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Crap to Gold, Harbor Freight English wheel

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by troy5118, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. troy5118
    Joined: Oct 21, 2008
    Posts: 90

    troy5118
    Member
    from Haven Ks

    I've always wanted an English Wheel so I made the mistake of buying one from the local HF. i put it together and exitedly started wheeling some aluminum to find out its a real piece of junk :rolleyes: So here's the process I used to make it work correctly. I took tips from others that have done this before on some parts.

    Here's how it looked assembled out of the box.

    [​IMG]

    Slop in everthing. The anvils were out of alignment and they were putting lines in my sheetmetal.

    First I started by knocking down the machining marks on the anvils using 320 grit on an orbital followed up with some red rougue. I just let them spin in the saddle while I sanded/polished. Also the upper wheel measured at 12 thou runout which is horrible. I lathed it to .5 thou.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Next was to get rid of the slop in the upper spindle. I used my tig to weld it up then reamed it to size.

    [​IMG]

    The frame wasn't stiff enough so I used some 2" x 3" by .125 wall to stiffen it.

    [​IMG]

    It was walking back and forth on the stand so I made new saddles that fit tight to fix that.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now I need to get the upper and lower spindles to line up. They were way off. the top really tipped in if you can see it in the picture.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After getting the top spindle plumb I had to completly cut the bottom spindle off to get it plumb also. Look at the nice 3/4" gap!!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The slop in the lower adjuster was the next battle. Had to machine a uhmw bushing for the acme thread and weld the lower saddle to the tube.

    [​IMG]

    Also not shown seperatly is I had to cut the lower frame that the tube slips into and weld on a threaded clamp to lock it in place. I also added a roll pin to the quick realease and bent the handle to make it usable. These fixes have been done before. I also added some extra plate for the upper wheel with a gusset.

    [​IMG]

    And there you go! Either save money for the real deal or expect to spend a couple weeks of your free time making this one right :D

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  2. 53sled
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 5,820

    53sled
    Member
    from KCMO

    I was considering getting just the anvils and making my own frame. Sounds like that is the way to go. I keep watching craigslist for a used one. no luck so far.
     
  3. michaelmoore
    Joined: Dec 29, 2010
    Posts: 97

    michaelmoore
    Member

    cool but ........ what pictures?
     
  4. So at the end of the day, was it worth it?
     
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  5. Killer
    Joined: Jul 5, 2001
    Posts: 1,535

    Killer
    Member

    good job man.

    you cant get good anvils for the price of that thing. as you showed, a little fixin goes along way!
     
  6. rustydusty
    Joined: Apr 19, 2010
    Posts: 569

    rustydusty
    Member

    See? That Harbor "Fright" stuff isn't so bad! :eek: You could have just bought some rollers and built your own. Nice save though!
     
  7. stevechaos13
    Joined: Sep 11, 2008
    Posts: 421

    stevechaos13
    Member

    Wow dude, lotsa work.
    At what point during the rebuild did you realize that you should have just made your own?
    Harbor freight sucks, but you did a damn fine job of rebuilding that machine.
     
  8. I almost bought one when they were on sale, in the store I found, like you, they had a ton of slop and the rollers did not line up. For my next project I will fab one using some rollers I found on ebay. Great job, now send the finished photos to Harbor Freight to show them what a REAL english wheel should look like......and the bill for your time and materials.....
     
  9. Rebel 1
    Joined: Oct 25, 2010
    Posts: 568

    Rebel 1
    Member

  10. troy5118
    Joined: Oct 21, 2008
    Posts: 90

    troy5118
    Member
    from Haven Ks

    I can get the steel from work and have acces to machinery so it wasn't horrible but yes it would have been easier to build the frame from scratch and just buy the anvils. But if you're on a budget it can be done :cool:
     
  11. The quality on the rollers can be inconsistent.
     
  12. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 7,314

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta

    You can say that you made it much better, which you did. A nice job in the end.

    As far as the spindles not lining up and the 3/4" gap, they may have been off a little to begin with, but a large amount of that mis-alignment was caused by you with all that welding around the "C" shape of the original frame in adding the re-enforcement tubing.

    It is obvious even in the pictures that the distortion from welding "opened up" the "C" frame a little making the spindle alignment even worse.

    So obviously you had to fix that.

    These projects are nice, but at the same time the HF Wheel is not the total piece of poorly built crap it is accused of being.

