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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Seat Restoration Part 4

I mention Harbor Freight (HF) a lot in this post. You may have an opinion of them. I've had my doubts and have gotten some items that were missing the correct parts, but all-in-all I've been happy with their products. I wouldn't buy a "significant tool there, like a MIG welder, but for basic hand- and power-tools and items that are consumables, I don't think you can go wrong. That is all.

I have a new best friend. He's been hanging around a while, but I haven't really noticed him until just this past weekend and he had an immediate and profound impact on my life...and how I live it. Yes, folks, "he" is the HF 4-1/2" Angle Grinder. There are a few different models to choose from, starting as low as $15 and going up to the "Professional" one for about $30, which is the one that I purchased (because, you know, I'm a professional). The thing has got some heft to it and it feels nice and solid but I can still comfortably control it with one hand if I need to. I was a bit worried that I wouldn't like the paddle switch, having never used one, but it's much easier than using a thumb slide-switch as I can more easily start and stop the grinding while gripping the tool without having to alter my hand position.

"Say hello to my little friend!"
After graduating from the Dremel tool from my previous post to the angle grinder, I was able to completely strip the seat back and base in just a few minutes. My 9 year old (pogo-stick boy) even got a few swipes at it and he hand no problems controlling it with the included auxiliary handle (which can be mounted on the left, right or top, by the way).

I had never used an angle grinder before and I didn't do any research other than to figure out that I would want one for body work. What I didn't understand was the different types of wheels and what each was good for. I assumed that I would be using a grinding wheel for metal removal...

and a flap disk for paint removal.
The business end of a flap disk.
Nope. The flap disk was more than adequate for metal removal where I needed it while being "gentle" enough not to gouge into the metal like the grinding disk did. I used the grinding disk initially and pretty quickly swapped over the flap disk when my fear of damage became too great. I was pleasantly surprised to see the flap disk removing metal. Subsequent research confirmed that many people (at least YouTube people) prefer to use flap disks for body work down to bare metal. So, I ordered a cheap-o 10pk from Amazon. They were only about $1.60 each as compared to over $4 for HF ones. I'll compare the wear time and see which is more cost-effective. I also ordered three (here, here, here) hefty wire wheels for future use. They are all from DeWalt, so they should be of good quality. I've been using my cordless drill for wire brushing and, if the angle grinder experience is any indication so far, a wire wheel on that puppy is going to be awesome!

Back center of seat base. Holes are for the wood spikes, seat clips and spot-weld removal.

Underside of the finished seat base post-grinding. The two brackets at the bottom are what bolt to the seat rail.
After that, I cut away all of the remaining rusted metal from the bottom of the seat back, trying to make the cuts as straight as possible in the hope of making the replacement piece easier to fabricate. I've never done any sort of metal fabrication before. I'm thinking that this seat base to seat back union is probably a more graduate-level fabrication as it has curves over all three axes. From what may have been years of someone sitting in this seat with it broken, riding over bumps and potholes, slowly tearing the metal...it was in pretty bad shape. I tried to re-bend it as good as I could using the seat base as a solid template for the curvature.

Seat back post grind and metal removal. This is looking at the bottom which would attach to the seat base. It should probably be a nice smooth curve.
I visited my local True Value and purchased a sheet of weldable, 22ga steel which was the closest I could find to the original thickness (16ga, which I purchased previously to use repairing one of my outriggers was clearly too thick).

Steel sheet, roughly bent.
Next was the task of cutting down the metal sheet and sizing it to fit. I purchased a HF 3 in. Heavy Duty Electric Cut-Off Tool. This thing reminded me of the angle grinder with the same weight and feel to it. I got it for $26, but just today took my purchase receipt and a coupon that showed it for $20 and was refunded the difference (HF will do this for past purchases within 30 days with a receipt). As a side note, if you are a HF person, SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS! They will take anything back within 90 days but ONLY if you have a receipt. I've developed the habit of saving all of them and they also send them to me via email, which I archive using GMail as well.

Anyway, I thought this thing would cut through the metal like butter. Not so much. I don't believe it was the tool's fault, however. Maybe the cut-off wheel wasn't the best (it came with it) but I just expected better performance. And boy, was it LOUD! I'm sure some neighbors were pretty pissed off, even though it was only around 4pm when I was doing it. I switch back over to the Dremel and got better performance and less noise. However, when I eventually cut into the '64 to get panels, I'm sure this will come in handy.

I looked at the HF Heavy Duty Metal Shears but figured that, even at HF, they were too expensive for how often I would use them. So, I went with basic HF Aviation Snips instead and they worked great and were much quicker for what I needed to do than either the Dremel or the cut-off tool would have been and, of course, much quieter!

Still doing some trimming in this picture.
Finally, I un-boxed my Hobart Handler 140 and got it ready. Ready for what, I'm not sure, but ready all the same. I'll have to do some practice, of course, before I try to make it count. My only welding experience, to use the term loosely, was using an Oxy-Acetylene cutting torch when I was about 12 years old under the close supervision of my Grandpop ("hold that there, wait a second, and then press the handle. It's going to be bright, loud and hot, so don't burn yourself...or the garage down"). Coincidently, he had a Triumph TR2 (though it may have been a TR3...it was a "small mouth" grill) that was a total rust bucket but had some salvageable parts. He let me cut it up. Given that, I've been studying YouTube videos and reading some stuff. Figure I'll give it some practice shots and then try and tack-weld that piece in there. Pretty sure I'm going to have to "adjust" it as I go, so that's probably the best.
Front of the welder. 115V only, but, if you remember, I have dedicated 20A service so hopefully that helps.
Welding, however, will have to wait until Sunday...I hope. Taking the boys fishing tomorrow and then to the Speedbowl for some racing. My father-in-law is in town and I like to take him to catch some racing when he comes. Cheap family fun and all that, as I've said before.

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