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Smelting Furnace for Aluminium

I am looking to build a oil or gas fired furnace for smelting Aluminium and maybe brass for casting.

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When I was in my early teens I was afforded the opportunity to experiment with aluminum casting when we discovered the fire of our brush pile had gotten hot enough to melt aluminum. Since then I have wanted to try my hand at casting with a more "solid" setup. With my acquisition of a 3D printer and the desire to build a CNC router I have a bit more purpose to drive me to build a furnace for aluminum casting. That being said I am going to log this project here as I go so others can follow along or throw their advice in.

Scope

I intend to build a furnace that is capable of melting aluminum for the purpose of casting. The goal of this project will be to produce 20 one pound billets of aluminum.

The Components

  • Furnace
    • Use old water heater tank (its free)
    • DIY Refractory cement (sources located and cost estimated)
  • Plinths
    • Cast with same material as furnace
  • Crucible
    • Research options
    • Possible used my old steel scuba tank
  • Tool to remove the Crucible from the furnace
    • Will build after I decide on the crucible
  • Tool to poor the Crucible
    • Will build after I decided on the crucible
  • Propane/Oil Burner
    • Research options
    • Really like the burner used by Doug from SV Seeker
  • Forms for Aluminum Billets
  • Scrap Aluminium

Aluminum Casting Furnace Build Notes.docx

Mission statement and general notes taken while researching and planing this project. Updated 8/26/16

document - 825.92 kB - 08/29/2016 at 01:46

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Burner Design Plans

JPEG Image - 702.16 kB - 08/28/2016 at 23:47

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  • 1 × 40 Gallon Water Heater Tank

  • "Preliminary" Burner Design

    Tony08/29/2016 at 02:11 0 comments

    So lacking any specific dimensions to the type of burner I wanted to build I put pencil to paper and drew some plans. The Burner I wanted to build is based on a Delavan Siphon Nozzle. I liked this because of the clean look and apparent ease of operation. It also will gives me the option of running on waste oil, liquid fuels, or Propane.

    I have also assembled a list of components that I will need to build it. For the Preliminary parts list I gathered prices from McMastercarr being as it is a favorite site of mine for general project supplies. The list is also more of a wish list than and actual list and due to the steep price tag I will likely look for cheaper options and suppliers. As a last note I have updated my project notes .doc with this information as well.

    http://www.patriot-supply.com/

    Delavan Siphon nozzle

    Part#30609-8

    $24.00

    Delavan Nozzle Addapter

    Part#17147

    $24.00

    http://www.mcmaster.com

    Feed line

    Quantity

    Description

    Part#

    Price

    Extended

    Air

    1

    Industrial-Shape Hose Coupling, Size 1/4 Zinc-Plated Steel Plug, 1/4 NPTF Female End

    6534K56

    $1.32

    $1.32

    All

    4

    Steel 37 Degree Flared Tube Fitting, Adapter for 1/4" Tube OD x 1/4 NPTF Male Pipe

    50695K162

    $1.46

    $5.84

    All

    1

    Smooth-Bore Seamless Steel Tubing, 1/4" OD, 0.049" Wall Thickness, 6 Feet Long

    9220K321

    $10.46

    $10.46

    Null

    1

    Standard-Wall Steel Pipe, 2 Pipe Size, 3' Length, Unthreaded

    7750K196

    $46.45

    $46.45

    Oil

    1

    Compact Extreme-Pressure Steel Threaded Fitting, 1/8 Pipe Size, 90 Degree Male Elbow

    50925K117

    $3.83

    $3.83

    Oil

    1

    Steel 37 Degree Flared Tube Fitting, Straight Adapter for 1/4" Tube OD x 1/8 NPTF Female

    50695K171

    $1.95

    $1.95

    Oil

    1

    ISO-A Hose Coupling, Zinc-Plated Sleeve-Lock Socket, 1/4 Coupling, 1/4" NPTF Female

