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Features engine turning

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by silent rick, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. silent rick
    Joined: Nov 7, 2002
    Posts: 4,256

    silent rick
    Member

    what's your opinion of engine turned stainless compared to aluminum? i like the looks of it better on stainless but the aluminum would be way more easier for me to work on to drill and shape than stainless.
    is there anything to apply to either to keep it looking good? i'm afraid of oxidation on the aluminum.
     
  2. moefuzz
    Joined: Jul 16, 2005
    Posts: 4,950

    moefuzz
    Member

    For aluminum, use Tremclad clear satin coat. I wouldn't use clear gloss.

    Aluminum tends to kinda bunch up or gale when turned and often takes on a fairly textured or ridged look.

    Stainless in very nice to turn with fine grain/lines and as long as you don't contaminate it with carbon steel it will last indefinitely. You can also clear coat with satin tremclad if you wish.

    Cratex makes awesome sticks in various sizes and grits suitable for stainless or aluminum turning.

    .
     
  3. silent rick
    Joined: Nov 7, 2002
    Posts: 4,256

    silent rick
    Member

    i'd like to try my hand at it one day but for this application(my 27 T dash), i'll buy a piece, most probably from fpm metals. i need a piece 8 x 36 inches.
    ok, my next question is what cuts holes in stainless? i need two 3 3/8 inch holes and four 2 3/8 holes for the gauges and a few smaller holes for illumination and switches.
     
  4. Pat Thompson
    Joined: Apr 29, 2012
    Posts: 222

    Pat Thompson
    Member

    Hope this comes thru. I did this on aluminum using a round scotchlock grey scotchbrite pad. FYI It is for a 97 Chevy pickup so it was long. You can tell where I had to reposition it to get the entire length. It was my first attempt.
     

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  5. silent rick
    Joined: Nov 7, 2002
    Posts: 4,256

    silent rick
    Member

    what will engine turned aluminum look like 10, 20, 30 years down the road? will it hold up as well as stainless? especially in a roadster exposed to the elements and sun.
     
  6. On aluminum either polished or turned I just use lemon pledge (furnature polish). Out in the weather you would have to apply it about once a year. It works and keeps everything looking like the day you did it.
     
  7. silent rick
    Joined: Nov 7, 2002
    Posts: 4,256

    silent rick
    Member

    furniture polish, are you serious? what's that stuff? my vacuum cleaner needs dusting. you expect me to have that stuff laying around?
     
  8. As moefuzz says, cratex on stainless works great. http://www.cratex.com/
    Zoop seal is/was a good polish protectant on aluminum.
     
  9. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,530

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    FIRST:
    Select some good hard aluminum. My F100's dash was pounded in by vandals when I got it, they had stolen the truck from the P.O., and hammered the S-W gauges that were installed across the flat.

    My brother 'came across' some old "Speed Limit 55" signs, and I trimmed one down to fit my gauge bezel and the inset flat all across the dash. (about 32", right up to the glove box. I had just quit smoking, so I also covered where the ash tray had been)
    This stuff was hard, (the aluminum, not the quitting) probably T-6.

    I engine turned both panels on my drill press, using a 1/2" grid...Made a tool up from a hard wire brush with 1/4" shank, (for de-carboning combustion chambers)
    The material is hard enough that there was no 'bunching', stays shiny...the wire tool left coarse swirls, very visible 'texture'.
    I did it in '82, polish it once in a coon's age...always sharp, shiny...I use 'Pledge' furniture wax, comes out brilliant.
    The cluster back was swirled with a wood dowel and coarse grinding compound. (I did it first) so it looks 'smoother', but almost the same...nice match. The hard aluminum made this technique very time consuming, so I was concerned with the massive size of the large plate: Looked like a week! That's wneh I went for my knife...er, Brush!
    My 160 MPH S/W speedo is flanked in a cluster of fuel, Volts, temp, and oil pres., all 2-1/16".
    Guys at Billetproof all thought it was a Haneline product.
     
  10. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?
    Member

    Mike above brings up a very good point. I have done a bunch of this over the years, and when you are working aluminum the harder the alloy the better. The soft stuff that I use for shaping and such, like 3003 almost "smears" as it is turned. 5052 is a bit better, but still a bit soft, and the swirls come out sort of course. 6061 is probably the most common grade out there and it turns beautifully, and the swirls last indefinitely. If you can find it, 7071 (Mikes street signs above) is the very best for this stuff.

    Another commonality about aluminum is the harder the alloy, the better it will polish and retain that polish. I always put a light polish on any piece of aluminum that I turn before the turning operation. It doesn't have to be a mirror, but the turns stand out much better on a shiny piece than on a dull one.
     
