Sunday, July 8, 2012

Handmade Stainless Bars

I had a chance to document how I make my stainless clipons by hand the other day, I get a lot of questions as to why they're better than the other import clipons all over the market so I figured I should show what goes into a set.

All polished up these are probably the nicest clipons out there, and the best deal for the money for sure, since they're 100% stainless, they're not going to rust through or have a layer of cheap chrome to flake off later, if they get dull, just polish them up and they'll look brand new.

To start, I cut out the blank tube lengths, plus a little extra so I can turn the exposed ends on the lathe. I use 304 stainless, one of the more expensive and durable stainless grades around.

Like anything coming from the shop, these are each made by hand on tools that are at least 50 years old! There's something nice about using big old American chunks of iron to make things, they don't build 'em like they used to!

Each bar gets coped precisely to the clamp tube to guarantee a really strong weld and little or no distortion, none of the cheapo Chinese units are made this way, probably because it would take too much time. That's the beauty of products from little shops who actually take the time to do it right!

About the only modern tool in the shop is my Miller TIG, which I love to death, I don't know how else I'd put welds this pretty on things. The flanges were lasercut by a local shop who does excellent work, a flat flange spreads the clamping load a lot better than just welding a nut to the tube. Those welds would probably pass a nuclear plant test too, a bit overkill, but Hell, I'm picky!

Welding the coped bars shows how the technique makes for a really clean consistent and super strong weld, I don't ever grind the welds down because I feel like they're a bit of art themselves. 

I apply some heat tint remover to the welds, then polish the bars up and add on the stainless bolts and locknuts. Some people have asked me for details about how to route the bars for the control wiring, and with stainless it's really easy, you can use any grinding, filing or drilling tool as long as it hasn't been used on mild steel before. Since the bars are stainless, there's no need to worry about rust starting where they were drilled.

Check 'em out!

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