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« on: January 10, 2012, 08:25:44 PM »

New semester, new thread.

I had my first classes yesterday. I started with Motorcycle Service II. It meets twice per week from 8-11:30am. It is taught by the same instructor I had last semester. It's the first time he's taught it, so he has two experienced assistants working with him. It was clear from the outset that we're expected to do a lot more reading and prep on our own now, and that we'll be spending more time in the shop this semester. There are a lot of pop quizzes and tests as well. Topics include steering heads, brakes, frame geometry, shocks, more on transmissions, and clutches.

We started in right away on steering head bearings - design, assessment, and methods of adjustment. We'll be tearing at least four different types apart starting tomorrow. The students in this class (the daytime class) are much younger than my classmates last semester and most are looking for careers as fabricators or working in dealerships. Some already have welding skills or machine shop skills. Pretty cool. The only problem is that I have to get up a 5:45am to make it to class on time. Ugh. What was I thinking by signing up for something that starts so early?!

----------

My afternoon class is Welding for Art and Design (a requirement for the motorcycle program). The entire welding class is huge because they teach 13 different classes simultaneously, but since each student works at his/her own pace we're basically in the welding shop the whole time in our assigned booth. They have 60+ booths and have several assistants to help out the instructor. She started off with a no-nonsense talk about how many ways we can catch ourselves and other things on fire.

We were also given a lot of reading material and told to buy a small arsenal of safety equipment. I now own a welding helmet (auto darkening, but a lower-end model), welding gloves, fire resistant jacket, welding apron, a pile of beanies, and shade 5 safety glasses. Because next Monday is MLK day and the college is closed, we won't have another class for two weeks. The local welding supply stores must have known we were coming because the one I went to was well stocked and offered a good student discount. The course I'm in  is broad-based, so we start with oxy-acetylene welding, then oxy cutting, then MIG welding, some other processes I don't remember, and finish with a little TIG. According to the instructor we won't be very good at any process because of the short time spent on each, but at least we'll know some basics. We have to complete lots of homework assignments and complete each task successfully. If we burn the instructor there is a deduction as well. The final exam is a series of welds using the process of your choice, and we're encouraged to spend extra time in the shop. They will let us work on small personal projects and even help out as needed. I'm hoping to do a little welding on my project bike frame this semester.

If we like the welding class we can opt to take more welding classes, which include the use of some pretty crazy looking machines that are housed behind a fat red line painted on the floor of the shop. Students in my class aren't allowed to set foot over the red line for any reason or talk with anyone working on the other side of the line. One machine is a type of robot that seems to cut with some sort of laser. Sweet.
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2012, 09:05:57 PM »

 :popcorn:
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2012, 09:22:24 AM »


 One machine is a type of robot that seems to cut with some sort of laser. Sweet.


Could  be a plasma cutter?

Anyway, the new classes sound interesting.  I've been wanting to take a welding class or two just for fun.  My wife just started school again this semester, so maybe after she finishes her second degree, I'll be able to make the time for some mo' learnin'.
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2012, 08:45:33 PM »

We didn't have class on Monday so it was a short week.

We started off today with a quiz. Definitely tougher than last semester. Then it was right off to the shop to remove, repack, and replace steering head bearings.

I ended up with a 2000 Buell. God I hate this bike. At least it had tapered bearings (so no chasing ball bearings all over the place). The procedure was actually pretty easy, and Buell uses a spring scale method to check the tension, which is easy. Beats the HD dressers, which can take as much as NINE HOURS to do (stereo and all plastic must be removed, then you have to put everything back to inspect - if it's off you remove everything and do it again - fun).

I brought a lower tree with a pressed on bearing from home so I could remove it. Turns out that none of the fancy removal tools would fit, so I ended up chiseling off the cage and driving the races off with a drift. Sometimes brute force is the best way after all.

Next week we're doing more steering head bearings (an old Yamaha or Suzuki is on my wishlist) and then starting in on brakes.
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2012, 09:30:36 PM »




Could  be a plasma cutter?

Anyway, the new classes sound interesting.  I've been wanting to take a welding class or two just for fun.  My wife just started school again this semester, so maybe after she finishes her second degree, I'll be able to make the time for some mo' learnin'.


