ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Fluff > Shiny things
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rating: Thread Rating: 7 votes, 5.00 average. Display Modes
Old 06-17-2012, 11:30 AM   #1
crazydrummerdude OP
Wacky Bongo Boy
 
crazydrummerdude's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2006
Location: St Louis, MO
Oddometer: 7,573
The 'dudes foundry.. and metal-casting ramblings.

It's about time I talk about my personal foundry. My posts will be picture-heavy, so if you want to quote me, please don't quote all the pictures!

In my old casting/machining thread, I discussed the extra school work I was involved in as I pursued my degree in Aerospace Engineering. I ended up taking several classes in those topics and got hired at the universities foundry. I received scholarships from professional foundry societies and was pretty enthused. Here are some of my better shots from my classes/employment in the foundry, as seen on the old thread;

This example was the last iteration of my design for a train car brake piece, in iron:

Preheating the ladle:



Innoculating:



Pouring:



My no-bake mold:



My gating and riser design, knocked off:



The finished part:



The inside of the casting (no porosity!):



There were many days of aluminum pours. Not as exciting as iron, but still very interesting.





The old thread itself helped me connect with a few inmates and it was an overall pretty cool experience. Then, I graduated (in May 2011) and the thread died off. I got a job in the aerospace field, but it's not where I want(ed) to be. So, I applied and interviewed at a couple foundries. The engineers all said I'd be a good fit. The HR people all told me "We don't hire aerospace engineers." Ok, I guess I'll be making my own foundry sooner than expected. When I told my friends and classmates that idea, they thought I was crazy. They're probably right.

I've been casting lead with my brother for years. It's fairly unexciting as the temperatures are so low and the "crucible" itself is so small. But, I'll upload some pictures of that soon, too. Hundreds of pounds of ingots for sure..

For my aluminum foundry, I started researching and buying crucibles, tools, and refractory supplies to make my own home-built setup.. and some extra equipment in case I'm able to bump up to iron production some day. Like most of my favorite projects, I found a commercial aluminum foundry furnace next to a barn in the middle of nowhere. The wires were all hacked off, the plumbing was loose/disconnected/missing, and it was set up for natural gas. It's 250,000 Btu.



I re-wired it, re-plumbed it, and converted it to propane. That was a learning experience in itself. It turns out, every HVAC store I went to and almost every expert I asked, had no idea what to do, how to do it, or how to help me. I wanted to give my money to so many people to help me but they just looked at me, clueless. I guess this is such a unique thing that thinking outside the box is too abstract for some people. I had to teach myself everything as I went. That was at the end of last year.

The amount of dissatisfaction I feel with my job had spurred me to dive into this project further the past couple months as I let my other projects stagnate. Also, the amount of aluminum scrap accumulating in my shop was starting to get in the way. The cast iron behind my shop is still out-of-sight/out-of-mind.

So, with that, my foundry is now online and operational. Right now, I am just turning old Saturn pistons and engine blocks and brackets and whatnot into ingots. Also, as I haven't built the little "dog house" for my furnace yet, I am just running it on the forklift, so I can still wheel it back in the shop after it cools down. The body/base of the furnace doesn't pose a fire hazard (or a hazard to the forklift it's on), but the top stays quite toasty. I leave the furnace closed, with an empty crucible inside to slow-cool to prevent cracking the refractory lining (which takes about 12 hours).

I have thermocouples and monitor the melt and the furnace, but by now I'm getting good at visually determining pour times. I am tapping off a 100-pound propane tank, and fuel consumption is quite satisfactory.

A typical pour is as follows. I leaned some corrugated steel against that side of the furnace to protect my pilot light. Since the scrap is still questionable, I wear all my aluminized gear:



The furnace is at temperature, the scrap has been slagged off, and it's time:



Transferring from the lifting, to the pouring, handles:



You may notice that I'm using a small crucible. This is a 10 pound capacity and I purchased it while I was still under the impression that I was going to build my own furnace. The furnace I now operate has a 20 pound aluminum capacity. I am going to wait to operate at that capacity until I have the furnace in a permanent position.

Of course, when you have spectators, things don't go quite so smooth, so these permanent-mold ingots are a little sloppy.



I decided to punish myself and do some sand-cast (Petrobond) ingots. I used some permanent-mold cast lead ingots as the mold for my aluminum ingots. The aluminum ingots weigh 1.25 pounds each. Sand-casting these takes way more effort than they're worth. After two batches (12 bars), I just stuck to permanent molds that I'd shake out and re-pour every 15 minutes once the furnace is at operating temperature.



..and here's the before-and-after. Some Saturn pistons, and some sand-cast ingots.



At this point, I am still just melting down scrap into ingots that I can later flux, clean, and cast into... something. I haven't decided what I need to make yet, but I'm having fun filling up a 55-gallon drum of aluminum ingots. When I need to cast "important" items, I will not cast them out of scrap. The scrap will just be for "doo dads" and whatnot that I want to make for myself around the shop.

