Posts Tagged ‘Machining’

178-000

 

As with many of my garage projects this next one started with someone else’s idea. A good friend of mine decided to get himself self educated in luthiering. For those of you who do not know what a luthier is Wikipedia defines it as someone who makes or repairs string instruments generally consisting of a neck and a sound box. It is better known as a guitar builder. He plays guitar and had the urge, and the skills, to be able to build his own electric 6 string.

He had already started his build before he approached me with his idea. He works much the same way as I do in respects to how he stages his builds. Although he had his current project well under way he was already thinking ahead to his second guitar build. For his current build he opted to purchase a pre-fabbed neck. For his next guitar he was planning to custom build the neck from scratch and this is the point where I enter in.

He required a way to cut the fret slots into the neck. Basically he need a high precision miter box in order to mount the neck blank square and then miter a slot to a precise depth using a fret saw. These fret miter boxes are nothing new as there are companies that exist who sell miter boxes specifically for this purpose. He approached me thinking that I may be able to come up with a custom design that would suit his needs.

So one early Saturday morning we met for breakfast and blueprinted out a rough design. Threw some ideas around and I was able to get a solid idea of what he needed the box to do. Best part was that as long as it accomplished the required task I was free to build it anyway I wanted to. I love not being constricted by boundaries. I had planned to combine materials in order to make the visuals worth looking at. I opted to use brass, oak, and aluminum in order to give it a unique image. Guitar building is precise, requires patience, and needs a deep philosophical understanding of craftsmanship therefore the tools that are used to build the guitar should meet the same standards as the luthier possesses. So, like usual, the following pictures take you through the entire build.

178-010

I planned to sandwich the fret saw blade in between 8 sealed ball bearings. I acquired high precision ball bearings used for router bits. The bearings will all get supported by brass spacers. I acquired a small Taig lathe awhile back which works great for small, precision, parts so I spun all the brass spacers out using it.

178-020

This is the ball bearing set up that will eventually get installed into 4 main aluminum supports.

178-030

Time to get the main vertical supports fabricated. Started off with some 6061 aluminum and squared it all up in the mill.

178-040

Milling out slots that will accept the ball bearing assemblies.

178-050

The miter box will require adjustment to accommodate fret saw blade thickness. 2 of the vertical supports were slotted to allow for adjustment.

178-060

Cross drilling and tapping holes to allow for a set screw to be threaded in and therefore secure the ball bearing assemblies. The hole will be hidden on the bottom thereby making the top, visual, portion of the support super clean.

178-070

I needed to secure different widths of the fret board blank into the base of the miter box. I came up with a cam system that would adjust to widths. Here I am spinning out one of the brass cams. Keep scrolling as more pictures will show exactly how this cam works.

178-080

The 2 brass cams required clearance in order to spin and adjust therefore the 2 rear vertical supports got milled in order to allow for cam clearance.

178-090

Time to lighten things up and shave off some excess material. The vertical supports didn’t require all the aluminum they started off with so I shave some off just to give them better visuals.

178-100

Since I was on a roll I thought I would try and prevent things from getting too mundane so I opted to drop a ball nose endmill into the supports to give them a good visual dimension.

178-110

Onto building some feet. They were machined from some round stock aluminum and then milled out to mount flush with the oak base.

178-120

Drilled and chamferred to accept stainless steel hardware.

178-130

Moving onto the depth stop for the saw blade. This will all make sense later. I machined some brass guide pins on the Taig lathe. I built a radius turner for the lather in order to get I beautiful contour finish.

178-140

More depth stop milling.

178-150

Time for another mill clean up.

178-160

With most of the aluminum machining completed I moved onto the oak base. I used a combination of endmills and router bits in the mill. Although the mill can’t even come close to putting out the RPM a router does it still does the job well. Here I drill all the holes in order to mount the brass and aluminum to.

178-170

I hate screwing into wood as it feels so imprecise to me. All the drilled holes received 1/4″ thread steel inserts therefore implementing metal threads.

178-180

Taking the edge of the base using a radius router bit on the mill.

178-190

And here are all the fabricated components that will eventually make up the miter box. Seem a bit excessive considering the tool only has to cut 1 slot.

178-200

The bearing assemblies get secured using hidden set screws.

178-210

These are all the components that make up the blade depth stop.

178-220

And these are all components assembled that make up the blade depth stop.

178-230

Before I go into finishing stage I mock everything up to ensure that it all works the way my brain designed it to.

178-240

The box gets disassembled and then the finishing process begins. The oak base received a couple coats of stain.

178-250

I thought since the miter box was a one-off design I would customize specifically to my friend. His name is Fabrizio and so I came up with an unapproved logo for him. I cut out a stencil on my vinyl plotter so that I could embed the logo into the oak base.

178-260

Using my airbrush I experimented with some colors on some scrap. I came up with a trio combination of colors that would suit the overall appearance of the design.

178-270

Applied the stencil, taped of the remainder, and started laying down the paint.

178-280

Once the logo was airbrushed in the oak received a polyurethane clear coat finish in order to protect both the logo and the work surface.

178-290

All the aluminum received hand brushing using a 320 grit paper.

