Originally Posted by dorkpunch
So I'm going through something similar right now and would LOOOOVEEE to see pics of the actual build process. Can you give me more specific info as to what tools you are using? How thick is the aluminum and what alloy? I'm using 20g 5052, which I'm betting is a lot stiffer than what you guys are using... Also would love to know what TIG welder you're using and what you have it set to. I have no idea what I'm doing. Can you tell?
Sorry, hijack off... I just really wish there was a school around here to show me how to do this stuff! Build looks incredible so far!
Not a hijack at all. Love the form that you are going for, but I it looks like you are having difficulty bending those edges down? Might be best started with a hammer and mallet, or a slap hammer and a fixed peening edge? What does the back of the tail look like, is it open or a closed surface?
I'll need to double check this, but if memory serves, 3003 is the best aluminum to work with. It's quite soft and easily manipulated. We aren't using 3003 however, we would have loved to, but we are working with some inexpensive scraps that Nemo acquired. I believe they are from the Raygun Gothic Rocketship. A very cool project if you haven't seen it: http://www.raygungothicrocket.com
So What we have been using here, I believe is 1100. It's harder to work and annealing the metal does give it more flexibility, which we have been doing. I'll see if I can offer you any more action shots. We also aren't 100% sure of the weight gauge, as the sheets tended to vary. We used the stiffer pieces for the base, which involved less hand shaping and more bending on the break.
I'll also see if Nemo can offer up the name of his TIG machine. I'm horrible at welding, and feel that that is honestly one of the toughest parts here. Griding off a bad weld and rewelding is a huge pain, where reshaping the metal with the hammer is much more doable. I was taught to weld this up using low line pressure oxygen-hydrogen gas. I've gotten a lot of funny looks from knowledgable welders who have said there is "no such thing". It's a pretty amazing process, and I can dig up more info on this if you are interested, but I haven't a single item on this bike. Nemo is a BEAST at welding.
I've got another update ready for ya:
So it's Nemo's shop, and occasionally I show up a little early and have to wait for him. This was the case when he rolled up and snapped this picture. He'd had a long night and I was eager to get into the shop, so I beat him in by about 30 minutes and set myself to as a mobile office to get a little of my own work done before was started hammering and wrenching.
So after tossing the last tank in the rubbish, we decided to start anew, and to do so with multiple pieces, trying to keep the flat portions of each surface and turning down the edges to join. Here I am holding down 4 pieces in place that we have just finished tack welding to check. The difficulty, of course, is the flexibility of chipboard is much more that you can get with the aluminum and many of these pieces put a tremendous amount of pressure on each other. Just holding the pieces for welding was a challenge!
Side shot of the same pieces, roughly tacked up. The bottom of the tank sweeps in to avoid the cylinders, and the tank managed to keep the original lines and hard edges intermingled with the curvaceous form. So far this is looking a LOT better than the flying burrito tank.
Here's an overall shot of the bike at the end of the day. The amount of effort required to hold the pieces in place for welding made the task last a lot longer, and you can see the evening light coming in above at the top of the shop doors. We were pretty happy with this point in time, as the bike was really starting to look like something neither of has had seen before, while still echoing the functionalist elements we had hoped for.
You can also see Nemo's TIG set up on the far table. The welding torch hangs over the table with some pulleys, making life a little easier.
I also love the fact that the bicycle Nemo built is at the top of the image as well. Its made from all found objects, as are all his previous works before this motorcycle. It's also custom tailored to his frame, so you've got to be 6'+ to even been able to ride it. That pretty good theft prevention in and of itself!