Archive for category metal working

Polish dividing head

workplace purchase from recent auction at local metal work da Tory that went out of business, Ramsey Machine Works. No keen competition on the bidding on this item, I think we got it’d for 175 bucks. It looks like a very close copy of a cincinatti dividing head. It’s heavy, I can’t easily lift it and it take two to place it on the mill without bursting a gut. 

Branded as Huta, nothing on the net about it, but the company was, or still is, an arms maker. Has the cool inner ring mechanism that I think makes 400,000 possible circle divisions. 

I’ve used it already to make product. Cut the machining time down for a particular operation by… Well what took me an hour with my cobbled together jig now takes 20 minutes.

All old school stuff but so very cool. Btw, I just cleaned it up enough to use. Still needs some spit and polish ( no pun intended) but I don’t think I will be taking it completely apart any time soon.



Vintage shaper

Got this beauty for scrap metal prices. It’s old, how old? I don’t know but I would guess early 20th century. It’s a little rusty but everything moves and I think I can get some flat belts, a sturdy electric motor and have it running. Even if it is only used to cut internal key ways it will pay for itself with the first job.



Taiwanese copy of a Kurt vise

An old rusty bit of hardware was plopped in my lap the other day. It’s a STM CH-6 milling vise. Pretty well a direct copy of a Kurt. I didn’t think to take pictures of the state it was in when i got it, but did get some pics of the guts of the beast.

The claim to fame of the Kurt vide is the little gizmo in the sliding jaw that causes that jaw to push down when tightened on the workpiece. Kurt calls this “Anglok”. Here is a link to a pdf file of a Kurt vide that shows the Anglok feature.

Now the STM I was cleaning up does not exactly copy the Kurt, but does have the “Anglok” feature. Ok, now onto the pics…

The underside, yes it is a big bugger.


Yeah, I know most of you don’t have a clue what this next pic is showing.  The underside of the sliding jaw showing the depression where the hemispherical part fits. This is the key of the “Anglok” idea.




Aforementioned hemisphere.



Movable jaw removed. Look at the casting at the end of the screw, you can kinda imagine it has an angled face on the underside. That angled face presses on the flat side of the hemisphere. Also note the rust etching on the ways, where the jaw had been parked. The vide was sitting outside, getting oh so rusty.


At the handle end of the screw there is a thrust bearing.


Oh this pic shows an allen key in the set screw that adjusts the free play on the “Anglok” system.


All cleaned up. apart from the rust, there was a lot of congealed cutting fluid and chips to get rid off. I was surprised that hit cleaned up as nicely as it did. It works smoothly, nice vise.



Hunk of iron

Well I say iron, but it could be steel. Measures 5 1/2″ X 5 1/2″ X 12 3/4″ ( 140 mm X 140 mm X 343 mm).

If it is pure iron then it weighs around ( at 7.87 g/cc) 52.9 kg.

I don’t-know why this hunk o’metal pleases me, but it does. Probably says something about how easily amused I am.



Vanagon – The “Swellegant” subwoofer

If your are sipping your coffee or any other beverage as you read this, please swallow what you have in your mouth and put the cup down. I’m not taking responsibility for any spit takes that might happen when you see what I made.

It started a couple of months ago when I was fooling around with some scrap aluminum and the TIG torch. I was adjusting the welding machine settings and rod size seeing what effect various changes had on welding outside corners. As I welded bits together I realized I could make a box of sorts and that would provide good practice on the seams. Well, i made the box, enclosed on 5 sides and I looked at it… what if I make it into a subwoofer enclosure?

3/16″ thick aluminum is not what springs to mind to use to make a speaker box, but what the heck eh? I had a pair of 12″ speakers in the garage, no idea what make, and I decided to use one as a sub. I added the 5th side to the box, actually pieced together from 4 bits, and cut a hole for the speaker. And why not four bits of tubing for legs? This was going to be a down firing sub. Oh and it was going to be a sub that paid very little attention to volumes, Q factors, etc, etc.

I drilled and tapped holes to screw the speaker to the box, than I made a grill from some 1/4″ square section material. The grill pleased me, stiffer than I expected. And just because I worried about how to secure the beast in the van, I welded on a couple of half moon bits to have something to attach a strap or something.

Ok, so it looked kinda bare. But I was recently given some leather so I thinks to myself “a leather pad thing on top would gussy it up some”. I cut a square of leather, a round of sleeping pad type foam, and some canvas as backing. I sewed it all together (and I found that difficult, only sewn a little bit of leather before and never saddle stitched) and attached it to the box with a leather thong.

And now it looks like some sort of industrial ottoman or commode. Go on, look at the pictures and laugh, I’m used to it now.

(Looking inside you might be able to see some dampening pads stuck on the walls)




Yes, the sides are curved. Same scrap material that I made the underbody protection plate  with.


