Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Simple Jig: It's So Simple I Almost Didn't Think Of It

A simple Jig that allows me to match the drop height of the bracket that's to be welded on the end of my Daihatsu Fourtrak Shock Tower Cross Member Brace. The particular challenge that brought about the need for this jig, is that there is a notch cut out of the end of the Cross Brace. This makes aligning the top of the end bracket (bracket to be welded on each of the brace) hard to match evenly with the top of the Cross Brace.  Photo Credit: Eric McGrew

On one the recent Daihatsu Fourtrak project components that I had to fabricate up, I found myself in a bit of a jamb. Nothing serious, but definitely something that occurs while fabrication from time to time.

I found that I needed to align a bracket with the upper surface of a cross brace. This particular cross brace had been notched on one end, and not on the other. Both sides where to have the same bracket attached with an equal drop offset. This drop offset had been determined using the upper surface of the cross brace before it was realized that any notching would be required. 

To try and figure out the best option, I first thought about a number of possible solutions. All of them would have worked. Some of them would have required a bit more guestamation, while others a bit more jig design and setup.

I kept thinking, there’s definitely got to be a better way. A more simple way… So, after around 3 minutes, I realized there was a super simple, quick and easy jig that I could set up to get the top of the bracket even with the top of the cross brace, while keeping it firm enough to tack up, and then fully weld.

My solution, to use a piece of flat stock, a C-clamp and welder’s magnet.

Step 1:
I checked for anything that would impede the flat stock from laying flat.

Step 2:
I used the C-Clamp to tighten the flat stock to the upper surface of the cross brace that the bracket needed to be welded too.

When setting up a jib like this, make sure to place the C-clamp in a location that will hold the flat plate, well...flat. If you place the C-clamp to close to the end, the flat stock might lift up, not actually being even/level/flat, where it needs to work as a guide. Photo Credit: Eric McGrew

Step 3:
Taking the Welder’s Magnet, I placed the magnet on the side of the very end of the cross brace. Allowing it to hold the bracket firmly to the edge, while allowing me to slide the brace both upwards, and side to side.

Depending on how your work pieces are placed, how strong your Welders Magnets are, and what kind of welder you are using, you may need to use more than one magnet to keep your work piece in place. Also remember that tacking and fully welding on one side will cause a bit of metal warping. So, try to plan and adjust your pieces for the warping. It's also a go idea to remeasure after you've tack welded each side. Use a hammer and adjust the piece back to where it needs to be after each tack. Photo Credit: Eric McGrew

Step 4:
After having set up the jig, and placed the end bracket that was to be welded to the cross brace, I went back and checked my measurements just to be sure before any final welding was to be done.

Step 5:
Once everything checked out, I welded on the end brackets to the cross brace, and test fitted it inside the Fourtrak chassis. 

You will probably notice that the radius curve and lip have been cut off of the "bracket end" of the Shock Tower Cross Member. While the idea was that the lip and radius curve would allow more structural support, and welding surface, it wasn't until I could actually test fit the design that I had wasted a bit of time and effort on the extra designing of the "end brackets", which ended up being no more than "end caps". Oh well...so it goes... Photo Credit: Eric McGrew

There you have it. After a few moments of thought, a couple of very simple tools, and a scrap piece of flat stock, I was able to get an exact alignment, and get on with other work that needed to be done. Sometimes the best jigs, are the easiest jigs…

This is the Daihatsu Fourtrak Custom Shock Tower Cross Brace installed and in use with the new leaf sprung suspension. Photo Credit: Eric McGrew from an iphone 4.

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