Thursday, May 21, 2009

Custom UNI Foam Motorcycle Air Filter

No real need for this project, just something fun and easy to do. I got my 1986 Honda Shadow VT700c about a year ago and have had a great time riding it. I figured the air filter probably could have held out a bit longer, but due for replacement. Prior to undertaking this project I ordered a replacement OEM filter in case I was unable to finish the project in a day I could still ride my bike.

This one was nice and easy. Just remove the paper media, clean the filter frame off and glue in the UNI foam. Total cost was around $15, about the cost of an OEM filter. I picked up the UNI foam at Cycle Gear. The glue was Silicone Adhesive I got at Autozone at some point.

The old filter material didn't look *too* bad, though the clean areas probably don't get much air flow through them (thus why they are clean).

The paper media was easy to remove, just grab and pull.

I held the foam up to the filter housing and cut it a little oversized to ensure a snug fit.

Kayla couldn't resist a pose with the foam and filter housing. I think this was taken after a thorough cleaning with brake parts cleaner so the silicone adhesive would stick properly.

I used a bunch of the adhesive, probably too much, but that's how I do things. I think that's about a 1/4" bead all the way around. A few parts are a little thick, a few a little thin.

I used some packing tape to help hold the foam on the housing properly, though there was really only 1 edge that needed it.

Here it is starting to set up. Before the silicone set up I went around the inside seam of the filter and squished the silicone flat, removed what would come out. Make sure that none of it will come off and get sucked through your engine!

I used Kawasaki filter oil that I had laying around from the days of my 1983 KZ750. Maybe if I keep this bike long enough I'll be able to use the can of filter cleaner too!

And here it is all installed on the bike. You can see the oil starting to pool up at the bottom of the filter. This is of course due to my putting too much oil on it and/or not squeezing the excess oil off enough. I threw some kitty litter on the floor where it spilled out and fired up the bike to burn the rest through the engine.

As far as performance, the bike seems to pull a little harder at lower RPMs, and I like to think it sounds nicer. Both are probably just placebo effects. If I notice a difference in the MPGs I'll update the post. My average on the bike is 48.7 with a high of 56.1. The last 3 tank average prior to this filter change is 50.4, I've been taking it easy lately :-).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lets make some knives!

Alright, so more like making the end of the knives, or finishing them, as the complete make would require some blade smithing that I don't have the forge to do :-). Pat had mentioned that he was looking for some nice kitchen knives, so I used that to trick him into doing a project I had been putting off for a while. After a bit of convincing we ordered some blades and scales from Knife and Gun Finishing Supplies and waited around for them to arrive.

A little background: My brother Mac first sparked my interest in knife making when he made me an awesome knife a few years ago, complete with water buffalo handle and a hand crafted sheath. I figured I was pretty tooled up for such an adventure so why not. Jenny was needing some nice knives for around the kitchen as the current low end stuff we had just wasn't cutting it. No, it really wasn't. The cheap steal used was some generic stainless or "surgical stainless" or even 440 steel, not specifying that they are A or B. Unfortunately, most of these make great butter knives but don't really hold an edge well. To get a good edge you'll need something with a bit more carbon in it like ATS-34, 440C stainless, or some 0-1 steel. None of these are as stainless as 440A or B due to lower nickel content, but hold an edge nice enough to do some real work around the kitchen.

We went with some nice 440C blades. For the handles (slabs or scales), we went with some Pakkawood (pretty similar to Diamondwood) handles due to being impervious to water. They also look nice and are more affordable than a burl. Alright, enough intro, on with the knives.

Getting started is pretty simple, we taped the scales together and mark the holes for drilling. Also, you'll note that we taped the blades for their protection and ours, they are sharp!

You'll notice that I have an excellent support to hole the handles up for my drill press. I needed to keep it level and have space for the clamps, and these were handy.
Nice and drilled, ready to have the pins droped in and their outlines traced.

Pat, who is looking forward to a career teaching middle school shop, is instructing Narasimhan on the proper use of the drill press.

Trimming the pins to go through the handles is a pretty simple process, but only when your rod isn't wiggling around on you. Lesson learned, grasshopper.

You have to get close when cutting the scales if you hope to breath in the sawdust. Coughing up brown crud is an essential part of any project involving wood.

Pat figured out the scroll saw.

Here we are, holes drilled, scales cut to a usable size and pinned in place. One step not shown is cutting, sanding and polishing the leading edge of the handle prior to this point, as it will be more difficult to get it polished close to the blade when it is all glued together.

Someone likes bread.

Here they are, blades compeltely covered in tape to keep the epoxy off, with epoxy oozing from them. Prior to the epoxy hardening they were covered in clamps.

Blake is demonstrating proper safety attire in the shop. Missing are his big red ear muffs. Pants and shoes are always optional.

Finally getting to the more enjoyable parts, sanding the handles down to a nice shape. I picked up a nice 1" wide belt sander on craigslist for the task, though there were a couple parts where a more conventional 4" or 6" wide belt sander would have been more useful.

Handles have their rough shape, now doing a nice hand sanding on them to make sure they are perfect. This took too long and wasn't very fun. When we got down to 200 grit we wet sanded.

Sanding is complete, I think we went to 400 grit before polishing. This was a lot of fun because it took all of the rough marks out and made them really shine, showing off all the contours exposed during the sanding.

Here is Pat's finished bread knife next to mine (not even epoxied yet).

The sanding in this project took longer than I had anticipated. Getting the shape of the handles isn't too tough, but I still managed to mess it up on the large chef knife while trying to do something fancy. I have gained a new appreciation for the amount of work it takes to make one of these. I'll probably stick to hunting knives from here on out if I make any more, but am glad to have done these. One thing that I wish I had done different was ordered flat ground blades instead of hollow ground blades. I think they have a nicer look to them.

Prior to this project I had asked Mac to make me a set of steak knives for use around the kitchen, not realizing the huge task it is. I have since come to realize it is better to buy a decent set and save the craftsmanship for special knives like the chef knife or hunting knives that are likely to be passed down as heirlooms. Happy sanding :-P.