Monday, 3 October 2016

Solder tiny brass roll cage

It's probably been 30 years since I last did anything similar to this. I solder electrical wires and components fairly frequently but soldering 1mm solid brass wire to make a frame is a different skill.

I had forgotten the techniques for using a gas torch and had to experiment. After a few failures I watched some YouTube videos.

The bit of information I needed was the flux. As far as I could see, everyone uses a sticky paste flux.

The solder only flows and sticks where the flux is applied. That little bit of knowledge made all the difference. I bought a choice of flux but started with the one that claimed to be less poisonous. I got a near perfect joint first time using that flux.

I used the same flux cored solder I use for electrical work.

I also had to buy a new torch because the pen style torch I was originally using started to leak. I ordered a posh looking but very low cost butane torch. Easy to use but a bit messy to fill. I like the piezo self igniter and the push and hold button to use.

It has a lock to hold on the flame, if necessary but for soldering small joints you only need the flame for a few seconds so I didn't use the lock. There are separate gas and air flow adjusters so I could get the flame exactly as I wanted, about 10mm to 15mm (0.5") long to the centre blue flame point but it would reach over 50mm (2") if necessary.

While looking at the YouTube videos I came across other tips. Cleaning the joint area with sand paper, I already knew. One suggestion I tried was cutting a small bit of solder and laying it on the joint, stuck in the flux. That was handy on a few joints but with some practice I found it unnecessary.

My end technique was to apply the heat to the joint. Move the flame away momentarily to add the solder, move the flame back to melt the solder, wait until it flows then remove the heat. Ideally the heat should be applied on the opposite side to where the solder is to be put on but sometimes that was not possible.

The next issue was supporting the joints while soldering. That can be tricky but pretty much anything that won't catch fire can be used to keep the bits of metal together prior to applying the solder.

Being so tiny I also had a few cases where heating up one joint melted the solder on a previously finished joint. Frustrating but using a pair of tweezers as a heat sink usually solved that problem.

The model, shown in the photos for the roll cage, is a failed 3D print I had used for practising smoothing the surface. As you can see, that was handy to offer up the metalwork without worrying about damaging the paint on the work in progress.

The last job was to tidy up the joints. That was done by filing and sanding away the excess solder.


Where to buy?
If you plan to buy any of the things mentioned on this page, here's a few places to start looking:
Flux paste
The less poisonous flux I am using
Micro gas torch

Monday, 19 September 2016

Thick decals

I've done a little more on the two Defender slot cars I have been working on.

I've created a decal sheet but instead of using the water slide paper, I have deliberately used normal paper.

Number plates and the aluminium checker plate used on Andy's Defender 'Joe' 90 have a visible thickness. The idea is that the slightly heavier paper will look like the thin sheets that are attached to the surface of the car bodywork.

I've fixed the paper to the model using PVA type white wood glue.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The curious morning at the steampunk fair

The Museum of Power at Langford near Maldon was host to a steampunk fair.

There were lots of people dressed up and a few traders selling various things that could be related to or used for gaslamp fantasy.

The museum, with it's numerous steam engines was an ideal location for this.

The smaller engines were running on compressed air for demonstration purposes.

Late in the morning was the tea duel. A curious competition involving the dunking of biscuits until they fell apart. Last biscuit standing was the winner.

It was a fun event and has left us wanting to go to another.

Repair a split belt

I had worn one belt so much that it split along the inner and outer layers of leather in two places. I hadn't worn it for ages because of that.

I had a few minutes yesterday and decided to try to repair it.

It has a cardboard inner layer, so I re-attached that first to one side and added a patch where some of it was missing. I then glued the other side to that.

I used Evostick contact adhesive as that seamed the most obvious glue to use.
Applied to each side then left for a couple of minutes until touch dry.

I used a roller to get it as flat as possible before clamping. It's instant adhesive but I left it for nearly a day before wearing the belt.

I needed to clean a little of the adhesive off the outer surfaces and from inside the holes. I just used a spike for the holes and rubbed the glue off with my fingers.

So far so good.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Offcut side table

Having moved the study round to fit the haberdashery cupboard I no longer had a place for my cup of tea while playing games on the Xbox.

I decided to make a small side table from some offcuts of timber.

I think the rails are beech but the rest is oak which I scrounged when we had a kitchen table made several years ago by Country Ways Oak.

I sketched up a design based on the bits I had. The size is so that I can store magazines on the bottom shelf.

I wanted to retain as much of the bark as possible. Like anything you make using the bits to hand, it was necessary to adjust the plan slightly as I went.

It was a quick build on Sunday afternoon. Deliberately very little cleaning up so all but the surfaces of the shelf and top are left rough sawn. Everything is screwed together from the underside.

The only tricky bit was because the front and back edges are deliberately left natural. Lining up the rails felt odd because they always looked out of alignment even after carefully positioning them with a square.

I am not sure how secure the bark is. It is rare to see any bark on timber furniture so I assume it is likely to fall off over time. To minimise this I have used two thick layers of floor varnish to finish the table. I use this varnish for everything because it is touch dry in 20 minutes and can be re-coated within 2 hours. It makes jobs a lot quicker and I get good results from it.