Industrial Briggs & Stratton Flywheel Lamps

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I had gotten these Briggs & Stratton small engine flywheels in a box of parts from my wife's grandfathers shop. He was a small engine mechanic most of his life. I got to thinking some end table lamps would look cool on tables with tools laid out and flooded with clear resin.

I started thinking about the project and thought that because of the center holes for the crankshaft, it wouldn't be hard to tap that for NPT (National Pipe Thread) and then I could route my wiring up the pipe. Having worked in a pipe in fitting factory in my younger days, I am very comfortable with pipe and working with hit.

Supplies:

  • Small Engine Flywheels
  • Pipe & Fittings of your desired size and finish
    • Must be large enough to fit the crankshaft hole
  • NPT Tap to fit the size of your desired pipe
  • Drill Bit that corresponds to your desired pipe size
  • Bench Vice, Clamps, or other method to hold the flywheel
  • Hand Tools/Tap Wrench
    • I used hand wrenches, but realized a better way after the fact
  • Lubrication for the tapping process
    • I used Motor Oil & 3 in 1 Oil, but they make a product called "Tap Magic" for this

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Step 1: Decide on Your Style

The first step was to decide how I wanted the lamp to look. I had one cast iron flywheel (shown above) and two aluminium flywheels. The short sections of pipe are black iron, galvanized iron, and brass. This is where I compared the three with short sections of tubing in the finishes I was considering.

Step 2: Test Fitting the Proof of Concept

After I had decided on using black iron pipe, I started measuring the flywheel and looking at my options. Normally lamp fittings/hardware are 1/8" with NPT threads. The holes in the flywheels were larger than that, so I couldn't go with the standard for lighting. I noticed 3/8" pipe was slightly larger than the holes, so that was the logical size.

I test tapped the cast iron flywheel in order to mount the 3 finishes of pipe to get a better idea of the aesthetic. I decided black was what I was looking for.

Step 3: The Tools...

Here are the tools I used. I picked up a cheap NPT tap set from Harbor Freight. This proved to be problematic as there was no tap wrench. Because I don't own a tap wrench that size, I was forced to use a 12 point 5/8th of an inch boxed end wrench and a not Cresent brand Adjustable Wrench. I also used some 3-in-1 oil and 30 weight motor oil as lucubration.

Using hand tools like this with a tap is not advisable, because you are not putting equal torque and pressure on both sides of the wrench and it can cause you to tap a crooked hole.


I will touch on several of these points in the lessens learned step and provide links to tools and materials that would have made the process easier.

Step 4: Start Drilling & Tapping

The first step is to drill your hole per the tap/drill chart for the size and threads you are using (see last picture). In my case, I was tapping a 3/8 NPT, so I needed a 9/16th - 37/64th - 38/64th drill bit. All 3 drill sizes are very close in size as a 9/16th comes out to 36/64th. Be careful and go slow. I managed to break my drill bit on the last hole, as I was drilling through aluminium, and the drill bit bound. I will be replacing this drill bit with a shorter drill bit that has less likelihood to break.
Once your hole is drilled to the correct size, your ready to tap your hole. I had a unique situation where was a keyway in my flywheel that was not completely drilled out. This caused me to have an interrupted thread, which was probably better for chip removal because it was a natural chip break. The other thing is that the holes in the flywheels were tapered. For this reason, I decided to tap from the back, because the taper should help keep the tap and threaded hole straight. I would come to regret this decision.
You can see in the fifth picture where the threads do not fully start until part of the way down the hole. This is the taper I was talking about.

My decision to tap from the back side meant that I had to tap all the way through the hole. One of the things about tapping a hole with a tapered tap, is that you have to go 4 - 6 threads on the tap past the opening of the hole to have fully formed threads (see fourth picture). This meant I had to tap holes that were 2 - 3 times deeper than I actually needed.


I'm not going to go through how to tap a hole. There are other instructables and youtube video's on that. I'll leave you with some high points.

