Another shop improvement project was to modify the steel rack to support sheets of plate steel.
I also fabricated an additional rack for sections of steel 10' and under.
The two support columns were reinforced with a truss style design. The flat bar used was 1/4" x 2.5". This does a good job supporting a fair amount of weight. Two of the extra 3/4"X 4'x 8' pieces of plywood left over from the walls are perfect for supporting the full sheets and remnants. The fork lift is used to pull a shelf down when the need arises.
The base of the columns were held off the floor about 1/4" allowing the empty rack to roll. The original rack was built back in 1989 when I had a small shop in the city.
One of two column ready for the rack. The flat bar will be in tensile when the plates are loaded keeping the columns from sagging.
Welded in place the rack is ready for paint. The lower back of the steel rack have stand offs keeping the rack from pressing up against the wall. The two closest straddle the I-beam column. The receptacles along that bay are above
The rack by a few inches allowing full access.
A shot of the rear after painting.
Top plates loaded.
The start of the vertical remnant rack. It also got casters to allow me to move it for cleaning.
The ribs are fed through the spine then welded on both sides. The major weight is on the platform.
The staggered ribs allow for different lengths of steel to be supported. Anything less than 24" goes into a different pile.
Another return customer needed some gunsmith work. He wanted to run a specific compensator that required "timing" when installed on his rifle. I also worked on a big revolver (different fellow) that was failing to fire due to a damaged pin.
The last little job that day was for a guy that buys and restores vintage roulette wheels. It seem these items fetch some good coin when functioning to original status.
On the rifle. A 6.5mm Creedmoor (6.5X48mm) with a carbon fiber wrapped barrel. The customer was adamantly against using peel washers so I calculated the amount required to face off the compensator allowing the correct position or timing when snugged on. I also turned him a thread protector for his barrel when not using the compensator.
Here you can see the compensator required about a 3º rotation for proper line up.
About .040" was faced off to achieve proper alignment.
The other issue he was having was a "sticky" bolt. I mixed up a special blend of pumice powder and lite gun oil to make a lapping paste. The end result was smooth like glass followed by a thorough cleaning.
On the S&W Pistola! it's a model 460.
After the repair I wasn't able to test fire it but the gentleman reported back to me it was back in reliable service.
I also indicated the erosion I discovered to the firing pin was more than likely due to lighter loads being used as these type of loads result in a fair amount of hot gasses. He relies on this weapon for bear protection when hunting other game. That Sid it needs to be 100% reliable.
The firing pin protrusion is back to specifications and ready for action. I also had to dress up (hone) the back face of the cylinder frame.
On the roulette wheel. It was missing a key component that adjusts the tension of the spinning feature.
A new bushing was mad from brass to match the other original components.
The new piece threaded into the original axel support.
An item that I really needed was a new custom work bench. A bench that would divide the automotive bay from the machining bay. The specialty tools required for both of these disciplines require proper storage and easy access.
I designed a work bench with tool storage on both sides. Auto on one and machining on the other. The bench also features a pocket in the middle on both sides allowing me to sit on a stool while working on detailed items. I also incorporated a receiver for specialty jigs or vise. This project like most of my personal projects don't require a sketch or shop drawing. I build and design as I go. This helps me catch conflicts before they occur (usually).
The two halves were built independent from each other. Once I had the two, they were welded into one using a laser level for accurate joining.
Test fitting the box.
And the second box.
The same leveling feet were used for this project as for the Milling machine rolling base. J.W. Winco offerers a pound in receiver with a brass threaded insert for this application. The frame is a .120" (wall) X 2" x 2" tube. The lower tool box supports are 1/8" x 1.5" x 1.5" angle.
After welding the two sections together, it was time for prime and paint. You can see the 2" receivers in the middle were the pockets are. They have a 11/16"-11 nut welded for a bolt to secure whatever your working on. The notches you see on the top angle rail are for the badging and the lock for the tool boxes.
The prime is sprayed on and ready for the Gunmetal gray finish.
Setting up the bench.
The large sheet being laid out for corner notching. The goal is to have a single sheet (1/8" thick) with 2" returns all the way around. I had to source out the braking as my brake is only 8' long.
The top that supports the steel consists of two pieces of 3/4" plywood to make a robust 1.5" thick top covered by the
I screwed the base piece to the tubing using #14 self tappers with a 3/8" hex head. The plywood was counterbored using a 1/2" spade bit allowing the screw head to sit flush for the next sheet to rest on top. The top sheet was also counterbored for the flush head allowing the top skin to sit flat.
Locating the bench into position was done using long fork extensions to span most of the bench.
For leveling, after initially using a 48" level, I used a few 1/2" ball bearing dropped from 12" inches and made adjustments. In the end the balls hit and remain still.
The machine side tool boxes holding tooling.
