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Looking for some Lathable Aluminum/a cheap "the real cotton candy machine" toyish machine.... Answered

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Hey everyone, as you may or may not know, I've made the only homemade and documented cotton candy machine on the entire webbernets. Now, I'm back, WITH A VENGEANCE..... kind of... I'm looking for a place where I can get a cheap 6" round bar of 4.5-5" diameter aluminum, for Cotton Candy Machine: Mark III (The prototype was Mark I) I'm also looking for one of those cruddy 30 second cotton candy makers that you used to see on the T.V. ads all the time. I really need a better solution for the heating element problem. ANY help/aid is greatly appreciated!! Yours Truly, -The Muffinator

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westfw (author)2007-08-08

Stuff about this size appears on eBay. Anything that big in diameter isn't going to be cheap, though. Here's a 5 x 6 piece that'll only set you back about $50.

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bowakowa (author)2007-08-06

Might try using using the paint can furnace instructable and some aluminum drink cans to pour your own part.

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T3h_Muffinator (author)bowakowa2007-08-06

Hmm... It sounds like a good idea, but there are two problems with it. 1. I still needs aluminum. 2. I'm afraid that while smelting the aluminum, it will oxidize and become much, much weaker. I'm going to lose mass in smelting it, and therefore need even more aluminum. I'll think about it, though.

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bowakowa (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-08-06

I actually meant using the cans for material. I have successfully made a few ingots after scraping dross that were pretty tough, I can tell ya. I've heard maybe about 5% shrinkage, but don't know enough to verify. As for pouring, it sounds like a simple part with an open mold, I tried to be a bit too ambitious my first couple of outings and will be trying some simpler parts next go round myself.

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T3h_Muffinator (author)bowakowa2007-08-06

Ohhhhh... use the cans for the material?? I think I'm going to need A TON of cans. I guess I could try it, though ;) Good luck on your projects, and could I see some pics of your past projects?

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bowakowa (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-08-06

No pics at the moment since I have been unsuccessful at pouring. Like I said, too ambitious. My cup was too small to accept the material and it cooled there without filling the mold. As for the cans, I keep a container in my living room and over a few months have filled about 10 large garbage bags. I would think you would need about 40-50 cans for the dimensions you stated. Have a party and let your friends help you out?

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bowakowa (author)bowakowa2007-08-06

Btw, I just looked at your profile and found you're still in high school, so let me clarify that I mean soda cans at your party. Cheers.

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T3h_Muffinator (author)bowakowa2007-08-07

HAHA okie =)

I think I'm going to melt the aluminum into a cylinder and try to machine it.

I hope I'll be able to pour it, though.

Good luck on your pouring!

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bowakowa (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-08-08

Good luck on yours! Make sure to wear full protection! I basically wear motorcycle gear when I do it, total coverage, full face helmet, full leather jacket, heavy leather boots, and heavy leather gloves, wish I had chaps, but I wear jeans, and even that makes me kinda nervous. I don't really even wanna imagine what molten metal does to flesh.

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lemonie (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-08-06

A ton of aluminium? That's going to be some bad-ass machine!
But seriously, might you be able to cast a rough blank, then machine-it?
Otherwise, I don't know...

L

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T3h_Muffinator (author)lemonie2007-08-07

Yes. it WILL be bad-ass!

I wish I could actually use a ton, though. Then I'd be able to make cotton candy for the whole world!

I'm actually thinking the same in terms of getting the aluminum, now. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if my machine shop teacher would let me stick my aluminum in his lathe. (It's not "machine grade")

I can always ask, though =)

Cheers!
-Josh G

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lemonie (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-08-07

Do you know anyone who can weld aluminium?

L

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CameronSS (author)2007-08-06

NachoMahma probably has it with finding scrap from a machine shop or recycling center. It won't be free, but probably less than the 75$ that a 6"L, 6" diameter rod costs on Amazon Industrial and Scientific. Just curious, what was/is/will be the Mark II?

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T3h_Muffinator (author)CameronSS2007-08-07

Okay, I agree. I think NachoMahma does has the right idea. I've also got this "materials warehouse" near me, I should be able to pick up some of the larger scraps there for a cheap price, then melt them all together. The Mark II will be, just in general, better ALL around. It's going to be larger - which gives it a bigger load capacity, have a better design, with a "floating" heating element within the chamber and a dual-slit system to eliminate large globs coming out of the holes. It will also incorporate the famous large "bowl" that you always see around the beasts. I will also run it off of a small rheostat or potentiometer, which means I'll be fooling with electronics more in this new machine. When I get back from Instructables, I'll post a video of Mark I, and a CAD of Mark II. By the way, I haven't told you guys the whole story. You see, Mark was the original machine. He was made out of a soup can, a couple of washers, a homemade coupling, and finally, a big aluminum plate with sterno on it. When we first turned it on, it actually made cotton candy, which meant that my cousin and I had the right idea. Unfortunately, about 30 seconds later, it exploded into a fiery mess of molten plastic and burning metal (from the sterno). This machine has been quite a few years in the making, and hopefully, this one will work MUCH better. (And I won't have to make any more!) -Josh Gordonson

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CameronSS (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-08-07

So what is the difference between Mark II and Mark III? I'm not trying to be obnoxious, I'm just curious. Any video of the exploding cotton candy machine? I didn't know they could explode...

