"One man's 'magic' is another man's engineering. 'Supernatural' is a null word. "
- Robert Heinlein
Today was very productive and insightful. I went to Checker Machine Inc to meet with the welder and discuss a few things. I end up getting a full tour of the facility. Very impressive facility with top of the line equipment. I met all the employees and they were very nice.
As I was walking out the door, the welder said he's never heard of anyone welding metal to steel cable. This got me thinking.... So I researched when I returned to my lab and I researched and I researched and I researched until I finally came to the conclusion that he was right. It turns out that will welding to steel cable is extremely difficult due to the high carbon content and the low heat transfer from strand to strand.
So I started researching other methods of fabricating tracks and found this great website http://www.rctankcombat.com/articles/track-systems/
I came across the roller chain idea which got me thinking... if I could weld brackets onto the roller chain, that would be perfect! After further research, I came across this.
So what I envision in the new system; there will be two chains per track. Holes will be drilled in every other or every three (not quite sure yet, have to check spacing). Then using grade 5 bolts, aluminum will be fastened to the BWR material. Simple, elegant, and functional. Each track uses approximately 260 bolts though, which is a lot of drilling.
This whole chain & sprocket system will eliminate any possible sprocket misalignment and will be very unlikely to slip. It will also be far less complicated to assemble.
The next big thing that happened today was that the welder made it sound like Checker Machine Inc was going to cover some of the costs. If he understood his colleague right, that would be huge. Come Monday, I will send them the parts list and I'll see what they say. Parts should be ordered next week along with an update to the tracks system once I contact Rexnord.