Dresser Drawer Construction

Building out the drawer boxes

There are many ways to build the drawers. I have settled on a particular technique for the furniture I build which provides what I think is a good combination of elegance, ruggedness and reasonable ease of building. This combines dovetails for the fronts, dadoes for the backs and bottom. The bottom is also completely captive which helps square up the assembly.

Sides and backs

Once the dovetails are cut in the sides and fitted it is time for the easier tasks. The first is to cut the dadoes in the sides for the backs. I typically set this up on the smaller radial arm saw using a 8″ Freud stack dado set. In this case the plywood is 12 mm thick which requires almost all of the shims in the set. The dado depth is just under 1/4″. I leave 1/4″ of wood behind it which makes measuring for the bottoms easier (outside box dim – 1/2″ = the bottom dimension).

I usually set a stop for the distance from the rear ends. Pay attention to the distance from the front. The dresser is just over 18″ deep and the drawer bottoms can reasonably be 16″ so you can get 3 pieces from the width of the standard sheet of plywood.

The backs are cut to length on the big radial arm saw, again using a stop.  When cutting the fronts and sides to width I cut 2 extra strips of plywood, ready for the backs. Plus the backs are shorter than the sides so I could re-cut some sides where the dovetails were messed up.

Dadoes for the bottom panels

These are cut on the table saw. The plywood I am using is 5.2 mm thick which is too far under the 1/4″ minimum of my dado sets. So this become a 2 pass cut on the table saw.

The key point in setting this up is that you want the dado ends to be under the side dovetail tails . This will completely hide the groove when viewed from the outside.  The photo below shows the alignment of the first cut which will be the top of the dado.

At this point there is a lot of time invested in the sides. Cutting the dado incorrectly will ruin a side. So I carefully double check the orientation of allof the pieces and stack them so they are ready to slide against the table saw fence.  This reduces the chance for error vs. “flipping on the fly”.

Once all of the sides, fronts and backs are cut make a few extra test piece cuts.  The alignment of the fence for the second cut takes a bit of trial and error until you get a good sliding, but not overly loose fit on the plywood for the bottoms.  I tend to re-use the test cut scraps multiple times.

Now adjust the fence, make the test cuts and test for fit against the plywood for the bottoms.  When making the cuts, be sure to hold with even pressure so that the piece does not ride up over the blade, reducing the depth of cut. I often will use a top feather board for this but skipped it this time, which resulted in some extra fine tuning at final fit-up.

Final fitting and assembly

I will completely dry fit assemble each drawer before gluing.  This gives me a final chance to fine tune the fit of the components. I can adjust the dados with a chisel but prefer a dado plane and side rabbet plane as shown in the photo below.  Scrape or sand off any marks on the inside faces of the drawers at this point as it is far easier now than when fully assembled.

If fitted properly the dovetails need no clamping. The only clamp required is for the backs. The drawers are all placed o stacked flat to prevent racking and are checked for squareness. A few taps with a mallet will usually fix any minimal out of square.  Look up and down the dovetails after assembly making sure the sides / tails are evenly inset for the full height of the drawer. The fronts will be trimmed flush with the sides after the glue dries.   I will clean up the glue squeeze out after a few hours. This makes the least mess.

So 9 drawers done, and 18 to go for the dresser project.

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

One of my Favorites

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie has become a Thanksgiving and Christmas staple for us. Originally, I was intrigued with Sweet Potato Pecan Pie after having it on some trips to New Orleans for trade shows.

I spent some time searching for a recipe to use and the basis for what we do is in Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking book which is now over 30 years old.  We have modified it, of course, but it is true to its origins with the flavor kicked up a bit.

It does take 2 days to make as the sweet potatoes must be baked and cooled before preparing the pie. We typically make it a day or 2 ahead to ease up on the holiday food prep craziness.  Plus it sets up better after chilling, making serving easier. While I love it warm from the oven, (and this is why there is a small wedge missing in the photo) it won’t serve well being too soft until chilled.

