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  • Misc. Mechanical & Metal Fabrication

    Misc. Mechanical & Metal Fabrication

    Hello, Loren here. Car guy, metal fabricator also (sometimes work, sometimes hobby). Along back in these pages exists a thread of a project of mine. And, another. Also maybe two more? They don't get attention for long stretches, usually set aside for something else although small bits of progress plod on...

    Rather than go back and bring those up separate, I'm gonna start just posting things on one thread and the theme shall not be this car or that project but rather car-related work in general and the only continuity will be how time goes on. The work in the post may be anything more-or-less car related...if it's not an actual vehicle, the techniques or ideas could still apply. Are you with me? If so, welcome to the MM&MF thread and if you have anything pertinent to post in here yourself, like how you made one thing into something else with a hammer one day and it's too minor to start your own thing about it, have at it. I won't regard this as my thread only.

    So with that intro, I'm going to start with something that's not a car but I couldn't do much mechanical work without it. We've spoken about work benches around here...who has, who doesn't, how much effort is appropriate to put into such an item. I myself couldn't get by without a good one.


    The Workbench, Part I

    I may have been around age ten (making it 1970) when I wandered into Dad's workshop after dinner to find him with a hammer and saw breaking up the old table against the wall he had been building odd things out of wood, metal and wires on for all my years. Destruction! Wow, can I help? No, I'll get hurt. Can I watch? Not 'til after the nails and splinters stop flying. He hauled out the debris through the smallish door, swept the place up then started cutting and bolting-up 2x4's and 4x4's and plywood to make it all over again; a brand-new work bench, not just a table, this time bigger and heavier with drawers and everything. Measure, cut, pound, fasten...the last thing he did was squirt a few giant random lines of white glue over the plywood top in preparation for laying a final sheet of 1/8" Masonite, hardened-one-side, down on top. Man, I really wanted to be the guy with the Elmer's, I'd never been able to handle a bottle of glue like that without getting into trouble. He did let me squirt a circle as I recall, then it was covered forever with surface material and tacked down with about a hundred tiny finishing nails.

    He capped it all off with some brackets to hold pliers etc. and a small stainless-steel front panel made at his work, for testing power presence and continuity on 110v electrical devices. I thought that really looked neat.

    For years he built and repaired things on that bench. He riveted together box-shape hiking backpacks for our yearly fishing outings that looked like they belonged on spacesuits. Fixed the Mix-Master, listening to ball games on the radio. When moving day came in the mid-'70's from the big house he'd built with Mom (didn't borrow a cent) to a small rental so as to use the money elsewhere, that workbench would not fit out the door so he took a circular saw and cut it into sections half-way up to move out. When it got to where it was going, he patched it back together with aluminum plates and some new plywood.

    After perhaps five years it moved again, this time in one piece to a property he was improving on so as to sell for retirement money. As that project progressed he made new built-in workbenches at that location, and ten years after it was built the old one became mine.

    I moved it in a tiny box trailer from there in Sunland/Tujunga CA for use in an industrial unit a buddy and I were renting in Glendale, then as time went by to a rented garage across the San Fernando Valley. A couple years later back the other way to storage in Burbank, then to a small home shop I had after moving to San Diego. In 1995 it was needed for business where it served another 15 years. When the time came that I'd had enough of that it finally came home again, now to a 1200 sq. ft. garage built by myself and Dad back in 2002 when he was 80.



    Here it is; that workbench through all it's use and moves had become a little worse-for-the-wear. Earlier in the summer when I had brought in a punching machine I wanted which had a very particular footprint that needed to be accommodated, my old task buddy was finally facing the one thing that would bring it's end after it's 45 years...it didn't fit now! It was finally time for something new, maybe a little tougher and nicer-looking, and designed for the space.

    It was kinda sad to have to haul my old companion (and the product of Dad's handiwork) outside to give it the chopping up it's own predecessor'd had suffered long ago. I remembered about that glue he had squirted under the Masonite in 1970 and peeled the deteriorated material away to put it in the light again nearly half-a-century later.



    You can see about how tough this thing was built...plenty of wood in there, and lag screws not just nails.



    I hafta say I was getting a little sentimental at this point. Really, with a little work it could have been repaired but still I needed a new one and I didn't know anyone who could use this. Why not try to take a few of the things that could still be used and transfer them on? It would give the replacement some of the spirit of the first, and I think I could live with that. So the drawers were set aside to not go to the firewood pile, and the small stainless panel with the electrical tester was removed and saved.

