Saturday, January 30, 2016

Captain America Ball Chair Project Part Seven

Today I wanted to share with you the next couple of steps that I've managed to complete with my Captain America ball chair project.  In my last post I showed you the mold that I had to put together for the six inner wedge parts that need to be made.  This is a crucial step in the project and I would rather not mess it up right out of the gate with my first attempt at making a fiberglass mold.  So with that in mind I've been working on something much simpler to test this process on.

I put together this simple little mold so that I could use it to make a simple part from it.  Call it two snow balls in a box or two buns or whatever but it should serve my purpose well enough.  The half spheres I found at my local Walmart in the craft department and are only 4 inches in diameter.  I hot glued these to a Styrofoam base and then added a three inch high perimeter around the spheres that are tapered so that parts can be pulled from the mold once I have it all prepped for that purpose.
Here I have the interior of the little test mold already fiberglassed and waiting to cure over night.  Once this is done then I will go through the process of putting on a coat of fiberglass resin and micro-balloon mixture to fill the fiberglass cloth weave.  After that a lot of sanding is in store to make the interior of the mold smooth and ready for use.  The mold is only 10" x 12" x 2.5" in size so it should not take a terrible long time to get it into shape so I can try it out.  If making parts in this mold fail at least I will not ruin my big mold for the ball chair and will learn from the process if I do make a mistake.  But from what I have been learning online about making molds I think I will have a good shot at having the process fall into place so I am hopeful that this part of the project will be of some use and I will have another skill set added to my bag of tricks in the workshop.  I have the mold release wax and PVA mold release liquid ordered so I will be ready when it arrives in the shop in about a week so and  I can proceed further.
Along with the little mold test part I have been proceeding further with the fiber glassing of the larger parts for the ball chair.  This is one of the four assemblies that make up the chair.  The inner portion of the ring had already been fiberglassed so I was able to sand the outer surface of this ring to prep it for additional fiberglass applications.  The inner portion of this piece like all the ring assemblies need to be fiberglassed from the inside first to give the structure the strength that is needed so that I can sand it easily to get a nice smooth surface on the outside for fiberglassing.  Sounds kind of backwards but it works very well and since the inside of the ring will never be seen once the chair is completed no further finishing work will need to be done. 
Here you can see  what this ring looks like once it has been fiberglassed on the outside.  It looks a little darker is all but once it has cured properly the outer surface is quite strong and will take very little effort to prep it for a good finishing surface ready for paint.  I'll let this ring sit over night to let it cure and then finish up the outside my turning the ring over so that I can glass the edge and outer face of the ring where I had not glassed today.  You can see that the bottom portion of the ring is a lighter color where fiberglass has not yet been applied to the assembly. This makes it easier to do it this way otherwise the ring is wet on all surfaces and handling it gets to be a real pain to not mess up the work that is already complete.  Simpler to do this in a couple of steps and get it right.
Once I get the ring completely glassed on the outside I can go back to work on the inside and remove the unneeded Styrofoam that makes up the structure at this point.  The new fiberglass will  retain the shape that is needed for the ball chair and more fiberglass will be added for additional strength so that each ring of the chair can be bolted together.
I was looking at this ring as I worked on it on my work table today and thought it would be pretty cool if I could make a huge quad-copter using this ring.  It would be great to see but it would need a mess of power to make it fly.  Another idea for another project for another day.  Anyway I'll keep you posted on my progress as I keep going along with this project.  Enjoy the photos and your weekend.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Captain America Ball Chair Project Part Six

In this installment of my Captain America ball chair project I have been working on the construction of the mold that will be needed for the six inner curved triangular pieces that will make up the interior of the chair. 

The images above are what I hope to succeed at making with the mold.  This will be a first for me as I have never made a mold before in fiberglass.  Hard to believe with all of the projects that I have created over the years but with the construction I have done in fiberglass it has all been composite mold-less in nature.  A much simpler way to make things and if I don't get this mold to work right I will have to go back to what I know and try again.  So this is the process for now.

