Archive for the ‘Anodizing projects’ Category

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Cycling season is upon us which also means the agony of getting into riding shape has begun. When I ride my road bike I typically ride by myself. I like zoning out and riding at my own pace. What I also like are all the training numbers that can be had, and analyzed, based on my own riding performance. I monitor heart rate and cadence as the primary indicators that help me determine my progress and abilities.

This year I began using the Strava app on my phone which allows me to track more of my riding data. I won’t go into detail about the app since the website would do a better job of explaining it however I will say that it is packed full of data that helps determine the pace I am riding at and how I improve.

Since I want to have my phone visible when I ride I wanted to have it mount in a location on my handlebar stem. There are companies that offer phone mounts for bicycles however the ones that I looked at all had some minor issues that I did not like. I figured I had a Saturday afternoon to kill so I thought I would see what the milling machine could produce for a mount.

I spent a few sleepless hours, the night before, lying awake in bed mentally engineering the mount. Once I had the neuron blueprint made I caught a few hours of sleep then headed into the shop and starting chipping out some 6061 aluminium.

The criteria were fairly basic. The mount needed to be solid; I didn’t want Velcro or rubber bands holding it on. Second concern was that the phone had to mount to it quickly. Third thing was that I wanted the mount to accommodate my Otter Box case. With these 3 personal requests I came up with a plan. The rest is of the story is told below.

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I started off with a section of 1.500″ x .500″ flat 6061 aluminum and began hogging out metal to form a clamp for the phone.

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With the middle sectioned out I started to open things up from the outside.

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A little more milling and I finally had something that resembled the clamp that I dreamt up the night before.

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I required a 6 mm thread in the center hole that would eventually provide the clamping force adjustment.

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I am not a weight junkie however there is no need in carrying around anything that is not required. I milled off some extra aluminum that was not necessary.

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With the clamp roughed out it was time to start on the base. The first order of business included milling out a section to accept the previously build clamp.

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Next step involved hogging out all the unwanted aluminum. My projects sometimes get “chunky” and I did’t want that to happen on this one.

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I needed 2 flanges that would allow me to bolt the holder to the bike and the other to help keep my phone centered. Out came the boring head and things were trimmed up.

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Here it is just rough machined. Not finished yet.

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I test fit the mount on the bike and determined things were, in fact, too “chunky”. I decided that the smaller flange I previously cut in order to keep my phone centered really was not required. Therefore it was time to undo my work. I set the base up on the rotary table and cut off the top section on the mount which included my previously machined smaller flange.

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It is definitely looking better, and lighter, having been cut down.

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As I continue to lighten things up I cut some speed holes. The one exception was the bottom 6 o’clock hole. It was drilled and tapped, you will see why later.

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Here are all the components that make up my holder. You can see a knob, which I didn’t show any pictures of machining it, which will be used in conjunction with my clamp.

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Onto the finishing portion of the project. The mount will get anodized in order to protect if from the elements. Of course I say elements because it needs to sound like I need a reason. Truth is that it just looks really cool when anodized. All the edges and surfaces got touched up and then were hit with 2 stage buffing. Then thoroughly cleaned and ready for anodizing.

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Here they sit in a sulfuric acid bath and soak for a couple hours while getting bombarded with electrons.

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Onto the coolest part of anodizing. 5 minutes in the Red Bordeaux dye resulted in a fantastic shade of red.

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This is the clamp fresh out of the dye.

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Because there is always 1 person that says “How much does that weigh?” the answer is 109 grams. Yes it is weight, get over it!

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Here you can finally see how the mechanics of the clamp works. The knob allows me to tension up the clamp against the soft, flexible, section of the Otter Box phone case.

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The base mounts in place of the steering head center cap. It is solid and secure.

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The single tapped hole in the array of speed holes was done in order to allow me to store the clamp when the phone is not installed. I simply spin the clamp onto the base and that way it won’t get misplaced.

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Here you can see how the entire system was designed, and built, to work. The phone is mounted very securely and has no movement.