I have used a plasma cutter a few times.  WAY cool tool.  I'd get into way too much trouble if I had one of those...
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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2012, 10:24:34 PM »




I brought a lower tree with a pressed on bearing from home so I could remove it. Turns out that none of the fancy removal tools would fit, so I ended up chiseling off the cage and driving the races off with a drift. Sometimes brute force is the best way after all.




That's how i had to do it on the FJR when i changed it from balls to tapered.  the one tool i didn't have was the race installing tool to install the races in the frame tube. The top one was no problem but the bottom was a pain in the ass when you are laying on your back.
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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2012, 10:27:03 PM »

Race goes in the freezer, it's not the perfect answer but it helps. That and a screw on handle to hold the brass drift Bigok While lying on your back.........
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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2012, 08:59:49 PM »


Race goes in the freezer


I do this every time- works like a charm.  Just did it with the bearings on the bogey wheels on my snowmobile.   Thumbsup
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« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2012, 04:15:07 PM »


Race goes in the freezer,


I did that to and also heated up the frame tube.
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« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2012, 05:48:37 PM »

I figured you knew that stuff. I was showing off for newbs, I was having a low esteem day.
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« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2012, 10:26:35 PM »


I figured you knew that stuff. I was showing off for newbs, I was having a low esteem day.


Funny!
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2012, 08:49:21 PM »

Early update this week since I actually have a pic! (although not of anything terribly interesting, but it's a start  Rolleyes)

This morning I worked on more steering heads in the motorcycle course. I jumped on an 81 Yamaha XJ550 (Seca) because it has ball and cup bearings and I've been wanting to do a bike without tapered bearings. It turned out to be super-easy. We pulled off the whole front end in one chunk and just moved the headlight assembly back. I would have had it done in under an hour, but I got the wire/cable routing a little wrong. This bike has no "objective" method for checking the tightness of the steering head, so it's done until it "feels right" (actual wording in the OEM shop manual!) I guess they weren't that worried about law suits back in 1980. One thing I've learned is that you should ALWAYS use HIGH IMPACT grease on these bearings. It's like snot, and it absolutely keeps the balls in place and lubed. The bearings really aren't moving around much, so you don't need wheel bearing grease.

I got my first quiz back (100% - even though I was a little off on one answer they gave it to me). We have a test on Wednesday and then we start in on brakes.

----

This afternoon I had welding. We didn't have class last week and it's a once-a-week class, so I was dying to get started. We began with a 45 minute video about oxy-acetylene welding, which (for once) was actually informative and relevant. I took lots of notes. The video narrator was a little off - too many fumes I think.

Then it was off to the shop. We started with a quick demo of hooking up the equipment. Then a TA welded some steel plate to show us the technique. I was so excited I know I had a stupid grin on my face the whole time. We were then turned loose on our own and I rushed to my booth.

My gas welding booth is small (think phone booth), but very well designed. It has a grated table, a stool, excellent ventilation, some bricks (for insulation), and a cabinet. Once you sign out the key to the cabinet you'll discover a torch (already plumbed up), size 0-2 tips, cleaner rods, sparker, and clunky shade five goggles. I had my own Shade 5 safety glasses I didn't need to suffer with the school goggles [I was also wearing my welding jacket and leather gloves of course]. The regulators for the oxygen and acetylene are built into the wall (although we covered using tanks we don't have to worry about them in our booths).

With nervous excitement, I retrieved some welding filler, sorted out the regulators, cracked open the acetylene on the torch, and hit the sparker. Awesome! Fire! Then I got my neutral flame (oxygen added to get that cone "just right") and I set to work. I started with just a bead along some steel plate (no filler). Then I ran some beads with filler. It took me a few minutes to get the whole "welding pool" thing sorted out, but no biggie. Damn this work is HOT too! (about 5800F if I remember correctly). There's something very cool about melting metal with fire that's incredibly satisfying.

Feeling too cool for school, I went ahead and tried a butt weld (our first "real" weld and the only weld we were taught today). I started by tacking two pieces of plate 3/32" apart. Then I attempted to join them together. Here is my second attempt (my first attempt was pretty horrible and went straight to the scrap bin). You can see how much the heat distorts the metal, which is more obvious because I quenched it. The bead isn't too great, but the penetration is good. After doing about a dozen foot-long plates I really didn't get much better than this, but I did learn all sorts of things through trial-and-error (mostly about getting the flame cone right and keeping it the proper distance and angle from the pool; I had one "blow out" and lots of molten pools 'popped' on me). I also discovered that my Mighty Mig welding gloves transfer a LOT of heat. I was sure I was going to burn a hole in them but they're holding up nicely so far.

