Tuesday, February 17, 2015

First Set of City Trucks

I just finished a set of three city trucks.  It was a pretty humbling experience.  The last of the designs came out so well that I was pretty confident in these designs.  The first and biggest mistake I did was not look at the wheels before putting them in the design.  I used 1 1/2" in wheels instead of the 2" wheels in the dump truck and grader.  I needed these to look smaller because they were smaller vehicles.  I assumed they were the same peg and width as the 2" ones.  They are not.  They use a 7/32" peg and are only 1/2" thick.  The proportions were a little off.  Not to mention I drilled all the holes wrong and had to plug an re-drill them all. The second issue was I mixed up parts and did not realize it until after I had machined them all.  So I added to my scrap block pile.  The last big mistake was proportions.  I had grand visions of the cherry picker and that is what they became, too grand.  I designed a small maintenance truck and put a high wire lift on it.  For this lift to work I would need to put out riggers on it.

I did a couple of things different with these trucks.  On the final dry fit I posted pictures on Facebook with the instructions to criticize it.  I did not want the "looks great" posts, I want to improve.  I appreciate all the comments from the post.  So the new designs will not change the wheels.  I am kind of locked into the wheel size.  The rear wheel base will be widened to bring the wheels out.  The Cherry picker and stake bed trucks will now have duel axles.  The lift on the cherry picker is going to see a 30% reduction.

There were a couple of things I learned that were quite unexpected.  The first one was when I was sanding the engine blocks.  These are made by gluing up several pieces of wood and cutting the angle.  The angle cut goes through one of glue joints.  I labeled my parts and it just happened that my label showed through on one of the pieces.  I would have never expected for the wood to be that transparent and to cause a problem.  When I was assembling the cabs, I was doing them with my kids.  I was assembling parts on a piece of counter top.  First thing was I did not check for movement after all the parts were clamped together.  The second problem was there is a slight warp to the counter top that I did not realize.  Minor problems but they caused problems for the wheel alignment. 

On a side note, I highly encourage having kids help with building to toys.  It makes them some much more special to them.

Tow Truck

This is my wife's favorite.  There are some features of this truck that may seem insignificant but there was a lot of thought that went into them.  The first was the cuts in the arm for the hook.  This also proved to be a failure by design.  There are splits in the arm to make it bend when being put in so that the fit would be tight.  The negative space in the arm was too close to the hook that it broke when putting the dowel in.  I ended up clamping the base of the arm to provide the rigidity needed to insert the dowel.  The next design will have less negative space but I still recommend clamping the splits together.
The other design feature is the dowel that is inserted at the base of the hook.  Tow truck designs either have a metal hook or the hook breaks at the base.  I have repaired several so I hope this works.

Flat Bed Truck

Not a supper detailed truck and it doesn't capture the eye with some cool trick.  The cool thing about this vehicle is that it is the base for the other two  trucks in the series and possibly more.
The stake bed can be removed.  I think next time I will make the bead a little narrower and use 3/8" dowels instead of the 1/4".  I think the dowels will break in the holes with rough play.
I really like the fronts of these trucks.  IT will be another one that I remake and see how it turns out.  The only bad thing about the bed of this truck is that it is very similar to the cherry picker.  I mixed of the two beds drilled holes and did not understand why the parts did not line up.

Cherry Picker

This was probably the one that  I was most excited about and the most disappointed when finished.  It is not because of the how it works but the overall balance of the truck.  The lift is too big for the size of the vehicle.  I am currently redesigning to make it look more balanced.  The main key take away from this project was how to make tight fitting parts without a mechanism to tighten the parts together like a bold or screw.  I tried making small cuts in the wood to make it spring like.  The problem was with a cut it creates a point for a crack to propagate.  This is not good in wood.  So I drilled a hole at the end of each cut.  This seemed to work. 
It holds the bucket but it is not all the time.  It is a pretty heavy arm.

I thought I would do a band saw box for the bucket.  While mine came out ok, I felt this was not with in the criteria I was designing for.  While a band saw is a great tool, I do not expect a lot of people have them. The redesign will have a large diameter hole drilled into it rather than a cut out.
I tried to think so some special details for this vehicle and this was one of them.  I pegged the boom lift mount to the truck.  I thought it was a great idea but it can barely be seen.

The truck looks good and I am glad I did it.  I understand a little bit more the advice of "make every project twice."  This one will be made again, a little different and a little better.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Bucket of Blocks

So my wife was at a baby shower a little while ago for a lady having twins.  I make tug boats for baby shower presents.  These were twins so she asked if I had any buckets of blocks ready.  I did, so we packed one in a container and gave it as a present. My wife came home and told me that "we" were in trouble.  She said the blocks were a hit and there was some interest.

A couple of years ago I would have a competition to win these buckets and the contestants slowly faded away because you really only need one bucket.  So I stopped doing it. So I will try this again. 

Here is the history of the blocks.  I found, like most wood workers, there was an accumulation of small off cuts of wood being collected in various parts of the shop.  I usually put it in a burn pile whenever I got the urge to clean out.  It does hurt to burn the wood.  For the most part the lumber is good quality and never had any finish.  I really did not have any use for these small pieces because I was making larger pieces.  I ended up sanding the edges and making the first set for my son and a few smaller sets to donate to LDS services.  Over time I collected more scrap and figured it was a good idea to give the blocks away.  Then I stopped for a while but still collecting the off fall (scrap). 

Here is what is included in this bucket of blocks:  It is a bunch of random widths and lengths of blocks.  They have different shapes and sizes.  If you receive a bucket please go through them and throw out any that you feel are choking hazards.  I am usually pretty good about getting them out but opinions may differ.  All blocks are sanded with edges broken and have a coat of mineral oil.  The woods will vary depending on what I have been making.  There may be pine, walnut, poplar, cherry, oak, maple, beech or others.  All blocks are made from virgin lumber without defects and knots.  Some of these blocks are made from extremely hard woods.  Blocks that are thrown have a potential of doing damage.  It is a 5 gallon bucket (about 100 pieces) if you are looking for a size reference.   I will need to keep the bucket I keep the blocks in.  The blocks will be delivered in a box.

Now for the competition.  I am going to do two with multiple opportunities to win and you can do both.
  • First - How many buckets of blocks do I have currently completed? The person with the guess closest to the actual number with out going over will win the blocks.  Guesses should be in increments of a 1/4 of a bucket. One guess per person.
  • Second - What is the next project I will be starting?  Only one guess per person.  I will be starting them on the holiday weekend and there is more than one correct answer.
The competition will conclude on the February 28th.  Please leave your answers in the comment section of this post.  If the blocks need to be shipped, the winner(s) will be responsible for shipping.

Here are some images of past block sets given away.

If you would like to cheat, I will be more than happy to give you a bucket of blocks if you purchase this plan for me.  You will incur the wrath of my wife who has stated that I cannot buy the pattern.
On a side note:  I have oak, maple and cherry smoking chips if you like to bar-b-que. Just another reason to know a wood worker.