Paper cone and still in one piece.


So how to power this thing? My head unit has 2 channel sub out jacks and I knew I had a spare amplifier in the workshop. An amp that was bridgeable so I could lead 2 channels in and have one channel (mono) out. I couldn’t find the damned amp, I searched high and low. Found all kinds of things (previous posts) but no amp. Good friend Stephen took pity on me and gave me an amp he had lying around. Nice old amp, a Blaupunkt 4 channel unit.


It was not bridgeable, but it excited me. The existing stereo set up in the van consisted of a Pioneer DEH-P5000 head unit feeding an Alphasonik PMA-2030 amp (not bad vintage amp) under the driver’s seat. That amp powered the front door speakers, Boston Acoustics Rally (model number forgotten) 6″ mid in lower part of door and tweeter up behind stock speaker grill. Oh and those are fed via some separate BA crossovers. Back in the rear overhead cabinet are a pair of 4″ pioneer speakers, powered directly from head unit.

I decided to pull the Alphasonik amp (not bridgeable) and use the Blaupunkt to power the front and the rear speakers. Was a little bit of a pain to do that, but I did manage to reduce the tangle of wires behind the dash (I can’t really fault the previous owners of the van, stereo installs seem to bring out the slipshod in all of us) and I squeezed the amp up on the crossmember behind the glove compartment.

That all worked well. When I say well I mean the stereo system still worked. But I don’t have my sub installed! Where the heck is that lost amp?

I found it the other day, not far from where it was supposed to be. It had fallen, or was placed (yeah, by me) in a box of fibreglass cloth and was covered by same. Callooh callay! I cried (no, I didn’t) when I found it. Some futzing and farting around and it was installed under the driver’s seat and finally my sub made noise. And what kind of noise? Well, a kind of thumping booming noise. It does pump out the bass, it does make things rattle, and once I fiddled with the sub woofer settings on the head unit (low pass and high pass filter adjustment) it sounded rather ok. I don’t think it is as tight or as controlled as a subwoofer should be, but considering everything about it, it is acceptable.

I have it connected to the amp via an RCA jack so it is easily disconnected and removed from the van. Right now it sits behind the passenger seat, but I can extend the cord and I might try other placements.

Oops, forgot, I made a quick sketch of the stereo system layout. Note the connections between head unit and both amps are via RCA jacked lines.

sound sysytem


Vanagon – syncro – more underbody protection update

I’m trying to keep the momentum going, really I am. Over the last couple of days I got some work done on the side plate. The last post had me with the welded up, wavy and bent,skid plate. Now i had to mount it under the van. I didn’t think long and hard, but this is what I came up with.

A bit of 1″ X 0.25″ stainless flat bar cut up into 5 pieces, nominally 2″ long. Very nominally as I used a Zip disk in an angle grinder and I am notoriously bad at cutting a straight line.


As each bit was more or less 2″ i marked out hole locations from one end. I used a blue Sharpie as lay-out dye. You can barely see the scratches of location the hole positions.


I feel presumptuous to lecture on how to do this kind of thing. I really am a ham fisted metal worker. I say that with no false modesty because I have seen what real metal workers can do.  But allow me to go through the steps I take and maybe some of you might find something I say useful.

I scratched out the hole locations using my digital callipers. Then I centre punched on location using a cheap optical centre punch purchased from Lee Valley, direct link here. Then I like to make the punch mark a little larger with a regular punch. After that I drill pilot holes using a small bit, something less than 1/8″. The reason for that is the thin bit catches and hangs on to the punch mark better than a larger sized bit. I have the workpiece on the drill press table held in my hand. Allows the workpiece to move around a bit to get aligned. With a small bit there is little chance the drill will spin the workpiece around and gash your hand. With the size of holes I am drilling here, the next drilling step is the full sized hole. I’m drilling for a 1/4″X20 tapped hole and so I would be using a #7 drill bit (or something like 5.01mm). I put the part in a drill press vice for this drilling.

Now I try, in this blog at least, to avoid absolutes. But I am telling you now something you should heed. When drilling in stainless steel your drill bits have to be sharp and of good quality. Really, any other bits are just the road to perdition. What ever country of origin you like your bits to be from, buy the best you can. I think at one time nothing could beat US made made twist drill bits. But there are excellent bits from Australia, the UK, and Europe. Price is the discriminating factor, buy the most expensive you can find. It really is false economy to buy cheap bits (unless all you drill is wood).

A good resource for basic and advanced metalworking is Mrpete222 on YouTube, here is the link. And learn to sharpen your bits, might take some time, and god knows it took a good time for me to learn, but you can freehand sharpen bit larger than 1/8″ with good results. When drilling stainless a sharp bit is mandatory. If you see the bit is not cutting stop immediately and change out bits or sharpen. I use cutting oil, the sulphated kind, when machining stainless, I’d say it was mandatory to use cutting oil unless your only going through thin stock and then heading right over to the TIG welder and don’t want any contaminants.

