Step 6: Building the Superstructure : Lower Support Structure

Building the SuperStructure: Building the Lower Support Structure

After measuring the washer hull, and determining it's dimensions, you can begin to build the superstructure within which the extractor would operate. The washing machine hull, being made of thin appliance sheeting, was quite flimsy once it's tube and internals were removed. Hence, you will need to build a superstructure to both support a vertical rotating axle about which the honey frames will rotate, but to also provide rigidity to the washer hull. If you are building a simple box frame, instead of using the washer hull, this will not be an issue for you...but what fun would that be?

In order to center you lower bearing block, you will need to build a lower support system from 1" light wall tubing. This lower support system will center the lower bearing block, and will support the weight of the axle.

First, measure the interior diameter of your hull. Check it both at the top, and that bottom, in case your hull is on a taper. If your hull is tapered, use your bottom diameter measurement for construction of your bottom bracket, and your top measurement for construction of your top bracket.

Once you have the diameter at the bottom of your hull measured, you will need to cut three joints of 1" square tubing to length, (leaving a little extra on each piece's length), and 'mock-up' the base structure within your frame (as seen in the photos). You will also need to account for the flat 'plates' you will be welding onto the ends of your cross members through which you will drill and place your mounting bolts (plates are 1/8" thick). Use C-Clamps (as seen in photos) to hold your mocked up lower supports in place.

Go ahead and cut out eight support backing plates, measuring 3" x 2" from your 1/8" thick, 3" wide flat steel stock. You can pick this up at any Home Depot/Lowes type store. After cutting out all eight, stack them in your drill press as shown, and drill two 3/8" holes in each plate, to allow for 1/4" mounting bolts. ALWAYS use a centerpunch to mark your drill points, so your drill bit doesn't 'walk' on your material. Additionally, once you drill your first hole, if you have to remove your 'stack' of plates to drill the second, use another drill bit to maintain alignment of your first holes, so your second holes are perfectly spaces (see photos below, and notes in photos).

After reviewing the mock-up of the lower support/bearing mount, some trimming may be required. It's best to always leave an 1/8" extra or so, and trim it off, rather than wasting a piece you cut too short. Always remember to account for the width of your saw's blade when cutting (see photos).

I would stick to my support design as shown, as opposed to doing a simple support with only two contact points. Using the three (well, four technically) point layout I have shown below will add rigidity to the flimsy hull, and will allow you to center your bearing, without drilling through your cross member (by allowing you to offset your cross member so it doesn't lay in the exact center axis of the hull, where your axle is going to sit).

After final fitting in mock-up, the steel tubing should be removed, and prepped for welding by removing all mill scale/rust using an angle grinder, wire brush, or other abrasive. Also, if appropriate, bevel edges on weld joints.

Use C-Clamps and a 90 degree square to ensure your tubing is set up correctly. Tack weld each piece, and save final welding for when entire superstructure has been test fitted (upper and lower brackets) in case you need to make adjustments. Use C-Clamp setup as shown in photos to weld on your end plates to the lower mounting cross members. ALWAYS tack weld first, then test fit. Only do final welds after you are sure you have everything setup perfect.

Now, you will need to cut a piece of 1/8" thick plate to span your lower bracket, to act as a 'pad' for your lower bearing block (see photos).

After you cut a piece (approximately 6" x 4") weld it into position in your lower bracket.

Determine position of lower bearing block on this plate, and mark mounting bolt holes.

Drill mounting bolt holes (1/2") for lower bearing block in the plate, along with a center hole of 1" to allow the axle to pass through. One method for cutting the 1" axle hole is shown in the photos. Simply cut smaller (3/8"?) holes around the circumference of the axle hole position, and knock out with a cold chisel (again, see photos and photo notes).

You will now need to drill matching mounting holes in your washer hull for the lower support bracket. Simply install the lower bracket and check with a level. Then use a hand drill (as shown) to drill through the hull, using your lower bracket mounts as alignment guides.

Fit-up your lower bracket, and mate external mounting bracket plates, and install loosely your bolts.

Your lower bracket is complete.