Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jet Engine - Part 5

Time to test that Very High Temperature paint. It's actually a ceramic material, although you need a microscope to read that detail on the label. Prep was pretty straightforward: thorough cleaning with degreaser and water to rinse out all the sandblasting dust, then quick shot of WD40 to displace the water, then another degrease with acetone and then a quick shot of compressed degreaser. The parts came out nice and clean after that, with no apparent oxidation even on the cast iron. You can see why it's called gray iron. Compare the appearance of these parts now with the rusted and filthy junk at the start!

Then it was time to mask and spray. I chose black for the hot turbine parts and red for the compressor. There's not much choice in this temperature range anyway, and these colors should look suitably Victorian. Two light coats and then one medium coat all done within the recommended one hour max, and then into the kiln for a three stage cure at 250, 400, and 600F with a 30 minute soak and cool down between each heat. That red sure looks bright right after painting.

I put the cast iron turbo core and the compressor cover plate under a kiln shelf so it wouldn't be exposed to direct heat from the elements and the little bit of crap that comes off the elements as they expand and contract. I was also curious to see how direct and indirect heating would affect the paint cure. The next morning showed an interesting contrast: the scroll cover which was under the shelf was a nice bright red (although not as bright before curing), whereas the scroll case left exposed to the direct heat was a dull red. Either the direct heat did what it should, or the indirect heat did what it should--but one of them isn't quite right. Thumbnail scratch tests of the three parts showed that the paint is more fragile than I anticipated. Oh well, we'll see what happens when it's really cooking. Hopefully it slows down the oxidation at least a little bit.

The turbo core also took on a blue sheen from surface oxidation due to prolonged heating. Not sure why it would've been so hot for so long: I double-checked my kiln program, but maybe my ramp-down rates were too low. Anyway, this oxidation is cosmetic and should have no impact on the turbo performance since the moving bits are supported by the bronze bearing and an oil film, and there's nothing left to flake off.

Next step was to rig a method of holding the flange to the turbine scroll for welding. I used a scrap of 1/4" plate for a base and then wired everything in place, engraving a groove around the scroll case where it contacts the flange so I can relocate it precisely in case something moves. John Branje, our local expert welder, will attempt to MIG these pieces together using a nickel filler and by peening the welds between passes. Before that I will pre-heat the parts to about 800F in the kiln so there's less risk of heat shock (which can crack the iron casting or weld), and then post-weld slowly cool the parts in the kiln for the same reason. As you can see from my set-up, it'll be easy to lift the parts out of the kiln and onto a ceramic fibre sheet using a long steel rod inserted through the scroll case. One of the benefits of working with kiln-formed glass is I have refractory materials just lying around!

If it all holds together, I'll clean up and paint the scroll case black as well.

The turbo rebuild kit arrived today. All the parts appear to be of high quality and fit perfectly. As a bonus, the replacement o-rings smell like cinnamon oil. Given the kit cost only $78 delivered from Amazon, I should've bought it long ago and just moved on with the project. It's exciting to see this crappy old turbo start to show some promise here! Fingers crossed that by the end of the weekend I can have it all back together and ready to plumb for oil pressure. Then the project really begins.


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