Archive for the ‘Lathe’ Category

Title vase

Being the start of summer holidays my wife and daughter were getting set to head out of town to visit some family. I am staying behind since work is very busy this time of year and therefore vacation time for me will have to wait. As they were doing their final packing in order to be ready to leave early next morning I skipped (literally) out into the garage and decided to whip off a quick build of a host(ess) gift for them to take.

I had no preconceived ideas, or plans, so I just wandered for a bit to see what nothings I could turn into somethings. A couple years back I acquired about 200 feet of aluminum flag poles from a business that was getting rid up them. I have no use for this much tubing but it was good, clean, heavy wall aluminum for free, how could anyone possibly say no? So I figured I would dip into the stash and steal 10 inches worth, funny how that didn’t really seem to put a dent in the pile.

My plan was to build a custom aluminum cylinder style flower vase to accommodate a few fresh cut flowers. The interesting part of the vase was not going to be the design but instead the finish technique. I had come up with, and performed, the technique once before in the past and it worked well so I thought I would repeat it on a flower vase. As usual I’ve turned the post into a picture book so find your comfy spot and let’s begin.

Vase base cut

The “flag pole” vase was going to need a base. I had a crushed chunk of 2.75″ aluminum that had enough meat on it that I could machine it down to a useable dimension. I love building stuff out of junk material.

Vase base machined

Here the base is half done on the lathe. Just need to flip it around and clean up the other side.

Flag pole clean up

Here is the section of flag pole that is getting the end chamfered in order to weld the base on. Normally I use a steady rest when machining something this long however my rest was about .250″ too small for the pipe. The machining was not required to be precise and therefore hanging it off the chuck worked fine.

Vase ready 4 welding

Here is the base is mated to the cylinder and is ready for welding.

Welded base and body machined

With the base welded in place the vase got remounted into the lathe and the weld, and cylinder, were all machined down clean.

Vase 3 stage polish

Next it was onto the buffing wheel where it got put through the black, brown, green stages of buffing.

Finishing 1st step

With the vase all polished up it was time to start implementing the finishing technique.

Finishing 2nd step

Next step involves using a quality automotive flexible vinyl fineline 1/4″ tape. I apply a pattern to the body of the vase making sure I finish were I started. I then use a different vinyl tape to seal the top and bottom. It is important to trim the top and bottom tape with a sharp knife in order to get a clean, crisp, edge.

Finishing 3rd step

3rd phase involves about 1 minute in the glass bead blast cabinet where the exposed polished sections of the vase get pummeled.

Finishing 4th step

Nothing left to do now except strip the tape off and clean it up. I probably should have water tested after the machining phase just in case however I am happy to say I tested after it was all finished and it does hold water.

Vase rim

I kept the rim polished.

Vase body

Whole project took about 1 and a half hours and involved no out-of-pocket expenses. Just enough time left to slip it into the suitcase.


Title Porsche heads

So the blog has been suffering over the past few months. I challenge myself to hone my time management skills and usually I do it fairly well. However ever since spring hit it has been a struggle to juggle all the work that needs to be done. Something had to give and unfortunately it was the blog. The garage projects continue to happen however the blog postings have not.

Even though I am still feeling the pressures I figured I better just suck it up and post something. So here it is. I had spent the last couple months catching up on summer yard projects. With the completion of the outdoor fireplace last year it was time to pick up a load of birch for burning. I had a temporary firewood holder made from 2×4 lumber and decided it was time to rework it and build it out of metal.

Wood holder

About 4 summers ago I had built a “built in” BBQ with a full stone surround and tile top. Over the past years the tile has taken a beating. With the constant freezing and thawing over the winter the tiles started lifting and the top was in need of a rebuild. So this spring I stripped the tile top off and built a steel one out of 10 gauge. I bent all 4 sides, built a couple accent handles, and then powder coated it matte black.

