12 years ago
I must warn you, this is close to being a tool gloat. But with some
unrelated crap that has happened over the last couple of days, I want to
share my good fortune.
At the beginning of the month I tried to stick weld a lawnmower engine
fan cowl. It's about 1 mm thick steel. I knew this was risky. I
discovered that it's just about possible to weld 1 mm steel with 1.6 mm
rods at 40 A and 80 V OCV. But if the weld was at all awkward, I
couldn't make it work. And I screwed up the lap joint I needed to make
between 1 mm and 2 mm sheet.
So I was left thinking about alternative solutions. I don't want to buy
a MIG welder because of the cost of gas, wire and maintenance, etc. I
started reading about brazing with twin carbon electrodes and a stick
welder. This sounded good, until I realised that nobody who described
the process said it was good. They just said things like "You can make
it work". I figured I should read between the lines, so I didn't buy a
carbon arc torch.
Then I considered rivet tools. Hot riveting was out. Too much trouble.
I've got a fairly cheap pair of pop rivet pliers, but they'll only cope
with 5 mm aluminium rivets, and I wanted something stronger. I had plans
for 6.4 mm stainless rivets. About three years ago I considered buying a
good pair of lazy tongs. The best pair I could find were made by Tucker
but cost a fortune. All metal, weighing about 7 or 8 lbs, with a handle
that always stays at the right angle. Seriously, I could have taken a
cheap holiday for the cost. So I ogled them and left it at that.
Idly I took a look at lazy tongs rivet tools on eBay. And found a pair
of Tucker lazy tongs, new old stock, with a few hours to go. I mailed
the seller to check details like the model number and nosepiece size. He
couldn't remember for sure, but the number he gave was close to the TT24
I wanted. So I placed a bid and won for what I thought was a reasonable
When the tool arrived, not only was it a TT24 in the original box with a
6.4 mm nosepiece, but the only signs that it wasn't brand new were the
tiniest specks of rust on the pivot ends. No signs of use. Then I saw a
Farnell label on the box. Farnell is the place where I originally ogled
the tool. So I took the stock number and checked out the price on their
website: £224.10 + tax. Woohoo. Score!
Alright, I should move on to the metalworking. Last weekend I hot worked
two pieces of 3 mm steel to match the curvature of the fan cowl, clamped
them in place and drilled through the sandwich, then riveted it together
(which was satisfying). The idea of the backing plate is to spread the
load and stop the 1 mm sheet failing around the rivets (the cowl had
originally failed through fatigue around the bolt holes). Here are the