Monday, April 14, 2014

MLS in the news

A few months ago I teamed up with Bill working on that custom prosthetic leg and Autodesk was pretty stoked about us using new software they have out so they did a write up on the project. Check it out.

Autodesk - In the fold - Newsletter

 

This talks about the new Autodesk Fusion I am using - pretty rad.... Plus if your not making money using it and want it for personal projects... IT FREE !!!!

Autodesk Fusion 360 download

On the right hand side you can see its free for Hobbyist  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Nickel and diming....

This project has been nickeling and diming me for years on my time but now I figured I should just hammer down and build it because I have the tools to do it...

When I started this concept a few years ago with my brother, I knew I could finish it quickly and it would turn out like the Gravity bike and everyone would get stoked but the more I ran with the concept and split off with my brother the more I realized I was becoming a machinist for stuff but I was still missing the CNC part to really make my parts stand out...

I can machine anything by hand to a point but it often requires special attention on things like finish work because its not a perfect smooth finish but cnc offers you a showcase of the machining effort you have put in to it, its why people love aircraft parts and crazy cnc bicycle and motorcycle parts. Theres something about leaving the raw machine marks all over it and not polishing it to a glass like finish that sometime once anodized looks like plastic...

The more I left it sit on the frame table the more it would bug me looking at it but my customers come first and its not to say that I am short on work, what you see on my blog is about 20% of the projects I can show without getting sued or thrown in jail, so it took the back burner... maybe not even the back burner, maybe almost refrigerator with a cover over it...

The day came where after some sweet wheelin and dealin I scored the CNC Bridgeport Boss 10 and did the retro fit to a brand new drive and PLC ready to take on the most complex jobs, then came the teaming up with Autodesk's new company called HSMworks which links to Solidworks and Inventor for CAM ( see the old blog posts for more details) and with those 2 things the door finally opened on making crazy parts a reality... No paying for machining that I can't afford... I would do it myself and let it run all night on crazy parts.
   This is the project my brother and I came up with to build and I have been running with it since it was sketched... Lots still to come but day by day this thing is coming together....

                              
 
So come along with my machining adventure in the next weeks to see this beast come to life...

Machining aluminum softjaws to hold a expanding mandrel
plus it makes a perfect origin 0,0 right away after cutting 
I wouldn't call them softjaws really because it would still hurt if you got them thrown at you, but in the machining world anything made of Aluminum is called SOFT... ha, whatever....

These are the hub blanks Liem made on the Lathe using HSMworks Lathe Cam software
As you can see the one side of the hub was done but the other side needed to be hollowed out, plus I wanted disc rotor mounts and because the Haas Lathe we did the work on didn't have live tooling we were stuck doing it this way.
This is the expanding mandrel in my hand
 

Perfect fit ready for the hub.

Here we go... clearing it out with a pocketing cutting feature.
I didn't use a big end mill because I didn't want a lot of cutting pressure to cause it to possible spin or move on the mandrel...
Don't call me a pussy
 

switched over to a long 12mm ball end mill with relief to do this deep cut
Looks great but it was ringing like crazy so I put this wrist band I got from Autodesk University on it to reduce the chatter, perfect!
VIP status...

check that out!!!
With the mounts for the floating rotor!
On to the next parts

Dropouts on this bike are a wild one too, if you scroll up to the 3d model of the bike you will see the crazy machined dropouts so here we go... making chips.
 
cutting away..

I really like the look of ball endmilling the radius in to things and also the radius on these parts varies so theres no way I could use a normal tool

At the end I did a webbing and the part was held in by a few pieces and then I cut it out with a aviation shear... easy and fast and then I made another side in a mirrored image.

Thinking time... Sometimes its easier to draw and look at a part then using crazy modeling software.
I feel that a lot of newer engineers don't understand how important this is... you don't always need to sit and stare at the computer to make parts, go out in the shop and smell the oil.

Surplus Lockheed 6-4 Titanium
Blocks of it ready to become a king pin steering set up for the cable steering front end.
I really freestyled this part, I hope it works...

Roughing Titanium is a learning experience
If you don't machine it a lot it can be very costly if you mess up...
Called up Tom at Ox Tool to make sure I had everything right, hes rattled off the numbers on the phone by memory....
.375 depth of cut - 8 ipm at about 900 RPM with a .120 step over with a 4+ flute endmill 
He knew it... maybe he has done it before....