BBQ top

Next was onto the deck skirting. The deck was built about 5 years ago and I had always planned closing up the lower section. I stash my spare aluminum under the deck and my better half was tired of looking at it. So the deck skirting got done, no metal, all lumber in order to match the rest.

Deck skirting

One of the garage projects I got side tracked on was some cylinder head machining for a friend’s 1973 Porsche 911. He acquired the car about a year ago and it needed a top end rebuilt so he stripped it down and upon inspection all the heads requires some repair. On the air cooled Porsche 911 engines it is common for the cylinder head sealing ring the wear a groove into the head itself. Typically this happens on the exhaust port side. The fix is to machine off about .010” on sealing surface of the head. Since the head is stepped machining of the step is also required as the same amount needs to be removed from the head surface and the step.

Gasket ridge

Here you can see the groove that gets worn into the cylinder head sealing surface. Always on the exhaust side.

When he approached me my initial reaction is that I am not set up to do this kind of machining. But as I pondered the details a little more I figured I may be able to pull it off. It was a challenge so I was game. I had warned him that he will be on the hook for any “money” mistakes I make. He already had another set of heads lined up for $2500 just in case my risky venture didn’t turn out.

In the end the heads turned out great. It took a lot of time, careful set up, and repeated measuring but I was fairly pleased with the results. I’ll work you through the process using the visual format. Let’s continue…

Combustion chamber center

The project began by having to build an adapter in order to mount the heads to the lathe. I started off by finding the center of the combustion chamber. I was just barely able to grab the edges of the combustion chamber step in the jaws of my lathe chuck. Now I was able to spin the head up and mark the center on the opposite side.

Milling machine center

With the center marked I transferred the head over to the milling machine in order to continue measuring for an adapter.

Stud centers

I machined an aluminum center finder in order to locate the exact center of the studs. using my DRO I was able to measure, within .0001″, the spacing between the center of the combustion chamber and the 2 studs that straddles it.

Lathe head adapter

With all the dimensions calculate the rest was simple. Using a 3.5 inch chunk of 1014 steel I machined up a precision adapter that would bolt to the studs on the head and, in turn, allow me to center the combustion chamber on the lathe.

Heads blasted

With the adapter built it was time to clean the heads up. Before machining they all got run through the bead blaster to get pulverized with #80 Aluminum Oxide

Ready to cut

Heads are clean and ready to cut!

Here goes nothin'

The heads just barely fit on my little Craftex B227 lathe. I set up a dial indicator in order to monitor my cuts a bit more closely.

The following is a video I shot cutting the heads. To many of you it may seem kinda boring but for me I think it’s pretty cool. Unfortunately YouTube cuts the quality down therefore the video is a bit choppy. I spun the heads up to just over 1600 RPM in order to perform the cutting.

Dial indicator adapter

I built a dial indicator holder in order to mount the tool into the 1/2″ collet of my milling machine.

Measuring step

Here is where the time consuming part comes in. I needed to perform 2 careful measurements. First one was the step. I was shooting for .100″ as that is what the factory spec was. I didn’t use the dial indicator as the measuring tool, I simple used it as a zero point and then performed all my readings using the DRO.

DRO head measuring

The Z axis of my DRO was the scale that did the measuring. All I did was use the Z axis of the milling machine to adjust my dial indicator to zero. then I was able to read my measurement off from the DRO. Here my machined step is well within spec.

Measuring head width

My second measurement involved having to measure the over head height. I built a crude gauge block seen in this picture sitting on top of the vise. I would zero my dial indicator and DRO Z axis to the gauge block. Then I had a base point in order to reference all my other heads to. This dimension is incredibly crucial as a one piece cam housing sits across three of the heads. If the head dimensions aren’t equal then stresses will be placed on the cam and cam housing.

Head dimensions

Lots and lots of measuring, here is 2 of 5 pages worth.

Completed head machining

And here is the finished product. .010″ shaved of cylinder head gasket surface as well as the deck. Just enough to clean up the groove.