Sweet potatoes

Take 1-2 large sweet potatoes, scrub and poke full of holes (unless you want a grenade in the oven) . Bake at 375 for 2 hours on flat pan with parchment paper to ease clean up.  Remove, cool and scrape out the insides.   These are then mashed in preparation for making the pie.  We usually do this the day before making the pie.

Filling

1 c sweet potato mashed

4 oz (1 stick) butter

3/4 c light brown sugar

3 jumbo eggs separated

3/4 c skim milk

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 c bourbon (Makers Mark or Jim Beam are our favorites)

Prep

Cream the butter with sugar and sweet potatoes. Next beat in the egg yolks and milk. Add the spices and salt and liquor continuing to beat the mix.

Whip the egg whites in a clean bowl and then gently fold into the rest of the mixture.

Pie shell

Favorite recipe – par bake 10 min at 375F

Fill and bake

Add the filling to the shell and bake. Place on a sheet pan as the filling will rise a LOT and may spill over making a huge mess. (I really don’t like being on even cleaning detail prior to the thanksgiving baking, again) After 15 min then add the topping (below). If you do this too early the pecans will burn.

Topping

4 TB butter

4 TB brown sugar

4 TB flour

1 cup chopped pecans  – this  is WAY more than the original recipe called for but is needed.

After adding the mixed topping, bake for an additional 45 min (longer than the original) until the filling has set to a custard like consistency.  If the pecans are getting too dark, tent with aluminum foil right away. We always assume a custard pie will take longer than the recipe says. Burnt pecans spoil the flavor.

Serving

For serving top with fresh whipped cream (not that stuff from the tub or can) .

So go ahead make a slow food desert and forever settle the question of “Should I have pumpkin or pecan pie or both…”  This has the best flavors of both and is better overall.

 

 

Dresser project – small drawer dovetails

Initial testing

One of the goals when making the CNC router was to be able to do general woodworking joinery including dovetails, sliding dovetails and mortise and tenon joints. The mortise and tenon capability was proven out when I did the blanket ladders.  The dovetails needed another project and the dresser project with 27 drawers is a perfect fit.

The CNC router was set up with a special base for the dovetails and the horizontal fences were CNC routed to final spacing in place (20″ apart) to match the vertical fences.

Over the last week I had prototype the joints using JointCam and using scrap pieces of plywood that were of the approximate thicknesses of the drawer fronts and sides. I tested both equally spaced and equal spaced dovetails and both turned out well after a bit of initial tuning.  Teal liked the equal spaced better and these could be done with both pins and tails in one pass so this was chosen.

Wood for the drawers

The drawer faces are white or red oak depending on the dresser . At this point I am doing the top row of smaller drawers.  The 3 top drawers for each dresser are cut from a single board so that the grain runs across the face of the dresser. If one is botched then all 3 are scrap.  So there is a bit of tension here with some nice pieces of quarter sawn white oak (big flakes) and near quarter sawn red oak for the drawers.

The drawer faces are approximately 3/4″ thick.  The drawer sides are 1/2″ nominal (0.47″ actual) baltic birch. I like the baltic birch plywood for drawer components. The even coloring and lack of voids make for nice side pieces.

Now for the “production”

The off cuts were again tested and everything seemed to work although the joints were a bit looser than expected from the earlier testing . Jointcam has a setting for adjusting the fit and this was used. New pieces tested OK so on to the real stuff.

At this point things fell apart. The router bit was progressively creeping out of the collet during the cuts. This was apparently exacerbated by the oak drawer fronts. I reduced the feed rates and increased the spindle speed but it was still happening. I tried a new dovetail router bit with a longer shank and really cranked down on the collet but it was still creeping out and then the shank of the router bit snapped just past the collet. Time for a beer (or 3) and think through the alternatives.

Plan B

There is not a lot of info on the net about CNC cutting dovetails. There are bits on commercial work where you cut everything flat and add a false front, but little on the trials and tribulations of doing this properly.  The JointCam info mentions the use of roughing and dovetail bits and passes but no guidance on when to use this vs single pass.  So after the beers and sleeping on it I decide to be conservative and use a roughing pass (straight bit) and finish pass with the dovetail bit but switching to a 1/2 ” shank dovetail in the hope that it would grip better. I had one more of each on hand – 1/4″ straight and 1/2″ 14 degree dovetail with 1/2″ shank.  As you can see from the photo below, the pieces are cut 2 at a time as right / left pairs.