Enough of the lecture, back to the project. The holes drilled then on to tapping. Same advice for taps, buy the best you can, cheaper taps work ok in soft metal, but in stainless and the like you need the best quality.


Poor pic of tap starting in hole.


Then i held the parts in the vice and wailed on them with hammer to make a slight bend.


The threaded stainless tabs connect the new plate to the existing propshaft plate. I had to make the holes in both plates elongated to give me wiggle room to get things in place. And remember the new plate is curved and needed a bit of persuasion to get in place. I snapped this pic tonight, in the dark. The vertical part of the plate has not been fixed to the frame rail, it needs to be pushed up about an inch. but believe it or not, as is, it is quite secure and stiff.



I’ll get better pics tomorrow when i fix the outboard side to the frame rail.





Vanagon – wow! a coil cooler

File this under “D” for daft.

Once, after driving the van for a while on one of our summer trips, I had occasion (don’t ask) to feel the ignition coil. Crikey it was hot. Do coils normally run as hot as the dickens? Oh this can’t be good, something has to be done. Some action needs to be taken.

The result of this feverish worry.


Yeah, I agree, get a life 🙂



Vanagon – iPad mount – MkII

At the end of my last post, the beginnings of a trailer hitch, I showed 2 pics of my iPad Mini mounted on the dash. It was a start, a Mk I if you like, to see if I liked the position. I used some found coaxial wire, about 0.6″ diameter, aluminum wire core, polyethylene, aluminum sheath then vinyl cover. Or something like that, the point is the stuff bends and holds. It doesn’t bend back and forth forever though. Anyhoo, that and a swivel mount I made (aluminum and teflon on the moving parts), some plumbing fittings, and a pretty crudely made plate on the ashtray hole.

I did try mounting to the inside of the ashtray, and I managed to do it. But the ashtray wouldn’t stay in place with all the weight and I broke the damn thing trying to solve that problem.

I didn’t like the high position of this mount so back to the bench. More bits of scrap aluminum, some 0.5″ stainless tubing, and further dicking around ended up with something that looks more surgical than automotive. Man, I need some sense.


The swivel mount has some Velcro on it. I’m using that to connect to the Otterbox Defender case (the cover part that doubles as a back and a stand). Velcro is not great for this, but was all I could come up with for now.


Crude tabs to hook into dash. USB extension cable for connection to stereo head unit.


I made the arm a bit too long, I’ll trim it back. I like this position better and yes, you can still shift gears.


Swivels to landscape.


I agree, it is a bit clunky. And what to do with the cable? I don’t want to run it inside the tubing. Maybe I can figure something out to make it less untidy looking.


vanagon – bumper build – starting the hitch

I’ll blame good friend Simon for the recent dearth of posts, you might understand why at the end of this post. The bumper is pretty well roughed out and before I can finish the aluminum I need to make a trailer hitch to fit behind. I do have one of those tow loop mounted hitches but I want something stronger.

So the idea is a receiver style hitch with a crossmember behind the bumper welded to the stock bumper mounts (which I will modify and extend further I the frame rails), and the receiver part of the hitch coming through the lower part of the bumper. I’m not being very clear, sorry, it all make sense as I post my progress.

And what progress have I made? I’m going to pad out the little work I have done.

Well, here is my existing hitch and the bits for the 2″ receiver.



I cut the bits off.



I want to have this bar sit as close to the inside rear face of the bumper as possible, To do that I need to make a couple of bends. Pretty sloppy work cutting “V” notches to make a 7 degree bend, I could have done better. Oh I did cut the tube in half before I did the notches.


Up it bends, leaving a big gap, grrr.


Get the idea of what I am aiming for?


It might come as a surprise that I can’t stick weld very well. The MIG welder is set up for aluminum and stainless and very likely will never see steel. So until my welding teacher comes by to give me some stick welding pointers I TIG tacked the bends and other parts onto the tube. I used some rod to help me jump the gap with my tacks.


All tacked up and ready to start trial fitting to van and new bumper. Oh, btw, I will add some reinforcing plates between the receiver and the main tube.


So why is Simon partly responsible for me not posting more often? He gave me an Ipad mini. Yup, what a guy. I’ve been playing with navigation/map apps and I think I might post some stuff on that. Also started mocking up a mount to install it in the van. It’s a start, by no mean the final thing, but gives me some ideas.

Thanks again M&S.





