Archive for September, 2011

So I figured it was time to, once again, pay my respects to another individual who, in some way, has made a significant contribution to garage projects. Of course there is no shortage of people worth mentioning and this months VIP is no less significant than the others. Now this guy has a few great credits given to him. His working life began with filling cartridges at the Arsenal at age twelve and then soon moved onto a carpenter’s shop and then a blacksmith’s forge. Eventually he began training as a blacksmith. So who is this “hands on” individual? It’s none other then Henry Maudslay a British tool and die maker, a machine tool innovator and an inventor. As you may have figured out from my past celebration posts that inventor’s are at the top of my books. Turning nothing into something is fantastic. Henry was born in 1771 to a father who worked as a wheelwright (now that’s cool! (the wheelwright part)).  What Henry did was eventually turn inventor. What is interesting is that Mr. Maudslay spent a number of years working with Joseph Bramah, the inventor of the hydraulic press. It turns out that Henry, at the age of 18, helped solve some of Joe’s issue. Henry leant a hand in devising a plan to economically manufacture a lock as well has he should be given credit for inventing the hydraulic seal used in Bramah’s press. Anyway…if you want to read up on Henry Maudslay you can check him out here. What I want to continue with is giving him thanks for 3 particular inventions all of which I use in my garage. Invention #1 is standardized screw cutting. Henry invented the first industrially practical screw-cutting lathe which eventually lead to the standardization of fasteners. Who can’t like that? Invention #2 was the work he did to achieve a lathe with a three-part combination of a lead screw, slide rest, and change gears. With the invention of this winning trio he was able to lead the way to great advancements in machine tools. Invention #3 is super-cool and that was the invention of the micrometer. He built a bench micrometer to measure to .0001” of an inch. Apparently he named it “Lord Chancellor” as the tool was used to prove the accuracy of his work to anyone who questioned it. So for these three inventions I salute you Hank! You rocked the show!

The gate has found completion and now sits hung on its hinges. All the fabricating had previously been completed and all that remained was paint and assembly. As I have stated so many times in the past I always struggle with the painting. I am not equipped to finish my projects properly. On the gazebo railing project I hired out the powder coating and it worked fantastic. Unfortunately hiring out the finishing stage is not always in the budget plus, for me, the money is not as much a factor as the fast I like to perform all aspects of the project myself. I have spent months now brainstorming a paint booth addition to the garage. Hopefully I will find some time over the winter to make the booth a reality. Anyway…for now the gate gets the same finish as most other projects and that is a couple of coats of Tremclad.

 I decided to go flat black this time because I think the flat will blend better with the fence stain. The hinges and latch were all disassembled and everything got wiped down and prepped. Over a period of a couple of days I was able to brush on a couple of layers of paint and then gave it 3 days to cure.

The assembly was straight forward. The hinge plate was bolted to the corner fence post using five 5/16” lag bolts. Before hanging the gate on the fence all the bearings got packed with waterproof wheel bearing grease not only to allow for smooth operation but also to give the bearings some weather protection. With the hinge bearings installed I was able to adjust all the endplay out of both the upper and lower hinge. The operation of the gate is fantastic displaying no binding and very smooth gliding. The weight of the gate combined with the ease of movement gives the set up a solid feel to it.

 The latch was assembled and the striker plate mounted to the fence post. The striker plate need about a .125” of adjustment which was easily accomplisher with a die grinder and carbide bit. The latch alignment turned out to line up great which resulted in no struggling with latching or unlatching.

 The fence boards that were going to fill the center section had previously been painted and pre-drilled. I used some ¼” carriage bolts backed with acorn nuts to secure the boards onto the steel frame.

 So this post is more of a picture post. I do not have a whole lot to say about it all other then it is done. What project I will be moving onto next is yet unknown. I am a bit unsure what I am in the mood for these days.

So I have been having a ton-o-fun with my little 1” x  30” bench top belt sander that when I stumbled upon a deal which would allow me to step it up a size I decided to go for it. A while back I had picked up a small belt/disc bench top sander; model CT148, from Busy Bee Tools. It is a China built product and is labeled Craftex under the Busy Bee name. The sander does not scream quality however it is built with a metal casing, not plastic, and for my home shop needs it has been doing great.

Well the other day I stumbled upon a larger 6” x 48” 1 horsepower unit with a 9” disc on it. This one is marketed by King Canada. King Canada is another company that brings in China made equipment in their lower lines. I wasn’t about to buy it sight unseen so I trekked down to the tool distributor and gave it a good visual.

The unit I was looking at was the KC-760L. This particular model was about half the cost of the more popular 1 ½ hp models that are commonly found from different manufactures. I figured that if I was working with wood then maybe the higher horsepower model may be required however in the case of metalworking I am typically not sanding large surface areas so therefore the power requirements would be less.

The KC-706L passed all the visuals. The unit is all metal, big, plus the fit and finish actually looked surprisingly good for a China built machine. The belt sander is adjustable from 0 to 90 degrees and anywhere in between. The belt plate is covered with a graphite pad which provides a super low coefficient of friction between the backing plate and the spinning belt.

The unit comes complete with a stand. The exterior quality and design of the stand is certainly one of the better ones I have seen when it comes to lower end equipment. However my one big complaint, which is the same complaint I had with my lathe stand, is that the storage is completely useless. The stand has no shelves in it, it is a big empty box of nothing, which in my opinion is a complete waste of cubic feet space in a shop, especially in a home shop where cubic feet is highly coveted. Eventually the stand may get reworked.