    In a few cases it has been used as is to do some nice metal work, in others it is a good base to start from and make improvements like you did.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  13. oj
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 5,314

    oj
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    That was some good work, both figureing out what was wrong and how to fix it. If you look at it as if the HF piece as a good starting point and you have to make some further investment of time and money then it might be a good deal, i know the wheel i'd like to buy is a couple thousand, looks like modifying the HF piece and have maybe 500 wrapped up in it to tide me over until i can afford an imperial machine would be good thinking. It is like all thier tools, i bought the planishing hammer and deep throat shrinker and neither worked right until additional work is done (well, i am still working on the stretcher).
     
  14. stevechaos13
    Joined: Sep 11, 2008
    Posts: 421

    stevechaos13
    Member

    Yeah man, I'd say you used it more like a template than anything else, but the end results speak for themselves.
     
  15. troy5118
    Joined: Oct 21, 2008
    Posts: 90

    troy5118
    Member
    from Haven Ks

    That's true, I forgot to add the upper wheel had .012" run out so I lathed it, now its .0005". I'll add that.

    Not exactly, I found it wasn't square when I clamped my 2" x 3" tubbing on so I welded the bracing together first to make sure it was square than clamped it to the HF frame to pull it back in square also. That made the anvil alginment worse at that point because they had the spindles welded on a crooked frame.
     
  16. budd
    Joined: Oct 31, 2006
    Posts: 3,479

    budd
    Member

    i have the same wheel, thanks for the tips i think i give my wheels a polish, mine has another problem, the adjusting screw is so out of line with the lower anvil its unreal, but i look at the price i paid and think of the wheel as a kit that requires some disassembly and reassembly, even the way it is i have used it.
     
  17. tb33anda3rd
    Joined: Oct 8, 2010
    Posts: 10,979

    tb33anda3rd
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. Connecticut HAMB'ers

    how much are those things?
     
  18. HILLBILLY'ED
    Joined: Nov 2, 2010
    Posts: 196

    HILLBILLY'ED
    Member

    I bought one and like it,it has its flaws but for the price how can you go wrong....I couldn't start building one for what it cost..If I had to wait to buy a high dollar one I would probibly never have one at all.. Very nice job on yours the info is nice to have..I'll doctor mine up a little at a time
     
  19. Black Primer
    Joined: Oct 1, 2007
    Posts: 967

    Black Primer
    Member

    Just like their beadroller,...nothing a little yankee ingenuity won't fix. Good job!
     
  20. CRH
    Joined: Apr 30, 2006
    Posts: 551

    CRH
    Member
    from Utah

    Thanks for posting! This gives me hope... I have a HF one that is still awaiting removal from the box (been sitting for some time). I like the reinforcement and alignment ideas!
     
  21. Johnny1290
    Joined: Apr 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,836

    Johnny1290
    Member

  22. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 7,267

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Ron Covell was worse than unkind in his assessment of the Chinese offering...
    My brother made some strap brackets and bolted the frame to the wall. WHEELS WERE SO FAR OUT OF ROUND THEY DID A DOTTED LINE LIKE A PAINTED ON ROAD MEDIAN!
    He said, "Go ahead! Try it!" I pushed and it went an inch, tightened, and stopped. "Push!" he said. I told him the wheel was excentric. "It just has a 'hard spot'. It's O.K....now that I 'fixed it'..."

    He should read this thread. But he won't. He 'knows too much'.
     
  23. Nice recovery on tool that you hardly paid anything for and does the job perfectly.
     
  24. Adam Bahm
    Joined: Nov 12, 2008
    Posts: 27

    Adam Bahm
    Member

    I hope the HF engine in the minibike is ok. I got one on sale to re-engine my old Sears compressor, and it's alot better than the B&S it replaced.
     
  25. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,393

    chopolds
    Member
    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    NOw you just have to contend with the wheel and rollers. Probably not hardened, so they'll eventually nick and flatten in spots.
    After replacing them, is there anything Harbor Freight left?????
     
  26. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 2,884

    Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Member

    Nice save on the HF "starter kit" Troy. .012 runout on the wheel is incredible!

    That blue cherry picker in the background of the first photo makes me cringe. Is it a HF? It looks REAL spindly. Made from 2"x2" tubing?
     
  27. AllenK
    Joined: Dec 12, 2010
    Posts: 220

    AllenK
    Member

  28. Snarl
    Joined: Feb 16, 2007
    Posts: 1,640

    Snarl
    Member

    So, if I wanted to buy a "real" one, what would be the one to get?
     
  29. troy5118
    Joined: Oct 21, 2008
    Posts: 90

    troy5118
    Member
    from Haven Ks

    Someone did a hardness test on them and they weren't bad. Anyone got a link?

    Cherry picker is from Cummins tool. Its actually pretty decent. Cylinder pumps both ways when you run the handle to make lifting a little quicker.
     
  30. temper_mental
    Joined: Oct 22, 2006
    Posts: 2,719

    temper_mental
    Member
    from Texas

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