Thursday, November 28, 2013

Making a Lamp from a Crankshaft

After thoroughly overhauling my WRX's engine, I wanted to do something with my bent Subaru crankshaft. I've always wanted to make a table using an engine block, a la Top Gear. I have yet to get my hands on a block I can use for this, but my end tables made from tires have turned out really well. This crankshaft, then, had to become a lamp.

I went to Home Depot to look for a lamp-making kit, but I thought they were kind of pricey ($15 or so) and only came in a bright brass finish. This obviously wouldn't match my style. Then, while looking for lampshades at Target, I found a lamp on clearance for the same $15, but with better, black-painted hardware and a clear (instead of yellow) cord. So I bought a good lamp shade and the cheap lamp and headed home.

I took the cheap lamp apart and figured out how I wanted to put it together. Then I went to a machine shop.

There's a protrusion at the flywheel side of the crankshaft. It's what centers the flywheel on the crankshaft as you install the bolts. The pilot bearing sits inside this protrusion. Since that prevents the crankshaft from standing flat, I had to get it machined off. A local machine shop did that for me.

The guy at the machine shop also drilled and tapped a hole inside the crank snout (the timing belt and accessory drive end). He threaded the lamp socket post to match. This way I could feed the wire from the socket through the first main journal and out the center of the lamp. 

I originally cleaned the crankshaft by soaking it in a bucket of Simple Green solution, then doing a quick spraydown with brake cleaner. After that, tried to protect the crank with a clear spraypaint, but the paint quickly cracked and peeled. I got some paint stripper and removed it all. Primer may be necessary to get paint to stick to raw metal, but I want to keep the crank's look; it bears the indicators of spun bearings. 

I'm instead just leaving it bare, hoping that the oils from my hands will keep the crank from rusting. I rubbed it all over with my hands. It's worked so far, but if it does end up rusting, I don't think that'll hurt the look.  

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