Friday, February 12, 2016

The new monstrosity emerges

Just when you thought it was safe to let the women and children out on their own, my monstrosity emerged from the capable hands of my Harbor Freight 70A welder. Starting was much delayed due to my looking for a way to hold the pieces in place. I considered riveting but couldn't find my rivets. Then I tried to bolt the pieces together but the 1/8th drill bits all seemed pretty blunt. In the end I retrieved a tiny G-clamp from something I'd put together several years ago that utilised a G-clamp. That did the trick! It held the pieces together while I welded them.

There were setbacks along the route such as letting the welding rod linger too long and burn a hole in the steel I was welding. That delayed things as I had to make concentric circles, waving the welding rod around the hole like Harry Potter's wand while I built up the steel surrounding the hole until the hole was filled.
It's not quite rectangular but I'm not bothered - the simple act of riveting it underneath the bus will pull it straight. Once it's riveted into place I might weld it as well. I'm not sure about that yet though.

I have't painted where I welded yet as I need to put sides on the compartment and the simple act of welding burns the paint off. Watching the paint in flames was quite entertaining! The original plan was for solid sides on the compartment. The power socket could go underneath the compartment. That would simplify things considerably. The cable needn't go through any complicated routes.
Looking around, I found some steel mesh. It looks ideal to use as sides. That would have the advantage of allowing air to evaporate any water that seeped in through the compartment door. The whole point of the compartment is twofold - firstly to top squirrels from eating the electrical cables and secondly to provide somewhere to mount the electrical inlet. It would be nice to keep spiders out but they get in anyway.

Checking the bodywork steel, it seems to be the same thickness as the vast majority of the lightweight sheet steel that I already have. It should not thus be a problem to fill the cavity left in the bodywork by the hillbillies. Certainly moving the welding rod as swiftly as Harry Potter's wand means I should be able to weld thin steel. My welding has definitely come a long way since I attempted to weld two steel conduits together and burned right through them.

Tomorrow's plan is to continue with construction of the compartment and possibly to demolish the old wooden compartment as well as removing the aluminum compartment door. Like as not, there'll be some hidden nastiness there that'll need to be dealt with. I might even need to move the bus closer to the power supply in order to do more welding.

I can kinda sorta see why people sniff at the cheap Harbor Freight welder. It is pretty slow to weld with. On the other hand, I'm not in any particular rush. If I can get the breaker box compartment completed by the time I return to work on Tuesday then I shall be elated.

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