Archive for October, 2011

One must always take time to prepare for the future and the unexpected whether that means planning for retirement, purchasing insurance for possible future issues, or structuring a will for the inevitable. It’s is important to plan to ensure that we maintain our standard of living despite what life may through at us. In the case of a friend of mine he is in the planning phase of preparing for a zombie apocalypse. It’s something that weighs heavy on his mind and he decided it was time to make a proactive movement towards making sure he can get them before they can get him.

I have to admit that I would be a noon time snack for a Zombie since I have done nothing to educate, or prepare, myself for their coming. However my friend has a vast amount of knowledge on the subject and therefore has provided me with some direction. It turns out that in order to protect oneself from a Zombie you need to sever the Zombie’s brain from the body. Apparently you don’t want to miss with the attempt as things apparently get real ugly. It appears that a shotgun serves this purpose very well however certain situations sometimes dictate the need for a different method. After some exhaustive research my friend I came up with the Zombie Bat concept. The design is really quite simple and it includes a 20 inch blade mounted to a Louisville Slugger. The idea is that the zombies can be dealt with at close range while the living, which is after the food supply, can be beat away with the other end without causing death. It’s all about safety.

Since this is a relatively new and revolutionary step in weapons design we felt as though a proto type was in order. After rummaging through his garage my friend emerged with a well used baseball bat. So with the bat in hand, a Sharpie, and a chunk of cardboard the design team went to work carefully calculating out the required specifications. With the raw material collected and the blueprint complete there was nothing left to do but create.

Using the cardboard template as a rough guideline a basic shape was plasma cut from .125” mild low carbon steel (not using blade worthy carbon steel for the prototype) The edges were sanded and a basic form was produced.

 The milling machine was used to notch the bat out to accept the blade. Using a .250” end mill a 1.75” deep hole was milled into the bat in 2 spots. The bat was then cross drilled to accept the hardware for securing the blade. A .750” router bit was used to create a step in the cross drilled holes in order to allow the soon to be machined spacer something to clamp onto.

The spacer’s used to secure the blade were spun from 1” 6061 aluminum. They were stepped in order to allow both the blade and the wood to be clamped down. They were threaded to accept a 6mm socket head bolt and then countersunk to allow for flush mounting of the head.

With the bat assembled some test swinging could be made. Although the blade makes the weapon a little top heavy with a bit of practice, and technique, some good follow through inertia can be had. Although this is only a proto type with the blade left unsharpened this first unit would still buy you a few more survival minutes then if you didn’t have it.



I’ve been trying to get some hood time with my aluminum welding so as to try and improve my skills. I had a request to build a couple of small vacuum canisters that are going to be used for the installation of an aftermarket cruise control system on a couple of Yamaha FJR 1300 motorcycles. It wasn’t a huge job, at first, and I was able to stumble my way through to moderate success.

The only criteria was size. The canister needed to maintain an external dimension of 2 inches diameter by 4.5 inches long. I started with 2” 6061 aluminum round with .125” wall thickness (I know it was a bit heavy however I didn’t have .065”) and chopped off a 4” section. Then I shaved a couple of .75” pieces off of 2” solid 6061. Using the lathe I machined a couple of steps into the end caps to allow for a perfect canister fit.

I fired up the Miller TIG and laid down a couple of beads no problem…so I thought. Once I machined down the welds I installed a 1/8” NPT 1/8” barb brass fitting into the canister, dunked it in a bucket of water and fed 120 psi of air to it. Lots of bubbles, oops. I figured no problem, this is a learning experience. I ran some more beads, machined and performed another leak test. Still bubbles. So I did it 2 more times trying hard not to get frustrated. Performed a 4th leak test, still bubbles, I couldn’t decide if it was time to cry yet.

Obviously the system I was using was not working, I needed to change something. I decided to machine a couple of huge grooves in welds to allow for wider penetration. I had already machined grooves previously however not to an extreme. However it was to a point were the project was garbage if I couldn’t get it sealed. So with a massive valley to lay some aluminum rod into I welded the canister up for a 5th time. Machined it for the 5th time and leak tested it for the 5th time. Perfect! No leaks. Note to self…do not fear the large groove. The aluminum has no problem flowing, penetrating, and filling the gap.

