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Monday, December 10, 2012

Bar End Throttle Lock for a Triumph Bonneville

If you ride a motorcycle long distances, you have probably had a problem with numbness or cramps in your thumb or fingers from holding the throttle. This fall I rode from Raleigh, NC to the Blue Ridge Parkway on my relatively new Bonneville, and the only complaint for the whole three day weekend was "numb thumb". In the last post I mentioned the need for a throttle lock, or what should be called a throttle brake, as such a device is not intended to lock the throttle, but provide a finely adjustable brake to relieve the rider of the necessity of holding constant torque on the motorcycle throttle.

A number of products are commercially available. I considered all of them. None of the local motorcycle dealers carried any of these. When ordering sight unseen from the internet, or on the basis of one photo, there is always the concern of improper fit and the need to return the product.

Some of the "universal" brakes were ugly and clumsy. Some were just too cheap. I tried one of these, and found it difficult bordering on dangerous to use. Some are really nice looking and exceedingly expensive. Then there is Kaoko, which is priced in the middle, but depends on an exposed set screw to tension the adjusting nut, which was subject to moving about as the throttle moved. That looked to me like a feature that would require constant fiddling. They're sort of expensive too.

So, I made one (two actually) myself. It turned out to be a simple and straightforward device. If you have a lathe, a mill or drill press, (and I assume you do) and a motorcycle, you can make one for your bike too.

Ok, enough talk, time for pictures. The first photo shows all the components. The threaded part at top left fits inside the handlebar end, and carries all the other parts. I'm going to call it the threaded carrier (clever, huh?).
  The black plastic ring which I'm going to call a bushing, at bottom left is made of Delrin. It is one of the ways my design differs from the Kaoko throttle brake. I try to keep some Delrin rod and sheet in the materials bin because it is so useful, and easy to machine. It's also pretty cheap. The purpose of this part is to provide a smooth wear resistant surface for the adjusting nut and throttle grip end to work against, and to isolate the adjusting nut from throttle motion that might cause it to tighten or loosen unexpectedly. The notch in the ring fits around the brass pin pressed into the threaded carrier. This is what prevents the Delrin bushing from rotating, but allows it to slide sidewise when pushed by the adjusting nut.
  There is a round recess bored in the threaded portion of the carrier. The little white Delrin button and spring fit this recess, and press against the underside of the adjusting nut, to keep it from slopping around. This eliminates the need for a setscrew in the adjusting nut, and is the second difference between my brake and the Kaoko brake.
  The adjusting nut is just that. Twisting it clockwise viewed from the bar end causes it to press against the bushing, braking the throttle. Twisting it counter clockwise releases pressure on the bushing and throttle. The design for the adjusting nut was shamelessly ripped off from Steve Bedair's site. Thanks again to Steve.
  The last component is the replacement bar end. It was shaped using a wood rasp and the Mark I Eyeball to match the original bar end weight, then smoothed with successively finer grades of sandpaper in an attempt match the finish of the original, which appears at bottom right of the first photo.
  This photo from the preceding post shows the brake installed on my bike. This was before I sanded and rounded the sharp edges, and blended the outside of the adjusting nut into the contours of the new bar end. The last photo shows the assembled brake, and the original bar end.
  I spent some time this weekend riding and using my new brake. I had already tried out a really ugly prototype the weekend prior. The brake works really well, if you fight the tendency to over tighten it. Very light pressure on the throttle is sufficient to provide relief for your throttle hand and an end to numb thumb. The hidden tensioning button for the adjusting nut works as anticipated. I'm considering publishing plans for this brake. Of course, this design can be applied to other bikes, but dimensions would vary depending. I already have a request from a neighbor for one for his bike.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Road Trip!

