Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Over The Handlebars

My shedweek has been spent contriving a plating tank so I could plate the handlebars. This has been going on for so long now that I'm a little tired of it, I'm pretty much over the bars. As I mentioned last time, my previous attempt was an utter failure. This time I decided to plate each half separately to try and make the job slightly easier. The depth of the drop of the grips and the geometry of the head mean that a simple square cut tube will not work, it's not possible to get the handle bar fully immersed in the solution. When I picked up the tube from Pete, I mentioned this difficulty and he simply suggested that I cut the tube at an angle and mount it off vertical. Clearly Pete's not as dumb as I look as this turned out to be the winning answer.

A little trig. to calculate the angle of the cut and then recycle the 
failed polythene tank into a little stand for the tube tank. 

With the tube mounted it looks like a big fat mortar. 

The tube is 150 mm diameter cable conduit and the end cap is stuck on with evil smelling PVC glue. I tested this before hand and it was absolutely watertight. I wanted to plate both halves on the same day so that the conditions would be the same and the resulting finish would be the identical. This meant waiting until the weekend and getting up early. In the meantime I used the same tank to plate the brake lever and the trouser guard.

The contrived set up looks a lot like a Heath Robinson drawing

Try to imagine where the submersed handlebar is compared to the other side and you can see the difficulty obtaining a tank to completely cover it. The central part of the head is masked by paint, only the bars are plated.

Now that the bars are done I can soft solder the trouser guard into the head. To ensure that it is in the correct place I installed the wheel again. This meant I needed to protect the tyre and rim from the heat. I wrapped a wet rag around the tyre and then used 4 layers of old baked bean can steel to act as a heat shield.

Baked bean can heat shield.

This worked well and the tyre and rim paint are undamaged.

The neck was also plated at some point in the last two weeks but I'm old and I can't remember when I did it. Again, the area to be plated was masked with paint. Also at some point in the last two weeks I've had all the bits nitrided that require hardening. I'm still polishing these and I'll plate them in the coming week.

Before nitriding, afterwards they go an interesting blue colour.

I'm now at the point where I can prep for painting and then wait for a spell of decent weather.

In other news the deck is very nearly complete, I've screwed the actual decking on to the joists rather than use nails. My tendonitis wouldn't cope with hammering 3500 nails very well. I'm only about 8 metres of decking short which isn't too bad considering that I bought 750 metres to start with. I've been borrowing an 18v cordless drill from Dan, a fellow member of our pub quiz team. It has made the job so much easier. All that really remains to do is to stain the bare timber, I'll be leaving the choice of colour to my lovely wife (resident soft furnishings expert) for obvious reasons. Doing the deck myself has had a significant impact on the facile project, I hope to get back into production properly next week.

In more other news, my whanau spent the long weekend up in Nelson. We caught up with Mr. Middleton and his family and had a most enjoyable meal and evening with them. I failed to find anything to steal from his shed, I was hoping to locate a set of Westwood rims but it was not to be.

I took my mountain bike up to Nelson and on the Saturday morning I did a little ride up into the hills. The Dun Mountain track is wasome and even more wasome when I discovered that the first half follows the bed of the first (horse drawn) railway in NZ, towards the top you ride over some of the original sleepers from the 1860's. It was cold and windy at the top (878m) so I pulled my jacket out of my pocket. At this point I must have dislodged my brain as I descended like a complete twat (again) and had a minor off. I don't seem to learn do I? Just a bit of gravel rash and a hurty knee this time though. So this week I actually was over the handlebars.

Later, driving into town for dinner, my lovely wife in our car and my in laws in their car got caught speeding. Being a long weekend it is zero tolerance and she got fined $30 for 58kph in a 50kph zone. She was very sheepish but I didn't say a word, I didn't need to. The fine will have to come out of her shoe allowance. It's the only way she's going to learn.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Not the solution for not enough solution

I've mentioned this before, but I like to do my own nickel plating for several reasons. The first is obvious, it's hard for me to lose bits in the bottom of my tank. Imagine if you have spent something like 40+ hours on a single component and the plating shop you have outsourced to doesn't wire it securely and it falls into a huge tank. The chances of recovery are slim and none. It does happen. I also like to do my own polishing. Polishing is not a highly paid job and you can guarantee that the dude doing your polishing will not take the same care that you would. I've seen some beautiful parts ruined by overzealous polishing, the polisher trying to get a mirror finish on every surface at the expense of fine detail. In addition, I can spend the time and effort to mask the components correctly, you don't want to plate a bearing surface for example. Masking is easy, either with tape or paint, but it all adds to the time and cost if outsourced.

I only have 10 litres of plating solution at present, this is more than adequate for the usual small items like cranks and brake levers. Handlebars are slightly more tricky, particularly if they are wide and bent into interesting 3 dimensional shapes. The answer is to use a little creativity in your choice of tank. I have previously used plastic garden window boxes for long thin items, but after scouring all the local garden centres, I'm unable to find any that are long enough, skinny enough and deep enough. And don't have holes in the bottom. Obviously.

So this week I tried something that I have attempted once before but which failed spectacularly. I made a custom tank out of scrap wood and then lined it with polythene. Last time the polythene had a tiny hole in it and I lost all my solution, I wasn't happy or popular since at the time I was plating in the dining room (tiny English 2 up 2 down). My lovely wife not particularly wanting the green carpet. We learn by our mistakes and I certainly did that day.

Some quick calculations to determine the maximum dimension of the tank to give me enough coverage and clearance for both sides of the handlebars at one go. Then make the thing and line it with polythene sheet. This time I planned to fill it with 10 litres of water and leave it overnight to check for leaks. The first bit went OK, but then I turned my back for a couple of seconds and when I turned back I had 10 litres of water all over the kitchen floor. Water is easy to clean off lino so I did learn by my mistake. I also learnt that this wasn't a practical solution, the tiniest of holes or tears causes titanic failure. Luckily my lovely wife and children are away this week on holiday so I could clear up the mess at my leisure. You'll notice that there is a slight shortage of photos in this entry, this is not because my camera is funded by the US government but simply that my family have taken it on holiday...

So back to the drawing board. Pete is going to try and locate some pipe of suitable dimensions to make a tank.

In other news, my lovely wife's parents arrived from England this week. They have been whisked off to Wanaka to stay in luxurious accommodation while I work on the deck. I'm beginning to dislike the deck. I managed a full 20 hours at the weekend on it and I ache all over. It is also raining now, so I can't work on it as planned. I'm also taking the opportunity to grow a beard as a nice surprise for when she gets back. This has nothing to do with being less concerned about personal grooming when my primary caregiver isn't present.