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handy1882

Vulcan VSW 30cwt 6x4.

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The upper part of the tank is all made from 1/4" Aluminium, so an aluminium former was sawn and filed up 1/4" smaller all round

 

IMG_0281_zpsrqtpe7q6.jpg

 

The tapped holes were to hold on some pressed plywood sheets sandwiched together to form the back of the former.

All the sheets were sawn out and flatted off to the correct form.

 

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A strip of 1/4" plate was cut and annealed then beaten over the former to form the front of the tank, the material was annealed many times before the finished shape was achieved. The edges were then sawn and filed flat.

 

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the top of the tank was then formed in the same fashion.

 

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The front and top were then welded together.

 

IMG_0293_zpsewvpelwc.jpg

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A bit more detail of the weld.

 

IMG_0299_zpswtczbsw1.jpg

 

Next the back of the tank was made, the top was formed in a similar manner to the "front top" but made smaller to fit inside it. The boss for the tank connection was also filed to shape and held in place with bolts throgh the hole centres for welding later. Also spaces were cut where the bonnet rest slots will go. These were then machined up separately from aluminium blocks and welded in.

 

 

IMG_0296_zpsi9apoeue.jpg

 

 

 

IMG_0297_zpsbwtrqpbm.jpg

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The base plate was marked then machined out, the curve on the front was machined free hand.

 

 

IMG_0304_zps4nekvzti.jpg

 

At this point the back face "back top" and bonnet rests are welded together and its all fitted together on the baseplate. The top flange for the filler cap is held in place in the same way as the back flange.

 

IMG_0306_zpsov9a3tpa.jpg

 

 

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After welding.

 

IMG_0312_zpsjj35oiuf.jpg

 

 

 

 

IMG_0315_zpsokxgievr.jpg

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The welds were then filed and polished up, holes drilled and bored for the flanges, all mating faces skimmed and the front bonnet hinge mount was machined up and bolted in place.

 

IMG_0317_zpsbxkghsiq.jpg

 

Some detail of the welds inside.

 

SAM_0985_zpsvd87trim.jpg

 

This is a very abridged procedure of how the tank was made, I'm sure Ive missed many, many of the details out, i think you could probably write a small book on it!

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Thank you for posting, what a true craftsman you father is , hats off to the old boy. I just love to see skills like this kept going, marvellous .

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The welds were then filed and polished up, holes drilled and bored for the flanges, all mating faces skimmed and the front bonnet hinge mount was machined up and bolted in place.

 

IMG_0317_zpsbxkghsiq.jpg

 

 

 

 

Well, it's simple when you put it like that... ;)

 

Seriously, I am in awe of the skills shown just in this one part of your restoration - absolutely outstanding work!

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When broken down into individual steps it is possible to see how a miraculous result can be achieved from a number of merely impressive sub-steps. Apart from:

 

The welds were then filed and polished up

 

I can't imagine the skill it takes to file those radii correctly without accidentally gouging other parts. And I consider myself pretty handy with a file.

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Thank you to everyone for your very kind comments.

I shall be taking Dad out for some beers soon to try and say thank you for all his hard work!

I still can't quite believe it's been made, it is one of the main hard to find parts that we have been discussing between us for ages.

It was very unlikely that we would ever find an original as these radiators seem to have been built just for this model. The radiator top tank is one of the defining features on a vehicle of this type and the problem of how to make one that looks right posed quite a problem, which father has solved! To say that I'm extremely chuffed is a huge understatement.

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I have just read through the procedure for the third time! So many questions spring to mind. I had thought I might have had to cast a top tank for my very early Leyland. But this method appeals to me. Time consuming perhaps - including learning new skills. A question... if you were to compare the fabricated top 'in use' against the equivalent cast top - are there advantages for the fabricated top? e.g. corrosion factor - might it last longer? Stronger base plate? What do you think?

Wonderful job. Robert

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I think that the problems that people have with cast aluminium radiator tanks are mostly caused by a combination of the deeply horrible grade of aluminium that the originals were cast in and the fact that for a good part of 100 years they have not seen coolant with corrosion inhibitor in it.

 

If you are making new tanks I think the choice of cast / fabricated is more about appearance, convenience and practicality. Many WW1 top tanks would be hard to fabricate convincingly because the cast in maker's name or ribs on the front face are just too hard to reprisent. On the other hand bottom tanks tend to be rather simpler and more rectangular which would make it easier. With either method you can make flanges etc. thicker quite easily. You could even have a cast piece welded into an otherwise fabricated tank. The Vulcan top tank lends itself to fabrication because the areas of double curvature are relatively limited and all of the original visible outer surface was polished. If the original was left as cast it would be hard to reprisent that after fabrication, though blasting with course grit goes some way to rough it up. It all depends how complex a shape it must be. It is much easier carving a pattern to shape in wood, with a bit of filler, than it is to get the same shape flawlessly in polished aluminium. That is why the Vulcan tank is so impressive and the originals were cast !

 

David

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I don't think the original castings would have been that great as regards quality of material, though externally they would have been nice enough when made.

 

That's a nice job of fabrication. If you wanted a quantity of them made now you'd have several options; a quality pattern and just cast them, a block pattern for CNC finishing, even CNC cutting out of a billet. All wallet-related. :D

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Thanks for all your comments and questions guys. As Gordon has mentioned there are a few different ways of possible manufacture for a top tank and a big consideration for me is wallet related!

