JV Puleo

My 1910 Mitchell "parts car" project

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At the urging of Frank, "F&J," I've decided to start a thread on my ongoing revival of a 1910 Mitchell. Here's where I started, about 4 years ago...

 

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I think this must have been someone's parts car/project. It wasn't complete and the odd bits missing make little sense unless it was more or less slapped together for a sale. The engine, which is correct, may not have started life in this chassis because both it, and the front cross member which is the other place the engine number is stamped, have clearly been out of the car and apart. Nevertheless, it was the biggest brass car I could afford and I actually wanted the challenge of resurrecting something that was effectively beyond saving. I also have very definite ideas of hat I like in the period and wanted the flexibility to achieve that without damaging something that has survived intact.

 

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As can be seen, the engine was a mess. The jugs were in the box on the back of the chassis but this crankcase had been completely apart. There is only 1 original piston there - the others just kept the rods from hitting the cylinder walls when it was stuck together to sell.

 

This is the first thing I made...

 

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A design of my own, a combination generator/distributor made from parts of a seized Bosch DU4 and a Briggs & Stratton 12V starter generator from a big lawnmower. I want to run electric lights, having been caught out on the road at night with nothing but acetylene lights in the past. I am not adding an electric starter so I need minimal generating power, especially as I'll probably uses LED bulbs. These are, to me, a safety feature I would just as soon not do without. I made this about 2 years ago and have now come up with a better plan so I will probably never use it as it is... nevertheless, it was good experience making it.

 

Next I made new valve cages...

 

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What you see here are the new cages and the 1 original I had. The original components are crude in the extreme. No provision was made for valve guide bushings. I wanted replaceable bushings and I included my own idea of a valve seal... a little felt washer retained by a light secondary spring inside the main valve spring. The bottom photo are the fixtures I made to make the cages. If anyone wonders why this sort of work is so time consuming... the fixtures often take more time to make than the parts. In an industrial setting, where hundreds of parts are being made, this is inconsequential. When you are making maybe 4 or 8 of something, it usually represents at least half the time spent.

 

In any case, that's a start. If there is any interest in this, I have more.

Edited by JV Puleo
photos screwed up (see edit history)
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Here's one vote for interest! I'm constantly amazed (as has been said on these forums many times) at the resourcefulness and artistry here. Nothing seems unsalvageable!

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1 hour ago, zipdang said:

Here's one vote for interest!

now two.  He did PM me today to see if the masses might have an issue with, making parts that that cannot ever be found on an orphan.

 

Dean H would be pretty happy so far from what is shown... Me too.

 

I had some experience long ago with Bosch and also American Bosch magnetos to get things to run again.  I messed up on the first one I ever had apart. I did see there was a tan paper sleeve at each bearing but never knew it was to keep the mag from grounding out.  No internet then, so I just took it apart again, maybe twice, and got it right. 

 

I had fun with learning mags.  The Wico EK is wild.  Such a very very tiny horizontal-0nly movement, and it makes a spark!  (for pop-engines)

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A few more bits. I have the jugs and they are in quite good condition although 3 of the 4 ears that the exhaust manifold was attached to were broken off. I had them furnace welded and the gentleman that did it also attended to some very tiny water jacket cracks. These blocks had small, pressed in sheet metal core plugs. Needless to say, they all had to come out, especially as several were in places impossible to reach when the engine is reassembled. Rather than put new ones in, I threaded the holes for 3/4" pipe plugs. They were exactly the correct size because that is what Mitchell had done with the previous years engine. The stamped plugs appear to have been another of their cost-cutting measures. Here I'm surfacing the Exhaust manifold flanges. You cant see it, but the blocks are bolted to a fixture mimicking the top of the crankcase so the are in perfect alignment. I then turned them around and did the intake flanges on the opposite side.

 

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I also made these...

 

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The caps that screw in over the intake valves. The Mitchel has a strange valve arrangement - it is Exhaust over Intake rather than the more conventional IOE. You can see some of the originals next to them. I made them out of bronze, mostly because I just like the way they look but also because it threads so nicely. The originals were threaded for pipe thread plugs (like a Model T) while I threaded mine for 7/8-18, the period SAE thread. Why? Because I want to use NOS plugs and, because Model Ts use pipe threads, those plugs can be frightfully expensive. The 7/8 plugs have almost no modern application and are often quite reasonable. I bought a NOS c.1915 package of 6 for something like $30. Also, I can use either type because I still have the original iron caps.

 

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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Joe's machine work is very inspiring and it is really great to see this project again.  What Joe does I like to think of as practical machine work for the common man.  I like his "get it done and hold the fancy talk" attitude. 

