Thursday, June 25, 2015

It's not that I didn't like my first one, I just couldn't resist her hot older sister.

(Oh man, that title is going to get me in trouble for quite a few reasons.)

I know I've still got way to much to do on Ginny before I get her back on the road, but I couldn't pass on this 1977 XLH. The previous owner parted with her at a very favorable price so into the truck she went.

My initial intent was to swap the better parts over to Ginny and then sell the rest. It's got quite a few parts I needed and had already planned to buy in the near future:

  • New bearings in the neck and wheels.
  • Wire wheels to replace my current mags.
  • Blacked out fork sliders.
  • And a newly rebuilt engine to use while I rebuild Ginny's properly.

Though, the more I look at it, the parts on the '77 are pretty nice. I might go the other direction and use parts from Ginny to rebuild her. No, no... I'm sorry dear, I didn't mean it!! You're still my favorite!

I still need to go through it a bit better to see exactly what I got but I'm pleased with what I've seen so far. I think it was a really good purchase and, as you know, I can't pass up a nicely painted oil tank.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

And that's how I struck out with 20+ naked chicks in one day....

So I was browsing my favorite store over lunch and happened upon this bag o' Barbies. 

Of course it caught my sick and twisted attention and I had to take picture. I did, however, manage to talk myself out of buying them. Though at $6.99 it was quite a deal! There were even a couple of Ken dolls in there, if you're into that sort of thing.

If I was more artistic, I could see making some sort of piece using them (as disturbing as it may be). But I just couldn't think of anything in particular, so I had to pass.

I did mention it to a friend though who reminded me of several people I know who own art and/or photography studios. They definitely would've used them for something creative and/or cool. Maybe a background for a shoot or something like that. 

So, since I was still in the neighborhood, I headed back to the store. Though it was only a couple hours later, my chance at a ménages à vingtaine had past. Someone else had taken them home.

My friend has requested that if I ever see an opportunity like this to buy them immediately. So, if you see me out at one of the local GW stores, I'm the creepy guy buying up all the stainless steel canisters and naked Barbies.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

East Side Classic 2015

Earlier today my buddy Mike and I headed out to the East Side Classic held at the Yellow Jacket Social Club. Despite the weather being a bit ominous and the parking lot (i.e. show grounds) covered with standing water, there was a pretty decent turnout for the event.

I ran into several people I knew from swap meets, PMR, and the Harvest Classic. As always, it was fun to hang out, have a few drinks, and look at bikes.

Mike is the professional photographer so I won't waste much bandwidth with my pics here, but below are a few that caught my eye. Check out Mike's site (link) for a much better a much better gallery.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Trying a few new things.

Once I got the crucible cleaned up last night, I had just enough time to try and get a pour in. Actually, I didn't have time, but who needs sleep anyway.

There were a couple of existing problems with my casting process that I wanted to address so I grabbed my go-to test patterns: the OF keychains. 

The first issue I to look at was the separation I keep getting between the layer of fresh versus used Petrobond. If I didn't mention it before, I use new/fresh PB against the patterns with the belief it will help me get a better mold face. I then back that up with used PB just because I can't afford to use all fresh for a mold. One of these days I need to figure out how to reclaim and refresh this stuff.

To try and fix the separation between the new and old, first, I rammed the new layer of PB into the flask. Then, using a pointy wire, I scratched up the back surface of the PB to make a sub-layer of loose PB for the older stuff to mix with.

Yeah, that didn't work for shit. As soon as I flipped the drag, most of one corner flaked off and fell on the table.

Not a total loss so, I kept going.... I'd also been having problems with sections around the parting line in the cope falling off and becoming a part of the drag. I've since learned (thanks to the great info on the Kansas Brass Foundry website) that it is usually an indicator that the parting line isn't quite at the right spot. That is certainly the case most of the time with the bear, but these keychains are so thin, I think it's that I'm overdoing it.

For this round, I was very meticulous about getting them as close to halfway as possible and also very, very even and level. The result was a nice set of clean parting lines in the cope half of the mold.

One final issue I wanted to investigate was the little imperfections I keep getting in the faces of my castings. I'm reasonably sure that it's the result of loose sand (and not parting dust) in the mold faces. Previously, I only removed the major chunks that broke loose but tried to leave the rest of molded surface alone. This time, though, I tried to be very thorough cleaning any loose sand that was in the mold faces. I did this with a soda straw and gently blew the dust out.