178-300

Since the miter box required adjustment before use I built in a spring loaded hex key holder. A couple plungers and springs would allow for tool storage in the base.

178-310

This is a shot of me drilling only 2 holes for my friend in his original electric 6 string build. I want to be very clear here that I had NOTHING to do with his build. It was all him and all I simply did was drill 2 precision holes for him. His progress looks fantastic.

178-320

So here I move onto the pictures showing the completed build. You can get an idea of how everything works from this shot. The saw gets sandwiched between the bearing assemblies and then the top brass support of the saw is what contacts the depth stop.

178-330

Here one of the brass cams are evident. The 1/4″ stainless steel Allen head bolt gets loosened and then the cam can be pivoted and locked into place to allow for different neck widths.

178-340

The 2 spring loaded hex key holders are shown here. All that is required is light push in of the key and then a 90 degree turn in order to release it from the base.

178-350

Close up shot of the bearing assemblies.

178-360

This is the depth stop mounted to the verticals.

178-370

Here the 2 brass guide pins are visible. The center screw is used for precision adjustment of the depth height. I installed a rubber protective cap on the end of the adjustment screw in order to prevent any damage to the guitar neck due to contact with sharp edges.

178-380

I won’t go into great detail about how the depth stop set up is done however I will mention this. The stop can be precisely set using feeler blades. The saw in inserted and rested on top of the require feeler blades which represent the required depth. The depth stop is then locked into place.

178-390

You can see the slotted screw in the center and on top which is what is used to adjust the depth stop vertically. The stop is then locked into place using 2 set screws (shown being tightened) that lock into the brass guide pins.

178-400

The screw that is being pointed out allows for adjustment to accommodate different saw blade thicknesses. If only 1 saw is ever being used there is no reason to have to ever need to adjust this after the initial setting has been made. There are a total of 4 adjustment screws.

178-410

Here shows the adjustment and lock down of the brass neck width cams.

178-420

The underside of the miter box shows the aluminum supports. I built the 2 end feet with holes to accommodate screws in order to secure the box to a work bench. The center aluminum “GG” logo plate is simply there to provide support and prevent the oak from bowing.

178-430

For those interested this is the fret saw that is being used for the build.

178-440

This post wouldn’t be complete without showcasing Fabrizio’s first guitar build. The lines and zebra finish are fantastic! At this point the guitar is only mocked up which is evident by missing hardware. Photo credit goes to Fabrizio Tessaro.

And as an added bonus we all get to enjoy a 30 second riff featuring Fabrizio rippn’ on his custom in gordsgarage. NOTE: Do not judge the quality, the session was impromptu and features sound courtesy of a low end practice amplifier with absolutely no consideration given to sound set up.

 

178-460

 

175-000

My latest garage project is coming to me through a series of connections and it involves a restoration project. My cities living history museum has an on-site workshop that is run by volunteers. The workshop is historic type wood working shop that does lots of repairs and building of historic items for the museum/park. One of the larger projects undertaken by the shop has been a full blown building of a 1920 carousel including all hand carved horses.

Doug, the gentleman that heads up all the volunteers and also appears to coordinate practically everything to do with the projects, gave me an inside look at both the shop and some of the major projects that have been completed. The vintage level that the shop works on is truly inspiring and goes to show that machines can’t always substitute for human talent, effort, and ingenuity.

This brings me to my own little shop and the project it has recently seen. The historical park has many vintage pieces of equipment some of which has been donated. They had acquired a Champion Blower and Forge Co. drill press dated from the early 1900’s. The drill had found itself a home in the wood working shop but was only there for decoration as it was not in a useable state. Through a series of connections I was able to contact Doug and meet with him to discuss the future of the drill press.

What the museum wanted was to be able to get the drill to a functioning state so that it could be used as demonstration in the museum’s workshop. After performing my initial inspection I was fairly certain I could get the drill back to working condition again however I had one main concern. The concern revolved around restoring it so that it would be historically correct. I like building things, I like spending time in my shop, I like planning my projects, and I like researching my projects BUT…I do not want to commit to the amount of time it would take to research the historical accuracies nor do I want to be burdened with the time consuming task of trying to collect potentially unobtainable items. Since this is a volunteer venture I also have to consider the budget. It was agreed that the drill would not have to be historically correct. As long as it was in a functioning state and that the overall image was maintained then I was free to modify, and repair, as I see fit.

The good news is that I wasn’t under a time crunch. The museum, being mostly outdoors, shuts down for the winter therefore I had up to 5 months to get the project complete. As long as the drill was ready for opening day in May I was free to take my time.

Onto the details. The Champion Blower and Forge Co. drill press that I am dealing with is Model 101. I found a date stamp on the drill chuck and it read June 1907. I am not going to give a history lesson in this blog posting. I will refer you to Mr. Google should you have any questions. I will, however, tell you a bit about how it operates.

The drill press is hand cranked and only has one gear ratio. The length of the crank arm can be adjusted and therefore I guess you could say that the mechanical advantage can be altered. The unit is equipped with a flywheel in order to add some inertia to the monotonous cranking of the handle. There is a cam lobe cast into the drive gear which activates a cam lever which, in turn, ratchets a lever onto a downfeed gear. This allows the drill bit to feed down between 1-3 teeth, depending on adjustment, with every turn of the crank arm.  I have included a video in this post which will probably do a better job at explaining how the unit operates.

