Archive | April 2012

Leaving for Factor e Farm, car diagnosis and fix

This last week, I’ve been preparing to go to the farm. The main thing that’s holding me back is getting my cars fixed up, as I’m driving out there. I’ll be driving my sebring, but want my mercedes to be driveable as well. I’ll use my mercedes if I fly home to visit for holidays.

My main vehicle is a 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible, and that’s what I’m driving to missouri. I needed to fix an oil leak, and my neutral safety switch.

Oil leak was easy, but the neutral safety switch has me pulling out my hair!! Every time I work on my Sebring, my hatred for chrysler grows.

Heres the problem with my NSS (Neutral safety switch) : Every now and then, when my car is hot and I try to start it, it won’t start. To get it to start, I need to jiggle the shifter between park and neutral with the starter engaged. Sometimes it starts as soon as i shift it, and sometimes it takes 25 minutes. It always starts eventually, even if it means me walking away for a half an hour until the car cools down more.

Since needing to jiggle shifter is a classic sign of mal-adjusted NSS, I figure this is it. However, it could just as easily be some wire that is shorting somewhere. Since the problem only happens when the car is hot, it must be something which is effected by heat (or just about everything).

For a long time I couldn’t find my NSS; most vehicles have the NSS on the outside of the transmission, so it can be removed with a couple bolts. However, for my car, it is inside the transmission. But nowhere online does it say it’s location. I had to purchase the part, and look for the correct electrical connection to find it. Even this proved difficult, as the tranny is 1 yr older than the vehicle, so I ended up getting the wrong part– twice– before I realized this.

The NSS is inside the tranny, and to access it, you have to open up the pan (which has no drain plut), and open up the valve body.

To do all of that would cost roughly $150: tranny fluid + filter ~$50, NSS~ $45, Tranny gasket kit ~$55. It would involve opening up the guts of the tranny.

Given the expense, the chance of messing something up, and the chance the replacing the NSS wouldn’t solve the problem, I decided to bypass the NSS instead, saving me $100.

The problem with bypassing it, is that you could start your car in any gear, meaning if you were parked, you could accidentally run into or over things. However, paying careful attention to which gear the car is in when you start it will remedy this.

I’ve found a couple sites that tell me which wire I need to ground. Now I just need to figure which one is ground. I’ll figure this by testing with some leads.


Machining angle mount- Milling to proper size

Machining down angle mount, at 45 degree angle.

To mill the mount to the proper size, I first had to mount the piece at a 45 degree angle with the table. I had to be a little creative here, as the large piece would hit the machine during travel if I wasn’t careful. I found that since much of the material had been mag-drilled away, I could take up to 3/8″ depth away at a time! This made the process a bit faster. I didn’t remove to full depth yet, as that is something I wanted to do all at once, to insure everything had the exact same height.

I left about 1/8″ clearance for the blade, so it won’t interfere with mount.

After machining at the 45 degree angle, I changed the angle to 50.7 degrees. This is because this is where the blade will rotate to, so you have to insure the blade has full rotation. See this video:

After doing all of that, I machined everything to the final depth.

I found that the slitting saw went a bit deep once more in some spots. However, the variation wasn’t nearly as much as with the flat blade.

I decided there wasn’t enough variation to warrant welding it. I checked by using a blade (because it’s perfectly flat, and heavy enough to not move around), and a set of feeler gauges. I found the maximum deviation to be .0025″. Since the overall clearance between blades needs to be between .007″ and .010″, I machined the depth to .007″, so if anything goes wrong, I have a few thousandths to play with. Since I left .003″ play, and the deviation is only .0025″ I figured this will be OK, as even if the blade warps the mount, it will still be within tolerance.

I should have been a bit carefuler about where I mag-drilled, but it really won’t effect the strength of the piece, and some more of it will be removed when I machine the space for the angle mount.

Ironworker Ready to Ship!

I’m shipping it out today, to be finished in MO.


Machining the angle mount- Removing excess material

The first step of machining the angle mount was to remove most of the material from the Upper Arm.

I did this by first slitting as deep as I could into the arm, first, parallel to the blade mount, and then across it. Since the slitting saw will only enter 2″ deep, you can’t remove more than a 2″ strip at once. This means you will have to remove material in multiple passes. The process would be infinitely easier with a horizontal mill, but we didn’t have one, so I had to make due.