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All that is visible from the top side are the fingers that wrap around the sides and clamp. I am happy to say that I have cycled multiple times using the mount and there are no issues.

 

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I received a notice from my daughter’s school looking for silent auction donations for an upcoming fundraiser. The funds were going towards the school’s parent council and are to be used to fund programs, and purchases, not covered by the schools budget. I thought it would be fun to donate something that was hand machined in hopes that my labor would score a decent bid and therefore increase the funds collected from the auction.

I wanted to fabricate something that would appeal to a wide audience and so I settled upon machining a yo-yo. I figured both kids and adults could enjoy the pleasures that come from rotational energy. The yo-yos I build are not pro style trick units, they do not run ball bearing axles or friction pads. The units I make are for the pure novice that can appreciate the joys that come from classic design.

The first order of business was to change the name. Although yo-yo is a generic, non-trademarked, name I felt it was too immature. Therefore instead of machining a yo-yo I opted to machine a Vacillating Vertical Pendulum. The concept is the same, only the name has changed.

Since the pendulum will be placed on an auction block I opted to machine a custom storage case for it as well. I have posted pictures of my “yo-yos” in the past but have not dedicated an entire post outlining the process. The following is jam packed with pictures showing the procedure I have developed to make a Vacillating Vertical Pendulum.

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The entire process starts off with a section of 6061 aluminium. Normally I use 2.250″ stock however I was out so I was forced to start with a 2.500″.

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Since there are a total of 18 holes being drilled in each half I try and keep the starting thickness down to a minimum. The final thickness of each half will be .500″. Working with a .550″ thick section allows .050″ for rough, and finished, machining.

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First machining step involves facing the one side and then drilling, and tapping, a 6 mm hole .300″ deep. Look at me splitting metric and imperial.

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To make the rest of the machining easier, and to avoid damaging the finish, I use an arbor I made that has a 6 mm stud.

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Using the arbor I face the opposite side. No need to clean up the diameter yet.

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With the 2 blanks built it is time to move onto the milling machine and set it up for the drilling of the lightening holes.

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The milling machine gets dialed into the center of the blank.

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Next I use the DRO (Digital Read Out) to program in the placement of all the holes.

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All the holes get marked using a centering drill.

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The twelve outer holes get final drilled using a .250″ drill bit. The inner 6 holes are opened up to .3125″.

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The blanks start off at 110 grams (there is that metric again)

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The 18 holes shave off 22 grams of weight.

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Next it is back onto the lathe to clean up the inside face of the blanks.

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These are the blanks prepped and ready to get the final weight machined off.

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Here the diameter gets spun down to a final dimension of 2.200″.

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As previously mentioned I would typically start with 2.250″ stock however in this case you can see the amount I had to take off from the 2.500″ I actually started with.

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Using the arbor in the lathe chuck I face off enough material to bring the thickness down to a final .500″.

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In my quest to shave off more weight I set up to trim the outer face at a 14 degree angle.

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With the face trimmed up I chamfer the corners using a 30 degree angle.

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With the final machining complete I clean up the edges using 320 grit sandpaper. The 30 degree chamfer, performed in the previous step, allows for a sanding of a smooth corner.

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Here you can see the rough clean up on the left as opposed to the final machining on the right.

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Total weight has now come down to 41 grams.

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With all the machining completed it is now time to move onto the second phase of the process. Since the units are going to be anodized it is crucial that the surface finish is perfect before zapping them in an acidic bath. To make polishing easier I decided to build an arbor to help keep the machined faces from “getting away”.

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2 stage polishing is adequate for the anodizing process.

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The foreground face has been machined where as the background face has only been sanded using 320 grit and Scotchbrite.

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This picture makes it obvious I am building 2 Vacillating Vertical Pendulums.The second one is for a friend. The polished faces have now gone through a rigorous cleaning process. Aluminum filler rod has been wedged into the 6 mm holes and they are ready to get dunked in the ano bath.

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Here they all sit in a bath of sulphuric acid for 2 hours with approximately 2 amps of current flowing though the liquid.

