Apologies to anyone who’s been waiting for an update on any of the projects I’ve put on here – I’ve had a lot going on over the last year and writing up all of this information takes me a lot of time so has taken a bit of a back seat. None of that information has been lost and I hope to start catching up on all of this over the next few months.
Where we are right now :
V6 Mazda RX8
The V6 engine has been fully rebuilt and has been sat in my living room next to an engine crane for about 8 months now, Partly this is due to me not currently having a garage to work in and it being winter and partly due to being very busy last summer. But yes, the project is still ongoing and hopefully will make good progress this year.
Six million dollar welder
Is still on my workbench awaiting the last couple of bits. I’ve had to swap out 24V PSU’s a couple times as they couldn’t deal with the current of the new feed motor. It now works but needs the relays mounted to the panel so I need to remember to find 4″ of DIN rail.
Is still working beautifully after the Arduino fan controller mod. It’s been hosting this blog ever since so something like 12 months now without a problem. It also provides the storage for my CCTV system.
I’ve got a couple of updates to write about expanding the system beyond the original one camera setup I wrote up last year. Using multiple cameras with network storage seems to be poorly documented and have a few interesting quirks but after some work I got it working fine. The biggest problem I’ve had since is when the local police asked for my footage following a nearby break-in I had to supply them on a 1 Tb hard drive! High resolution digital video takes up a lot of space!
I’ve had various other projects going on as well. I’ve started looking into using NodeMCU WiFi microcontrollers as sensor nodes with their own web servers around my house with NodeRed requesting the page and parsing the HTML to return the information I want. I can read the temperature sensor connected to the nodes and control the LED on the MCU from NodeRed. Currently the data is not stored because I ran out of time trying to get MySQL setup. I’ll write this all up at some point
Raspberry Pi’s – I seem to have collected a selection of Raspberry Pi’s somewhere along the way. I have a Zero, a ZeroW, 1B (which in a different life I turned into a PoE CCTV camera), 2B and 3B plus I think somewhere there’s another 2B. I really should do something cool with them!
Wooden storage box – I started restoring a large wooden box some time ago. The box used to be in my granddad’s workshop as a toolbox for many years and before that I gather it belonged to his uncle so it’s been around for a long time and has suffered a bit with use and age with some areas with woodworm damage and the rope handles badly degraded. It has also been painted brown at some stage so I’ll need to get that cleaned up as well. I intend to restore it to a ‘usable’ condition so rather than trying to make it as new just tidy it up, repair the damage and make it solid enough not to degrade further but still look like the well used item it is.
Subwoofer project – Has been in constant use for ages despite never being technically finished. I really need to actually finish it and write this up!
There will be more but I think that’s enough update for now – rest assured I’ve not stopped! Especially since this morning another turbo arrived in the post, the fourth I now have here….
So after it had been left abandoned in a cupboard for a couple years I was recently contacted by the guy who actually owns the old SIP Migmate welder saying he had a couple projects to do that would be good for a MIG but aware we’d previously done it serious damage to the torch he’d found a wire feed unit with a euro torch connector on ebay and could we make it fit. Well of course we could, what could possibly go wrong! Before I knew it he’d ordered it to ship to me so I guess we were modding the welder again. We can rebuild it better than it was before!
Upgraded Wire Feed
So this is what turned up – clearly a different beast entirely to the original plastic rubbish. Don’t be mistaken, it’s a top quality Chinese unit but it is significantly better built than the original – one being mostly metal it doesn’t deflect under load. Add to that the motor is rated at 40W which is probably four times more than the original one it should be able to drive wire through longer torch leads with no problem.
You can clearly see the significant difference in the units in this picture. But that isn’t going to stop us!
First off we need to remove the existing feed unit. These are held on with four pop rivets which are quickest removed with a power drill. To extract the drive unit the torch must also be unbolted from it with the one retaining nut.
So at this point you should be left with this :
At this stage you’re probably wondering how this will work, and if (however unlikely) you’re attached to this welder you probably want to stop reading, this will not be pretty!
If you’re you’re not attached to the welder I suggest finding an angle grinder and getting busy!