    Last edited by Loren; September 20, 2016, 09:22 AM.
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  • #2
    The Workbench, Part II

    In the garage: I placed all the equipment/machinery that had to fit into what seemed like the best position and got out my tape measure and paper to plot out what odd space was left available. Eventually I had a basic layout and sketch for a new unit made primarily from steel, this was taken into the office and re-imagined/sketched with more detail on my 1990 drafting machine (another old task buddy). Once the structural members were in place on paper, I colored them in according to what material they might best be, trying to minimize different sizes and economize according to supplied lengths, then added it all up for order.



    I already had a little 2x3x.12 wall steel that needed to be used for something, then for exchange of a few dollars the local steel supply loaded me up with the rest and I brought it all home.




    Final, exact measurements were not figured 'til when they were actually needed. Bandsaw, cut-off wheels, Mig. I've never had a Mig welder until recently but for some things it is sure the way to fly. Corners were squared-up and securely welded. That little bit of rust on the old material won't hurt, but if it had been much worse I'd have needed to grind things clean. My old carpenter's square has also spent a few nights outside and shows it.



    It took about a day-and-a-half to get it framed up this far, the fun fast part. Work after this would go slower. You can see the equipment and other table, around which it had to fit. The raised platform at left clears a moving portion of the punching machine (facing the other way) and will have a toolbox on the nearside and a punch cabinet looking out the other direction behind it...all makes for an "island" layout in the middle of the room.




    I took those old drawers out from the other workbench, patched them up and cut them down, and inserted into the new frame. Because of the angular shape of the bench some of them got cut pretty far, but enough remained to be useful.



    At this point I needed a break from the workbench project to actually use it. Drawers were loaded up and top material set down, and finishing/paint would have to wait. The project here is a 316 stainless-jacketed keel for our small sailboat, the shop dog is Lucy.




    After buying enough wood to make new drawer faces, I changed my mind and decided to bend up stronger ones in 16ga steel instead. The wood went to the stock shelf for something else later.



    Then finally to completion. I picked a medium shade of blue for a change (I'm getting a little tired of red toolboxes) and painted the framing and a Craftsman box the same. RustOleum black was added to gray until I hit about the original shade on the toolbox drawers and brush-painted the shelves and bench drawers with that. Shelving rather than cabinets means I can throw pliers and screwdrivers etc. where they go without having to open a door, and there is enough space to keep all the crap off the table top. 15 amp outlets are at each side where they should add convenience, and a switchable power strip above the table is for chargers, etc. Dad's old stainless test panel is beneath that, it still needs new guts to replace the corroded old ones. Table is made from 3/4" plywood bolted down with carriage bolts, then another sheet of 3/4" MDF on top of that with drywall screws can be easily replaced if/when damaged. The vise is a good one, securely bolted to the steel frame. As a finishing touch, my old light-blue wooden drawer/table set on the left was repainted with medium gray and the re-mixed dark gray to match a little better. A paper-towel dispenser for two types goes on the right, then the drill press table and wastebasket are off to the side.



    If ever this had to be moved to a more standard shop layout, the rear punch cabinet shelf could be cut away and this would fit well into a corner or along a wall, but for now it's perfect for the present deal which hopefully will go on for some years forward. -Loren

    Last edited by Loren; September 20, 2016, 09:18 AM.
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    • #3
      organized tools, clean floor, painted benches.... my goodness, the bar has been set rather high. It does look good
      Doing it all wrong since 1966

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      • #4
        Compliments from MP&C, Stiney, and SBG...all high-grade stuff, appreciated. Shall never forget that the first half-dozen cars (including a couple nice ones) were built on a dirt lot. Edit: Add Barry, Bob, hauen...hope to keep this interesting.
        Last edited by Loren; September 21, 2016, 10:02 AM.
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        • #5
          I still remember swapping a rear end of a Chevy truck on a dirt floor - then moving the truck outside to finish the dirt because it was cleaner.
          Doing it all wrong since 1966

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          • #6
            Wow! Absolutely beautiful!
            Big big change from the "before" pic you sent me of the camper dolly!
            Love the blue!

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            • #7
              Looks great! Evidently this is the season for prettying up one's shop - I just did a major buff-up at my shop, too. But yours looks better!

              Dan

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              • #8
                Yeah I'd seen that, Dan. Ya gotta catch up with things once-in-a-while...

                The camper dolly Bob mentioned got built at the beginning of Sept. when I dragged home a Craigslist camper for the pickup truck, so we can haul trailer/car-Jeep-boat to wherever this fall/winter and have a place to crash overnight. I should'a probably just screwed together something out of wood 4x4s for it to sit it on when not in use but was looking at this pile of steel left over from other stuff, which I was having to step over all the time, and I had axles left over from chopping up Gail's old horse trailer which were too narrow for most uses. WTH, why not make something roll-able, and use up what I could of that rusting material.

