Weekend worklog

This weekend was a bit slow.

A couple of days ago I started to learn FreeCAD, mostly for its FEM analysis mode and to build a couple of construction plans.

I made another part of the cable trays for our comms closet. Initially I wanted to use FreeCAD for that but at the end it was faster to do a bit of trig and sketch the cuts on paper. It’s held in place with a couple of rivets. I also added a layer of pvc to shield the cables from the metal edges. Fits like a glove.

Cable tray bend

I also started to build a steel support for one of the walls. We made a big opening for cables and I’m a bit uneasy about the lack of support.

Fun with a plasma cutter follows:

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Glass door

These doors were waiting a long time to be installed. Now this looks a bit more professional than before, except that on the opposite side there’s a chunk of wall missing and a lot of dust on the new hole to feed another cable tray.

Sunday worklog

Today I started to build the rope guides for the lightning fixture. I have some nice ground rods from a textile machine that are perfect for this.

Rope guide with rollers

On the evening I went to Futura and cleaned up a bit the stage, moving most of it to one place:

The Museum Corner at Futura

Then I started to install real cable trays instead of our improvised version with halves of water pipes. I need to cut a small section with a special bend to accommodate the opening on the wall.

Cable trays

I emptied most of the rack cabinet and installed the patchbay I built earlier. I had to drill and tap another set of holes as the power outlet interfered with the movement.

I also finished that small table:

Lamp fixture: done

At least for now. The next step will be adding another support for the roof frame and rollers to guide the ropes around it to unblock the light path should we want to project from there.

Today I hanged the lower frame and then attached the cable trays with a set of bespoke clamps and self tapping screws.

Door handle

We have a discrete, and new, metal door but the inner handle is one that was in the house since the 1950’s.

On the outside there’s just a simple knob but it’s not linked to the lock. The handle works as intended but if we are not careful when pulling we end up with it on our hands.

I made a simple plate and kept the rod in place with an M4 screw threaded through it.

Looks like it came with the door:

Door handle

Assorted clamps

The last two days I finished the welds on those clamps,  built some to hold the other end of the ropes and four sturdier to screw to the roof trusses. All the screws are paired with either a nylock or two nuts locked to each other.

I painted the pieces for the bottom frame with black enamel and the ones for the roof with white to match the rest of the room. I know they’ll rust in some weeks but I left the blued surface exposed. I never tire of looking at them.

Side table iron legs

We had a nice wood slab from the kitchen remodelation and wanted to make a small table with it.

I did a quick sketch and started to build the base. I goofed a bit when cutting the intersections but it ended up fine and level on the first time anyways.

Sometimes I flunk on the easiest of the welds and others, I make a perfect one in a very hard spot. I did this one on a single pass with a bent rod and even had slag peel:

Ceiling lamp fixture: now on steel

For the last couple of weeks I worked on building a steel version of that fixture in order to hang some cable trays and a couple of other things.

After a bit of measuring I prepared all the cuts. For the sides that aren’t at a square angle I left a bit of extra material to fold over the corner. The clamps for the trays will be made with cutouts from square tubing to have a consistent size and some flat stock. I spent quite a bit of time on this phase but I’m pleased with the outcome.

For this welds I tried as much as possible to either manipulate the rod with my left hand only and sometimes with the right, but I still need a lot of practice with that. Some were awful, but others like this one are quite passable:

Lamp fixture: corner bracket, weld detail

A quick test fit and everything fell into the right place. I love it when a plan comes together.

Lamp fixture: trial fitting

Grandpa’s 504: The beginnings

During the last week I began to clean and dismantle the engine of that Peugeot 504 using whatever spare time I had.

I started by removing the battery plate, water and vacuum reservoirs and the hoses connecting them. I took a couple of detailed pictures so I don’t forget how to put it back together later.

I spent a while trying to figure out how to remove the radiator, it’s bolted to the car frame and there’s a plastic cover around the fan blades that doesn’t let it move up. The most obvious way seemed to remove the front grill and the body panel behind it but in order to do that I would have to tear apart the original glue and make a couple of cuts. I kept looking and feeling around until I discovered that the air guide is only held by two nuts on the top and locking pins on the bottom.

After removing them, it glided freely upwards and then to the back. With nothing else holding it, the radiator also came out.

That freed up some space in the engine bay. I moved on to the belts. This is a very good time to take note of how everything is installed.

Then I moved onto the hoses. Some were hard and brittle and others felt like new. But all were filled with rusty mud.

The water pump was no better, the impeller stayed inside the block.

The radiator has a lovely copper corrosion growth. After draining it I poured hot water on one side and let it flow, touching along the fins to see if there were clogs. Except for a small hand sized area on the bottom everything seemed fine.

Grandpa’s 504: hydraulics

This happened in between the last installment in the series.

Both the brakes and clutch didn’t work (besides not having fluid, the cylinders were stuck) so I set up to dismantle them.

After some contortions I managed to free the mechanism. A couple of hard lines broke around the fittings and part of the servo assist snapped while I was pulling.

The air filter in this unit is an oil bath one and was perfectly full. After draining it I used lots of gasoline, kitchen cleaner and boiling water to remove every trace of grim and oil. But now the filth migrated to the sink.

I also removed the valve cover to take a peek inside. It looks surprisingly clean and neat for a car of this age. The gasket was torn apart, that may explain the amount of oil on the block.

Peugeot 504: valve train

First run in 20 years.

Today I bought a used battery and decided to crank this old Peugeot 504 to see if the engine was seized or other problems lurked.

It’s been sitting there since 1998 but the diesel in the tank did not smell funny so I used the little pump on the filter until it became hard. On the last strokes I heard a subtle noise and there was a tiny leak on the line.

When connecting the battery there was a small spark and the position lights turned on. I let the glow plugs do their job and tried to crank.

Nothing, just a small click of a relay inside the dash. After a couple of times it turned with some effort but refused to start.

I let the battery rest for a moment and tried again. This time it roared as I pressed the accelerator, puffed some smoke and then idled calmly. I can hardly believe it awoke from a two decade slumber just like that.

Now I have to fix the water circuit (the hoses are dry and crumbling) and the clutch so I can move it around with a bit of ease.

Pouring a concrete floor

That shed I was cleaning needed one thing really bad, a decent floor. It was already made of concrete but with the years it broke down, revealing the soil and gravel underneath. And also wasn’t level.

So for the last couple of weeks we (my dad and I) worked together and made a new one. The next step is adding some tiles on top of that.

Backyard archaeology

While preparing the existing floor for the new pouring I discovered remnants of the old building.

In its latest years (circa 1970-1980) it was used in a wine bottling operation as a storage room and later my grandad started to build a small studio for my uncle (but that project was cancelled due to things better not to speak of).

Before that, around the 30’s and 40’s, the whole house was a ceramic tile factory. Giant ovens to fire the clay, castings and all that.

As I started to dig the trench for the new waste plumbing I found what looked like the walls of a chamber or well of sorts. The top was made of reinforced concrete and had all the appearance of being a lid.

I tried to break and lift it with very little success. On the other extreme of the room there’s a hole that seemed to be a small opening made on purpose. I dug with my hand but only got sand, gravel and fragments of old tiles.

I gave up as whatever I removed from the floor had to get back and then some more to make a proper base layer for the next one. But I plan on digging further later on.