So the canister kind of took on an odd shape due to all the machining however the functionality was not compromised. As an added learning step I decided to anodize the unit to see how the welds would anodize. After polishing the unit and putting it through a cleaning stage I dunked the unit into my anodizing tank for a couple of hours. Upon post anodize inspection it was fairly obvious that the 6061 canister and the aluminum filler wire anodized 2 different colors. I soaked the canister in the orange dye for 15 minutes curious to see if the to aluminum colors would be hidden with dye color. Apparently not, lesson learned. No big deal to fix. I set the canister back up on the lathe and sanded down the poorly colored ends and then polished them up on the buffing wheel.

I can’t say that this is the prettiest thing I have ever made however its main purpose was to try and teach me something and that it did. The best part is that I have to make a second one so I’ll see if I can take my new found knowledge and apply it in hopes of better success.

As I have mentioned in the past I suffer from high frustration levels when it comes to putting the finishing touches on projects. Building is one thing but making it look good with a topping of paint, powder coating, or anodizing is whole other set of skills, knowledge, and equipment. In the past I heavily relied on my trusty can of brush on Tremclad and it works well depending on the application however as different projects are completed they require a more professional finish. 

My aluminum welding is getting better

For some time now I have repeatedly said I was going to do something to resolve this issue. Well I figured now is the time. After lots of brainstorming and planning I have begun construction on a collapsible, aluminum framed, positive pressured paint booth. Overall planned dimensions are 9 feet wide by 12 feet long by 8 feet high making an overall square foot area of 108 sq. ft. and a volume of 864 cu. ft.. I have calculated my air exchange CFMs which will have a 1 HP electric motor taking care of the business. The intake and exhaust filter square area has been figured out and there is nothing left to do but build. I have no intention of ever painting a vehicle in the booth therefore the size only needs to accommodate my larger projects.

1/4" crimp nuts used for attaching the filter cage

Since I have been practicing my aluminum welding on scrap it was time to put it to use. The idea is to build the entire structure from light weight aluminum and tarps. The design will allow for me to collapse the entire booth and pivot it up to hang on my garage ceiling for storage.

Installed filter material and weatherstripping

So the beginning stage was tackled and completed. I had started by building the spring loaded man door which is also doubling as my exhaust filter set up. The door is constructed from 1”x1” x.065” 6061 aluminum along with some aluminum 1” and ½” flat bar. The main frame was built and then a grate section was fabricated in order to allow for sandwiching my exhaust filter. I am using a generic 20 ft x 30” roll of furnace filter to handle catching of the overspray. I may need to tweak things as I go.

Main door frame with cage unbolted

For now the aluminum welding is going great. Aluminum is so nice to work with, easy to cut, clean, things seem to go quicker. With all the beads I am running I can see an improvement in my aluminum welding ability.

With the door complete I will be moving onto the end wall construction in which one wall will involve building of the intake filter and ducting.

I figured it was about time to set up my anodizing line so that it would be more useable. I had played with anodizing awhile back and really struggled. I was able to succeed at it however it was a result of more luck then chemistry. Anyway…I decided it was time to revisit the project and hammer some knowledge into my head. I am pleased to say that with the anodizing process I have gained a solid understanding of the chemistry, and factors involved, and therefore have been able to reproduce consistent results using proper set up and calculations.

The type of anodizing I have been doing is considered LCD (low current density) CC (constant current) Type II anodizing. I want to be able to anodize some of my machining projects and since the size of my lathe determines the size of project I don’t need a huge tank to perform the process. Right know I have set myself up a 4 gallon bucket which is plenty of room to perform the current (pun intended) tasks.

For those of you who are new to home anodizing the process is probably unknown. For myself I separate the process into 2 sections. First one is the process of anodizing, the second is the process of dyeing which is what gives the aluminum its color. For now I have directed my attention to the anodizing portion.

I have been practicing my aluminum TIG welding on scrap metal and decided it was time to put my practice to use. Using some 6061 aluminum flat bar and round bar I welded up a hoop to sit on top of my 4 gallon bucket. The hoop allows me suspend my parts into the anodizing solution as well as holds my agitation lines. I welded up a bracket in order to clip a 150 watt aquarium heater onto the side of the tank. Then I built some 6061 aluminum cathodes to aid with the “negative” side of things.

I was able to track down a used power supply which was in great shape. The unit I am using is an Astron VS-50M which is a 50 amp 15 volt variable DC power supply. It has plenty of jam to perform the smaller projects I am anodizing.

