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Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by killfile, Jan 19, 2013.
I would love to learn to work ally like that.
Does anyone know of any good books about it?
Author Timothy Remus has several that are pretty good. This is the advanced one
There's also a more basic one as well as Ultimate Sheet Metal Fabrication.
I'm just getting started down this path. I don't think any book is as good as shop time beating metal. The seminars by the Gods like Evan Wilcox or Ron Covell are supposed to be really worth the time and money. Maybe someday...
I'll have to look that book over, thanks for the link.
I took Wilcox's class and he mentioned numerous times that he simply started doing it when he himself started. He didn't take a class, he just tried and tried and practiced and practiced. He then started looking, quite carefully, at all the tanks he could get his hands on. He likens this experience to the same way that classical painters learned their craft. I'll say that his class was fantastic, for a variety of reasons, but the practice and experience are far more important. I would take his class again, if given an opportunity.
Nemo, who's skills far far far outweigh mine in this respect, has taken no classes. He's simply perused the videos on Youtube and tried a lot of the techniques he has seen others use. Over the course of building the bike, and building many of the components multiple times, he was able to get a much better sense for the techniques that work well for him, which are a range of techniques from the videos he has watched. Many of them (mostly the stretcher and shrinker) are not methods I believe he'll use in the future.
I think the biggest things to consider are:
a) this is really time consuming
b) you can almost always rework the metal more.
Knowing this, you might spend a few whole days making something, but you'll be getting better from the experience and you can probably make the next one 2x or 3x faster. Smoothing out the metal with the english wheel and getting a super smooth surface really seams to be quite time consuming, and is usually the second to last phase.
If you're thinking about trying it, I suggest starting with a simple front fender. Take a long rectangle and round the two ends into a half circle each. Pound down the center with a mallet on a sand bag, and you're off to making your first piece. That's the way that both Nemo and I started doing this. You're arm will get sore, but you'll find a smile on your face as you're shaping the metal.
Thanks for the info and link.
I've been looking at buying some mallets and an English wheel to get started.
That's what I did last winter. Bought the sandbag with the mallets. Got a good deal on an offshore wheel where the dies alone were probably worth the price (and got free shipping). I used a TuckPuck for shrinking (which IMHO is as important as stretching). My next purchase is a hand shrinker from Eastwood.
The thing I really need to work on is the gas welding. I can't take the next steps up to seats then tanks without having it mastered. It's tough and I haven't spent enough time at it to get better than about half way good enough. The masters like the Tin Man and Ron Fournier make it look so easy that it's a piss-off.
BTW, great work on the CX, I can't wait for the unveiling. They're a tough bike to make look good IMO but I have a hunch yours is a winner.
Killfile, that's an amazing looking bike! I might have to come out this weekend just to see it!
I've known Nemo for a while, but haven't been to his new shop more than once or twice. I think I'll stop by this weekend. Cool to see his work on a bike.
I took Evan Wilcox's class at the Crucible last November, and loved it.
Evan uses 1100 H-14 at 0.080" thickness. He welds with oxy-hydrogen, and a Victor #2 (I think) tip on a small (J-28) mixing handle. He says that 3003 works just as well, but you can't find 3003 filler rod - only 1100. So, if you're polishing your tank, use 1100 because the welded seams will look slightly different. If you are painting the seamed parts, 3003 works just as well.
Unfortunately, you get a blank stare from the metal yards if you are trying to buy 1100 H14. He buys it from Los Angeles, even though he lives in Ukiah. It is not available in the Bay Area. The only source I found was McMaster. 3003 is much easier to find.
You can weld aluminum with oxy-hydrogen or oxy-acetelyne, but hydrogen is a bit easier. To weld aluminum, you need to visit https://www.tinmantech.com/ and buy Kent's flux. It's the best flux available, and works quite well. Evan claims it's a recipe Kent found in an old Navy repair manual. Unfortunately, the flux puts off an orange flare, and you also need to buy Kent's TM2000 blue lens to weld with - and it costs $200. With a regular 3 or 5 shade lens, all you see is a white ball.
Airgas wouldn't even talk to me about a bottle of hydrogen unless I set up a commercial account.
It's not cheap to gas weld aluminum, but it's pretty damn cool. And you get to hear from lots of people that you can't gas weld aluminum, even though all the old sportscars and every WWII airplane was made that way.
Hijack off. See you Saturday.
Not suggesting that Kent's stuff isn't the best, but Ron Fournier's works and is a lot more reasonably priced.
