Archive for May, 2012

And the saga continues with the metal art project. The deadline is approaching and therefore the end is near. It has come to a point where I have to address the issue of mounting the structure to the side of the building. This project, along with just about everything else I build, always comes in over weight. Apparently I am not alone when it comes to bigger is better. I few months ago I was taking a machining course at a local technical institute and the instructor had made a comment how machinists always seem to build things overkill and heavier then what they need to be. I guess we all over compensate to avoid failure.

In my particular case my “avoidance of failure” has resulted in a significant amount of weight that will need to be secured vertically. Earlier I had headed down to the church to scope out the situation. With my stud finder in one hand and a tape measure in the other I was able to map out the skeleton of the wall I was dealing with. The original plan was to angle the structure away from the wall at the top right corner for aesthetic purposes. However now that I have a better idea of the weight involved I feel as though I have no choice but to capitalize on mechanical advantage and suck the art work as close to the wall as possible.

This was going to create another issue in that I needed to come up with a way to secure it to the wall. In the original plan I was going to secure the artwork metal skeleton support first then attach all the rays to the base while it hung on the wall. Now the plan is to assemble the entire unit on the ground and then hoist it up onto the wall. I want to ensure that none of the wall brackets are visible therefore I need to come up with an attachment method the will fit the criteria.

Well I decided to build a giant “picture hook” type system. The plan now was to attach a wall bracket that will allow me to just hook the entire structure onto it. So after some time sitting on the shop stool and staring at the base skeleton I decided that some 1 inch pipe, 4 x .250” flat bar, and some gusseting will do the trick. Three sections of 1” OD pipe were positioned into the base skeleton to create a horizontal bar that would eventually sit into a series of hooks. To ensure the bar would handle the entire weight of the structure I built gussets out of .250” plate for each joint. The Silver Beauty then went to town on each seam and the molten metal was laid down. The Silver Beauty has really started to pull her weight in the shop over the last little while. Having a 220 MIG has lightened the work load of the TIG not to mention it is also a huge time saver on projects like this one.

The wall hook was built from 4” x .250” flat bar and consisted of 4 plasma cut hooks welded to a 72” section. The hooks are required to take on the full load and therefore the welds were crucial. To give some added support I created upper gussets on each hook to help prevent them from peeling off of the flat bar. A lower support plate was built in order to aid in load distribution of the upper plate. The 2 were then connected together via 1 ½” angle iron.

So with the support all fabricated it received a couple coats of flat black Tremclad. Then with the supports loaded up along with the base skeleton it was off to the church for the bracket install and a test fitting.

The wall bracket was secured to the wall using 28 lag bolts 3/8” by 5 inches long. 18 of the bolts went through the top support and were secured into a wooden header that split the upper and lower floors of the building. The remaining ten secured the lower bracket to wall studs. Although the load support was not engineered I am feeling quite confident that it’s going to stay vertical.

A test fitting of the skeleton shows I made one minor mistake. I had drilled a couple holes wrong on the vertical supports and there was interference. No big deal, it’s and easy and minor fix. 2 new holes get drilled and all is well.

I can now stand back and get my first glimpse as to the size of the finished project. It does look to be dwarfed by the size of the wall however the skeleton is significantly smaller then the rays that attach to it. So with the “behind the scenes” portion of the job done it’ll be soon time to set up the paint booth and start the finishing process.

So I spent some time playing with the recent powder coating addition to the shop. I had done what research I could prior to trying it out for the first time but it finally got to a point where I just had to get my hands on it and experience the procedure for myself.

I went hunting around for some metal objects that were willing to sacrifice themselves for a practice round. I stumbled upon a pneumatic cart wheel that was looking for a second chance in life, how could I deny it an opportunity for a mid-life makeover? So out into the garage we went and the sacrificial wheel was disassembled and the bearings removed.

The more projects I complete the more evident it becomes that prep is everything. Whenever I see a quality, well done, impressive finished project it is the preliminary steps, detail, and prep that always seems to shine through. So in keeping with the prep theme I ran the rim of the pneumatic wheel through a series of cleaning chemicals to ensure that there was no grease or oil present.

Then it was off to the sandblast cabinet to give it an exfoliation. What I have read, but have not experienced, is the importance of cleaning grease and oil from the metals prior to sandblasting. I know this to be true for aluminum welding and anodizing as any grease and oil that may have been present during the blasting process will get itself forced into the pores of the metal thereby compromising the cleanliness required for welding or anodizing.