Sample dye colors on aluminum knobs

With the tank set up coupled with the massive amounts of research I had done I started turning out great consistent, well controlled results. Since I run small parts through the system I rely on a DVOM to monitor my current draw which allows me to dial in the power supply.

Once the part is anodized it can then be dyed to any color. I have 6 dyes, some of which I have sampled and some that still are waiting discovery. The process of dyeing is nothing more then soaking the part in the dye tank, at the right temperature, for anywhere between 1 to 15 minutes depending on the shade of color desired. Once dyed the aluminum can then be sealed. I have experienced some blotches with some colors which I believe is a result of poor cleaning of the part. The cleaning process is incredibly important to the success of the entire operation. I have a cleaning sequence I perform however it needs some tweaking.

Overall I am pleased with my results. The setup is compact and performs its function. Overtime I hope to build up a sample library of anodized finished, colors, and dye techniques to be able to reference to.

So I have wanted to add a Millermatic 252 MIG to my line up of welders for some time now however it has never been in the budget. Since it continues to not be in the budget I have at least bought myself some time with my latest addition to the garage family. I was offered a Silver Beauty 220 V MIG welder for free and so I decided to welcome it into the garage to see what it could do.

Now the Silver Beauty brand of welder’s are not considered a quality welder. The welders were made by the Italian company Telwin and distributed by Triple A Specialty Co. out of  Chicago Illinois. I am unsure what years the Silver Beauty line of welders were sold from however I am certain they are long gone however Telwin continues to build their own line up.

The top nozzle and tip was the original Silver Beauty set-up. The lower set-up is the Miller retro fit.

The model I received was the Silver Beauty 90130 which I have no manual or specifications for. All I can tell you is that it’s a 220V model which has way more jam then my Millermatic 135 110V setup.

The welder had some issues and it was not exactly useable when I received it. The power supply all seemed to work however the gun was screwed up. The gas cup was destroyed and someone had screwed on the wrong tip. A trip down to the local welding supplier confirmed what I knew would be true…no parts available. I wasn’t about to sink any money into this freebie unit but I needed to come up with a solution. I took my Miller MIG gun apart and compared it to the Silver Beauty’s gun. With a little bit of lathe work I was able to machine a brass adapter to allow me to convert all of the guns consumable components to standard Miller components, in fact the same MIG gun components I run on the Millermatic 135. It all worked beautifully. With some cleaning and adjustment of the wire feed mechanism I was able to feed wire through the gun 100%.

 Since I am short on shop space I pulled my Miller MIG of its cart and set it on top of the Silver Beauty. I then built a tee fitting to allow me to feed my BlueShield welding gas into both machines.

 After spending sometime playing with heat settings and wire speeds I was able to lay down some fairly respectable beads. Looks like the Silver Beauty is a keeper…at least until the Miller 252 enters the scene.

Times are changing and the best thing to do is accept it. Gordsgarage blog is 1 year old and its past year has shown that it is happy to have come into existence. When I started the blog I did not have any idea how things would evolve. Within a couple months I came up with a format that kept all the posts consistent in nature. The format worked and worked well. Unfortunately the posts also became very time consuming. As much as I enjoy putting the posts together I have found that the time required has forced me to sacrifice more pressing things in my life. So it’s time for a change. Blog is staying, format is changing. I am going to try and make my posting less “wordy”, I think I sometimes put too much useless talk into the blogs. I will continue to keep the pictures coming however there won’t be as many shots of things that help me explain what I am trying to accomplish. I guess what I would really like is that if people have questions or comments regarding the projects that they send them my way. I would rather spend my time covering things people are actually interested in. Thanks to all who have shown their support by subscribing.

 A friend of mine has a Triumph Triple motorcycle (I apologize as I do not know the exact model) that had a recent “incident”. It turns out that as a result of this “incident” the spools for his race stand were damaged and broken. He had approached me and asked if I could spin him out 4 new ones. This is what I came up with.

The spools were cut from 1 inch solid 6061 aluminum. They were modeled after his existing ones however were slightly modified to allow for a beefy 6mm socket head bolt. When I get a chance I plan to send them through my anodizing tank and spruce them up with some color.

4 new motorcycle stand spools. The black spool in the background is the original which I used as a sample.