The Foundry

This is where old pieces of scrap aluminum are transformed into new parts for the engine. If you want to go straight to the castings click here.

The foundry shown here is nothing special. It is simply a place to melt and pour metal. I first learned about casting metal sometime in 1997. I checked the local library for some info on foundry work, and found nothing. So I ordered some books from a metalworking catalog that I had. (Blue Ridge Machinery) I ordered 5 books, and the one that was and still is, the most informative and useful is David Gingery's book on building a charcoal foundry.
Here is a picture of the furnace that I built from David Gingerys book. I used masonry sand from a local construction job, and fire clay that I purchased from a local brick yard. This is the first furnace that I made, and it is still going. The lid began to crumble and drop into the melt, so I discarded it. The lid doesn't seem to add much to the furnace when melting aluminum. I am sure that for higher melting temperatures (such as brass) you will need the lid.

furnace and melting pot

You can see from the pic that the lining in the furnace is pretty well cracked up. That doesn't seem to hurt anything. I do expect to have to make a new furnace soon.
For a melting pot, I uset a 4 inch round steel pipe with a plate welded to the bottom. The steel from the pot is said to contaminate the aluminum, and should not be used. A clay or graphite cruciable should be used to avoid contamination. The parts that I have cast have been well suited to their purpose and any contamination is not considered to be a problem. To remove the pot from the furnace I use a 1/4 inch rod with a hook in one end. The pot has a hole in the side, and I hook the rod in the hole and lift the pot out of the furnace. I then grip the edge of the pot with long handle pliers and pour. This method works for aluminum, but for the hotter metals, you will fry your knuckles if you try to hold the pot with pliers.

Shown next is the molding flask. Used to pack sand around a pattern and hold everything together untill the metal is poured. The Gingery book also tells you how to make a flask. You can also see my little helper helping herself to some of the petrobond in the wash tub. You can get petrobond sand from Budget Casting Supply While on the subject of sand, my first sand was made from mason sand (used by brick layers to make mortar) and fire clay. The sand was given to me from a construction site, and the fire clay was purchased from a brick supply house. This sand was used for quite a few castings. In fact the first engine that I made I used it for all of the castings.

molding flask with sand tub and helper

After using the furnace for a long while with charcoal I saw a burner on the internet that was supposed to be able to melt cast iron. I read all about these "Reil burners" and finally decided to make one. The burner is simple to make and the plans are free on the internet. (See the Reil home page) The plans called for an adapter from 3/4 inch pipe to 1-1/2 inch pipe. I went to the hardware store to get the 3/4 to 1-1/2 inch adapter and there were none to be had. So I went home, made a wooden pattern, and cast the adapter myself. I also made the 1/8 inch pipe for the gas jet with a 1/4 inch fitting on one end.

custom made reil burner

The Reil burner fits into the tuyere hole in the furnace and has a good bit of clearance around it. If I were using a lid on the furnace the pressure would probably build up inside enough to cause fire to blow out around the burner tube. When I build a new furnace I will make the tuyere hole to fit the burner.

In all reality an aluminum foundry in its simplest form is quite easy and inexpensive to assemble.
If you want more information on casting check out the hobbiecast e-mail group. The messages are readable on the internet also.

Continue on and see how my castings are made
or check out this site to see how simple aluminum casting really is.

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Glen Bond 3-4-01