6 completed heads

Happy to say I got all 6 heads done and dimensioned with no “money” mistakes.

Taking on my CB160 65 Revive project has introduced me to others, in the cyber world, which are owners of the same bike. One of those people is Andrew who has his own garage project in the works with his own CB160. His bike, Lucille, is getting an engine overhaul this winter season to freshen things up for the next riding season. If you’re interested in checking out his progress you can visit his blog Meet Lucille.

I felt as though I have done my CB160 rebuild coverage to death on the blog lately. It’s too bad because I have a long ways to go yet. Anyway…in an effort to get back to fabricating I opted to perform a small machining task for Andrew in order to help make a small contribution to his project.

Andrew has planned to get rid of the electric starter on his bike and rely solely on the kick-starter (or push start). My original plan was to do the same thing with my bike however the rear sets were going to interfere with the kick-starter therefore I opted to get rid of the kick-starter and keep the electric start. I wasn’t happy with the decision to maintain the extra pounds associated with the starter however the bike needs to be practical and streeteable.

Here is what the factory starter looks like installed on the CB160 engine.

So where is this heading? Well when the starter is removed permanently you need to be able to fill the empty hole with something that will keep the dirt out and the oil in. These items are known as starter block off plates. I am unsure what is available for block off plates in the aftermarket world; I never looked or researched it. I already had one mentally designed for my bike but then never got the chance to build it. Well I looked back in my brains archives and found the engineering drawn still filed away, I figured it was still there since the archives typically don’t get trashed for 2 years or so.

So with Lucille in need of a plate and me with an idea I figured it was time to unite the two and make something happen. The plan was to build a plate that required no modifications to the engine, look clean, stay put, and seal the oil. The material of choice was a section of solid 6061 aluminum round stock. Lately I have been telling my stories through pictures so I will continue the format this time as well. Follow along.

In order to machine the block off plate for Lucille I used my mock up engine that is currently installed in my bike. The hole on the left side is what needs to be filled. The idea is to machine a plug that gets installed from the inside of the side cover. The side cover bolted on is what will prevent the plug from backing out and a landing machined onto the plug will keep it from falling out from the other side. Confused? Just look at the pictures, you’ll get it.

Here are my collected necessities. My spare starter for taking measurments, a chunk of 3″ 6061 aluminum and an assortment of O-rings in hopes that one will work.

The overall depth of the plug is aproximately 1.600″ so I started by cutting off a 2″ section of aluminum to chuck up into the lathe.

This is the visible end of the block of plate machined down to spec. The diameter is the same as the factory starter housing diameter.

I machined in a groove in order to fit the o-ring seal. I made the groove just a hair wider the the o-ring thickness in order to allow for the compressing of the ring.

Here I have the other side of the plug turned down to spec. This is the side that will contact the side cover. The plug is getting parted off to within a few thou of its final dimension.

Here is the completed block off plate. You can see the landing that was machined into the center section. This landing is what will prevent the plug from coming out of the case.

Since the plug is going to be installed from the inside, the case needed to be cleaned up. The sharp edge was smoothed out, using a flap wheel, in order to prevent the o-ring from being cut while being installed.

Here is the installed position from inside the case. A little bit of white lithium grease on the oring and the plug slid in beautifully. You can now get a better idea of how the side case cover, once bolted on, will keep the plug put.

And here is what is visible from outside the engine. It looks super clean which is just how I like it. Hopefully Lucille will appreicate the addition.

Ram tough? Not as tough as hard core cyclists. A riding friend of mine approached me with an idea for a small project to help spruce up his winter beater. This winter season he found himself battling the snow drifts in an older Dodge Ram 4×4. Being an avid cyclist he wanted to bring out a bit of his personality in his vehicle. So it was decided that the ram hood ornament was going to be replaced with a mountain bike handlebar assembly.