As far as performance goes…it is fantastic. I am unsure how I survived as long as I have without one of these in the shop. This sander coupled with the plasma cutter is an unstoppable team. I build lots of brackets or gussests out of .250″ thick flat bar. Typically the brackets get plasma cut and then cleaned up. I always like to put nice smooth radius cuts on the brackets and in the past have had to clean up the plasma kerf, and corners, with an angle grinder. The finished product was sufficient but far from pro looking. With the belt sander the plasma cut cleanup is 5 times faster and 100% more pro looking. The edges are clean and square and the curves have a smooth flow. I am hooked!

Over time I am sure I will become heavily dependant on the new garage family member and that is good. It brings me joy and that is important since it doesn’t make me any money. Its little Craftex brother has found a spot right beside him in the shop and the little guy is still very useful for the smaller stuff. It’s great to have them both around.

With the soapbox car complete it was time to get back onto the gate project. It’s already September and I have come to the realization that I have failed at my summer to do list. The fireplace got a start but is not going to see completion this year. The gate does not have much left to complete and I need to get it finished off.

The main frame and hinge assembly have been fabricated and it was time to get some work done on the latch mechanism. This is the point in the project where I struggled a bit. I came up with this really cool idea for a latch. My plan was (yes that was past tense) to built a mechanism driven by a series of chains and sprockets. The idea was to make the outside of the gate look pretty while the backside was going to be a display of mechanics. I had collected and cut apart a few MTB rear cassettes and chainrings. I then bought aluminum turning stock to build hubs for all the sprockets. I had built an arbour, for the lathe, to turn the hubs and then made three test hubs to perfect the design. I had even considered building in a pneumatic actuator to make the latch mechanism operate at the push of a button. My air compressor sits about 12” away from the gate on the inside of my garage. How awesome would it be to have an air powered gate. After I had everything lined up, figured out, and in place the wife caught a glimpse of the design. It turns out that my idea of cool and her idea of cool are two different things, weird huh?

So the plan for the latch is this, a couple of handles that control a sliding latch pin. It’s kind of boring and not all that creative but I have a relationship to uphold. I was going to attempt to put some personal touches into it and hopefully come up with something that was slightly unique with the look of not being store bought.

I really wasn’t sure how I was going to build this; I had given it no thought and had to change the plan on the spot. I wanted some beefy looking handles so I drew out a handle design on a section of .500” steel plate and went to town with the plasma cutter. With 2 handles cut I spent time cleaning up the edges and rounding out the corners. The handles turned out fairly heavy which is what I wanted; they will hopefully give the latch a good smooth feel.

It was time to come up with the internal mechanism. I struggled. I think I have about 12 hours into the fabrication of the mechanism. I realize that when you see the pictures it is hard to justify 12 hours however this is what happens when I don’t know what I am doing. I decided to conceal the latch within the thickness of the gate. To complicate it all I only had the thickness of a rough sawn fence board to work with which is 1 inch thick.

I am not going to give a play by play of the latch build, if you look at the pictures you can probably figure out what I did. The highlights though are as follows; I used a 5/8” keyed axle section that was left over from the soap box car as the main pivot shaft. Everything was built to be keyed to the axle. The spring mechanism was built using a spring from a tilting and telescopic steering column out of a car. The spring had to be cut in half and modified however in the end the spring tension turned out fantastic. It was the right tension to be able to handle the heavy handles and the latch mechanism. The pivot shaft got mounted on a couple of wheel bearings that were punched out of the rear wheels of the soapbox car. The bearings allow for super smooth operation. The latch pin was built from .500” cold rolled steel round bar. I needed something heavy enough that would not bend when the gate gets slammed shut on it. After sorting through the mechanics of it all, making a few mistakes, and redoing a few things the latch came out great. The feel, movement, and tension are all perfect.

It was time to get things prepped for a test fit. I TIG welded on all the hinges that I had previously fabricated. I had fairly tight tolerances in all the bearings and I feared the hinge brackets would warp slightly once I put the heat to them. They actually all turned out great except for one. The bracket warped about .080” so I ended up shaving down one of the aluminum spacers to make things right.

With the hinge on and the latch built it was time to mock things up on the fence post. I squared things up and temporarily mounted the gate into the hole it would eventually fill. The fit was good. I had a slight gap on the latch side however I was happy with it. I live in an area where summer can get hot and winter can get very cold. The frost heaving often causes fence posts to shift slightly. With the gap that was built in it will allow for a bit of movement and hopefully gate alignment will not be too much of an issue season to season.

The gate hinge design worked out great. The swing is smooth and the input effort is low. I would not say the gate is excessively heavy but it does have some weight to it, the hinges handle the load no problem. With the gate temporarily mounted I was able to build the striker plate. I built the plate out of a 3” section of 2.5” angle iron. The 6×6 rough lumber fence post that was going to support the striker plate was routered out to allow the plate to inset and sit flush. I built the striker plate this way in case I ever need to modify it. Like I said previously, fence posts move with the frost and this causing the gate latch pins to not always line up with the striker plate season to season. If I need to make adjustments I can easily do so.

So I am at a point where all the fabricating has been done and it is onto to paint prep stage. I think unit will get a few coats of trusty oil based Tremclad, I am considering going flat black however I am not completely sure yet.