Archive | March 2012

3/29 update

After assembling the machine, I realized I would need to disassemble part of the frame to make the slit for the vertical linkage middle bolt. I had thought I could just move the linkages out of the way, but the side pieces were to close for that. Today, I’m gonna mag-drill and torch it.

I also torched the 3″ holes yesterday. my torching skills have really improved. I’m learning more about it every day.

It was frustrating- yesterday was the day of distractions. A few people came and went from the shop and they all felt the need to stop by and chat. I can brush off most people, but it gets a bit harder when the offender is over 70 years old. Grandad and I worked on getting the arbor for a slitting saw, which I now hope to be using to cut away the blade space on the upper arm. This is really advantageous, because it gives a lot of accuracy, and I can simply cut out the rectangles that need to be removed.

Expect another picture and video bomb by tommorow morning- left my camera in the shop.

A slitting saw

3/27 update

  • Ian Midgley came Monday and filmed for the instructional video.  We focused on assembling the lower half of the machine. It was great getting to know Ian a bit better, and nice having a hand in some of the more physical work for the project!

Current progress

Unfortunately, I didn’t get many instructional videos or pictures of my own, because Ian was taping the whole time. I’ll get some from him later and post it.

So, we assembled the lower half of the machine. I’ll video a walkthru of it today, and post it soon.

Basically, steps would be as follows:

  1. Place lower arm in laying down position, so it is accessible from top end (top in photo above) with forklift.
  2. Install linkage pin holders with 2″ pins, but leave the bolts a bit loose, so you can put in linkage
  3. Support the linkage from below, and drive the 2.5″x6″ long pin thru the linkage pin holders and it. Put the washer and nut on the pin.
  4. Install cylinder on the lower arm, so the rod is near the linkage.
  5. Join the linkage and the cylinder.
  6. Place the correct vertical linkage on top of the main linkage and drive a 2.5″x7″ pin thru it.
  7. Install front and back of support frame on the piece.
  8. Pick up the piece with your forklift, so the forks are between the cylinder and main linkage.
  9. With it at least 3″ onto the forks, and a support below incase the piece falls, tip the lower arm assembly upright.
  10. Install the bottom of the frame.
  11. Install the other vertical linkage
  12.  Install the side pieces of frame and braces.
  • grinding grease channels in the vertical linkages (see vid below)

Goals for week of 3/26

Well, I didn’t get all the goals done last week, but it is a significant improvement on past goals and acheivements.

So, priority #1- assemble lower arm (by tuesday night). Ian is coming today to video tape.

#2 is to torch the 3″ holes in the upper arm, and drill the hole for the punch linkage. Wednesday.

after that:

  • grind down torchings (wed)
  • saw away as much as possible for blade mounts (thurs)
  • bore holes (begin fri)
  • fly-cut blade mounts

3/25 Update

Busy few days. Workin hard and playing harder.

In the past couple of days, I made a ton of progress.

I fixed the 2 bushing holes that I messed up, one from a bad freeze-fit, and one from a stupid measurement error. The solution was to weld up the hole and re-bore it. A very time consuming fix. Don’t make that mistake!

I also had to torch away parts of the lower arm to get proper clearance for the cylinder and linkage.

The cylinder space wasn’t accurate because I couldn’t find the spec’s for the cylinders overall diameter, so I assumed it would be 5.5″. Turned out it was 6″. Not a big deal to fix- Just had to torch away the excess. I found where to torch by making an aluminum “mock-up” of the cylinder and using that to guide where to torch.

Torching 3″ is very difficult. Unlike 2″, it requires you to pre-heat the metal from the bottom, or the oxy will have a really hard time making a straight cut. I made the mistake of not pre-heating when I torched the holes in the linkage, and that’s why they came out so badly.

Once I torched away the cylinder space, I could weld the cylinder mount. Should’ve taken video of the process, but it was pretty simple. Basically, I flipped the arm vertically, so the attachment wouldn’t fall, and held it perfectly centered using magnets. After I tacked it, I double checked it’s squareness, and gave a solid 1/4″ fillet all the way around. After that, I ground away any weld material that would block the cylinder. See the photo in the gallery below.

For some reason, the lower arm was interfering with the linkage. I’m still not sure why the linkage space wasn’t right. In the design, I left 1/4″ clearance for it, because I knew there would likely be small measurement errors, and that the lower-arm torching wouldn’t be perfectly accurate. I need to go back and double check all my measurements on the linkage, and the CAD file I sent for torching the lower arm. It could have been as simple as the fact that the torching is only guaranteed by 1/4″ by the metal supplier.

Either way, I torched away the excess, and now it will work.

