Sunday, December 30, 2018

Back Into The Fire

 I had some time to kill on Saturday so took the opportunity to get back to practicing painting flames. These flames are supposed to be "true fire" but I'm a long way away from getting that effect. This session was on an old yamaha tank that I've been messing around with and will help me practice what I want to ultimately do. That is paint horizontal flames, not camp fires.

 So my thought was to have a broader open flame on the leading edge of the tank and then have the flames stretch out more to points. You know, the way it would look if I were on fire and hauling ass. This first coat is white with a drop of red and two or three drops of yellow along with reducer. Thats the greyish looking paint in the above pic. I took this pic after starting to apply the candy red.

 After the red was added it was clear coated. So far it looks ok. The next step is to add another layer of flames over the top and color those in with candy orange, followed by a layer of clear as seen in the pic below.

 The next step is to do the same thing in a lighter color such as yellow. This is where things went bad.

 I got bored with the process and started changing techniques which just doesn't work. In the future I need to choose one method and stick with it.
 So I learned a lot. First thing is I need to wear some bitch mittens cuz this paint is tough to get off my hands.

 Another thing I learned was to clean the air brush better afterwards. It took me almost as much time to get the brush ready as it did to do the actual painting. It was worth it though because I never got any splatter like I did in past sessions. Anything that looks like splatter is underneath. I just keep squirting black over this tank without any sanding or prep.
 A keen eye will also notice the same four stencils repeat themselves either in the same orientation or flipped. I need to buy or make more stencils. I have found that for me stencils look best and freehand is good just for highlights and blending stuff together.

 I know in past practice runs I was able to get more depth and the next time out I'm gonna aim for more of the base black to show through. I'm just so early into this and don't have a technique down yet. Here's another thing that has occurred to me. If I can't make it look like true fire then maybe I skip the "true" part and use different colors like blues and greens. It might look ok. On the other hand, I'm only using white, yellow and red base paints and three candy colors. Maybe more oranges are needed?

Sooo, I just went back and looked at the tank. Parts of it are better than I originally felt. If this were at a bike show I'm sure I'd spend ten minutes with my nose only a foot away whilst checking it out. I tried different lighting and angles and these pics still don't do it justice as far as depth goes.

 No matter. it will get covered up and I'll try again. More practice needed!


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Brine Hose Reel Sprayer

 On our first trip out trying our sidewalk brine applicator we discovered to be efficient we would need the sidewalk machine operator to be able to just pound out miles of sidewalk while another guy ran a truck and treated break areas and other larger concrete/asphalt spots. He would also be able to use the truck as a nurse tank to feed the sidewalk machine and as you'll learn in a later post, a pre-wet system on a truck salter.
 So the boss says build a sprayer for the truck. I like this project because sprayers are easy to build and I had two helpers, Dan and Adrian, that I made do all the work. I just pointed, suggested, and made them do things over when I didn't like it. Like so many in house projects, we try to use stuff we already have. In this case we did buy a new tote and the sprayer parts that were robbed off our turf spraying equipment will all have to be replaced by spring. Those sprayer parts are about eight seasons old and are showing their age but still serviceable. This is how the idea started in my head:

 The tank will be up against the front of the truck box and the hose reel will hang off the drivers side. Pull up to the job, hop out, grab the hose and start squirting. Most of this will be done in private lots and not from the street. I can think of only one spot we will treat that will come close to needing all 300 feet of hose we have available, and technically we could do that with the sidewalk machine if needed.

 We used the same erector set material as was used to build the brine maker. These lightweight steel I-beams are actually designed to support semi trailer wood floors from underneath.

 Above is the basic framework. Below is the bulk of the plumbing. Everything was laid out to keep it simple.

 With the sprayer mounted in the back of the truck we just gravity fed it full from another tote that was mixed indoors.

 You'll notice the big yellow hose in the bed. That one is used to gravity feed the sidewalk sprayer and the pre-wet in the back of another truck. That one could get tricky but as suggested by one of the guys, it is all mounted in a dump insert that can be raised with the touch of a button. I think we can easily gravity fill using that method. By the way, that dump insert pump motor is located just an arms reach between the bed and the insert. It was an easy place to get power for our sprayer pump and electric hose reel.

 This is how it looks from the side. It doesn't hang out past the fender and is at a comfortable working height. I see those knuckleheads have ideas of never getting out of the truck while spraying. Not gonna happen. Next thing you know they'll be throwing brine filled balloons at door entrances to pre-treat them.

 Now we're just waiting for the right kind of winter weather to arrive so we can try this stuff out! Unfortunately we missed an opportunity to apply brine on Christmas eve prior to the snow we got on the 25th. I guess we weren't expecting a Christmas miracle!