In some cases, I wasn't quite so gentle and ended up blowing part of the pattern away. (Look at the Jar pattern in the bottom middle.) In other cases, I wasn't as thorough as I thought. (See the nugget near the bottom of the top left OF pattern? I didn't.)

With molds made and the furnace to temp, it was time to pour. I forgot to mention, this was the first attempt with my new, larger flasks I made during 1.2. What better way to break in a new flask? Over pour it and let metal squirt out to set it on fire! (Sorry, this was after I blew the flames out. I thought about getting a picture while it was ablaze but I decided I didn't want to destroy the thing during it's maiden voyage.)

Once things had cooled down, it was time to inspect the results of the changes.

First things first, I have no fucking clue where the third Jar pattern went. I think I didn't dig the gate to it well enough so no aluminum ever flowed in.

As for the patterns that did take, the surface finish was greatly improved but still not to the level I would like. So I'm on the right path, I think, just not there yet. Also, did you see the nugget in the top left pattern? I did, this time.

And one final thing, I didn't weigh down the flask... AGAIN. I didn't think I needed it since it was so large compared to the volume of the actual patterns. WRONG! I need to make that a mandatory step every time regardless of the pattern. The extra flashing isn't a huge deal, I can clean it up, but it would be nice to not have to. 

Anyway, still nothing I'm ready to show off to everyone as a finished product but... we're getting there, one mistake at a time.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My new work bench.

I knew I was pushing my luck. Mrs. IE generally has a high level of tolerance towards my projects, (I'm lucky, I know) but I've been kicked out of the house. Not totally, at least yet, but my mold making operation has been banned indoors.

Most of the pics you see with the dark counter top happens to be in our kitchen. I like working there. It's at a perfect height, the granite is solid, and is an ideal working surface.

I was being very careful and quite meticulous cleaning up after myself. However, the last time I neglected to wipe down the small bar shelf above the counter top. It didn't look bad but you could move anything that was in position at the time and see how much of a mess the molding sand and parting dust was really making.

Mrs. IE did that... and showed me... and, alas, I'm relocating.

For now, here's my temporary work bench. I took the opportunity to buy an outdoor storage cabinet (seen to the right in the pic). That'll be nice so that I don't have to move everything from the garage (on the other side of the house) to the backyard when I want to work.

I plan to build something a bit more sturdy (and elsewhere in the yard) once I collect the appropriate scrap. The folding table was usable but not ideal. The green patio chair was nice to sit in while I worked. The blue chair... just happened to be there. I typically don't have company while I work. 

You can also see one of my many Chaste trees in the background. While I hate constantly trimming them, they provide good visual cover as well as a bit of sound abatement from nosy neighbors. 

They'll also provide sturdy support for my hammock once Mrs. IE bans the rest of my shenanigans (and myself) indoors. };-)

Destroyed another crucible: the aftermath.

As I mentioned previously, I've bought a proper crucible. I'm still saving it though (yes, stupid) until I get my melting and furnace skills down. Instead, I continue to use stainless steel canisters from "my favorite store". Quick aside, if you are wanting to buy but can't find any SS canisters at any Goodwill stores in the Austin area, my bad.

Last week I was melting some junk aluminum (i.e. Lone Star cans) to replenish my stock. As happens when melting trash aluminum like that, it got to the point to where the crucible had a huge head of dross. This time though there wasn't as much pourable aluminum as I expected. 

I pulled the crucible and, sure enough, I blew a hole in another one! I noticed a small glowing bit of aluminum in the bottom of my furnace. No biggie, I thought, I'll shut everything down, let it cool, and scoop it out next time.

Well, mistake number eleventy billion, it wasn't just a bit! When I went to fire up the furnace for tonight's mayhem, I couldn't even see the burner inlet! I'd melted enough aluminum that, once it solidified, it was at the top of the pipe. 

That explains why I was going through so many cans but not getting any aluminum. They were "disappearing" faster than I could drink them. Actually, that last sentence explains why it got so bad before I noticed. (Yeah, well, don't judge. You are reading this blog and presumably saw the URL/title after all. Therefore you should expect this kind of nonsense.)