Joe, please do post some more to get everyone caught up on the wonderful trip it has been so far to get to where you are now.  I think people would love to see some more detail on the castings, machine work and general problem solving required.  It certainly changed my mindset on how I approached unobtainable parts for my Metz.   I've been mired in "pay the bills work" for the longest time but I'm slowly getting back out to the shop.  I was just admiring your generous handy work the other day and I'm looking forward to putting it to use this summer. 

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One of the ongoing problems with doing this sort of work is deciding what really fits the period. As a general rule I try to keep all my changes in the context of the working life of the car. So, with a 1910 car, I try not to do anything that was drastically out of place before 1915. These early cars usually had very short working lives... just look at any street scene from about 1920 and see how many 10 year old cars are visible. Keeping to this rule isn't always possible and I don't apply it strictly to materials... you can't even get some of the materials they used and probably wouldn't want them if you could. I see no benefit from making something of weak materials (like their poor quality aluminum) when much better material is at hand.

 

With that in mind, I've been collecting books on automotive design and repair for the past 40 years. There are no brass era "shop manuals"... in fact there aren't any for anything. What "Owners Manuals" were printed almost always concerned themselves with how to drive — because before 1915 most cars were sold to people who couldn't drive. They contain tidbits like "don't drive it without oil in the engine" and "don't leave the water in over night if it's freezing."

 

What they did have were general works on automotive design and, to some extent, repairs. The four volume Cyclopedia of Automobile Engineering came out in 1909 and was updated and reprinted up through the 20s as Automobile Engineering. I have the 1909 and the 1917 editions, about half of which is still useful. There was also an ongoing publication by J.E. Homans titled Self Propelled Vehicles. Homans work began in 1904 and came out every few years until, I think, the twenties. However, the absolute best is this one:

 

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Until another member of this forum, 1912Staver, told me about it, I'd never heard of P.M. Heldt — an engineer and the Editor of Horseless Age. His The Gasoline Motor is a two-volume text book for automotive designers... not body designers either. It is entirely devoted to the mechanical aspects of the gasoline motor car. The first edition of volume I, concerning motors, was published in 1911. Volume II came out in 1913 and concerned everything else. Heldt's work was updated until at least the 20s, if not later. It belies the popular notion that much of the early engineering was haphazard. It certainly wasn't. In fact, the main drawback in using Heldt, for me, is that I can't do the very advanced math required to solve some of my problems. Still, I've learned an enormous amount from it.

 

As far as I know, the only book dealing with brass era mechanical problems in recent years is a small, self-published volume by the late Harold Sharon. The information is general in nature, but more than is readily available anywhere else. I disagree with Mr. Sharon on a few things but would still recommend his book...I think it is available from his daughter via the HCCA web site.

Edited by JV Puleo
missing comma (see edit history)

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One thing about early brass era, that I only worked on a few... they had totally different types of oiling systems.  I had to study or experiment on these long dormant warehouse finds, to be able to know enough to safely start the engines.    I sure don't recall any details as it was a while ago, and the then next one I worked on, cancelled out my memory of what the last one did, and how it did what.

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There are half a dozen systems although we hardly ever see the earliest, which were largely gone by about 1903-1904... like exhaust pressure to a tank on the dash feeding the bearings individually through a maze of little copper tubes. What I learned from Heldt was that the system we now think of a conventional, the gear pump in the sump feeding an internal oil galley was fully developed by 1911, including hollow crankshafts with internal oiling for the bearings. Nevertheless, it took time for the systems we think of now as "standard" to be fully accepted. Often they were expensive to introduce. Almost all of the early auto manufacturers were badly under capitalized. With little extra money, operating almost literally from hand-to-mouth, any change that required new equipment or a pause in production was dangerous. Around 1910 the market started changing drastically. Until then, virtually all cars had been sold for cash to the well to do... but, temporarily at least, that market seemed to have reached its natural limit and was dominated by a few major makers - the famous "3 Ps" come to mind. What was needed was an approach to the middle class... the hardware store owners, butchers and bakers. I suspect a lot of the companies failed because they couldn't make that change... cutting prices to meet the means of the biggest market open to them while still meeting expectations of performance. I think that was the root cause of Mitchell cheapening their engine in 1910... they cut their price almost in half from 1909 while trying to offer a "better" car. They scraped by but, in 1923 when they introduced a disastrously ugly car, the drop in sales killed them.

