First Bronze Castings
Bevel gears seem to me to be rather difficult, even with CNC control of X,Y,Z and A axes. The bevel gears on the model Armstrong cannon are rather small, being 32mm and 14mm outside diameter.
I read Ivan Law’s book on the subject, and I think that I understand the requirements, and I was prepared to try and cut the gears. But, first, I decided to try to cast them.
- Using “Gearotic” to design the gears, and save them as an STL file which was able to be imported into the 3D printer.
- Made PLA gears with the 3D printer.
- Attached the gears to a wax “tree”.
4. Then mixed the investment, poured it into the flask. At least that was the intent. The investment makers specify exactly 40:100 by weight of water:powder. But the bloody scales switched themselves off while I was adding the powder to the water, so I had to guess the quantity of powder. This was not looking promising. First bronze casting pour not off to a good start.
5. Dry the mold flask in the potter’s oven for 2 hours, then 2 hours of burning out the PLA and wax, then 2-3 hours of baking at 750ºc. A few minutes into the burnout phase, the oven died. ?heating coil failure, ? control box failure?, ?thermocouple failure, something else? So I replaced the control unit and thermocouple (I had a spare of each), but problem persisted. I rang my expert friend for advice. “sounds like a broken wire” he says. Suggested 3 or 4 things to try. And the 4th suggestion worked! The oven was working again! Brilliant! Thanks Stuart Tankard. So I restarted the oven at the burnout temperature (400ºc) and continued. Nothing to lose, after all.
6. Melted a couple of bars of LG2 bronze at 1100ºc in the melting furnace. Added a pinch of Borax. Let the investment oven cool to 710ºc for 1 hour to let the core of the mold cool to 710ºc.
7. Without any great expectations of success, considering the various problems, I poured the molten bronze into the mold flask. It seemed a bit more viscous and thick than I was expecting. Oh well. It is experimental.
8. When the mold flask had cooled to 150ºc, I plunged into cold water, and flushed out the investment.
Totally delighted with this result. Beginner’s Luck.