Sunday, April 9, 2017


Last weekend I went to help my buddy Chris convert his S2000 into summer mode.  I wasn't as quick with the camera as I usually am, but I snapped a few pics.

But of course I got the most important picture of all.  Wrinkle Red!!

His son Anthony helped out.

Since we have the same name, he made me this sweet drawing.  I'm not sure exactly what it means, but I'm sure it's awesome.

New tools!  I bought a few vise grip pliers to complete my collection and a live center for my lathe.

So in tool news, I stumbled into this Vise-Grip rack during my daily travels on Instagram.  I've been wanting to move some clamps out of my toolbox because they take up so much room, and this looked like a great idea.

So I started to lay it out.  For most of these clamps, I have 6 each - so I would make the rack long enough to hold exactly 6 clamps for easy inventory.

I started by drilling a pilot hole, sized to the shank of my forstner drill bits, at a 5º angle in a block of aluminum.  This would serve as my drill guide.

I laid it out on a sheet of melamine I had leftover from my coffee table project a few months back.

I hate sawdust.

Then I glued in some oak dowel rods, 3/4" and 1" diameter, to hold the clamps.

Test fit success.

The next step was to build the steel clamps for inverted hanging.  I also made these from scraps, most of this material was leftover from the TVR hood hinge fixture.

It's not my cleanest fab work, I forced myself to rush these so I can get back to working on the Jetta.

Test fit of the concept.  These will allow the clamps to hang from their adjusting screw, which is handy for clamp styles that don't hang nicely on wood dowels.

All of the steel pieces ready for welding.

Jigged at 5º


All welded and test-fit.

After getting all of the locations perfect, I drilled larger holes and installed tee nuts.  This will be a little stronger than drywall screws, and will allow me to remove them easily if I decide to paint the steel.  Also note my sloppy wood glue work.  I don't really enjoy woodworking.

I set up a guide to trim the edges.  These were previously a little rough, so I busted out my router.


All filled up!

This is right in front of my primary working area, so they will be really handy to grab.

And holy fuck would you look at that... an empty drawer!!! I haven't seen one of these in years.

It didn't last long though.  I already have a bunch of precision measurement and layout tools piled in. I still have to organize everything, but this will become my precision/layout/machinist tool drawer.

In other tool news, a second motivation for this clamp rack is that I wanted to free up some room to store my newly purchased rivet equipment.  I stumbled into these for a spectacular price I couldn't pass up, plus solid riveting has been high on my list of things to incorporate into a project.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

I just finished up another project with Fort Pitt Classic Cars.  They're working on a 1931 Cadillac LaSalle, the waterpump and/or generator had failed.  They called and handed me a broken nut and mangled spring-steel coupling that connects everything.

Here are the parts.  The coupling, in the foreground, had broken half of the spring-steel plates that are used to transmit rotation from the generator to the waterpump... or something like that.  I never saw the entire assembly, but this was all I needed to get it fixed up.

After taking a bunch of measurements, I determined that it was a 7/8-20 UNEF left hand thread.  The male threads also had a reduced major diameter, and it may have been tapered slightly - it was difficult to tell since everything was so mangled; the original nut was split!

The first order of business was to create a plug gauge for the threads.  Since the male threads weren't in great shape, I decided to make a gauge so I could check the nut.   This is my first time running single-point threads on my old Jet lathe, but it turned out alright!

The surface finish isn't great, but I think it's still better than the 1931 originals!

Perfect fit.

Next up was the nut itself.  I bought a piece of 4140 alloy steel 27mm hex stock, which is very close to 1-1/16" hex, and prepped it with a bore and undercut.  Again not the most beautiful surface finish, but I was happy with the results.

And here is the finished nut! This face clamps the gear, so it's nice and flat and concentric to the threads.

I added a chamfer on the front side, which isn't critical, and re-cut the face since it wasn't great from the part off tool.

Perfect fit!

After cleaning everything up and replacing the spring-steel blades, here is the aftermath.  I'll deliver it tomorrow!

I reminded myself of the last few times cutting threads on a manual lathe.  The most recent time was a pivot screw for my power steering pump bracket.  The original bolt is an M11 shoulder screw with M10 threads, which certainly does not exist in stainless.  I made my own using an M12 bolt as a donor.  I turned the shoulder down to 11mm, re-cut the underhead area perpendicular, then I cut the M10x1.5 threads.  This was on one of Woody's lathes, which is an English threaded machine, so I couldn't disengage the half-nut the entire time.  I also had to get it started, feed in once the tool passed the live center, cut the thread, and feed out before it crashed into the shoulder!  It was pretty crazy, but I got it done.  This was around 2014ish.

Here is the finished product in the foreground, the donor screw in the center, and the original boring plated steel OEM bolt that I copied.

The time prior to that was an M12x1.5 thread on the Koni strut inserts I shortened for my hydraulic suspension setup, way back in 2007.  Again I was cutting a metric thread on an English machine and couldn't disengage the half-nut, plus I had the added complexity of matching the lead of the existing thread!  Again it turned out alright, but it was certainly terrifying at the time!

I need to come up with some easier lathe-threading projects next time!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Before I continue, new tools!  Jimmy bought me a pair of Merry connector pliers, I picked up a 6" fine cut round file, and I bought a few more cheapo die grinders from Harbor Freight.  I also bought two more clamps, because you can never have enough clamps.

When I left off, I had been smoothing my rear brake caliper carriers.

After sanding all of the faces to 80 grit, I marked it up with bluing to file consistent fillets all around the part.

After the edges were filed, I sand blasted the calipers to get a consistent finish before moving to higher grits.  This was also my chance to remove any rust I had discovered, especially on the surfaces that won't be powdercoated (contact surfaces).

After blasting, I blued them up again to make sure I don't miss any spots with 150 grit or polishing.

After a bit more sanding, I'm considering them finished.  This is finished with 150 grit and then scotch brite.

This surface finish isn't really required, and will actually be sandblasted again before powdercoat, but going to this level of polish is important to make sure the lines and reflections will look right after coating.  I could have stopped at 80 grit, but there would be some uncertainty that the parts would show flaws.

Since these are now bare steel, I coated them with Gibbs oil to prevent rust until they're ready for coating.

I think every grinding and filing implement I own was used in this project.
(Note: that's not true I have at least triple this)

Up next: Girling 60 dual piston front calipers.  These are also steel, as are the carriers, and they're not quite as nice as the VW / Lucas rears.