I also freeze fit the remaining bushings for the hole’s I’ve bored. I will need to do one more batch of freeze fitting when I’ve completed the upper arm. Here’s a vid explaining the pre-heating; you want to get the steel hot enough so it starts changing colors. Didn’t get any shots of putting the bushing in cause my camera ran out of juice.

The final freeze fit got stuck midway thru. I was going to take it to the press to push it in, but the guys volunteered to help me. My little girl muscles weren’t enough to hammer it further in, but Mike’s most certainly were! That’s one heavy hammer.

After the freeze fits, I had to grind down whatever parts of the bushing were sticking out of the material; some of the material was thinner than specified, so the bushings were sticking out. This could cause a problem because when the pins are in, they will need to be clamping down on the entire piece, not just the bushing. If it’s just clamping on the bushing, the metal could end up slipping out further on the bushing, causing the arms to get out of parallel. This would destroy clearance accuracy with the blades, and result in either sloppier cuts, or broken blades.

3/21 update

I was on fire today! I wish it was figurative, for if anything, I was the opposite of “on fire” in terms of my working speed today. But alas, it was literal. Its been a while since that happened. Its kinda exciting every now and then. It burnt the hose too, on the torch.

So, first thing today, I was gonna freeze fit the bushings. I did one yesterday with just normal ice, and it worked fine, I just had to use the press to push the bushing in. I figured I didn’t need to buy dry-ice, since it worked. I was wrong. I did one successfully today, using the press. The second one wouldn’t go all the way thru. I flipped the piece over and discovered horrible galling, and material  displaced! After talking to the guys, I found that was because the bushing must have gone in sideways, and the press kept pushing it in , so it scraped away excess material. They said this happens to the best of em now and then, that they’ve all done it. See vids.


Seems like there’s really not any way to prevent it if you’re using a press to put them in. You can be more careful that it doesn’t get cocked, but it’s really hard to tell when you’re doing it.

My solution is simply to use dry ice. It worked really well before, and it’s relatively cheap (~$6.50 for 5lb). Best part is that it will make the bushings go in with just a hammer. Or even with your hand.

I shipped the welder to OSE today. It took up about 2.5 hours to get it shipped. Jimmy taught me how to use the packing machine. I forget what it’s called, it uses metal straps and crimpers. I also shipped the cylinder and a gas cut-off saw that Marcin bought from my uncle. See the pics in the gallery below.

I began on the cylinder mount. I did things in an odd order because it was so small. See video below. First I torched the radius, but didn’t torch it off. This is so I could have a center mark to torch from. Then I mag-drilled out the mount hole. After that, I torched it into a piece slightly bigger than the mount. This was so I would have something to clamp it to while I machined it down. Then I machined it to the proper thickness, and bored the hole to exact diameter. After that, I finally torched to proper size. See photos.


50th post reflections

Damn, can’t believe I’ve written 50 blogs. Crazy.

I’m still really frustrated with the project. But it’s not the project I’m frustrated with, its myself. I really should be working and learning faster. I should be more focused, less forgetful, and more receptive of the limits of working with certain materials. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am not the least bit handy naturally.

Most people I know would probably argue with that statement, but that’s because they’ve seen the product of years of hard work. They don’t see how many tools I break, and all the ridiculous mistakes I make.

Good example: re-installing the timing chain tensioner in my 300D. I had to figure how it worked to install it last year when I put together the engine. I didn’t put in the brass washer so it leaked oil everywhere. when I took it out to fix it, I forgot the entire process I went thru before to tension it properly. I put it in too loose. I had to take it off and re-install it TWO more times before I remembered how to do it. I just don’t think enough when I’m doing mechanical things.

When I am learning something– anything, be it fabricating, paragliding, rock climbing, you name it– I tend to do two things: completely immerse myself in it, and make every mistake possible. This results in me knowing a hell of a lot more than most people would learn through a similar project. It also means I take a lot longer than most people would. In the past, that’s never been a problem, because nobody was waiting on me to finish any of my big projects. And, all of the big projects were personal.

Now this is a project for the world, and I’m keeping a blog on it! That means all my mistakes are made public, and me taking a long time is a lot more obvious. I feel rushed because of it. I want to finish!! I want to be true to my word, and finish things by the deadlines I set.

This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Physically and mentally. Rebuilding my car is a close second. But in that case, there was really no hurry to get it done. It was only my time and money I was wasting by taking so long to do it.

If there’s one thing I can say about building this ironworker, its that it follows Murphy’s Law. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong.

Oh well, progress continues, and I make progress every single day.

Despite all my complaints, I’m in love with this lifestyle. I love being a fabricator; coming home every day dirty and exhausted and wounded. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Unless it was without the wounds. I’m tired of not being able to reach in my pockets cause my hands are so cut up.