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Early Christmas

 These days its not unusual to have multiple family gatherings for the holidays. Yesterday some of our family got together in our home and celebrated Christmas. Today Stefany will be leaving to visit her family for a few days so we exchanged a few gifts last night. Because she knew my tape measure at work had seen better days she decided to pick me up a new one.

My old tape measure has seen better days. Not very accurate in the 2"-6" range.

 I also got a nice pair of festive socks. Practical and fun and I will get some use out of them but theres one gift she gave me that I won't get much use out of and that is my new llama onesie complete with flashing lights.

 I say not much use because I do plan on wearing it. Not sure when but you can bet she'll be embarrassed when I do. Maybe teacher conferences or when she has friends over. Maybe her graduation. Not sure yet. Thanks Stefany!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Applying Brine To Walks

 Last week I talked to you about our sidewalk brine applicator. We were able to pre-treat a lot of sidewalks before it snowed but the snow we got wasn't what we were hoping for.

 With temps hovering around freezing it decided to dump 1/2" to 3/4" in a short period. Our brine couldn't keep up and from what I've researched it shouldn't have been expected to. Even areas treated with rock salt were snow covered initially. It was just too wet.
 Last week I sprayed a section of our parking lot. The area to the left of the swale was treated and to the right was untreated.

 Maybe if you squint and use your imagination you could say the brine treated side looked better. The fact is that it couldn't keep up with the wet snow. You'll notice the foot prints crossing the two sections. That is where the brine made a huge difference. To the right on the untreated side it was slippery under the snow. On the treated side it was wet and grippy. Thats the part that will make it a safer environment for the customer, and make clean up efforts easier because snow and ice won't bond to the walks even after someone has walked on them. Also, we treated faster than conventional methods using less product. The boss was happy enough with the results that this week we built a truck sprayer/hose reel/nurse tank that I'll show you in a future post. I'm excited to try this again when the temps are colder.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Big Announcement!

I'm posting this from a hotel lobby on my phone so I'm not sure it will come out as planned.  Last night we were invited by my middle daughter's boyfriend to witness an engagement proposal. His birthday was the cover story for why all their friends and family were at the show. Because they are good friends with the band, it was agreed he would ask her between sets. It's amazing he was able to pull this off without Mackenzie having any idea it was coming. I'm so happy for these two and wish them a great life together!


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

More Brine

 The forecast today was for maybe an inch of snow and temps just below freezing. Right now it looks like we'll be lucky to get anything. That means its gonna be a good opportunity for us to squirt some salt brine and see what kind of results we get. If it doesn't snow we won't have rock salt laying everywhere.
 This week has been busy and I haven't been able to calibrate our application equipment but I was able to get a good pattern and lay down a test strip in our parking lot at work.

 Actually this pic is of four passes with our sidewalk machine. Each pass is six of those wet strips with a total width of 42" from outside strip to outside strip. This is done with only two triple jet nozzles. They're the tiny green spots in the two pictures below.

I had built a boom with three nozzles but couldn't get the pattern right. I really think this pattern will work good but thats really just me hoping all my efforts weren't a waste of time.

 This was about two hours after application. At this point I'm pretty sure my application rate is too high for pre treating but probably good for post treating. All those lines of brine bled together into one even coat and stayed looking wet like this for eighteen hours.
 Twenty four hours later this is the same area. The water has all evaporated and left the salt. So thats where all those dissolved bags of halite went.

 Today our sidewalk crew will treat about a mile of sidewalk and various high traffic areas at a local factory. I'm sending them out with enough product to do five miles so theres some fudge factor built into my guess work. It won't be cold enough to get into trouble with brine freezing and we're not adding calcium chloride yet. If we don't get dumped on I should be able to get some before and after pics using brine and using rock salt.
 If it does snow today we will also test another project I've been working on and thats a pre-wet system for one of our truck mounted salters. Basically its a system that wets rock salt before it hits the spinner and then the ground. I'll post more details in a separate blog.
 If this works the way everyone says it will then we should be able to provide the customer with not only a safer environment but a cleaner building interior as people won't be dragging rock salt in on their shoes. All this while using less product. We'll see.


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Power Port

 A quick Saturday morning project took a little longer than expected due to the cold. I didn't look at the thermometer but it was cold enough for my Sorel Dominators but not cold enough to lace them up. I've had these boots for decades and usually only break em out for cold weather although I've been slipping them on lately for fetching the mail or chasing kids out of the yard.

 In order to get the big ass station wagon in the garage this winter I had to store the HD in the enclosed trailer. Getting into the trailer was no easy matter.

 The lock was froze and it took a bit of finagling to gain access to the riches inside. Because the Harley has a brand new battery in it I wanted to make sure the tender was on so it wouldn't die and freeze over the winter. Even at dealer cost they aren't giving those things away. I didn't want to try to squeeze an extension cord in the door seal because it seems the seal is pretty darn tight, as it should be. I decided it would be a good idea to add a power port.

