B-B-VAC came about as a resultof a bet! A colleague in school, upon hearing that I was thinking of makinga vacuum former of my own, betted me that I couldn't do it. He was wrong!

I got to thinking one day that if I were ever to lose my job, I wouldn't be able to make any more cars. So I began to think about constructing a machine of my own. As my cousin Peter Connew once said, "There is nothing magic in the world." I tend to agree, so I set to and designed and built my B-B-Vac.

It really is a very simple machine indeed. It follows the basic design parametres of commercially produced machines, with one main difference. Instead of the pattern being pushed up into the heated, softened plastic,I push my plastic down onto my pattern. Inside the blue box is a 1 Kw vacuum cleaner motor, sucking down a wooden chute from the drilled plywood base on top of the box.


Under the aluminium hood is a cooker element. The pattern stands on the drilled base. The four steel rods which stick up from the top of the box serve to support the frame into which the plastic is clamped. The two steel flanges at the sides serve 2 purposes; they hold the frame containing the plastic up close to the element while the plastic softens and then, when rotated, they clamp the plastic down over the pattern.

The amount of 'suck per unit area' is very high; higher in fact than our school machine. This enables me to use quite a thick gauge of plastic(1.5 mm) and still get the plastic solidly down over the pattern.

Obviously I lose a certain amount of detail using such thick plastic, but the longevity of the body is more important to me than ultimate detail.

The machine didn't cost a great deal to make, and it has more than paid for itself as it has successfully produced dozens of bodies in the five or six years that I have had it.

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