Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by dutchcedar, 8 May 2006.
Welcome to a fun little project...
As of 5-5-2007, she's looking like this:
A few of us were chewing the fat in the back halls of WizD Forums and thought it would be fun to come up with a design for a new rig. Well, ideas flew around, one thing led to another and the next thing you know, I started a design in SketchUp. We talked about building an animated mech, a rig designed with a motorcycle style frame or one based on hot rods.
The first SketchUp model looked like this:
After a couple of weeks of bouncing ideas around with the forum wizards, the result was this design of a bubble-topped, multiple pod creation…
A quick rundown... the main pod houses the mainboard and hard drives. Its bubble top swings up while the radiator pod drops back. On the right in its own pod is the power supply, while the optical drives are in their own pod on a tether.
But let’s be clear… this is the design as it was before anything was acquired to build this rig. The design remains in a constant state of flux, because as you’ll soon see, there are a lot of little details that affect one another, so although the spirit of this version will remain, some details will certainly change.
Here’s a little background on the design. Having been a big fan of custom show rods ever since I was a kid, the idea of emulating their style in a PC was a natural. The first ones that really got me going were the radical customs of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, George Barris, Dean Jeffries, Bill Cushenberry and the many others who built their cars from scratch, using parts pilfered from here, there and everywhere. They used things like exposed engines, drilled frame rails, bubble tops and any number of off-the-wall ideas to create their rolling sculptures. Often painted in the panelized style of Steve Watson, with bright candy and metal-flake paints, they were all about breaking the mold of what you would expect a car to look like. One thing they all had was a weirdness that made them look almost inoperable, in spite of being perfectly functional (well, some of them didn’t actually run… but that’s for another day).
Just to give you an idea of what kind of show rod we’re talking about, here are a few Ed “Big Daddy” Roth examples.
My favorite Ed Roth car is probably the Beatnik Bandit, built in the early ‘60’s.
He made a second version of it in 1995, dubbed the Beatnik Bandit II.
The car on the left is a copy of Ed Roth’s Mysterion, originally built in the 60’s, while the car on the right is the Roswell Rod, built as a tribute to Ed Roth.
The Invaluable Help...
One of the most fun parts of this project is that although I'm building this rig here, its not been all on my own. An incredible amount of help has come from friends I've met on the web, mostly at WizD Forums. They are probably all familiar names to you here at BitTech too, because they are all members here as well. I hope you play close attention as I call them out for what they've done, because their participation has been much more than a casual inspiration and without their involvement and inspiration, this would be nothing more than a SketchUp design.
Here's a short list (in no particular order) of the people who helped in the original design and later in the build... (as you'll see as the worklog unfolds)...
There's more, and I hope I don't miss anyone as I post this worklog.
As an example, it was fillip who's responsible for the incredible logo design.
There was an interesting exchange with the Ed "Big Daddy" Roth estate as a result, based on whether or not there was a copyright infringement by using Big Daddy's Rat Fink in the logo. Because this isn't a commercial venture, they haven't persued it further. I'd like to thank Moldy Marvin for his help in this regard.
Making the Basic Case
After playing with a bunch of different ideas for how to make the case itself and wanting to keep it as simple as possible, the idea of making top and bottom case halves seemed to be the most straight forward method. It would also allow me to have an extra of each piece by ordering a third, if ya know what I mean... By forming them from .100” thick aluminum, the hope was to avoid needing any supports or framework inside.
It just so happens, that many moons ago one of my jobs was an estimator at Bayfab Metals in San Leandro, California. They have a fine reputation in the circles of metal forming. So I got in touch with them and they sheared and formed these pieces for me. This is what they looked like right out of the press brake.
This is a detail shot of the corners… the shaft and bearings had just arrived, but we’ll discuss them a bit later…
Nino and Kenny, the masters of the press brake…
When I picked up the formed aluminum pieces from Bayfab Metals, my chief assistant, Kyler, came with me. He gave Chris, one of the girls in the office, a lesson on how to multi-task a PC, something he’s very good at (18 months old at the time... ).
Trying to stick to the spirit of this design, and not having the tools or talents to machine things, I began an exhaustive search for anything related to hot rods, motorcycles and race cars that might lend itself to being incorporated in this whacky little PC. The search included some buys on eBay, pilfering of parts from a friend’s motorcycle shop, a couple of direct purchases and eventually led to having some parts water-cut, laser-cut and machined out of aluminum. With lots of input from the Backroom Wizards, I think we came up with some pretty danged creative ways to use these parts. Some of their applications will be obvious, while others will be made clear as this project unfolds.
Some of the “acquisitions” had a specific purpose in mind, but a lot of them were picked up simply because they are about the right size for the project and looked really cool, with the hope that they would inspire some creative ideas and find a home in this project. Some may not even be used, but we’ll try to find a place for as many of them as possible. With their use up in the air, here are some of the parts that weren’t made specifically for this build, but will hopefully find their way into the project:
Sprint Car Tie Down Straps Machined from ¼” thick aluminum, these straps are used to fix the angle of a sprint cars front wing to an angle appropriate for the track its racing on.