I didn't put much thought into the plug location except to try to avoid any supports in the trailer wall.

The plug is designed with the cord coming out the back on an angle. I'm sure thats great for a thinner wall but makes a little extra work for a thick wall, or as in this case with two thin walls spaced apart.

  A simple project slowed down a bit by the cold but well worth it as I was getting nervous about the battery charge going down and my new battery freezing. I suppose if I wanted to put a light out there I could work on the bike in the trailer but really what that bike needs is a bath and nothing more.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Workshop Wednesday-Making Salt Brine

 Last time I told you about the salt brine maker I built at work. One problem I discovered was my ability to lift the unit with a forklift was limited because there was a good chance of hitting the pump with a tine. Adding one more cross piece to my erector set frame work fixed that problem.

 I had whipped up a batch the other day and discovered the unit had a few leaks that needed to be fixed. Basically when I mocked up the pvc pipes, a few had threaded connectors going to valves. After the mock up they all came apart and got glued together. I forgot about the loosely threaded ends and a bunch of stuff had to be taken apart to fix this.
 This was also a chance to clean out the tanks which had some kind of scum in them . I was surprised to discover how much undissolved material was in the tank after being in water over a day. Later I would also discover that I need more agitation in this tank.

 Everything was cleaned out and I started a new batch using the "batch" I whipped up earlier. I had to do this because that first batch was light on salt. Earlier I didn't have a way to test the specific gravity or in other words the percentage of salt in the water, but amazon came through for me and delivered my new refractometer as promised. Basically the refractometer looks like a small telescope.

You put a few drops of the saltwater on a lens and then just look into it and read the scale. This unit has a scale in percentage of salt in the water. The goal is to be at 23.3% and it looks like I nailed it on this batch.

 The time it takes me to make one batch seems to be almost double what it takes others as they report online. I'm sure this is due to lack of agitation due to the weaker pool pump we're using. Like I said last week, the pump was free. I have a few ideas for boosting agitation so I think in the end things will be alright. Yesterday afternoon I filled three totes with 250 gallons each of finished product. Is that good or bad? Don't know for sure but this whole endeavor is just an experiment anyway.
 I made a short video of whats happening here. Pretty simple stuff.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Brine Maker

 It snowed last night and I have to get rolling so this post is just a quick pictorial of building a cheap salt brine maker. I'll get into more detail about the process in a future post.

Two 275 gallon totes and a bunch of steel. All laying around the yard so even though they were bought at some point I'm counting their cost as zero.

Keep adding steel.

This reminded me of playing with an erector set when I was a kid.

A cheap pool pump was also hiding in a back shed.

The pvc and plumbing parts were purchased new.

All the plumbing is done.

The green hoses are overflow from that tank.
 There are a lot of examples of this brine maker online. Everyone tweaks this basic design. I did whip up one batch already and we'll talk about that next time.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Workshop Wednesday-Brine Sprayer

 After a number of years saying we were gonna experiment with salt brine for ice control, we are finally doing it. This means we need a way to apply brine and also we need a way to make brine. The making part will come in a future post because we can always buy a tote full of brine for experimenting. We need the means of application and our first goal is to make a machine that will do sidewalks, stairs and door entrances.
 We had this Raven lawn mower that we had to buy back from a customer. Its basically a generator on wheels with electric drive and electric motors on the cutting deck. The problem was getting replacement parts to satisfy the customer. If it breaks again for us we'll just cobble something together to nurse it along. Maybe if our experimenting goes good we can look at a different rig but for now this is it.

 Another goal for this project is to do it on the cheap. We'll be using as much stuff as possible thats just laying around the shop. Lucky for us there's crap everywhere so sourcing parts is easy. The hose reel is from a pressure washer that was scrapped out. 

 Salt brine and electronics don't go well together. After the rear fender section was removed, I used rubber bed mat to enclose as much as possible to keep the brine off. The rest will get oiled down.

 This tank and pump had issues and wasn't being used. I made enough repairs to suit our needs here. The tank and framework its mounted on fold back to gain access to the engine/generator.

 The plan is to be driving down the sidewalk and spraying brine. When we get to a door entrance we can pull the hose from the reel and spray those areas. The reel is obvious here and the single spray "boom" nozzle for the walks is below it.