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The anodizing process is complete after the 120 minutes, it is evident that the process worked by the change in color to a light grey.

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The unit that is being donated for the silent auction is being dyed a red bordeaux finished. Total time spent in the color bath is approximately 10 minutes. After that the units get boiled in water for 30 minutes to seal the color in.

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This picture is kind of just stuck in the middle of everything. The axle shaft is cut from a 6 mm stainless steel threaded rod. Here the bushing , that the axle slides through, is being cut from a section of .3125″ aluminum.

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These are the 2 dyed, and sealed, pendulums. Pretty!

 

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I like to add a silver lining around each hole using a chamfer bit on a hand drill.

 

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Since the Vacillating Vertical Pendulum requires a place to be stored I thought that a custom case would be in order. Here I started by machining down a section of 1.000″ 6062 aluminum to act as a storage perch.

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A radius sliced into the top will allow for some stability when resting the pendulum on its stringed axis.

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The base of the storage case was, once again, trimmed out from aluminum. A threaded 10 mm center hole will allow the center perch to attached.

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The base of the storage case received a coat of matte black powder and then got baked at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

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Time to clean and assemble everything. The pendulums received a hand waxing with some Collinite’s #850.

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Here are all the components, before assembly, that make up the entire project. The glass cover was purchased and the base was machined to fit.

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The center storage perched was screwed into the base. Note the humidity control holes that was drilled into the base to allow for strict climate control inside the case.

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The storage case received a GG decal to finish things off.

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To ensure that the person who purchases the item knows that it is authentic a certificate, and specification document, was created.

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The plasma table CNC build has officially gone into fabrication phase. I have sacrificed multiple, sleepless, nights coming up with a game plan and determining the best sequence to build the table in. I have opted not to use any existing plans but instead engineer the table my way. I have a “big picture” in mind however all the details that are required to ensure the concept will be completed are yet to be determined.

Most tables are typically started by building the main frame. Since there are so many unknowns as far as gantry sizes and, more importantly, X,Y,Z travel dimensions I decided I am going to start from the center of the universe. In this case I am going to build the entire table around the tip of the plasma torch. This would mean I begin with my Z axis.

Since part of the construction of the Z-axis involves its ability to move along the X-axis I needed to come up with a linear movement system. X and Y axis linear movement methods are obviously nothing new. There are multiple systems that a proven to work well. My favorite has always been the Dualvee Bearing design coupled with the Vee rails. It takes care of both the radial and axial movements all in one shot and it does it in a fairly compact set up.

Since the whole point of fabricating the CNC is to actual “fabricate” I wanted to avoid purchasing as many components as possible and instead build the items. Coming up with a simple linear motion system that I had the skills, and equipment, to build was tough. I didn’t want to clutter up the sliders with aluminum plates housing 8 bearings each just to keep things smooth and straight.

After much thought I took some inspiration from the Vee bearing design and opted to build my own version but without the Vee. My version would incorporate a radius bearing that would ride along a 4140 alloy rod. If the design works it will control the radial and axial loads just like a Vee bearing does.

Weight of the table is a huge factor and this will become evident why later on in the build. So after a bit of experimenting I came up with a system to accurately machine radius bearings out of aluminum. Aluminum is not exactly the first choice for bearing material however in my case the loads are not massive plus the ability to anodize aluminum will certainly add a layer of hardness. The following outlines the first steps in building the CNC table by starting with the axis bearings.

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People often ask for the plans of some of the things I build. I figured I would start by posting the intricate CAD drawings of the bearing assemblies. Here is all the information for the world to see.

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Here are the bearings in various stages of production. They are all machined from 2″ 6061 round bar. The outer finished dimensions are .750″ wide with a 1.975″ diameter.

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The blank is hogged out with a 1″ drill bit on the lathe.

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Next it gets bored out down to the .001″ to accept the press fit bearing.

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A custom fabricated arbor was required in order to perform the external machining using both the lathe and the milling machine. Here is the steel arbor I built to secure the aluminum blanks.