The key thing to note here is because the new drive is for a euro torch it is energised by the main supply so no conductive part of the feed drive can be in contact with the casing. Add to this the new unit has an adjustment on the top which needs clearance under the case the feed motor cut out needs to continue much lower down.
Due to the feed mechanism being physically wider the connector for the euro torch connector will sit further out than the original torch outlet. In an ideal world I’d have relocated the the wire feed to the bottom of the welder but the outlet inductor is behind the panel and I didn’t want to go trying to move that enough for that idea to be viable.
The first cut doesn’t look too serious, then hack the front out :
Hmm, yes I’ll work out how to cover that up later!
Next up we make a plate to hold the euro connector. This is to prevent any movement on the euro connector causing it to hit the case which could end very badly. I found a random bit of polycarbonate I had lying about drilled a clearance hole in it then worked out where it needed to sit. The horizontal position here is less critical as we can adjust it on the mounting later. The plate needs mounting holes to fix it to the front plate so drill and bolt this. A trial fit then also identified that when the new feeder was fully forward in position more clearance was required in the internal plate so this needed a little more butchery.
The blue wire dangled through the divider in the picture is actually the trigger wire for the welder something we’ll need to sort out later to actually make it work.
So here’s the trial fit, nothing touching the case where it shouldn’t and all seeming to fit well. around this time I wanted to get a matching torch for the upgraded welder so I went to my favourite welding shop (Noz-Alls in Cheltenham) to pick one up and while there I explained what I was up to with the welder and he helped me out with some more bits he had. Specifically I wanted to upgrade the welder from using 0.7kg wire spools to 5kg spools so I needed a new mount for the reel and not only did he have something he also mentioned that I’d suitable gas valve (the welder originally had a mechanical one in the torch but I hadn’t even thought about the fact euro torches don’t have this. Again he had just the thing available for a few pounds so I got that as well.
Now that looks more like a proper setup, this new mount just bolts through the divider plate. Next up we need to mount the drive motor itself, it is critical to remember the black plate under the drive must remain to insulate it from the mounting bracket. I originally intended to mount it with a section of angle but in the end I came up with another alternative. I had a short offcut of 40x40mm aluminium profile with a couple angle fixings which by luck was perfectly sized so I decided to use that up.
Something I should probably note here is using either durloc or nyloc nuts on everything I can and make sure everything is good and tight. The owner of this welder can be hard on equipment and I want to be sure that when I hand it back it won’t just fall apart!
That’s the wire feed and 5 kg reel setup all installed. So now back to the problem I mentioned earlier with the gas valve. The black hose coming off the back of the euro connector is the gas line, I need to connect this to a valve. I decided to mount the valve on the electrical side of the welder because my plan was to drill out the original hole the gas hose entered through to take a more standard 3/8″ BSP threaded fitting.
The valve I bought is a direct fit to the 5mm ID hose off the euro connector. The valve inlet is an 8mm barb so I bought an 8mm to 3/8″ BSP female hose barb and screwed it into the back of an 3/8″ BSP bulkhead fitting. The bit of hose is a section of 8mm fuel hose I had lying about. The valve actually has a nut on one side to allow it to be mounted to a panel, in this case I mounted it to a section of aluminium angle. These valve are available in a range of voltages; usually 6/12/24VDC in welders but others are available. Since the feed motor is 24 VDC and we need this to open when the feed is on it makes sense to use the same then we only need one trigger switched supply for both.
So with the addition of a detachable torch I thought a detachable earth lead might be a good idea. I bought a 10-25 dinse connector off ebay, this comes as a plug and socket pair where the socket fits through a hole in the panel and the plug is bolted onto the end of the cable. To mount the socket I undid the clamp inside the welder where the cable was fixed to the supply transformer. The cable is held in by a plastic clamp so just undo that and pull the cable clear and remove the clamp from the panel. As it turns out the panel hole was fitted with a dinse connector in a different model and so they actually fit the panel perfectly with the anti-rotation key even fitting. Again for the power connection to the socket I used a 10mm re-usable cable lug but had to fold the solid core from the transformer back on itself so the clamp would tighten onto it solidly.
