View Full Version : Engine Turning for Aluminum Parts

02-04-2003, 08:04 PM
I'm putting this Thread here for lack of a better place. I'd like to do some old style 'Engine Turning' on my Drag bikes aluminum covers and brackets. Other then the old 'Cork on the end of a drill' proceedure, is there any other/better way to achieve this finish? I used the Cork method many years ago on a flat piece of aluminum that was used as a Tach/Oil gauge bracket on my Norton. Worked good If I remember. But that was a small flat piece and not compound curves like the covers. Does anyone know of a supplier that sells a kit to do this type of finish? How about any literature that would show/explain the 'Techniques' ?.....Thanks...:) ..Hrdly-Dangrs

02-05-2003, 10:19 AM
i have used a dremal tool an a felt buff, about a 1/2 in. is good, use a little fine valve compound, either in some kind of an orderly fashion, or haphazardly, one or the other,

02-08-2003, 12:00 PM
Good Tips, I have all that equipment and valve compound on hand. The Dremel would probably work the easiest on the compound curves of the side covers. It would seem that the valve compound may cut too rapidly into the soft aluminum. I was thinking to use 'Semi-Chrome' aluminum polish as a medium. I'll give the valve compound a try on a scrap piece of aluminum and see how fast it 'cuts' before I commit to the covers. The 'cork' method was 'old world' tech. Thanks vride5.....:cool: ...Hrdly-Dangrs

05-10-2003, 07:34 AM
What is the best way to lay out the pattern for engine turning?

05-10-2003, 09:24 AM
We used a flat wooden dowel end in a drill press for flat-work in metal shop, no abrasive or maybe we used buffing rouge and WD-40. We laid a row of patterns and then overlapped that row with the next row, side-by-side.

05-10-2003, 10:10 AM
Hi inrustwetrust! I haven't had time to do any 'Engine Turning' on the 'Sportster' yet. Too many other projects going right now. I will definetly try it out when I do. I was surfing the Web and there's a lot of info obtainable out there by just typing in 'Engine Turning'. You'll notice right away that 'REAL' Engine Turning is done by a lathe and requires a lot of skill and money! But years ago, when I tried it out, I remember reading articles in various Hot Rod and Motorcycle mags showing how to achieve the 'Engine Turned' look with some simple tools. A drill (stationary drill press or Hand types, some real 'Cork' corks (yes like the ones they use in wine bottles), a drill bit arbor to hold the 'cork' in the drill, some type of 'media' (like your recommended valve lapping compound, or light abrasive grit polishes like 'Semi-Chrome' or automotive compounding pastes. (I will start digging thru my old mags and see if I can find the articles that inspired me to try it years ago. If I find them I'll post it under this heading.) Anyway, laying out the pattern requires that you measure and mark exactly where you want the swirl (circle) pattern go. If you study patterns of Engine Turning the overlapping of the circular patterns is obvious. Getting the same results is not! How much overlapping is needed to recreate the sample pattern will be determined by the size of the 'Cork' or tool used to create the swirls. Generally, start with a ruler and pencil and layout some straight horizonal/vertical lines about 1/2" - 1". In effect creating a 'grid' pattern. We're going to place the center of our cork on the intersecting lines of the 'grid'. Starting from left side, do your first swirl. Then move to the second line below the first mark and do that swirl and so on...overlapping the previous upper mark while leaving about half of the first marks swirl untouched. Now go back up to the first line and the second mark on the first line and do that swirl, overlapping the first swirl the same amount as you did the lower swirl of the second line's first swirl. Now continue down the second row until its done, then back up to the first line and third row mark and repeat sequence until finished. After a few lines and rows you'll be able to see the pattern forming. You could also just do one line completely across, then drop down to the second, third and so on. Exact pattern and equal distance of the marks would best be figured out on a scrap piece of flat aluminum. Flat pieces are easy to do, but the curve pieces will take some doing. Trial and error will likely be your guide. Gather up the materials and some scrap pieces of flat aluminum and have at it! Anyway, this is how I remember doing it years ago. I could be wrong, and I'm working from 'memory' so if anyone knows of any books or 'How-To-Guides' on this Art let us know! Does any Members know of anyone doing this type of metal work?? Hey Rust, let's keep this thread up and see if we can come up with an effective means of recreating this Art on the cheap!....Later...Hrdly-Dangrs

05-10-2003, 10:22 AM
K.Perry. you just jogged my memory. You can use a wooden dowel also. Intersting to note, I recall that the article from which I learned about 'Engine Turning' mentioned that you should try to use the same Cork (dowel) to complete any full line of swirls as changing to a different 'Cork' or dowel in the middle of the line of swirls will change the swirl mark itself....Hrdly-Dangrs