An alternative to using 1100 would be to use thin strips sheared from your base 3003 as filler rod.
I bought all my gear long ago, and wasn't aware that Fournier was selling his own stuff now. If his glasses work, it's a much better deal than Kent's. Thanks for the updated info. Ron also sells 1100 filler rod, which is also hard to find.
I wondered about shearing 3003, but when welding aluminum, the difference between 1/16" and 3/32" is noticeable. I wonder if it's possible to shear accurately enough?
OK, this time the hijacking is off.
One more hijack, and then we'll let it go, promise!
Is there a thread about Oakland-area welding? I want to (re)learn welding, but have no connection to the local metal scene. Steel definitely, aluminum maybe later
There's the Crucible. I always thought it must be a cool place.
DPForth- The Crucible is definitely considered Oakland area, yes. It's on the shortlist of places to check out. Thanks :)
Killfile- great meeting you tonight! That bike looks sharp as hell. We'll talk once I get my shop together a bit more.
Killfile - Nice to meet you tonight. The Aluminum body work on the CX is amazing and a work of art. I am glad to hear that its going to be his daily rider too. Oh yah - the rest of the sculptures there weren't bad either - Awesome. I could have spent more time looking at all the stuff, but the women dragged me out.
Verrrrry Inspirational ! I may go out in the garage and start pounding some metal and see what happens.
DustyRags, JimmytheHog, great to meet you both! Glad we were able to chat and hear about the things you are both up to.
Jimmy, Nemo and I were both amazed at the development of the sportster! Very interesting to compare our almost opposite methods of production, I'll definitely be checking out your thread more often, I've been following as a lurker for a while.
The bike received a lot of positive comments on Saturday night. We're trying to line up some riding shots and maybe even some footage, but before that happens I'll keep adding episodes to the build thread. Next one should happen later today...
Friends and I came by, met some ADV folks, but missed you. It looks great in person, especially with Nemo's other work in the shop. I think it's great to see him branching out a bit (and wish I had bought some of his work when it was affordable).
Are there going to be pictures forthcoming for those of us that didn't get to go to the show?
Great thread, love to see the CX, one of my fav Hondas ... looking forward to more updates ...
see you on the curb,
Awesome alu work. I wish I hava the shop and have good skill as yours to work on the bike my own,
I have tried some links you have given but haven't seen more detail about finished product. I belive it must be great CX!
Thanks for share.
Thanks for all the comments, everyone.
VietHorse, I quite like what you are doing with your CX650, so it's great to have your input here.
Episode 6 - The Return of the Cachet
It's been too long for updates, I'll try to accelerate the new few episodes so that we can reach our conclusion.
For this installment, I've got a series of shots of tank development. Almost all of this happened solely by Nemo's hands while I was AWOL, and you can see how he took a fairly rough set of panels to an extremely well refined tank in the end. While putting this together we discovered that bending one panel to seam it to the adjacent panel was best. We've since read that it's best to bend both panels and seam the center, which might be better for structural rigidity. Perhaps we'll get a chance to compare the methods on the next build.
Tank geometry looking very good here, but my god that engine below looks disgusting. At this point we are slightly worried about how that will clean up, but mostly concerned with the complex geometry for the tank
All roughly tacked up on top and siting on the bike. Looking alright so far.
Behind view of the same stage. Large base plate will be trimmed shortly
Getting it properly tacked up on the workbench. Many of the panels were fighting each other so it took two strong hands to hold them in place while the tacking was done by another pair of hands. No fingers were lost, but a slight tan was produced.
In order to maximize tank size, avoid those pesky coils, and deal with the sloping center ridge of the frame, the underside of the tank was perhaps even more complex than the topside.
Back on the bike and looking good. This was the end of my day helping out with Nemo and when I returned a few days later...
It was unbelievably smooth. No real polishing at this, just grinding down the welds and sanding everything smooth. Nemo also fashioned a pretty sweet gas cap using some of his typical 'found object' aesthetics. All in all this was much better than we expected the 'first tank' attempt would be.
I'm particularly keen on how the tank pulls in to avoid the CX jugs, and how the underside has just a slight fillet edge, which really makes the entire tank stand out as an exceptional object on it's own. It's also perfectly fitted for Nemo's knees, and scoops in to expose some of the nice elements of the frame.
At this point the tank has been checked twice for leaks and buttoned up tightly, which was no easy task with the geometries on the top and bottom of the tank.