During my build of a smelter for melting aluminum I decided to make some tools that I would need to help me during the melting process. I had some junk items lying around that I figured would be of some use and there were some that I had to purchase for a minimal price.
To start with I needed something to pour the melted aluminum into to form ingots. I decided upon the simplest method that I had researched about using muffin tins. In the future I may look at making some block type of molds or even using a green sand form to make molds that will look more professional, but for now the muffin pan molds should do.
I began by going to my local Walmart and buying four small muffin pans, each pan holds six muffins and because of the size of the pans themselves they are easy to store and handle. They only cost eighty cents each and new they were very shiny and not ready to be used.
|Nice and shiny.|
The first thing that I did was to use my gas burner to heat up the pans and burn off the coating. The pans have a protective coating on them that makes them nonstick. This however is one of the reasons why the ingots stick in the pans according to my research. So using a decent set of fire resistant gloves and in a vented area I began by burning out each muffin form and then continued to do the same for the outer part of the tray.
|Burnt off coating.|
The pans became extremely hot and so to cool those off I tossed them out in the snow. If no snow had been available then I would have plunged them into a bucket of water.
|Quick quench in snow.|
After the pans were nice and cold and safe for me to handle I piled on some more snow and allowed them to become very damp. The reason for this is because during my research Ii found that new pans even after having the coating removed could possibly still end up having the ingots stuck. Another way of preventing this is to use pans that have rusted slightly. The rust helps to make a barrier that will help to release the ingots once they have cooled. It only took one night for a decent amount of rust to start to form on the pans and I have no intention of cleaning them off seeing as they are intended for metal molds and not for food at all.
|Within a night some rust had formed.|
Another minor investment I made was to buy a bottle of baby powder, I had read that it would help the ingots to release and so figured it would be an additional thing to do. I am hoping that by doing all these things the melted aluminum won’t stick like I have seen it do to others. I sprinkled some over them before I stored them, for no real reason other than to prevent the pans sticking together and plus it smells nice now.
|The baby powder soaked up execs water.|
Another small investment I made was to buy two trays to place the muffin pans on. They were eighty cents each and I figured not only would they help keep the pans in place during pouring but also they would heat up and prevent the molds from cracking up on the bottom as they cool. From what I have seen some people like to pour a little water in the pans but I probably won’t be doing that. I did not bother to burn off the coating although I may do so in the future if it looks like the heat from the pans is causing any unwanted vapor from the coating of the base pans.
|Shiny new pan.|
Along with the pans there are a few other tools that I will need and that I decided to make out of scrap metal and wood.
The first is a stirring rod, something that I could prod at the metal and ensure it has melted but yet not get close enough to burn myself even though I intend to use fire protective gloves at all times. I had a long broken mixing paddle that was steel and decided it was long enough and would make a decent stir rod. It was easy enough to make and was free and quick. I simply whittled down a long length of a branch (I actually had done this some time ago as it was to be a walking stick but turned out to be too short, so the stick had dried out thoroughly). I cut a section to form the handle and drilled a hole three quarters of the way down the middle of the piece of wood. The hole was barely enough for me to force the rod into but not cause it to crack at all and holds the rood secure in place. I drilled a hole and countersunk it on both sides so that the rod could be hung if desired. I then used the blow torch to lightly burn over the handle before lightly sanding. I finished it by brushing the handle over with a clear deck protection liquid so that it would not be damaged from moisture or in storage.
|A long rod for stirring melting Aluminium.|
I then needed to make a few other tools and for this I used threaded rod, I had a few sections left over from a previous project and new they were relatively cheap something like two dollars a foot from Lowes. The rod is the type that is weld able and doesn’t rust very quickly. The first rod tool I decided to make was a semi long pick type tool that I intend to use to help pour the crucible if needed along with picking out any pieces from the crucible if needed along with some other uses. The principle was like the long rod as in I inserted it into a wood handle that holds it securely. I used the gas torch to heat the end of the rod a few times as I shaped it into a pick and quenched in water.
|Stay safe and use good heat resistant gloves.|
Just like with the long rod I used a flame to slightly burn the handle before lightly sanding it and coating the handle with a water resistant coating. The difference with this is that I drilled all the way through the handle and then used a nut on each side to tighten it and secure the rod even more so that there is no chance that it will rotate while in use.
|Nice and secure.|
Then I needed to make tools for skimming of the slag from the smelted metal. I knew that I would need some form of slotted spoon tool and after spending a dollar on a large slotted stainless steel spoon I began by making another wood handled threaded rod to hold the spoon on. After a little bending of the spoon handle and persuasion I used some nuts to secure the spoon to the rod. To ensure the bolts do not un-thread during use I bashed the threads a little each side of the bolts so they can’t slip undone at all. This technique seems to have worked and seeing as I have no welding equipment is an easy solution.
|Looks clean, for now.|
I had also purchased a dollar ladle made from stainless steel as an additional tool for removing the slag waste. I used the same principle as for the slotted spoon and it seems to have worked out well and should work well for what it is needed.
|Secure ladle for skimming.|
The final item that I made was a pouring handle pick up tool. It is made for the size of crucible that I will be needing and with the idea of using one that has bolts on top to enable the pickup. I used two sections of the rod that I heat forge bent either end and then using two short plates with holes in I made a frame secured by bolts. I then covered the handles with wood sections cut in half to give some heat protection and also make it look nice. The rods are secure and can be bent if needed to accommodate a larger vessel if needed.
|With a little bending it should fit a crucible.|
Now these tools should work well for the intended job and were all relatively easy to make. Only time will tell just how effective they will be.
Whatever tools are made or used it is important to remember that when melting Aluminium and dealing with fire, heat and hot liquids especially molten metal.
Remember, when undertaking any potentially hazardous and dangerous projects, stay safe and wear appropriate protection.
|I hate olives, all of them.|
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