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Rolling Mill (Pics): Restart


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Four long years, I've had these parts sitting here.   Had big plans, then like always the universe slaps you.   Sometimes you like it and it's good, sometimes it's very bad.     So here is my take on the Hugh McDonald Rolling Mill.  It's a work in progress, and I'm taking my time as it allows.

I've veered off spec quite a bit:

Main Frame and motor and gear box mounted.



Sprockets and bearings and pulleys and rollers:



Cam, bearings and bolts:


My Rollers.   I've made the top roller myself on a borrowed lathe,  paid for the lower one to be made.  Didn't have time or the equipment.   3" diameter 9.5" long in main roller body.


This somehow gonna be my bottom roller carriage:



More to follow...

Edited by Bruno
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Yipes.  Gotta start somewhere.

Step one:  Need to true up the lower cam since I just used 1.5" hot rolled.    I didn't true it on the lathe apparently.   It's ok.  Only needed to cut off a few thousandths for it to fit the bearings.  Did it on the belt sander slack belt.



Step two:    Drill the 5/8" bolt holes for the bearings.     Did you ever not have the right tool for the job ?     I have one 18v cordless that's not powerful enough for the big bits,  and one electric drill that's plenty powerful but wont accept the bigger bit shanks.   LoL. :blink:

Somehow I managed, barely.     Run through the small bits to the large ones.  The cordless did all right.

Cam bearings test fit  with cam follower parts pictured.


Step three:   Drill a big a** hole in the side for my pulley/sprocket mount.    If you notice the round pencil markings on the frame, that's where I thought I was gonna put it 4 years ago.  LoL, I was wrong.  That wouldn't work as my big pulley would hit the end of the cam rod.  Good thing I remeasured it.

So I did this with my cordless again and a 1.75" hole saw.    Again, just barely.  Danged saw wouldn't fit in my good drill again.   Might be close to burning up the cordless.

Here is the hole and shaft.  I had to make shaft collars all those years ago since I changed the design originally,  It's a 1.5" shaft, but the bearings are slightly larger.   Did those on a lathe too.    Learned a bit about lathes when I started this project.


LoL, I'm so lucky.  Looks like I drilled in the right place,  relatively level.   Well at least as good as I could get using a hole saw and a cordless drill.

Man I sure wish I had one of those Milwaukee hole cutters with the magnetic base mount...


Step Four:

Drill the holes for the pulley/sproket shaft bearings.  Simply threw them on the shaft for alignment, marked and drilled:

Here it is with the pulley and sprocket test mounted:



That's as far as I got last night.     Should be all the hand drilling I need to do.  Can use my drill press for the rest, me hopes.    My biggest concern of the build will be the lower roller carriage,  as I don't really got the tooling for the 1" hole for the shaft.  Other than a hole saw.   Not sure how good an alignment I can get with that.    I was thinking of attempting to cut and forge the 1" block for the roller carriage into the right shape, but maybe better to cut/drill/weld.   Not sure, any suggestions ?

Still got a bunch to do and gotta look at the plans over and over again and try to get my head around the cam follower/pressure strut mechanics...  Slow.

More to follow as time/progress allows.


Edited by Bruno
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So I see you designed in the most important feature of any rolling press, a full beer stein. Can't ask for more while laboring away!! :lol:

Wow, this is one heck of a project.  I am tuned in to watch this one!! Go Bruno. That huge motor is nothing but impressive let alone the rest of the beast!!


Rolling Press.png

Edited by C Craft

C Craft Customs ~~~ With every custom knife I build I try to accomplish three things. I want that knife to look so good you just have to pick it up, feel so good in your hand you can't wait to try it, and once you use it, you never want to put it down ! If I capture those three factors in each knife I build, I am assured the knife will become a piece that is used and treasured by its owner! ~~~ C Craft

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Ambitious to say the least. I am very keen to follow this along the way.

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  





J.States Bladesmith | Facebook



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Beer Good. :D

Rained last night, the desert was way humid today.

Some progress today.   Drilled a bunch more holes.  I got to use my drill press for Four of them.  Yay.

Here are the 2" pillow blocks mounted on 1/2" angle iron.


Never can make up my mind...   I was gonna weld them onto the frame at first,  but decided against it and decided to bolt instead.   I like bolts.   I like being able to adjust and move things if needed.   Besides I didn't wanna get paint dust in my beer nor pull the thing off the table yet.   I have three 9/16" grade 8 bolts on each side holding the angle in place.  I figure that should be plenty strong.   Can always weld it later.  I have it set high enough so I shouldn't have to crouch over too much while feeding steel.   I've read the original specs are rather short for most people.


Then blamo my first semi-major problem.   I broke a drill bit today, so I should have seen it coming.  Can you spot it ?



Seems that I either measured wrong,  told the the machine shop wrong, or they did it wrong.  Swore I told them 9" on the bottom roller.  It's actually at 9.5".    Either way, I'm still off by an inch or so on clearance for the bottom roller carriage.    Hmmm.