  11. xpletiv
    Joined: Jul 9, 2008
    Posts: 938

    xpletiv
    Member
    from chiburbs

    Cool, thanks for ^that^ info!
     
  12. After trying diverent things i found the easiest thing to use scott bright green pads from the gorcery store, there really really cheap, then i got a little sanding disk kit from harbour frieght for like 10.00, the arbour slips in my hand held router. a can of 3m spray glue. cut the green scotch bright pads into square about 2 inch, i think you can get 4 out of one pad. pray the pads with the 3m glue and let sit. be liberal with glue, you want it thick n sticky. it will take a couple of adjustment on the router to find the hight you like, i like it about a 1/4 to the bottom. stick the pad on the bottom of the disk, I use spray oil like WD40 and spary the metal. it also helps to clean up after wards. make sure its stuck and slowly move it sloeghtly above your piece, turn on and lay it on, it take about 2 to 3 seconds and pull up. Walla, each pad will only last 2 maybe 3 turns each then they turn to Shit. good luck
     
  13. I used 3/4" round Craytex in the drill press to make our roadster dash. Made a holder for the Craytex from a plastic pipe hose barb - the small end could be chucked up in the drill press. WD40 for lube during the turning.
    Not sure of the aluminum grade we used - it does seem to be a softer variety. The traffic sign grade may be harder stuff. I use paste wax to protect it.
    Looks good and seems to last. The finished effect is not perfect and it does not look like the computer perfect pre turned panels you can buy - but that's the point!
    I like it and plan to do another one for our 34 dash
     
  14. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?
    Member


    That's the winning combo right there! I am still using the Cratex disc I bough about 15 years ago, and I slipped mine into a chunk of copper plumbing tubing.
     
  15. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?
    Member

    I did a quick tutorial about engine turning on my Thread "The Bucket of Ugly" last fall. My rig is so simple it's ridiculous. I couldn't imagine buying a CNC'd panel for the money they bring when I can sit at the drill press, put on some good music and make swirls... And yes, they look organic, not perfect...
     

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  16. Rem
    Joined: Mar 6, 2006
    Posts: 1,256

    Rem
    Member

    ^^That looks great, as you say, not perfect but that is what is right about it. CNC polished stainless might look nice in a new street rod dash, but hand-turned aluminium looks far more traditional to me.
     
  17. Yeah! Like Louvers said above, it's not perfect, it looks ORGANIC!
     
  18. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?
    Member

    If you look at my picture you can see slight "Shifts" in the pattern and such, but you have to figure too that by the time you cut the holes for gauges and switches and stuff that those will much less noticeable.

    The best part about this deal is that I actually got my girlfriend, The Incredible Miss Judy, to turn about 1/3 of the swirls herself! It was a completely Tom Sawyer-esque kinda deal... "What you doing?" Turning swirls, it's kinda fun.... "Can I try?" No, I think you might mess it up. "Bet I can!!!"... Swear to god she sat there concentrating and turning swirls for at least 2 hours. She's never been that quite that long in her life.
     
  19. DAM...Louvers I like that you got Miss Judy to do this for 2 hours while you were hanging out watching...Must be true love.
     
  20. big duece
    Joined: Jul 28, 2008
    Posts: 6,142

    big duece
    Member
    from kansas

    I would prefer stainless as a material to use. 1/8" was used on this piece.
     

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  21. Leviman
    Joined: Dec 11, 2012
    Posts: 201

    Leviman
    Member

    You can also get the aluminum anodized, that'll give it a harder finish and prevent corrosion. You could also dye it colors at that point, but that thought gives me a shudder usually induced by billet steering wheels.
     
  22. Dak Rat
    Joined: Mar 8, 2006
    Posts: 436

    Dak Rat
    Member

    I did a stainless steel insert, used a faced off 1/2" oak dowl and valve grinding compound in my drill press. Taped a piece of 1/2" graph paper to a piece of plywood to get the proper spacing--just move the insert along the graph one square at a time and your good to go. Still looks like new after 20 yrs.
     
  23. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?
    Member



    Nah, I'm like a shark, I never stop moving! I louvered a hood while she turned the insert. It'll soon be on our T-Bucket.


    Stainless is as easy to do as aluminum. There is a difference in sheen qualities though. Truth be told, I prefer the look of aluminum my self. What I said a bit ago about surface prep goes double for stainless though. Get the mirror polish stuff to make life easier, and make sure to peel back the outside cover and make sure it doesn't have the grain lines still in it.
     

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