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Old 07-14-2008, 06:17 AM
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Engine turning aluminum

I have a small sub dash for my switches - and it is from about as boring and bland of a piece of aluminum as ever made. Looking at it - and it's soon to be installed in my wiring process- thought that maybe engine turning might dress it up. I did a bit of research and most of what I saw was folks ideas rather then what they actually did. Most felt that using valve grinding compound on a dowel was the best way, but it ranged from chrome polish, scotchbrite, sandpaper and roloc disc pieces.

My questions here are - has anyone done this? How did it turn out? What did you use?

If I can do a really good job, I might consider doing a section on my very bland valve covers as well then clear coating. They need to come off for a good cleanup anyhow - so a bit of dress up might be in order.

Dave W

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Old 07-14-2008, 06:36 AM
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Engine turning aluminum

Dave,
I'm at work now so I can't get them,
I have some pieces that i turned at home on my drill press ,when i get home tonight I'll get some pic's and post them tonight. This was done real simple using a end wire brush.

Kenny
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:31 AM
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Dave, I've actually done it several times, and this is what I've learned.

Dowels charged with the fine clover compound , grinding discs made from sandpaper glued onto the end of a stick and scotchbrite work poorly. The reason is that the center of the dowl or scotchbrite gets clogged and cuts irregularly.


I tried using a wire brush, and didn't like the finish. Plus it was too hard to control the diameter of the little circle. An errant wire bristle on its way out will swing around on your previously done section and mess it all up.

I've used Cratex, (rubber impregulated with carborundum sprinkles, comes in various shapes and sizes, I used 5/8 and 3/4" round rods of the stuff for engine turning and chucked it up in my mill with a sliding indexable rear fence to keep the pattern on my part straight and even.), but cratex gets clogged up in the center and the edges break down, necessetating that you dress the end of the rod every so often with a piece of sandpaper. also the finish was uneven. I tried using some cutting oil with the craytex, but didn't persue that route much.


The best luck I have had was using a peice of medium hard simulated rubber rod, ( I actually took apart a springy mountain bike seat post to get mine...it's green and some kind of super dynoelasticpolymerizedprostatesafeandorganicsemige latinous plastic stuff.


Dress the end of the rubber flat with a piece of sandpaper, you can even drill a small hole in the center so the lapping compound wont build up there, it makes a smooth center, actually I've seen factory turned stuff done that way.

Spread the compound out over the surface of your dash panel with a fine paintbrush, just enough to still be able to see the aluminum through the grinding compound. You might even be able to thin it some with kerosene so it flows a little. Don't rub the surface with anything like a rag , you can brush the lapping compound back under the rod as you go. Slow speed, light pressure, use an up and down motion with your drill press (like you were hand lapping a valve, pick it up so as to allow the compound back under the rubber.



Follow your pattern, some playing around with your layout, spotting schedule, spot diameter and overlap will give you an idea of how to make the pattern you like. Use up some scrap aluminum for educational materials and you'll get the hang of it pretty fast. Do some of the things that I told you were wrong so as to see the effect of them...I like putting all my marks on the fence and moving the panel along indexing it to the fence by a single index mark on the panel, it's really hard to see the pattern marks on the panel when you are in the act of plunging your rod into the panel through a film of carborundum loaded grease..


When you are done, wash the panel off with solvent, don't wipe it off with anything more than a soft towel or wipe it when it is dry or you'll blemish it. Clear coat it with a satin clear or just put a couple of coats of good wax on it and you are STYLIN!


(around these parts "stylin" means you are finished with your endeavor and are enjoying the well deserved product of your labors)

The panels I did were reasonably close in appearance to the stuff you get from Haneline. Of course the Haneline stuff looked more consistant, as it is all CNC layouts and they probably cut up a better bicycle to get their rubber stick.


Hope this helps,
later, mikey
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:04 AM
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Mikey,
At my age - I do appreciate the middle ingredient of the rubber compound!!! And as a part of a bike seat that becomes "intimate" with a certain part of the body

While just thinking with my fingers, I wonder if a hole drilled in the Craytex would work like the rubber stuff. Think I'll peruse McMaster Carr again - I need several repalcement taps and theirs have always been good so a couple more additions to my order......

Did you try any water based valve grinding paste? I have a fairly fresh jar as well as partial tube of the tried and true oil base paste, assuming I can find it in my current messy shop.

Kenny - I'll be interested in seeing how you did with the end wire brush. I have the feeling that what you did might be too big for my needs.