There is much that I can say about both the drill and the restoration process. All the components had been gone through and either repaired or reconditioned. Some small hardware items like screws, ball bearings, and a spring were replaced. I have not included all the details of the repairs in the posting but instead just chose to highlight a few. If you have questions or want specific information just ask!

On last note before I move onto the good stuff. Much of the hardware that I required for the build was hard to find locally. McMaster Carr is a United States hardware supplier that has a massive selection of parts that are of interest to me. Unfortunately McMaster Carr does not sell, nor ship, to Canadians. Fortunately I have some good friends in the right spots that are willing to help out. Jason who happens to follow my blog was able to help me out. For those of you who are not familiar with Jason I would highly recommend checking out his blog as he does some really cool wood related projects. Not to mention he is an equipment junky which I can respect. You can see all his stuff at his blog The Gahooa Perspective. Anyway, Jason offered to put an order in for me and ship it North my way. Very much appreciated Jason, thanks!

I opted to split this project into 2 separate posts. This post includes the nitty gritty parts of the restoration. Part 2 will include the finishing process which will be available at a later date.

175-010

Here is the condition of the drill press before any work was performed. Previous work had been done as was evident by weld repairs that were painted over.

175-020

I am including this shot only to show the right side for reference purposes. As I scoured the internet in my research it was helpful when I was able to view as much detail as possible. Here is my contribution.

175-030

First order of business was to photograph everything before disassembly. Second order of business to to rip and tear and break everything down to individual components to allow for cleaning and inspection. Most of the components came apart with little effort. There where a few parts that needed some persuading however I think the drill and I developed a good working relationship. It had initially expressed some dislike of what I was trying to do but I had assured it, as gracefully as I could, that I was here to help and not to harm. We were able to reach a compromise and at that point I think we each developed a healthly respect for one another. From then one we had a common goal and became good working partners. I would like to be able to call this press a friend.

175-040

Here is some evidence of previous repairs. The support that holds the table assembly has been previously broken into multiple pieces. As much as the brazing repair looks excessive I commend whoever performed to repair for a job fairly well done. If you saw the bore of the broken component you would know just how many pieces it was broken into. It was a jigsaw puzzle to repair.

175-050

This is the cam arm that converts movement from a vertical plane to a horizontal plane which then activates the down feed ratchet gear. It too has been previously broken and repaired with both brazing and welding. There were some cracks that were still evident so I will end up doing further stitching.

175-060

Once I evaluated the condition of all the items I proceeded to get everything to a workable state. I started by running everything through a high pressure hot water parts cleaner to get rid of as much grease, oil, and old paint as possible. Then most components were transferred to my blast cabinet and cleaned up using crushed glass media.

175-070

The drill press table had been previously drilled through. Being cast I was nervous about how I was going to repair this. I had TIG welded cast previously and had good success. My main concern was being able to match the material finish.

175-080

I filled the holes using a 309 filler rod which works great for dissimilar metals. You can see that cracking on the top of the weld is evident. I am hoping that crack is only a flesh wound and has not penetrated deeper.

175-090

I had knocked down the protruding portion of the weld and then set the table up on the mill in order to machine it using my facing mill.

175-100

Here is the end result after machining and some sanding. The table is perfectly flat however the repair is evident, I kinda expected it would be. I am not sure how I am going to deal with this yet, I have some ideas. Time will tell which solution will prevail.

175-110

The drill press had a previous repair done to the wooden handle on the crank arm. I felt as though the press deserved something more then low budget fir. I opted to machine out a couple of oak handles using classic handle styling by giving them a slight taper.

175-120

Roughed out and sanded oak handle.

175-130

You may have noticed that the drill press only had 1 handle originally and that I had machined 2 handles. This is because I opted to retro fit an upper handle onto the top down feed gear. Of the drill press models that I researched I saw numerous models equipped with this upper handle. The purpose of the handle was to aid in rapid vertical feed of the drill chuck when setting up the material for drilling. The 101 model I was dealing will had a hole in the casting of the the upper gear that allowed for a handle to be added. I am unsure if a handle was there as some point or if it did not come on this model. The provisions were there so I opted to add my own handle assembly. I wanted to keep all my “gordsgarage” manufactured components looking as though they were original so I built a simple arbor for the upper handle. This is the start of the arbor before the final machining took place.

175-140

Here is the final machined upper handle arbor. I needed to cut it in such a way that it would clear the down feed ratchet lever.

175-150

One of the more crucial repairs involved the drive gear . This is the gear that is turned directly by the crank handle. The problem was that the gear had worn on the shaft and therefore the teeth would no longer mesh due to misalignment. The gear is cast with no inner bushing. Since the shaft that it rides on inspected to have some wear it was fairly minor. I opted to enlarge the bore of the gear in order to accept a bronze bushing.

175-160

Here is the bronze bushing that I machined down in order to fit the gear and the shaft.

175-170

The bronze bushing then got press fit into the gear. I made the bronze bushing a very tight fit on the shaft knowing that once it was pressed into the gear I would be able to hone the bushing for a precision fit. Happy to say my gear teeth meshing issue was solved and the gear alignments were perfect.