Sprint Car Steering Block -off Plates These are also machined from ¼” aluminum and are about 2-3/4’ x 6”.
R/C Truck Chassis Braces Used to stiffen the chassis on radio controlled, gas powered 4x4 trucks, these are machined from 5/16” thick aluminum and are about 8-1/2” long.
Arlen Ness Billet Mirror Its amazing what can be found on eBay if your needs are a little off-kilter. This $120.00 mirror was bought for less than ten bucks… probably because it didn’t have a mate. Its chrome plated and polished billet aluminum.
Billet Grille Pieces Measuring about 3-1/2” x 9-1/2”, these little beauties are covers for the side grilles on F-350 Ford trucks. They are made of 1/8” thick aluminum bars welded to small bars and are powder coated black with the faces polished.
Short Throw Shifter Barely six inches long, this shift handle designed for 5.0 Mustangs is machined from ½” thick aluminum. The layout of the holes and the shape really struck my fancy, so as you’ll see later, it became the model for some of the special pieces on this project.
Mini Tachometer Housing Designed to clamp to a 1” handlebar, this housing is about 3” in diameter and 3” long. Its chrome plated and polished aluminum.
Air Vents Used in a lot of hot rods, this pair of air conditioning vents from Vintage Air reminded me of blower intake butterfly valves. They are entirely machined from billet aluminum.
The Bubble Top
Before venturing off to acquire the formed aluminum and odd parts you've already seen, I did a little homework on the bubble. Global Plastics, a plastic fabricator who specializes in vacuum forming acrylic domes and located just across the Maine border in Canada, made two 12 inch diameter bubbles for me out of 1/8" thick neon yellow acrylic. They're about 5 inches tall and have a 5/8" flange.
Here's a shot of one of them sitting on top of the main pod halves with those two air vents.
The second one will remain "in storage", just in case the first one gets fouled up somehow or another.
The jury's still out on the color. I kinda wish I had ordered a clear one as well... but they can always be asked to make more...
To be honest, I was concerned about hanging a water pump out in front of this case because... well, pumps aren't exactly pretty. Unlike the famous line from "The Graduate", plastics is not a good thing here.
I noticed through another eBay auction that Alpine Machine also makes oil filter covers for ATV's and they looked about the same size as the motor on PolarFLO's TT series D-4 pump.
Well they weren't the same size. So I got hold of the folks at PolarFLO to see if they had any interest in polished aluminum motor covers. Back to Alpine and back to PolarFLO and back to... you get the picture...
Long story short... there's now a solution to the unattractive pump.
A chrome plated and polished version of the PolarFLOstock pump...
A polished, billet aluminum cover, made special by Alpine Machine, attaches to the motor housing with a set-screw...
The two together are perfect...
Since then, I've purchased the newer D5 pump from DangerDen and hope it will fit inside of PolarFLO's D4 style housing... more on that later...
Just a Sketch
This is jumping ahead a bit, because it shows a few things that haven't been posted yet... but playing with SketchUp doesn't always fit the schedule, now does it?
Ya see, I love this little program and was playing with some graphics that are similar to the ones used on George Barris' famous Ala Kart, a popular custom pick-up truck from years back... anyways, it was pearl white with purple and gold graphics, so I thoiught it might be fun to play with... needing something that goes with the plastic bubble...
Trust me, you'll see a lot of paint schemes before any color gets laid down, so if ya would, just put it aside for now... many more variations are sure to come along... its a way off. But I just enjoy looking at different ideas... thought you might too...
The Coolant Reservoir
This is my favorite component so far. It comes from Billet Specialties and is usually used in custom cars and hot rods as a radiator overflow tank. It goes so well with the parts Alpine Machine turned for the pump and bulkhead fittings, I couldn't pass it up.
Its going to mount on the bubble top ring, so when the bubble gets lifted, the radiator falls back and the reservoir lifts up, so the reservoir becomes the highest point, perfect for filling.
Did I explain that the bubble top, reservoir and radiator will lift and lower automatically? I might have forgotten to mention that...
Custom Parts - Round One
Do you remember that Mustang short shifter? scopEDog suggested it be used for a power switch, and we took his idea further and will use to power the dome/radiator/reservoir lifting mechanism. Well, it looked so good, it was natural to play off of its design a few more times.
Anyway, cut to the chase... I sent off drawings and .dwg files for a few parts to Alpine Machine in Oregon. Here's an example of one of those drawings.
They sent me back these little beauties about a week later. In the front are the outriggers that support the pump. Behind them are the power supply support brackets and the bubble top hinge brackets.
There's still some drilling, tapping and detail work to be done, but they sure are pretty. They were water-cut from 1/2" thick aluminum.
