Archive for January, 2013

Title tools

So I have been lugging my way through the 65 Revive project and things have been going well but it was finally time to take a break. I find that if I get too involved in a project for too long I start to lose focus. Sometimes it is necessary to step back for a few moments and regroup. Well opportunity came knocking and when I heard the call I answered the door.

1 of 2 monitors

Not too long ago I built a monitor stand out of pure necessity. The stand was built from an old brake rotor and was build purely to serve a purpose. It did not need to look pretty and only needed to be functional. Well it turns out that the brake rotor monitor stand theme was catching on and this time I had a request to build another one. The difference with the new one is that it needed to have a bit of “wow” factor built into it.

PCCB rotor

The “goddess” of brake systems

Rotor quote 001

The request came from a friend of mine who is a service advisor for the local Porsche dealership in town. I was given very little direction as to what the stand was supposed to look like once it was built. My instructions were “you decide…I trust you”. The problem is that trust does not always equate to a satisfactory product however I am always pleased to accommodate my own design and not have to incorporate details that have been supplied to me.

Damaged PCCB rotor

Chipped PCCB rotor

The only bit of the project that I needed to make sure I included was the supplied brake rotor that my friend gave me. The rotor that I was supplied was no ordinary brake rotor. This particular rotor was taken off of a Porsche 911 equipped with PCCB (Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes). For those unfamiliar with Porsche PCCB brakes the highlight is that they are ceramic. So what you say? Well as much as many think the ceramic composite lends itself well to increased braking capabilities because of the heat resistance the benefit is actually more in the handling of the vehicle. The PCCB rotors are incredibly light compared to conventional cast rotors. The weight factor plays a huge role in the vehicles unsprung weight and, in turn, contributes to huge gains in the vehicles handling characteristics.

Monitor arm template

The hinge brackets were first cut from 1/8″ MDF to use as a template to ensure consistant results among the 4 I required.

For myself I am not sure what is more impressive, the performance gains of the PCCB rotor or the price tag associated with them. I had the Porsche parts department quote me on the replacement value of the single rotor that was supplied to me. It was a mere $7185.62 CDN. That’s right… for 1 rotor. It turns out that the only reason my friend has the rotor was that it had slight accident damage and therefore was replaced. The outer edge had a slight chip taken out of it therefore it was no longer considered safe to use.

Hinge bushings

Machining hinge bushings out of 6061 aluminum. Test fit shows I measured right!

So away I went with the rotor and a head full of project ideas that I needed to sort through. A few sleepless nights allowed me to organize my thoughts and come up with a starting game plan. The only criteria I had was that the monitor stand needed to accommodate a dual monitor set up and 1 monitor had to pivot around in order to accommodate customer viewing. No problem…minor details. I enjoy building off the top of my head. I find that if I try and stick to a specific design, or game plan, the project doesn’t always work out. I have learned to allow for a certain “fly by the seat of my pants” design whenever I build. I find that as soon as I can get a visual on one component it will provide inspiration for the next one.

Threading set screw

I am building caps for the hinges to conseal the threads. Here I needed to drill and tap for a set screw which will secure the cap onto the hinge pin.

So I sat down and tried to gain some insight into the Porsche way of thinking in order to build a basis for the design. Well it turns out that Porsche, being a German company, appears to like things straight and square, who woulda thunk? Porsche has very specific guidelines set in place that describe what their marketing visuals and showroom layout are to look like. As I looked at much of their promotional and marketing displays it became quite evident that I needed to think “inside the box”. So my initial ideas of building some bends and curves into the stand were abandoned and the “straight and square” philosophy was adopted.

Monitor hinge components

Here are my built hinge components.

Hinge concept

This is one of the hinges set up to show what I am trying to accomplish. Pay no attention to the large hole drilled in the center, it will come into play later.

So I developed a fairly good mental picture of what I was going for however I will let creativity run its course, as long as the course is straight with no curves. I decided to start with the mechanics of the stand in which everything else will be built around. That being the pivot system for the monitors. My friend told me that only one monitor had to pivot but I cannot cope without building the stand symmetrically so I opted to allow both monitors to pivot in the same manner.

Mocked up monitor hinge

Mocking up monitor bracket

Getting ready to tack the brackets together so that I can test fit things.