So, before getting down to any melting tonight, I had the chore of removing my custom aluminum furnace liner. My first thought was to fire it up, let it melt, and then scoop but there was way too much aluminum for that. Plus, when it solidified, it ran back up the pipe so that was mostly plugged.

Chiseling wouldn't work because it was way to thick and, even if it wasn't, I'd most likely destroy the refractory lining. Instead, I started off with an angle grinder to try and cut it in to pieces but that was quite unwieldy. 

Then I switched to the power drill. I killed a few cheap drill bits trying to drill around the burner pipe but I eventually (2 hours later!) got the chunk of aluminum out.

The remaining bit of aluminum in the pipe was small enough that I could heat it up, courtesy of the burner itself, and use a hammer and punch to drive it out.

Finally, now it's time to get some real melting done. (With special attention paid to the crucible, of course.)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

I still hold a large amount of dislike for you, bear.

As with any relationship, problems aren't just one of the party's fault. You both have to be willing to compromise and make changes. Either that or you must decide to give up and go your separate ways.

I'm not ready to give up on the bear just yet. I took a little "me" time to reflect following our last encounter. Time to think about what I could be doing that is contributing negatively to our relationship. When I came out of this time of reflection, I felt better prepared to face "our" problems.

<shudder> That got a little to real for a moment. I feel like I've had that conversation way to many times before.

Anyway, I did come up with two things that I could change or do better.  The first thing was I gave up on trying to draw the bear with the inner portion made as part of the drag. Instead, I decided to make a "core" for inner portion separately.

I say "core" in quotations because I wasn't making it like you would a proper core which would be from a separate, baked material. I had actually this before with several different recipes and had about as much success as I did with my greesand, that is: none. I think that's overkill for this project anyway but it is something I will certainly come back to on a project when required.

For this pattern I felt I could just mold one out of the Petrobond and dump it out like you would a sand castle. I used and excessive amount of parting dust, crammed it full of PB, and the first one came out quite nice.

The only issue I had was with its legs which tended to break at the narrow portion when demolding. I've noticed this tendency before with this pattern so for the second attempt, I decided to try to reinforce the area lengthwise. A popsicle stick broken in half seemed to be almost the perfect length to make him some internal splints.

The problem, I discovered, was that they interfered with the ability to compact the surrounding area sufficiently. This led to the legs deteriorating even worse when dumped because it would crumble rather than be a clean break. So, in the end, I made it the same way as the first (i.e. without sticks).

I figured two cores were sufficient. I only plan to make one actual mold since I don't have that much available PB. So just having one and a backup would do. With that done, it was time to enact my second change. 

Previously, I'd been digging away half the depth of the pattern to get to the parting line. I realized that is silly. I decided to just adjust the pattern depth by placing some spacer boards around it when I go to ram the first flask.

Of course, the boards didn't match the contour of the pattern so a small rectangle of sand was left around. This was much easier to dig out though than the way I was doing it before.

One additional change I had to do (as a result of the pattern being offset) was now I needed to dig the runners in the cope instead of the drag. This meant I had to completely flip the cope over whereas I usually just set it on it's edge.

Everything was going relatively smoothly until I had almost flipped it over and... my hand slipped. Too much parting dust (yeah, that's it). It of course landed against the drag jostling both patterns a fair amount and creating a small fracture line where the fresh Petrobond is backed by used PB. It didn't appear too bad so I decided to keep going. I tried to repack the areas that were obviously damaged as best I could. I dug the runners and I thought I was out of the woods.

I set the bear back over the core to be able to handle it and placed him back in the drag. This went surprisingly well and it wasn't until I went to lift the cope and turn it over... (no I didn't drop it again!) I realized how bad the damage from before was. Most of the surface where the old and new PB mated sloughed off onto the counter.

At this point, I'd already been at this for almost four hours. Well, I had be doing other things along with this but either way, it was too late to make another pattern so I decided to keep going with what I had. I figure that the inside of the pattern would be okay and about half the outside pattern would come out intact. I could use that as a guide to clean the rest of the casting on the band saw and sander. It'd be like cutting off and cleaning where the sprue would normally be just much, much wider.