Testing

Testing went well. However it is tedious as you need to do a bit change for each test (straight and dovetail passes). So by late morning it was a go for this method. Now I just had to make a new set of drawer fronts for the dresser that had them ruined in the first try.

I also found that while JointCam makes a scoring pass for the dovetail / finish bit, one is needed for the roughing pass on the plywood sides. The side faces tend to splinter easily.  So I took a marking / cutting gauge and scribed a line across each of the sides before routing. This contained the  splintering.

Production part 2

I did the drawer fronts first. These were labeled as to sequence on the dresser, inner face and top edge. The top edges were placed against the fences on the CNC router.

First pass for the stack of pieces was with the straight bit.  After all were run, I changed the bit to the dovetail (and it is nice to have a soft mat under the edge of the CNC to catch the dropped bits vs. the concrete floor).

Now that the fronts were done (pins) and they fitted reasonably well against the test sides it was time to do the sides (tails).  These were cut and after the first pair I test fitted them to the fronts. They were close but there was still some variation form one front panel board (set of 3) to another. One small adjustment of the fit clearance (-.001 to +.004″) was made in JointCam for the sides to match the fronts. At this point the sides are labeled right and left (blue tape on the rights) and for each dresser set.

Video of the CNC router cutting the joints is here: Dovetail cutting

Final fitting

There was still some tweaking to do. One set was still tight even with the +0.004 correction. These pieces were tight and had a gap at the end of the tails. So I took this set of 3 to the drum sander. I took off about 1/64″ on the inside face and everything fit nicely.  So now I have the 9 drawer faces and sides fitted up and ready for the dadoes for the bottom and backs.

Burnt Ends style Chuck Roast

One of my favorite things about going to a good barbeque joint or smoking my own meat is the crispy pieces around the edges.  A common restaurant appetizer is “burnt ends” made from smoked brisket. So far my own smoked brisket has been less than spectacular and I have been looking for a way to make the beef consistently good.

I wanted to try a combination of sous vide cooking and smoking to get the best of both worlds with a more predictable outcome. The idea was to use sous vide to cook the meat, break down the connective tissue with the smoking for flavor and caramelization. However, a search turned up only a few recipes of this sort with huge variability of cooking technique. So I decided to experiment on my own. This recipe was an absolute success. It yielded succulent tender beef with a nice smoke flavor (and smoke ring) and caramelized exterior.

Ingredients and prep

  • 3-4 lbs beef chuck roast, slit along fat lines and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1/4 c Chili powder
  • 2 tsp Colmans dry mustard powder
  • 1.5 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 Tbsp Granulated garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Dried onion, freshly crushed (I don’t like onion powder)
  • 1/2 c Brown sugar
  • 4 slices Bacon cut to 1″ lengths (bacon ends and scraps work well here)

Mix the above ingredients and rub into the beef pieces.

Place everything into a bag ready for sealing for sous vide cooking including the left over rub.

  • Add 1/4 c Worcestershire sauce and toss  (adding it earlier makes a mess)

Vacuum seal the bag

Cooking

Cook in the hot water bath at 155F for 24 hours. Cover the pan or add water every 8-12 hours as there will be significant evaporation.

Remove the pieces and cut the biggest ones so nothing is more than 1″ thick.  Smoke on indirect heat at 200F for 4 hours . I use a Big Green Egg and put the conveggtor down under the grate. Keep the pieces away from the direct heat at the edges or they will burn.

Chill the juices and skim the fat. Then reduce the liquid until it is about the consistency of BBQ sauce. This took about 1 hour in a large glass baking dish at 350 in the oven (stir once or twice).

Remove the pieces from the smoker and cut down to max 1″ pieces per side.    Lightly stir them into the reduced liquid and the brush with your favorite BBQ sauce  (we use Sweet Baby Ray’s). Bake at 350 convect or put on the grill again for another 30 min. This will caramelize the sauce and meat edges. Be careful this will burn easily at this point.