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One of these pre 10s had twin horizontal opposed cylinders.  There was an oil drain on each jug I think, It is foggy memory, but I think that if not drained on occasion it would smoke to high heaven. 

 

The other did have an oil tank, and now that you just mentioned "tank" and then the term "exhaust pressure"....which sort of rang a bell....

I am just not sure how this tank worked.   It was odd to "me", and may be what you said.    I did know then, but now forgotten.

 

I need to put up a pic of a medium size coil box, not sure if car or stationary engine.  I think I know where it is. 

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One more vote here. Would love to see/hear more of your project. Very impressed with your progress to date.

  

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You asked for it...!

It just so happens I bought a 2nd hand point-and-shoot camera on ebay to see if I could share more of this project. I'm currently working on two things... the front hub on the crankshaft and the timing gears. Here's the broken hub...

 

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What doesn't show is that it took me more than a year to think up a way to get this off the crank safely. It was attached with a tapered pin that was bent and mushroomed on the small end. It looks as if someone tried to drive the pin out and, in the process, broke the sheave. My problem was holding the crank rigidly in a position where it could be drilled out. I eventually made a pair of special clamps that I'll show later in this series. The hub is cast iron with a soft steel ring pressed on for the starting dogs. Its inside diameter is about .007 larger than the crankshaft so It was a sloppy fit once the pin was out.

 

I redesigned it to suite my skills and machines. Here's my drawing. Keep in mind that I'm completely self taught in this. I don't have a special drawing program but use a graphic arts layout program I use in my regular work... I'm a book designer. The notes on the drawing are note to myself.

 

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The first piece I made was the hub itself.

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In this case I used a piece of 3" bar I've had hanging around for years. It probably wasn't a good choice because it turned out to be H-13, a tool steel and very difficult to machine, but it's mostly done now and it will certainly be strong. The threads are left-handed. The new aluminum sheaves will screw on to it. You see it here on the mandrel I used for turning it. When this part of the job is finished, I will hone the bore to get a good sliding fit.

 

I then made the two sheaves out of 3/4" 6061 plate. They are reamed 1-1/4" and I cobbled up a little fixture to grip them in the rotary table while I drilled the holes for the three screws that hold them together. I will eventually change the socket head screws out for countersunk filister heads but, for the time, the socket heads are easier to get very tight.

 

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This goes in the rotary table, in this case set up on the drill press. Ordinarily, I'd use my milling machine but this pile is too tall. I don't

have enough clearance under the spindle for this and drills as well.

 

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The large sheave gets 12 holes at 30 degree intervals with a large center drill. This has multiple purposes... to center and guide the drill but also, the tapered hole allows me to accurately reposition the piece. This is important because with a 3-jaw chuck and 12 holes, some of them are going to come out opposite the jaws... you do not want to run the drill into them.

 

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With the center holes drilled, the holes at 0, 120 and 240 degrees are drilled 13/16 and tapped 7/8-14. These are the yellow circles shown in the drawing. They will get brass inserts with a 7/8-14 external thread and 3/8-16 internal thread. This is to accommodate a 3-arm puller should it be necessary to pull the entire unit off - which is a certainty during the reassembly process. Also, I have a life-long revulsion towards mechanical things that are designed without any consideration for the guy who has to fix them!

 

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Maybe more tomorrow. I have to drill the remaining holes, make the brass inserts and a fixture to hold the top sheave when I mill a relief into the front and rear faces.

Edited by JV Puleo
typos... I hate them! (see edit history)
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Very impressive.  It looks like you've made an adapter plate of sorts so that you can mount your 3-jaw on the the rotary table... is that what we see here?  That's a great idea. I'll have to look around to acquire a smaller 3-jaw for this purpose.  I love how you're using the DP to guide the tap.  What do you have in the Jacobs chuck?   I walked down to the shop to see if my taps had a hole in the end and, strangely enough, some of the older ones do.   I wonder if they came that way or if someone added them?  Can't wait to see more.

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Thanks...

 

All taps had a center hole on the end... all large ones still do but a few small ones don't. (I use a tap wrench with a center hole in those cases.) It was the center used grind them when being made. I've got a small countersink in the chuck. I put just a little pressure on the tap, just enough to keep it straight and turn it about 1/4 turn... a little more pressure - another quarter turn etc until it's in two or three turns. By then it is almost certainly straight but once you get the hang of doing it this way it's no problem to keep it up until the tap is well into the hole.