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The outside diameter gets lathed down to 1.975″ before it gets moved over to the milling machine.

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The rotary table was set up vertically and the blank gets secured in order to allow a .125″ deep cut using a .675″ endmill.

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This is the final machined bearing housing before it goes into finishing stage.

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All the bearing housing then got a 2 stage polishing in order to smooth things up.

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Here is the set of 8 ready to move on to the anodizing phase.

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In order to remove all of the cutting oil and polishing compounds the housings recieve a soaking in a heated solution of SP degreaser.

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After getting a good scrubbing in hot soapy water the units get rigged for hanging in the sulphuric acid anodizing bath.

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Everything gets hung and electrically connected ready for a 2 hour soaking.

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The power supply gets connected to the bearing housings and 4.50 amps at 15 volts is dialed in for 120 minutes.

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These are what the housings look like after they are anodized. The shiney, polished, aluminum turns to a dull light grey color.

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All the housings then recieve a dip in the heated orange dye tank. To keep the color consistant they are all timed for an 8 minute bath.

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Here are the housings fresh out of the dye tank.

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Time to press the bearings in. In order not to damage the finish on the housings I machined a couple of bushings that I used to keep the housing, and bearing, straight and protected while they get mated using the vise.

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Finished product. I will be curious to know how well the anodized surfaces will stand up to wear and tear. Having them colored orange will make it easy to determine the extent of wear they are suffering from.

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So it would appear that I have got myself into a groove of machining projects that can be completed in an evenings worth of time. They allow little commitment on my part yet yields decent amounts of satisfaction, in today’s world I think I have dialed in what we are all looking for. I typically live by the words “a well planned project is a project half done” however in this case a “project that is winged is a project that that wasn’t planned but turned out alright”.

I got myself into a yo-yo groove. A number of years ago I researched yo-yos and came to learn that the technology has advanced since I was a kid. Now the pro yo-yos are all ball bearing-ed, housing friction discs, and strung with your choice of left, or right hand, wound string. Really I just wanted a yo-yo like the yellow wooden one I had when I was lad. So I got my hands on a typical, non-pro, yo-yo. Took some dimensions, weighed some weight, and went to spinning on the lathe. Would you like to see?

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I do not have very many build pictures to post. All the units where built from 6061 aluminum. I made 2 different versions, an adult version using 2.250″ stock and a child’s version using 2″ stock. The milling machine digital readout was dialed in to hog out some holes to lighten the overall weight.

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These are the rough machined blanks. The centers are threaded to accept a stainless steel 6 mm threaded rod that is housed in a 5/16″ aluminum axle.

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These are the finished machined spinners. I set the blanks up on the lathe and then tapered down the sides until I achieved the weight that I wanted.

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Time to toss on some color. Some of the units got anodized and then dipped in some colorful dye.

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All the colors hung to dry after coming out of the dye tank.

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This one was built for a good friend of mine, Dave, who is always around to help me out when needed (except when he is in Disney World). He wanted his favorite sports team colors so this yo-yo went copper and blue.

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This 2 tone unit weighs in at 72 grams and sports an orange poly string.

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This was the child’s version I built and dyed florescent pink. I left it in the dye tank a bit too long so the “florescent” doesn’t pop as much as it should. The smaller 2″ diameter, along with the larger holes, brings the weight down to 47 grams.

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The original plan was to dye both sides pink however I ran into a slight issue with the anodizing. I ended up having a poor electrical connection while soaking the yo-yos in the acid bath and the 1 side of the pink yo-yo never anodized. Because it didn’t anodize I couldn’t get it to take on the dye. I decided to throw it back on the lathe and brush finish the failed side. I think it looks better this way with the two tone.

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This purple one was built just because. It is built to the same dimensional spec as the copper/blue one. I have logged some decent spin time with this one and I am pleased with the performance level. Good weight, good feel, good whip, good spin.

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This was my original prototype. In weighs in at a hefty 104 grams! Yes, it is not for the weak fingered but it works. It does, however, start to take it toll on the digits. I used the specs of this y-yo to machine my more successful anodized units from. The main difference is that I shaved down the thickness of the sides in order to achieve better weight.