Since I know people will ask: Yes, I have been melting down cans and gutters and other thin-wall stuff. I have a supply of dry, crushed cans that I add to a half (or more) full crucible to avoid severe loss due to oxidization and slag. I do a similar thing with the gutters. It's funny that when I have a half-full crucible and I open the furnace, I can just feed an 8-foot section of gutter into the crucible like it's a welding rod. It just shrinks and sinks down in and the crucible fills up. The main complaint I have with them is the amount of slag I produce during that process as they're usually covered in paint. But, I can still get a good percentage of aluminum out of each gutter, and it's all free to me!

So, follow me along the journey!

Updates to come..
__________________


crazydrummerdude screwed with this post 06-17-2012 at 11:35 AM
crazydrummerdude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-2012, 11:50 AM   #2
seriousracer
be a man dodge tree bark
 
seriousracer's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2007
Location: i am not f***ng stupid,but i used too. niles mi.
Oddometer: 7,433
And what has the EPA said about your little foundry?

pretty cool .... I like..

seriousracer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-2012, 04:42 PM   #3
trumpet
Group W Bench
 
trumpet's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Connecticut
Oddometer: 1,394
That's hot, err cool..yup
trumpet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-2012, 08:11 PM   #4
crazydrummerdude OP
Wacky Bongo Boy
 
crazydrummerdude's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2006
Location: St Louis, MO
Oddometer: 7,573
Quote:
Originally Posted by seriousracer View Post
And what has the EPA said about your little foundry?
They said, "That's awesome! I'm jealous!" *

And I can't think of anything that I'm doing that is worse for the environment than anything anyone else is doing.. and I like the environment!




*When I talked to them in my dream.
__________________

crazydrummerdude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-2012, 05:20 PM   #5
Schmeds
scarce
 
Schmeds's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: the Deep East
Oddometer: 6,556
Quote:
Originally Posted by epa
"that's awesome! I'm jealous!"
+1

So is this the new 9-5 for you?
__________________
Hornswoop me bungo pony.
Schmeds is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-2012, 06:27 PM   #6
crazydrummerdude OP
Wacky Bongo Boy
 
crazydrummerdude's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2006
Location: St Louis, MO
Oddometer: 7,573
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonny View Post
So cool, your neighbors must love you.
No neighbors, but it's not loud, it's not smokey/dirty.. so, even if I had neighbors, it'd probably go unnoticed. That is, until I bust out the aluminized suit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schmeds View Post
+1

So is this the new 9-5 for you?


My job? No, this is just a hobby. I've always liked casting and cast pieces.

Also, when I stumbled upon the 1919 Excelsior Project website (casting stuff on page 9 and beyond), I was motivated to delve into this topic, as I already have mills and lathes and stuff at home. Now that I've worked as a machinist for a year or two, I have some skills in that field as well. When I saw One Mans Dream: The Britten Bike Story a couple months ago, I decided it was time I get started casting at home. Here's the preview of that movie:

__________________

crazydrummerdude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-21-2012, 07:05 PM   #7
crazydrummerdude OP
Wacky Bongo Boy
 
crazydrummerdude's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2006
Location: St Louis, MO
Oddometer: 7,573
Quote:
Originally Posted by nomiles View Post
he switched to casting from blowing glass
Glass blowing is fun, too. One day, I will have a glass rig and a blacksmith rig in addition to my foundry and my mills and lathes. Here's some of my glass work, as seen on my last thread:

My favorite:



A cool accident that I kept:



Made a ton of paper-weights:



Made a ton of clear glasses..



Some of my best work ended up in the water drums.

The glass blowing was pretty exciting because there is so little safety gear. Just Kevlar arm bands and welding glasses. You're on fire all day long in the shop. When the furnace opens and you draw some up on your punty, it's pretty exhilarating when your fingers start cooking.
__________________

crazydrummerdude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-04-2012, 11:03 PM   #8
OUtback UFO
GLOW IN DARK SPACEINVADER
 
OUtback UFO's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2002
Location: NOT HERE
Oddometer: 2,595
Quote:
Originally Posted by nomiles View Post
You've got a nice setup Crazydrummerdude.

My buddy has whats probably the largest glass casting furnace in the glass art world. The furnace is in a metal room on a platform about 10' off the floor, he can batch 1.5 tons at a time and cast 2 batches a week if needed. They cast mainly architectural elements now, large cast glass tables and custom doors for the uber rich etc. All the molds are graphite because it can stand the hi temps and doesn't leave chill marks on the glass. 2300F is hot! we used to burn a lot of stuff up 40 years ago when he switched to casting from blowing glass.

ALL the pieces have to be annealed for a day or more in large annealing ovens.


Casting a large slab, it's HOT.





HOT JOB




there's a platform for a backup furnace in the background. The trick furnace bricks are about $100K now.



catching excess on a graphite slab to be thrown away in the water drums.