175-180

The next few pictures show some random repairs. On the right is shown the cam wheel that rides on the drive gear and activates the cam arm. There were a couple issues with it. First it had a flat spot on one side most likely caused by it’s inability to turn freely. The second issue was that the securing screw, for the wheel, could not be tightened since it would not allow the wheel to turn. What the manufacturer did was thread the screw in loose and then mushroom the back side of the treads in order to lock it in place. The problem using this method of securing is that it does not allow for disassembly for maintenance or repair. My solution involved machining a new wheel that was equipped with an inner bushing for the wheel to rotate around. This way the allen head securing bolt can be tightened properly and also removed at a later date if needed to. NOTE: I realize the allen bolt I used is not period correct. Fortunately the drive gear blocks it from sight.

175-190

Next challenge was to address a one-time-use crush sleeve. The sleeve on the right was used to keep a couple of securing pins in place. The securing pins connected the drill chuck shaft to the down feed acme shaft. One-time-use is the issue and unfortunately for me I was second in line. I wanted to find a solution that would not only look similar to OEM equipment but also allow for disassembly. I machined a bronze sleeve and installed a 10-24 set screw. I opted to leave the outside of the sleeve untouched therefore keeping its worn looking exterior. Again I realize the set screw does not fit with the time period. It’s my project and I can screw with it if I want to. That’s just my one cents.

175-200

Just like the cam wheel the cam lever also needed to be able to turn/pivot on it’s securing fastener. The cam lever pivot was originally made from a 7/16 bolt shown on the right. If this bolt was tightend it would not allow the lever to pivot. In order to keep the bolt “loose” but prevent it from backing off the threads have been flattened. This is visible by looking at the deformed thread 6 threads from the end of the bolt on the right. I am not huge supporter in this securing technique and therefore a solution would be required. The second issue was that the female threads that were cut into the lever arm securing bracket were cut at a slight angle. This caused issues with proper lever alignment. My solution invloved building what is visible on the left. It is a bushing that is secured using a 3/8″ square headed (keep the vintage look) bolt. Not only did this allow me to tighten the bolt, it also allowed a better quality pivot, and it repaired 90% of my lever alignment issues due to the fact I eliminated using the angle threaded original hole. Got all that? Didn’t think so.

175-210

Another challenge involved the down feed 5/8″ six turn single start acme rod. The drill appeared to have sat for awhile in unfavorable envirmental conditions a therefore the threads suffered some corrosion. I opted not to reuse the orignal shaft but instead build a new one. I began by obtaining a new three foot section of 5/8″ acme rod, cutting it down to size, building up a portion of it with the TIG welder and a 309 rod, and then machining it down to match the spec of the original rod.

175-220

In this picture the corrosion of the original threads are evident on the bottom shaft. I am happy to say that the female threads were still is decent condition and that the new, replacement, shaft threads perfectly into its counterpart.

Below is a 32 second video showing the mocked up drill press in action. Normally I toss in some generic music to help pass the video viewing time but in this case I opted not to. The reason being that the pure mechanical sound that this drill press makes is symphonic. I almost think the mechanical sound of the unit working in harmony is the best part. I’m considering making a 3 minute recording and put it up for sale on iTunes. Coming home after a hard days work , sitting in your Lazy Boy with a set of headphones on, and entering an oasis of non cyber stimulation would be well deserved for those in appreciation of such mechanical bliss.

175-230

The last 2 pictures show the mock up stage. Do not look too hard at the assembly since I purposely did not assembly everything 100%. The securing pins below the bearing assembly are just loosely fitted in order to allow for easy disassembly. At this point though the fabrication and repair have all bee completed and I am happy to say that the drill performd very well. I have never had the opportunity to use on of these drills in it’s original state so I can’t comment if my rendition if better, worse, or the same however I would have no hesitation in guaranteeing all the work I performed.

175-240

At this point the drill will be completely dissembled and the “finishing” process will begin. I’ll save all those details and pictures for a later date.

174-000

Often I run impromptu sessions in the garage. These times are usually highly satisfying for me as they usually occur when I have just cleaned the shop, everything is organized, and I have available to me the equipment and supplies. Often I spend the time, when I should be sleeping, laying awake brain CADing the next project. The spontaneous projects are great because I just start to wing it and make whatever I have work.

I have a couple of friends that work at the local Audi and Hyundai dealerships in town. The Audi friend is a service manager and the Hyundai friend is a partsman. I figured their desks may benefit from a customized, one off, business card holder.

I scrounged around the shop looking for automotive related parts that I have stashed in various corners. I collected a few components that would lend themselves well to some modifying and decided to build some unique card holders. Below are the pictures showing what I came up with off the top of my head.

 

174-010

Sorry, no shots of the milling of the piston top. The first card holder consisted of a old BMW piston and an aftermarket rear spring lowering perch for a mk4 VW. The piston top was milled to fit business cards and then both the perch and piston were polished.

174-020

The polished piston top was taped off and the bottom half was the glass media blasted.

174-030

The Glacier White powder coating was fogged on and the assembly was baked.

174-040

I plotted out Hyundai decals on some gloss black vinyl to add to the customized look.

