After about a month I finally got some work done on the vacuum former. Thanks go out to Cord and Marie who are now helping me with this. Having more people to help will hopefully make this go faster and also keep us all motivated to move forward.
The next part we had to build was the top box. This is a wooden box that goes around the inside heater box. We made it from cedar because it was the cheapest hard wood at the hardware store (and it smells good). This part of the construction was really pretty simple. We cut a few boards to the proper lengths and screwed them together in a box shape with wood screws. We used small wooden blocks to re-enforce the corners as well.
First, we had to grind down the welds on the top of the steel frame. These welds would prevent the wood sides from laying flat. I used an angle grinder to flatten it out.
Next, we measured the short sides of the top of the frame and cut two boards to the same length. These would be the short sides of the box. They had to bolt onto the frame using two 1/4″ holes that I had drilled a long time ago. This meant we had to match drill the holes in order to make sure the bolts fit just right.
Once the board was clamped in place we used a rubber mallet to tap it so it was aligned just right with the sides. Then we drilled through the holes in the steel and into the wood. This guaranteed a perfect fit.
Once the holes were drilled we bolted the small sides on.
We actually discovered that the bolt heads stuck out too far from the wood. They got in the way of the lift linkage and we couldn’t lift it up. We ended up countersinking the bolts so the lift linkage can clear the box.
Once the two short sides were bolted in their final place, we measured each of the long sides and cut them to fit perfectly. We also cut some small 4 1/4″ pieces of 1″x2″ cedar to place inside each corner. This was to re-enforce the corners and give an extra place to screw together. I forgot to take a photo of the small blocks, unfortunately.
We clamped the long side in place and then screwed the short block in place.
Once the short block was screwed to the short side, we screwed both sides together. We did this at all four corners and we were done!
This is really exciting for me. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten any work done on this and we managed to complete an entire step in one night. The next step will be to adjust the small tabs on the lift linkage so that when it is completely raised up, the plastic will be just the right distance from the bottom box. Then we weld the tabs back in place. Then we can finally disassemble the frame and clean it, sand it, and paint it. The frame will finally be done!