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You can see how thick this one is. I initially got the spec from an original yo-yo.

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156

Hello cyber world, it’s me Gord, haven’t checked in for awhile so I thought I would poke me head in and say hey! Has much changed out there? Is the information still free flowing?

I am not much of one for excuses so I find it is best to just come clean. I haven’t updated the blog since April 1st. Garage projects, family, work, and life, continue to trickle along. I made a conscious decision to let the updates slide for a bit in order to allow me to focus on higher priority items. I have received many comments that I have not responded to. When I started the blog I set a goal of responding to every comment that ever was sent my way. I have let this slip therefore…I am publishing an official apology to the following people; Dustin, Tony, Darcy, james a, Larry, howder1951, forhire, mikesplace2, jason k, jason, and Luis. You have all sent me comments that I have failed to promptly respond to. After this post is published I will continue to get caught up and work through the responses. I beg forgiveness.

As far as actually projects that have taken place I still managed to keep the pictures snapping. I have very few of the actual build process but I have shots of the finished projects. So in staying with the picture theme I will let the photos, and captions, do the talking. The following is some of what I have worked on during the past 5 months. Here we go…

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I stumbled upon an ad for this barn find 1965 CB160. the guy wanted $100 for it. I was all finished my own CB160 build but figured a parts bike may come in handy down the road.

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As I stripped it down it turned out that the bike was actually not a 160 but instead it was a 125. Oh well, still had some usable parts.

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This is what I was left with as far as usable used parts. What is ironic is that the fuel tank knee pads of my Cafe CB160 both had slight tears and were the only sub-par part I never replaced during the build. The barn find bike pads were in very good shape and so they ended up being the only parts that found their way onto the Cafe racer. I figured I got my $100 worth just in the tank pads.

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This ended up being my garbage pile.

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I ended up having to perform some shop clean up. I had this old welding gas gauge that had been kicking around for years. As I cleaned up I tossed it in the garbage. 5 minutes later I saw it staring at me with a tear in it’s eye. I couldn’t turn my back so I retrieved it from the trash and gave it some special attention.

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First order of business was to strip it down and separate its anatomy.

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Next all the brass and chrome spent some time getting massaged on the buffing wheel.

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A couple scraps of steel were plasma cut to size.

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Used the milling machine to drop an end mill in and achieve a 2″ slot.

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1/4″ NPT fitting was welded in along with a vertical support.

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Some sandblasting and flat black powder coating cleaned things up.

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The plastic gauge face was polished up using the lathe and some plastic polishing compound.

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Next marrying of the two components took place.

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And finally I was left with a business card holder that gave a welding gauge a second chance on life. I ended up giving the card holder to a parts person friend of mine.

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Sometimes I blog about my outdoor projects, no it’s not metal work but it still provides a certain level of satisfaction. The city property right next to my property is where the community mailboxes sit. I take care of it as it were my own and make sure the snow stays clear the surrounding area is taken care of. Most people access the box from the road and not the sidewalk. The cheap sidewalk blocks drive me nuts and I figured it was about time to volunteer some community service.

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It took an entire weekend but with help from my neighbor we were able to lay down a 7 foot paving stone pad that allowed access from both the street side and the the sidewalk. The neighbors were appreciative and the paving stones look much better. By now the grass is filled in and things are back to normal.

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The next set of pictures involve a long drawn out project that has been on my list to complete for years. Unfortunately it isn’t actually finished yet but it is getting close. It all starts with an idea, some aluminum, and some stainless steel.

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I’ve had this idea to build a fully machined, double walled, vacuum filled “thermos”. I researched insulating properties and determines that a vacuum filled unit is more efficient then an argon gas filled one. Here the machining of the caps begins.

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Next was onto the top and bottom flanges.

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Holes were drilled in order to clamp the assembly together using stainless steel fasteners and 5/16″ 6061 aluminum rods.

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Sections were milled out to reduce weight and create a cool design.

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More holes milled to accept the connecting rods.