So with the rim cleaned, blasted, and then cleaned again using Acetone I fired up the electric oven and gave the rim a bit of a preheat. Following the guide supplied with the Hypersmooth 02 I loaded in some Safety Orange into the hopper, hooked up my wiring and hoses and proceeded to blow some powder onto my sample rim. I was amazed at how well the powder attracted itself to the rim. I was just set up in the middle of my shop for now with no booth and there was some powder that made its way to the floor but not much. The powder does not appear to be nearly as airborne as paint and didn’t appear to leave a layer of orange on everything in the shop.

Being the first try I was unsure just how much powder to lay on. The powder took well, including the corners. I decided to stop at the point where everything was covered and the rim was left with a light dusting. With the oven pre-heated to 400 degree Fahrenheit I gave the rim a bake time of 10 minutes PMT (Part Metal Temperature). It is pretty cool to watch the powder melt itself into a smooth flowy coating.

With the bake time complete it was time to move onto close inspection of the work. Initial impression was that the coating looked very good and fairly professional. Upon closer inspection I was able to see some dust type particles in the coating which I believe was a result of my “less then perfect” initial cleaning and wipe down. The second issue was that the coating appeared to be a bit thin in some areas. The orange had almost a transparent look in some minor spots. Again I suspect this was a result of my inexperience and I simply did not lay the coating on thick enough.

So I was starting to have some fun with this and didn’t want to stop so I decided to break out the Satin Clear powder I had and gave the orange rim a top coat. I performed no prep work. The rims were still slightly warm from baking on the orange powder so I simply cleaned the gun out, swapped over to clear and gave them a light dusting. Back in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and behold I had a decent looking satin cleared orange wheel. Again I am unsure if I laid the clear on thick enough, I suspect I went a bit on light side. Anyway…for the first round I would have to say I was fairly impressed. Not only does the finish look great but the clean up associated with the gun, and shop, is quick and easy.

So a couple days later I was looking to go another round with the powder coating. I had built a wheel adapter for an automotive shop to use with their tire changer. The adapter simply needed to serve a purpose and was not required to be a work of art. I decided to see what kind of luck could be had using the Red Wrinkle powder. With the hub adapter machined and welded it got an initial cleaning of acetone and then a session of sandblasting. It was then placed in the oven for a presoak. The adapter had quite a bit of mass to it so it spent awhile baking in the heat. With some temperature put into the metal I then proceed to lay on some of the wrinkle red. The stuff sticks great. I decided to go a bit heavier with the coating this time round just to get an idea and feel for it all. Back into the oven it went for 15 minutes PMT at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the powder was baked on and the adapter cooled close inspection revealed a nice even smooth coating. There was no evidence of any wrinkle effect, unsure why, perhaps too heavy a coat or maybe the pre heat was a bit too hot. Anyway…I’ll work at solving the problems.

So a few days later I decided to have another go at some test pieces. I had an old stainless steel license plate frame lying around so I tossed it into the blast cabinet and removed all the old black coating. Then, for no particular reason, I shot it with Safety Orange. End result? Fairly impressive, the coating was smooth, even, and lacked no bare spots.

I then moved onto some sample chips. I had planned to spray 4 steel chips with the 4 colors I had, Safety Orange, Wrinkle Red, Super Wet Black, and Tucson Matte Black. I also sprayed a couple of aluminum chip samples using the Satin Clear. One of the aluminum chips was sand blasted and the other had a 4 stage polishing done to it. Well the first round turned out to be a failure. I laid the Satin Clear and Super Wet Black on way way way too thick, so thick that the powder started to drip off into the oven. The end result was hideous, the cleared aluminum was just and ugly mess with nothing visually pleasing about it and the Super Wet Black sample developed pin holes and a wave look. Okay lesson learnt, however it was a necessary step for me to go through as I typically need to experience failure before I can understand how to make things better.

So on the 3 remaining chips I decided to lighten up a bit and take it easy. I started to get a much better feel for how much powder I was applying. The Safety Orange, Wrinkle Red, and Tucson Matte Black samples turned out fantastic. The Wrinkle Red actually ended up displaying the Wrinkle finish it was intended to have. I suspect this was a result of a lighter coat.

In the end I would have to say I am very pleased with the testing rounds I went through. I learned some basic lessons and achieved some success and satisfaction. As there are still many more challenges to work through I will continue to practice and strive to get better.

Well it’s back onto the metal art project. This time I am entering the final phase of the creative process and need to deal with the center piece. As usual I have no clear direction or vision. The only criterion is that the center piece will need to be large enough to hide the center pivot where all 12 rays come to meet in the center. Other then that it needs to be unique and fall into line with the theme.