The reason for incrementally cutting up the meat was to have it neither dry out or crumble to nothing. Chuck roast is really a mixed bag of meat muscle types all rolled into one and it is hard to have the leaner portions and fatty portions get done nicely and all stay together if you immediately cut to 1″ pieces.

At the start, I had wondered if there would be a visible smoke ring on the pre-cooked meat and there was – nice bright pink. Plus the smoky flavor came through nicely, which was probably helped by the sweet rub. I used several chunks of cherry wood 3″ diameter branches for the smoke (well soaked due to the rain).

Serve and enjoy

Having some of the candied jalapenos to go with them just adds to the sweet and tangy flavor.  Some fresh baked bread (I did a sourdough whole wheat / rye combo) is great to sop up the sauce.

 

Pork, Apples, Onions and Stuffing

For us, this dish is a fall and early winter favorite. Usually we make it after going to our favorite apple orchards or picking our own apples.  It is super easy to make, basically slicing, chopping and baking.  It is also a good way to use up some of your damaged “ugly” apples.

We use a 5 qt “everyday pan” or 6 quart deep skillet for this.  You want a covered pan that is a bit on the deep side to contain the stuffing on top of the pork. The stuffing will shrink down by half while it bakes.  It would also be interesting to try in a dutch oven over a camp fire.

Pork

2 lbs pork roast. We use the smaller rib end toasts which have a bit more fat and break down better than a pork loin roast. You can substitute  pork loin roast or boneless pork chops or pork tenderloin (cut cooking temp and time). Exterior fat is trimmed off and the meat is sliced about 3/4″ thick. This should yield about 8 slices. Each slice is one serving for us.

Dredge in flour – about 3/4 c with a good grind of pepper, 1/2 tsp granulated garlic and a bit of salt (1/4 tsp).

Brown well on one side in bacon grease and lightly on the second side. leave the lightly browned side down when adding the stuffing. This dish is one of the reasons we save our bacon grease.

Stuffing

3-4 apples chopped into 1/4 ” slices

2-3 medium onions sliced to match the apples

1 fist full of fresh thyme and  10-12 leaves of fresh sage chopped (if dried about 1 tsp thyme and 1/2 tsp of sage) but this dish is one of the reasons to grow your own.

3/4 bag of stuffing / stale bread cubes to fill the pan

Baking

Pour the stuffing mix over the pork

Add 1/2 bottle of apple, pear or your other favorite sweet white wine

Add 1 can chicken broth

Bake covered 90 min at 350F. At 60 min pull it out and turn over the stuffing so the top does not dry out. Pull the cover off for the last 10-15 minutes to let it brown a bit.  Teal has reminded me that the pan needs to go on a jelly sheet pan or cookie sheet to catch the inevitable dribbles of juice that otherwise makes a mess of the oven.

Serving

Serve with the same wine you used to cook it (unless it has magically disappeared in the meantime).  The pork will be fork tender.  I like about a dozen rinsed capers on my slice. This will serve 8.  A small side salad is nice.   Of course, apple crisp is the favored desert.

For those of you that live in Wisconsin, my favorite orchards are Ski Hi and Brighton Woods with Aepple Treow winery as well as my back yard.

Teal’s Orange Chicken

Background

Teal loves Orange Chicken and Lemon Chicken. However, the breading and frying is a pain as well as adding un-needed calories.  So here is a way to get the delicious flavors with much less fat and calories.

Grill the Chicken

Take 2 packs boneless/skinless chicken thighs (8 thighs). Throw these directly on the grill. These are cooked on medium high heat to give some caramelization and melt off the fat. Pull from the grill when still somewhat pink in the center. You don’t need to have them cooked completely through as that comes in the next steps. This is so much better than trying to trim the fat and cube the raw chicken.

Now cut into bite size pieces.

Mix the sauce

1/2 can orange juice concentrate

3/4 c honey

1/2 c soy sauce

1/2 c ketchup

1/2 c brown sugar

1/2 c rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 Tbsp minced fresh garlic

3 Tbsp corn starch – This is a lot more than most recipes call for but there is no breading

1/4 c sesame seeds

Mix the above ingredients

Mix the corn starch into about 1/2 c of the mixture from above and then add into the rest. If you try mixing into the big batch directly you will get lumps.  The small amount lets you whisk out the lumps.

