Month Later Update

Hello there! I've poured the base, cured it, and poured the refractory coat on the top. and curled in the lip very crudely at the top. the next thing to do is let it set up, it doesn't have a cure time, which sucks, but I can get around that. 

I should back track, I've cut the barrel and set up the basics for what I need I still need to model everything, but I've also acquired the alignment pins and barrels for each half, so I'll be cutting and welding those. i have the ceramic blanket in, and that will get installed shortly after the alignment pegs are installed, the last hang-up right now is the lid. I currently have none. I have another steel round section for 

More bad ideas...

Ok, so there's this project lurking in the background that I really haven't written about... I want to build a robot arm, for the express purpose of melting aluminum cans for me. Just adding them to the foundry until it sees that the barrel is full, then... I dunno, yelling at me to empty it. Not important. the important thing is, this:

Nothing too surprising right? How about this:


A little mild for the start of June, but what's the big deal here? Well, that's a very large temperature difference, on either unit, for daily interactions that more or less directly concern me. What can you do with large temperature differences?

I'm going to attempt to power the arm through - I cannot type this without laughing... - nothing but sterling engines and an alternator.

This very well may be my dumbest idea yet. we'll see... 

So where am I starting? I need to keep the equipment far enough from the foundry that it survives, and that only the lowest point of the assembly gets heated. I have some old radiator elements from some window AC units I haven't sold for scrap yet, and a spool of copper tubing for the heating portion of this assembly. I wonder how I can make things happen well... it'll have to circulate somehow, in order to keep a solid temperature, and I'll have to have a way to regulate the temperature...

as for the actual power generation, Do i go for a regular car alternator? Or do i try to find a motorcycle version? If I go for the motorcycle, do i have to spin it faster in order to get the same output off of it?

Jeez capslock.. also damn.. car alternator it is... I need to work on this, and i need to work on work right now, so i'm going to let this stew for awhile.

The Death of a Foundry

The old foundry is dead... I managed to get one more session out of it before, but by the time I removed the lid for the last time, it started self-crumbling into the fire pit. So I broke the rest of it apart and threw it out. I managed to clean about 6 or 7 pounds of aluminum, but after that it really died. I failed to get a good picture of the casts, so I'll have to do that when I get home today, but all in all, it went well! I think I figured out one of the problems with the burner. My theory is that the standard, grill Propane tanks need a little back pressure in order to operate properly, Back pressure always seemed like an odd thing, be it in propane or V8 Exhaust header design; so what I think I'll do while I wait for new budget to come in is actually understand Mr. Thompson's burner assembly. I still have to finish modifying the burner models, and modeling the rest of the parts, but I understand the project as a general whole now.

The cracked and rusted bones of the freshly dead era. 

The cracked and rusted bones of the freshly dead era. 

I have also figured out what I'm going to do for the bottom layer! Woo!! I'm going to make the base about 3" high on the outside, and have about 2.5" of Grant's refractory  solution, with a thicker coating of "castable" refractory cement. It really resembles a trowel-on drywall mud, just a little grainier. [Amazon link] Curing the base properly before adding the cement should allow me to not shatter the whole nine-yards with a steam pocket. You bet your heinie that the base will be vibratory cast. How? No idea yet, but I was thinking a weighted box fan motor, since I have 2 that work right now, and box fans are cheap.  We'll see how that goes later. for now, it's getting things modeled and cut up in preparation. I still gotta figure out the ceiling, as the wool I've selected is not quite large enough for covering the lid. It's too bad nobody sells 2x24x72 inch wool... hell, I could make do with 2x12x72 inch roll... anyways. I gotta get cooking on cleaning my computer and my workshop. We'll see ya 'round!

More Modeling

So I've found a few more pieces of the modeling puzzle, but I still need to build the frame, wheels, and other accessories, Thank God for McMaster Carr. Their "Don't use our stuff for 3D printing" clause is a little odd, but there's nothing in there that says I can't use it for a not-for-profit mock-up, so all of the hardware I use is from that. 

Finding decent 16 gallon drum schematics is harder than you might think. Not impossible, but not 5 minutes either, Thank god these things are of regulated in dimensions. Not saying that this will be 100% accurate, but it should be close enough for ideas at least. 

