Fix a Rusted Sculpture

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About: I run Neal's CNC in Hayward, CA, an expert CNC cutting and fabrication service. Check out what we do at http://www.nealscnc.com/. I'm a founding member of Noisebridge, a hackerspace in San Francisco, and Ac...

This chicken sculpture had been left out in the rain a bit too long. It was originally attached to its stone base by a pole with a threaded top, screwed into a nut sunk into its body. The body broke around the nut, which also rusted to the pole, and the metal is thin and uneven around the tear. But it has sentimental value, and the owners asked if there was anything I could do to fix it.

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Step 1: Create the Patch

Attempting to weld it back is unlikely to be successful as there is not much metal left to work on, and what's there is uneven and rusty, very difficult to get good results with. Instead, I decided to add new material as a patch which I could weld to the pole, and then rivet to the chicken. I made a rough sketch of the shape of patch needed on the chicken body, then copied it onto some scrap 22 gauge I had. I marked the rivet holes and the location of the pole. I would drill the rivet holes before shaping the patch to the base of the chicken (and I always doublecheck that the rivets fit the holes!)

Step 2:

I cut off the rusted nut and cleaned off the top of the pole to give a good welding base. I bent the patch to fit the curve of the chicken body by simply holding it over the edge of the welding table and leaning on it a bit. Then I welded the patch to the pole. I didn't clean up the welds much because this will all be underneath the chicken and only visible to ... other chickens!

Step 3:

To attach the patch to the body, I propped up the chicken and the pole/patch assembly to stay more or less where I needed them. I hadn't drilled rivet holes in the chicken body yet, as I needed to see how the curve of the patch would affect their placement. I drilled and riveted one corner first, to keep the patch in place. Then I drilled the other three, and riveted them. I used a simple hand riveter and aluminum rivets.

The chicken will now last a few more years in the garden, and I expect the patch will outlast the body!

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