174-050

Done deal! Quick and easy.

174-060

As you may know I am I big fan of retro and vintage styling. I keep the polishing down to a “not so gleaming” level as I think it looks better.

174-070

The spring perch height was a little too tall so trimmed it down a bit. The base was cut on the lather in order to ensure it would press fit into the piston base. The jam nuts were left untouched.

174-080

I think the style suits a parts persons desk.

174-090

My next card holder took a little more machining. It started out with a rod of 6061 aluminum. I offset it in the lather chuck and drilled an off center hole straight through. I have a four jaw chuck that allows me to offset the stock properly however in this case I was lazy and the precision was not required so I opted to just toss a spacer into the 3 jaw. It works.

174-100

Onto the mill where I used a ball nosed end mill to cut some slots through the narrow side.

174-110

Next I moved onto a section of 1.000″ 6061 solid square bar where I dropped an end mill part way through it.

174-120

Next I hogged out a section where the business cards would slide through.

174-130

Onto the band saw where the milled bar was trimmed to length using a 45 degree angle.

174-140

All the components would get bolted together so I drilled, and countersunk, the hole for the stainless steel fastener.

174-150

Here are all the components that make up the card holder. The large valve is from an air cooled Porsche 911 and the the small valve was from my Honda CB160 cafe racer.

174-160

The aluminum components received a brushed finish. I like it!

174-170

Both valves received a polishing.

174-180

An Audi rings decal was plotted and applied. Done deal!

174-190

The small valve was secured with a set screw. The large valve was press fit into the aluminum rod and the secured using the stainless steel socket head cap screw.

174-200

I hid a GG logo on the bottom of the 911 valve.

174-210

173-010

One day I had an idea, went into the garage and built it. The End.

Not sure what more I can say about this post. I thought it would be cool to make more of an unconventional themed oil filled candle. I figured a spark plug lends itself well to a flame theme so I went for it. A day in the shop landed me a double scaled spark plug candle.

The entire plug was made from a single piece of 6061 aluminium and done to scale. The specs are as follows. Overall height 7.750”, spark plug maximum diameter 1.460”, oil chamber volume .68 cubic inches, 100% cotton wick, 99% pure paraffin(e) lamp oil, burn time approximately 2 hours.

So here we go…

173-015

Project planning began by recreating a spark plug scaled 2:1 in a CAD program. This is what I referenced to for all the machining dimensions.

 

173-020

The actual hands on portion of the project started off with a 6.5 inch section of 1.500″ 6061 aluminum.

173-030

Using various cutters I was able to build the first have to my CAD specs. It is starting to look fairly authentic.

173-040

Onto the milling machine where the wrench hex was milled into the plug.

173-050

The first half worked out as planned, here’s hoping I don’t screw up the second half.

173-060

The threaded section was spun down to spec before the threading began.

173-070

A 2:1 scale of the threads turned out to be approximately 10 tpi. I re-geared the lathe for the proper pitch and set up the threading tooling before cutting.

173-080

Time to drill out the oil chamber using a 9/16 inch drill bit to a depth of 2.800 inches.

173-090

With the chamber drilled I machined in a shoulder to allow for the wick holder to rest on.

173-100

The completed spark plug worked out great. Next step was to machine a mounting base, a wick holder and a ground electrode.

173-110

With the wick holder complete I gave the spark plug a test drive. Turns out it actually works!

173-120

To make the plug look more authentic a ground electrode was required. I came up with a few ideas before settling on using a .250″ stainless steel round bar. I trimmed .400″ of the round stock down to .120″.

173-130

Next step was to get some heat into the round bar in order to give it a 90 degree bend in the vise.

173-140

With the bend complete all that was required was trimming up of the electrode length to spec.

173-150

In order to fit the ground electrode into the plug a .125″ hole was drilled to allow the stainless pin to rest into.

173-160

Here are all the fabricated components including the base. I opted to keep the base super simple in order to not distract from the spark plug.

173-170

And so this brings us to the part of the show which displays some of the completed shots.

173-180

Very happy with how the hex turned out, as well as the rest of the machining.

173-190

A few notes on the electrode. The spark plug gap is NOT to spec. It would not work out without smothering the flame therefore I opted for a visual pleasing gap which is a bit larger. Second thing to note is that different wicks and different oils burn differently. Some give off more carbon the others. In my case the flame has no visible black carbon however the bit that is present gets deposited on the stainless electrode. I like to think of it as a clean burning eco friendly oil candle. Third thing I decided on was to leave the finish of the electrode rough. I had contemplated polishing it but I thought the rough look gave the candle a bit more character.

173-200

172-000

A friend of mine that works at the local Porsche dealer has been harassing, yes harassing, me to supply him with a gordsgarage automotive themed item for what seems like an eternity. My friend, who shall remain nameless, came to me with a Porsche PCCB center lock brake rotor that was taken out of service and requested that it be converted into a clock for his man cave. I said I would see what I could do.

As cool as clocks can be they always seem to be the default fab item for anything that is round. Brake rotor clocks have been done, and overdone, time and time again. If I was going to build a clock it needed to have a slightly different style then most. Even at that it is hard to come up with a truly unique way to display seconds that tick by.