Wire Feed Controller
I decided in the end rather than bothering to improve the existing speed controller which is well documented to have issues I’d simply replace it with a modern PWM DC motor controller. PWM controllers generally allow a very wide range of adjustment and because they apply full voltage the motor retains excellent torque even at low speeds. So I bought another quality Chinese board off ebay and after a couple weeks I had one of these:
These go for about £2.50 and from my initial tests with a 19 VDC laptop supply and the new 40W motor it worked perfectly and it gave very smooth control up through the full range. The only thing that might need adjustment later is that full speed seems excessively fast for a welder but this is something to assess when the motor is loaded. With the smoothness of the range this wouldn’t be a problem but if we don’t need it later it would be better to add a resistor to make the controller only go up say 75% full speed when the dial is at maximum. But we’ll worry about that later.
The next problem is the nut on the potentiometer which would normally hold it in place fits right through the original hole in the panel. So I found a large penny washer which it would tighten up on and drilled two holes in it. This washer was then pop riveted to the front panel. With the knob back on you cant even see the rivets.
Now, you may notice I’ve taken out the original PCB. This is partly because we needed the spot for the new speed controller but also because that makes about half the PCB redundant. The only other things on the PCB are a small 12V PSU (to drive the main supply relay), a couple line filter capacitors and a 16A relay which switches the main supply. My plan is to replace the relay with a 24V coil one and run all the control off the separate 24 VDC supply.
The story of this upgrade starts with a friend of mine acquiring it about 15 years ago (at which point it was already quite old) and after some use real life got in the way and it was abandoned in a barn for about a decade. At this point I needed a welder for a project and asked to borrow it. Now when I got my hands on it and started trying to use it it became immediately obvious these welders were amazingly basic and poorly constructed and so immediately I started modifying it to make it work a little better.
Factory Wire Feed
First off the standard wire feed is terrible, it’s made of plastic and if you put enough pressure on to push the wire the mounting for the drive (being plastic) actually bends away and just won’t consistently grip. This situation can be improved by changing the plastic torch liner out for a steel one to reduce friction but it’s still dodgy. Bracing the wire feed on the outside helps as well.
Here you can see the feed modification. It is simply a bit of scrap metal with a slight bend in it and two holes. The two screws are already in the feed system and hold the parts from the factory so it just picks up on them. This simple mod helps the two feed rollers from deflecting away from each other.
The next issue with the wire feed is the motor is driven off the main transformer output with half wave rectified DC which causes a one main problem, the supply to it isn’t consistent. When the arc is struck the voltage at the motor will drop due to the load change on the transformer which tends to make the motor constantly pulse in operation rather than give a consistent feed so it’ll join metal but not in a particularly convincing way.
To get round this I added a small regulated 24VDC supply for the motor with the help of information I found on the internet such as the wiring diagram for the welder. The was this works is the control board gets its 24V supply from the black wire on the 4 pin connector. If we disconnect this and instead feed it our own 24VDC the supply shouldn’t fluctuate any more. I used the existing supply (the black wire we just intercepted) via a relay (24VAC coil) to turn on the wire feed when the output energises. You should end up with something like this
I’ve not checked the rating on the factory feed motor but I would guess 10W at most. I used a 24VDC 15W PSU module (specifically a Tracopower 15124C that I found on ebay) and it worked well. I managed to fit it behind the main transformer bolted to the outer casing.
Further to this the motor speed circuit is actually very poorly designed and after a little use can get twitchy and change during use. I didn’t get as far as modifying this but further information can be found here :
Another key usability thing is that these welders have very short leads and the clamp was poor from new and appeared to be a similar thickness to tinfoil and added to that was badly damaged and even rusty and since poor contact causes many issues with consistent welding so I decided to upgrade the cable and clamp to help the situation. For a welder this size you need to be looking at a minimum of 10mm2 cable but this will not allow you to operate at full power consistently (not that this welder is actually capable of that anyway!) 16mm2 would give you plenty of spare capacity.
