classic piece of metal working equipment. Recently, Smith was bought out by Miller, the welding company, but overall, nothing much has changed except the supply chain. This is an oxy/fuel cutting torch that is supremely durable and can literally last more than a lifetime.

Smith Heavy Duty Cutting Torch Models

What does it do? 
It heats and cuts stuff. Duh.

Notable Observances:
-Most models can use acetylene or propane as the fuel without any internal torch monkeying. Some other brands of torches mix the oxygen and fuel inside the torch body, which precludes using fuels that they are not optimized for. Smith bypasses the issue by using the tip as the mixing body. This prevents most burnback, which is a good thing for safety, but a bad thing for consumable prices.

-The knobs are easy to adjust even with thick welding gloves

-I )(*#$(*$#(*#$ hate the handle. It is too long, and while yes, I could shorten the handle to my liking, it isn't "my" torch to do that to.
I prefer to use my middle finger to apply most of the pressure on the lever. The length of the lever puts the rest of my fingers other bonking the knobs or useless on the front of the lever, making the torch annoying to hold and position, especially in awkward positions. Overall, I HATE the feel and use of this torch. Comparatively, I much prefer the classic Victor-style torch which is more easily adaptable to putting the lever under your palm, which is a much more secure way to hold the torch, and I find it much steadier to use that way.

-The tips are pretty effing expensive as they are very finely machined since they are the mixing body and have a built in crush gasket. Changing the tips is pretty easy, but you better have a wrench handy because you need to crank down pretty well to get the proper crush on the gasket, especially on a new tip. It usually takes several heat cycles and tightenings to not have the stupid things leak.

-The one really good feature of the torch is that you can adjust the amount of damping on the mixing knobs via the adjusters under the head of the knobs:

-Built to outlive you from stainless
-Can function after getting run over by a truck (Not kidding)
-Can be (but should not be) used as a hammer
-Parts are very easy to source, as nearly ANY LWS should have tips in stock for any cutting or heating processes

-Price. They are not cheap. They are not inexpensive. They are not simply expensive. They just plain hurt the wallet.
-I )(*#$)(*(*^(&#*$)(*(*&#$((*&#$ hate the handle and handling of the torch

Nearly ubiquitous in all construction and deconstruction industries because of its nearly indestructible qualities, if you can afford one, you can expect it to be used longer than you can work. Poor handle ergonomics limit my respect for the overall build quality, but, I suspect most people don't care since it cuts and keeps cutting as long as you can feed it. Tips and parts are expensive, but nearly always available.

Is it BBA (Beaver Built Approved):

NO! I honestly hate using it, even if it is a quality tool. Victor torches suit my hands much better, even if they aren't designed and built as tough.

19 January 2015

This mess is actually the start of a welding table.

In the typical agonizingly slow Beaver Built fashion, I'll turn a mess of crap into something pretty darn useful.

I've had this plate for a long while now:
 In that picture I'm cutting it into ~2.125" strips.

I ended up with 18 and one short spare:
 That also happens to be the world's most boring xylophone!

The leftover dross ready to be cleaned up:
Yup. It's a mess. I'm sure some of you are wondering how those strips will end up as a table, but you'll just have to wait and see. :) 

18 January 2015

TOS FA3V Mill Update: It's alive! IT'S ALIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!

So, last weekend I left off having gotten nearly nothing done that was planned and a whole lot of stuff getting done that was way out of any plan I could have made.

 Wednesday, or what is Thursday? It might have been Thursday. Well, some day this past week, Dave came by and we set about repairing the broken wiring from the previous weekend's poking about.

Here is the rotary switch that is rotated when the directional control is selected:
 I think. I am still confused by this, so, you'll have to just ignore my confusion and let me ramble about this for a bit.

Here is a view of the side you can see from the access panel:

 The gear position is important. 
 We found that out early on in this process. It's still not exactly right, but, well, that's the way it goes. heh

While I waited for Dave to show up after work, I moved the mill and started cleaning. Here is an in process shot of one of the access panels:

I was using WD40 and these EXCELLENT No Scratch Scotchbrite pads:
 Those things are REALLY good and, as their name implies, they do no scratch what you are working on . Brilliant!


What wires go where? Hmmmmm. . . 

Dave, hard at work poking at the wiring some more:

I still can't get over how far the table travels. That's just ridiculous. 

At this point, we had restored power to the power feed, but still only in one direction.  Dave and I determined that one of the four relays wasn't activating. I could feel it buzz when we moved the power feed switch to the opposing direction, but it simply wouldn't actuate. I figured that since it was already broken, I couldn't really do any harm if I tried to pull it apart and fix it. So that's what I did!

This is the offending relay:

It's a pretty heavy sucker. It is certainly made to come apart, though, and has some pretty trick features that I'll show.