 

As for the adapter plate... 1" aluminum. I put the piece of aluminum in a big 4-jaw, bored a hole in the center (I think it's 1-1/2") and faced it off so the hole was absolutely perpendicular to the face. I then made a fixture to hold it, faced the other side and turned the outside edge off the center hole so the outside edge and the center are absolutely concentric. The Rotary table has a #3 Morse taper in the center so I bought a #3 Morse "screw on" chuck arbor with 1/2-13 threads... threaded another piece of aluminum to fit, placed it in spindle of my lathe and turned it to fit the hole exactly. Now, when I remove the chuck from the rotary table, I can replace it on center without any thought. I have to take set up apart tomorrow so I'll take a couple of photos. That cheap Chinese 3-jaw chuck is about the only "new" tool I've ever bought. The newest machine I have probably dates from the 1930s, but most of them are older than my 1910 car.

 

Edited by JV Puleo
better wording (see edit history)
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I finished off yesterday by drilling the remaining holes in the big sheave.

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I then took the rotary table off the drill press. Here's the back, showing the hole in the center of the adapter and the alignment tool that fits into the table.

 

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I also made these three brass plugs... 3/4" long, 7/8" OD and 5/16" ID. I will thread the OD to 7/8-14 and the ID to 3/8-16. These screw into the big sheave and provide a threaded hole for a 3-leg puller when it is necessary to pull the hub off.

 

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And... I made this little threading gauge. When they are in the lathe I won't be able to take the plugs off to check the threads against the hole because, if you move them, you can't get them back to the right spot in the threading process.

 

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There was one last job... I'm going to need a different fixture to hold the big sheave and the big timing gear (that I haven't started on yet) on the rotary table in order to mill a relief in their faces. This will require a 1-1/4" hole so the alignment pin for the chuck won't work. So, I made a new end for the threaded #3 Morse taper arbor...notice that after the hole was faced off and threaded, I did everything with the tool assembled in the spindle of the lathe. That way all of the parts have to be concentric and perpendicular.

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Here you see the finishing steps. I'm using a flat belt driven 15" Sidney lathe built around WWI. The dials are quite small and I've had problems in the past holding a tolerance as small as .001. So, I made the fixture you see in this photo to hold a large dial indicator. With this "accessory" I've been able to keep within less than .001 of my intended sizes. It was really designed to facilitate turning the pistons - a job I haven't gotten to yet but has turned out to be very useful on everything that isn't outright "rough and ready."

 

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Here are the old and new  alignment guides with the arbor they attach to.IMG_0024.thumb.JPG.47afda7a2a3bf726de35c0ce93f16546.JPG

 

And just because I thought it was slightly germane... the hook spanner I use to take one of the chucks off the lathe. An exhaust coupling spanner from a Silver Ghost or PI, left over from my RR days.IMG_0022.thumb.JPG.1b75f5573ec76ce6c29c4bf188a710d4.JPG

 

 

Edited by JV Puleo
typo (see edit history)
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Love the hook spanner, a bit more classy than the ones I've made out of old lawn mower blades. :)

Definitely going to need to add a dial indicator to the Hendey as the old handle was long since lost. 

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I started using the dial indicator trick when I was using an 1880s vintage Prentice Bros. lathe that had no dials at all - or power to the cross feed. Still, I made several of the parts needed to get the Sidney back in operation on the Prentice. The problem with doing the pistons has to do with drilling and reaming the holes for the wrist pins. I'm certain I can hold tolerance on the diameters now.

 

j

Edited by JV Puleo
typo (see edit history)

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A bit more progress...

The fixture I will use to mill the relief in the front and back of the sheave needed a centering hole. I had intended to make it 1-1/4" to match the blank sheave. In order to do that, I had to set it up in the lathe because my 1-7/32 drill has a #4 Morse taper shank and the drill press is only #3. I put in the center and pilot holes and then it occurred to me that if I made the hole 1" it would be much easier to use same fixture to mill the faces of the big timing gear... a job I haven't started yet. So. 1" it is.

 

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For those of you who are wondering if I actually do have a car... I'm throwing in this picture of the chassis. I am a long way from starting on it but every so often, when I'm waiting on something else, I plug away at little things.

 

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Here's the fixture with a 1" to 1-1/4" alignment bushing I made along with a 1" centering plug for the rotary table.

 

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I then threaded the brass plugs that will accommodate a 3-leg puller if needed...

 

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Notice the indicator in the photo at the lower right. By using this I am not only able to hold a very close tolerance, but it allows quite good repeatability. The first one took about 20 minutes, testing as I went with the threading gauge,  but the second two took only about 5 minutes each. Here's what they look like finished. The thread is very tight, much more so than I'd want if the parts were intended to ever come apart.