The plan was to machine a perch that would bolt to the original hood ornament mount. The perch would allow for the mounting of a stubby steering stem. The original ram head was spring mounted. Since the handle bar assembly would weigh significantly more then the aluminum ram it was decided to incorporate solid mounting of the perch.

The build was fairly simple, the pictures tell the tale. A section of 1.375” solid round 6061 aluminum was chucked up on the mill and a centering slot was machined. The slot was designed to ensure the perch would not pivot which in turn would have put the bars off center.

The rest of the work was done on the lathe. The perch was machined with a built in stem cap. The idea behind it was to prevent theft of the stem. The stem would need to be mounted onto the perch first and then the perch bolted to the hood from the inside. Since the hood is latched, with an inside release, one would not be able to remove the perch. This, of course, does not prevent someone from unbolting the bar from the stem…not my problem.

In order to provide a bit more support for the whole assembly a smaller bushing was machined to give some strength from the underside of the hood. The completed perch was then taken to the buffing wheel and finished with a mirror shine to match the rest of the mount. In the end I think the perch worked out great. My fiend still has yet to piece the whole show together however it is guaranteed to add some personality to his ride and will keep him dreaming about the trails to come in drier months.

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.

So I got a bit carried away with the gate hinges or perhaps it was a simple case of just “going with the flow”. Going out and purchasing prefabricated hinges just didn’t sit right with me; I had put good effort into the main frame of the gate and I wanted to carry the custom fabrication throughout the whole design. I wanted to come up with a unique design that revolved around functionality (pun intended). The criteria? The swing needed to be smooth and once that was achieved then it needed to look unique.

 Obviously there is only one way to go when dealing with smooth and that way involves bearings. The swinging gate will inflict both axial and radial loads therefore I decided to go with a cheap, yet effective, tapered roller bearing set up. I got my hands on 2 sets of L-44610/L-44643 one inch trailer axle bearings. The idea was to machine up bearing guides that would allow me to adjust out both endplay and preload. I new the size of the hinge was going to get beefy but I think the look was going to work in the end.

 I began by designing the function portion of the hinge first. Using 2” round 6061 aluminum stock I spun up 4 guides that would fit inside the 1” bore of the bearing. The guides had center holes drilled out to .500” to accept a threaded hinge pin. The bearing races needed a spacer placed below them to allow for some clearance so I enlarged the inside diameter of some 2 inch washers to allow them to fit perfectly under all the races.

 With the bearing assemblies supported it was on to the brackets that would allow the bearings to do their job. The brackets, that would eventually get welded to the hinge plate and gate frame, were all cut from 2.5” x .250” flat bar. For the set up to work I really only needed 2 brackets on the hinge plate, an upper one and a lower one; but I decided to cut 2 more extra to not only maintain a clean, symmetrical look but also provide some weather shielding for the bearings. The brackets were all sliced out with the plasma and then cleaned up on the belt sander.

 I was able to mock up the hinge assembly using a short length of .500” threaded rod. By double nutting all the bearing adjustments I was able to set the bearings so they had no endplay and no preload. Although the hinge brackets hadn’t been welded yet to the frame or hinge plate I was still able to confirm the smooth movement. It looks like functional design of the hinge is going to work, well at least work in the horizontal position with no load on it.

 It was time to move on and pretty things up. I did not want to leave the bearings exposed to the weather nor did I think the visual side of things looked that great. I made a trip down to the local metal supplier and picked up some small sections of 6061 aluminum rod stock. I was able to machine up some covers for everything. The bearings are now hidden by some 2.5” aluminum tube sections that just float in between the hinge brackets. The upper and lower nuts on the hinge pin are now aluminum capped. And the hinge pin which is a 5 foot section of .500” threaded rod is hidden by a section of .500” copper tube and finished off on the ends with some tapered aluminum caps. The caps were all cross drilled and tapped to accept set screws for locking down. The copper tube will eventually get painted black to match.

