Archive for December, 2010

Well Christmas has come and gone and, for me, that usually means new additions to the workshop. After many months of researching a milling machine purchase I finally settled on a RF-45 clone from Machine Tools Warehouse located in Cambridge Ontario (Canada). It was a toss up between the Busy Bee Craftex CT054 knee mill and the RF45 clone.  There was a lot of debating between the 2 and the decision ultimately came down to work envelope size. As nice as a knee mill would have been, the one that was available to be was slightly on the small size.  Now that the money has been spent the machine is sitting in my garage I feel pretty good about the choice.

I opted not to purchase the stand that went with the machine for the sole reason it lacks storage space. In my garage I covet not only my square footage but also my cubic footage. Most milling machine stands have a door with one shelf; I am unsure how anyone can make use of such a poorly designed stand. I realize that a lot of it has to do with economics. For a bit more money I am able to build a stand that will include a lot more functionality. It started with a cheap Craftsman slider drawer  33426 roll cabinet tool box. Then a trip to the metal shop got me 36 feet of 2 x 2 x .100″ square tubing and a 4 x 8 sheet of 11 gauge metal. The plan is to weld up a sturdy stand out of the 2 x 2 steel and build it so that the tool box will fit in the center of it thereby allowing me way more storage space. The cabinet will not hold any of the 750 lbs. worth of machine weight; the steel frame will accept the full load. With the casters left off of the roll cabinet it will allow me to build the height of the cabinet very close to the same dimensions of the factory stand.

A few more work shop additions also included a 220v power feed for the mill. As well I obtained a .500″ R8 keyless DC500 chuck from Glacern Machine Tools for the mill.

 Most of the machining I do does not involve parts that are any more then .003″  accurate. I realize that to many machinists this is probably a sin. The fact is that I obtained the machines to help support my welding projects and welding is not .0001″ accurate. As I spend more time with my lathe I find new interests are emerging and new projects are being stirred up in my head, projects that involve more accuracy. Since the milling machine is now home in my shop the process of outfitting it with all the tooling comes next. I figured it was time to get some micrometers, a test indicator, and a set of machinist squares into the tool box. This is just the beginning and it appears that the difficult decision of which mill to buy was actually the easiest decision. The time consuming job of  researching which  mill vise, end mills, fly cutters, and various other tools I need to obtain will begin. First things first, I will spend the next few weeks getting the stand built and the machine mounted.

The customer had wanted a lid for when the weather was a bit cooler. My original plan was to incorporate the lid with the rest of the structure however the customer wanted one that was removable. Since the lid was going to have to be lifted on and off I wanted to make it as light as possible. The main frame was welded using 1 x 1 x .065″ square tubing and the sheeting was 20 gauge sheet metal.

The BBQ was made with 4 holes drilled, .625″ in diameter, at each corner. The holes would allow for the pins of the lid to slide in. I started by making the 4 corner supports using 2 x 2 x .100″ square tubing along with 5/8″ hot rolled steel round bar.

I wanted to stay away from building the lid as a simple box so I chose to fabricate an arched roof section. I welded the 2 roof supports together and them ran then through the metal bender as a pair. Once I had the arc I wanted I cut the welds and separated the two pieces. All the 20 gauge panels then got plasma cut. I used the arch of the roof as a guide for the plasma cutter. I am not set up to deal with 4 x 8 sheets of steel so wrestling the stuff around by myself was a bit awkward.  Once the sheets were all trimmed then the seam welding and grinding began.

The customer had asked whether the project would be completed by Christmas. I made the mistake of committing to the time frame and now I am faced with shifting my efforts from slow paced enjoyable fabricating to a high speed and high production pace. The pressure does not agree with my techniques and therefore a certain amount of frustration has set in. However I am falling behind on my own projects therefore having the BBQ completed by Christmas will allow me to start the new year off fresh. I suspect the next BBQ post will be at completion stage.

 A friend of mine who belongs to a local vintage motorcycle club introduced me to one of the vetran members who was selling some vintage motorcycles and bicycles he had accumulated over the years.