                The steerable front wheel mounts on a Chevy hub I had laying around, bored out for a tube to press in which fits over another tube for an axle which can slide out for tire change. The neck is about the same deal. There are tabs to hook a yoke onto to move it with a small tractor, there is no caster. It's stable enough that I don't have to worry about it, but set in place I can always drop the corner jacks to make it more solid. It still needs a good sandblast or acid scrub and paint, and some planks on top although a couple sheets of old plywood work for now. I may extend the sides out further, so that things like LPG tanks and the EZ-up can store there just out of the rain drench. Next time I have it clear I'll finish it the rest of the way.



                The camper needs a bit of cleaning and re-seal, and is missing that one panel which I'll either watch for one or make. It's pretty clean inside, not one of those icky mouse-pee deals. (We learned that lesson a long time ago, taking a free camping trailer that "just needed some clean-up", eventually giving it back in disgust after many hours of effort.) With old RV's there's enough old stuff out there that has been taken care of to not have to bother with things that haven't.

                Looking at this picture...causes me to ponder...there's gotta be a way to put a motor on this thing and just putt around the desert like that...

                Attached Files
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Loren View Post
                  ...there's gotta be a way to put a motor on this thing and just putt around the desert like that...
                  That would be a hit at the next burning man.

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                  • #10
                    I don't see much of the campers anymore.
                    last week, spotted a 96-98 K2500 swaying back and forth with one on the highway, below speed limit.

                    I then remembered how many decades went by with no real trucks...
                    A 1974 f100 would have stood stronger.

                    I have not stopped in the metals either. Currently doing a full 304 header for the subaru...
                    this past year was saving my 1996.
                    the gmc is its version of a brick..and still only good for 1000 in the back, and 5000 towing.

                    impressive is those motorhomes. Maine sees a lot of those..hauling fullsize cars in the back.
                    I guessed it was the pickup sized diesels finding their way around (those have been nice for 20 years now)

                    anyway...
                    steel does a lot of good.
                    Last edited by Barry Donovan; September 21, 2016, 02:01 PM.
                    Previously boxer3main
                    the death rate and fairy tales cannot kill the nature left behind.

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                    • #11
                      Power plant....nudge nudge, wink wink

                      https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=GnMj6R9I8jk

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                      • #12
                        I like this thread idea Loren. Really cool, follow along on the daily projects that make up the days of a mechanically inclined life.

                        Need clarity though. Are you thinking more along the lines of each of us having a thread of said content, or should we all dog-pile in here with our various smallish misadventures project-wise?

                        Of all the paths you take in life - make sure a few of them are dirt.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by STINEY View Post
                          I like this thread idea Loren. Really cool, follow along on the daily projects that make up the days of a mechanically inclined life.

                          Need clarity though. Are you thinking more along the lines of each of us having a thread of said content, or should we all dog-pile in here with our various smallish misadventures project-wise?

                          Mmmm...once-in-a-while you'll be in the middle of some guy's thread and there'll be this totally-random-seeming single post from somebody else describing his own deal which seems to have nothing to do with the thread subject , and then 'cause it's not quite fitting in it doesn't get noticed or commented on although it does have merit. I'm saying, I'd like to see such things here if it had to do with making stuff and if somebody wanted to post them without starting their own thread which may get lost ten pages back within weeks. . I think there's a few guys around who build neat stuff (either very simple or more complex) that we never see and would encourage folks to share a pic here if they had a moment . If it got totally taken over by such things, fine...or if it didn't, also fine, I'll try to keep it stocked periodically in any event.

                          So, I guess the answer is, "dog-pile in here with the various smallish misadventures project-wise", or at-least I would encourage that. And again if it's a full-on running project such as SBG's epic stuff it would deserve it's own thread.

                          It could be questioned as to if this should be in Tech rather than Projects. I started it here because it's where my own projects will go instead of having them drift the ten pages back (or in my case more) because I didn't think whatever progress I made on whatever individual vehicle was worth noting.


                          ​-------------

                          Random picture of sorta-complex (to make) device held in fingers to take running measurement of flatness on big circular snap rings that go in turbine engines, as they are formed. The indicator is an off-the-shelf ten-thousanth's type and helps you find small "bumps". I made this for work (on my own dime) but nobody but me would use it so I took it with me when I left.

                          Last edited by Loren; September 23, 2016, 09:27 AM.
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                          • #14
                            I consider those commercial breaks
                            Doing it all wrong since 1966

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                            • #15
                              I think your snap ring jig (I think that's the proper word there) is brilliant. At EPA there was a lot of "NIH" (not invented here, or by the person speaking) so it wasn't worthwhile. I tried to suck up all those goodies and gizmos and techniques I could - I ain't proud.

                              I'm willing to post my own misc. crap but if something seems to fit here I'll post it.

                              Hi to Gail - I miss her!

                              Dan

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