At this point, it will look like you have too much sauce and it seems to be too runny. Don’t worry, it will cook down and thicken.

Bake

In a 13×9″ glass pan place the chicken and then pour the sauce over the top.

Bake for 2 hours at 325 F .  Stir every 30 min for the first hour and then every 15 min thereafter. When you stir be sure to scraped the caramelized crust from the edges. If you leave this browning goodness it will burn and make clean up more difficult rather than adding to the flavor.

Serve

Serve over rice with a side salad.   I add some blood orange hot sauce and tamari sauce for mine.

This makes great leftovers. So don’t hesitate to double the amounts.

3D Printing Nylon

One of my goals when building the printer was to be able to print nylon and other high temp materials.

For the trike, I wanted to print some parts for the chain idlers in nylon. So I ordered some Taulman Bridge nylon filament in Black.  This is supposed to be one of the easier nylon variants to print.  Going into this I knew that getting the nylon to stick to the build plate can be tricky and it absorbs moisture from the air which will cause printing problems.

The filament arrived, but it  was repackaged, not on the original Taulman spool and keeper as shown on the Taulman website or on Amazon. It was vac bagged with no silica gel which was suspicious. I started printing at 255C with 60c bed temp on hairspray. Lots of popping noises (like Rice Krispies) and peeled up like a potato chip on the 3rd layer.

Next, I tried Elmer’s wood worker’s glue. I had some left from past woodworking projects and it was getting thick. So I thought it was worth a try after seeing the PVA recommendation on the Taulman website. This sticks incredibly well!!! Actually hard to remove if you put the glue on too thick. Still lots of popping, puffs of steam and rough textured surface. increasing the temp to 265C helped only slightly. After the first night’s attempt I had placed it in a cat litter bucket with silica gel to try to dry t out. I had a few glossy areas (must have been down by the silica gel. So I had a clue I was on the right track despite a poor overall print.

You only need a very thin coat of glue. If it is too thick, it peels off with the part. I was easily doing 6 parts per coating.  Probably could do more if the location was not exactly the same each time.

The next day, I baked the spool at 220F on convect for 5 hours . This made a huge difference. Now printing nicely with a glossy finish and no popping. The spool look a bit potato chippish however. It warped due to the heat.
I am using a Hbot with Micron cobra extruder (all metal) and high flow 0.5mm nozzle. Printing @60mm/sec. I have not tried faster with the dry filament yet. Basically I am able to print at the same speed as PLA or ASA.

The parts are side plates for chain idlers for my recumbent racing trike project. They are 80mm in diameter. On the left is the “wet” version, right was made after drying the filament in the oven .

Drying the filament made a huge improvement in the print quality. Without the drying I would have rated this filament a failure.

During testing of the idler concept the strength and durability of the nylon became evident. The chain was not restrained and kept bouncing off the idler gear, deforming the nylon flanges. The same tests with PLA shattered.

Next for the printer will be new bearings for the print head carriage. A spool of iglidur180 has arrived. I will be moving from the bearing wheels to low friction fixed sliders

I also need to leave a note on the printer as to which filament was left in the head at the end of a session.  I have taken to cutting the filament off at the the top of the print head and letting it cool. This avoids the jams I had been having by pulling the filament out and leaving globs of filament in the feed tube. However the range of temps I am printing with is now quite large (nylon @ 255C down to PLA at 170C). So tonight I was tring to feed in the PLA for some frame tube end caps and had to remember to crank up the temp to clean out the nylon and purge, lowering the temp as the nylon was all fed out.

Candied Jalapenos – Cowboy Candy

Background

Last year, was our first try making these treats. They were an instant hit. However, with only 12 half pints we had to conserve the supply for family gatherings and parties. Even people that are not pepper aficionados will go for these (except for my wife Teal).  The original recipe from Foodiewithfamily.com was modified somewhat.  Our favorite way to enjoy them is with cream cheese or mild cheddar and crackers. Some of you may think this similar to the pepper jelly cream cheese and crackers that was popular in the 70’s.

