SoundWave at Stringybark Festival 2015

I went to this to help out the MESH crew in their mission to raise their profile (outer east maker lab).


I got chatting to one of the managers, told him that I had dragged a 400Kg iron sculpture to Adelaide. I showed him a picture, he wanted it so bad I went back home, picked it up and we got it off the truck with about 8 helpers walking it down two sleepers. It was a hit, the kid’s loved ringing the bell, some had to be prised off it. I spent the day helping kids make robots out of assorted techno junk.


Sound Wave at Boort Show Part 2

The observant amongst my readers may have noticed the old grease gun on the inside of the curve with the handle for the plunger sticking out. This was a mistake. I was working to the wrong line on my bench when I put this in, and at the time I left it in, intending to cut off the excess later and tidy up the end. But I left it in as I liked it. Then at the Boort Show a cheeky 10 yo boy asked me what it did. I explained that SoundWave had a slow puncture and that it was a pump to blow it back up. So very seriously he pumped it a bit until I said that that looked better. So all through the show I had kids come up and ask me if it needed a pump. So SoundWave got a good pumping!

Sound Wave at Boort Show Part 1


Sound Wave won 2nd prize in the open section at Boort Show yesterday. Here are some shots of the installation, which went surprisingly smoothly since the organisers had to chase up a forklift. So thanks to Cleo from Boort Tyre Centre, 36 Bertoli St, Boort, VIC, 3537, Ph. (03) 5455 2203 Mob. 0409 765 271 for making it all go so smoothly. I’m sure she would look after you if you wanted a new tyre or battery!
More on the show later.

DSC_0009 DSC_0012 DSC_0015

Furnace for Cleaning Up Scrap Iron

When I pick up scrap iron it’s usually filthy with paint, grease, and other unmentionable substances. So it needs to be cleaned. Heating it up to red heat is an excellent cleaning method, it removes old paint and grease and any plating, and as a bonus softens hardened steel. Not bad for a single process.

I have been throwing the scrap in the bonfire to clean it, but that was very hit and miss, sometimes it just didn’t get hot enough. So I made a furnace out of this odd shaped drum, about 40l capacity I’d say, and an old computer fan. I cut a hole in the side wall of the drum at the bottom and inserted a piece of steel pipe that I had lying around, it’s about 600mm long. The fan is duct taped to the end of the pipe, making sure that it is blowing into the drum. I used a 240V fan but a 12V fan would be much safer. It is necessary to cool the tube with the fan to stop the fan getting too hot, I used an old shirt about halfway along that I kept wet.

To use simply get a good armful of firewood, I use softwood pallets since I can pick them up for free. It works best of the wood is in short lengths, maybe 200mm max. Start the fire with a newspaper, then the firewood, then turn on the fan when it is alight. Wait until the wood has burned down a bit, then load the drum up with your scrap iron. In 10 minutes it will all be red hot and the iron will be nice and clean.

Don’t breathe in the smoke, it will contain whatever was on the iron. Stick to getting your trace metals from cornflakes.

When it has burned down, tip out the iron and clean with a wire brush. Then wait for it to go rusty, which will be overnight since the iron is so clean.

The furnace with inlet tube, fan and wet old shirt to stop the fan melting!
 I couldn’t take a photo when it was red hot, the heat was just too intense.

Furnace when it has nearly burned down.
The white coating is zinc oxide from the galvanised plating burning off. It comes off easily.

A new Workbench

I started making SoundWave, my entry for the Boort Sculpture Competition. But it soon overflowed my little welding bench. No surprise as it is made of four panels each 2.4m tall. So I needed something to work on. I can’t work on the concrete floor of the shed, I’ve tried that and it is torture on the knees, especially worn out knees like mine. So I looked at the prices of steel plate to make a proper welding bench. Usually the top of such benches is 10mm plate steel, my current bench top I got from the scrap yard cheap ($80!) as it was slightly curved, I straightened it by putting it under my ute and using a trolley jack to bend it back true. A piece of 10mm steel would cost me several hundred dollars from a steelyard, and I would have to make a heavy base to hold it up.

So I made one from one of my favourite materials, construction ply. What other material is amazingly strong for it’s weight, impervious to the weather and importantly very flat? I had to buy some framing timber for underneath, and a piece of cement sheet for the top, as welding on plywood usually sets it alight. I had some steel trestles that were the perfect height as well.

workbench frame
Workbench frame out of 90 x 45 MGP10 framing.
New bench is use.
New bench is use. Note sketched outline of SoundWave.

Here is the bench is use. I have added an outrigger out of scrap to the top end to build the top curly bit of the SoundWave panel. People have asked why did I not make the bench bigger. Well it is big enough anyway at 1.2m wide. If I made the whole bench 1.6m wide to accommodate the width of SoundWave, I wouldn’t be able to reach the middle and it would be just too big and heavy.