My son and I spent the better part of the summer tuning up our riding muscles. I didn't spend much time in the shop, but had a lot of fun. The middle of October we loaded up and rode to Morganton, NC. Morganton is at the bottom of the mountains, and from there, a twisty twenty mile ride up NC181 takes you to the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you are ever in the area on a motorcycle, do ride 181 from Morganton to Linville, if you can. We got a room in Morganton, and spent two days on the Blue Ridge parkway seeing the sights and zooming around. More pictures are here, If you're into that sort of thing. Mostly big rocks and waterfalls. Oh, and a bear proof trash bin. That was different.

Mrs. Smitty came along on the back of my bike. The weather was great, if a little cool, and the bikes ran without fault. I think she got the better part of the weekend. She got to see all the sights, while I had to concentrate on the road. I saw some road signs like I'd never seen before. Seriously. A momentary lapse of concentration on the wrong part of the Blue Ridge Parkway can result in a vertical drop of about a bazillion feet. Even so, a motorcycle is the way to see the sights. I did feel more than a bit sorry for the people in cars, craning their necks to see out of the little windows in their motorized steel boxes.

If you're wondering, a Bonneville will haul the mail, and a female. I had as much throttle as I wanted, even with my wife on the back, and all the brakes I needed to stay out of trouble coming down 181 on the way back to the hotel room after sundown. The handling was great, even with two up. I only scared myself once. We're going back in the spring.

One thing I did miss was a throttle brake or lock, depending on what you want to call it. I wouldn't recommend using one on the Parkway or secondary mountain roads. But, if you're slogging down the straight line Interstate for three hours, and your thumb lost all sensation about forty minutes ago, a throttle lock is really nice to have, for giving your right hand a rest. After a search of the internet I concluded that the cheaper locks were, well, cheap and sort of an ugly kluge. The expensive bar end locks were much nicer looking, but really expensive. So, I made my own.That's it in the last photo. I'm working up a nice set of photos and another post to describe what I did, and how I did it. Watch this while you wait. You might want turn down the volume first.    

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New Two Wheeled Toys

There are some new toys in the garage. One's mine, and one belongs to Smitty the younger. I'll have more to say about this later.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Blown Glass Steam Engine

Including the boiler. I'm impressed. By way of Theo.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Phase II Machine Vise With Swivel Base

My Dad gave me my milling machine some twenty years ago. I had just opened a business, and he thought I needed it more than he did. My Dad was that kind of a guy. I've been using the vise that came with the mill for years now. It wasn't the best vise when it was new, and it was new about fifty years ago.

I've put off buying a new one for some years now because I could not decide which I wanted. I knew I wanted one of the so called "lock down" variety, but a Kurt or Parlec was out of my price range. That left a foreign made knockoff. The problem is that not all are made the same. I also dithered over what size to purchase. What I had was best described as 3 1/2". That meant I could go with 4", 5" (there are a few of those out there) or a 6" vise.

To compound the problem, I had stumbled across a few internet horror stories about poor quality ranging from ground surfaces that weren't flat to weak and porous castings to fixed jaws breaking off the back of the vise. The websites selling such things as vices weren't much help either. They usually gave a sketchy description of their product, sometimes written in Engrish, with a single photo about the size of a postage stamp, and of poor resolution.

So, I bought a four inch Phase II with swivel base. Yeah, short and sweet. Here's why. After pouring over the available dimensions, I concluded a five or six inch vise was simply too big and heavy for me, and my little mill. That left a four inch vise, if I wanted to go larger than what I had. I settled on Phase II for two reasons. I have purchased other parts and tooling from Little Machine Shop in the past. They carry a three inch version of the Phase II vise. Everything I have purchased in the past from them has been of good to excellent quality for the price. If they felt that the Phase II vise was a good cost/quality compromise for hobbyists, then who was I to argue. I also considered that the Phase II rotary table and quick change tool post I had purchased earlier were, in my eyes, excellent products. I like them both, especially the rotary table, and have had zero problems with them.