I had to do a lot of calculations and checking of my design in my CAD software to work out the mold I need for the six inner wedge pieces for the chair.  All of the wedges need to be exactly the same so what better way to do this than with a mold.  I started with five inner curved pieces to give me the shape I will need for the inner ball wedge surfaces. These curved pieces were joined together with a horizontal curved piece and then evenly space at 15 degrees each to get the right shape that I wanted.
These five curved pieces were then mated to an upper foam piece to get a connection point that would tie all of them together.  I had to join a two inch pink piece of foam with a one inch piece to make up the three inch joint to match up to the width of the curved pieces.  All of the parts at this point were simply hot glued together to hold them all in place for the mold.  I did not bother fiberglassing any of the parts before I assembled them as the structure did not need to be terribly strong to make the mold.
Additional foam pieces were added at this point to the outer perimeter of the wedge mold to help make the lip of the part that will be molded.  This will make more sense in the next few photos.
Here's a good shot of the upper joints of the mold.  You can easily see the joints that were made for the curved pieces of the mold and how they mate up at the tip.  Wrapped around this tip is the outer form to help create the lips that will run around the outer perimeter of the wedge parts that I need to make. The outer pieces are three inches taller than the curved ribs and the lip for the parts being made will only be two inches tall.  So it gives me a good surface to easily make this portion of the parts.  Once the parts have been removed from the mold they will be trimmed to the size I need.  
Next I stared gluing in the Styrofoam strips that will create the compound curved surface of the wedges in the mold. Each of these strips needed to be hot glued into place after carefully measuring and trial fitting each of them first. A long and slow process but interesting to work on just the same.
Here all of the foam strips have been added to the mold.  It took me roughly nine hours just to complete this portion of the construction.  As I said a slow process to be sure.
Once I had all of the foam strips in place to my liking I turned the assembly over and fiberglassed  the spaces between the curved ribs of the mold with eight ounce fiberglass cloth.  I let this cure overnight so that it would be good and strong for the following steps in the assembly.
I then sanded the inner surface of the mold to get a nice uniform curved surface.  The fiberglassing that I had installed on the back surface of the mold gave me a strong surface to easily perform this part of the build. I next cut a large piece of eight ounce fiberglass cloth so that I could glass the interior of the mold all in one seamless piece.  Being that the mold is triangular in shape it was just simpler to cut a rectangular pieces of cloth and lay it in the mold so that it would fit correctly first time out.  I had filleted all inner edges with fiberglass epoxy and micro-balloon mixture to get a good edge before I wetted out the cloth. 
Here is what the mold looked like after the glassing had been completed.  The cloth turns transparent when enough resin is applied to the cloth.  It makes it easy to see what is enough or not enough resin when doing this part of the job.  I had also trimmed off the excess fiberglass cloth that was hanging over the outer edges of the mold as it made things easier to get the inner cloth to stay where I needed it at this point in the construction.

Here the mold is completed.  You can see the white of the inner fillets that were applied to the mold before I laid the glass into place. I had also fiberglassed the outer surfaces of the mold as well so that it had a nice strong structure now.  You can see another white strip of putty mixture that I had built into the upper lips of the mold so that the outer fiberglass cloth could be attached securely to the assembly and give me a good 90 degree edge at the same time.  The next step in the process to complete the mold is to use additional fiber glass resin putty to fill the weave of the fiberglass cloth on the inner surfaces of the mold.  Once this has cured it will be sanded smooth and prepped to make the parts for the chair.  If all goes will I will end up with six identical parts for the interior of the chair that will match the first images in this post. 
I will need to keep my fingers crossed at this point and hope that I have my calculations right for the design and that I can get the parts out of the mold without any problems.  As I said this is another learning process that I hope will work out for me.  Just will have to see when I get that far with this portion of the build.   Wish me luck.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Captain America Ball Chair Project Part Five

Yesterday was a big day in the workshop with continuing progress being made on the Captain America ball chair project.  I wanted to get this post out before the weekend so that I could do a little traveling to see my son and his wife who live some distance from me.  So this will be good for you as well as for me this weekend.

In my last posting I had just completed the process of removing the dish shaped part for the upper base assembly from the dome for the ball section of the chair.  In this photo is the completed dish after it had been clean of any miscellaneous tape from the first part of the build and an additional layer of eight ounce cloth was then added to the top surface.  Once this had cured I trimmed off the excess to the correct size that is needed for the base upper assembly.
Here is a good look at the base upper assembly that the dish will be added to.  Once this done it will have a total of ten combined parts that will all be fiberglassed together to make up the mounting for the ball section of the chair.
I took the dish part and laid it upside down on my work table so that addition fiberglass could be applied to both sides of the slot that I had cut into the part.  Cutting this slot worked out much easier than I had hoped. I was originally going to use a carbon fiber disk in my Dremel tool to cut the slot but when I did the disk exploded into a lot of little pieces.  I suspect that the disk was old and worn out that was the cause of the failure. 
I then picked up another tool that I have here in the shop called a Sonicrafter from the Rockwell company.  This is a tool that has a wide variety of blades that vibrate when they cut.  You can touch the blade to your hand and it won't cut you but when you touch it to a part it will.  It cut through this fiberglass part like a hot knife through butter.  Worked great!  I marked the slot first with a Sharpie and then drilled a couple of holes to get the ends of the slot looking good.  Then it was just a matter of a couple of minutes to cut the slot out using the Sonicrafter.
I then took the dish and laid it upside done on my work table again so that I could  epoxy it to the upper base mount assembly. Using fiberglass resin and a micro-balloon mixture to bond these part together.  I placed several pieces of wood, foam, and a bucket of plaster on top of the assembly to weight it down until it had cured over night.

Here is what the finished assembly now looks like after it had dried. I've always said that you have to make something look ugly before it can become pretty in the shop.  This is no exception with this assembly.  Actually though I am very pleased with how this part turned out.  It is fully fiberglassed now and only need the finishing work and a little paint to make it look pretty.  Even with saying that very little needs to be done with the part as most of this assembly will be hidden once the ball chair is completed and assembled to the base.  So I don't have a lot to do yet to finish this part of the project.
The next step in the project was to continue the assembly of the lower base unit.   I had finished fiberglassing the blue part that is shown in the photo above and bonded the two pink rings to the assembly using fiberglass resin and micro-balloons once again.  This portion of the build then needed to be fiberglassed on the inside of the rings to seal it completely.
Next I took the leg support parts along with additional spacers and hot glued them into place on the under side of the base unit.  This went very quickly and will give the base for the chair a very solid platform to hold the upper base assembly and the ball section of the chair when it is completed.
Here I started to apply the 1/4 inch foam strips to the outside of the now upright base assembly.  I had completed puttying the joints of the leg supports both above and below the now center blue disk that you see in the photo above.  This added much more strength to the assembly.  The foam strips like the ball section of the chair were applied using a hot glue gun.  It's time consuming but not difficult work to get a good shape for  the fiberglassing that will be done later on.
Here all of the strips for the lower base section of the chair have been applied to the framework.  It already has a very nice shape and very little has to be done to get a nice smooth surface ready for fiberglass.
I took the lower base assembly this morning and laid it on it's side so that more fiber glass resin putty could be applied to the joints that mate up to the new outer skin.  Once this has cured I will fiberglass the inside of this cavity wherever it is needed before finally sanding of the outside foam to prep it for several layers of fiberglass.
The last thing I did was set up this pink part at the foot of the lower base assembly.  The blue foam will be cut out of the assembly at the archway shaped section of the pink part so that and opening will be built to allow electrical power to be fed into the chair for the lights and sound system that I have planned. 
All in all I managed to get a lot done in the last seven or eight hours with the project so I will be more than happy to leave it sit for another couple of days while I am on the road visiting my son.  With this portion of the build nearing completion the lower base assemblies look to be just what is needed for the ball chair project.  Coming right along just as I had planned so it makes it another good day in the workshop.  Total hours on the build now stand at 65.5 hours. Enjoy the photos and the weekend.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Captain America Ball Chair Project Part Four

The days have been flying by here at the workshop now that the holidays have come and gone.  I have been making steady progress with the Captain America ball chair project so I thought it best to get everyone up to date on where I am with everything.

This week I want to show you the progress that I have been making on the base assembly for the project that will be similar to what you see in the image above. This was an early rendition of what I had planned and like anything I design and build changes sometimes need to be made to make the design work better and make the assembly easier to put together.

In this underside view of the base the outer face of the base was designed to be one inch thick.  It looked good at the time but in reality would be a pain to create. Instead I will have a similar looking base but it will only have an out skin that is a quarter inch thick.  This will be strips of 1/4 inch foam that are wrapped around the eight leg supports on the underside of the base.  It will look similar to what is pictured here but will be easier to make in the process.
In this portion of the project I started work on the assembly for the base unit for the ball chair.  This base is simple to look at but has a lot going on for it.  The slot in the top of the dish shaped top is where the ball section of the chair will be mounted. 
This dish section of the base is made up of several different pieces and will take some time to put together properly to get it to work correctly in the base assembly.

The underside of the dish section of the base shows some of the different shapes that are cut out in the assembly as well as the mounting points for the bearing ring.
This bearing ring is mounted to the lower portion of the base and also to the upper dish assembly that is inserted into it.  This bearing will give the chair the capability to swivel when it is being used. 

The bottom of the lower section of the base unit shows an array of leg supports that will give the base a good strong framework to hold the ball chair safely when it is being used. The hole in the center of the assembly will allow assess to moun to the base to the base section of the chair.  The opening will also be used to route electrical power to the chair for accessories such as lights for reading.
I started the base construction with the a simple cardstock template of one of the leg supports.  I printed this off of my computer full size.

Using this template I traced the eight leg supports for the base on to one inch Styrofoam.
I then fiber glassed both sides of the foam panels.  I let these cure over night and then cut the parts out using my band saw.
Only two edges of these parts will be exposed once the assembly is completed so I removed a quarter inch of the Styrofoam and then filled this void with a mixture of fiber glass resin and micro-balloons.  This seals the edges of the foam and gives them nice clean edges.  You can see the white faces of these parts in the image above.

This section of the base assembly is the lower portion that will hold the azy Susan bearing assembly and will be where the leg supports will be added in the final assembly.  The lower base assembly is made up of one blue one inch thick foam panel that is 19 inches in diameter. Two pink rings make up the upper portion of the lower base and each ring is two inches thick.  These parts will be fiber glassed together when all the base components are combined and checked for fit.

In this series of photos is the assembly process that I needed to do to make the base plate for the upper portion of the base for the ball chair.  This 17.5 inch diameter disc of Styrofoam was first designed on the computer using free Fusion 360 software.  I then printed out a drawing of the part and then transferred the dimensions on to a piece of foam and cut it out using my hot wire table and my hot knife that you see here.  The hot wire table with my wheel jig made quick work out of making a perfect disc for this portion of the assembly.  Then I used the hot knife to cut out the key like opening that you see here.  This opening will allow access to the bolts that will hold the ball section of the chair to the base unit when it comes time to put these assemblies together.
This is a photo of most of the components that make up the upper portion of the base assembly. Again there is a blue circular base part.  Several more rings and semi-circle foam parts are then added to the lower cylindrical base.  The top blue circle of foam along with the two pink semi-circle parts are tapered toward the center to allow for a fiber glass dish to be mounted so that the ball assembly of the chair will mount perfectly.
This is a photo of the end cap for the ball chair where the star for the Captain America paint job will end up.  I fiber glassed this dome and then covered it with strips of Dacron cloth to make it nice and smooth for the steps that needed to follow in this portion of the assembly.
After the fiber glass had cured I covered a section of the dome with blue painters tape. 

I then laid the mating ring for the base assembly on top of the dome and traced out a circle to match the outer diameter of this ring.  This will be the exact size that will be needed for the dish for the base assembly.

Next came a lot of fiber glass.  I wanted to make sure that this portion of the assembly would be plenty strong for the base assembly.  I laid the fiber glass over top of the painter tape so that this part would match the dome but could be removed from the dome and not be permanently bonded to it. 

Once the fiber glass dish had cured again over night  the next step was to remove it from the dome. This took me about twenty minutes which really was not to bad.  I used popsicle sticks and paint stir sticks wedged between the two parts and after I had gotten a dozen or show sticks pried between each part they finally popped loose from one another. The dish shape is perfect and is plenty strong but I still needed to remove all of the blue painters tape.

With the use of a Dremel grinding cone  and an orbital sander I was able to clean up the dish and also get it nice an smooth for the next step.  Here you can see what the dish looked like after half of the painters tape had been removed.  The outer edge I did not bother with as this will be removed once the dish is cut to the correct diameter for the base assembly.
To make the ball chair swivel I am using a nine inch diameter Lazy Susan bearing ring.  This ring was quite cheap at only around $10.  It is perfect for the project as it is well made and the perfect size.  Also the fact that it can handle a load of 750 pounds is way more sturdy than what it will ever have to handle.  Works for me.

To mount the upper and lower assemblies of the base unit hard mounts needed to be made so that the bearing ring could be installed.  I glued up a couple of wood strips with 1/4 inch wood scraps to make up strips that were exactly one inch thick to match the Styrofoam panels they would be used in.  The wooden strips were then marked and drilled for wood screws and then cut into individual mounting blocks.
Eight wooden blocks were needed for this part of the assembly. The blocks were mounted to the bearing ring and then marked and cut further to match up to the circular openings in the bearing ring.

The foam disks that make up the base plates for the base assembly were fiber glassed on one side first.  Then Styrofoam was marked and removed at the center of the disks so that the wooden mounting blocks for the bearing ring could be epoxied into place for a perfect fit.  Once the bearing mounting blocks had cured over night again the assembly could proceed to the next step.
Here the next three pieces to this rather intricate assembly are ready for fiber glassing. In the photo above you can see the fiber glass cloth laying behind the dish, and the two foam disk parts. The bearing assembly was removed at this point as it was not needed and would be in the way at this point in the assembly.

Here is the dish assembly once again.  Before and after the fiber glass cloth had been wetted out .  The additional fiber glass cloth worked out perfectly and will make a simple task out of getting a nice smooth seamless inner surface for the dish.

Lastly I fiber glassed the two foam disk for the base assemblies.  This again was a simple task as I glassed over top of the now installed mounting blocks for the bearing ring.  I  checked for any voids around the blocks before the glassing was done.  Any that I had found I filled with the same resin putty mixture I  had used earlier in the assembly of the base leg supports.
So you can see that I've been busy working out the little details in this portion of the project.  I am really pleased with how things are going so far.  The bearing ring assembly works perfectly and to do the final assembly of the base for the chair should go smoothly with the hard work already completed.  Once I have this section finished I will start fiber glassing the ring sections of the ball chair to get them ready for assembly to each other and the base.  I'll let you know how all of that goes once I get further along.  Total time so far on the project not including design time is now at 51.5 hours. Great having it starting to take shape. Enjoy the photos and have a good one.