These are cast in a spinning graphite mold, they pour into the center and it spins up the sides.



pretty stuff.



4' tall wine bottle tops for larger bottoms.



Blanchard grinder with diamond tooling for surfacing stuff, there are a couple of them.

Hi-Jack off.
I was the fine arts service guy at a gallery in Aspen for a while that sold Lewis's work. I had to move three of his "larger" tables to a billizionarie's house in on afternoon... since the designer ran out of work for the house and the owner was showing up that evening for the first time... Plus moving the larger stuff was always interesting... glad i was in shape then The larger tables were quite nice. The best one was a deep ruby red entry table with frosted clear legs... it was fused together. Took three of us guys each able to lift a good 200+ lbs to move into its crate for shipping. Thing wieght around 450-500 lbs but its shape and lack of places to safely grab it made it fun. The crate was designed to ship it upside down... it was a slow roll with a lot of archival foam padding everywhere.

Got to love above 2300F... i work in wood fired ceramics... i go up to 2450 at times depending... it is a different beast to work with real HEAT! :) the wood just explodes and disintgrates at that temp... turns into a deep green glass in the firebox that reaches 2500F
__________________
From out of a dream I rode to beyond the Horizon. Got Adventure? The Zen Gear

One Meteior Crater surrounded by a lot of roos, emus, Yowies, drop bears and one major flood in the driest desert on Earth... There still was a bottle of red with dinner.

IBA#13157 BB1500 SS2000

Die Hohen Berghunde Agent X

My Motorcycling fine art Books are avalible at Blurb.com, click below.

159059 ss ed. 159059 sl ed. and Motorcycling to Aesthetics:Australia
OUtback UFO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-2012, 05:17 PM   #9
dorkpunch
Oops...
 
dorkpunch's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2006
Location: Blackfoot, ID
Oddometer: 5,144
In.
__________________
http://www.mobilemrt.com http://www.dorkpunch.com

"I've been going to this high school for SEVEN YEARS. I'm no dummy!"
-Charles De Mar.
dorkpunch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-2012, 05:28 PM   #10
Off the grid
Chaotic Good
 
Off the grid's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: That buzzing in your earhole, NorCal.
Oddometer: 10,481
Very, very cool.
__________________
Wedding(s) = $30,000
Divorce(s) = $25,000
2009 Husky TE610 = Priceless
Off the grid is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-2012, 08:11 PM   #11
pilot
Slacker Moderator
 
pilot's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2002
Location: Kansas City
Oddometer: 31,289


How loud is the furnace? How hot can it go? Hot enough for brass?
__________________
The other 10% are sociopaths , serial killers and KLR riders. You wont get much sympathy from them.
-Furious D

I first had sex at the age of 13. However, my butt hurt so bad I never did it again.
- Mista Vern
pilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-17-2012, 08:36 PM   #12
crazydrummerdude OP
Wacky Bongo Boy
 
crazydrummerdude's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2006
Location: St Louis, MO
Oddometer: 7,573
Quote:
Originally Posted by pilot View Post


How loud is the furnace? How hot can it go? Hot enough for brass?
The furnace is not loud at all; maybe as loud as a hair dryer but with more of a growl while it's running at full power. You don't even have to raise your voice.

I'm not positive yet, but I'd imagine it could get up to brass temperatures, and this is what a lot of people have asked me. Regardless, I've started saving all my brass. I just wonder how the Cu/Zn alloy will do at temperature. I wonder if it will erode my crucible/refractory, or if I'll be able to pour it as brass, and not some messed up mixture.

Since it's top-loading, you lose a lot of heat when you open the lid to charge it. Considering I have the materials to make my own furnace, I am going to make a different lid for it with a port for my thermocouple or to charge it. I'll try to get a good maximum temperature reading one of these days.
__________________

crazydrummerdude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-18-2012, 09:15 AM   #13
CodyY
ADVenture Capitalist
 
CodyY's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2006
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Oddometer: 9,493
badass.

Make me some brackets and shit.
__________________
Not an ACTUAL motorcyclist
CodyY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-18-2012, 03:17 PM   #14
Lobby
Viel Spass, Vato!
 
Lobby's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2003
Location: San Antonio, Tx
Oddometer: 27,916
Cool stuff!

I've done (and am doing) similar, but with more expensive metals.



__________________
Gracie's Gold
Lobby is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-18-2012, 05:19 PM   #15
Cumminsman76
befuddled
 
Cumminsman76's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Where the bikes parked. STL
Oddometer: 8,541
Let me know when you fire it up next.
__________________
STURGIS ride report.
2009 R1200 Gelände/Straße Abenteuer
A GS is like chlamydia, it grows on you whether you want it to or not. WhiteManFlail

Save $5 on Smugmug "1alkVgTNLEuyQ"
Cumminsman76 is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 03:39 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014