So, a four inch Phase II machine vise with swivel base was ordered from Get Machine Tools.Com. Little Machine Shop didn't carry one that large, and GetMachineTools.COM is on the same side of the continent as I am. The vise was here in two days, standard ground.
I've published a few photos here, more that I was able to find elsewhere on the internet. Enjoy. As always, click to embiggen. My initial eyeball assessment of the vise is that it's well made. I know, that's not terribly critical of me. I've made a few measurements, and have to make more. The fixed jaw is square with the base, and all the surfaces one would expect to be ground, the bottom, the base, the jaws fixed and sliding, and jaw inserts are ground. Right out of the box, things were sort of stiff and bumpy, but cleaning and oiling cleared that up. For now, it's nice to have something that isn't fifty years old and full of holes. The size is right for my Clausing mill. Anything larger would have been a mistake. The vise can be used with or without the base, of course. I will rarely use the base, but it never hurts to have it, especially that one time you need it.

I was taken aback by the handle that accompanied the vise. It's massive. The smaller handle is what fits the old Enco vise. It's always been sufficient for the amounts of torque I'm accustomed to using. Maybe that's because my hands and arms are huge and freakishly strong (kidding) or because I baby my old mill and tools(more likely). Anyway, a smaller handle that fits the vise better must be had. Cool, another project. I'll be back with more photos of the vise and base, and an opinion as to whether I've made a good investment or not later. For now, I'm going to use my new vise.

Update: Andy at Workshop Shed has asked in the comments about the vise's main screw collecting chips. For the most part it's covered by the threaded casting that carries the moving jaw forward against the workpiece. You can see this, and the underside of the moving jaw in the photo that accompanies this update. The angular projection on top of this threaded casting bears against the underside of the moving jaw, and carries it forward while forcing it down (hence lock down vise), once it meets resistance from the workpiece being clamped. 

 There is a hemispherical bearing that barely shows in the photo.It's inside the moving jaw and it allows for some some jaw misalignment to accommodate a odd shaped workpiece, and bears against the angled projection on the threaded carrier.

The last photo is my best effort to show this bearing and the cavity it occupies in the underside of the moving jaw.The bearing is sitting in a lump of white lithium grease to hold it so its' half round shape shows well. The bearing is rough as a cob, and so is the cavity it occupies, which is cast in place, not machined. I've polished the flat portion of the bearing, and as soon as I figure out how, I'm going to polish the bearing cavity as well. I'm somewhat disappointed that a part critical to the proper operation of the vise was left so rough.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Silver Soldering a Crankshaft Assembly

Well, my original plans were to press fit the crankshaft parts together, and use setscrews to secure everything. That didn't work out so well. After the parts were pressed together, I discovered there was way too much runout (or wobble if you prefer)in the cranks. So, what to do? Nobody likes a wobbly crank.

After much thought I decided to try silver soldering the crank parts into one crank. The bigger problem was figuring how to hold everything in alignment while soldering. What I ended up with was two Vee blocks clamped down on the bed of my mill. I aligned the blocks by first clamping down one. Then, using a straight piece of drill rod clamped in the vees of both blocks as an alignment device, I clamped down the other.

Soldering depends on proper clearances between parts to work properly. As I had originally machined the crank parts with a press fit, I had to increase clearances by filing the round crank parts a little. I did this by clamping them in the lathe and holding a file to the crank ends and crank pin. The parts to be soldered are 1/4 inch in diameter where they fit in the crank discs. For a part that size, .001" clearance is sufficient. If you have too much clearance between parts, you'll get a weak joint. If you have too little, capillary action will not be enough to draw the solder into the joint, and again, you get a dry and weak joint.