I held off welding the hinge brackets on until the rest of the gate fabrication is complete. I wanted to be able to place the gate flat in order to work on the latch system. So for now the hinge gets set aside and it’s onto designing and building a latch. I have some ideas floating around my head but haven’t settles on anything yet. I do know that I would like to achieve a unique design. I’ll see what interesting concpets will trigger the imagination over the next few days.

When I have a couple hours to spare I try and hack (and I do mean hack) my way through the soap box car build. As mentioned previously this project was not actually meant to be in the grand scheme of my plans however I was suckered into it by a 5 year old and I’m pleased to do it. The main frame, front steering, and front axle have been fabricated. It was time to get a rear end into this thing. However I have to make a side note here. I always find it fascinating that my wife will apologize for things that don’t meet a certain standard. For example when she cooks something new and it doesn’t turn out just right she feels the need to constantly apologize for it. I happen to think everything turns out fantastic and feel that absolutely no apologizing should be made. By her constantly apologizing for it kind of brings things “down”. I have learned that it is in certain people’s nature to let others know that something has not met their own standard. I can relate to that therefore…I apologize for the quality of this soap box car. It is being built with a “quick and dirty” mentality. Unfortunately I do not have the time to commit to a design that I would be proud of. The car does not meet my standards.

 It’s onto the rear axle. The criteria? It needs to support the frame, roll, and brake. No problem. I have looked at typical soap box car brakes; they are usually nothing more then a chunk of wood that gets dragged on the pavement. No good! We need dependable performance with good wear characteristics. I had an extra Shimano rear disc brake set up off one of my mountain bikes so I decided to donate it to the project. It’s a hydraulic set up featuring a 160mm rotor. Since I was only going to run a single disc on the rear axle this meant that I was going to have to incorporate a live axle. This way both rear wheels and the disc brake rotor would all be connected solid to a rotating axle.

 So the axle build was started by punching out the wheel bearings that came with the purchased 10 inch wheels. Next a ½” keyed axle, a couple of flange bearings, and three ½” hubs were purchased. 2 of the hubs were machined down in order to fit the 10 inch wheels. The hubs were machined to ensure a slight press fit into the hole where the wheel bearings were punched out from. The wheels then got spun up on the lathe at 900 rpm to ensure there was no excessive lateral run out. Once true, the hubs were then TIG welded into place. The 3rd purchased hub was then machined down to fit the 160 mm Shimano rotor. 6 holes were drilled and tapped and the rotor was bolt on. It too was inspected for lateral run out and was tested to be 100%.

 So with the wheels reworked and the rotor set up fabricated I moved onto the axle housing. The housing material used was the same as the front axle, a chunk of ¾” gas pipe. I built, and welded on, a couple of axle flanges in order to support the flange bearings and the brake caliper. The axle support mounts were welded to the frame and the axle was bolted in using 1.5” muffler clamps. I was able to mock up the rear axle in order to check the caliper to rotor clearances. I needed to machine a couple of aluminum spacers in order to space the caliper out to allow for proper clearance.

 With the rear axle complete it was time to move onto the pedal box and master cylinder set up. First a floor board was built in order to establish proper spacing. The driver was test fit in the cock pit and dimensions were measured. With the bracing welded in place the next step was to fab the brake pedal. I machined a section of aluminum the same dimension as a handlebar in order to clamp the bicycle master cylinder to it. Some vertical support brackets were cut up and welded in place to allow for mounting of the aluminum master cylinder mount. Next a very simple pedal pivot was made out of 3/8” cold rolled round bar. I had aluminum checker plate left over from the lathe stand project so I plasma cut a good sized brake pedal out and riveted it to the pivot assembly. The floor board was also cut from the checker plate as was a dead pedal for the right side.

 So as things presently sit I have myself a rolling chassis with steering, brakes, and the works. Next everything needs to get tightened, adjusted and mounted solid and it will be ready for some trial runs before getting enclosed. I am not planning to make this car serviceable. The body is going to get welded on. My only access for service or repairs will be from the open undercarriage or what I can access though the cockpit.