Greg “Grease” Lehman – Rat-Rod Smart Car
If you haven’t taken a look at the Vectric User Forum, then you really don’t know what you are missing. During one of our daily browses, we came across what looked like a picture of a wind-up toy car… but only it wasn’t – it was a real car! This post had everyone amazed at the Vectric HQ we had to speak to the creator – For this month’s case study we bring you Greg “Grease” Lehman. Long time user of Vectric software, Greg was kind enough to talk us through his project, but first we had to ask about his background…
Creativity and art have always been a big part of my life, I went to school in 1985 for Graphic Arts, I was in the printing industry for about 10 years working as a litho stripper. As well as this I am a tattoo artist of 30 years. Well, actually 29 years, I started tattooing in 1989 this is also something I really love doing.
Discovering CNC was out of necessity I love building stuff and after a bit of research a CNC mill is what I needed. I bought my first Sheline Manual Mill in 2001. I did many upgrades on the mill to make it CNC. And that is the mill I use today. The max size I can do is about 7.5” x 14, I customized the machine with new lead screws and extended the arm. I do have a mini Taig lathe too, which is a manual lathe along with many of the “classic” hand tools such as planers, chop saws and sanders.
In terms of software, I’ve been a long-time user of Vectric products… even before Aspire was even invented. I use VCarve Pro 8.5 but I will definitely be upgrading soon. I think it’s the ease of use of the actual software that has kept me with Vectric software; that and the fact if I do need help with something they’ve got a whole heap of great videos and info freely available.
It’s great to see that Vectric software enables Greg to be creative without any boundaries and constraints. So, with all of his equipment in his workshop I think its time to hear about the project that caught our eye. We started by asking Greg what is the background to the project…
You see many Smart cars on the road these days and I wanted to make mine more of an original looking car. I wanted it to look like a rusty old Rat-Rod, and it was a necessity to have a wind-up key in the back of the car to make it look like a toy, so this is where the ideas began.
Well, the designing stage was the longest… as for time wise…guessing a few days to design and few days to cut out. Seeing my machine is very small…my max I can cut is 7.25” x 14” which meant I had to work within these limitations. For the materials I used PVC pipe, acrylic and copper and brass plates with the addition of some brass screws too. To power the key, I used a 12volt 30rpm motor. Tooling, I used a tapered 1/8 ballnose, 60 degree v-bit, 90 degree v-bit and 1/4” endmill.
When it came to using the software there were so many features that helped me along the way. But, I do have to say the feature that helped the most was being able to see the toolpaths VCarve Pro generated. Then after that being able to see a very detailed simulation of what the final cut project would look like before I get to the machine. This helped me keep to my motto and top tip – “Measure twice, cut once”.
This was actually my second attempt at making the wind-up key for my car. My first was a magnet to the car and had batteries, this was way too heavy to stay in place. I 3d printed most of the first prototype and I chose to go with a 12 volt that way I can omit the batteries. Even still, I plan to upgrade this one, with an all metal base, rather than the wooden one.
Greg has clearly shown great creativity not only with the idea for the project but also with the designing and creation of it as he had hardware limitations. It goes to show there is always a way to create what you want. It’s at this point we would like to thank Greg for taking time out of his busy life to inspire and share his story with the Vectric community. Before we let him go we had to ask him what he had planned for the future…
There’s too much to list, one of the things I am working on involves a manhole cover… but its top secret.