I'm compelled to say something here about the fabricators and suppliers. Alpine Machine, Bayfab Metals, Billet Specialties, Global Plastics and PolarFLO have all done magnificent work. They've played a big role in helping to get this project going and their craftsmanship shows.
There are still some tricky parts to be made, so they'll be put to task again...
Wow looks promessing. Going to have a close eye on this mod.
hahahaha my rc car has these
Its made for a tmaxx
(i dont think im a loud to post this here)
i love this case (following silently at wizd) it gave me nice ideas for my mod that i hope is coming soon or never
More Water Cutting...
Before assembling the parts to this rig, I had been trying hard to get as many pieces together as possible, because there will surely be conflicts here and there and avoiding as many as possible is a good thing. So... after many hours of measuring, mocking-up and re-measuring, I had finally finished and sent of the drawings for a number of critical parts to be water-cut.
An example of the water-cut parts is the front bezel, which is cut from 3/4" aluminum... again, by Alpine Machine in Oregon.
Here are some pics of how these water-cut aluminum parts will work on the rig:
Remember those billet grilles for an F350 Ford truck?
Grunt Work... that's FUN!!!
I'm no machinist, but love to play with metal. So here is the beginning of the fitting of all these parts you've read about. The beginning is going to be a bit boring, hence the term, "grunt work". As time moves on it should get a little more exciting.
For starters, sheetmetal work is rarely precise, but the guys at Bayfab did such a primo job on these pieces, I only had to do a little bit of squaring up after the pod halves were put together. A belt sander with 120 grit was used to do the squaring.
I've been laying tape down, so the aluminum won't get scratched by the steel sanding table.
At the moment, I'm only working on the two smaller pods, in hopes that if I catch any mistakes or tricks along the way, they can be used on the main pod later.
A die grinder (air powered honkin' Dremel) was used to pare down the inside legs a bit.
Because sheetmetal work isn't always precise, the bezels were made a tad bit over-sized. To get them to fit properly, they'll be sanded down to the exact size and shape. The first step is centering each pod on the bezel and marking the corners... a straight edge was used later to connect them.
With an 80 grit belt, they're put to the lines. I can only do about 1/32" at a time, because the aluminum gets too hot to handle. Its the first time I've ever done this to 3/4" aluminum... patience, patience...
While the pieces were cooling down between "shavings", I spent some time on the PSU Pod brackets. Here they're getting drilled for tapped holes about 5/8" deep. I've put them between a couple of Birch blocks to prevent scratching them in the vise.
And here they're getting tapped with a blind tap for 6-32 threads.
Next, the bezels will get 1/2" radiused edges on the outside and 1/8" radiused edges on the openings.
See ya soon...
Before we get to the radiusing of the bezel faces, there was a little mounting detail to consider. Using 1" x 1" x 1/8" aluminum angle, I cut these two brackets up on the band saw. They're fixed to four blind tapped 6-32 holes on the back of the bezel. They keep the bezel from moving in any direction (except out, we'll deal with that later ).
To finish the face a bit, it was sanded with this dual-action palm sander...
Shaping the PSU Pod Bezel
For starters, it was a good opportunity to add a new tool to my bin... a 2-1/4 H.P. Skil plunge router that takes 1/2" bits. Pretty slick little number... even has a couple lights to let ya see where ya screwed up...
Anyways, for starters, I put a 1/4" x 45 degree bevel on all sides of the bezel, using 50 grit on the belt sander. Notice the clever "don't go past here" warning sign? Ah, the beauty of painter's tape.
Then it was on to the router. Here's the bit...
Cutting in aluminum is a bit tricky with a router, but don't be fooled by the wavy cuts... that's entirely operator error... its a Mother to keep that router flat while going around this little thing. But this was the fourth cut, with one more to go... I was sneakin' up on it...
p.s. there are wedges in there that ya can't see... to hold everything tight... and another block below this so the router bit doesn't bottom out.
After the routering was done, it was sanded with 100 grit, than 150, with the air sander...
A couple of obligatory glory shots with the pod and brackets...
Finishing the PSU Bezel
The inside cuts on the bezels are going to have a 1/8" radius cut made with a roundover bit on the router. Here's the bit fixed into the router with a 1/4" shaft reducing collar...
But first, as I learned on the outside cut... its uber important to clamp the piece well, but with plenty of room to move the router about. Old drawer faces from the Kitchen remodel came in handy (and the "workbench" is a series of the old cabinet doors)...
After the cut was made... and I realized after the first inch or so that I had the bit about a millimeter or two too deep... but there ain't no turning back once its started...
Rough sanding with 80 grit in the air powered palm sander...
Finish sanding with emery cloth in the electric palm sander...
And there we are...
incredible. The design looks very sweet with the multiple pods and such. I like the "This-is-how-it-works" kind of style to "Hide-everything-and-make-it-super-clean" look. Very nice!
Nice! i like the bubble thing. And the chrome things looks jummy!
A real pice of art!
this case is awesome
Separate names with a comma.