I stepped into the garage, pulled out some fine looking metal specimens, and started to cut. The pivot hinges are going to be fully custom built. I find that custom building the hinges allow them to be more of a show piece rather them a necessity. I like to build hinges, I do not know why. Perhaps it is because there are so many different ways to do it. In my case I try and give them a clean look that will be pleasing to look at.

Bracket to monitor

Looks like things are going to work out…so far.

I am not going to run you through the build details. Lately I have been letting the pictures do the story telling and it seems to be working. If it isn’t then will someone please let me know? I suspect this build may take up the next 3, or so, blog postings. What I like about stretching a build over a few postings is that I get to see the project transform from raw materials into a finished project. I could fill you in on what my end result is going to look like but sometimes it is more fun to just watch it happen. So here you go…the beginning steps to my Porsche PCCB dual monitor stand.

Monitor stand layout

Here I am doing a bit of “work bench AutoCAD”. Using the two tacked up montior brackets I drew out the dimensions on the work bench for the remaining stand components.

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Title belt sander

I feel like I need to state the obvious, this kick stand project is dragging on. I can make excuses but what’s the point? The only person that is affected by the lack of progress is myself. I have collected many parts that are tempting me to switch gears to a different fabricating aspect on the bike my head is telling me to get through the kickstand and reach completion before moving on.

Milled for mounting

Mounts TIG welded

Although the main support shaft looks to be built from 1 solid piece it is actually a hollow section with the two ends welded on. My main concern was to keep the weight low.

I had previously worked at getting all the angles figured out. I do not possess the skills to be able to create a 3D working model in a CAD program and so I needed to rely on old school methods and just had to puzzle it out. The project was at the point where the previously built components required welding and the addition of known components had to be built and the stand cleaned up.

Pivot stop

Pivot parts joined

So I started to tack components together so that I could do some preliminary test fitting. The kick stand itself went together nicely however the mechanical aspect of the over centering spring had yet to be determined. I had plenty of hours into trying to make things work. The pictures I have included in this blogs posting do not tell the whole story. There was plenty of trial and even more error.

Stand stop

Stand cleaned up

This extra tab is the stop for when the kick stand is in the lowered position.

I had initially planned on building the over centering aspect based on the millions of other kick stand designs. What was the point in trying to reinvent the wheel? Well it turns out that I positioned the pivot point of the spring in the wrong location. The kick stand would snap down into the lower position but it would not stay in the retracted position. I know why it didn’t work however trying to change it so it would function was not easy.

Stand test fit

2 inch foot plate

Building the kick stand “foot” using 2″ solid round bar.

I was very cramped for space. I am trying to build the kick stand as cleanly, inconspicuous, and self contained as possible. I struggled with finding a solution to position my pivot points correctly. It was time for a total re-think. A new approach was needed and thinking outside of the box had to come into play. In order to make room for the over center pivot point I was going to have to abandon the conventional methods. Typically an expansion spring is used which requires the over center pivot to be placed above the kick stand pivot. In my case I decided to explore the idea of using a compression spring and therefore I would be able to place the over centering pivot below the kick stand pivot where I would have more room.

Stand alone set up

Bike lean

I am unsure what is standard as far as bike lean goes. My stand allowed for just under 5 degrees. It looks right and hopefully it will be enough so that a wind gust won’t knock the Honda over.

So as I played with this idea the plan finally came into clear view. It was about time! I was able to track down a short version of the typical hydraulic struts used on automotive hoods as the hood props. I found a short version that is used on Porsche Cayenne SUVs that return the park brake pedal to rest position. The length was perfect and the tension felt adequate.

Machined ball

Hydraulic and balls

So off to the lathe I went to machine up the pivot balls required for the mini strut to snap onto. After lots of fitting and mocking up I was able to determine where my pivot points had to be and proceeded to build the brackets. Knowing I may have to scrap the whole idea if it doesn’t work I tack welded everything together and proceeded to perform a full function test. Awesome! The pivot point turned out to be perfect. The kick stand both lowers and rises into its rest position on both ends of the scale. It is secure and safe.

Drilling the stand

So finally I have reached a point of satisfaction. Not only is the kick stand fully functional but I think it also looks fantastic. The strut is hidden in behind the rest of the stand and the complete assembly tucks up out of the way. Nothing is obtrusive or ugly and having the strut on the stand gives it a super cool “trick” look to it all.