First things first, address the relay thusly: "Hello, relay!" Then pop the two spring clips that hold the top on and expose the upper contacts that tie in to the power wires on top:

 Um . . . What contacts? Geez. I think they are completely worn out, and with the carbon on top, it wouldn't have been able to pass current even if the relay had actuated!

These contacts are spring loaded and also extremely worn and coated in carbon:

The actual contacts themselves are not terribly hard to rebuild, since they easily come out:
 A small spring holds them in place. if I so choose, I can solder on a new copper button to the contacts, effectively restoring it completely.

I forgot to take pics of the rest of the disassembly, but with one more spring clip and four small screws, the rest of the relay comes apart as far as it can go:

This is the top of the core of the "motor" of the relay:
 I think that gunk on there just MIGHT be a problem.

This is the top of the motor core, which moves on a very cool cam system:
 When current passes through the coil (which I will show later), it magnetizes the core, which attracts the top of the core, moving the arms and allowing the contacts on the top of the relay to contact the tie in points. I love it!

After I cleaned the gunk off the top of the core, I noticed that from decades of use, the legs of the core had some pretty sharp edges:
 I filed those down like a good machinist would. I just used some electrical contact cleaner in a can and some fine sandpaper. It did a very good job of cleaning the gunk up without removing much material at all, which would effect tolerances, which I am sure are on the ragged edge for some pieces in this relay.

Here are two pics of the different positions of the top of the core. This first position is the "activated position" when then coil magnetizes the core and attracts the cap downward:
 This is the retracted position:
 If you compare them closely you can see the cantilever action employed to keep the cap pretty level through the length of travel. It's really very cleaver.

Here's the core all cleaned up and deburred:

Remember those really gunky contacts from before? Well, after cleaning they look better, but still are very, very worn:

 The next pieces (I am not sure what they are called, but they seem to act as side covers and arc suppressors) gave me quite a shock. I thought they were all hard plastic until I blasted them with the cleaner and found this:
 That's a heck of a lot of carbon!

Here is the coil installed on the core:

And here I start reassembling everything:
 I honestly hadn't noticed it when taking everything apart, but everything on the relay that needs to be put back in a certain way is directional. It can't install it backwards!

The long spring clip that holds the motor assembly to the stamped steel chassis has flats ground in to the ends so that when you press it through, you can't pull the clip out without pressing the ends of the clips away from the periphery of the square hole they pass through:

Another view of the flats:

The bottom end reassembled:
 These ends of the long spring clip:
 The helper spring is then reattached at the back:

The contact spring bases are reinstalled on the top side:
 Then the springs are put in place:

The next part was a bit tricky, as I had to compress the spring (wear flipping safety glasses!!!) with a flat tip screwdriver enough to slip the lower contact piece into place:

Another few minutes later:

These spring clamps proved to be a right pain to put back in place:

 After I got one of the spring clps in, I realized I had to put the side things back on:
 ARG! I undid the clip and put the side pieces back on, starting with the insulating backing plate:
 Then screwing it into place:
 And finally clipping the retaining clip into the armature so it would move with the contact plate:

I had to plate with the position a bit on both sides to make sure that the contacts contacted, but it wasn't bad and that task was completed:


Actuating the relay by hand now had a much more positive feel to it. I was pretty hopeful this would solve the power feed mystery!

I got it put back into place and wired up:
 What happened? The power feed switch started working when switched in both directions! Except . . . that the power feed was moving the same direction. HAH! I flipped two of the wires on top of the relay and THEN had power feed in both directions. Still no fast traverse, but, I'll keep working on that.

Now that the power feed was working in both directions, it was time to make something, right? The first order of business was to make a spanner wrench for my two collet holders. I have only been able to hand tighten them up to this point (and I don't feel like spending a good amount of money to get a tool that has jaws wide enough to fit the collet collar), which isn't good as the torque spec for the collars is 75ft/lbs.

Time for another boring machining video! YAY!

I ended up attempting to get something workable three times. *shakes head* I am so out of practice milling things it isn't even funny. Whatever. At this point, I'm just happy to be able to make chips.

Here's the spanner wrench:

Yes, the endmill is discolored. So are quite a lot of chips:
 The lighting in the shop is really crappy for good color rendition . . . A lot of those chips are blue. That happened because I accidentaly set the power feed to about 10x what it should have been and the mill just plowed on through without fussing at all. This is both scary and exciting all at once. It is scary because that's a great way to blow an endmill to bits (but as you can see it just got REALLY hot). It is exciting because this is a really powerful thing that barely felt the strain of doing something silly like that.

Since I proved that the power feed was working in both diections, the wiring guts were covered back up (for now)

I still need to button up the sides:

I tried the non-sucky shop vac and was surprised that it did as well as it did with the chips:

I tried to get the color on the endmill to show up better, but the flash washed the photo out.