Drilling Obi ANH Handwheel for D-ring Tutorial

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James Kenobi 1138

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
This is the method I've been using to drill the hole for the D-ring in the plastic cubes in an AS Handwheel.

These vintage AS Handwheels are not easy to come by and usually not very cheap, so drilling them correctly the first time is essential to not totally ruining your Handwheel.

STEP 1: Make sure you know which 'side' is which.

The Handwheel is 3 pieces, the top and bottom caps that are metal, and the cubes that are plastic. When you separate the cubes you'll see that there is a solid flange on one end and a 2-piece flange on the other that fit into the top cap.

The cubes also have a variation, a 'longer side' and a 'shorter side'. Depending on if you're going for the Tunsia version of the saber or the Chronicles version of the saber determines which direction you have the cubes.

STEP 2: The hole is drilled OFF CENTER, make sure you know which side is which when you go to drill.



STEP 3: You need a drill-press to do this correctly, and a milling table attachment.

If you don't have a drill-press, find someone who does and will let you borrow it. The milling table attachment is cheap, I got mine from Harbor Freight Tools for about $30 on sale. It is a vice that has X axis, Y Axis and swivel and will fit in your drill-press table mount. You use crank handles to dial in the needed adjustments like the table on a milling machine.

STEP 4: Use a center punch to mark the spot to be drilled.

Once you determine exactly the spot where you're going to drill, use a center punch to make a divot in the plastic to 'hold' the drill bit when you start drilling. This will keep the drill bit from 'wondering' on the sloped, chromed surface. The hole is not only off-center, but it's not in the center top-to-bottom either. Make the mark closer to the base, farther from the outside of the cube. If you don't, your drill bit will be too close to the outside of the cube and ruin the cube.



STEP 5: Start drilling with a smaller drill bit then you need.


For the first pass, use a small drill bit just to make a 'pilot hole' for the correct size bit you'll use in the second pass.

STEP 6: Start lining up for the vertical pass.

With your cubes in the vice of the milling table and your small drill bit chucked-up in the drill press, use the handles on the milling table to get the cubes up to the drill bit but off to the side.

You need to check to see if when the drill bit enters the top of the cube that it is going to come out at the same place on the bottom of the cubes. If the alignment is off your cube will be ruined.



From the side you can adjust the milling table to get the drill bit just where you want it at the top of the cube.



Then pull the drill press down and check the alignment and adjust the cubes as needed. The drill bit should enter and exit the cube at the same location vertically.



The milling table has set-screws that you can tighten to 'set' a direction. So when you are happy with the vertical tighten down that axis set-screws to set that axis alignment.

STEP 7: Set for the Horizontal drilling location.

Now that you know the vertical position is correct, use the milling table handles to dial the cubes into a position where you can set the position horizontal on the cube to drill.

Your drill bit should be at the mark you made with the center punch.



Swing the drill-press handle down and check that the drill bit is perpendicular to the cubes and in the correct horizontal position.



STEP 8: Roll the cubes back and start drilling.

You've center-punched a start divot, checked the vertical and horizontal, and moved the cubes into position. Start drilling.





CRITICAL NOTE:

The small drill bit is very short.

Don't try to drill all the way through the cube. Just get a starter hole.

Because the drill bit is short it's very close to the drill-press chuck and if you drill too far down the chuck can rub on the other cube next to the one you're drilling and damage it.

Check your clearances as you drill, watch the drill-press chuck as it moves down into position so you don't damage the upper most cube.

When you move to the correct diameter drill bit for your D-ring, it's longer and you can chuck it so that you will be able to drill all the way through with no problems.
 

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clancampbell

Sr Member
If i had one of these handwheels, i'd more than likely screw it up by being impatient and ill equiped. A permanent marker and hand drill is NOT the way to go!

Nice tutorial by the way!