The clamp itself was just bought off ebay again, they’re about £4 each so difficult to go far wrong. You could go for a different style to the normal clamp if you prefer such as a magnetic one. To connect the cable to the stud on the clamp I used a reusable cable lug which uses two small bolts to tighten to the cable, you could buy crimp lugs but crimping them without the correct tools can be hit and miss. I’ve heard a cold chisel will work but your mileage may vary. I actually used a second reusable cable lug to clamp the new cable onto the transformer outlet inside the welder – not the neatest solution but it worked.
The standard shielding gas supply on these welders is via a small plastic tube which is intended to be connected to a mini-bottle which sits in two brackets on the back. The brackets aren’t actually fixed to the welder so can be easily knocked off. The standard regulator is rubbish and the one I got with the welder was totally seized shut. I bought a like for like replacement initially and this highlighted the limitation here. The bottle is so small and the regulators so poor that the gas flow actually changes during use and rapidly empties entirely. They have no gauge and so the first you know of having no gas is when your welds go horrible. I looked into it and found a good solution – you can buy regulators that adapt a normal gas bottle to this type of hard line.
I looked into getting gas and found that the time of massive rents on bottles is over. In the UK there are a couple networks of suppliers who will give you weld gas with only a bottle deposit (currently £65 for mine) and no ongoing rental charge. Once the bottle is empty you take the bottle back and get a full one and just pay the gas fill cost (about £30 for the bottle I have) I found a supplier of Hobbyweld gas (Noz-Alls Cheltenham – www.weldingdirect.co.uk) and got their 10L bottle, these are pressurised to 137 Bar giving a total of 1370L of gas. This lasts drastically longer. The shop I went to also sold a standard regulator but with a crimped hose and a push fit to suit this welder off the shelf making this very easy for about £20.
One other problem I had was the tension spring which is supposed to hold the roll under a little tension to prevent overrunning was actually sharp and biting into the reel. I added a large flat washer under the spring to stop this then added a small washer as a shim to prevent it being over-tightened. This provides friction over a large area to avoid this problem and it seems to work well.
So once I’d done all of this it worked significantly better and we used it for a few projects to good effect right up until we tried to repair and refit the load bed of a pickup truck which involved welding plates onto chassis rails and various other extensive welding work. After burning through multiple contact tips and a couple shrouds we got to the point where the torch died entirely with the wire welding into the inner workings of it and came to the conclusion it was done for. The torch on these being hard wired into the unit finding a replacement wasn’t as simple as a standard euro torch and at this point I wasn’t sure it was worth replacing until we actually needed it again. Some time later I bought a new compact R-Tech MIG which by comparison is a revelation and so the old Migmate got thrown into a cupboard for storage with the expectation it would eventually probably be scrapped.
This post seeks to record the ways I generally go about removing a stuck bolt using a particular repair I did – Skip further down if you don’t want the background.
I recently agreed to help out a friend with her first car which she had bought for a few hundred pounds and then found out how much a cam belt replacement actually costs when you get a garage to do it!
The car in question was a fairly common 2004 Fiesta 1.4 – this is the Ford Sigma engine which was also used in the Puma and Focus. Having done a few different cam belt changes over the years I figured it would be comparatively simple. Turns out that logic was badly flawed due to a design “feature” included by Ford which makes the job very difficult. This “feature” is a single bolt which can be almost impossible to remove – the crank bolt!
To explain the technical problem you need a bit of background knowledge on how pulleys are normally mounted on shafts. The method normally used is called a Woodruff key, this is a lump of metal which goes into a slot on the shaft. A corresponding slot is machined into the pulley/gear to be driven preventing any rotation. The key can be seen on the bottom left of the shaft in the photo.
Now the problem caused by Ford on the engine I was dealing with was that to save money (machining that slot adds a manufacturing operation) they did not use a key and instead relied solely on friction. The Ford engine uses the crank bolt to not only hold the pulleys on the crank but actually tighten it sufficiently that the friction between the pulley and the crank prevents rotation. The down side being that the bolt has to be incredibly tight so it can be very difficult to remove and if replaced must be absolutely torqued to specification because if it allows the timing gear to slip the engine would likely be destroyed!