So,  I'm glad it's bolted and not welded.    I don't really want to cut into my bottom roller, as I don't want to shorten the bronze bearings in them.  So what are my options ?    Well, I'm thinking I can simply add washers or steel betwixt the angle and the square body to get me the clearance that I need.  Or I can cut the roller.   Or I can come up with some other sort of carriage design.   Or I can use thinner material for the roller carriage.   So far the washers seems like the way to go.   

The specs call for 1" roller carriage frame.   Seems to be good reason for that considering the forces involved, and since I'm way off spec anyway, me thinks to best stick with that dimension.     If I use the washers, though I think the rollers won't line up right from the left/right perspective,  which would just irk me.   I don't have much room on the left side of the top roller without losing contact with the pillow block.   So I may only washer the sprocket side to get the clearance I need.     Don't know yet.  Will have to look at it with fresh eyes.

Some Specs for those interested:

Single Phase 2 hp Leeson motor

The Gear box came off a conveyor belt of some sort.  Dodge TiGear.  B62?   Output should be 110 rpm last time I mathed it.  Had a 3 phase 2hp washdown motor mounted on it originally.   Mounting plate came with it luckily.

Pulley on gear box:  3.35" OD

Big pulley is 18.75" OD

Sprockets are both:   32 Tooth 60 Pitch,   different bore sizes.  8.07" OD.

Rollers are 3" diameter 9+" long.

If I'm recalling correctly, my output at the roller should be about 22 rpm.    Which should be good.  I've read that when you use a smaller roller like a 2", a slightly faster speed is better, more like 27 - 29 rpm, in order to get the surface feet per min.    I'm none too good at math, especially when it comes to remembering how to do it.  :P

More when I can...


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Here's an exercise in patience for you.   Cutting a 1" block along 23.5" with an angle grinder.   Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  Then flip her over and finish her off.     Took like an hour or so.    And it only took 2 cutting blades.  Good thing too, since it was the only two I had. 


So this is gonna be my bottom roller carriage.   Forge or Weld, Forge or Weld ?  Can't make up my mind.   Decided to mix and do both.

Marked out my center,  and cut about half way through with my portable band saw.   Just not setup to bend a solid 1" x 2.5" piece of steel properly.   


So I throws it in the forge, stick it in the vise, and throw myself at it.


No way I could of done that on the solid inch on my wobbly vise.   Should bolt that sucker down one of these days.  Or maybe get the post vise setup correctly.   Worked out well,  got both sides bent,  alignment just a touch off, but should be OK.   Once everything is in place, I'll weld the corners up solid.

As far as the problem with the roller clearance,  I've decided to just use washers to give me the space I need.   Once I have the thing taken down and put all together and running, if I see it as a problem, I'll weld it solid.   Don't really foresee that happening though, since according to the internet the shear strength of a grade 8 bolt is 150,000 psi.   I have 3 on each side in the 9/16" variety.  We will have to see I guess.


And finally, here is a semblance of what it will look like.


Got to grind and true up the carriage a bit for the roller to fit.  Only off by a hair.  I had just enough material that I should be able to run the carriage pivot through the Angle iron.  I may even drill a couple pivot point holes to allow larger clearance between the rollers depending on stock size.   Dunno if I'll need to since I have NO idea how or if this contraption is even gonna work right.

That's as far as I got today.   Maybe more progress in a couple of days.



Edited by Bruno
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$50 for a 1 inch drill bit.  Ouch.     Today I got my ugly, barely aligned bottom roller carriage put together.   Real Ugly, but should work for now.   I'll probably end up redoing it.  Think it will be way easier if I do it like in the plans next time with the separate pieces cut, then welded.  Probably get better alignment.   Live and learn.   Also, I was wrong, the specs call for what is closer to 3/4" steel for the frame.  I may go with that for the next one when I can get some steel.  Darned prices going up.  Will have to see how it all works.

Also, got the beginnings of the pressure struts cut/drilled and tacked.  As well as the cam follower minus the foot pedal welded.   A question on the pressure struts for anyone who knows or owns one of these things:    It's not entirely clear in the plans, but the pressure struts top and bottom have pivot pins on the top to the roller carriage and on the bottom to the cam follower.  What's not really clear is, Is there supposed to be clearance between the struts and the carriage and cam follower to actually allow for a Pivot or not ?  I mean with the pins in place, should there be a degree of movement in the left/right direction if you are looking at the side of the pressure struts ?

Looking at this pic from Dennis K, it appears so, but then looking at John Marcus's build, which are built to spec I believe (with imperial conversion),  it appears that there is no extra wiggle room.   Does it make a difference ?




Also,  got an old acme threaded rod I stole off of something else.  Should be long enough, the nut though appears to be aluminum but like 3" long.  Should be ok.   Though the rod appears to be plated,  and since I don't wanna do That again, I got the end of the rod to be welded soaking in vinegar for the night.  Followed by a thorough brushing/grinding in the morning and a virgin sacrifice to whatever Gods. That should be OK then I think?

What's left ?   