Would you trust this guy to weld your bike frame? Not yet if you value your life!! http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh178/D-Mac2008/1731e9e7.jpg

Anyway, before I bore you to tears (I know a lot of you already know this stuff), I think it's safe to say I'm pretty damn excited about welding class. At the end of the day I took my welds to the instructor (the only time I saw her all day) and she signed off on them without making any comments. I'll take that as a victory. We will be doing more gas welding and cutting over the next couple of weeks, and then it's on to MIG and TIG. The only drag is that I have a lot of homework assignments to do and hand in. I have completed two written exercises and have another 30-40 to go.
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2012, 08:52:06 AM »

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh178/D-Mac2008/1731e9e7.jpg

That's really a pretty decent looking weld for a second time ever go at at.  Welding is one of those skills that require an inordinate amount of patience to master.
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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2012, 08:48:08 PM »

Since I've started doing updates on Mondays, I'll keep it going. We've been working on brakes in the motorcycle class - rebuilding calipers and master cylinders and learning a ton about caliper/rotor design. We even covered drum brakes. It's amazing how many combinations of braking systems the manufacturers use.

I learned today that the "safe for brake calipers" lube I used to reassemble my own calipers last week is NOT safe with DOT-4 fluid (it's only safe for DOT-5, which isn't on the package and almost no one uses DOT-5 anyway). A test today shows that it forms a paste when mixed with brake fluid. Nice. I'll be taking apart my project bike calipers again before adding new fluid to them. At least I know how to do it quicker now.

I took apart something like 8 calipers today and 4 master cylinders this morning. It's AMAZING how much faster it is with the right tools and a few secrets. I fell in love with a set of fat internal pliers - once you pop the pistons a little they grab the inside of a piston and extract it perfectly without damaging it (I'm planning to buy a pair from Snap On later this week). I got back my first real test and my 100% is still intact.  Rolleyes

----

This afternoon was welding. This is becoming a humbling experience. We're still doing oxy-acetylene. After knocking out a couple of new welds (lap joint) I was flying high. I OWNED that weld pool on those lap joints. Then I hit the T-joint and everything ground to a halt. I kept getting my welds sent back and the instructor wouldn't sign off on them. Huh? They were ugly but I thought they were ok. Mine were especially bad. Not enough filler. Too much filler. Burn marks. Pin holes. Not smooth enough. Sloppy. Irregular. You name it and I was doing it wrong. I had flashes of mediocrity mixed with nastiness.

After 3 1/2 hours of welding t-joints (something like 25 trials) my hands were getting tired and it was only getting worse. The guy in the next booth had some kind of moment of clarity and went from welding like me (crappy) to producing perfect T-welds. No such luck in my booth. On the upside, I found out that we're not starting any new welds next week, so I have another 4 hours to work on my T-joints! Crazy This is definitely an art as much as a science. My instructor cranks out T-joint welds that look like a robot did them. Perfect EVERY time. Same with the TAs. It looks soooo easy, but I'm just too shaky.
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« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2012, 11:07:38 PM »

Practice, practice, & practice...
If that doesn't work, steal your neighbor's welds.
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« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2012, 09:29:40 AM »


Practice, practice, & practice...
If that doesn't work, steal your neighbor's welds.



 Lol It occurred to me yesterday that a person could make extra cash selling slightly imperfect welds (good enough to pass, but not so good that they attract attention). I just hope I never cross a bridge or buy a vehicle built by the cheating welder!

When I took organic chemistry we would sometimes pool our results in lab and then divide them up (secretly) at the end of lab. That way we all had the same approximate yield and composition. If the instructor found it strange he'd blame the chemicals we used since everyone got apparently consistent (and seemingly independent) results.

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« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2012, 11:52:04 PM »


After 3 1/2 hours of welding t-joints (something like 25 trials) my hands were getting tired and it was only getting worse. The guy in the next booth had some kind of moment of clarity and went from welding like me (crappy) to producing perfect T-welds. No such luck in my booth. On the upside, I found out that we're not starting any new welds next week, so I have another 4 hours to work on my T-joints! Crazy This is definitely an art as much as a science. My instructor cranks out T-joint welds that look like a robot did them. Perfect EVERY time. Same with the TAs. It looks soooo easy, but I'm just too shaky.


