Saturday, March 21, 2020

Building A Bench

The scenario looks bleak.  We're all forced to be quarantined due to a bit of an over-reaction (which is better than an under-reaction).  Suddenly, everyone is home, every day, all day.  What's an introvert supposed to do?

Well, when you have two wooden tool boxes sitting on the floors of the garage and house, and you know fewer people will be at the big box store, you go to the big box store and buy some wood.

I started by first defining what I needed.  I have a shop vacuum that is 23" tall, so I needed a shelf that was at least that in ground clearance.  The wall was 51" long, and I wanted 21" out.  Two shelves would help me organize the two tool boxes along with some projects to get them out of the way.

I started by making the wooden frames for the shelves out of 2x4's.  It's a simple half-lap joint, really, then four 3" screws in each corner to secure it like nobody's business.

I built the legs by taking four 2x6's and clamping them together, and then making the cuts for the shelves.  There are two shelves only, since the top one needs to hold the tool boxes, and I don't want those out of reach.  Instead of trying to angle cut, I ran a series of kerf cuts with the saw.  The remaining pieces of wood were hit by hammer at an angle to break them free, and then the last pieces still attached were chiseled out.  It made for a quick cut out that was fairly perfect without needing a dado.

With those cut, I glued and screwed two legs to each shelf.  This will make it easier to assemble.  The rear 2x6 legs had the 6" surface facing to the front.  The front legs had the 6" surface facing the sides.  This allowed for a much more rigid structure.

Once those were dry, and before combining them into the final structure, I needed to add some cross beam supports.  I did three of them on the bottom shelf, and five on the top (I really wanted support under those heavy wooden tool boxes).  I used this time to make cuts in the shelf frame.  I did not screw any of these supports, since they came top-down.

While those were drying, I two the remaining two chunks of 2x4's and built a cross brace for the back.  I measured where the brace needed to be, set up the braces into position to match, and then marked lines.  These were again a half-lap joint, so I used the portable saw to kerf the openings out, knock out the big pieces, and chisel the remaining surface flat.  (I did put four screws in this joint when I glued it to make sure it wasn't going anywhere.)

The assembly was then glued and screwed together for the final structure.

I skinned the shelves with some plywood after allowing it to dry a bit, then moved it into place.  The skins were done just tacking it down with some brads, because they could warp and it's easier to pry them off with brads than with brads and glue.

That allowed me to move everything around.  I finally got my Gerstner and Harbor Freight tool boxes off of the ground (sort of, they were stacked on 2x4's).

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Custom Fuel Line for the 'Vette

I have a problem.  I have an engine from 1974, a car from 1977, an intake from 1985, a carburetor from who knows where, and I need to run a fuel line.  I've tried a few "stock" ones, but they don't quite fit.  I really want to avoid that stupid hose underneath the braided stainless that shifts, moves, and vibrates its way into rot and crack.  It has been a bit frustrating to say the least.

My brain finally had the answer - build one.  The carburetor is a dual-inlet carburetor, and the inlets are not horizontal - they angle down toward the engine.  Also, to the front of the engine is a water hose adapter to help cool some parts - I have to route around that.

Here's what I need to do :
  1. Make a trunnion to bring the three fuel lines together
  2. Bend the fuel lines into shape
  3. Solder the lines into place


My biggest concern is the union of the three tubes.  I bought some stainless steel fuel line, and I bought a chunk of 7/8" stainless steel hex bar.  I sliced a piece off, about 1.25", chucked it into the lathe and faced it (and chamfered it).  Then I flipped it, drilled a 3/8" hole in about 3/4", and added a bevel for aesthetics (seriously, it was the weight, since this was going to be floating as a solid piece when I was done).

Then I took it to my mini mill, and set it into vise in a vise (tool makers vise at 90 vertical in all angles, then that tool makers vise put in the angle vise at a 45 degree angle on the flat end).  This allowed me to mill off a surface and then drill another hole into the back side at a 45 degree angle.

Once that hole was deep enough, I pulled the tool makers vise out (part still in it), and secured that to the mill table.  This allowed me to find the next hole parallel to the first one put in on the lathe.  I used a series of drill bits until I broke through, and then had to switch to an end mill.  Being the mill with the tables locked in place, it was right on, so changing the tooling didn't matter.

Now I have the trunnion.  I need to get it cleaned and degreased, but I was able to run a quick test fit.

Bend the Fuel Line 

Next up I need to bend the fuel lines.  I have three lines that merge into the trunnion.  The two feeding the carburetor need to bend toward the carburetor (one is a 90 degree bend, the other a 45 to match the angle of the trunnion), and then have a second bend in both of those to match up with the angle on the carburetor inlets (about a 60 degree bend) and to keep the line from interfering with the intake manifold.  On the other end of the fuel line, I need to bend over the front of the engine and go down to the fuel filter and pump.

First, I need to cut off a chunk of fuel line for each one of these rods.  I'm going to cut more - it's easier to have too much than not enough, and right now, I'm not quite sure where things are going to end up.  I'll cut things about two inches longer on each end than I need, then I can cut things down prior to soldering.


I'm not using electronics solder - I doubt it will hold up to the vibration.  That leaves welding solder and jewelry solder.  Both should work (both are based on silver solder, and should have the strength I need).