The original tank would have been cast but for us to duplicate that we would have to spend quite a lot of time learning a new pattern making skill and then the subsequent financial cost of the casting and finishing. If I had no other option this is exactly the route I would have gone down eventually. I am very lucky to have Dad who has the same interests as myself. Most of the material used for the tank and for the former mostly came from scrap bins with a few bits of 1/4"plate being bought in and utilising skills Father already has.

Will it perform better than a cast tank? Only time will tell, there shouldn't be any difference from a cooling point of view. I guess it will be slightly stronger than cast as an aluminium casting would tend to be more brittle and prone to cracking, if a spanner were to be dropped on it for instance (god forbid!) it would just dent rather that punching a hole or causing a crack. Threads are probably less likely to strip in a fabricated tank as opposed to cast.

It seems that once an early aluminium casting starts to corrode there seems to be little you can do to stop it, I assume that is to do with the metallurgical make up of the casting metal, and possibly galvanic action from the dissimilar metals in the radiator, however I am no expert on the subject. I would think that as long as there is a good antifreeze/corrosion inhibitor used in the cooling system cast or fabricated tanks should last for a very long time. I imagine that when some of these early vehicles were originally in use they were just run with hose water, pond water or whatever was available at the time. They were probably not expected to last for a hundred years, although some have, and survived well.

It would be possible to make a tank with the makers name on the front using a similar method in which the name badge was made for the Vulcan, by riveting individual letters onto a front plate and polishing, this is probably not as easy as making up a pattern with the name already on itand having it cast, however, 'easy' is a matter of perspective. Neither option of fabrication, casting or machining from a billet is particularly easy.

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It is a superb bit of work and will do the job admirably, I am quite sure!

 

I have annealed both copper and brass in the past but have never tried annealing aluminium. I guess there is a danger of melting aluminium and I am curious to know how your father did it. Propane? - and what sort of temperature - and what colour did he take it to which I guess would have given him an indication that he had gone far enough with the heating? And did he quench it or leave it to cool naturally? And how many times did he have to heat that top plate as I guess it would have work hardened after an initial bending and would then require heating again (and again?) before he got it to the required shape.

 

Tony

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Neither option of fabrication, casting or machining from a billet is particularly easy.

 

Once you find a helpful foundry, castings can be moderately easy and rather less expensive than you might guess. I recently spent £350 on 8 cast iron castings weighing about 80kg total. (To patterns I supplied)

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It is a superb bit of work and will do the job admirably, I am quite sure!

 

I have annealed both copper and brass in the past but have never tried annealing aluminium. I guess there is a danger of melting aluminium and I am curious to know how your father did it. Propane? - and what sort of temperature - and what colour did he take it to which I guess would have given him an indication that he had gone far enough with the heating? And did he quench it or leave it to cool naturally? And how many times did he have to heat that top plate as I guess it would have work hardened after an initial bending and would then require heating again (and again?) before he got it to the required shape.

 

Tony

 

Hi Tony,

Not annealed aluminium for years, but seem to remember being taught to smear soap on it and when it turns black that is hot enough. Don't ask what sort of soap!!

 

regards, Richard

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I have annealed both copper and brass in the past but have never tried annealing aluminium. I guess there is a danger of melting aluminium and I am curious to know how your father did it. Propane? - and what sort of temperature - and what colour did he take it to

 

With aluminium, if you can see a colour, it has already melted.

 

What has worked for me is to scribble over it with marker pen, then heat until the ink loses its colour.

 

This is rather the same idea as the soap, but easier.

 

I don't know if it matters, but I used green pen.

 

First picture here: http://bodgesoc.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Neracar11%20The%20Eyes%20Have%20It

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Hi Tony,

Yes, a very large propane torch was used to get enough heat into the parts. There is a danger in melting the material as you do have to get it very close to its melting point.

Richard is quite correct about the soap, you are supposed to rub it on the part then warm until the soap turns completely black, the problem is getting the right sort of soap, the Mrs's dove cream bar isn't much good, it needs to be the old opaque unscented bars that seem to be fairly rare these days. The way father did it was to warm it then rub a piece of wood over the surface, if it leaves a pure black, not brown, trail then it is warm enough.

I am unsure if he quenched it or not, I will ask him tomorrow when I see him and post the answer. He did say that he had to reanneal the parts a number of times.

 

Andy, that seems quite reasonable. Do they charge by weight? Is there any extra charge for intricate components that require a lot of setting up?

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In this picture you can just see the wobbly lines on the front top section, these are the witness marks from the blackened wood used during annealing.

 

SAM_0985_zpsvd87trim.jpg

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Andy, that seems quite reasonable. Do they charge by weight? Is there any extra charge for intricate components that require a lot of setting up?

 

I don't know how the pricing is derived, but simple parts with no core seem to be about £25 and then it costs more if he has to make a core, and as more iron is used (and more fuel is used to melt the iron).

 

As a guide, the parts here:

https://picasaweb.google.com/108164504656404380542/Holbrook#6230479127730875154

 

Were priced at £10 each for the rectangular strips, £150 for the big hollow box, £100 for the smaller hollow box, £25 for the chain covers (which did have a core) and £20 for the toolpost boss. Not shown is a simple flat plate that was £10.

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And did he quench it or leave it to cool naturally?

 

Tony

 

Tony, I spoke to Father yesterday, yes he did quench it after heating.

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