Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Project before the First Project...

After reading Book 1, The Charcoal Foundry , and Li'l Bertha A Compact Electric Resistance Shop Furnace , I decided to go with an electric furnace for melting aluminum for casting.

I read all I could find about other people's builds, and found an improved version of the Li'l Bertha furnace at Dan's Workshop . He has quite a number of interesting projects on his blog, and sells detailed plans for some of them as pdf downloads. At $3.95, his furnace plans were well worth the money.

Every build I read about had or inspired another idea I wanted to try. I started shopping for materials, and was surprised to find that some construction methods I thought would be cheaper were more expensive, and vice versa.

I started my build, trying various methods, finding what worked and what didn't, and making changes. I was maybe two thirds or three fourths of the way to having a furnace I was happy with and being ready to melt aluminum when we had our first snow.

From reading Gingery Machines , Casting Hobby , and various build blogs and web sites, I was well aware of the dangers of pouring aluminum over snow, wet earth, or even concrete. Here in Wisconsin, we get our first snow in November or December, and even when it melts, the ground is wet and muddy until late spring or early summer.

I temporarily set the furnace project aside, but these photos should get your creative thinking started. I'll describe the process when I resume working on it.

Warning: I believe it's as important to document what didn't work as what did. The stainless steel wire burned out on the first test firing. I include it for three reasons:
1. To document something that didn't work.
2. To document some ideas I came up with along the way that might be useful in other applications.
3. Stainless steel wire might be useful at lower temperatures or amperage.