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The two stainless tubes were faced on the lathe.

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The assembly was clamped into the mill in order to take measurements for the connecting rods.

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And here is a poor picture of the unfinished thermos. The unit was assembled in order to be leak tested. I wanted to ensure liquid would not leak into the vacuum chamber. Turned out it was sealed perfectly.

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Everything was then disassembled and polished.

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Time to pull out the anodizing equipment. Here is the power supply I use for the process.

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All the aluminum parts got thoroughly cleaned.

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And into the acid bath for a 2 hour soaking.

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After anodizing everything received a dip into orange dye.

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And here is were the entire project went sideways. Something happened with the dye job. Things got blotchy and the dye was very uneven. I am still currently working on a repair/solution.

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Here is the final shot I am posting. These are the flanges, and lid, with all the o-ring seals that keep the liquid, and vacuum, contained.

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Moving onto shop organization. My metal inventory was getting a bit out of hand so a weekend was spent cleaning up the metal racking. Soooo nice now, what a relief.

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While anodizing my thermos there is time to kill as processes process. As I stared around the shop looking to pass the time I thought I would play on the lathe. I turned out this 6061 aluminum bottle opener.

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Since I still had more time to kill I found an old ammunition shell so I machined, and press fit, a bottle opener head into it.

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I was just starting to get good at this. I built another one but before I machined it I pressed in a .500″ solid brass rod into the center. The brass rings not only look cool but it also gives the opener some good weight.

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Why stop now? Lets go with an automotive theme shall we?

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It took 3 pictures to show this one off. I built this for a friend of mine.

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I am not a smoker however I figured those who partake would probably appreciate an emergency cigarette with a nice cold one.

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The smoke fits comfortably and protected inside the opener.

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Let’s do the next one out of steel shall we? Perhaps drilling some holes then pounding in some .250″ copper might be in order.

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A bit more milling and then a session on the buffing wheel turned out this version. I’m telling you the ideas are endless!!!

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Time to switch things up. This one is steel and works great.

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All you really need are 2 points and some leverage.

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Time to give the bottle openers a rest. This idea came from the opener with the hidden cigarette. I call it my 5 shooter smoke holder.

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I love the detail, super clean.

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What holds the smokes in you ask? Keep scrolling.

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There it is, a pocket size smoke holder made for a friend of mine.

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Okay…no more openers or smoke holders. This next one is a little project I have wanted to try for awhile.

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It is my version of a classic “yo-yo”. I am familiar with the pro units and their construction however I wanted to give the amateur something cool to play with.

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This “yo-yo” worked out great. I think there are more in my future.

So this sums up a bit of what has been going on in the garage for the past 5 months. I still have a list of bigger projects that I need to continue with. My 1935 CCM bicycle weighs heavy on my mind as well as my aluminum furnace. I figure that as long as I am building in the garage I am where I belong. Till next time…hopefully sooner then 5 months.

Title lathe cleanout

I perform a fair amount of side jobs that I never post since they are usually either too small to mention or they are not of much interest. I decided to post the following and even though it’s not that fascinating to look at it is still representative of what goes on in my garage.

A friend of mine who does carpentry work was in need of a solution for his router table. He has a Dewalt router that fits into a router base that is permanently attached to the underside of his router table. The issue he has is with the adapter that allows bolting of the router base to the table. The universal adapter plate is plastic and is attached to the aluminum Dewalt base using, what looks like, three 4mm bolts that hang on by 2.5 threads. The problem is that the small threads can only handle a light router load as my friend found out the hard way. Placing a larger load causes the threads to pull out from the router base and then bad things seem to start to happen.

He had asked if I could build an aluminum adapter plate and beef up the bolts that secure the base to the plate. Normally I don’t get very excited about projects like this however there is a part of me intrigued by the challenge associated with improving on a manufacturers short comings and making the result look pro at the same time. I am unsure who manufactures the plastic adapter plate, it may be the maker of the router table or it may be DeWalt. Regardles I figured I would see if I can show up the original designer with some home hobby metal work. Now mind you I understand that manufacturing costs play a huge role in the kinds of products companies turn out and that is most likely why the adapter plate is plastic however…it always feels good when the little guy can step into the octagon.

