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  • Hello Post from new member

    Hello everyone, my name is Bob and I'm new to metal working (unless you count the garden trowel I made in 7th grade metal shop). My career field is telecommunications, but my main hobby is motorcycling. I've done quite a bit of mechanical work, but I'm interested in fabricating some custom frames and related sheet metal body panels, seat pans, etc. I thought that this forum would be a good place to get some advice on some simple shop equipment and basic techniques that I would need to get started. I'm on a very limited budget, but I don't mind starting small. I have a small garage/shop and basic tools (hand tools, grinders, drill press, chop saw, vises, etc.
    Any advice or help you guys could provide would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks, Bob

  • #2
    Welcome.
    Where to begin...spend time just going through threads here, the lengthy shop tools would be an OK place to start but view it in manageable chunks. Spend time reading, "How to Run a Lathe" put out by Southbend years ago and multiple times is a place to start, Atlas put out a similar book(let). There should be some threads to find about suggested reading, the subject comes up from time to time. Spend some time watching videos, the tubal cain/Mr Pete and Keith Fenner ones are good starts as far as machining though there are others of course.

    Frankly look for information, reading/video/web sites that have some members that do said work for a living or have had at some point. That is not to say you will not find a lot of information here but, IMO, there is something to be said about the knowledge gained when dollars are involved. I think you will see common traits and those can be worth duplicating. There is a reason people like Lazze can make money at selling machinery and instructing others how to form body panels. If you are fabricating, there are several good welding forums with wide ranging memberships both in skill and field of work.

    Spend time first because a very limited budget means you can't waste a dime.

    Comment


    • #3
      Welcome Bob. It sounds like you have some ambitious undertakings planned, and we will be interested in hearing more. You'll find a lot of discussion in this forum on lathes and you didn't mention you had one. Some of the topics you may want to search for that are in line with your interests might include an English Wheel for sheet metal fabrication, a tubing cutter or notcher, and some of the custom built grinding machines. I hope you enjoy the company here and that we may be able to lend a hand. Please don't be afraid to ask questions, we all learn from the answers that come up. Be careful, though, because there's ice on this slippery slope and you might find your garage full of 2 ton lathes and milling machines before you're done.

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      • #4
        Russ,
        Thanks for the input. If this forum is like some I've been on there's a wealth of information available and a lot of friendly folks to pass it on. I'm at the very beginning with all this so I'll be soaking up as much as I can.

        Gary,
        Thanks also for your input. Just yesterday I purchased an inexpensive notcher so I could practice welding some tubing. The English Wheel and Planishing Hammer fascinate me. I've seen some of the work done with them and quite frankly it seems like it might be easier to learn to play a violin. But, now that you mention it, I could think of a few things that I might be able to make with a milling machine. I guess it's that pesky slippery slope thing.

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        • #5
          Welcome Bob.
          You sound like you are starting out a little better equipped than I did. 30 or so years ago all I had was hand tools and an electric drill. I started reading Live Steam magazine back then, my only source of machining information. HSM and MW grew out of Live Steam and I snatched them up too.

          You are fortunate to have this and other forums that didn't exist back then, but don't forget or neglect the magazines that support this forum.

          As a matter of full disclosure, and evident in my signature line, I write for Digital Machinist magazine, another that has spun off from HSM and MW. Your telecommunications background may give you an advantage in pursuing some of the projects featured there. My own articles and projects tend to include a mix of machining and electronics.

          Again, welcome.
          Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
          ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~

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          • #6
            Another welcome, Bob. You will find this a friendly place to learn. The collective wisdom still awes me. You can find an answer to almost any question here. Bob.

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            • #7
              Welcome Bob, everybody here had to start out, and ask a lot of questions, that's how everyone learns.

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              • #8
                Welcome to the madness! As you mentioned sheet metal fabrication, I built a 'benchtop' English wheel several years ago. It uses common bearings and works quite well. I can mash and bend up a sheet of perfectly good steel to scrap in very little time. If you don't need to start with a commercial model, I'll get you some bearing numbers and a picture or two. Nothing like another project!

                Mark

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                • #9
                  Thanks to all of you guys. I've found that technical forums are absolutely incredible stores of knowledge. I have also found that members are always more than willing to answer questions. I'm looking forward to the experience.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Welcome.this is my favorite place to visit.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi Bob,

                      If you're planning to build a frame I suggest buying or borrowing "working with tubing", one of the Imburne videos (inter-library loan maybe?) it's presented by Ron Covell, who really knows his stuff.
                      Tony Foale's book on mc frame design is excellent, but your frame might not look too conventional if you get into his ideas!

                      When it comes to welding lightweight tubing, TIG is weapon of choice, Chinese imports are not badly priced and not too hard on the shed electricity supply - or you could consider bronze (fillet) welding!

                      Anyway, welcome to the bearpit, there are very helpful people here

                      Dave H. (the other one)
                      Rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men.

                      Holbrook Model C Number 13 lathe, Testa 2U universal mill, bikes and tools

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Dave,
                        Thanks for the lead on the video. I'll see if I can find it. Having been a bicyclist for many decades I'm familiar with fillet brazing (I'm assuming it's the same as filet welding). I've seen some fillet brazed frames painted in clear only and they were beautiful. I know that it is strong, but I wasn't sure if it was strong enough for motorcycle frames. I was also interested in tubing made for bicycles. There are several types of steel tubing that are incredibly strong and very light. Most are designed to be TIG welded, but can be brazed.
                        Thanks again Dave

                        Bob

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                        • #13
                          Welcome. Sheet metal fab is where I started. It was in electronic shop making chassis for projects. Then took machine shop and later signed up for the military and was trained in aircraft sheet metal repair (my choice). After discharge I worked in aircraft sheet metal, welding and machining for some years. After that I set up my own hobby shop. Sheet metal is an excellent way to learn the "feel" for metal and how it behaves under stress. It gives one an appreciation for what will work or not under load. It also doesn't require a large investment to begin. In the military we learned using only hand tools including egg-beater hand drills.
                          Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bob
                            I know that it is strong, but I wasn't sure if it was strong enough for motorcycle frames.
                            It's plenty strong enough. Back in the 70's I built the entire chassis for a Can-Am race car and the spec called for the suspension frames to be brazed, which I did. Brazing is less likely to crack and the lower temperatures help to preserve the properties of the steel, which is usually 4130 alloy.
                            Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Evan View Post
                              It's plenty strong enough. Back in the 70's I built the entire chassis for a Can-Am race car and the spec called for the suspension frames to be brazed, which I did. Brazing is less likely to crack and the lower temperatures help to preserve the properties of the steel, which is usually 4130 alloy.
                              Don't they make helicopter frames by brazing?
                              Welcome
                              Mark

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