Monthly Archives: October 2010

Vacuum Form Build part Eleven

The Plumbing

In this step we show how the Vacuum lines get hooked up when using the Two Stage systems with two tanks, two gauges, a selector valve and a main vacuum valve. These photos don’t show the check valve but there is one, right on the pump line.

Again this is a step that I thought shouldn’t take long. But it does. Working out what connects to what, how long that hose is and which fittings are needed where is all on you. There’s no parts list of what to buy and what size pipe thread fits where. This took several trips to several plumbing departments to find all the right fittings. And no I didn’t guess right the first time and yes I have a few parts left over. 

I start here with the pump and tanks I used and deciding where to place them. There is lots of room to work with. I moved the the tanks to under the valve to try to keep the hose lengths as short as possible since longer hose means less vacuum.

Vacuum Form Build part Ten

Switch Mount

In building my own Lift Arms and not welding them, it left me with coming up with a way to mount the safety switch for the heating elements. I’m all for safety and not wanting to simply leave this switch out. I needed a new place and way to mount it. The goal of the switch is to only have the heat on when the frame that holds the plastic is in place at the top and ready to be heated. So I decided to mount the switch under the deck and trigger it off the frame guides. It’s a funky little block of wood that holds the switch and a hinge and mounts to the side of the lower frame. It all makes more sense if you see the pictures.

It works like a charm. As soon as you lift the bar to slide the plastic up the heat starts coming on. As soon as you come down with the plastic the heaters cut off.

Vacuum Form Build part Nine

Front Control Panel and back Power Box

The power box and front control panel are two of the more challenging parts to build.

The rear power box because, IT IS the POWER BOX. It has 100 amps @ 220v running through it. Making an error here can mean shock, fire, a burn up or any number of bad things. There are lots of wires here and getting just one crossed or using the wrong gauge can be the end of our little project. So we test and retest and go over the wiring diagram again and again. Also a good time to have a buddy double check your work.

The front panel was a challenge because again we had no instructions to follow. Opting for the more advanced Two Stage Vacuum System design we needed a “two way selector valve” to switch the vacuum from the tanks to the pump vacuum during operation. This required two vacuum gauges on the panel, the selector valve the pump switch and main vacuum valve to all be within easy reach during operation. Having no plan to follow I decided the front panel needed some tilt so the gauges could be more easily read and chose 1/4″ Plexiglas (non conductive).

The results are quite nice. It presents a very smooth and finished looking front panel with everything easy to read and get to.