I’ll leave the narration to the pictures. You will be able to figure out the process as there really is nothing complicated. It was still a 10+ hour project for me but it not only produced a successful product but it also came with a decent level of satisfaction.

Factory plastic base

The plastic adapter plate to the left is what I am dealing with. The pressed in metal nuts are what bolts the adapter to the table. The plate is first bolted to the aluminum router base with 3 small screws.

Squaring router housing

I needed to re-drill the aluminum base to allow four .250″ to be used as the main load bearing fasteners. I squared the base up on the milling machine and then used the DRO to dial in 4 perfectly spaced holes.

Measuring bolt spacing

I needed to calculate the factory spacing of holes in the plastic adapter plate. Instead of using calipers to determine the spacing I decided I would use my DRO to perform the measurment. Turns out bolt spacing was exactly 118mm.

.375 6061 flat bar

I opted to plasma cut a rough aluminum adapter plate out of 8″ x 3/8″ 6061 aluminum flat bar. It is about .080″ thicker then the plastic base which will allow me some extra metal for machining.

Drill and tap base plate

I drilled holes on the adapter plate before I machined it. I needed to use the center of the plate to base all my calculations off of. Doing it before I machine allows for quicker machine set up as well as will allow me to bolt the plate to the base for machining. I added 6 holes, instead of the original 3, for mounting to the router table. This way the router base can be positioned in 60 degree increments to allow for ideal access for tool changes.

Router housing mounted

My lathe chuck is not large enough for me to mount a 7.5″ aluminum plate to. After standing and staring at the lathe for 10 minutes I finally figured out that I could mount the plate for machining by using the router base as an adapter. Worked out great.

Hogging out router base

Here is a shot of the rough machined adapter plate. I trimmed down the perimeter and then bored out the center to match the same dimensions as the plastic adapter.

Router base freshly machined

Here is what the plate looks like freshly machined.

Rough polish

I could have deemed the project complete at the point of final machining however I still wanted to “one up” the original design so I opted to anodize. I hadn’t anodized for quite some time so I figured I had better use this project as a practice oppurtunity. In order to get a good anodized finish I find it is nessecary to polish the aluminum first. This picture shows a very rough polishing as there are still many scratches evident however for anodizing this works just fine.

Router base anodized

After prepping and cleaning the new adapter plate recieved a 2 hour bath in a sulphuric acid solution.

Current control

Current was controlled at 2.75 amps for the 2 hour period.

Base in dye tank

After the anodizing process was complete the adapter plate recieved a 6 minute dunking in some warmed up Red Bordeaux dye.

Freshly dyed

This is what the dyed anodized plate looks like fresh out of the dye bath. Cool!

Sealing the base

All that was left was to seal the dye in by soaking the plate in boiling water for 30 minutes.

Finished router base 1

Finished product! Looks, and will perform, much better then the original plastic unit it will replace. You can see the 4 new .250″ bolts that will, hopefully. outperform the orignal 4mm bolts that were pulled out of the threads.

Finished router base 2

Finished router base 3

With all the key components cut out for the BMW M TEK sign it was time to start piecing it all together. The idea was to layer it all to give it some 3D feel to it. I was also going to have to make it all come apart so that all the individual pieces can be finished appropriately.

Using a felt pen I traced out all the components onto the backing plate so that I was able to determine what overlapped where. Then I went to work building spacers out of 6061 aluminum round bar. I machined all the spacers on the lathe then drilled and tapped all the holes. Eventually all the spacers got TIG welded onto their appropriate sign component. As uneventful as all this is the process was somewhat time consuming. However I am a big believer in that the amount of time invested in the project will be visible with the end project.