The one thing I had going for me is that ceramic brake rotors weigh a 3rd of what cast rotors do. This will allow me to be able to tack on a bit more weight and still allow it to be hung on a wall. I’m not sure I am totally thrilled with the end result but the feedback I received from others appears that the design meets a certain amount of approval. It serves its function and fits into its environment as designed. The following post takes you through the build process of my version of a man cave brake rotor clock.

172-010

The project revolves around a used Center Lock Porsche PCCB rear brake rotor. Because of the center lock design the holes, where the wheel bolts would typically go, are now equipped with red anodized wheel lugs.

Since I wanted to build something more then just a flat hanging rotor attached to a wall I started off by machining some pivots out of 1.75″ solid round 6061 aluminum. First order of business was to drill, and tap, an 8mm hole.

172-030

Onto the milling machine where the center section got hogged out an inch deep and the width of the rotor.

172-040

The beauty of swarf makes up for the waste it becomes.

172-050

Test fitting of the rough machined rotor clamps prove to fit perfectly.

172-060

To secure the clamps to the rotor a couple of 1/4″ set screws were fitted into each clamp.

172-070

To complete the pivot assemblies a couple end caps and center spacers were spun out on the lathe. I opted to keep all the angles, and design, fairly clean and simple with no added cuts or highlights.

172-080

These are the rough machined pivot assemblies that will get clamped onto opposite ends of the rotor.

172-090

Next it was time to move on the steel work and fabricate the actual wall holder. The rotor pivots were going to require a bushing to help provide the support. A couple of spacers were cut, and faced, from some 2″ seamless tubing I had remaining from my metal bender rollers I built.

172-100

Each bushing received a 3/8″ hole drilled only through one side. Keep scrolling, the reason will be revealed.

172-110

The pivot bushings required some support. I wanted to keep things simple and clean without making the unit look messy or chunky. Not to mention I needed to keep the weight of the entire project as low as possible. I opted to bend some 3/8″ cold rolled rod with a radius that would visually match the brake rotor.

172-120

I sketched out the rotor on the bench to aid in the mock up. This way I could ensure that my clearances would work and that my center line would actual be centered.

172-130

Since the rod support required something to actually be attached to I trimmed up a 19 inch section of 3″ x 1/8″ flat bar. I plasma cut the ends to get rid of the corners.

172-140

I was kind of stuck for creative ideas to attach the rod to the wall support plate. Usually I like to get creative with sort of thing. I decided on keeping the brake rotor the main focal point and opted to fabricate some clean and simple support rods from some 7/8″ cold rolled.

172-150

Concept revealed. Mocking up the components before putting the TIG to them.

172-160

Everything was tacked and final welded. Time to move onto to the other parts of the project.

172-170

The clock face was sliced from a sheet of 6061 aluminum using the circle guide for the plasma torch. Ironically this is the same sheet of aluminum that I cut my German tank sprocket clock face from years ago.

172-180

To clean up the plasma cut, and to ensure the face was perfectly round, the aluminum was mounted on the lathe and trimmed up.

172-190

The PCCB rotor hub has two 8mm holes threaded from factory 180 degrees apart. With a couple of spacers I would be able to mount the face to these existing holes. I programmed in the proper spacing on the DRO for the mill and drilled the face for mounting.

172-200

Here the entire project was mocked up to ensure everything would fit. It does.

172-210

Onto the art work for the clock face. I decided to build a tachometer themed time keeper. Using a combination of Draftsight, InkScape, and vinyl plotter software I came up with this.

172-220

I vinyl plotted the entire face on black vinyl first to ensure it would work the way I wanted it too. I then printed just the “redline” section on red vinyl.

172-230

It’s always so satisfying when I start to peel back the transfer tape to reveal the vinyl. I wasn’t sure what color background to use. I thought of powder coding the face white but in the end I opted to stick with a brushed finish. I think I made the right choice.

172-240

Here is the completed clock. I use continuous sweep movements for my clock motors which not only gets rid of the “ticking” but also gives a more precision look to the second hand.

172-250

Time to move onto the hub side of the rotor. Since this clock is going in a “man cave” I thought I would personalize it for Mike. Started by slicing out a 7 inch diameter section of mild steel to be used as a mounting for more vinyl decaling.

172-260

Porsche uses a 5 x 130 wheel bolt pattern. Using the mills DRO I marked all the mounting holes and then finished them off on the drill press.

172-270

Building using math is so satisfying as things always fit together perfectly.

172-280

The time has come where all the fabrication work is complete and it’s time to move onto the finishing stage. I removed the hub from the rotor and chucked it up in the lathe in order to clean the finish up using Scotchbrite.

172-290

Tractor Red powder is incredibly close to the same shade as factory Porsche red brake calipers. Since I know Mike likes red I figured using the color was a “no brainer”

172-300

The rotor mount was wired to one of my oven’s baking racks and then fogged with the powder.

172-310

With the pivot mounts sealed using silicone plugs it was time to bake the powder coating at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

172-320

Here are all the components that make up the project before the assembly phase begins. Everything was either powder coated, polished, or brush finished.

172-330

The hub side face received a personalized Mike’s Place decal so that you knew exactly where you are.