Removing a stuck bolt…
In terms of getting out a bolt start small and build up. In this case there’s no chance a ratchet will do it so I started with a normal short breaker bar and an 18mm deep socket (a slighly unusual size not found in most smaller kits) so I had to buy one) and not terribly surprisingly nothing happened. So I got out my big breaker bar – it’s 800mm long so allows a significant amount of torque to be applied. To get clearance to use this I had to use two long 1/2″ drive extensions so the bar could be positioned outside the wheel arch. Again this didn’t do as much as I’d hoped…
Normally at this point the common next step is to put a bar in place resting against a cross member and then crank the engine. This uses the torque of the starter motor with the mechanical advantage resulting from the starter ring gear to apply a very large torque. Unfortunately you can’t do this with this engine because of the above issue with the crank not having a key. The moment the bolt undoes the engine would lose its relative timing and would probably be badly damaged or destroyed. Unfortunately at the time I wasn’t aware the crank had no key so we tried it anyway. After several goes on the starter and still having no luck I thought we might get more force into it by pushing the car rolling and having the driver let up the clutch like a bump start – using the inertia of the car as the force. Astonishingly even this didn’t get it moving (actually very lucky as it later turned out!).
Having exhausted hand tools I contacted a mate of mine who has an impact gun. It was a fairly basic one but rated at 220Nm should give the bolt a good beating and the percussive action will free up a good many stuck bolts but in this case it just wouldn’t do it!
I started drilling small holes in the bolt head to try to relieve some of the friction between the flange under the bolt head and the pulley. The idea being to remove enough material from the back of the bolt such that it relieves the force by the head flexing a little. After quite a bit of drilling and several goes with the gun it became apparent it just wasn’t going to cut it on this one!
Having accepted I needed a lot more force and having few ideas how to achieve this I decided I would finally splash out on a tool I’d been looking at for ages…
This is a Dewalt DCF899. The torque ratings for it are amazing for something of this size at 950 Nm continuous but it is a bit pricey. That said it will undo almost anything I’ve found and the batteries last forever!
So having bought this beast I gave it a go and after a number of goes at full power and some rust falling out the bolt still didn’t move! Careful inspection of the bolt head showed that the impact gun was hitting it so hard now for a comparatively small bolt head (18mm hex) the steel of both the bolt head and the socket we getting damaged. I made the choice to give it one last go and ended up rounding off the bolt head entirely!
Most people at this point would probably give up but I had one last idea I wanted to try! I realised that an M20 nut could be drilled out to a 20mm round hole and then it would fit over the rounded off bolt head. The benefit being an M20 nut is much larger hex than the original 18mm across flats bolt head at 30mm, this would replace the stripped head and resist a huge amount of torque before rounding off. I also needed to drill the nut half way through to 24mm as the m20 nut was much thicker and I needed clearance for the next part of the plan…At this point a mate of mine turned up so we broke out the welder and proceeded to join the combination of nut and bolt with weld. After a couple false starts where the new nut sheared off because we didn’t use enough weld we just filled up the head with weld as a last ditch attempt and once the whole bolt was glowing cherry red we used the big impact gun and out it came!
Spot the difference! The one on the left is the replacement ready to go in because on this engine the crank bolt should not be re-used.
So I finally finished the pipe vice seen in a previous post after getting distracted by other projects. I actually needed to use it for its intended purpose which is something I never fully expected when I started restoring it. I needed to tap a thread into a section of bar as part of another long term project (involving a Mazda RX8 – soon to be added to this blog).
Somewhat appropriately the first time I used it again after putting it back together would have actually been my granddads birthday. Asking around the family by best estimations this vise was purchased for installing pipework when my granddad built his house some 55 years ago. With any luck it will last another few decades!
Another of the things I was given by my granddad was some well used Record branded vises, specifically a type 23 engineers vice, a type 91 pipe vise and a type 52 woodworking vise. All of these had clearly had quite a lot of use in their lives but were still functional. Unfortunately they clearly hadn’t had any attention for a number of years and just needed a bit of tlc before they started their new life.
Yet again I’ve decided to do it properly. The first step was to remove all the grime, there was old grease, loose paint and quite a lot of surface rust so I went to it with a powerdrill fitted with a rotary wire brush.