    51335K51

    $21.94

    $21.94

    Oil

    1

    ISO-A Hose Coupling, Zinc-Plated Plug, 1/4 Coupling Size, 1/4" NPTF Female

    51335K61

    $8.38

    $8.38

    Oil

    1

    PVC Tubing for Fuels and Lubricants, 1/4" ID, 3/8" OD, 25 ft. Length

    5187K63

    $16.25

    $16.25

    Oil, LP

    2

    Compact Extreme-Pressure Steel Threaded Fitting, 3/8 Male x 1/4 Female Pipe Size, Hex Head Bushing

    50925K345

    $1.50

    $3.00

    Propane

    1

    Hose Coupling for Natural and LP GAS, Socket, 3/8" NPT Female, 3/8" Coupler

    6053T11

    $23.25

    $23.25

    Propane

    1

    Hose Coupling for Natural and LP GAS, Plug, 3/8" NPTF Female, 3/8" Coupler

    6053T12

    $11.18

    $11.18

    Propane

    1

    Gas Regulator for Propane, CGA #510 Male Inlet, Standard Duty, 1-Stage

    7897A66

    $141.09

    $141.09

    Propane

    1

    12 Feet Long Hose for Torch-to-Propane Tank Adapter

    7976A34

    $41.46

    $41.46

    Propane

    1

    Brass Barbed Tube Fitting for Vacuum, Straight for 1/4" Tube ID x 1/4 Male Pipe Size

    44555K132

    $3.03

    $3.03





    Total

    $339.43

  • DIY Refactory Materials

    Tony08/15/2016 at 01:16 0 comments

    I have found local sources of materials for my refractory cement as well as figuring out the quantities I need and the estimated costs. I had previously figured that I would need 2.6 cubic feet of cement but I will plan to purchase enough materials for 4 cubic feet.

    Most materials can be purchased in at the local Hardware store but I will have to travel to the north side of Houston, TX for the fire clay which I was able to find here: http://www.ceramicstoreinc.com/ .

    I also have created a word document that contains my mission statement and the notes that I take while planning the project and will see if I can get it attached here,

  • Refractory Cement

    Tony08/11/2016 at 15:46 0 comments

    So one of my first steps of my new plan is to figure out what to use for my refractory cement. Most of what I have seen for DIY options go along the lines of using perlite and portland cement mixtures. One of my favorite sources of information has been the Backyard Metal Casting website ( http://www.backyardmetalcasting.com/ )has allot of step by step instructions, one of which is a DIY refractory cement.

    I plan to follow the plans I found there which use a mixture of Portland cement (1.5 parts), silica sand (2 parts), perlite (1.5 parts) and fireclay (2 parts). I don't want to copy his work to my page so please check out the website for all of the details. I will however post as much as I can about my experience getting each of the components and the mixing and casting process.

  • Some Motivation

    Tony08/11/2016 at 01:26 0 comments

    It has been a busy year, and no progress has been made on any of my projects on .io. The good news is that my office is almost back together(I have been remolding), and I have learned a few new tricks for my project management. Hopefully that means I will actually start making some progress with this stuff.

    I have been watching some videos from the SV Seeker channel on YouTube and have found them to be both informative and inspirational. Check it out if you haven't already.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/submarineboat

    http://www.svseeker.com/wp/?v=7516fd43adaa


    I have been recently watching Doug's videos on metal casting and decided that I really like the setup he has for a furnace and would like to build a copy of it. The problem is that It will cost a fair chunk of change to build it and the cost of materials has been one of the bigger reasons that I have not made any progress on this. So the plan is to build my furnace with the DIY refractory options as well as pursuing other DIY tools and options to get started with and then, if i "find the need", I will work on the better setup.

    Going forward I will be First writing a better project scope/plan to rein in the scope creep I always experience and set forth a direction to head in.