Side one getting some ball endmilling
and some clean up in the bearing pockets, you will see in the next weeks how this part works. 
it worked out pretty good, have to debur it and do some finish work on it but I think it will work to get the bike on the ground as a roller, just think this could have been some crazy part at Lockheed... but they were going to scrap it so I put some life back in it by making a mini F22 Raptor style steering link part... Kind of like Lockheed Skunkworks around here...
 
I got so excited about aerospace stuff I had to make a cart....
Built this beast in a few hours out of the junk laying in the off cut pile next to the saw
MLS Aerospace division just got a fresh new cart, off to powdercoating.
 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Trying is dying

Well.... I made it another year older and if you don't know I am 72 years old.... or maybe its 27.... either way I feel old in the bones...

Thanks for the birthday wishes...


I was standing around and I said to Gabe, lets build something really really rad that no one seems to think is a good idea or safe, something we can build in a day or two and take to Salton Sea to have fun with for my birthday and with all the friends from LA.

We thought about if for a few and we came up with a crazy idea to build a new flame thrower but making it powered by people to keep it more of a team builder and involvement...

Well, How would we tackle such a thing....

The more I stood there thinking the more I realized why not go backwards and build something that's suppose to put out the fire.... Like a fire pumper truck.... to shoot flames... now were talking....

But its just toooo easy just hooking up a motor to it and sitting back and shooting flames, one person can do that, and the idea was a team builder so the more I thought...

Got it!
Build something like a 1800s Fire pumper
With the fuel taking the place of the water

Some different examples of styles

It would take a full crew to make it happen back in the day, pretty neat to think of this beast throwing flames....
 
So we started with a new style of the hand pumper just freestyling...
I can't just build what has been built... that's no fun...
 
We decided what would be cooler then making it kinda like a engine and making the people the pistons and have it hand cranked as opposed to hand pumping vertically...

Heres what we tried...
First we did some sketches of what madness was in the brain...


Using some stuff laying around we made a fixture and started making a hand crank.
We used some laser drops from Seaport Stainless  = Free
 

Gabe is welding up some of the Brown and Sharp Cams we got from Edward Koehn Swiss Machining , these would be links to the tube we had left over from the Oakley Project = Both Free
Action shot for the ladies

We had these vertical steel tubes from a old Red Bull prototype ramp we built that never worked..
Free !!!!

Gabe did a sweet job cutting these holes in line...

Did you know hes in school to become a machinist now?

And is now CERTIFIED as a level 1 Machinist

I think I am a level 2 so I will watch the level 1 and ask questions....

Tacked up some sweet bearings and holders we got from
Performance Machine that get put in their motorcycle wheels, these were some leftovers from R&D
Ok... Well I didn't take many photos that afternoon because my camera went dead so heres where it went to next... A swiveling gunner seat and the Hawl Pump mounted..


Hes been waiting all year for photos like these so he can put them on facebook

He should have been a gunner in the Army...
That chair was in the trash.... so we welded it to a giant lazy Suzan bearing left over from a bar stool..
Both free 


Having a good stop for the swiveling seat I used the axle sticking out.  

Heres a side view...
 

Ok so that night I made some stuff on the gunner seat...
I was on one of the possessed fabrication nights where all I wanted to do is build... Wait... that's every night...  

 

That's some old garage door bearing rollers I cut apart and just welded the bearings on to make the gun have movement in 360 degs.
That pressure washer gun I found in the recycling at the Exploratorium because it had cracks in it...
FREE!!!

This is a shot of the wood chain guard which was a backup for a exhibit at the Exploratorium called Echo-Tube and the pump was found during the move out of the old museum, Dave Fleming and I found some really good stuff while packing up.

Close up of the brown and sharp gears that I got from the Koehn Machine shop and the big monster #50 sprocket was from when I did R&D work for Clorox, it got the wrong bore in it...
FREEEEEEEEE!!!!

Close up of that sweet pain job and pump....

Sweet 1" aluminum pipe over 1" steel tubing...
Perfect for a handle grip.

 
As you will see that's some left overs from Greg Minnaar's Bike Shop racks...
The propane tanks are held by a sample of an aluminum sail boat mass
You can see the sweet bearings in the gunner swivel at the top left of the photo.
both ----   FREEEEEEE

The seat was mounted on this giant Stainless Steel Gate Valve I found in the recycling at the Exploratorium.
I cut the back and shaped it so it didn't hang over - custom & FREEEEEE

Those are engine puller ( cherry picker ) legs at the bottom with wheels, Some one stole my cherry picker from my shop ( classic Oakland style ) but they forgot the legs.. so that week we decided it wasn't going to return so we welded the leg on the bottom, That engine puller was free so I can't complain... Making those Legs FREE too
Overall shes a sweet piece of scrap metal all welded together...