So this year we set out to make a lot more. I planted a good supply of peppers of various types (Jalapenos, Big Jims, corno di toro, and caribbean reds)  and then let them ripen.  However with a dozen plants this was not enough. So yesterday, I went to the Waukesha farmer’s market early and bought out a couple of the vendors.   Each batch requires 3 pounds stemmed and seeded, approximately 3.5 to 4 lbs whole.  We overbought – next time I will bring a scale.  Ideally you will have 1/3 – 1/2 ripe red peppers and the balance being green jalapenos (or serranos if you like more heat) . This photo shows about 10 lbs.

You can double the batches without problem if you have large enough kettles.  Each batch will have left over liquid which you keep using, just add to it to replenish. Every 3rd batch or so, we skip adding more liquid.  Use pH test paper to make sure it is still in the sub 4.5 range, if not using pH paper , keep adding half as much vinegar on the “skip” batches to make sure it stays safely acidic.  Wear gloves, otherwise after handling several batches of peppers, you won’t be able to touch any sensitive areas for better than a day.

Prep the peppers

To prep the peppers there are 2 methods that we use. You can use a corer (like the Big Green Egg Jalapeno corer) or modify one of the cheap ones from the grocery store. This allows you to and pull the seeds and membranes out if they are large and then slice. However this really only works well with very large peppers. A better way is to start slicing from the pointy end and then pause when you hit seeds. 1/8 to 1/4″ wide slices. Now slice off the stem end. Stand the pepper on one of the cut ends and now start slicing vertically shaving off strips the same width around the seeds.   The second method is not only faster, you end up with a lot less seeds mixed in with your peppers.   I am not a fan of the bitterness of the seeds and membranes.  I think this is one of the keys to having great tasting results. We did a comparison to some commercially made candied peppers that were merely sliced with the seeds left in and ours won the flavor comparison hands down.

Ingredients

3 lbs seeded and sliced peppers (1/8-1/4″ thick slices or strips). We include 2 habaneros per batch for bit more heat and flavor. Weigh it out!

2 cups apple cider vinegar

6 cups white sugar  (yes a lot they are Candied peppers)

1/2 tsp ground Tumeric

1/2 tsp celery seed

1 Tbsp granulated garlic

1 tsp ground cayenne pepper

In a large pot, mix all of the ingredients except the peppers. Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Watch carefully as it starts to boil as it will boil over easily (like jelly, and make just as much of a mess).  Add the peppers and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, boil for another 4 minutes.

Each batch makes 3 pints or 6 1/2 pints.   Boil your jars, lids, and utensils (slotted spoon, ladle, funnel). Using a slotted spoon and a canning funnel,  fill and pack the jars with the peppers. You will need to pack down the peppers a bit.

Boil the liquid to reduce for 6 minutes.  Ladle into the jars . Use a poker to work out any air bubbles. Add more liquid leaving 1/4″ headspace (maybe more like 3/8″).  Put on the lids and bands.

Process in boiling  for 10 minutes for 1/2 pints and 15 minutes for the pints after it returns to a boil.

Remove from the water, re-tighten the bands and set aside to cool.

These should sit for a month before using.  Today we made 36 half pints and 8 full pints (one lid blew off in the water bath otherwise we would have 9). This took about 6-7 hours.

All times start after hitting a full rolling boil. This recipe is not a complete guide to home canning. For more info look up info from various University extensions such as: https://fyi.uwex.edu/safepreserving/recipes/  or get the Ball Blue Book of canning.

 

 

 

Recumbent trike – idlers and longer ride

The trike is now mostly done, but the drive train was giving me grief. The idlers were not working out and I replace the rear cassette due to skipping.  The previous owner of the components had beat the bike more than I initially thought with damage to the cassette and outer crank chain ring , both of which had to be replaced.  Maybe there was a good reason he cracked his Trek carbon fiber frame?