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Old 07-14-2008, 06:36 PM
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re: Engine turning aluminum

Dave
Here are the pic's on the turnings.
1. this is a aluminum holder I made to hold the flex shaft for my Dremal tool.I use it to engrave on aluminum and glass.
2. This is one of the brushes that I used to do the turning,it still has the center pin out.
3. Brush with pin driven below the surface of the wire
4.Brush on wood spade bit shaft extension .
5.Drill press with shaft and guide board in place.
These brushes were used in the aircraft industries,they were chucked in to drills and used to cut the paint away from pilot holes to bolt ground straps to the frame of the aircraft. I just drove the centering pins back into the shell of the brush ,put it into wood spade bit extension shaft ,chuck it into my drill press,line the piece up,clamp a guide board to the drill platform and go at it.I did set the drill abor to stop to give consistent pressure on the brush each time. The rest of it was free hand.
I have done several piece's but this was the only thing I could find this evening. Hope this helps give you some idea's.

Good Luck
Kenny
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Last edited by Shelby1; 07-14-2008 at 06:39 PM. Reason: pics came out in the wrong order
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Old 07-14-2008, 06:42 PM
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re: Engine turning aluminum

Well the pics keep loading in the wrong order I hope everyone can figure them out............me and this computer are about to have issue's.

Kenny
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Old 07-15-2008, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Shelby1
Well the pics keep loading in the wrong order I hope everyone can figure them out............me and this computer are about to have issue's.

Kenny
Kenny,
The engine turning looks great. I'm surprised that the wire brush did that nice of a job tho these are probably not an easy wire brush for me to source. I need to do my turning in the next day or so, but will see if I can come up with a couple later just to experiment with - along with the high durometer rubber that Mikey suggested. I'm going to try the dowel and lapping compound today on a couple of very small almost hidden brackets just to finish up my gas pedal, then the sub-dash if I'm sucessful.

As far as your pictures, I generally use the free on-line Photobucket site. You load up an album, then click on the bottom option of a picture to load here. Word of caution, if you delete the picture in the album, it deletes here. One of the other options might be permanent, but not sure which.

Dave W
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:52 AM
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re: Engine turning aluminum

Dave the brushes that I have are left over from my tools when i worked civil service as a aircraft electrican.I was told that you could get them at electrical supply houses. Don't know if thats true or not never had to look for them......But let me see if I can find them .

Later
Kenny
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Old 07-15-2008, 10:28 AM
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Kenny,
I found some in the McMaster Carr catalog (pg 2645). They have some called Vari-Trim that has the nylon sleeve to control the bristle flare - but at 1000rpm or less, wont be much anyhow. They are brass, carbon steel or 302 SS. And not cheap. The 1/2" is ~$9.00. I still need to place my order so will add one along with Mikey's suggested hard rubber rod - heck - it's only money

Dave W
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Old 07-15-2008, 02:32 PM
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re: Engine turning aluminum

Outstanding Dave !!!!!
I was going to look at Mcmasters when I got home but you found them. So about 9 bucks ,that ain't bad. When I worked civil service for the Navy we would just go to the tool room and get a couple at a time,we did not have to check them out as they were "expenable" ....translation throw away when you are done!!! I kept some of the ones that I used ,don't know why pack rat I guess.

Good Luck
Kenny
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Old 07-15-2008, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Shelby1
Outstanding Dave !!!!!
I was going to look at Mcmasters when I got home but you found them. So about 9 bucks ,that ain't bad. When I worked civil service for the Navy we would just go to the tool room and get a couple at a time,we did not have to check them out as they were "expenable" ....translation throw away when you are done!!! I kept some of the ones that I used ,don't know why pack rat I guess.

Good Luck
Kenny
Kenny
Sounds like you were able to get some of the same kind of tools that the Army helped me with. The best is my slide handle puller with all of the attachments - I signed it out but when it came time for me to move on - anything including the puller became mine. No paperwork found therefore ....it didn't exist .

I'll push the button to order in about 2 minutes. I'm on a quick break from wiring my car - only so much I can do without a brain clear up.

Dave W
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Old 07-16-2008, 06:12 AM
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re: Engine turning aluminum

Dave was going to post this last night but had company till late.Any way if you have trouble with the brush's 'bird caging",we use to put a length of heat shrink very close to the end past the ring that was already on there.......or do what I did at home wrapped some plain old electrical tape real tight around it .........worked perfect.


Good Luck
Kenny
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelby1
Dave was going to post this last night but had company till late.Any way if you have trouble with the brush's 'bird caging",we use to put a length of heat shrink very close to the end past the ring that was already on there.......or do what I did at home wrapped some plain old electrical tape real tight around it .........worked perfect.


Good Luck
Kenny
Ah the nice thing with dealing with McMaster Carr/New Jersey - I placed my order late yesterday afternoon, it then shipped yesterday the 200 miles to my area and is now out for delivery with UPS. They'll deliver somewhere between noon and 8:00PM. Then I get to play - with your method as well as Mikey's tomorrow morning.

Dave W
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