Wednesday, March 22, 2017


I missed last week's post so this one will be regarding the last two weeks.

So far, I have welded 6 of the 8 needed corners. I also began disassembling the track to prepare it for modifications so that the new pieces will fit. We discovered that we can use a "U" bracket to connect pieces and the one piece can do a number of jobs. At the connections we are considering a modified U-bracket, but it depends on how much time we will have.

Most of the time has been dedicated to getting something built, which we have been taking huge steps in the right direction.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


This week has been successful relatively speaking, TechShop extended their dates of availability until the 23rd of March which gives us more access to a reliable welder and welding tools. So far, 3 corners have had all the brackets welded to the lower tracks. Welding the upper guideway to the bracket has proved to be very difficult as the cast aluminum, guideway, and filler rod all have different melting temperatures. The guideway and the bracket are also so thin that the welder is basically melting them into oblivion. Jez and I have been looking into aluminum based adhesives. We have not yet found anything that would be economical in quantity. We also expect that if we use an adhesive, it would become easier to build and make sure all the components are within tolerances.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


This last week I have been working on more practice welds. I consulted a friend of mine that is very good at welding and I believe I have gotten it figured out and prepared to start welding the actual project. There have been a couple of complications. The TechShop is planning to close as of March 2nd and I have been trying to get all the mock ups and parts assembled to complete all the welding before hand. That does not seem likely. The welder in the shop works, however, there is no argon in the tank. 

The parts that Kevin bent has been mocked up. It takes a bit of fine tuning to make sure all the needed dimensions are done correctly. It is relatively easy and I dimensioned some blocks of wood to make sure all the parts would be within tolerances. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Last week Jez and I took a welding class. The class was TIG welding but was an introductory course that mainly focused on the techniques of TIG welding. It was very informative, but did not give much information on welding aluminum. over the weekend, I studied how to work with aluminum. We went back on Monday and started playing with different settings on the welder on different thicknesses of aluminum. We went ahead and purchased our own 4043 filler aluminum and 98% tungsten tips.

We are making progress on our welding abilities, but it is mainly been an uphill battle. Our deadline is getting closer and closer. At this time we are looking at alternatives to attaching the brackets like bolts or aluminum based adhesives.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


This last week we got our order in of 6061 Al T6511 and measure and cut a few pieces. After a couple pieces were cut, I realized our estimates on what we were cutting was wrong. This wasn't a huge issue for two reasons. One being that we were planning to shape the material then cut it to specific dimensions. The other being that I caught the error and corrected very early into cutting material and we still have a sufficient amount of material.

Jez and I also registered for our TIG welding classes. We will be taking that class this Saturday, 2/18. After the class I plan to spend the following week doing practice welding with scrap material we have. Hopefully, by the end of next week, welding of the actual track should begin. I say hopefully because this last week has had a number of setbacks and mistakes. Fortunately it is still early and our deadlines should not be affected, it is only going to be a bit more difficult.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


February 1st was our first class of the semester. During the class, we had a guest speaker that gave me some better perspective on the project as a whole. We met as group and made a number of decisions that we had been discussing over break. After announcements, I grabbed a white board and created a to-do list in order for our 1/12th scale track to be completed. I gave Franklin the contact info and invoice for purchasing our stock aluminum. We decided to go with 6061 T65 aluminum over 5052 because I was unable to find any conclusive studies on one material retaining shape over the other. I was able to find. I was able to find that 5052 is a softer material, however, based on prices posted on McMaster-Carr, 6061 was found to be significantly cheaper. 6061 was also a lot easier to source and we ended up purchasing it from Coastal Aluminum.

I spoke with Kevin and we expect that once we have the materials, bending them to our needed shapes will be rather quick. We expect the materials to arrive on February 8th. In the meantime, Jez and I have signed up for TIG welding classes at the TechShop. Originally we planned to take the class this weekend, but it filled up while we were in process of obtaining membership, so will be attending the class next weekend.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


In the past couple of weeks I have been gotten the quote from Vanderbend and been taking inventory of some parts I did not know we had. I compared the parts to our designs and some of them look like they could be used and we may not need them to be manufactured. This could save us a good chunk of change. The issue right now is if the manufactured parts have warped at all while in storage. I am also unsure if it is made of 6061 aluminum or 5052 aluminum. Even if the components measurements are within our specified measurements, if they are made of the 6061 aluminum, the parts may not last as long. When bending 6061 aluminum, the material will usually try to return to its original shape over time. 5052 aluminum is less likely to do this. The quote we got from Vanderbend would be using the 5052 aluminum.