Since there was much more to cast now, I definitely knew I need more aluminum than I had available. Time to start collecting (i.e. emptying) fresh scrap and getting it melted. Here's some now warming by the furnace before being immersed.

The more I thought about it and melted scrap, the more concerned I was getting that the pour would be short. My crucible was about as full as I felt I could safely get it with aluminum, I just had to hope it was enough. It wasn't. 

Since I already have a "short bear", I'll call this guy "inside-out bear" because the areas where I actually wanted aluminum are bare and vice-versa.

Despite this being yet another failure, there is a glimmer of hope here (albeit slight). The parts of the cast that came out actually do look like I intended. Making the "core" for the inside as a separate piece is definitely the way to go. Offsetting the pattern, not so much. Well, it wasn't the offsetting part, it was that I had to dig the runners in the cope instead of the drag that I didn't like. I will have to rethink that approach but at least I did learn a few new things in this approach.

In fact, I think I'm going to withdraw my earlier statement calling this a failure. I didn't fail, I just discovered a
new way not to do something.

Friday, June 12, 2015

If you are keeping score...

In my recent attempts at molding and casting the Old Filthy MF and Jar patterns, there are currently four of each that I wouldn't be absolutely embarrassed to show other people. Here they are partially cleaned up on the belt sander.

These aren't absolutely terrible however I acknowledge I still have a long way to go. 

And for those who I have shown these that say they like the imperfections in the surface and that it makes them look unique and weathered: Thank you, you are very kind. You are lying but thank you, you're very kind.

Just enough time to burn one before work....

I woke up around 7AM this morning, waaaay before my alarm was set to go off. But my mind was already racing thinking about the day ahead.  It was still 2 to 3 hours before I had to be at work so I decided to see if I could get some molds made up and a pour done in that time.

There are still two patterns I want to cast before I'll consider this initial adventure in casting a success. One is the Jar key chain patterns that I'm determined to make work.  The other, of course, is the bear. But fuck that bear, I don't feel like dealing with him this early in the morning! So jar it is. (Start time 7:15 AM)

Got the patterns in the drag and the parting line established. I used a liberal amount of parting dust this time. Forgot pictures prior to this since the coffee hadn't kicked in and this is heroically early in the morning for me. (7:37 AM)

I used brand new Petrobond and ran it through the riddle (a.k.a. strainter) for about the first inch of sand in the cope that would contact the pattern. I did this on the side facing the drag as well. This was to ensure good contact with clean Petrobond to the pattern. The remaining space in the flask was filled with previously used Petrobond. (7:41 AM)

The flasks separated fairly evenly though I'm still getting some overlap sticking near the edges. I need to figure out why that's happening but it doesn't seem to be a deal breaker for this mold. (8:03 AM)

The gates and runners have been dug and I successfully drawn the patterns from the mold. Note the judicious use of powder, that and fresh, sifted Petrobond seems to be the key. (8:14 AM, I really need to get faster at this!)

The furnace has been going for a few minutes already and I'm preheating the aluminum from my previous failures... I mean learning experiences... which I'll be using for this pour.(8:24 AM)

The aluminum is melted and appears to be up to a good temp for pouring (1350.7 °F). (8:43 AM)

Poured the aluminum and smoked... smoked... smoked.... For future reference, the aluminum could've been just a bit hotter but it poured decent enough. (8:48 AM)

Then, jump in the shower and get ready for work (don't worry, no pics of this)... while it cools enough to bust open.

And, here you go!! (9:20 AM)

I'm very pleased with the way it came out! I still need to clean them up a bit on the sander and maybe a spit polish, but overall I'll call this a success! I'll post more pics once that's done.

So the total time to do this was a bit over two and a half hours including set up and clean up. It is a little too much work just for one flask worth of aluminum but it was cool to know I could squeeze one off before work.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

That bear is mocking me.

I asked Mrs. IE to pick up some more parting dust (a.k.a. baby powder) for me at the grocery store which, of course, she did without question. She's pretty cool like that, even though it is a bit weird for a grown man to be requesting baby powder. She's known me long enough to know that the explanation behind my requests is generally even weirder than the request, so she doesn't trouble herself to inquire any longer.