This removed the majority of the grime but I needed to use a solvent to degrease the surface prior to painting.
It’s probably worth pointing out at this point that due to me wanting to try out the new paint I didn’t clean the entire vise, that’ll have to wait for another day.
The key bit for me of restoring these vises was making them look the part, so while I could have painted them any colour I did quite a bit of research and found the correct factory original colour for them is BS381C-110 Roundel-Blue. I managed to find one place who could supply a this as a very high quality enamel paint – Paragon Enamel Paints it can be bought via Ebay or direct from their website. I’m not going to lie, it’s not exactly cheap but even the smallest 0.5l can goes a surprisingly long way so you can always retouch it if you need to. It’s also worth pointing out at this point that they specify PT8 synthetic thinner as there doesn’t appear to be much that works. I recommend buying this with the paint as it’s probably the best option for cleaning brushes/spills – sadly me being me it hadn’t noticed this and just cleaned the brushes with petrol.
Now having painted half the first vise I realised that while I was waiting for it to dry I couldn’t clean the other side. I admit that was obvious but I wanted to see what the paint looked like! So I started looking at the next vise:
This is a type 91 pipe vise is generally used for holding a pipe or tube usually to cut a thread onto the end without crushing it. Such fittings used to be used for water pipes in houses many years ago but that is no longer the case but threaded pipes and rods are still widely used in engineering.
This time I disassembled the threaded bar to avoid potentially getting paint on it as well as some other moving parts and all three jaws. I then cleaned it in the same way as the other vise – although with the addition of of a toothbrush to get into some of the corners.
Next up was painting it, this one was a little more fiddly as it wasn’t attached to anything – in retrospect I probably should have just screwed to to a bit of wood but hindsight is a wonderful thing! Also It has a few moving parts which will get stuck if paint gets in them.
So I need to finish it off and paint the areas where I was holding it and things but we’re heading in the right direction. The pair if vises now look like this:
Still more work to do to get it all looking spot on but that can wait until part 2 – where I’ll also have a go at the woodworking vise:
This gives a better idea of how they all looked before I started cleaning them – not terrible but in need of a clean.
So my granddad recently gave me all of his tools as he decided he no longer had a need for them and I decided I would refurbish all of the tools I could and continue using them as long as possible – at the end of the day most hand tools are pretty simple and quite easily serviced given basic equipment and enough time and effort. The last two sadly being things which are in rather short supply at the moment so some of these will take rather longer than they probably should!
The first item I found in my granddads workshop which I really wanted to clean up and give a new lease of life was a cobblers last, these were quite common in antiques/vintage shops and auctions in recent years but I’m told are starting to get a little hard to find and while it is unlikely to ever be used to repair shoes again they can be used as a good doorstop.
It had been stored in an outbuilding for some considerable number of years and so had suffered as a result. It was covered in lots of rusty scale which would all need removing before I could do much else. Thankfully I recently got an offer I couldn’t refuse on a pillar drill so with the aid of a wire brush that job became much easier!
So following heavy use of the wire brush I was left with an altogether cleaner looking last with no loose rust at all.
So the next phase is to mask of any areas you don’t want painted – in this case I wanted to keep the original working faces clean so I masked them out prior to painting. In terms of paint in theory any metal paint could be used but I have found the best thing to use where a tough finish is required is an enamel type paint. In this case I used Hammerite smooth in a spray can. I’ve had some bad experiences using hammerite with it not curing properly but the key is thin layers, lots of thin layers. Turns out reading the instructions is actually a good idea! It does still take a long time to fully dry though…
Leave the whole thing in a dry place for a couple of days to dry fully and it’s ready for the finishing touches. Unfortunately because cobblers lasts are made of cast iron this finishing touch is definitely easier with power tools – I used an angle grinder with a flap disk but I’m sure there are other options and this was quick and easy! I carefully cleaned the working surfaces until they shined, I didn’t want the last to look completely new – that would detract from the point of the whole project – but I wanted it to look like it was still in use.
So here’s the end result ready to go back into use as a door stop or house ornament.