He had this vintage Marshell Wells bicycle, which he believed was from 1923, that was made by CCM. Marshell Wells was a Canadian chain of department stores bought out by the Hudsons Bay Company in 1982. This particular bike eventually made its way into the display window of a Marshell Well’s store. It was rigged onto a motorized rolling stand that was designed to make the wheels and pedals turn in the store window. Someone had re-spoked both the front and rear wheels in order to off-center the hubs. They did this to make the bicycle go up and down in the window.

Marshell Wells had given the bike the name Zenith. It appears that multiple products built for the Marshell Wells department store were also branded Zenith.

What I like about the bike is that it’s 100% original, it’s complete, it has wooden rims that are in great shape, it is vintage, and it is 100% restorable. The head tube bearings are seized up and the bottom bracket is a bit rough. The chain ring is bent and the frame has got about 3 layers of paint on it. The top tube has a couple of minor dents in it but they are fixable.

I went hunting for the serial number and, after stripping paint off in all the common spots, I finally located the number at the top of the seat tube. The serial number started with an X. I was able to find a vintage listing of CCM serial numbers in that era and it turns out the bike is from 1935. Not as old as originally thought but I am still pleased with the find.

Right now the bike has secured a spot on my list of projects to complete. I plan a full restoration which will include some personal touches. I am looking forward to sanding down the rims and exposing the wood grain.  Once I get working on it I’ll be sure to post some pictures.

  I spent time this weekend starting to fabricate all the little things that were getting left behind. It always takes longer then I think to do what one would consider a simple task. I was putting off all the smaller items because I didn’t have a game plan. I gave up trying to “AutoCAD” in my brain and decided to just go out to the garage and start cutting, grinding and welding.

Both the spits need counter weights. I have absolutely no idea how much weight will be required so I guessed. I built the weights so they can unbolt off the support arms that way if I have to change them later it will be easy to do. Again…I was struggling trying to find something to use for weight. I rummaged through my scrap metal pile and found some left over steel from when I built my metal bender. I welded the 1 inch alloy round bar to the 2″ seamless tubing then set it up on the lathe. I machined them down into cool looking weights. I made the weights 2 different sizes, one for the bigger spit and one for the smaller one. The large weight came out to 937 grams and the small one is 586 grams.  They both got drilled and tapped to accept a bolt.

I had to make sure the weights were fully adjustable. I took a 12″ piece of 1.5″ x .250″ flat bar and plasma cut a groove down the center of it 10 inches long. The end then got drilled to accept the weight. I machined the hubs, which mount on the spit to accept the weight arms, out of the same material I made the skewers out of. I welded a 1/2″ chrome socket to some 1.250″ seamless tubing, machined it all down and then cross drilled them to accept a set screw. The arms allow for full adjustment of the counter weight. They can be adjusted 360 degrees rotation and the leverage factor goes from approximately 1″ to 10″.


I needed to make something capable of clamping the backbone to the spit. Most people use a U-bolt with a couple of wing nuts. I wanted something a bit more stable as well it needed to have a quick and easy tightening method. Like with the skewers, I wanted a system that was useable when hot, greasy and while wearing gloves. I came up with a clamping system that allows for quick assembly, quick and easy tightening, and can be adjusted “on the fly”. The unit was all built out of 304 Stainless Steel 3/8″ round bar and 1″ x .250″ flat bar. The only mild steel is the threaded adjustment rod (which doesn’t contact the food). The double spiked assembly gets driven through the carcass from inside the chest cavity and ends up straddling the spit and spine. Then the hold down clamp gets slid onto the spikes from outside the carcass along with the screw down assembly. The whole unit stays together with a couple of locking pin. You can see the setup in the lower picture. I clamped a piece of pipe in the holder to simulate a spine.

A couple of other minor additions also included a “back up” crank handle for the spits incase of a rotisserie motor or power failure. As well an extension cord holder and strain relief was added to the rotisserie side of the BBQ.

This week I will spend sometime using AutoCAD to come up with some roof ideas. I’m hoping to be able to use the metal bender to help achieve a cool design.