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      Board Status   07/20/2018

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Russell C

'70s GM window cranks from scrap wire/scrap rivet material

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If you are poor but have the requisite tools and scrap material, you can make 1/25th scale '70s-era General Motors window cranks with this method. Or at least something which looks somewhat similar to those, anyway.

The ingredients in the photo below are, left to right:

1) spent (or unused) aluminum rivet rods that are a bit over a 16th of an inch in diameter - I simply eyeball these things with no particular precision for dimensions

2) scrap insulated wire, preferably a light gray which has aluminum spiral-wound wire within it, where the insulation looks like it would be the same diameter as a window crank knob

3) a motor tool

4) a file

5) pliers with parallel-closing jaws

6) a #70 drill bit

7) a pin vice

8 & 9) not shown - an X-Acto blade or razor blade, and a hard smooth surface

The procedure:

Chuck the rivet rod into the motor tool, and file the end into a slight dome shape. Then use the pin vice to drill a starter hole into the side of the rod as close to the end as you can get it. The rod is soft enough that this is easier than it sounds. After that, use the motor tool to drill the rest of the way through the rod. You'll need a pliers like the one shown since the small bit of rod will heat up enough that you can feel it if you only hold it in your fingers. At this point, I used a sharp pair of wire cutters to cut off the rivet rod to about 3/16" in length. Don't lose it in the carpet.

For the crank end, use a razor blade/X-acto blade to score the insulation, and strip a quarter inch or more of it off the wire. Then dip the exposed wire into some diluted Elmer's glue or touch a small drop of super glue to the exposed wire to keep the individual strands from unraveling. When that's dry, bend the still-insulated part of the wire at the point where you stripped it to a 90 degree angle. Now use the blade against a flat surface to cut off the rest of the wire - that will leave you the smallest amount of insulation on the wire, at a right angle to the bare wire, which is the rotating knob at the end of the crank. At the far right of the photo below, that's the itty-bitty result. Put a drop of glue at the center of the knob's surface to prevent it from popping off the exposed wire.

Now thread this into the rivet rod piece, to a length that looks appropriate for how long the crank end should be, and touch a bit of super glue into where the wire goes through the rod. Use your wire cutters - mine are the really small fine type for jewelry work or small electronics - and snip off the excess wire. Drill holes in your interior panels the same diameter as the rivet rod and install. The finishing touch is a drop of silver paint (or other appropriate color as needed) into the center face of the knob.


If all has gone well, you will end up with a window crank that looks like this:


Not super perfect, but for my use in an upcoming muscle car WIP thread, it'll do, since the kit had zero window crank detail in the interior tub. An alternative way of making the crank end would be to use fine aluminum or silver colored wire which you could stuff the stripped insulation material onto to create the knob, and then crimp flatter with a small needle-nose pliers. There may be photo-etched cranks out there, but no offense to the sellers, they still look like flat layers of metal glued together.

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That looks incredibly like the real thing.  Nice work.

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