The parts have to be clean shiny metal, with no rust, oxides or grease or oil. I used a silver solder paste, which is tiny beads of silver solder in a thick resin type flux, as best I could tell. It was purchased at a local building supply store (OK. Lowes.) According to the manufacturer's specification, this particular paste contained five percent silver, with a melting temperature of 450 degrees. There are a lot of different formulations of silver solder, some as high as 20 percent silver, with higher melting temperatures. I chose the lower temperature because I didn't want to change the temper or coloration of my crank parts, and I didn't feel I needed the strength of the solders with higher soldering temperatures for a model engine crank. It was also locally available. I have another project in the works that will depend on this sort of soldering, so my cranks served as a chance to practice.

The purpose of silver in solder is to improve the wetting and flow characteristics of the solder, by the way.

The first photo shows the crank disks and the crank pin installed in my jig with a solid piece of drill rod through the bottom of the discs. This was to insure that the two discs were aligned at the crank ends. I used the holes that originally were intended for the setscrews as a place to apply the solder paste. If you look closely at the photo, you can see the grey paste filling the holes. I heated the parts with a propane torch, the resin melted, and the solder flowed. After the parts had cooled, I rolled them over, removed the solid drill rod, installed the crank ends, clamped everything down, and soldered those using the same procedure. All went well except for the last joint on the last crank, which simply refused to flow. I had a very old tin of resin flux in the top of my tool box, and decided to try some of that. I disassembled the joint, cleaned it one more time, and painted it liberally with the new/old flux. This time the solder flowed really well. Hmm. Maybe I should have used additional flux on all the joints?

The second photo shows how I measured the runout at the crank end. I got about .002" on either crank. I can live with that. If you look closely at the area where the crank end meets the crank disc, you should see a bright white line. That's silver solder drawn through the joint by capillary action. That's what you want to see.

The last photo shows the cranks installed in their bearings and the engine bases. The silver solder is in the syringe in the middle, above the tin of flux I bought years ago for a purpose I don't recall. If I have to do this again, I'm going to try to find a similar low temperature silver solder in a wire form, and spend more time investigating fluxes.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Turning a Tru-stone Pen.

My son's pen turning interests have persisted, and here he's turning a material called Tru-Stone. This material is advertised as being made of powdered stone mixed with "gem" resin. Judging from the smell it gives off while turning, it's a polyester resin similar to what's used for laying up fiberglass. If you read the instructions and warnings on the web sites where this stuff is sold, it's promoted as being difficult to turn, harder than other materials, requires super sharp tools, etc. Our experience is that brazed carbide tools like it. Zip through it like butter while making a nice sizzling sound, in fact. It does tend to chip when first rounding the square blank if you hogg off to much material at once. We turned it with a spindle speed of 1000 rpm, using a 60 degree tool of the sort usually used for threading. The point of the tool was given a smallish radius like you might use on a finishing tool. This worked just fine, could cut in either direction while roughing, and gave a nice smooth finish. In the photo you can see chips from the material flying off the point of the tool. It's sort of fun to take photos of stuff flying around while someone else operates the machinery. I've always wanted to Direct. The swarf this stuff makes is just awful. It's a coarse powder that has a static charge, and clings to you, the lathe, and everything else, like Styrofoam beads, except smaller. Sanding and polishing is the same as with acrylic materials; 400 grit, followed by 600 grit, followed by white rubbing compound. It is harder to polish than the acrylic, and a lot less forgiving where fine scratches are concerned. It also make lots of fine dust, which we have been breathing with reckless abandon. We'll probably grow antlers or something as a result. Once polished, it looks even better than the acrylic. I have some other polishing compounds that I want to try, left over from decades ago when I did some metal polishing, but they're salted away in the attic, and I've been too lazy to hunt them down in the heat. I've got to get up there and find the box they're in. The finished pen is ostensibly of Persian Turquoise, with brushed chrome hardware. It's resting on a piece of Tru-Stone Malachite, destined soon to be another pen. It's been turned round and polished, just to see what it will look like. I personally like the looks of the Malachite a lot better than the Turquoise. You may have gathered that I have my doubts about the composition of the Tru-Stone material. I'm having a hard time believing that it's really made out of powdered stone, particularly considering the ease with which it's worked. But, that's what the people selling it and, I assume, the people manufacturing it claim, and I have no reason to doubt their veracity, other than my natural skepticism, which I've been told is extensive. I would like to see how it's made, though. One last comment. The Tru-Stone feels warm in your hand compared to the acrylic, which, to me anyway, feels cool to the touch. It's also considerably heavier. Hey, it's made out of real stone!