Finish up the pressure struts.    Make the Cam Selector Plate and Handle Bar (sort of last on the list).   Pillow Block Bearing Top support to help hold them down.   Need to cut a keyway in the top roller for the Sprocket.  Foot pedal.   Zirc in the roller shaft.   Alignment bolts over the roller shaft in the bottom roller carriage.  Then after all that, I get to take it all apart, lose a bolt or two,  and set it all down on the ground and bolt it all together to both See where I messed up, and get it all lined up and stable so I can drill the Pivot holes for the Bottom roller.  Got the chain for the sprockets, which I'll need to cut.  Then I'll have to track down a belt of the right size for the pulleys.   Sure hope I don't need to add an Idler between either of those. LoL.  We'll see...


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Didn't like how the bottom roller carriage lined up.   Re-Building it.  Other than that,  the thing is on the ground and mostly bolted up.  Need to find a slightly shorter belt.   Also need to get a switch for the motor.  A little trimming and grinding of some parts... Hoping to have it running, in the next week or so...

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Called my steel supplier today.   $24.50 for a 1"x 2.5"x 30"  piece of steel, and $25 to cut it on the CNC plasma.    Yipes.   Needless to say, I got the old grinder out and cut another piece off the one inch plate myself.  That only cost $9.

Here is the old Bottom Roller Carriage,  Ugly, and unaligned.  Filed the holes to fix the alignment, and never got the pivot holes in there.


Here is the new one, which I did the right way (as per directions), and tacked 2 pieces together and drilled.  Much Nicer.



Got some clearance grinding left to do and some minor stuffs.  Foot pedal not camming quite right. Gonna track down a belt and motor switch tomorrow...

She is almost there:



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Got the keyway for the top roller cut today.  Always fun doing that with hand tools.   Glad I found that Cape chisel all them years ago. Pivot holes drilled.   Had to grind the bottom carriage to fit in between the Angle iron frame. Fun.   Trimmed and ground my pressure struts to allow for more free movement.   Had fun tracking down the right size belt for the pulley.  Almost there...

Still need to:

Drill/Tap and Weld the top roller pillow block brace/support.
Trim the sprocket chain to size.
Drill/tap the holes in the bottom carriage for bolts or zircs ? Not sure.
Drill/Tap the bottom roller shaft for a zirc and drill a hole for the grease to go through.
Foot Pedal and spring.
Side Lever and Selector plate. Wasn't gonna do this at first, but seems like it might be useful.
Wire up the Motor and run wire through conduit.
Trim the bottom sprocket shaft, once chain is in place.
Need some sort of plate to keep scale and flux from falling into my square tube.
Also need to protect the motor fan from the same stuff.
Probably build guards for the Pulley and Sprockets. To keep scale off my belt, and to keep fingers/clothes out the chain.
Maybe incorporate an oil pan of sorts in the bottom sprocket to keep it oiled nicely ?
Handles of sorts on the Acme Nut, might end up replacing with steel. Dunno
Turn it on and test.

LoL, and I thought this would be  an easy build.  It's always the little stuff that adds up.

Edited by Bruno
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Been a busy week, and a long day.

I have completed the Giant Pasta Roller.


It Works. :ph34r:

I figured, Go All In, so I took the largest piece of mild steel I had and threw it in there.  Here is a 1 inch Square stock, and a .65ish inch rebar.

I got the 1 inch square down to about 1/8 inch about 20 heats.    Obviously got faster heating and rolling wise the thinner it got :)    Got the rebar down to about 1/16th inch.   Didn't keep track, but I'm pretty sure it took less than an hour to accomplish this whilst I was fiddling around. 

Initially took too big a bite on the first pass on the 1 inch, so the rollers stalled,  the belt started slipping on the pulley which worked great.  Nothing broke.   Got it dialed in after a minute or so.   Only used the Screw adjustment, didn't use the lever as of yet.   Still glad I put it in though.   Would have made all the lathe work I did on the cam worthless otherwise, lol.


Had to add a frame brace to the machine, since I went off spec, I didn't realize the the machine was prone to tipping when you step on the pedal.  I thought that the square tube would have been enough, especially with the weight of the beast and all the motor/gearbox weight in the rear.  It wasn't quite enough.  The angle iron at the front bottom was enough to keep it from tipping, but it rocked a bit with my weight on it.  So I added some 3/8 inch flat bar, and it worked great.  No more tipping.  


The machine also works Great for drawing out tongs...  Here is a set of offset bolt tongs I finished tonight.


The knife in the pic was one I started a while ago, and did mostly on the power hammer.   Wanted to thin it out some more, so I threw it in.   It immediately banana'd.   Didn't account for the bevel I already had in there.   Straitened it out, and got it down to around 1/8 inch. 

All in all.  I'm super happy with the machine.  Definitely faster at drawing than my hammer with it's flatish dies.   And much, much quieter.   Well worth the time and effort to build.     

Now I'm really gonna be busy,  LoL :ph34r:

Edited by Bruno
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Congrats Bruno. 

"The way we win matters" (Ender Wiggins) Orson Scott Card


Nos, qui libertate donati sumus, nes cimus quid constet.

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Short vid of the Beast running.  Taken before I added the support brace.   It was tipping quite impressively for the weight of the machine.  Probably weighs anywhere between 300 - 400 pounds.

*edit: yipes big vid,  any of the moderators know how to make it smaller screen size? *

Edited by Bruno
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