 There is a switch to power on the pump and this valve to switch between wand and boom. Some of these valves, nozzles and such are all spares from our regular turf sprayers. This week we'll be meeting with an "expert" from our salt and chemical supplier. I think we already have a pretty good idea about how to put the brine down and just need some details on adding other chlorides to our mix and at what rates. The brine maker is about half done at this point and we should be making a batch next week.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sweetness-Day Seven

 Flashback: My last post was all about my resolution to be nicer to others. Its not like I run around being a jerk, I just want to make a special effort to be friendlier. This is one of those things that I should have just kept to myself. It seems if I sway off the path a bit that someone will remind me. No matter, I'll kill em with kindness.
 Being nice isn't hard but why do I feel built up frustration every so often. The other day some jag off passed me with his hemi half ton. He dang near clipped the back of the beemer when he pulled out then wedges himself in my safe following distance of the car I was behind. When he pulled out and passed that car, I followed and blew his doors off. I immediately felt better. He can't pick me out in a lineup so I wasn't really a dickhead, it was just some guy in a bmw.

 I wrote that a little better than ten months ago. Its been sitting as a draft here on Blogger and is a one week follow up to this post, a new year resolution to be nicer. Have I been nicer? A little maybe for some of the year but lately I've tried to be a better example for our niece Stefany that has been staying with us for a couple months now. It seems easier to be less of a dickhead when the goal is being a good role model rather then just not pissing off some stranger.
 I know Stefany thinks she is a burden but nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that trying to set a good example has put me back in a better place mentally and emotionally like when we had our daughters in the house. I think a better part of me left when they did. The last couple years were a free for all as far as my behavior is concerned.

Thanksgiving 2018 is in the books.

 Now before a bunch of coworkers jump on here and tell me my dickheadedness hasn't tapered off one bit, I ask you to look at the gaps between my outbursts and not the outbursts themselves. I lost it the other day when a coworker gave me shit for a big mess of water on the shop floor that came from the ride-on sprayer I'm building. I know it looked like I made the mess but the fact is that is that the boss ran the unit to check out the spray pattern. I could have calmly pointed that out but instead spewed some verbal diarrhea at him and I regret that. Hey, there's no halo and wings here, just some guy trying to get through one day at a time.
 If you're reading this then know that I probably spent a lot of time with my finger on the post button deciding if I should let my guard down. Also know that next time you see a lame post with just a bunch of pics that mean nothing, I'm probably holding back some great poem or prayer that I'm not willing to share with anyone else.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Workshop Wednesday-Pressure Testing

 One of the tools that not all two cycle engine mechanics have in their box is a pressure/vacuum tester. I don't know why because it is vital to diagnosing problems with these little machines. Because the incoming fuel and air charge passes through the crankcase of a two stroke, that crankcase must be sealed and not have any air leaks. These leaks are checked under pressure and vacuum with a tool like this one made by Mityvac.

 To test, we pump up 7 pounds of pressure and see if it holds without losing more than one pound in a minute. A well sealed engine will still be holding that pressure after returning from a lunch break. It will also hold 10 inHg or .33 bar of vacuum. You may think that if it passes one test it will automatically pass the other but that's not always the case. The design of crankshaft seals, with a lip on one side of them, means pressure from the inside of the case with just make them seal tighter and pulling vacuum from inside will allow the lip to give way and let air pass. This was the case the other day when I was working on a saw that was all jacked up with an engine failure in the form of a scored cylinder and piston.
 The first step is to seal all the external holes and ports. The muffler is removed and blocked off with a plate, or a piece of rubber sandwiched between the muffler and cylinder.

 The carb is removed and the intake is blocked off, in this case with special tools.

 The spark plug is removed and our adapter is screwed in place. The mityvac is then connected to the adapter.

 Yes its a lot of dickin around to do these tests but its the only way to do it right. If you're working for a dealer then it has to be done this way for filing warranty claims. It adds a lot of labor time to the repair so it usually only gets done when the repair can't be remedied by other means. This saw came in with a complaint that it wouldn't start. An engine needs fuel, compression and timed ignition so I always look at fuel quality first. Its easy to see if there is fresh mixed fuel without water in the tank. Next I pull the spark plug and take a looksee at the cylinder for signs of scoring. In this case the cylinder and piston were pretty bad.

  This engine wouldn't start because of low compression. The ring was stuck due to metal transfer between the piston and cylinder, causing that low compression. We determined the fuel supply was fresh and had oil in it and we knew the saw was still under warranty so the next step was a pressure test which it passed. When I tried the vacuum test it failed. As mentioned above that points to the crank seals. Pressure tests are checked with soapy water. If there is a leak then you'll see bubbles.

 To confirm a crank seal leak I like to use two cycle oil. I turn the saw on its side and coat the seal with oil before applying vacuum. You'll see the oil disappear as the vacuum gets stronger...

 The problem has been discovered and the repair can begin. Oh I know this is a big yawn fest to most of you but I enjoy it. Teams of engineers designed these engines to run decent and there's no reason an old one can't be repaired to run like new. It's like a puzzle and you just need to figure out which pieces are out of whack. I like puzzles.