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Electric Choke Conversion

My old Holley Carburetor had an electric choke on it.  The "new" one had a manual choke. I didn't want to punch a new hole through a firewall and dash board to install a manual choke cable, so I bought a Holley 45-223 conversion kit.

First, you have to remove the old one.  The kit comes with instructions, but not a lot of pictures, so I got a bit stymied on a few things.  As you take the old one off, there are a few things you want to save (these are re-used on the new choke) :

  • The screw in the choke cam (mine did not have a spring, it was a plastic choke screw, so I used the marine screw provided and made the adjustment with that)
  • The clevis pin holding the manual choke mechanism to the choke rod (this is a tiny pin - don't lose it)
  • The fast idler cam screw

So, start by removing the three screws holding the mechanism to the carburetor body.

Next, remove the clevis pin holding the rod to the choke body.  Set this aside, as you will swear at me if you lose it.

Remove the fast idler cam screw, and set this aside, because you are going to need it later.

Remove the fast idler cam mechanism - it just slides away from the carburetor body.  While you have the cam mechanism, remove the screw adjuster and set this aside, too.

The manual choke housing is made of two plastic parts and some linkage.  You can either discard them or hang on to them if you ever want to change it back to manual, but please wait until the installation is complete before discarding anything.

Next, it's time to start the installation.  The kit comes with two square-looking cork gaskets with a hole in them.  The gaskets are not actually square - there is a ring cut into the cork - that is what you will need, and you need both of them.  Where the rear screw attached the old housing, there is a small port on the carburetor body.  This is the choke vacuum port.  Clean the surface on the carburetor.  Once clean, take one of those square cork "gaskets", and peal the backing off.  It should stick. Note, it could be so old that it doesn't - that's my experience.  I used an extremely small dab of grease to secure the gasket in place.

Next, install the cam - the instructions here are pretty good - you just need to remember to use the cam adjustment screw from the manual choke, along with the fast idler screw that holds it in place.  Follow the directions (they have three pictures in the instructions that show orientation and setup fairly well).  Then, install the fast idler screw to hold it to the fast idler shaft.  That is a rod with a slotted end to fit and lock it all in place, so make sure you get it seated properly.

Take the other gasket, and fix it to the back of the new electric choke hosing.  It took me a minute to find where it went, as I kept looking at the inside (the concave side).  You'll be looking at the side with the red plastic cam.  There are four "tubes" coming off on that side, three are for screws to attach it, and the other will have a little brass "bushing" inside with a very small hole.  That is where you'll put the second round, cork gasket.

Next, install the metal cam to the choke rod.  This takes three hands working with good coordination, or two hands if you want to cuss a little.  Once in position, attach the clevis pin from the original manual choke.

Now you can lift the red cam as you set the choke housing into place using the three screws to ensure the correct position.  When done, you should be able to move the choke in the carb and see things move in the choke housing (there's a little rod that sticks out from the housing).  Make sure the red cam is on top of the fast idler mechanism.  You may be able to reach behind the choke housing and wiggle the cam to ensure it is in a good spot.

Next, install the actual choke cover (the plastic piece that has the bi-metallic strip inside).  To do this, set aside the screws to hold the cover down within reach of where you are doing this, because you'll only have one hand.  Put the metal retaining clip (that has the three screw slots) over the outside of the cover with the concave side out (meaning the screw holes are going to be farther out than the edges in between).  Set the round gasket into place into the housing (it's easier than manipulating the retaining ring, cover, and the gasket while trying this.  That strip has a small ring on the end.  Here's some trickery, because as you install it, you have to get the bar sticking out of the housing into that ring.  I'd immediately (while holding the cover in place) grab one screw at a time and get it far enough in position (but not too tight) that it holds it all together.

You should still be able to turn the cover, and see the choke cover open/close (do both to make sure that strip and shaft are properly seated).  Once validated, turn the cover until the marks on top of the housing and the cover line up, then you can fine-tune the choke from there.  When "cold" (e.g. not having been connected to the battery for a few hours or so), you want the choke plate to be barely open (a #2 pencil is what Holley recommends as the starting point).  Then, tighten the cover screws until you can't turn the cover.

Now, you can do the electronics.  I ran the negative side to one of the carburetor bolts.  The other one (the red one) should NOT get attached directly to the battery (or any other always-on connection), as that will completely negate the choke and drain your battery.  You want to tie it to an on/run wire so that it is only at 12 volts when you are running the car.  As soon as you turn the key to the on position, the strip will start heating up and open the choke plate.  It doesn't matter if you actually DID start the car, it's going to start moving.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Wood Lathe Stand

I started building a custom stand for my wood lathe after the same pattern as my Harbor Freight toy mill and South Bend Heavy 10 design.  The mill had a castor mount welded to the bottom (and castors bolted to that), while the Heavy 10 had nothing as per castors (I am probably going to add after this experiment).

Before I started the heavy 10 lathe, I had seen a video on YouTube by Wesley Treat about adding casters to a welding table.  I wanted to try that with both the South Bend, as well as my little craftsman wood lathe.

I welded the stand together, and then commenced some hacking (I'm not a welder, and I don't have a welding table, that's for sure).  It turned out fairly nice, but best of all, it functions!

With the stand relaxed :

And, with the arms down, it rolls around fine :

(Yes, that lathe leg is fully suspended in the air.) Woohoo!  Now I can migrate the lathe from one stand to another.