Sunday, September 25, 2011

Resurrecting Victoria's Guts

As far as my CSM's go, Victoria's a fickle little hunk o' metal.  The wear on her cams caused me some concern, and my first impression was to grind everything down with the Dremel, put her together again, and not look back.

Remember Vickie's Guts?

I asked Eric for his input, as I am wont to do.  Eric's a stickler for perfection, which is why our living room floor is still in plywood (we're waiting for the trees to grow), so sometimes asking him for advice is like shooting one's self in the foot.  Being a sucker for punishment, I asked for his advice.

After some consultation, (I think he called a smelter or two, plus we have some doctorate-level metallurgists on speed-dial), he determined that the cams should be brazed and reshaped, and then hardened and tempered in an oil bath.  My plan for Dremel-ing everything down was vetoed.  No point in wearing metal down any further - it was there for a purpose - after all.

That's how I got to drive around with CSM parts on the passenger seat of my car, silently mocking me for a few months.

Thing is, we used to know a welder who is a master welder in the truest sense of the word; this guy gets flown around the country welding gnarly stuff that's deemed unrepairable.  He's not just a welder, he's an artisan.  Sadly, we lost touch with him a few years ago, because he was the only person I was willing to trust Vickie's guts to.

Finally, I decided to make the rounds locally.  Surely, with the amount of machine shops and tool-makers and welders in our area, there had to be someone capable of brazing some metal onto the cams and leading me one step closer to my goal.

One particular welding shop came highly recommended by several people, so I went and explained my problem to the shop owner, showed him the cams, and asked him to put his best guy on the job - money wasn't an issue, and there were no time constraints - I just wanted it done cleanly and professionally.

When I got the call the next morning saying the parts were ready, I had a strange twinge in the pit of my stomach.  I drove back to the machine shop, and my parts were waiting.  I inspected them, half expecting to hear the screeches of primates coming from the rear of the shop, because, hell, if I had a MIG welder, I coulda done a better job than the monkey that brazed Vickie's cams.

I swore under my breath, and the shop owner said, "It's not like painting, you know.  You don't control where the metal goes".  DOH, to quote the great philosopher Homer Simpson.  Goes without saying.  Then again, my reference is a guy who welds turbine blades, not exactly the same caliber as the Neanderthals at this shop.

Believe it or not, the above photo shows the BEST looking piece.  The others were butt-ugly.  I swear I'm too embarrassed to show them.

I left pissed.  I muttered something about a lack of  "pride in one's work", then I cursed Eric silently for his nit-picking attention to detail, and then I kicked myself some more for trusting this welder.  And then I flippantly threw the parts on the back seat of the car, and drove home fuming.

When I showed Eric the parts, his diatribe sounded like mine, but more vociferous:  Doesn't anyone give a shit anymore?  Does anyone really care?  What the hell ever happened to pride, or craftsmanship?  And where in the hell did Dan the welder go, that we can't find him anymore?

The thing I learned about metal is this:  too much is better than not enough, provided you've got time, patience, a good Dremel, plus a bench grinder.

All that to say, Victoria's gut are being painstakingly resurrected.  It took me a few months to muster the courage to remove the excess of the excess of the welded bead on the bench grinder, then laboriously grind the remaining excess back down to the cam's original shape with the Dremel, ensuring the integrity of the edges.
In the photo above, I'm not even close to done grinding down the brazed edge.  It takes a lot of time with the Dremel, but once I'm down to the original shape, I'll polish all the parts up with some compound and they'll look like new.  At least, that's the plan.  Maybe if you want to say a prayer or two for Ann and her cams, we'd appreciate that.

Along the way, I've learned a few things, (whether I wanted to or not).  The Dremel is my friend, and is not to be feared.  I should have been using it with a felt bit and some compound to clean all my other CSM's in retrospect.  Original Dremel bits kick ass, copy-cat Canadian Tire Mastercraft jobber bits, not so much.

I bought this kit at Canadian Tire, just 'cause it was 70% off.  I think I paid about $25 for it.  The wooden box alone is worth that - so I wasn't expecting superb quality -  I was mainly going for selection.  I started with the orange tips, and if you double-click, you can see how much I've worn down the last orange tip in the top row.  It started off the same shape as the other orange bit beside it.  The original Dremel bit I bought to replace this one has been used a lot, yet hardly shows wear.

(And the golf balls?  Well, apparently our neighbour's property is a red-neck driving range, and that's all Imma gonna say about that).

Pay the extra for the real Dremel bits - it's worth it.  Wear your safety glasses when using the Dremel, and no, don't expect your manicure to survive.  Read the damn manual, and you'll pick up a few tips.  Google is my friend, because I managed to find Dan-Dan the Welder-man again, bless his heart.  I trust Eric for his advice.  Isn't that what got me into this mess in the first place?  But super-heating Victoria's cams until they're glowing red and dropping them into oil?  Not on my shift.  Well...maybe if Dan says so I will, otherwise, it's a no-go.

So, I hope to have Victoria up and running soon, in better shape than ever.  Fingers crossed.

And I can rest peacefully at night, knowing Dan-Dan the Welder-man has been found.


Robin said...

You have to wait for the trees to grow?? lol I don't know any smelters so you are ahead of me on that one. I tried to see if I could find any metallurgists in my town but nothing showed up online. :)

I would have been so mad if I had gotten back that lumpy mess. It's amazing that you got them so cleaned up after that.

Shim Farm said...

Oh Robin, I still have so much work to do on them, maybe today, because the weather's super outside. Don't want to take on this messy task in the house. There's enough dust inside as it is LOL.

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