I started off by parting off the Ti in the lathe into the beginning cut lengths for the bars. I used the parter on the lathe as it gives a very precise square cut as well as is much cleaner and easier on the Ti tubing than the cold saw.
The next process is putting the bends in the center section. I use a 10,000 psi custom bender to accurately place the correct bend angle in the tubing. The tubing is kept in phase/aligned using a clamp block (on right of pic) that sits squarely on the machined plates. The post in the front of the bender with the white tape sets the angle of the bend and limits any further downward progress.
After bending, the center section moves over to the vise to be swaged to reduce the 1.0" diameter to .750" so that it will mate well with the .875" grip section. This process also increases the strength of the bar by increasing the surface area of the segmented section. The angled plates gradually ovalize the tubing and give a very clean transition from oval to round. The surface plate in the foreground keeps the tube in phase to insure consistency.
The finished swaged end ...
After both ends are swaged, it's off to the mill for mitering. The most difficult aspect of the Luv's is the severe miter at the grip/center section intersection. It is a compound miter, giving both sweep and rise to the bar. To hold it in place, special fixtures are used for the mitering process.
Looking down at the indicator plates and the angle they provide.
the bar carriage in the fixture...
Looking down at one completed miter
The center carriage with both miters now complete. To give you an idea of process time, it takes 40 minutes from time of loading to unloading one center section for mitering the Ti bar. The standard chromoly bars take half that. With the cost of Ti, it's better to take your time and be precise because any scrap is lots of money lost :(
Fortunately, there was no scrap this day :)
For all of you that romanticize frame building as a career, one factor you have to deal with is the solitude, both good and bad. Today, I stood in front of the bender, swager, and mill for over 12 hours straight by myself, and this is the result...
Enough material for 5 full Ti bars and 14 chromoly ones. It was a long lonely day, one that is repeated often. But it is totally offset when you get to deliver a product that make people smile excitedly like a 4 year old at Christmas :)
I'm waiting on my Ti end caps from the water jet cutter and then we'll begin welding everything up. Hoping they'll be coming soon ;)
Sunday will be a full day in the paint booth working toward getting some of these frame repaints done.
See ya soon,