Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Metal Melt

I have been obsessing about metal casting for quite a while now. The effort to date has been mostly academic, books and blogs. Most recently I have been researching iron casting.

I think the time has come to melt some metal. For the first try, I am going to go with a low cost, low effort foundry. A coffee can foundry.

I already happen to have a pair metal coffee cans in the garage. A trip to Wal-Mart will provide me with some charcoal, a stainless steel crucible (aka 'camping' coffee cup), and a stainless steel utensil for removing the dross.

I just happen to have some extruded aluminium to melt. A bucket of sand will be used for forming the first ingot. Nothing fancy.

The only issue not yet resolved is the air source. And tongs. Currently I am considering either using an air compressor or a shop vac as the air source.

Any effort toward the goal will be considered a success. Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I was just looking back at last weeks post and realized my diet progress this week [0.4 lbs] was practially nonexistent. That is OK though. I did enjoy two pieces of my birthday cookie cake and two delicious meals from Rosies. And a couple of 'thin mint' Girl Scout cookies. And one of the lemon cookies. What a great week it was!
This afternoon I went outside with the intention of doing something useful such as taking apart a differential or cleaning up the garage. The sky was clear and the sun was bright, but it was just too dang cool to be comfortable. After cranking the 1925 Chevrolet and letting it idle for a few minutes I decided to make the Miata out for a scouting expedition to located a steel supply business. I figured with a heater assist to my fleece jacket, the Miata would be plenty snug with the top down. I left the regular neighborhood and made a beeline for a gas pump. While waiting on the tank to fill up I went ahead and put the top up. Out of now where, clouds had appeared and it was sprinkling. Ce' la vie.

While out on my Sunday afternoon drive, I happened across a 1965 Beetle, for sale. The interior of this car was in really good shape. Rare for such an old car. This little car desperately wanted to follow me home, but alas, I have no place to park it. Maybe next time.

While out, I also did a recon mission to locate Danny's secret hide-away. Mission accomplished however Danny's super hero senses must have alerted him to my pending arrival for he had already escaped and moved on to his alternate secret lair.

For those wondering about truck progress, I got absolutely nothing done this weekend. I also did not do any homework. What did I do?

The new laptop is behaving quite nicely. I hope it lasts as long as the last one did. (7 years?)

[3 lbs to go]

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The new laptop arrived yesterday. After a couple of minutes I had it patched into the wireless network. Then it had to sit quietly in the corner while I wandered off to practice welding. Bzzzzz.

It occurred to me after my last post, that I had forgotten to mention one thing. As usual I have managed to remember and forget that topic several times since then.

SciFi is playing re-runs of Firefly!

Monday, February 18, 2008


Another nice weekend is coming to a close. The kids were out of school today and G and I were both off work. I had a pleasant birthday dinner with my family at Rosie's. I had lunch with a friend who I hadn't seen in a while and I spent the morning working on the truck. (Removing another 16 rivets)

Saturday I helped a neighbor build some cabinets for his garage. We took an early morning trip to home depot and then spent most of the day cutting and gluing boards in my garage. The cabinets turned out nicely.

This may possibly be the last blog post from this laptop. The keyboard and mouse pad have beening acting up for a while. Now the harddrive is making the kind of noise that says "you better back this thing up soon. I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am heading for it!". A replacement has been ordered and is on the way. Hopefully it will arrive before this one says goodbye.

21.6 down, [3.4 to go]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Last night in my welding class I decided to tackle MIG welding. I have not mastered stick welding nor am I anywhere close, but I did get the basic hang of it. My primary goal for learning to weld was for autobody work. Mig provides better control and is less likely to blow a hole in the thin sheet metal. For this reason I decided to abandon stick welding and move on to mig.

My first bead with the MIG turned out very nice. I attribute it to my 'ah-ha' moment from last week with the stick welding.

The first peer to drop by and check my progress was impressed. I proceeded to tell him everything I knew (very little) about MIG welding. I started with how to adjust the equipment: wirespeed, voltage, gas pressure. Next I explained the basic process showing how to position the wire, trim to length, etc. Finally I demo'ed my technique and then encouraged them to try it as well. Before the night was over, I had give my little speil several times and every one who tried it out was very successful. You may recall, this is not my first time to teach others to mig weld. Last time it was a bunch of 5th graders. It is true what they say, "Those who can do, those who can't teach." Hopefully I will soon be one of the ones who can and still be one of the ones who teach.

I left feeling very good, not only about my progress, but about helping other folks learn to weld. The teacher was busy most of the night helping another student with a project so he never got around to teaching me how to MIG weld. That is ok because I did some reading ahead of time just in case. The reading paid off.

If only I hadn't burnt my thumb through a hole in my glove where the seam came loose. Man that hurt. I had a blister on it this morning.

Diet Progress: 19 lbs down .
[4.8 lbs to go]

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"The Earth, she's flat like your head!"

It must be flat for I seemed to have fallen off the edge. Not much to note this week.

In welding class on Tuesday I had an 'ah-ha' moment. I still need more practice though. I may switch from stick welding to mig welding this week as that is really the type of welding I intend to do.

Not much done in the garage this weekend. While it was warmer (per the thermometer) this weekend, it was colder outside (due to the wind).

I helped my neighbor take some pictures of his 1972 Chevrolet C-10. I think I ended up taking about 140 pictures. He is listing it on ebay tonight. (I did get to drive it up and down the street today. Sweet!)

[7.4 lbs to go]

Sunday, February 03, 2008

An interesting note about the license plate. While the plate is several years old (1972), it was never issued and therefore has never been on a vehicle. It was still wrapped in up in its original plastic baggie.
Weekend Update

I got the taxes out of the way this weekend. One less thang.

Yesterday I finished up removing all the suspension leaf spring brackets on the GMC. I have made pretty good progess in the last couple of weeks considering it is winter. I suppose the next step is to drill holes for the related coil spring brackets and then touch up the frame paint. Either that or clean up, blast, and paint the rear differential. So many choices.

Today I made a trip up to Nashville to attend a parts swap. The swap was much bigger than I expected. I went looking for a GMC tailgate, or a GMC core support. Both of these items must be off a GMC pickup. Most parts are interchangeable with a 1967 - 1972 Chevrolet, these are not.

I found and purchased a GMC radiator core support. It is in very good shape. By its appearance, the donor truck spent most of its life in a garage or under a car port. The original paint is in excellent shape, considering the piece is 35 or 40 years old. The common problem with this part is the lower portion at one end is usually deteriorated due to acid from the battery being mounted directly above it. This one had the common problem, though someone had patched it. They did a fairly good job. At first I could not even tell the patch was there. Nice job.

The bargaining process went really well. Here is how it played out. I walked up, gave it a quick glance and asked the gentleman "how much for the core support?" His reply was "$50". I then picked it up and gave it a close inspection. While I inspected the core support, he dropped his price to $40. While I closely inspected the patch on the core support, he dropped his price to $30. He had done such an excellent job bargining the price down for me, I didn't even bother to counter offer. Personally, I think he just didn't want to have to carry it back to his truck. Instead, Brian (neighbor) and I carried it about a quarter mile back to our transportation. Well bought.

I also purchased a 1972 Alabama license plate. Perhaps someday this will be registered to the GMC. Brian also purchased an old Alabama license plate, his a 1966 for his Mustange.

My antique truck got posted on Stovebolt in the gallery. See it here.

This weeks welding class went well. I got a little experience arc welding. Arc welding is very frustrating at first, though I will say two+ hours of welding went by very quickly. This is definitely a learned skill and I haven't learned it yet.

[ 9.6 lbs to go]