Did your instructor use your set-up to run a set of welds?  The reason I ask is because there are variables from rig to rig (ie. different nozzles, regulators, etc.)  Also, don't trust the gauges on the regulators (or the amp setting on an stick welder)- they're usually just ballpark figures.  If you can, try welding at another booth just for peace-of-mind.  No patience, no weld.  Be one with the metal.
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2012, 09:07:53 PM »




Did your instructor use your set-up to run a set of welds?  The reason I ask is because there are variables from rig to rig (ie. different nozzles, regulators, etc.)  Also, don't trust the gauges on the regulators (or the amp setting on an stick welder)- they're usually just ballpark figures.  If you can, try welding at another booth just for peace-of-mind.  No patience, no weld.  Be one with the metal.


Yeah, she did. I just sucked. I think I got too obsessed with laying down filler and things got out of control (I started losing control of the weld pool and soldering more than welding).

I have a few things to try on Monday and we'll see where it goes from there.
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« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2012, 08:07:21 PM »

Another week of class has gone by.

Over the last two motorcycle classes, I've been bleeding brakes and tearing apart drum brakes. I have to say that I'm pretty proficient at it by now. Nothing like repetition on lots of different bikes to make it easier. I've gone everything from a 1969 two-stroke to a new ZX-10. I have a final test on brakes on Wednesday and then we're on to lacing wheels. Sweet.

---------

In welding today I had a choice - finish my T-weld from last week (my personal nightmare) or skip it for now and go on to train on oxy-fuel cutting first. Easy choice. Once trained in cutting I could move back and forth as needed to get the weld done later, so I watched the cutting video with my shop partner from the motorcycle class (who is also in my welding class and ready for cutting). Looked easy enough.

After the video, the instructor gave us a demo on cutting before we were turned loose. WOW. She is AMAZING at it! (like everything else in this class). In her former career was as a pipe-fitter she had to cut a lot of pipe with a gas setup and is super smooth. With a basic oxy-acetylene outfit she can cut 1/2-thick plate and pipe that looks so smooth and slag-free you'd swear that some kind of robot did it. She can cut free-hand circles for pipe that are within 3/32" of the outer wall of the pipe. Unreal. Pipefitting sounds like a difficult job, and there's no doubt that it matters that you get it right. When she asked me what my "real job" is I explained that I get paid to sit around and generate weird ideas, which I then test by traveling to exotic locations; presenting the final results in the form of long academic papers and boring presentations that only about 5-10 other people (worldwide) are interested in. So basically I'd be a crappy pipefitter with my resume!

Anyway, back at my booth I set up the torch and made my first cuts - straight across and then beveled. Damn it was FUN. There's something about cutting metal that's unbelievably satisfying. I was only using small pieces of 1/4" steel plate, but it felt much more important than that (I can't really explain, but there's something very REAL about cutting and welding). I was having real trouble getting the flame right and my cuts were massive, and I couldn't figure out why. I asked the guy next to my booth and he couldn't get it either. Figuring that my cutting head was screwed up I tool it back to the tool crib. Oops! They had given me a PROPANE head instead of one for acetylene. Lovely. So I had spent 40 minutes melting steel plate into some pretty outrageous cuts. The torch spit slag everywhere and I had managed to burn a hole in my "fire resistant" jacket from the sparks. Cool.

With the right cutting head the job was pretty easy. I banged out some cuts and got them signed off. Then it was time to cut a 3" diameter hole - just big enough for a 3" pipe to fit through, but a small enough hole so that it the pipe could easily be welded to the plate. My first attempt was a hole that was far too big. My second attempt was a smaller hole that I gradually made bigger. Doing this exercise really helped learning to control the cut. Here is the final product. I'm pretty proud of it being someone with shaky hands and no artistic ability.  Bigsmile
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh178/D-Mac2008/82138cc4.jpg

So now I'm ready for TIG welding except for that damn angle weld I have to go back and finish. I'm nearly two weeks ahead of schedule, so I have lots of time to do it (and I'll need it). From what I can tell, TIG is pretty tricky too. I watched a LOT of guys in other classes fail to get their TIG welds signed off today.
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« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2012, 08:45:29 PM »

Weekly report. It ended painfully, and with a "don't try this at home" moment.....

