Author Topic: Making wheels...  (Read 1241 times)

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Offline cabbage

Making wheels...
« on: Apr 10 2010 21:25 »
I am curious... I have developed my own method for making my wheels and I wonder how other people do it. My steel wheels are made either from bar stock or flat plate. I have standardised on a 10mm hole for bearings or axle shafts. I have a home made "wheel turning mandrel", actually it is really a 10mm coach bolt and nut plus washer -but it sounds good! I face both sides in the lathe, drill the 10mm holes and then start operations.

First off I cut the tread and the flange on all the wheels. The end result is a flat tread and vertical flange.
Next I mount the compound slide and (somehow) get the thing to slide at the correct angle to cut the cone and flange angle.

I have now decided that it is at this point that I will drill any pin holes required in the wheel -rather than at the start -which I what I have just done with my present set of wheels. The result is the when the cutter hits the hole the cutter chatters and swarf flies everywhere rather than falling from the cutter tip. I don't mind the added iron in my tea -but the taste of cutting oil is simply vile!

So, how do you do it?



Offline IanT

Re: Making wheels...
« Reply #1 on: Apr 11 2010 11:46 »
Hi Ralph,

I’m not too sure what these “pin holes” are. It will depend on whether you are referring to drilling ‘cosmetic’ holes in the face of the wheel or for ‘coupling rod’ pins? Either way, I’d drill them after finish turning the wheels. So, at the risk of trying to teach Granny to suck eggs, here are my thoughts.

For the ‘cosmetic’ holes, I would probably drill them on the pillar drill. How you hold & index the wheel will depend on what equipment you have available. A simple solution would be to drill a central hole (to match your mandrel) in a block of planed wood (say 50mm deep x 100mm wide x 200mm long) and then to off-set (and clamp) the wooden ‘fixture’ by the required amount to allow the wheel to spin on the mandrel and to drill the required holes. Indexing could be by eye or possibly a simple pointer to any spoke or other feature (or even pencil marks on the rim) before you clamp the wheel down.

For coupling rod pins, I’d ideally leave the wheel on the lathe mandrel and use a cross-slide mounted drill to make the holes. It’s very useful to be able to lock the cross-slide (or if necessary to just tighten up the gib screws) when doing this. You can then repeat drill all the wheels at one setting. If you don’t have a cross-slide drill, then you will need to make a drill jig, with one hole to match the ‘axle’ hole in the wheel and another to match the required coupling rod size. For one set of wheels there’s no need to harden the jig. Then using a similar set-up to the cosmetic holes, I’d drill them on the pillar drill using the jig.

I should maybe make some other comments (for anyone who is new to turning wheels). Ralph is using steel wheels blanks. I’d face all the wheel blanks on one side, then (making sure the machined side is well seated on the chuck jaws) I’d machine the first blank on the second side having set a ‘saddle stop’ on the lathe bed. This can simply be a piece of steel clamped to the bed with a C-clamp (use a bit of cardboard to avoid marking the bed). Use the top-slide to get to final thickness on the first blank and then you can machine the rest of the blanks to the same thickness by simply bringing the saddle up to the stop. I’d now drill (and optionally ream) the axle hole to finished size on all the blanks using a drill chuck in the tail-stock (and using a centre drill to start the hole, as Ralph shows elsewhere).

The reason I’m suggesting that you get all the blanks to size and drilled first, is that I’m not sure if the mandrel Ralph describes using, is a ‘one-use-only’ type (or not). This was the kind I first used, and it consists of a length of mild steel rod held firmly in the 3-jaw and where a short length is turned down to ‘axle- size’ and then threaded to take a suitable nut. I used to use fairly chunky lumps (25mm dia.) as it gave a good face to bolt the wheels onto and also gave space to screw a small bolt between any spokes, as an aid to preventing the wheel from spinning. The key thing about these mandrels is that they are only accurate if they remain in the 3-jaw chuck. Once you remove it from the chuck, it is very unlikely to run really true again. So having made your mandrel, you need to have the wheel blanks ready to bolt on in one machining session.

Once I’d acquired a 4-jaw chuck, I could re-use mandrels, as I was able to clock them true each time I wanted to use them – but again it makes sense to be ready to machine all your wheels in one set-up. These days, I tend to use collets quite a bit and these also let you re-use a mandrel and I’m beginning to accumulate various re-usable mandrels and other bit’s and pieces to fit my collets.

These comments by the way, refer to the kind of steel wheel blanks that Ralph is using and I’m assuming that they start off pretty much circular. Machining wheel castings (particularly older ones) can require a bit more thought and care to get the hub central prior to drilling.   
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