After this first pass, I had to mag-drill around the section that the saw couldn’t reach so I could remove the large section.

After that, I continued slitting bits at a time, and removing material by mag-drilling it out. If the slug was still attached to a bit of steel, I would pry and hit it with a hammer to remove it.

After the first pass, I machined down a stripe so the cap on the slitting saw wouldn’t interfere, and I could continue cutting at the same height.

Space machined down for the cap

See the gallery below for a series of how all the material was removed.

Waiting on the Half-Moons

The Upper angle blade and the half-moons

Progress is halted on machining the angle mounts, because I don’t believe the blade and the half-moons match.

The half moons (see this video for visuals) are what push against the upper angle blade. They allow it to rotate throughout the cut to compensate for the rotation of the upper arm. This allows the blade to be parallel to the angle being sheared at all times during the cut.

The angle blade assembly for a smaller Piranha machine

From the video linked above, you can see that in the Piranha version (this is for a smaller machine), the half moons are only slightly shorter than the blade itself. This means the force is being distributed throughout most of the blade.

With the ones I got sent from Piranha, the half moons are much smaller in comparison with the blade, and they are thinner as well.

Side view of the half-moons and the angle blade

It would make sense for them to be the same thickness, and closer to the same overall length. My solution is to order the Half-Moon’s for the next size up machine.

There is a chance that the blade I was sent from the blade manufacturer was the wrong dimensions. The other possibility is that Piranha sent me the wrong parts. They sent me the wrong parts initially, but I caught it on the invoice, and was able to return them. They supposedly sent me the new ones, which I received last week, but I still believe they are the wrong size.

On the new invoice, it says the part is the “P-70/P-90 Angle Knife Block”. This would imply that the P-70 uses the same part. However, the capacity on the P70 is only for 5x5x1/2″ angle, whereas the capacity for the P90 is 6x6x5/8″. A piranha representative informed me that the P90 does have a larger blade. So, it follows that the P90 would have a different set of Half-Moons.

Also, the P90 and the P120 have the same angle capacity, so it would make sense for them to have the same half-moons.

So, I will order the parts for the P120 and suck up the $100 it will cost.

If the part is the same size, I will assume it is the correct size and machine it for the smaller half moons. If not, I’ll sure be glad I ordered the new ones!

If the moons are too small, what could happen is it could compress the part of the upper arm which pushes on it, loosening up the mechanism.

I had initially planned on finishing all the machining on the upper arm in San Diego, but now will finish in Missouri.

Overall update

I’m in the final push for getting the ironworker shipped to Factor e Farm. I put up a Uship auction for shipping it:–a-few-small-boxes/607441616/

The guy who is winning now wants to ship it tomorrow afternoon! I may need to choose someone else, as I might not have the machining done by then.

Basically, that means a very long day for today, possibly an all nighter.

I’ve got lots of pictures and videos to put up, but that’s gonna wait until my final push.

Machining the upper flat blade mount

I’m currently machining the blade mounts. I expect they should be done by tuesday.

The flat blade wasn’t bad to machine, except for the fact that I had to weld extra material on due to the innaccuracy of the slitting saw. Welded material is machinable, but it is much more difficult to machine than regular steel. I found the fly cutter worked horribly on the welded material, and that I had to use an endmill instead. Overall, it took about 6 hours to fix. First I welded it up, then I machined it down.

To check the height on the mount, I used the blades I ordered. When the machine is assembled, there needs to be .007″ to .010″ clearance between blades. I machined the mount deep enough so that the blades were just barely under the thickness of the arm. I may need to machine more later, but the lower mount can be machined instead of the entire arm.

For now, it is better that not enough material has been removed vs. too much. If I remove too much, I will need to shim the blades to get the proper clearance. While this is doable, it would make for a lower quality machine which is more likely to get out of adjustment.

Before I call the job finished, I need to figure a way to remove material from the upper edge. No milling bit is perfectly square, so the bit of material left on the upper edge is preventing the blades from sitting square on both surfaces. I may just use a dremel and grind/cut away a bit of the edge. I’ll post a vid when I figure it out.