After having problems with:

  • Metal pulleys as idlers . These were garden tractor style A size v-belt pulleys form Northern Tools. There were metal shavings everywhere and the chain would pop off.
  • Hybrid pulleys. I used sprockets from the old gear cluster and 3D printed nylon sides and spacer to center them over the ball bearings. They held together, but after 5 miles were wobbling badly and the low gears were skipping. The chain would rock off the sprockets, ride on the sides or pop off all together. The nylon withstood a huge amount of force and merely deformed without breaking. However with a 9/32″ wide bearing, there was too much lateral force.
  • Hybrid pulleys versions 2&3. I used PLA for the test models. However, it blew apart under stress in less than 3 miles.  There were problems with geometry and the bearing to sprocket interface.   I was not thrilled with the thought of making new parts out of aluminum to withstand the stress and support 2 bearings per pulley. Nylon flexed too much and I would have needed to bake the spool again due to the humidity. to drive off the absorbed moisture prior to printing.

I then again turned to Google. This lead to Terra Cycle idler pulleys. http://t-cycle.com/idlers-chain-management-c-41/idlers-c-41_9/sport-power-idler-p-134.html They were highly recommended on the AZ website and elsewhere.   I ordered a couple of these and one of thier 28″ chain tubes as an upgrade from the garden hose.  With the research, I also decided to redo the chain tube supports and let the sprockets and chain tube slide freely on the shaft rather than being held side to side in a fixed location.   The resulting setup is seen below.  I used 1/16″ x 3/4″ aluminum stock and bent it to match the chain tube. This was easier to make and the integral chain retention is a huge benefit.

You can also see above, that when the old front idler shattered, the chain was then rubbing on the underside of the handlebars.

With these installed, I dressed for cycling (cycle shorts, not my regular cargo shorts) so as not to appear to be flashing the passersby. The padding of the cycling shorts was not necessary but the snug fit was.  I then did an intermediate length “shake down” ride. Just shy of 20 miles and nothing fell off or bound up. I still need to do some derailleur adjustment (some skipping under hard stress) and front brake fiddling (some squeaking/ rubbing of he disks) and front wheel toe-in adjustment as well as tying down the right front brake cable which is rubbing my calf.

However, it rode very well overall. It was comfortable and fun. There were plenty of interested looks on the bike trail, as you might expect.  Max speed was 26 MPH and average was 12.  Still below my road bike, but I hope with a bit more tuning and remembering to top off the tires, I should break even.  My back, wrists and hands felt much better than on the road bike. Conversely, my shoulders and biceps were a bit stretched as my hands are below and behind my back due to the reach for the handlebars. Legs were pretty good, but my shins are a bit sore tonight.  I expect that there will be some “human break in” for the new riding position.

 

Recumbent trike – Paint

So now I have striped the trike back down to the frame. There was more touch up welding and grinding going on. The Atomic Zombie website motto seems to be “weld, cuss, grind, repeat” and it fit my welding skill level. So after things got close, I fixed any questionable spots that appeared and finished at 80 grit with a flap disk. Then I got out the Bondo to fill the last gaps, divots and make the fillets pretty. This took a few coats not counting the one where I mixed in spot putty rather than hardener  (same size tubes and color – darn). So I also had to clean off the non-curing mix with lots of acetone and paper towels. Then after recoating with a proper mix, it was more sanding filing and then priming. The fillets all look nice now and errant grinder marks have disappeared.

For the paint,  I used Rustoleum self-etching primer and the color coats were Rustoleum Professional High Visibility Yellow.  While a 2 part auto paint or powder coating would be more durable, this paint combination has served me very well on multiple machine tool builds and rebuilds (14″ Radial arm saw, Southbend 13″ lathe, Bridgeport Mill and the CNC router).  Undercarriage parts were painted Gloss black for contrast. Unfortunately a week later it is still rather soft and scratching during assembly.

This paint has a less <1 & >48 hour recoat window. I can generally push this to < 3 hours but at 12-18 you will definitely get blistering much of the time. So the painting was done on a weekend where I had a full day available for prep, prime and paint.

I had some business travel scheduled so this forced a week to allow the paint to harden fully. Plus I was getting started on the new idler pulley design. The original pulleys from Northern tool are a bit narrow and wearing badly.   So I will make some similar to what you can buy from TerraCycle for a fraction of the cost using spare gears and 3D printed parts.