No need to worry about tipping.
The end with a garbage can has a little cool touch for friends that like bottled drinks.
Pierce makes fine fire apparatus. My employer only buys this brand. Here's a teaser of our fire maintenance shop.
100% Pierce in the house.
Pierce in my house....
Here's an example of jig I made to set up gears in third members. The bench is very solid so using magnetic base indicators for preload when installing carriers is a breeze. Undo the 11/16 bolt and pull out the jig when done.
With a large work bench, it requires discipline to keep from creating too much clutter on top. I struggle with this.
A much needed storage and work bench is done.
This job was for a new customer. He had jackknifed his trailer resulting in a bent tongue. The coupler was also badly worn as it was a cheap stamped steel type. The wear was due to no grease used on the ball with years of running dry.
Either way the old coupler was removed allowing me to straighten the tongue.
A rose bud was used to heat up the bent channel and with the forklift as an anchor, I was able to com-along the passengers side back to match the drivers side.
The customer brought a new Bulldog HD jack to replace the cheap rotating style. I ended up welding in an adjustable
Coupler bracket I use on most trailer builds. The couplers are much more robust and can be replaced by removing two grade 8 bolts. The tongue also got a 1/4" piece of diamond plate to beef up the entire tongue.
The coupler bracket was welded vertical up with the Miller 350-P both inside and out.
The repaired side.
The diamond plate and burned in.
The jack burned in and a gusset added.
With the added Dimond plate, it would require some serious forces to bend the tongue again.
The notches accommodate the equalizer brackets.
Another job came in for a custom made biodiesel tank for a F-350. The customer had found a nice Weather Guard truck box and wanted me to design a fuel tank that would intergrade as one. I had build one previously for a different customer so word spread I guess.
The fuel tank was cut using the CNC plasma table and the plate was basically broken on two sides with welding only required for the top and ends. I also plasma cut two internal baffles. The bottom of the tool box was cut away with the idea of slipping it over the fuel tank.
Here you can see the leak check using water. The volume formula revealed the new tank would hold 92 gallons when full.
The top plate had an internal angle iron frame with 1/4"-20 welded capture nuts for the cover plate. I cut a custom gasket made from neoprene rubber.
You can see the internal frame just above the baffles. The baffles where also broken at the top to add rigidity.
You can see the back of the tool box with the tank protruding downward. The design was to allow the tank to rest on the bed floor while the toolbox would rest on the bed rails. The toolbox is prepped for paint.
A link inside the tool box. The heavier tank was welded to the thinner tool box and seam sealer was applied.
The drivers side has a 4" hole to allow all the fuel lines and coolant lines to be routed into the new tank. I used a Hot Fox heater system that utilizes the engines coolant lines to preheat the biofuel.
All shot and the rest of the components installed. A filter head pump, sending unit, Hot Fox heater , filler and
The inside was purposely painted black as I knew some spilling would eventually occur.
With the larger work space it was time for some nice rollers. I used schedule 40 2.5" pipe, and custom plasma cut legs.
I turned a top collar for locking in heights from a solid 3" round bar. The round disc feet were also CNC plasma cut. The rollers are typical spring loaded with sealed bearings. The top roller support is 1/8" x 2"X 2" square tubing and the end ears are 1/4" x 2" flat bar.
Turning/facing the top collars from 3" solid round bar.
Using a 1-11/16' Annular cutter to bore a hole. This saves time from conventional step drilling. The bonus is the core coupon can be used for another project.
Here you can see the hole that will require a quick bore to size for the ID pipe of the stand. You also notice a groove that will be used to index the collar on the pipe end for welding ensuring a centered fit. Lastly you'll see the coupon left from the use of an Annular cutter. This piece can be used later.
Two down two to go. A taper was added to the top for a nice transition.
The rollers were drilled and tapped prior to welding. The orange locking handles were sourced from J.W. Winco and are the metal versions.
The collar detail. The handle can be oriented any direction after tightening by pulling away the spring tension and rotating to a different spline. These are the same handles found on Milling machines to lock tables or saddles down.
The roller supports ready for welding. The longer ears will keep material from falling off the ends of the rollers when feeding stock.
A hot pass pushing the Mig in pulse mode.
All four done after prime and paint. I call them The Buck Rodger roller stands.
When shearing thin flimsy flat strap the roller stands come in handy.
A buddies father wanted to set up a firing range and asked if I could plasma cut some official IDPA target from som AR-500. He also wanted some other types of shooting targets from coyotes to simple swinging style. The material was 1/2" thick and came from a mining operation. Some holes were already on the plate so I had to work around some of them.
IDPA silhouettes. The dimensions were specific for a qualification range.