Rich
 

Sym-Cha

Master Member
Excellent job James,

For sure now I'll take my AS handwheels to my silversmith while making him read this thread and have him do the modern AS handwheel first, before I let him even near my precious vintage AS handwheel.

So the cube with no flange on the short side is the designated cube to drill, correct?

Thanks for posting this tutorial, also on behalf of all members with modern AS handwheels.

Could you also show us what equipment you use and how to add the D-ring without damaging the plastic cube?

-Chaim
 

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ATL Kenobi

Sr Member
Excellent job James,

Could you also show us what equipment you use and how to add the D-ring without damaging the plastic cube?

-Chaim
Chaim

James probably has a better method, but here's how I did mine:

Since the metal tends to spring back, I cut a little bit off of the "ends" of the ring:
View attachment 51105

I also ground a little off of the corners so there be less interference and then spread the ring open a little bit with a screw driver.
View attachment 51106

I then crimped it into place using a pair of pliers and a old rag to keep from scratching the ring.
View attachment 51107

Finished.
View attachment 51108

Hope this helps.

ATL
 

Sym-Cha

Master Member
Wow thanks ATL. That will help a lot in the future when handling D-rings and cube holes :D

I knew I missed one step when adding a replacement D-ring to my Luke ROTJ Stunt Handwheel. I forgot to open the D-ring more to fit better in the cube hence some additional used future scratches on the chrome :cry
Not a big problem it will only add to the character of the lightsaber :lol

-Chaim
 

Sym-Cha

Master Member
I believe so but let me check my reference photos tonight to make sure.
Hi James,

Any news on the correct cube? And after attaching the D-Ring how is that D-Ring-cube composed screen accurate in regards to the real vintage booster with the 'damaged' fin and in comparison with the graflex clamp?

-Chaim
 

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Sym-Cha

Master Member
Hi James,

No worries I haven't been drilling yet :lol Aside from the cube,
do you also know how the text REG DES on the flange is placed
accurately in regards to the booster?

Awaiting patiently your valuable input,

-Chaim
 

Sym-Cha

Master Member
I believe so but let me check my reference photos tonight to make sure.
Hi James,

Any further news on the correct cube? And after attaching the D-Ring how is that D-Ring-cube composed screen accurate in regards to the real vintage booster with the 'damaged' fin and in comparison with the graflex clamp?

-Chaim
 

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kurtyboy

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Anyone got any suggestions for taking one of these apart using simple hand tools? I've had luck with a couple in the past just using rubber gloves and/or a square rod, but I've got one now that won't budge.
 

Sym-Cha

Master Member
Questions :

Am I mistaken to leave the cubes on the handwheel as is, since that's how it originally was during first takes of the movieproduction and before the pictures seen in Mechanismo and Chronicles?
And could the cubes have been switched around when the lightsaber had to be touched up between filming or whem it was needed again to be used for pick-up shots after principal shooting had ended and the prop was already back in parts at Bapty's storage?

-Chaim
 

James Kenobi 1138

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Sorry, I haven't been on much lately.

I don't know where the lettering is, but it doesn't seem visible in most of the pics I have. It might be under the d-ring and that could be why it's not visible ?

Here is an alignment guide:
 

James Kenobi 1138

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Hi James,

Any further news on the correct cube? And after attaching the D-Ring how is that D-Ring-cube composed screen accurate in regards to the real vintage booster with the 'damaged' fin and in comparison with the graflex clamp?

-Chaim
The cube you drill can be aligned using the above photo, the one in the upper right hand corner. You can see the 'break' in the flange and chart the cube position based on that (the purple line runs through it).
 

James Kenobi 1138

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Anyone got any suggestions for taking one of these apart using simple hand tools? I've had luck with a couple in the past just using rubber gloves and/or a square rod, but I've got one now that won't budge.
Spray is with penetrating oil (like WD-40) and let it sit for a while (like a week).

I usually use a reverse gear puller to 'grab' the inside and turn the outside with rubber gloves.
 

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