Update: GoatRider has sent a photo of his latest creation. Marble Tru-Stone, it is. Nice looking, too. As always, click to embiggen.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Verticle Steam Engine Model, Part Four, Crank Assembly


The crank assembly is comprised of two matched crank discs, and crank ends and a rod journal. The discs were machined just as were the discs for the simplex engines I made three years ago. My, how time flies. The only real difference between the crank discs for the two engines is that the crank discs for the simplex engines were machined from round stock, and the discs for the current effort were machined from square stock. In the first photo, a square piece of material has been drilled for the crank ends and the rod journal, and turned round on the lathe. The workpiece has then been placed in the mill, and is being machined so as to form the counterbalance portion of the disc. The odd looking clamp arrangement you see in the photo is my version of a mill work stop. It is made by placing a a long bolt through a clamp and an appropriately sized length of square tubing, and bolting it down on the mill bed with a "T" nut. This arrangement is positioned so as to stop a workpiece as it is slid along the back jaw of the mill vise. It allows a competent machinist, or even a miserable hack like me to install multiple workpieces in the vice in the same position repeatably. It's practically free. It works, and it's ridgid. No adjectives necessary. I digress. The next photo shows the fully formed crank discs out of the mill. All that remains is to part off the discs from the parent parts. This has already been started on the workpiece on the right. As always, click to embiggen. That's where I ran into serious problems. Since I finished my version of the Pitkin doughnut mount and matching four bolt clamp for my compound rest, I've had zero problems parting, to the point that I hardly give it a thought anymore. Not so here. Things went smoothly till I was about halfway through, then the parting tool started to chatter, and then the tool locked itself into the work, and the lathe stopped. Period. Happened several times. Nothing broke. Nothing bent. Nothing smoked. The bottom of the groove where the workpiece was being parted showed a lot of chatter, and of course the divot where the parting tool finally augured in. Nothing helped. I finally cut the discs off using my band saw. I have since parted brass, bronze and steel with the same tool, not re-sharpened, without problems. The only thing I can figure is that I was using the four jaw chuck that shipped with the lathe. I've heard lots of criticism of this chuck. For now, it's the only one I have, so I do and will continue use it. It's the only variable that I see that would be the cause of my parting problems. Maybe it isn't rigid enough, and was the source of the chatter. Time will tell.... Anyway, once the discs were sliced off and faced in the lathe (described here with photos, just scroll down) , I had only to drill and tap for setscrews, and make the crank ends and rod journals. These were made from drill rod, because it's hard, round and precisely ground to dimension. It's the same material from which twist drills are manufactured, only not hardened. There are three types as far as I can tell. They are; Air hardening, Oil hardening, and Water hardening. Drill rod can be hardened by heating to the proper temperature, and quenching in the appropriate fluid, as designated by it's type. You can do it in your shop if you have an acetylene torch or a forge. The hardened rod can then be "drawn" or annealed by heating again to the proper temperature and cooling slowly. This makes it useful for a variety of purposes, as you no doubt have concluded. This link to the ENCO online catalog (page 840 until they decide to change it) is a good, one page tutorial on drill rod and the heat treatment of the same. I digress, again. The previously mentioned drill rod is cut to length, and a shoulder turned on the ends to match the holes in the crank discs. The shoulders are cut so they are a light press fit into the crank discs. The cranks are assembled with setscrews, and blue locktite. It's important to assemble the cranks so that the crank ends are properly aligned. I do this by placing a piece of drill rod through the holes for the crank ends, then pressing and screwing the rod journals in place. Then the drill rod can be removed, and the crank ends installed. The two chunks of metal that served to hold the discs while they were being machined are not wasted. They are now properly sized and destined to become flywheels for the engines. Aren't I clever. I think that's what I'll be working on next. This post has rambled on all over the place and I apologize. One day I'll figure out how to write in a concise and organized fashion. Many years ago, my eighth grade English teacher Mrs. Sutherland insisted that every composition start with an outline. She also insisted on walking around the room with a giant toothbrush, singing , "This is the way we brush our teeth!", and using it to whack hell out of students that she perceived to be screwing up. The woman was certifiably bug nuts crazy. It's a miracle I can write at all. I'm certain she's dead now, and can't reach me with her effing toothbrush, except on Halloween, maybe. I'm not making this up!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vertical Steam Engine Model, Part Three, Steam Chest