The cut quality at 80amps and 20 ipm. Plasma units will always cut in a cone shape. For this reason when cutting critical
flanges the ID and OD can be cut with a plasma but any bolt holes need to be punched or drilled. Water jet or Laser
really shines for square/ perpendicular cuts. This unit will cut 1-1/4" with quality results and capable of cutting fine definition (different tips) up to 45 amps at 700 ipm.
And more yet.
The water table really helps with the nasty dross dust.
G to G.
So the water table is nice but it comes with some negatives. I won't leave water in the table because I don't want to increase the humidity level in the shop with the Machines. The messy sludge you end up with after the table is drained needs to be removed immediately or it will solidify making it way harder to clean. That said, I only use the CNC plasma for production cuts. One offs are either cut by hand of CNC milled.
The first job done with the newly modified plate roller was to roll some cones for two "Chiminea's".
Plasma cut the pieces leaving tabs on the opening. By leaving tabs in place allows the entire piece to be rolled without the possibility of creating a flat spot over the opening. The three small tabs are easily ground off after rolling reveling the large opening with a consistent curvature to the cone.
The plasma cut pieces.
The other end. The 1/8" sheet was cut at 60 amps and 120imp.
Loading for a cone roll is very specific if you want good results. Here you can see the hole is still intact due to the tabs.
One down one to go. As mentioned previously, the tabs are ground off to expose a nice consistent cone.
Built a 2 piece removable aluminum roof for a UTV. The gentleman didn't really specify an exact design but after asking him a few questions I decided to make it a two piece design. The main reason for this was the fact he would use this rig on occasion at the Yuma sand dunes. The sand dunes can have steep angles so I felt he might want the option to remove the front half allowing him full visibility upward when at the base of a dune. The release only requires a coin or wide flat blade screwdriver but a coin (quarter) is easier. With a 1/4 turn the Dzus fasteners release popping up the head.
A similar style faster was used on many older war planes. We had them on the POS Vought Corsair II A-7 aircraft. I think this was the only thing I liked about that warbird hahaha.
I didn't want anything permanent so I designed brackets that incorporated the locking portion of the Dzus fastener. The bracket itself would share the same two bolts that tie in the roll cage.
The bracket was Tight welded together. The slotted holes gave me adjustment in the event the cage was not exactly
The CAD (cardboard aided design) design.
After cutting the 1/8" aluminum (5053 alloy) all the edges were routed to create a bullnose or rounded edge to prevent any sharp hazards. The mating halves were kept flat ( to minimize any gaps) but with broken edges.
The rear portion got a double break to create a rear wing to encurage any dust to evacuate. The taper on the sides were broken on the manual break. The tapered break start in the rear and carries to the front panel but slowly disappears or fades away.
A light bar was also installed and wired in for him. This shot really shows the side detail of the fading taper.
A detail of the roll cage bracket that also shares the new Dzus anchor bracket.
Front and rear brackets.
Almost done. The removable front panel has a waterproof disconnect for the light bar power. The light bar remains
on the front half when removed.
Bright light! The power cable is protected with a rubber grommet.
The gentleman was to have the top wrapped in vinyl to match the side panels. I never saw the finished product.
Hello to all.
First things first. Your new shop absolutely makes me sick. Solid green with envy sir. You have every right to be extremely proud to show that off. Very few people understand how many man hours of labor went into building that, let alone, the serious outflow of green stuff.
With me coming from a background of machine shop, and fabrication work, your workmanship, and attention to the small details is easily noticed. Dad always gave me hell for being too picky. The perfect job has never been accomplished, we can always find something else that could have been better.
If I may ask , in regards to cutting and welding , with the sealer you used on the floor how has the sealer held up. I noticed the galvanized sheeting under the trailer tongue, to catch the majority of fire, and sparks. I have thought about a better sealer on the floor of my 40 x60 and it definitely looks better and cleans easier.
I can clearly see I am going to have to check into a pulsed mig machine to fit in with my Miller 350 Dynasty, and older Miller 251. What size of wire are you using on the heavier weldments.?
Not intending to be a smart ass, but have you thought about one mistake that was made? No matter how big a shop you build , it will never be big enough.
Thanks for the compliments. My attitude for detailed work began a long time ago. Honestly it probably started when I was a young kid building bikes. As a young adult I've been blessed to work on US Submarines, and surface combat ships as well as different combat aircraft all which require a certain eye for detail and really just personal pride to "do things with a purpose".
As for the shop, It is a labor of love. My experience in the fire service as rewarding as it has been, has also exposed me to some ugly and tragic events. I find woking with my head and hands have a way of feeding my soul. For this reason alone I really enjoy creating and performing to the best of my ability. My client base is really narrow but they keep coming back. Some repeat customers (friends) have been coming back for the past 30 years.