The build started off with some larger diameter chunks of pipe and a 2” piece of solid round machine steel. The rest of the center piece somewhat morphed into existence. I am not to sure what I can say about it all. The pictures tell the story and I suspect there is very little a person can’t figure out by just using the visuals. So I will let you browse the images as this weeks post. Any questions just ask.

The stars seemed to align and opportunity presented itself which led to some new shop equipment. I have lots on my to do list and was not actively seeking out any new toys for the shop however there came a knockin’ on the garage door and when I went to check to see who it was they jammed their foot in the door and I had no choice but to invite them in. It turns out that powder coating has now set up shop in the garage. I explained to PC that I had no room and there was no place for him to crash. He didn’t really seem to care. He basically barged in, took one look around, pointed to my set of stacked winter tires and said “There, right there, that spot will do just fine”. When I asked him where he was planning to put the winter tires he responded with “not my problem, I don’t drive”. When I told him that I would have to get a “go ahead” from the rest of the garage family he just tuned up his nose and gave me the “I’m the new guy in town and I could care less what the others think, I work alone”. Well there was certainly tension in the shop. We have always worked as a close knit community and even though we have our differences we have always stayed focus on the job at hand. The garage family has been around for awhile and they can spot attitude a mile away. I think they lined up PC as the young, know it all, punk. I’ve got to hand it to veteran group, especially the TIG, as he is typically the wise one, and the grandfather, of the group. The TIG doesn’t get bent out of shape over much and he, along with the family, was certainly not going to let PC walk in and change the channel. So now I find myself caught in the middle of all this. I typically don’t tolerate attitude in my shop and you are expected work to earn your keep. I am willing to give PC a chance in hopes that his big mouth will result in big results. So for now he is going not going to be allowed in the shop area but instead he can observe from the opposite corner of the garage where he will sit for now.

So with the introduction of PC to the group I was now forced to do something with my stack of winter tires. But before I get to that perhaps a bit of history may be in order. I have always griped about how I struggle with finishing my products. I have been able to learn and progress with anodizing. I am still working on getting set up for HVLP spraying in which my sun project will be the first to benefit from. I have looked, from a distance, at powder coating but have always dismissed getting involved with it because of the oven factor. No space and too much expense.

Well awhile ago a blog follower, by the name of Keven, was able to convince me that powder coating was a viable option for the DIY crowd. If you’re interested in reading about our conversation just check out the comment section of the post located here. Well it turns out the infrared heat lamps can be used to melt the powder instead of ovens. So over the next couple months I would poke around and do what reading I could on the subject of home powder coating and realized that I may be able to pull this off sometime. It also became very evident that powder coating and anodizing have 3 things in common and that is prep, prep, and more prep. After having gone through the process of figuring out anodizing I was aware that powder coating would be very similar and that there would be a fairly steep learning curve involved.

So the day came when a friend of mine who is in the process of building a café racer was in need of powder coating. After some talk we agreed that if I got set up to do powder coating then he would send some work my way to help offset the cost of the equipment. I set out 2 conditions; first one is there can be no deadline and second that the powder coating comes with no quality guarantee. Of course I promise to do my best however I am fairly certain that to turn out quality coatings a fair amount of time, failure, and experience will be required.

So after more research I took the plunge and ordered up some equipment. I set my sights on a Hypersmooth 02 DPW system from Columbia Coatings. I fear cheap equipment as it often comes with more frustration then it’s are worth. The Hypersmooth system appeared to be a good middle ground set up. Hopefully I chose well. So with the system ordered up I then put in an order from Powder365 for some sample powders in order to play with. While I was at it I got my hands on a couple of silicone plug kits and high temp tape.

While I waited for the equipment and supplies to arrive I continued my self directed powder coating 101 education. It started to become clear that an oven would be hugely beneficial for the smaller projects. So I started to dig around on Kijiji (another version of Craig’s List) and was able to get my hands on a working, free, early 1980’s oven. I wanted to find something with no electronics as it would be cheaper to keep going should things break. So with an oven sitting in the middle of my garage I now needed a place to store it.

This is where some garage reorganizing comes in. You know that stack of tires I was forced to do something with? The stack has now turned into a row. A trip to the metal yard got me some 3” x ¼” flat bar and some 1.250 x .065 square tubing. A Saturday afternoon of garage time got traded for a fabricated and painted tire rack.

So with the tires mounted to the wall, the oven sitting in its new home, and the powder coating gun and supplies making its way to my doorstep it is now time to actually get set up to perform some spraying and testing. Only time will tell if I made a mistake getting involved with this. But then again this will result in more garage projects so how can anything really be wrong with that?