172-340

The contrast between the red and the brushed finishes looks good. I was happy that the pivot still works with the added thickness of the power coating.

172-350

Rotor mounted up and centered just waiting for all the guts to be installed.

172-360

The clock face gets mounted using a couple of 5mm black socket head cap screws. Even though the screws are placed a bit far apart they still help give the clock face that”gauge” look. In order for the clock battery to be replaced the face will need to be unbolted from the hub.

172-370

Since the rotor was mounted on a pivot it was important that all visible angles would look good. I like all the nice, clean, lines of the cross section.

172-380

The rotor lugs were originally anodized red from the factory. Since the finish on them was slightly worn, plus the shade of red would clash, I decided to strip them of the anodizing and give them a brushed finish instead.

172-390

I try and add a “GG” somewhere to my projects. This time I applied a decal on the inside where the only time anyone will see it is when the clock motor battery needs to be changed. In this picture the mounting spacers for the clock face are evident.

172-400

172-410

171-000

I have a lot of interest in simple, mechanical, things. Something that requires an energy source and that does not involve electricity or fossil fuels is always super cool to me. Water wheel fed saw mills, steam powered work shops, bicycles, yo-yos, fully manual lathes, a hand saw, and the list goes on.

This is what brings me onto my next project which is a slingshot. Now I have to mention that I am not a hunter and I typically have no desire to kill anything except the occasional mosquito. I really know very little about slingshots and I suspect there is an entire world surrounding these simple devices that I know nothing about. I just happen to think that the simplicity of a slingshot is pretty cool and the transfer of energy that it is designed to deal with is intriguing.

I have had an idea in my head for a very specific style slingshot for quite some time now. The design is fairly detailed and it will take some dedicated AutoCAD time to come up with a workable design. I had never built a slingshot so I thought that a practice run might serve me well and that way I will have a better idea of how to build my final design.

So over the last couple of weeks I milled away aluminium and spun it down to my desired sizes to finally come up with a practice version of a gordsgarage slingshot. I did not start with any specific design in my head. I built it as I went along and it turned into what it is simply by chance. The morphed design worked out well in the end and I am pleased to say the slingshot is actually functional. I have had multiple test firings with it and it appears to work as designed.

So as per usual the entire process is documented in picture format located below. There is one video included in case you are interested. I also included a picture gallery closer to the end. I had too many pictures to post so I condensed a bunch of the final shots into an album.

 

171-010

The project started off by obtaining a slingshot band and some ammo. I have plenty of loose ball bearings kicking around but I figured I would go genuine.

171-020

Onto the fabrication process. Like I said…I didn’t have a plan in place so this is how it all started. I knew that I wanted finger holes so I made the slingshot to specifically fit my hand.

171-030

I measured the OC (on center) point of my fingers on my left hand as well as the diameter of my middle knuckles then I started to drill some holes in some 6061 aluminum.

171-040

With the holes milled to fit my fingers I started to shave of extra aluminum.

171-045

The final step in the finger holder was to mill a tab tab that would eventually slide into the handle assembly. Here one corner of the tab was cut, just needed to finish off the left side.

171-050

I didn’t have a clear vision for the “yoke” of the slingshot but I had a general idea. Since I didn’t have any round aluminum stock large enough I decided to machine something out of .375 aluminum flat bar. I started with a 4″ x 4″ section and mounted it to a lathe arbor.

171-060

I included this picture because it shows the 4″ diameter I am shooting for. 5 minutes on the lathe will bring it from 4 corners to pi.

171-070

Getting closer to my final dimension. Makes me wonder if there is a mathematical term for a square with rounded corners.

171-080

So with my 4″ circle compete I set things up on the milling machine to hog out a center, offset, hole with a hole saw.

171-090

Back onto the lathe I switched out the 3 jaw chuck for the four jaw and dialed in the center hole. With a boring bar I cleaned up the previously cut hole to dimension.

171-100

Now I am back onto the milling machine where I needed to position the part precisely in the chuck as the next step involves drilling symmetrical holes.

171-110

I had a plan in my head that was BrainstormCAD’d at around 2:30 am on a sleepless night. It involved drilling a stepped hole in order to secure the slingshot band this way making the install look super clean. It is rather difficult to put into words so I will just mention that the design actually worked.

171-120

Here is my progress so far. I post the picture to help illustrate the order in which things are done.

171-130

As you can see from the previous picture the handle is nothing more then a 1.250″ chunk of aluminum stock. It is time to start working it over. I need to fit the finger holder into the handle. Instead of milling a slot out I figured I would remove a bunch of the excess material with a drill bit first. I don’t think people appreciate the cutting power of a drill bit enough. Perhaps now would be a good time to reflect on their abilities.

171-140

With the holes drilled I then dropped in a .375″ end mill and hogged out the remaining material.

171-150

Here I am able to test fit the finger holder and it just happens to slide in perfectly. Amazing what can happen when you use math.

171-160

I needed to secure the finger holder to the handle so I set it up in the mill then drilled, and tapped, 5mm holes to accept stainless steel allen head bolts.

171-170

I needed to flush mount the non-yoke into the handle. Since the handle had a .375″ slot machines to accept the non-yoke I need to mill off a flat section in order to close up the visual gap that would have been evident with a radius.

