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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 01-04-2011, 09:42 AM
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Default Metalworking help please!

Wood is so much nicer to work with than metal...

So a while back I bought a Harbor Freight 4x8 utility trailer, with the objective of having something to haul wood with. Finally getting around to assemble it, but ran into a snag:



One of the holes on the trailer isn't lining up, it's off by about 1/4". This is real thick tubular steel stock.

Now I have a well equipped wood shop, but when it comes to metal, all I have is a hacksaw and a few metal files.

How can I hack my way out of the jam?? I don't want to just return the trailer as I already put in a good amount of work assembling half of it and hate to have to start over. I don't mind having an excuse for a reasonably priced tool, but a plasma cutter is out of the question, so you can save that particular suggestion :-)

Any help appreciated...Thanks

Last edited by wlai; 01-04-2011 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:51 AM
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Default Re: Metalworking help please!

Welcome!

Well, there are lots of metal guys here who will likely have a better answer. But, if I had that problem, I'd see if some clamps could get the holes to line up. If it is truly that they are out of alignment despite proper assembly, I'd be inclined to make a drilling guide by boring a whatever-size-that-is hole in a thick offcut of hardwood. Clamp it to the trailer where you want the hole to go, and drill a new hole with a bit capable of it (Cobalt or Titanium bit). Put some cutting oil in the guide block for lubrication in the block and for the boring.

If the other bolts were in oversized holes, is it possible that you cinched one or two down tightly so they are unable to move at this end to line up?

But wait for more metal guys to show up, too. Me? I'm only metal in music.
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Old 01-04-2011, 02:51 PM
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Default Re: Metalworking help please!

Harbor Freight used to have a satisfaction guarantee. If you bought it at a local store, I'd call them or take it back. If you try to fix it, they may not honor any guarantee, if there is one.

I bought one of their boat trailers about 20 years ago and it was missing a part, so I called them and they sent it out - 3 months later. That's why I quit buying from them.
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:45 PM
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Default Re: Metalworking help please!



A bridge reamer has a tapered point to get you started. Choose a size that will give you a finished diameter that you can find hardware to fit.

For example, if your design hole is 1/2" but misaligned you might be okay with a 1/2" reamer but one of the holes will be a figure eight form instead of a simple circle. The ream will cut both at once. Even if you could figure a way to use an end mill to cut just the second hole it wold still end up as a figure eight. That might be okay but if you need a closer fit to the bolt use a 5/8" reamer instead and use 5/8" bolt.

Check out McMaster.com.
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Old 01-04-2011, 06:37 PM
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Default Re: Metalworking help please!

Before you ream away metal try to improve the alignment first.
You might need to loosen up some of the other fasteners
so it's easier to move the holes in this joint.

Try levers to improve the alignment and if you get it good enough clamp it.

You can also use a tapered drift pin to get the holes concentric.
If you are lucky you can chase the drift pin (same nominal large
diameter as the hole) with the actual bolt. Might need to hammer
the bolt and it would be better to acquire a high strength bolt.

With all of the above you still might be far from having enough clearance
to pass a bolt through. If the alignment remains as bad as it is in that
photo you can't even use the bridge reamer that matches the holes size.
You'd need to use a small one first just get a large enough hole to start
the tapered reamer.

To save time and money you might be able to use the cheap step drills HF sells.
They probably have drift pins too.
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:12 PM
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Default Re: Metalworking help please!

I don't mean to imply anything (except that I've done this...) but are you sure the part was installed the right way around?
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Old 01-04-2011, 08:17 PM
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Default Re: Metalworking help please!

Thanks everyone. Let me give a bit more detail (and will post photos later when I get home):

- The piece in question is the A-frame trailer arm, where the rectangular frame connects to the hitch. It is however foldable and thus swingable.



- The pivot is just a nut, bolt, and a cotter pin keeping everything loose but secured. So not even finger tight, just aligned.
- The other point is a set of aligned holes where we insert a bent lock pin, when the arm is unfolded and locked in place. This is where the holes aren't aligned, and so there is an additional issue of it needing to be loose enough that I can remove/reinsert the lock pin occasionally with ease.



So I think it's harder than the usual case of forcing an alignment so I can insert bolt once.

If it comes to enlarging the hole:
- will a dremel work? I guess it may take a while and a few bits though.
- With Cobalt/titanium bit and oil, how slow do i need to bore? I assume an 18v Dewalt should have enough torque?
- I'll check into a bridge reamer, thanks for the tip
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Old 01-04-2011, 08:52 PM
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Default Re: Metalworking help please!

Are both sides bad? If both clevis pin hole alignments are bad it may be that Peter is right and you need to flip the yoke over. If only one is bad then someone drilled or welded incorrectly and you're stuck moving metal out of the way.

Since it is a loose pin you need to place rather than a bolt you should try to minimize the hole enlargement which requires using the Dremel or a round file. Mark the piece you need to file with a Sharpie and have at it. I'd use a file if there is clearance for it to pass through. You might need to start with the Dremel to get that clearance. There are also rotary file burrs that work in a drill.

The cordless drill might work for reaming but this is the kind of load that can kill a simple cordless drill quickly. It would be easy to jamb the bit and overload the power supply, ruining the motor or battery pack.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:41 PM
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Default Re: Metalworking help please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMarcel View Post
Welcome!

Well, there are lots of metal guys here who will likely have a better answer. But, if I had that problem, I'd see if some clamps could get the holes to line up. If it is truly that they are out of alignment despite proper assembly, I'd be inclined to make a drilling guide by boring a whatever-size-that-is hole in a thick offcut of hardwood. Clamp it to the trailer where you want the hole to go, and drill a new hole with a bit capable of it (Cobalt or Titanium bit). Put some cutting oil in the guide block for lubrication in the block and for the boring.

If the other bolts were in oversized holes, is it possible that you cinched one or two down tightly so they are unable to move at this end to line up?

But wait for more metal guys to show up, too. Me? I'm only metal in music.
Paul,

Have you forgotten the metal plate in your head???

Fred
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:58 PM
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Default Re: Metalworking help please!

Yeah, the other arm aligns good, and I'm pretty sure it's just a bad weld/placement. After all this is harbor freight quality.

I think the Dremel method does seem the the most well-controlled way to do this, as I can see the drill bit slipping easily. I think it'll be fine as far as the connection itself goes as well, since this is not meant to be a rigid joint, and that other points of connection should stabilize the whole setup.

Thanks for your help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelKellough View Post
Are both sides bad? If both clevis pin hole alignments are bad it may be that Peter is right and you need to flip the yoke over. If only one is bad then someone drilled or welded incorrectly and you're stuck moving metal out of the way.

Since it is a loose pin you need to place rather than a bolt you should try to minimize the hole enlargement which requires using the Dremel or a round file. Mark the piece you need to file with a Sharpie and have at it. I'd use a file if there is clearance for it to pass through. You might need to start with the Dremel to get that clearance. There are also rotary file burrs that work in a drill.

The cordless drill might work for reaming but this is the kind of load that can kill a simple cordless drill quickly. It would be easy to jamb the bit and overload the power supply, ruining the motor or battery pack.
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