Sunday, January 14, 2018

No Supervision is a Bad Idea

An engineer should never be left alone in a room full of tools and materials with time on his hand.  As an example, here's the latest conversation.

Right Brain: Hey, I could use a laptop stand for my desk.

Left Brain (this is where the argument of NOT having a laptop stand should be) : You have brass.  Brass would look cool as a laptop stand.  Why not use brass to do it?

Right Brain : Great idea!  I have rubber sheets I used to make the brake bleeder jars, and I have some brass flats.  That means I have exactly what I need!  Shall we get started?

Left Brain : I'm not so sure about this... I mean, how could we bend those flats into a laptop stand?

Right Brain : Not a problem.  We have a press, too.  I'll figure that out, you just worry about making it look good enough that Honey Woman will let it stay inside on the desk.

Left Brain : Cool!

So, here's what happened next.  First, the idea went to an "official standards document", and marked into the material :

Then, starting to get things lined up for the bending of the flats.  First, I tried using machinist clamps to bend the bars at the same time.  But that failed to keep the bars lined up (parallel, yes, but they kept pivoting on me).  My next solution worked, and that was using some steel bar as a "clamp".  The brass was drilled and tapped, then the steel was match drilled to the screws and things were screwed tightly together :

Once that was complete and tested to ensure that there was the lack of movement if I twisted the steel, I headed out to the press and started to bend.  I don't have a fancy compact bender, so I had to use the shop press.  That was difficult to work around the tool without having dies, but it still worked out well :

The hardest part of those bends was actually the lip right on the end, with as short as it is.  I ended up starting it with the press to get it marked properly, and then finished the bend using a MAP torch and a hammer on a steel square tubing chunk.  I did some sanding (all of it by hand, actually, because I didn't want concave surfaces), and then coated it with lacquer to keep it from tarnishing :

Once those were complete, I parted off four hex rod pieces.  The length was the width of the flat bars I'd already painted (they'd sit on the bent flats).  I drilled and tapped them through the side and end-to-end.  I stood things up for a quick "fit" check :

Knowing it looked good, I threw the rods into the lathe and cut threads the length of both of them and rounded the ends.  This allowed me to simply thread the rods through the hex "nuts" that were attached to the brass flats, and bind it all together.  Next was a quick run to the basement to try it all out :

Worked out well, and only took me about a day!

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