Posts Tagged ‘vacuum canister’

So I stepped back into the ring for round #2. My first go at the FJR1300 cruise control vacuum canister finished me off with some learned lessons. This time I took what was previously served up and planned on applying it towards total domination upon the canister creation.

For those who have no idea what I am talking about I had previously built an aluminum vacuum reservoir which had presented me with some challenges. The main one being getting all my welds to seal. On my second go I made some modifications mainly to the aluminum pre-weld prep.

I started off with a 4” length by .125” wall 6061 tubing and then sliced up a couple of solid 2” round bar chunks to be used as the canister ends. I machined a step into the ends, like I did on the previous canister, however this time I cut in a fairly deep and wide groove to allow for me to flow some aluminum filler into.

So with the canister prepped, the TIG dialed in, and the challenge accepted I laid down a couple of beads on both ends. Tossed the unit back onto the lathe and machined down the welds. Got a bucket of water and a hose filled with 120 psi of shop air I showed no mercy on the canister as I cranked the pressure into it. Ok…what’s wrong, where are the bubbles? Huh? Hmmm….I guess I can be learned. Looks like overcoming my fear of large weld grooves paid off. The aluminum filler flowed in great and I’ve got a submerged canister with contained pressure to prove it. First run of the welds sealed the unit up 100%. Now what? I had budgeted for issues.

So with success obtained early on I spent the rest of my time prettying the thing up. The ends got chamfered slightly and the whole unit was then polished to a shine. Sweet! Much more satisfying then my first go around. Since the canister is not required for install for a few months yet I opted to hang onto it and set it in front of my computer monitor so that I can stare longingly at it. Some day the two of us will have to part ways but until then I want to make every moment count.


I’ve been trying to get some hood time with my aluminum welding so as to try and improve my skills. I had a request to build a couple of small vacuum canisters that are going to be used for the installation of an aftermarket cruise control system on a couple of Yamaha FJR 1300 motorcycles. It wasn’t a huge job, at first, and I was able to stumble my way through to moderate success.

The only criteria was size. The canister needed to maintain an external dimension of 2 inches diameter by 4.5 inches long. I started with 2” 6061 aluminum round with .125” wall thickness (I know it was a bit heavy however I didn’t have .065”) and chopped off a 4” section. Then I shaved a couple of .75” pieces off of 2” solid 6061. Using the lathe I machined a couple of steps into the end caps to allow for a perfect canister fit.

I fired up the Miller TIG and laid down a couple of beads no problem…so I thought. Once I machined down the welds I installed a 1/8” NPT 1/8” barb brass fitting into the canister, dunked it in a bucket of water and fed 120 psi of air to it. Lots of bubbles, oops. I figured no problem, this is a learning experience. I ran some more beads, machined and performed another leak test. Still bubbles. So I did it 2 more times trying hard not to get frustrated. Performed a 4th leak test, still bubbles, I couldn’t decide if it was time to cry yet.

Obviously the system I was using was not working, I needed to change something. I decided to machine a couple of huge grooves in welds to allow for wider penetration. I had already machined grooves previously however not to an extreme. However it was to a point were the project was garbage if I couldn’t get it sealed. So with a massive valley to lay some aluminum rod into I welded the canister up for a 5th time. Machined it for the 5th time and leak tested it for the 5th time. Perfect! No leaks. Note to self…do not fear the large groove. The aluminum has no problem flowing, penetrating, and filling the gap.

So the canister kind of took on an odd shape due to all the machining however the functionality was not compromised. As an added learning step I decided to anodize the unit to see how the welds would anodize. After polishing the unit and putting it through a cleaning stage I dunked the unit into my anodizing tank for a couple of hours. Upon post anodize inspection it was fairly obvious that the 6061 canister and the aluminum filler wire anodized 2 different colors. I soaked the canister in the orange dye for 15 minutes curious to see if the to aluminum colors would be hidden with dye color. Apparently not, lesson learned. No big deal to fix. I set the canister back up on the lathe and sanded down the poorly colored ends and then polished them up on the buffing wheel.

I can’t say that this is the prettiest thing I have ever made however its main purpose was to try and teach me something and that it did. The best part is that I have to make a second one so I’ll see if I can take my new found knowledge and apply it in hopes of better success.