The steam chest components are for the most part finished. The photo shows parts for two engines, with one flipped over so you can see both sides. I have yet to drill the holes in the steam chest that will allow fasteners to pass through the chest and its' cover, holding both to the cylinder. That's because I have yet to locate the fasteners I intend to use. I also have to make the packing nut that will screw onto the brass bushing at the bottom of the chest. I don't have hex brass stock, and will have to buy or make some first. The brass bushings at the top and bottom of the steam chest were a lot of trouble. They are threaded and screw into the chest. Figuring out how to hold them while they were being threaded without crushing them or tearing them up was a challenge. No, I didn't thread them on the lathe. I wish I were that skilled. I used dies to cut the threads. Once everything was made, I had to spend some time filing and fitting to get everything to work smoothly, but they eventually did. My son informs me that I'm on standby this weekend for more pen turning. Woot!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pen Turning


So, here's what happened. I was looking for hardware for my "Most Useless Machine Ever", and dragged my son along with me into a local woodworking store (Woodcraft, if you're wondering). While I was rummaging around in the hardware department, my son was looking at the pens, and kits for making pens that were on display in the store. He sort of has this thing for expensive fountain pens. We left with a pen kit, and a nice red and black acrylic pen blank that happened to be on sale, and that he had to have. That was a month ago. For some reason he decided this was the weekend to make a pen. That's him standing in front of the lathe. It was the first time he had ever used the lathe, and I think he was a little tense, especially with DAD breathing down his neck. Actually, I'm a pretty easy going guy, regardless of what you may have heard. The second photo shows the pen blanks mounted on a mandrel which we made instead of buying one. You can do that sort of thing if you have a metal lathe. Pens are usually made on a wood lathe, as far as I can tell. Judging from the number of pen kits, and turning blanks of various exotic woods and man made materials, this pen making thing is a 'really big deal' among wood turners. My son stuck with it all day and in about five hours turned out a really nice looking pen. That includes the time to make the mandrel and figure out the instructions. It was the first time either of us had attempted this. I think it turned out really well. The photo doesn't do it justice. It's in his school colors too. Doesn't hurt. By the way, if your son or daughter takes an interest in doing something with their hands, I'd encourage you to encourage them. I got to spend the day in the shop with my son, listening to the lathe run, even if I wasn't running it, and he got a really nice looking pen for cheap, and the satisfaction of making it himself, all of which is worth a lot. From time to time I see requests for starter projects on the 9x20 Lathe Group. I had never thought about it, but making a pen is a great metal or wood lathe starter project, if you're looking for one. I imagine these might make really nice gifts too. If you're starting out, I recommend the acrylic material. It turns really easily, and doesn't splinter like wood might. It does smell really odd while it's being turned, though. My son polished the finished turnings starting with a file, and moving to progressively finer grades of sandpaper, ending with 600 grit wet or dry. He finished with white rubbing compound of the sort used to buff automotive clear coat finishes, because I had some. It worked, and brought the finished pen to a really nice sheen.