 

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I then threaded the insides 3/8-16...

 

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The last step was to screw them in with a little locktite on the threads. I will also add a tapered pin dutchman to each one since locktite hadn't been invented in 1910. It probably isn't necessary but is not much additional work and keeps it close to the methods of 1910. Using that big shoulder screw to force them in allowed me to use a long allen wrench, getting them in without marring anything.

 

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Edited by JV Puleo
eliminated a redundancy (see edit history)

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Nice machine work.  I worked as a Machinist/welder for the USANG and always enjoyed making parts for the aircraft. I like the challenges and thought process that goes into machining a part.  

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Wow, such impressive work.  Shows that anything can be restored with some skills, patience, and the right tools.

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I tied up a few loose ends today.

First, drilled the holes in the milling fixture to attach the sheave. I'll do something similar for the timing gear which I doubt will have the same hole radius.

 

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I also faced off the brass inserts, bringing them just a little proud of the surface. I really should have made them just under 3/4" rather than just over.

With that done, I set the rotary table, with the fixture and the sheave, up in the milling machine where I center drilled for the 3 tapered pins.

 

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I can't drill through because I'd hit the fixture but great precision isn't needed here. After center drilling them, I finished the job on my little drill press.

 

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The holes were then reamed with a #2 taper pin reamer and the pins hammered in. They are very tight and, because they are at the interface of the threaded inserts and the aluminum body of the sheave, will not come out and prevent the insert from coming out. This is probably overkill but it is the technique that would have been used at the time. The Mitchell company overdid the tapered pins, a cheap way of joining two parts but, as anyone who has ever tried to remove a stuck one will tell you, not always the most sympathetic to a mechanic. I hate them and try to only use them where the two parts will never have to be dismantled.

 

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With that done, I put the sheave back in the lathe and turned the ends of the pins flush. For the next step, this side has to be flat. I'll be milling a 1" x 1/4" relief in the face of the sheave, flipping it over and doing the same on the back. Unfortunately, the 1" end mill I ordered with a .250 radius hasn't arrived yet so it may be next week before I get to finish this.

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While I wait for the special end mill I need to finish the sheave, I thought I'd add some photos of other stuff...

I'm making two sets of timing gears for the Mitchell, one for myself and the other for a friend in Australia who is restoring one of the same model and has even less engine than I do. He is also a hobbyist, but one with his own IMG_0040.thumb.JPG.6d591b5a773dc7973b436bb6b7f21b22.JPGcam shaft grinding machine. He knows a great deal more about cam timing than I do so I am making two sets of gears and he's making two camshafts. At the upper right you see the original magneto drive gear. I'm making the new gears of 7075 aluminum but, because I'm not comfortable with an aluminum to steel fit on the shafts, I'm making them with steel hubs. At the top left is my first effort. This one would work, but I didn't like the "square" relief made with a conventional end mill. I made two more using a ball end mill which I think look nicer even if this will have no effect on their operation. The steel hubs are retained with dutchmen. On the first one I used 10-24 flat head socket screws. They are certainly secure, but again, I didn't like the way they looked so on the second one I used tapered pins. In this case, because the hub is pressed in (not threaded) I put in two pins, one from each side.

 

Here's my lathe... a 15" Sidney with about 6' between centers. This machine had been out in the weather for something like 10 years when I started bringing it back. That was the work of something like two years (on and off)... but, I already owned it and I've always had more time than money to spend.

 

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Here's my milling machine. A Brown & Sharpe 2A (Heavy) Universal mill... the absolute top of the line tool room mill of about 1935 equipped with a vertical head. I actually have two vertical heads, the other is a "universal" head, that swivels in two directions, as well as a slotting attachment. I've never used either the 2nd head or the slotter but it's comforting to know I have them if needed. I bought this machine dismantled — thinking it would take me 8 weeks to reassemble it. It took 8 months so I won't be doing that again any time soon. I'm still looking for a B&S Vertical mill.

 

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And, my small drill press (used mostly for wood and when the big drill press is set up for something else) and surface grinder. The surface grinder was built in 1925. It it really worn out so I only use it with the hand controls but, it will hold .0005 when needed. For the most part, I use it to make sure things really are flat. There is relatively little in brass car work that requires 1/2 thousandth tolerances.

 

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A further note... my shop was largely assembled over about 10 years. All of this stuff is "scrap metal" in the industrial world today but it still works and, when you are making just 1 or 2 or 4 parts there is no real advantage to having new machines. In fact, the old ones are often better, at least partly because they are the sort of machines the parts were designed to be made on.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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