  • 2/10/2016

    Tony02/11/2016 at 11:26 0 comments

    Sorry to thoughs that have been watching this project, I haven't given it much time lately. Currently I am still saving for refactory cement and I think I am going to go with the idea of using refactory bricks as a "filler" to make things less costly. Anyway I have a couple of things on my to do list yet but when I get caught up i think I am going to work on burner design

  • 12/12/15

    Tony12/13/2015 at 00:34 0 comments

    I haven't done much this week but I did do a little sketch and ran a few numbers to see what I would need for refactory cement. It looks like 2.6 cubic feet of it. Been looking around online and it looks like I'll have to spend about $300 to do it with a comersial product. I would like to do it that way being as a my want to experiment with brass and copper at some point. Being Christmas and all I'm going to have to wait a while before making that purchase, but that dose give me time to track down a local source. I'm about an hour outside of Houston so If anyone happens to know a good place for refactory cement drop me a line.

    I think my next steps will be working on some more solid plans for the furnace, burner, and tools. May even be able to assemble a few things while I save up for the refactory.

    Here's my sketch if anyone is interested.

  • First Cuts

    Tony12/07/2015 at 03:04 0 comments

    I finneshed cleaning the water heater tank and marked out 2 lines round the middle at 4 and 10 inches from the cap weld. I then used an angle grinder with a cut off wheel to cut the tank apart.

    After that I used the cut off wheel again to cut the top off of the chimney just under the weld. I used the wire wheels and the drill to clean up the edges.

    The tank is 16inches in diameter and I am thinking that 3inches of refactory cement around the walls will be ok. That will give me a 10inch bore to work with. My intended crucible is a bit over 6 inches which will give me 2 inches around it for the fire to do its thing

  • 40 Gallon Water Heater Tank

    Tony12/06/2015 at 18:09 0 comments

    A week ago my water heater started leaking so I had to replace it. While replacing the water heater I got to thinking that the old tank could be used to build my furnace. So I have since stripped the outer skin, valves, burner assembly and foam insulation off the tank. Currently I am cleaning the residue from the foam off and will cut the tank in "half" to get a feel for the tanks internal volume as compared to my intended crucible (old steel scuba tank).

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Discussions

Andy from Workshopshed wrote 09/27/2017 at 07:56 point

The backyard site is useful and there are a couple of books too such as the Dave Gingery series and the flowerpot furnace book. Here's my articles on casting, the early ones look at the tools http://workshopshed.com/category/techniques/castingarticle/

  Are you sure? yes | no

Wrecks wrote 11/14/2016 at 20:53 point

The project title says this is for "smelting" but I think you just intend to melt existing scrap aluminum.  Is that right? I think smelting specifically refers to the act of extracting a metal from an ore which in the case of aluminum would be bauxite.  I look forward to seeing how this goes, my son started a simplified version of a project like this but it got left in the pile of unfinished good ideas

  Are you sure? yes | no

Tony wrote 04/11/2017 at 12:16 point

That May Be true, I will have to look into that

  Are you sure? yes | no

Brian wrote 12/13/2015 at 01:02 point

Maybe you could use refractory brick (fire brick) for the bulk of the lining and use refractory cement to mortar them in. This should save you some money. 

You could also try mixing your own refractory like this-

http://www.backyardmetalcasting.com/refractories.html

Good luck with the project. I was just doing some research myself on DIY aluminum casting.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Tony wrote 08/17/2016 at 00:58 point

Fire Brick is somthing I have considered but was only able to find them at really high prices ($20 or more per brick). Perhaps I may have been looking for the wrong thing?I have found half the battle in finding something is knowing what to ask for. I will look some more before I give up on them

  Are you sure? yes | no

Tony wrote 08/17/2016 at 01:35 point

So, a quick look around the internet And I was able to find a few sources that pricedmout to around 3 bucks a brick. I will have to do a little planning to see how many I would need

  Are you sure? yes | no

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