Motorcycle class: After learning about wheel design last week, we started lacing and truing wheels today. Yuck. Lacing was easier than I thought, although I had a basic 4-cross, 60 spoke wheel to start with. Truing? Not so easy. We have to get the wheels within 40 thousandths of an inch of true on the radial (up/down) and lateral (side to side) dimensions. They actually prefer us to be within 5 thousandths of an inch. I'm still working on my first on and it's still out a lot on the lateral side, but getting close. Hopefully it will work out.

Then I have to do at least three more wheels of different types over the next week or so. I can see why few people do this themselves (and most dealers don't do it) - it's as much an art as a science. I also have to do one on my final exam.

My 100% average is still intact (we got our last exam back today), but as you'll read below, my "practical" skills are still lagging behind my "academic" skills.

-----

In my weekly afternoon welding class, I had to return to finish up my oxy-acetylene T-weld using 14-gauge steel. You might recall that it gave me fits two weeks ago, so I skipped ahead last week and got the cutting exercises done.

My first attempt today was not terrible. I did three more Ts, but none of the others was as nice. I showed my first weld to the instructor, and she thought it was just a little undercut (she's right of course) and she wouldn't sign off on it. Oh well.

First attempt....
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh178/D-Mac2008/b6798457.jpg

I then tried thicker rod (1/8"), but it just made it look blobby, so I went back to 3/32" rod. After a couple of additional attempts I decided to ignore the burning feeling in my gloves and I pre-heated the metal and then heated the HELL out of it during the welding process. Worked like a charm (nice fat molten pool), although I ended up with a small burn on my left hand. I passed!

Here's my passing attempt. The pic makes it look a little undercut, but I assure you it's not.
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh178/D-Mac2008/36c417d5.jpg

Oh yeah baby! Oxy-acetylene DONE.

I had hoped to jump into TIG welding afterwards, but the instructor told me to just work on the written exercises today (officially we start TIG next week, although a couple of students in my class had started today). I then asked her about the "safety test" on the grading sheet and she groaned. She had forgotten to run us through it apparently. So then I spent 30 minutes showing her all sorts of stuff related to setting up an oxy-acetylene rig, including rolling a cylinder around the shop. Fun. The other students had to do it afterwards.

Thinking I was now done, but still wishing I could try TIG (and with almost an hour left), the TA came by as I was packing up. He asked me where I was going and I explained that I was told to hold off on TIG. He disagreed and offered to start me right away. HELL YEAH! So I got a key to a new booth (T-19) and borrowed a helmet (mine was in the car outside). The TA showed my how to sharpen the tungsten tip and set up the welder. It was a quick lesson and there's a lot to know, but I figured that a little practice would help me next week. We started with 14-gauge aluminum.

After watching the TA weld a bead (no filler, just pulling a pool across the metal), it was my turn. Damn I was excited. I hit the pedal and ZAP (!) I was underway. Comparing oxy-acetylene to TIG is like comparing a horse and buggy to the Starship Enterprise. After welding a few beads, and feeling much too giddy, I was ready to show one run to the instructor for her comments. As usual, I grabbed a couple of samples with pliers and dunked them in the quench tank. I then went back to my booth to ditch the pliers and walk the welds over to the instructor's table. In my haste to start TIG, I hadn't organized my booth very well and when I went to re-grab my "cooled" samples again (now bare-handed), I grabbed the wrong ones!! A short SIZZLE later, I dropped the incorrect, and SUPER HOT ALUMINUM and ran around looking for a good spot to rinse my right hand. Too late. Burns on three fingers. OUCH!  EEK!

I was pretty embarrassed at having burned myself. I quickly ditched my samples, put on some numbing spray, reported my stupidity to the instructor, cleaned my booth, and headed out. Yup. I pretty much had JACKASS written on my forehead today.  :rolleyes:The burns really aren't too bad, but the blistering is ugly. The pain has largely subsided, but I've learned a valuable lesson. ORGANIZE YOUR BOOTH. DOUBLE-CHECK WHAT YOU ARE HANDLING. TAKE YOUR TIME.

One of my burns.....
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh178/D-Mac2008/ce545bc8.jpg

I can't wait to do more TIG. It's gonna be hard to learn, but I see why it's so widely used.

Hopefully my hand will be ok by Wednesday so I can lace more wheels......
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IBA#443 ('11 IBR finisher)
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