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"Built Dam Strong!"

31 March 2015

Tool Review Tuesday, 06: Grizzly 8-piece Single Cut, 1/4" Shank Carbide Burr Set

 What is it?

Grizzly's 8 Piece Single Cut Carbide Burr set, for NON-FERROUS metals, mostly aluminum.

 Product website:

Not sold on Grizzly, similar sets available all over.

What does it do?

Grinds aluminum quickly and with a good finish, without clogging up the flutes of the burr.

Notable Observances: 
You MUST use single cut burrs for aluminum. Look at the large flutes:

The large, wide flutes evacuate the large chips easily and also allow for a better finish. Using a double cut burr on aluminum will just gum it up, heat it up, and end up pissing you off.

Using lube helps. Beeswax if you have it, WD40 if you don't.

These are 1/4" shank burrs. Wimpy 1/8" shank burrs and tools need not apply for efficient material removal. Dremels suck. Buy a used hanging motor flex shaft grinder. You will thank me later.

The eight piece set (the one missing is on my grinder on standby, so, you don't get to see that one) has a comprehensive amount of shapes:
The shanks could be longer, but then you would have to pay a LOT more. Overall, this is a very balanced set. 

Here is a blog post about porting Honda oil pumps using this very set:

-Was inexpensive
-VERY efficient material removal with minimal clogging and excellent surface finish
-This set runs well and is pretty true

-Grizzly only carries wimpy 1/8" burrs now

Is it BBA (Beaver Built Approved)?

Yes. If you have a grinder that can use 1/4" shank burrs effectively (it needs torque, not silly 35kRPM speed), these will make porting oil pumps or bulk material in aluminum heads easy, controllable and inexpensive.

26 March 2015

More Funk-y Fab on the Funks' H-prod 1G CRX

This past weekend I made it back up to Massawhosetts to get some more work done on the Funks' 1G CRX they will be running in H-Production.

First up on the agenda was building a dash to hold the four selected gauges: oil pressure, oil temp, water temp, and a fancy datalogging dash thing that I am totally forgetting the name of the brand right now. Oops. Anyway, after a bunch of figuring, I got to work on making a fairly complicated piece of aluminum. It turned out well, as you will see. So, follow along!

Here's the victim in question:

These are the collected gauges, not including the fancy dash thingy:

Even if it is a crap drawing, it is still best to make one for reference:
 I changed the measurements quite a few times, had Ed climb in and out of the car several times, then commenced the first part of the process: C.A.D. (If you aren't familiar with C.A.D., read this: Cardboard Conundrum)

I love, love LOVE making cardboard templates before committing to more expensive materials. here's the template marked up for trimming:

Testing in situ:
 With Ed's approval on the height and spacing of everything (he will be the primary driver of this vehicle, though Steph is going to wring the wheel on occasion, too), I started the layout on the aluminum:
 After triple checking everything:

Quadruple checking the layout versus the CAD template (because I REALLY like to make sure):

I first tried to cut the piece I needed out with the fancy Bulldog Biter:
 It turns out that the aluminum was slightly too thick to work with that, so, Ed fetched some metal blades for his jig saw and I smoked through the rest of the cutting. Then came the annoying part: bending the top. Of course, I couldn't just make it easy on myself with one simple shape. I had to have different levels for each part of the dash, which meant I had to use a completely different setup for bending each part! Oops.

bending requires lots of clamps and creativity.
 I didn't get a lot of progress shots of the bending because it required two people and all hands to do everything. I would so love a large finger break for these kinds of things. Oh well. I managed pretty well, I think:

I wasn't particularly happy with this uneven and large radius bend:
 That was solved with flat stock, a hammer and clamps:

 Much better!

I had to notch the bench in order to clamp things :

I tightened up the corners on this part, too:

 Final check before welding:
 Ed and Steph were very happy with this!

Since I bent the end of the dash inwards, I could have made a really complicated trapezoidal piece of aluminum to fit the odd shape formed, but I chose to simply knock the corner off with a flap wheel so it was perpendicular with the bent part, making the piece I needed a very simple rectangle!
 Before tacking, I matched the radius with the patch:

I also tightened up with corner joint with some careful love taps:

Gotta clean aluminum before you weld it!
The sheet I was working with had some gunk on it, but it actually welded pretty darn clean. 

Tacked up and ready to go:

The other side was super easy:

Then came the nerve wracking part! I had Ed climb in the car again and we figured out where the holes for the gauges should be.

  The idea is to have the oil pressure gauge and warning light on the upper left of the steering wheel, the oil temp and water temp in the middle of the wheel, as they are not something you really need to watch too closely in the corners and then have the dash thing with the progressive shift light on the right just below the windshield.

Once we decided on the final positions, it was a simple matter to hole saw the spots:
 With a little bit of file work later, BAM! Gauge in dash:

 With the fit confirmed, on to the other holes!

