Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I have been working on a new project. This new project will be a wall hanging sculpture 6' X 6'. The customer wants to have a wooden ring lift. This means I have to make a ring 6' in diameter. Well, I do not work in wood, so I am having Gene build that part of the sculpture for me. He will be using all walnut, in 3 layers, 1-1/2" thick total.

I am working on the drive wheel and idler wheels. There will be one drive wheel at the center bottom, and besides driving the ring so it rotates, the drive wheel will also bear all of the weight. The two idler wheels will be made from black plastic, and will be located at about "9pm and 3pm". I am having to construct everything from scratch. Thankfully, I have the use of machinery, and Bill who helps me use it. Bill is 80, and has a lifetime of experience with machining. He can get gruff, but it's well worth it.

I have been using the mill for the last two days, making the mount for the motor, and the mount for the shaft, bearings, and drive roller. Everything is being made from aluminum. It has been very educational to do everything myself...

It's pretty cool to see a chunk or plate of aluminum be machined into something that is not only functional, but very pretty. My goal is to have my own lathe and mill soon. Now, when I get one, I will know what the heck I am doing. At least the basics. Some of the tools we use in Bill's shop are very expensive and I would never purchase them for just one job. But they are quite handy and can save a lot of time.

Layout, layout, layout. That's the name of the game. Once you get your piece of aluminum cut to size, squared and finished, then you have to decide where all of the holes are going to go. There is the motor to mount, the coupling between the motor and drive wheel, and the drive wheel assembly. The drive wheel will be made from 1" rubber with aluminum end caps that will match the 1/4" chamfer on the rings edge, on a 3/8" shaft. A spacer block had to be made to lift the motor to match the height of the shaft on the drive wheel. Lots and lots to think about and make.

It sounded terribly complicated before we started, but once you get going, it's not very hard at all. When it's on paper it looks pretty simple. It gets complicated when everything has to be just right, and you don't want to do it twice. : )

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