Alright, So the barrel has been modeled and cut. and the tank model has been downloaded, I still need to double check that it will transfer into something usable, but it should be fine... OOH! Ok, so it imported fine, it's an assembly though, so I will have to see how that changes nesting it into another assembly. 


I'm not convinced on any design for the bottom of the foundry, so I've been musing over some different options 3d models to come) the first is to buy some fire bricks, then mount and skin them with refractory cement. 

Option, the second, is to mix up a batch of TKOR Refractory lining, then skin with refractory cement, This option is definitely cheaper, but i;m not sure i'll get the life i desire out of the refractory skin with this style of underlayment.

Option three, is to have a puck of some kind of masonry in the middle, with a surrounding of ceramic blanket, possibly with a sacrificial steel plate to catch any spills. i;m not sure i like this idea at all, but it's here...

Option four is to have just the bed of Ceramic Blanket and hope the crucible doesn't tip over.  could wire in a ring of material to act as a "nest" for it, but I fear that will lead to too much differential heating that it may lead to crucible damage.

I still have to mull over this, and re-import my materials library, so I can actually start coloring these models. Eventually I'll go back and re-color the old sketches, but at least it'll still get the point across. 


So the title may be a little misleading, as this is my Foundry build-log. But it does double as a forge if/when I need it to.  Anyways, here's the plan, Originally written on May 11th, 2018

May 11, 2018

I've had loads of fun with my Mini Metal Foundry, the system designed by Grant Thompson is amazing, and genuinely a useful tool to have, but there comes a time where things become too hacked and beaten to be useful, and I'm sad to say that's where my foundry is currently at. 

For fairly obvious reasons, my foundry has lived and breathed outside, and two winters and countless rains have finally taken it's toll on the beast. Having the second bucket as a lid has been very useful. It's allowed me to keep larger objects still surrounded by heat, for example:

It never looks blurry until you upload it... 

It never looks blurry until you upload it... 

This used to be a water pump off of a ford IIRC. Giant thing, but the btus beat it into submission eventually. I just kept the burner mostly backed out and it melted into this steel pan I'm keeping for this purpose.  

So what now? Where do we go from here? Well, for many of my projects, having the ability to cast and clean my own metal parts will be extremely useful. Johnny-115, The Big X-wing Project, Vera. All of these will be utilizing many metal parts that will be astronomically cheaper if I make them myself. So here's the gig I've been working on for a little bit:

This one's better... for some reason... 

This one's better... for some reason... 

That's right! It's a rusty barrel! Thanks for your time everybody! 

I kid, I picked two of these up back when I worked at O'Reilly's. They're 16 gallon steel drums (all of the basic specs can be found here); the plan is to section them every 11.875" and make the bottom 2" removable, unless it's the pictured barrel, in which case the bottom's already mostly missing. My intention is to make the cleaning process easier. Also, I can stack individual sections if I need overhead clearance. I'm going to ditch the plaster and sand mix in favor of a firebrick and ceramic blanket option. so here's the overview:

Four sections per complete unit, as I doubt I will ever need anything larger. I'd like to line the bottom with fire brick, to keep things properly stable, but push come to shove I'll just make a shallow cradle out of ceramic blanket scraps. The cart is actually a section of frame from the power wheelchair I bought for Johnny, along with some sections of an old lawn mower I grabbed to play around with the engine. I've got upgrades for the current wheels coming as soon as I get access to a lathe. 

I've got the propane riding there for storage, but ultimately it will not sit there during operation, unless I can make a heat-shield I feel confident about. I'm still ordering materials and trying to keep this kinda budget friendly (Ceramic insulation is not cheap, unless you're Elon Musk.) so this design is subject to some change. The barrel and cart won't, but the burner assembly, along with some of the smaller parts have their design up for review and upgrade. 

I still have some old Chop Saw parts to melt down, as well as some misc car parts, and that giant block of water pump. I could probably split the water pump block into pieces, but at the end of the day, It's all going to be cast into plugs. So yeah! fun times! Can't wait to get this puppy up and running! I've already set aside a 12kg crucible for some of these pieces.

I do need to buy some more sand.