I can't say it was the best idea....

Gabe even painted his truck to get ready for the flame thrower... !
 
Then... I got a hernia and my intestines dropped in to my ball sack...
Fuck that.... I had to go get surgery for my birthday...
So much for going to desert...
and the dream of blowing minds shooting flames...


The healing process in California is styling... My titanium hand made pipe got used for a few days...
 
Well... I am resting these days but it was a bummer we didn't get to go to the desert and test.... Maybe soon...
Check out these videos to get a good idea of what we built.. 

 


This video shows us running the pump at full speed, its bypassing pressure and is not easy to pump...




We didn't have any water left in the tank for testing...

Enjoy - and don't get burned.... Until next time....

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

the little leagues...

Well before I had customers like Google, Red Bull, Boeing ....

I had customers like Larry the BMXican, Sonkway and all the other BMX punk kids in my hometown of New Ulm,MN....

I am guessing I was about 11 or 12 years old and I was getting in to metal working thanks to my Dad, Brother and my school/city by making it easy to go for it...

My town is a very special place..or maybe it is just to me but when I look back at it now I see a lot of my roots strong in what I do now based on that foundation that was built by what was around me.

The town I am from in Minnesota is a little one of about 15,000 called New Ulm, its very very strong in its German heritage and it shows it in work ethic as well. The name New Ulm comes from the Germans that landed in the Minnesota river valley in the late 1800s and when deciding on the name they said... This is just like ULM, Germany both in weather and land... Just to give you an idea in Germany what Ulm is known for - its a little city not far from the big city of Stuttgart which is known for Porsche and Mercedes Benz just to name a few... the metal working runs strong in the heritage.

My school as well had great teachers that were super focused to show us about the worlds of crafts and trades, one I will always remember was the tool and die workers that fill New Ulm because of a mega 3M plant there best know for these little bad boys...
The famous 3M wire connectors ...
 
All of us as a full school classes would snake thru the 3M factories every so often stopping to say hi to parents of fellow classmates working in the factory, but we got to see some really cool stuff that got me hooked on making stuff... It was truly an incubator for my making addiction.
Lines of Injection Molding machines...
At age 12 this was the coolest thing seeing a 300 ton Arburg press clamp down and fill...
Waiting seconds later to an opening mold and 150 wire connectors falling out on to a belt system to be hauled to the next step.
This isn't the 3M shop in the photo above but it gives you an idea about what we seen as kids and how cool the feed tubes with all the colors were!
 
My Dad who is a jack of all trades was also one of the people that really helped me get rolling.
With all this curiosity in making stuff it was a blessing to have some tools in the shop.  
 
Far from what I use today my dad taught me on the old Miller Thunderbolt, I would watch him then he would yell at me to quick go crank up the top for more amp, if you have used one of these you know what I am talking about, its kinda cool to crank it up. Then I would watch him burn a giant quarter sized hole in part and then he would yell at me to quick go turn it down so I would run and uncrank it to about half what I turned it before.
It was a slow process.... but I learned a ton...
My dad Casper in his Man Cave
 
As I got handy in the shop fixing and doing stuff I got more ideas based on being in love with riding bicycles, both bmx and mountain bike. I raced non stop and I wanted a make bike parts... so I asked my dad to help out.
 
 this was the Azonic Headlock designed to pull the front end together on an 1 1/8 threadless set up...
By this time I was about 14 and these had just hit the market but I was going to copy it and sell it to all my friends.
 
So I did....
Using threaded rod and a cartage bolt, my dad and I came up with a copy of it.
Pretty ghetto but it worked and worked well and I made like 30 them with my dad and they sold plus you could use your existing headset cap.
I would have them all cut and ready and when my dad would come home for lunch during the summer he would help me weld them all up with the thunderbolt and then I would paint them with crappy callers like off green and browns... Colors you didn't want on your bike...
 
 
It was clear I was going to be rich off my business so I would need to start a company...
The company of the future... It said it in our tag line...
"Parts to beat"
 
Later down the road we would see a full integration in to the MLS family for Weasel Fab, but that would take years of struggling for Weasel fab before the buyout, mostly because I was still in high school and I had to worry about hanging out with girls, plus I was the only person of both companies so who would I rather hire then myself... Now I am confusing everyone...
 
That's enough ranting about myself and making up stories of MLS corporate buyouts