Thursday, April 15, 2010

C&P Craftsman 10 x 15 repair

What was broken is now repaired.
It took three attempts, and lots of studying and asking before I managed to fix the broken casting on my newest letterpress. When I bought the press, it was already broken, and I knew that it would have to be repaired prior to printing. Since my welding skills are crude at best, and mostly self-taught, I was not looking forward to the prospect of making the repair myself.

After some discussion with my dad over Easter break, I decided that I could probably attempt brazing. The only hang-up was my poor torch skills. I have used a propane torch for countless hours soldering jewelry, but when I inherited an acetylene torch, I never obtained any formal training. I read as much as possible, but couldn't quite tell what the authors were talking about. I had a few students help me, and we did manage to melt some bronze. The trouble was the bronze didn't attach to the iron.

In a moment of need (I later found out this is called pointillistic learning) I searched the internet for torch and brazing tutorials. Youtube was a bust, so I checked the video tab on Google. To my delight, I found a high school teacher taking his class step by step through the brazing process. It was exactly what I wanted. Here is a link to the demo. Turns out I had been using a reducing flame, with far too much fuel, and not very much heat. When I learned how to adjust the torch, a couple students and I had the part brazed in a matter of 10 minutes.
That evening I ground the excess brass from the joint, and then wrapped the whole joint in Quick-Steel. The epoxy wrap added some strength, but was mostly about aesthetics. The next morning, I filed and sanded the quick-steel to a pleasing shape, and painted the whole thing black. Tomorrow, I'll start putting it all back together.

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