Ball fitted

So for now I am going to check this on off my list. The stand still requires powder coating however I am holding off until the exhaust is complete. There is a chance I may need to weld a support for the exhaust to the stand. The difficult part is complete I can finally move forward with more exciting aspects of the project.

Completed kick stand 2

The completed kick stand in the retracted position. Nice and clean.

Completed kick stand 1

Title hack saw

The other day when I was working away in the garage I found myself lost in a “moment”. I am sure you have seen the movie where the gentleman is sitting in a London cafe on a cold rainy night as he glances out the window only to see the most beautiful girl he had ever viewed appear, on the empty sidewalk across the street from the cafe, cold and soaking only to get into a cab and drive off. Well it was not one of those moments, it was better, waaaaayyyyyy better. It had to do with tools. It was a moment that brings an individual down to his core elements, it was experience that allows a person to connect to his fellow species on a fundamental level that solidifies the common unity that has driven, and allowed, mankind to exist. The moment was surreal, I was looking down upon myself from the ceiling of my shop and saw the sense of awe, and wonderment, within my eyes and the way I held my outstretched arms as the room spun around me. Alast the world all made sense as the root of mans existence had finally come to light. It all came down to the hacksaw.

That’s right…a hacksaw. Don’t you see? It’s the fact that I needed a hacksaw to complete the task at hand. The moment went like this. I needed to cut a piece of metal, wierd huh? It gets better. One of the joys I recieve from working with tools is the fact that one always needs to calculate which tool is appropriate for which job. I find it to be a fun game as many times there are multiple factors to consider. Obviously one of the biggest factors is what do you have available to use as a tool. But let’s just say selection wasn’t a factor, let’s say that you had every tool known to man and that the criteria was based solely around the task that needed to be accomplished. Try and follow my example; when it comes to pulling wrenches and you need to loosen a bolt what do you use? A wrench? If so do you use a box end? open end? ratchet wrench? offset wrench? How about a ratchet and socket, 1/4″? 3/8″? Do you use an extension? What length of ratchet? What length of extension? Flex socket? Deep socket? Or will shallow fit the bill? Perhaps an impact wrench? Air ratchet? What about a cordless screwdriver? How does one decide? One needs to analyze and choose.

So back to my piece of metal that I needed to cut. You see I needed to decide how I was going to cut this thing. It was a 5/8″ diameter piece of hot rolled solid round bar approximatly 8 inches long that needed about 1/4″ trimmed off it. So the mental process of deciding how to accomplish the task began. Do I clamp it down in the bandsaw? Can’t, too awkward to clamp. Chop saw? again too hard to clamp straight and secure. Plasma cutter? Too messy, too much clean up afterwards. Die grinder with a cut off wheel? Die grinder has a carbide blade in it and the collet wrench is buried. I am running out of options. Belt sander? No way! Gets too hot and puts too much wear on the abrasives. What’s left? Eureka! This is a job for my hacksaw. Yeah baby! Let’s tension that 18 TPI blade in that aluminum frame and put some effort behind this task. So that is what I did and I had that 1/4″ chunk of steel trimmed off in no time.

Well sort of…if there was a wardrobe in the room I would have entered it. You see that in reality only a few moments passed as the blade made its way through the steel, however in the abstract world that connects all humans together the moment lasted long enough for me to feel at one with my ancestor from 60000 BC. With each stoke of the blade I came to realize that the most simplest of tools was the also the best tool. It made me realize that many things change and that some would say nothing ever stays the same. In my case what I was doing was NOT a reenactment of history but instead joining the legacy of builders. The tool has not changed over the tens of thousands of years it has been in existence. It is a tool that can not be improved on, it has reached the pinnacle of R&D, it is perfect! And it is what connects any of us that has used it to all of us that have. I have not only gripped history in my right hand but I have pushed it along its never ending journey of time.

I have since exited the wardrobe and have found that shop life hasn’t changed much. People around me are oblivious to my experience and continue to go about their days texting and drinking Starbucks. For me I have no choice, I need to trek on in this world that continues to have more questions than answers. It is a lonely path I follow and one that I suspect is journeyed by others that have too grasped unity in their hand.

For now I think the shop hacksaw will find a new home, a more respectable home. It will be removed from the bottom draw of the tool box and placed upon the wall above the workbench to serve as a reminder that I need to go out and find a power tool that will make shaving off a 1/4″ a bit quicker and easier.