  • Go Slow
  • If it doesn't feel right after you get started, back the tap out , clean the chips off of it, lube the hole and tap, and start again.
    • See third picture
  • Use plenty of Lubrication
    • I used 3-in-1 and 30 weight motor oil
  • Have a good method to clamp the work down
    • See second picture

Step 5: Dry Fit Your Lamp

At this point, you can assemble and test your parts for fit.

In my case, 2 of the lamps were made of

  • Two 6" sections of 3/8th Black Iron Pipe
  • One 3/8 black iron coupler
  • One 3/8th to 1/4 reducer
  • One 1/4 Male to 1/8th Female bushing
  • One 1/8th section of threaded rod from the lamp section
  • One Lamp Socket that has a 1/8th threaded base

For the other lamp:

  • One 12" section of Black Iron Pipe
  • One 3/8th to 1/4 reducer
  • One Brass 1/4 Male to 1/8th Female bushing
  • One 1/8th section of threaded rod from the lamp section
  • One Lamp Socket that has a 1/8th threaded base

Step 6: Cleanliness Is Next to Awesomeness

Because all of the parts had oil on them from the tapping process. I broke down the lamps after dry fitting and washed them in a plastic tub with dish soap. For things like this, I like to use cheap dollar store dish soap, because it tends to have more detergent than more expensive soaps.

You can use whatever you want, as long as it has a degreeser in it to break down the oils. Once you are done, dry your parts well to prevent rusting/corrosion.

Once your parts are dry, if you want to add any kind of finish, this would be the time. I want the lamps to weather and age, so I choose not to apply a finish. This finish could be an oil wipe down, clearcoat, paint to give it an aged look, or whatever you wanted.

Step 7: Wire Up Your Lamp

Lamp wiring is fairly simple, and you can easily get kits to build lamps. For these, you basically need to fish your lamp cord up through the base, and attach the wires. I'm no expert at this, so I will link the Instructable I used to wire a lamp socket.

Once you are done, you should have a functional lamp. Depending on the style, and the surface the lamp will sit on, you may want to consider adding rubber or felt feet to the bottom of your lamp as to not scratch the surface it is sitting on.

Step 8: Finished Products

At first I wasn't going to make a lamp out of the cast iron flywheel because I was worried it would be too heavy, but after assembling the aluminium flywheel lamps, they feel too light and almost top heavy. The cast iron lamp doesn't feel too heavy and has a nice balance.

I'm very happy with the results and I have some lessens learned I'll share in the next step. At this point, I guess I need to start on the end tables that the lamps will live on.

I also have afew more larger lawn tractor flywheels that I am considering scaling this up to make floor lamps out of. I'll update this Instructable if I ever get them complete.

Step 9: Lessions Learned

Here is are all of the things I wish I would have known before I started this project:

Not having large enough tap wrench was a pain and make me have to work harder. After I finished tapping the holes, I realized I had a Square Drive T Handle that I could have used. A standard 6 point wrench or socket will not fit a 4 point tap, but you can use an 8 or 12 point socket on the tap. Next time, I will use my T handle with a 12 point socket.

While the lubrication I used worked. Next time I would use a lubrication intended for tapping metal. A product called Tap Magic is an example.

While tapping the holes from the back side made getting a straight hole easier, it caused me to have to tap the holes 2 - 3 times deeper than necessary. Next time I would use a Counter Sink Bit Set to chamfer the on the hole on the top side to give a bit of a taper, and allow for easier starting of the tap and lining up the parts to screw them together.

A good work surface. I was basically using C Clamps and wide jawed Vice Grips clamps to hold the work to my bench. This would have been much easier if I had a bench vice to hold the work.

Tools/Materials that would have made this easier:

I am not sponsored by Harbor Freight, Amazon, or any vendor, nor am I endorsing their tools. I was shopping for the cheapest tools that would do the job for small scale production. If I were going to be making more than a handful of lamps, I'd invest in higher quality tools. These tools seem good enough, and cheap enough to allow you to build a project you may not otherwise be able to make.

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    jessyratfink

    5 weeks ago

    Great project and thank you for including step 9! :)