Vanagon – bumper build – other end cap done

Update: I weighed the bumper as you see it below, it’s 9.2 kg (20.3 lbs). For comparison, the stock chromed steel bumper, minus plastic end caps, weighs in at a svelte 5.6 kg (12.3 lbs)

A little progress made on this project. Made up a more or less matching end cap and also did some preliminary grinding out of the welds. What a chore this way of making a bumper this is.  You understand don’t you, that this is me making it up as I go along, modelling (I can hardly say sculpting can I?) a bumper out of aluminum plate. Once I get a shape that I like and that works then I can take measurements and think about how you could make one easier and faster.




Vanagon – bumper build – fixing the endcap connection

I really didn’t think through the bumper to endcap transition did I? Here is what my doodling around resulted in.



I have to be clear and say again that I’m winging it. I’m doing in aluminum what I should be doing in cardboard or thin plywood. So to fix the blunder, I cut the endcap up a bit, angled the bottom plate to match the bumper bottom plate, added another filler piece then welded it up and roughly smoothed things over. It is a lot better now, this might be the one to keep.


I didn’t take too much time grinding the welds, but enough to get the idea of how I want the corners to look.






Both bottom plates, bumper and endcap, meet up a bit better. I’d like to radius or smooth out the inside corner also.





Next thing to do is to double check fit on van, smooth out some wavy edges and corners, then make a matching (ha!) endcap for the other side.



Vanagon – bumper build – end cap attempt

Didn’t get much done today, just worked on one end cap. I had thought about making a mock-up from door skin or cardboard but instead I went ahead mocking up with aluminum (1/4″ for top and bottom, 3/16″ for the face plate).

The 3/16″ face plate (vertical plate) was from a bit of scrap that was curved, large radius. I cut some 1/4″ plate for top and bottom and tacked them on. Then clamped the affair to the bumper.


It’s a trick transition, and you will see later that I still haven’t figured it out. I cut a bit of 1/4″ to fill the hole.


I couldn’t resist rough grinding a radius on the welds.


Another view.


Side view.


The corner filler bit is obvious in this pic.


I’m quite there yet, am I?


“if you can jump it,  I can weld it”… ha!


I tacked the end cap to the bumper so that I could remove the clamp and took the bumper out to the van to see how it fit. Up until this point I was only guessing the dimensions of the end cap – I wanted it to end up about an inch behind my mudflaps and about 1/4″ from the body. Turned out I had to thin the endcap down a bit, was hitting the body.

So it was “MIller time!”!  One tool that gets a lot of respect and care in use. Nasty bit of work but cuts the aluminum nicely. What’s with the rust on the blade? Must have got splashed with water, and we don’t put any oil or the like on tools that will be touching aluminum or stainless for fear of weld contamination.


Slimming things down.


I think it looks nicer than the first version.



And it fits to the van like I want it to.


I will have to zip cut the front of the endcap and re-form it to make the transition to the lower plate of the bumper. But I’m liking how things are going.


Vanagon – muffler update

I got the final end cap welded on today, not the neatest tig weld due to my poor cutting of that end of the can. No filler was used in the weld, just flowing the parent material. I gave the muffler a quick once over with a cup wire brush on the angle grinder. I think this is as far as I am going with the finish, I don’t see myself holding the thing up to the buffing wheel for a couple of hours.

The pics show the muffler sitting on some aluminum off cuts ( I have access to a lot of interesting shapes in various thicknesses of aluminum, remnants from water jet cutting of work parts). These scrap bits had curves to match the radius of the muffler. The scrap is clamped to a spare engine mount casting so I can see how I need to move things and what metal to remove. I’m leaning towards the aluminum supports (yes David, there will be electrolysis where the ss and Al touch:)) with some T-bolt ss straps holding the muffler tight.





Vanagon – making a muffler

As if I don’t have other things to do, I’m making a muffler for the van. I’ve had the idea for years so why not give it a go eh? Scrounged materials used:

– perforated stainless tubing for the straight through internal pipe, 2.25″ diameter, wall thickness about 3/32″

– a section of 6″ diameter stainless tubing for can, again about 3/32″ wall.

– 2″ diameter stainless tubing for in and out pipes, 3/32″ wall.

– some stainless sheet for end caps, a hair under 3/32″ thick this time.

– stainless swarf from some big ass lathe for internal packing.

I made a start yesterday, got good buddy Dave to do the TIG work, hope to have it finished in the next couple of days.






More stage weapons

Been busy with work and other things, most of it not blog-worthy. I did however, make a couple of stage props for local production, “Pan”. Rough and ready stuff to be sure.



Van Dorn drill

Still works and able to break your wrist or whip you off the stepladder 🙂 Single speed, brass trigger with very positive on/off action.

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Greenlee punches

An old set with a nice leather case.

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Incredible model making

B. Perkins makes an 1/3 scale model of Mercedes W 165. It really is worth a good long look.

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