So at this point all the components have been mounted and bolted down. I had yet to build the exhaust pipe mounts. My main concern is that I didn’t want the mounts to be too visible. I Vise-Gripped some washers onto a sheet of aluminum and plasma cut out a couple of inconspicuous plates. The plates got aluminum tubes welded onto them that would allow me to slide the M3 exhaust tips onto them. The brackets then both got mounting brackets welded to the back side of the sign.

The only phase left in the actual construction involved welding the 1” aluminum perimeter, previously made, to backing plate. Using an old sheet of plywood and some wood screws I was able to position the perimeter tight up against the backing plate and then join them with some welds. Yes there were a few gaps, yes I find them difficult to cope with, will anyone notice? I doubt it but it still bugs me.

Okay so the actual construction is done and now comes the point of the process that involves spending time finishing all the components. This is where I struggle. I am not a great finisher however I am determined to improve in that department. My original plan was to combine flat black spray bomb, anodizing, polishing, and brushed finishes to create some contrast. I will spare you the vision because the vision had changed. I really had my heart set on anodizing but opted not to for various reasons, I’ll save that technique for another project. My new plan involved seeking out some outside help for part of the process.

I have friend, who has a friend, who knew this guy named Dave. Well it turns out that, because of my friend’s friend, Dave is now a guy I know. Anyway…I went to see Dave cause Dave does vehicle tinting, rock guarding, and vehicle wraps for a living. I went to see him because I wanted to incorporate some carbon fiber look to the sign plus I thought he could help me with the addition of some color. Well it turns out Dave was the guy to see cause he confirmed that what I was looking for was something that he could do.

So with the components prepped I took the pieces to Dave and this is what I got him to do. The backing plate got layered with a carbon fiber look wrap. The outer circle of the BMW roundel was also wrapped with carbon fiber and then was decaled with a white laser cut “BMW”. He wrapped two of the “Propeller” blades with BMW blue and then laid down a custom made M stripe decal on my supplied aluminum support. Fantastic! The wraps totally gave the sign a motorsport look to it. I am a little disappointed that I farmed out some of the work however I consider it a lesson in recognizing, and accepting, ones limitations.

The plan from the start was to polish up the “M” to a mirror finish. I also decided I would polish the circle that provides the background for the BMW emblem. The polishing of the circle will hopefully add another dimension to it all. I sanded the circle and “M” down to a 400 grit and then went to town on the buffing wheel and put the aluminum through a 4 stage buffing process. After that I had Stu, an automotive detailer and friend of mine, help me finish off the mirrored look with a 3 stage polishing compound laid on with a 7” electric polisher.

The rest of the components were all finished in a brushed finish. After sanding the remaining pieces down with 400 grit I took a Scothbrite pad to them and carefully brushed in the final look. The brushing helps the polishing of the “M” and BMW circle really standout.

All the non-visible backs of all the components all got spray bombed with flat black. I wanted to prevent any nasty reflections from occurring as the light creeps in from the backside of all the suspended lettering.

So with a few more minor finishing touches and a bit of detailing I was ready to check this one off my list. And I did however I had some straying thoughts while I built the sign which led me to put the effort in to build a couple of bonus items. So with some extra material on my hands and a little bit of time I came up with a “M-R” sign. It is simply a mini award that was meant to recognize another key player at the dealership who is not a tech but still plays a significant role in the department. Their name starts with a R therefore I turned the “M power” into “R power” The sign is nothing more then a couple sheets of aluminum trimmed to spec. The base was carbon wrapped and then top was half polished and have “M stripe” wrapped.

The second bonus item was a “Pimp My Hoist” kit. I built a hoist control upgrade kit for one of the hoists at the dealership. The kit was all made from 6061 aluminum and machined on the lathe. The 4 key components comprised of a motor button, lock release, hydraulic down release, and an oil tank vented lid. To give it the “M” look I machined 3 separate rings for one of the levers and then anodized them with “M stripe” colors. The lever was then bolted together to give it a 1 piece look. The rest of the components were all polished.

Anyway…there you have it. A completed project that was able to teach me a few things. Hopefully the service manager will be pleased with the result and hopefully the sign will suit the purpose. Time to move on to a bigger project, stay tuned.