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Old Apr 13, 2015, 10:14 PM
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Build Log
The Mother of All Vacuum Formers!

I want to share a build log of my latest vacuum former. My use of vacuum formed parts for my scratch built planes has evolved along with my vacuum formers. I started out wanting to be able to form canopies. Now I have ideas for entire fuselages. In the pictures you can see how I started with a box and a shop vac. It worked well but was inconsistent. The second one had the shop vac built in to the top of a file cabinet and guides to maintain a consistent straight pull. This one worked better but it is cumbersome and it takes way too much time to change the plastic sheets. I also really want a stronger vacuum to pull better detail and have a tighter pull around the bottom of the bucks.

The perimeters for this build are that it must be built as cheaply as possible. It needs to give me high quality parts. It must be efficient and easy to use, especially to load and unload the plastic and bucks. It must be able to use sheets that are these sizes: 12ĒX12Ē, 12Ēx24Ē, 24Ēx24Ē, 12x36Ē, and 24Ēx36Ē.
So after much research and scavenging a ton of stuff from the free list on Craigslist, multiple trips to the area thrift stores and a few choice purchases from amazon, Iím ready to attempt to build ďThe Mother of All Vacuum formers.Ē

So if this interest anyone please be patient it might take a few weeks, but the plan is to get it done ASAP.
Before I start the build log these pictures are a short history of my previous vacuum formers. I hope I donít bore everyone.
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Old Apr 14, 2015, 02:32 AM
Chad Veich is offline
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Subscribed! Bring it on psychedvike, can't wait.
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Old Apr 14, 2015, 09:55 AM
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I'm in! My current machine is too small and I wish to get away from using regular oven to heat plastic.
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Old Apr 14, 2015, 11:39 AM
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Subscribed....have built one pretty much along the lines of what you're doing....good luck...
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Old Apr 14, 2015, 01:41 PM
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Subscribed-looks like FUN
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Old Apr 14, 2015, 01:56 PM
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Lurking and learning...

Dave-
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Old Apr 14, 2015, 10:34 PM
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Vacuum pumps run around $150 to $200 or more so thatís out. Thanks to You Tube I have a free option. Iím using an old refrigerator pump. An added bonus is I can use a lot of the sheet metal and hardware. This one I found on CL for free. If you plan on making your own try to get one that the ad says ďruns but doesnít cool, or needs to be recharged. This way you donít have to have the Freon removed by an AC repair guy (the environmentally conscious way) or cut the line and let the Freon escape into the atmosphere. Stripping the fridge, dissembling it, and then cutting it up really didnít take too long. I plan on using as much free list stuff as possible. I also have some oak and solid core commercial doors I got from a dumpster dive from a remodel of an office building near my house. Iím going to use these too. I have some steel left over from another project, but I missed two different scrap hide a bed frames on the free list. If you see something you have to move fast because the good stuff doesnít stay on there long. Since I didnít want to wait to find more steel I broke down and bought some steel. That upped the cost by $75.
OK sorry for being long winded. Check out the pictures of my progress so far.
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Old Apr 15, 2015, 03:25 PM
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Wonderful thread, THANK YOU!
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Old Apr 15, 2015, 04:10 PM
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Why not use tinfoil instead of the chrome paint? It will reflect heat better and should not be damaged by the heat.

Bruce
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Old Apr 15, 2015, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landeck View Post
Why not use tinfoil instead of the chrome paint? It will reflect heat better and should not be damaged by the heat.

Bruce
Thanks Bruce. I actually thought of that. That's plan B. If the paint doesn't last. It would actually reflect the infrared better.
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Old Apr 16, 2015, 10:23 PM
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Todays progress

Well I got a little welding done. Or at least I tried to weld a little. Itís been a while and I never was a great welder. With a little effort Iíve got some of the pieces together. The base could have been made out of wood but since I had a lot of the components to do steel thatís what I went with.
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Old Apr 20, 2015, 10:02 PM
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I got some done on the MoAVF over the weekend. Finished the frames and I got lucky enough to find a counter top on the free list. It came along just in time. I also found some square tubing. I wish it came along sooner it would have saved me money. Anyway here are the pictures.
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Old Apr 28, 2015, 07:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psychedvike View Post
Thanks Bruce. I actually thought of that. That's plan B. If the paint doesn't last. It would actually reflect the infrared better.
Maybe back the tinfoil with some fiberglass insulation?
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Old Apr 28, 2015, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARUP View Post
Maybe back the tinfoil with some fiberglass insulation?
Hi ARUP

I have fiberglass insulation sandwiched in between the top, outside sheet of sheet metal and the inside top, sheet metal. I didn't make the sides that way. They don't have the inside piece of sheet metal. I got lazy. I might go back and line the sides as you suggest. I think I'll test it and see how hot the sides get and how well it transfers the heat to the plastic. Thanks for the input.
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Old Apr 28, 2015, 08:12 PM
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JOE MOCERI
United States, MO, St Charles
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Very nice. I made a small one years ago using a vacuum for the suction and the kitchen oven for the heat source. Worked OK but I had problems with the plastic not pulling tight to the forms, Always had some webbing at the corners. Will maybe try again some day.
A word of caution on using the stationary sander and table saw on the steel. If you use the sander for wood also, the dust from the wood collected in the sander and saw will catch fire from the sparks when sanding steel. My sander caught fire and scared the bejesus out of me. Be careful and clean the dust out prior to making sparks.
Joe
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