171-180

I have some ideas in store for the base of the handle. As I plan to build multiple options I decided to drill, and tap, a 6mm hole into the bottom.

171-190

The handle was looking rather plane being just round and smooth. I thought I would give it some grip by dropping in a .375″ ball nose endmill 60 degrees apart around the circumference.

171-200

The ball nose machining gives the handle both a functional, and visually pleasing, aspect.

171-210

With the 3 main components completed it was time to enter into finishing stage. I had contemplated anodizing certain components but in the end I thought that a brushed look suited the project. The finger holder was cleaned up using a die grinder and sanding wheel.

171-220

Here are the 3 main components cleaned up with a brushed finish.

171-230

With the main slingshot machined it was time to start on the handle bases. Like I mentioned earlier I installed a 6mm thread into the base of the handle in order to accommodate different bases. I had many ideas to build however I decided to limit myself to just three. Here is the start of the first base. It is a chunk of 2.50″ round aluminum that will eventually be turned into a 9 round ammunition holder.

171-240

Onto the milling machine where 10 holes where drilled, 9 of which will accommodate the 3/8″ ammunition.

171-250

Since I am planing to hold the ammunition in place with 1/8″ rare earth magnets I cross drilled the previously machined holes so that I could epoxy the magnets in place.

171-260

With all the crucial angles machined I cleaned up the visuals on the lathe.

171-265

Here I sat down at the sunny kitchen and epoxied all the 1/8″ rare earth magnets into place.

The video posted below shows the loading of the slingshot ammunition into the holder. The ammo can be loaded from either side and the magnets are plenty strong enough to keep them in place.

171-270

The second interchangeable base would be nothing more the an over sized hook attachment to allow for a caribiner to hook onto. Started off with 1.250″ aluminum stock and trimmed the sides flat.

171-280

Dropped a 5/8″ endmill through the middle to make room for a caribiner to clip onto.

171-290

Moved onto the lathe to clean up all the visual lines. Gave it s tapered finish.

171-300

Rough machining completed of the caribiner end.

171-305

As another option for a base I decided to adapt a triple blade carbon arrow head onto the end. At first I was going to pass on this idea as the arrow heads are rather sharp but when I discovered I could buy protective pods to prevent any unwanted injury I figured I would go for it.

171-310

This is the first, and second, stage machining of the arrow head adapter. The center hole was drilled and tapped to accept the threaded arrow head. The outer three holes were machined only for cosmetics.

171-320

The arrow head adapter was tapered down on the lathe to give it a more stealth look.

171-330

All the components of the slingshot received a brushed finish. The finishing touch was the glass bead blasted gordsgarage “GG” gear logo. I created a .900 inch diameter logo on the vinyl plotter, applied it to the handle, taped up the rest of the surrounding areas and then shipped it to the glass bead blast cabinet for some etching.

171-340

Here are all the machined, and finished, components that make up the slingshot prior to assembly.

The following gallery displays the finished product. If you click on a picture you will be able to cycle through all the remaining pictures at a decent resolution. The gallery shows multiple combinations of the ends. The ammunition holder can be used on it’s own or coupled with other options. Check out all the pictures to get all the details!

171-530

 

168-001

I had an idea in my head for some time now but it lacked specifics. Usually I want to have some clear direction before moving into the shop for the execution however I have learned that sometimes good things can result from little planning. Since I didn’t have too much loose, if my idea went sideways, I thought I would just wing it and see what would come of it.

Often I wonder why things are made simple when they work just as well complicated and in the case of my next project I wanted to add an element of engineering to a rather basic item. I needed a shop clip board and wanted to build something that would reflect the environment it would be used in. I love seeing the internal mechanicals of machines and often wonder why people feel they need to cover them up.

In the case of my clipboard I wanted to build a more mechanical type spring mechanism as well as fabricate a more interesting shape for holding the paper. Unfortunately this post is not filled with fabricating pictures. Since I didn’t have a plan I didn’t know when to take pictures. In fact I wasn’t planning to post this project on the blog however it actually turned out ok so I thought I would share. The following pictures show the tail end of the project but it will give you an idea on how it was built.

168-010

The entire clip board was built from 6061 aluminum. I machined everything you see in this picture except for the stainless steel fasteners, spring, and cable. The actual “board” was plasma cut from a sheet of aluminum. I realize it is hard to visualize how this all fits together, just keep scrolling.

168-020

This is the board in mocked up stage to ensure that the spring tension would work. I’m not in love with the lever I built located on the right side of the pivot shaft however I’m going to go with it for now.

168-030

So here I jump straight to the finishing stage. Everthing was either polished or powder coated. Ready for final assembly.

168-040

Finished product! Looks kinda cool, a little bit chunky but still works for me. Next time around I’ll build more intricate.

168-050

The exposed spring mechanism allows viewing of all the action.

168-060

Rocker arm style paper clamps.

168-070

Cable adjustment cap allows for spring tension calibration.

168-080

The paper release lever lacks a bit of an interesting visual but still works, for now.

168-090

Decided to decorate the back side with a unique GG decal. Cut out an old skool diving helmet on the vinyl plotter for no other reason other then it looked cool.