BTW, what grade are you entering this year? You seem way too intelligent for your own good. Come to Topeka West and join our theater tech team, and Scholars Bowl while you're at it!

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T3h_Muffinator (author)CameronSS2007-08-07

I'm sorry, I meant Mark III. Mark II was the one that was posted on this site. Mark I was the prototype that exploded. There's no video of the exploding cotton candy machine. What happened was that the coupling holding the centerpiece got loose, the centerpiece picked up a huge glob of flaming sterno, lit the surrounding plastic on fire, and flew across my driveway and lit that on fire, too. I would call that "exploding", wouldn't you? there's no video of it because well... that was about..... 4 years ago? Yeah, I think I was 12. I'm 16 now, going into my senior year at high school. I'm really not that smart... I don't think I'm going to get into the school of my choice (MIT). I guess I could join your theater tech team... but I'm already in my school's scholar's bowl.... I couldn't betray them. Maybe I'll see you on the long island challenge! (You are on LI, right?) Cheers, -Josh

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CameronSS (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-08-07

According to Google Earth, it's 1,158 miles from T-West to the western edge of Long Island. Even if we had the time to drive for 20 hours, I'm guessing our crappy USD 501 vans would lose some minor pars, such as doors, wheels, and engines, about near Columbia, MO. Unless there's a national championship I don't know about, and our famed Men In Black graduated last year so we wouldn't get there anyway, I don't think I'll be meeting up with you. Good luck though, with Scholars Bowl and future projects! And if you're a senior, I'll remind you that KSU, KU, and WSU have good engineering programs...

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T3h_Muffinator (author)CameronSS2007-08-07

Bah! Sorry about that assumption... I just thought I heard of Topeka West before... wait, were you guys at nationals last year?? National are for quiz bowl, which is almost the exact same thing as scholars bowl, I believe.

If I applied, I think i should be able to get into rice, RPI, or Carnegie Mellon. MIT is just a bit out of my league, though v_v.

What grade are you in/how old are you?

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CameronSS (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-08-07

15, will be a sophomore in a week. :-( Our Scholar's bowl league only goes to State level (Kansas). We hosted State last year, and took second to a private Catholic school. Lost by 10 or 20 points, 10 points per question.

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NachoMahma (author)2007-08-06

. How about going around to any local machine shops and begging for scraps? You might be able to get a piece big enough to use (probably not, for what you're looking for, but they'll never say "Yes" if you don't ask). Or enough small pieces to pour your own (per bowakowa's suggestion). . A recycling center? . . Handling molten Al can be dangerous, so read up on it first. . . Since y'all seem to be bright young fellers with a lot of enthusiasm, try to find a sponsor (local machine shop, metals store, or recycling center? Candy store?) who will donate or pay for some of the expensive items. Be sure to tell them that you will give them a prominent mention in your writeups and will hang a small sign, with their logo/name, on the CCM in the photos. Take the Mark I with you - it should show that you are serious and can do it.

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NachoMahma (author)NachoMahma2007-08-06

. PS: oxidation of the Al, during melting and pouring, is not a big problem. The oxide (and some impurities) will float (called dross, IIRC) and can be scraped off. My Father (an EE) did a job for Alcoa, and he says all they had over their melting vats was a vent hood (which, to my way of thinking, would only make the oxidation worse).

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Awesome! Thanks for the advice!

I actually thought that oxidation would be a huge problem, but after reading up a bit on the subject, it really isn't a big problem =)

I'll read up on handling molten aluminum now, thanks again!
-J

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T3h_Muffinator (author)HamO2007-08-06

Yeah, sure. Have you ever burned a sheet of aluminum foil? It turns transparent because aluminum so readily oxidizes. I dunno, I kind of wanted to stick to lathing out my aluminum, but I might try Bowakowa's idea, too.

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HamO (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-08-06

I thought you were talking about melting them not burning them.

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T3h_Muffinator (author)HamO2007-08-07

The thing is... you're not really burning the aluminum. You're just heating it up. When you stick a piece of foil over your flame, you're not melting the aluminum... and it STILL oxidizes....

But NachoMahma says it shouldn't be much of a problem, so I'm going to go for it =)

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