On the floor sealer question. The hot work has had very little effect on the floor thus far (6 years). Although its not as shinny as it once was, its still seals great and spills wipe up easily. I will say some sulfur base cutting oil used around the Mill has softened up areas. The good thing about Xylene base solvents is you can use straight Xylene to strip an area and reapply another coat. That said, if I were to do it again, I would use epoxy paint around the machine shop bay as well as the automotive bay. Im still very happy with the results overall. Like you mentioned, I do use a drip pan when doing any heavy welding in one area. I run a Millermatic 252 with .035" 75/25 gas. The Miller 350-P also utilizes .035" wire with 90/10 gas for weldments up to 5/8" thick single pass. The 350-P also has "gun on demand" so I keep a spool gun loaded with aluminum wire on the machine. On heavier weldments , I run .045" dual shield. I also run a Bobcat 225 for stick and a 250DX TIG running gear with water cooled torch.
Thanks for following along.
I have always enjoyed sharing, teaching and learning.
Every year Tucson fire union local 479 hosts a golf tournament to raise money for disabled firefighters. Part of the fundraising includes gun raffles of at least 20-30 different style weapons from pistols to long guns and shot guns.
They asked me to build a couple of trick shotguns this particular year.
They gave me a $2500 budget for two weapons and the freedom to come up with what ever I wanted.
My labor was donated and two Saiga 12 were purchased for $700 ea. leaving only about just under $550 to build two customs shotguns. The BATF is very strict when it comes to modifying imported weapons so buying all American parts is required to stay compliant with 922r.
The imported "sporterized Saiga 12" looks like an ordinary 12 gauge. Out of the box these are known as "vodka specials" due to the lack of reliability and some fit and finish issues. The Saiga 12 is a soviet military 12 guage that can
cycle 3" magnum shells. Those rounds can be fed reliably as the AK platform likes the amount of gas from a magnum to cycle the bolt.
Out of the box.
After removing the furniture and stripping the weapons down to the barrel and receiver this is what you have.
The rear trunnions are to be cut off and the rear of the receiver tapered 5º to TIG weld a new folding stock mount.
The rear plate welded on.
The pair was worked on together to save time.
The barrels were also removed to access the gas ports for modification. The Vodka Specials don't always match.
Some barrels will have two gas ports and some will have the correct four ports but still be undersized. Both barrels ended up with four gas ports drilled at a 7º to work better with the gas block. Both barrels are chrome lined and a lite hone was used to eliminate any burrs from drilling.
This is what they should look like when done correctly. The 7º is to the rear of the receiver. The correct number and and size of gas ports is important for reliable cycling of any 12 gauge round from 3" magnums to lite loads.
A gas valve is also used with five positions that index with a spring loaded ball bearing detent. For example, shooting
a magnum the valve would be set to exhaust a major portion of the gas out of the side of the gas block and allowing the correct amount to cycle the bolt. When shooing a lite load the valve would be turned the other extreme allowing all the gas to be utilized for cycling the bolt reliably. The other three setting was for intermediate loads etc.
The assenbly bolts also get honed and polished to cycle freely. All the springs are changed (American made) to also aid in reliability.
Once this is complete both weapons get reassembled and cleaned for a Cerakote finish.
The theme was Hulk and Thore.
Im sure one can figure which is which.
The trigger group was relocated 2" forward to allow for a pistol grip to be added. With new furniture and door breach on the tip the two Saiga's are almost done. Those are 12 round 12 gauge drums.
Thore (tan) was treated to a MP9 style for grip. Both have Picatinny rails on the underside.
So at this point I was a bit over budget so I kicked in a little extra money in an effort to really make them desirable at auction.
The forward pistol grip with light and laser was my added contribution. If you look at the front end of the forward grips, you can see the adjustable gas valve I spoke of. It's knurled for easy turning.
I did not attend the Tournament/Auction as I was on shift that day but Thor fetched in over $3200 and Hulk slightly behind.
A fun project overall.
Another shop improvement project was a heavy duty cart to store the dies for the profile roller, pipe bender and Iron worker tooling.
Cut and ready for welding.
Checking my calculations with the castors installed. My goal was to end up level with the Iron worker after the top plate install.
An indexing feature will allow the cart to be secured when sliding the heavy bending break into position. I used to pick up and load the damn thing by hand in the old shop. At close to 150 pound and bulky my back never liked picking that this up. If done right the punch station and break will be slid in or out without pinching fingers or over lifting.
Some angle pieces to create a shelve.
Some expanded metal for the shelf. Also turned some large dowels to support the pipe bender dies. The material I used
to turn the dowels came from a bad hydraulic cylinder piston rod. The attachment point to the 3" channel was drilled and tapped for a 3/4-10 pitch as it will have some weight on it.
Loading the cart and rolling around to ensure it preformed like I hoped.
Indexing the loaded cart to the iron worker.
Next up is the 1/4" top and a push/pull bar to keep my digits clear.
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