 And here is the final product, ready for mounts to be made:
I like it. Ed and Steph love it. It is light, very solid, functional and even managed to look good! Steph is planning to pain it flat red. I usually flat black everything, but I think flat red will match the car better and it should also absorb less heat, which is a good thing in a race car.

03 March 2015

Tool Review Tuesday, Part 5: Speedglas 9100XX welding Helmet

What is it?
The Speedglas 9100XX is a welding helmet. It protects your head and especially your eyes from the infrared and ultraviolet radiation generated by electric welding processes including MIG, TIG and stick. It also protects from grinding debris and can also be used as a shield from cutting processes, both flame and plasma.

This is what it looks like straight out of the box:

 Product website:
Speedglas 9100XX

What does it do?
The Speedglas 9100XX protects your noggin and eyes from nasty crap while you weld. It does it with remarkable clarity, speed and with many features that are class-leading, and honestly, it better for how dang expensive it is. The 9100XX model has the largest ADF (Autodarkening Filter), at over 12sqin of viewing area. As such, it does NOT have room for a solar assist panel (which helps extend battery life), but it still has a remarkable 2000 hour nominal battery rating. (To compare, the Miller Digital Elite has a 3000 hour nominal battery rating for the same or very similar sized batteries.)

Notable Observances:
-The fit and finish are tremendously amazing. It is much better than the newest Miller helmets. (I've tested a few.)
-The headgear is sublime. It fits super well, even over a head cover and respirator. The detent keeps the sucker UP. The friction holding is very good so far, though that might change over time, but with the detent, I doubt that will be an issue.
-The buttons are easy to push, though you will need to read the manual to figure out what everything does. There are several advanced modes that are interesting and possibly useful.
- When flipped up, it sits much, much lower over your head than any other hood I've ever come across.
-It is much wider in the front than Miller's helmets:
-Even though the front is wider, it is not that much wider than the miller since the sides stick out a bit less. This is used to good effect to make it much easier to fit a respirator under the hood.
-It has a built in vent right in front of your mouth/nose. It works! A side benefit is that it is easier to understand what someone is saying with the hood down.
-The protective covers for the ADF are priced about $2.50 per, which is slightly more expensive than the Miller-branded ones, but not too much more. There is no possibility of taking a standard flat cover and making it fit, but that's the price you pay for having a more advanced helmet.
-The lighter colored front piece really does keep the helmet cooler, which will be friggin' awesome when it gets hot out!
-The shape covers the head and neck very, very well, with or without a respirator.
-Ultra-unique, exclusive side-windows:
These are a shade 5 that are curved and allow you to see nearly every dang thing. When you are welding, you can see where you are moving. When you aren't welding, you actually have peripheral vision which makes not tripping over stuff much easier. The best part is it makes it REALLY hard for someone to sneak up on you! LOL!

-Fit and finish is amazingly good.
-Very huge, clear view.
-Good performance.
-Many mode options, though I really hate having to click on an internal button to get into other modes. It's faster to take it off and put on my face shield for cutting and grinding.
-The side windows are truly revolutionary. I didn't think they would make as much of a difference as they do for just moving around and overall awareness even while welding.
-VERY clear light state (shade 3). I have no issues seeing anything even in the less than ideal shop lighting we have.
-A pretty useful variety of accessories are available, see the site above.
-It is expensive. It is easily one of the more expensive helmets on the market. The Miller Digital Elite (plain black, graphics are for prissy pretty boys and girls) retails for about $255. The Jackson Trueview goes for about $280. I bought this for $395 shipped (with a free respirator, which was a nice bonus). The 9100VX and 9100X are less expensive and have solar assist available while still providing a very good size ADF, so you can consider those if this one is out of the budget, with the added bonus of additional battery life
-I hate having to hit buttons on the inside to get into different modes. It takes too much time. It's way easier to take it off to change the settings, but then I might as well just put on my face shield, as I mentioned before. An external button would be greatly appreciated, even if it made things a bit more complicated to take apart.
-If you need to wear a hard hat with this, there are more than a few complaints about how bad the hardhat adapter performs.
-I am concerned that the additional size might get in the way when doing silly things like roll cages. We'll see how that goes in the future, as I will update this.
-Clear shields are likely NOT available everywhere. Order some online and keep them and spare batteries around. Duh! 

Is it BBA (Beaver Built Approved)?
)(#*$)(*#$(* YES! If you can afford it, get it. I use my welding helmet 5-7 days a week, for long hours. Comfort, usability, reliability and protection are all things that are necessary to prevent me from going blind. This thing is amazingly awesome. I look forward to using it for years to come!

Bonus pics:
 That is with the front part taken off. You can see the venting. It is really very clever!

This is the full compliment shipped with the helmet:
Already putting it to work: