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Old 02-12-2011, 10:08 AM   #181
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1973 31' Excella 500
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Hi Cris and Kay, I've seen your posts on the other Chris' thread, "the fun begins" and I finally tracked down your thread. Great work and progress while integrating the restoration into the rest of your life. And thanks for all the pics and information you've posted.
I'll be starting what I am thinking will be the detailed assessment phase of the work on our '73 within a month or sooner if my schedule permits. She's inside for the winter so at least I don't have to wait for warmer temps or snow melt.
Thanks again for the inspiration.
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Old 02-14-2011, 07:28 AM   #182
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Thanks Lew!

Can't wait to see your project started! Do you have a thread for her yet?

Chris
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:10 PM   #183
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Building Tanks

This past weekend, I started building the gray water tanks. I’ll make two gray water tanks, and one new black tank using the same basic procedures.

After playing with the heat strip I was using in post 170 some more, I decided I needed something a bit hotter to bend the ¼” thick ABS. So I bought two new heat strips from Brisk Heat online – one 2 foot and one 4 foot long. Since the long edge of the gray tanks are 57”, I needed both strips.


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Here’s the 2 foot one ready to use. The 4 foot one looks exactly the same, just twice as long. The strips come with instructions for building the holders out of plywood. You then cover them with a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil to reflect the heat, and fiberglass sheet to cushion them. Not having any fiberglass sheets on hand, I substituted the leg from an old pair of jeans. Works very well.


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Here’s the bottom of the tank cut out and ready to bend. The blue masking tape made it easy to see the pencil lines to cut it out. Pulled it all off before I started bending.


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Set up for the first bend. The piece of wood is the height of the inside wall once it’s formed. The first set of bends are to create a 1” lip on the top of the tank. You’ll see later in the post.


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First bend made to form lip. Heated the plastic for about 10 minutes, and carefully bent it up to 90 degrees. Clamped it in place, removed from the heat strip, and let cool for several minutes.


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Here’s I’m set up for the first long bend. Both heat strips are butted up next to each other, and clamped to my workbench to keep them aligned. Only real problems I discovered with this is there is about a 1” gap between the heat strips, and the 4 foot heat strip heats up faster than the 2 foot heat strip. Which really surprised me. I would have though if they were going to heat up at different rates, the smaller one would heat up faster. Maybe if I was a thermo-dynamic engineer instead of a software support engineer, I’d understand it better. But no matter – learn from real world experience. So, I plug in the 2 foot heat strip 90 seconds before plugging in the 4 foot strip, and then they heat up the plastic for bending at the same time (10 minutes later). But that 1" gap doesn't bend as smoothly as the rest of it.


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Here’s the 4 lips all formed.


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Turn the tank over, and start bending the sides. Here I’m set up to bend the first short side.


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Viola – 15 minutes later and I have one side formed!


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Here, 3 sides are formed and I’m set up to bend the last long side.

Continued next post.
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:14 PM   #184
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Building Tanks cont.

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All four sides formed. Looks pretty good actually. By bending the plastic, I avoided needing to weld the seams on the bottom


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I did need to weld the corners. Here’s my first and second layers of welding material on an inside and outside corner. Put the first layer on, let it cool, and then used a rasp to grind the rough spots down. I then added a second layer of welding rod.

Not done yet, but pretty well on my way. Hopefully I’ll have time to work on the tank more this weekend.

Chris
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Old 02-24-2011, 08:24 PM   #185
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That is some great craftsmanship!
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Old 02-25-2011, 02:16 AM   #186
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Chris: Could you please post information about the various tools/equipment you used in the construction you have done so far? Thanks, Hank
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Old 02-25-2011, 08:01 AM   #187
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Hi Hank,

Do you mean for the tank project, or for everything we've done on her from the beginning?

Chris
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Old 02-25-2011, 12:16 PM   #188
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That is some great work you're doing, you two set the "Gold Standard" for remodels. Keep up the nice work, and one of the best Threads on this forum....
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Old 02-26-2011, 12:02 AM   #189
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Wow. Great detailed post. You're making it look easy! Will you hang the tanks at an angle? With the tools and the materials, what do you think the cost per tank is gonna be? Will you spin the drains and vents?
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:28 AM   #190
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I'll hang the tanks flat probably. Not much room to hang them at an angle and still keep them inside the frame space & belly pan. I'll put the drain directly on the bottom to get the best drainage out of the tanks. The drains and vents will be solvent welded on with ABS glue - that's why I chose ABS for the tanks. I plan on bolting them to the floor with elevator bolts and fender washers through the flanges, and then supporting them underneath with plywood - either 1/2" or 3/4" depending on how well 1/2" does with a full tank weight test I'll do in the spring before hanging them. The elevator bolts will be mostly to hold the tanks in place and keep them from sliding around, with the majority of the support coming from the plywood. I'll need to weld brackets onto the frame to hold angle iron which will hold the plywood.

Chris
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:35 AM   #191
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Originally Posted by Rex Crabtree View Post
That is some great work you're doing, you two set the "Gold Standard" for remodels. Keep up the nice work, and one of the best Threads on this forum....
Thanks Rex!
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Old 02-26-2011, 10:51 AM   #192
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Very nice work, Chris!

Could you describe how you actually made the bends? Did you bend the full length with a metal piece or other support or did you just work it up a little at a time?

I have a project for another of my hobbies that I need to bend some clear plastic so this information is very helpful.
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Old 02-26-2011, 11:14 AM   #193
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Thanks Lew!

Can't wait to see your project started! Do you have a thread for her yet?

Chris
Sorry this is a little out of sequence, but I missed your post.

I'm anxious to get started on the AS (Betty), but I won't be able to get at it until the week of March 7. We own a seasonal business that will pretty much wrap up on March 5. A day to organize the warehouse and store all the equipment so there is plenty of room to work, then on with it. I'll start the thread some time that week.

In the meantime, I'm getting lots of inspiration from your posts along with wasagacrhis, Top and Trex.
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:59 PM   #194
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Very nice work, Chris!

Could you describe how you actually made the bends? Did you bend the full length with a metal piece or other support or did you just work it up a little at a time?

I have a project for another of my hobbies that I need to bend some clear plastic so this information is very helpful.
Hi Lew,

I bent the entire length at one time. That's why I bought two heat strips. The longest length of the tank is 57", so a 4 foot heat strip wasn't long enough by itself. I really don't see how you could make one bend partially at a time and have it come out to a true 90 degrees and be straight. I clamped a wood piece to each side to form the bend. As I mentioned above, the two heat strips, when butted up next to each other, leaves a 1" gap that doesn't heat as fully as the rest, and that caused a crack on one of the long bends. Fortunately, this is a waste water tank and it's black, so I was able to fill the crack with ABS welding rod. I’m going to try modifying the heat strip holders to eliminate that gap before I bend my second gray tank (today’s project).

The same heat strips can be used for bending clear acrylic, but I've never done that. But then, I never bent ABS before a couple of weeks ago either.

In reading up on bending plastic, two things to watch for are under-heating the bend (that will cause stress cracks) and overheating the bend (that will cause a saggy bend and thin out the plastic). I experimented a bit, and right around 10 minutes of heat seems to be good for 1/4" ABS. I try and make the bend at 8 minutes, and if it's not bending easily, I wait another minute and try again. I think the longest wait time was a total of 13 minutes of heat.

Heat is applied to the outside of the bend only. Once it heats through, you can make the bend. I checked the heating progress on the inside of the bend off and on using the back of a finger – just to be sure the entire bend was getting hot. According to the heat strip directions, the strips can heat up to 480 degrees, so you do need to be little bit careful. I did melt the plastic a bit on a couple of the long bends because it was too close to the heat strip and made contact. That was kinda stinky. Those mistakes were made on the upper flange bends, and the only bad effect was a rough surface on the bend. The addition of a wooden shim to raise the tank higher off the heat strip solved that problem.

Bending is a fairly simple and straight forward process. Just be sure to practice on scrap before trying the final project.

Chris
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Old 02-26-2011, 02:06 PM   #195
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Hey MC get bent. I mean get bending. lol. It's a tankless job, well actually it isn't. Great looking results. Many tanks for your information.LMAO. What's next? are you thinking about forming a shell for the trailer out of ABS? It would be a real challenge to do the compound curves and I guess it wouldn't polish up nearly as good as aluminium. So is this going to be cheaper than just ordering ready made tanks?
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Old 02-26-2011, 03:53 PM   #196
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Hey WC - 4 jokes in one line! But, my advice: don't quit your day job...

Taking a coffee break. One thing about working with ABS - it stinks! Stinks when you cut it, stinks when you bend it, and stinks when you weld it! Heck, I think it decides to stink when you look at it cross-eyed.

Our two big reasons for making the tanks: cost and sizes available. We do not want the gray tanks to stick below the belly pan, so in order to get maximum capacity in the space between the frame members, you're looking at custom tanks. Or moving framing members. Or both. Making the tanks seems a lot easier.

Our total investment so far in everything (ABS sheets, welding rob, plastic welder, MEK, and ABS cement) is about $450 US ($5 million CAD ), or $150 each. There is no way we can buy 3 custom tanks for that price.

I don’t plan on forming a shell for the trailer out of ABS, but you never know. The black look does kinda grow on you after awhile… Like the totally black ship in the original Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Not the movie, the original BBC mini-series.

I do still need to build a new front headliner. Probably not out of ABS though.

MC
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Old 02-26-2011, 04:07 PM   #197
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MC have you looked at the money markets recently. $1.00 USD = $1.01CAD. so those tanks wouldn't cost me $5 million anymore. It does make things better for me buying things from the greater 48 but much worse for CDN businesses trying to sell into the USA.
I need the comic relief otherwise I'd go crazy with the polishing job I'm doing. Either I'm doing something wrong or it does take forever to do it. I've been at it for 4 weekends now and only have half of one side done and I still need to cyclo it after all the compounding is done.
So what do you think you're going to make the headliner out of? I assume you're talking about the interior end cap.
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Old 02-26-2011, 08:01 PM   #198
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If nothing else, I can provide comic relief!

Yes, I'm talking about the interior end cap. The inner dome shaped skin that goes in the forward (bow or pointy end) of the trailer. I hope to make a new one out of aluminum, and then cover it with wood veneer. One of my goals in going to the 4 corners vintage rally this year is to hopefully learn some aluminum working skills.

I doubt you're doing anything wrong. She's a big trailer with lots of surface area and you're doing a high polish. I doubt I'll ever find that much ambition to do that high a polish on ours.
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Old 02-27-2011, 02:34 AM   #199
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Hi Hank, Do you mean for the tank project, or for everything we've done on her from the beginning? Chris
I meant to ask regarding the tank project heating strips and welding tools. Hank
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Old 02-27-2011, 11:08 AM   #200
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I meant to ask regarding the tank project heating strips and welding tools. Hank
Hank,

Here's list of everything I bought so I could build the tanks.

Plastic welder from Harbor Freight:

http://www.harborfreight.com/plastic-welding-kit-with-air-motor-and-temperature-adjustment-96712.html

ABS welding rod from US Plastic Crop. They sell it by the pound, and 1 pound is about 180 feet (I asked them).

http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=27178&catid=881&clickid=searchres ults

Heat strips from Brisk Heat (2 & 4 foot long):

http://www.briskheat.com/p-152-rh-plastic-bending-strip-heater.aspx

ABS glue from ePlastics:

http://www.eplastics.com/Plastic/ABS-Glue/WELD-ON-IPS4707-PT

MEK from Ace Hardware.

¼” 4 x 8 sheets of ABS (Qty 3) & 1/8” 4 x 8 sheet (Qty 1) from Crown Plastics (local supplier in the Twin Cites).

I bought the 4707 ABS glue online because it said it was thicker and better for gluing flat to flat surfaces together instead of using the ABS pipe glue you can get from any local hardware or home center. Not sure that’s true or not as I have yet to receive it and experiment with it.

The MEK will be used to make a ABS slurry so I can fill in the rough spots on the corners I welded together. That’s another experiment I have yet to try. I read about using MEK to make a slurry on another thread in the forums.

Chris
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