Anyway, she leaves the bottle of "industrial strength, professional grade, adhesion reducing parting dust" (again, still just baby powder) for me on the counter where I was working. And what do I see on the label!?!? 

A fucking bear! I swear, it's mocking me. It won't even face me. He's just rubbing it in my face that I'm having so much trouble making the mold for the tail light housing. I'm going to be so glad once I finally get that part cast!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Yep, still hate you bear.

Last week, you met short bear. This week, I'd like to introduce... "explodo bear". Wait, no, I don't want to use that name just yet. I have a feeling at some point there will be one that will be more appropriately named "explodo". That or "high velocity lead poisoning bear". Sorry, where was I? Oh... introducing: "destructo bear".

I'm not exactly sure what was going on tonight. I tried molding the bear several times but just wasn't having any luck. Both times the molds just crumbled apart.

The first attempt, I compacted it as throughly as I have most all other times. Yet, when I separated the halves, parts from the cope would just slough off on to the drag.

Then, although being extremely careful, when I tried to draw the pattern, he completely crumble the drag.

What was also strange was the large amount of Petrobond stuck to his sides. Yes, I used parting dust. A ton of it to be exact, I measured.

The internal portion of mold stuck, which didn't surprise me but I couldn't even get that to come out remotely intact.

On the subsequent attempt, similar results. When I went to draw the pattern, "destructo" struck again completely destroying the drag portion.

I'm at a loss. After my initial infatuation with it, this stuff has started behaving like my homemade greensand. I'm getting low on fresh Petrobond as I've been using quite a lot lately. So I'll place an order for a new batch in the morning. 

For now, fuck this shit. I'm going to bed.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Serving up some colored Jars.

After finishing up the attempt at the bear pour the other night, I wasn't quite ready for bed. (Well, technically, it was early yesterday morning. Damn, insomnia sucks. Especially if you're my neighbor.) Instead, I decided to test out the OF jar patterns to which I had applied my "festive" repairs.
Everyone laid out nice an pretty. I through in an MF pattern since there was a bit of extra space. You'll note, they're laying on spacer board I made which is on top of the lower pattern board.
With the drag rammed, I've flipped it over on top of a second spacer board and popped the flask.
This allows me to reposition the mold within the flask but still keep a nice flat parting line. It is probably overkill but the main reason I'm doing it is because I'm starting to get low on fresh Petrobond. I definitely need to figure out how to recover it.

I've shown the steps I follow to create the parting line, ramming the cope, cutting runners, etc... I haven't changed anything in those steps since last time so I won't rehash it here.
After splitting the flask, I was able to draw the patterns MUCH easier than before. I didn't have near the trouble with sand sticking in them thanks to shallower recesses and curved edges created by adding the colored epoxy filler. Only one of them was trashed but that was because the pattern appears to have shifted at some point while making the mold. Most likely it was when I was digging down to the parting line and it definitely was before ramming the cope as you can see two distinct impressions in the Petrobond.
Then it was time to fire up the furnace again which was still warm from the short bear pour a little over an hour ago. It got up to temp really quickly and was running nice and hot. How hot? Well, hot enough to do this to my steel thermocouple and set a new high temperature record for my furnace (1532 °F)!
A quick swig for good luck! Hey, I didn't do that for the short bear poor, maybe that's why it went wrong. Yeah, that's it... not my complete lack of skills or knowledge in casting.
And... splooge! No, not making knuckle children. Insert whatever onomatopoeia represents the sound of molten aluminum squirting between the flasks because you A) didn't have enough Petrobond to adequately weight the cope, B) you didn't think to supplement the lack of mass with something else heavy, and C) it was 1AM and I'm pretty sure it sounded like "splooge"!
Finally, after a couple of hours to cool, I was able to pull it from the Petrobond and see how it went. The areas where the splooge (or whatever you decided to call it) squirted through turned an interesting rainbow of color. A result of out gassing from who-knows-what chemicals they use in plywood, I presume.

My take of the result: meh. I knew the one that shifted (top right) was ruined. The one on the lower left was trashed too. It looks like it may have shifted as well. The middle left and bottom right were okay-ish. I could probably clean up the rough inner areas with the Dremel but I think I'll just remelt them all except the MF which I kept for now. It was messed up a bit by the flask lifting but I think it might be fairly easy to clean up on the belt sander.