Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Take Six

 Last week I made my first attempt at a vlog and if you watched it you know it sucked. I'm fine with that because this isn't something I have to do or am doing to make money. I'm just having fun messing around and to be honest after six years of two posts a week, I'm looking for some ways to change things up.
 Using my phone in the vertical position for that video was really dumb. I just went back and that video was painful to watch. The good news is that for this video I switched to my GpPro5. The bad news is that the audio is terrible and my presentation compounds the problem. I'm learning a lot by making mistakes and I hope some day to make one of these videos that I can be proud of.

 You know one of the things I need to work on is to plan out what I want to say and lay it out in an interesting sequence. That won't happen in this video because at some point I was drawing a blank, didn't have a plan, didn't want to edit a bunch of crap together, and just threw in the towel. I titled this post Take Six because this was the sixth attempt at filming this scene. Once I tripped, once I stepped on my own tongue and another time I stood there with an even stupider look on my face than I normally have. Bear with me while I try to get comfortable doing video, and as always please feel free to comment or offer advice.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

New Workbench Surface

 Thanks for all the feed back on my last post which was a vlog attempt. I'm gonna be doing more video but I have a lot of things to work out. I suppose at some point the best case scenario might be every other post being a video. Unfortunately for you, there will be some crap video and experimenting long before there is anything good. Maybe one of you out there can suggest a free easy to use but full function video editor. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming:

 At work one of my primary jobs is chainsaw repair and the bench surface I've been working on is just a piece of OSB board similar to particle board. As a work surface this totally sucks. It isn't durable, soaks up oils and gives me slivers under my nails every time I go to pick up a small part. I've been wanting to upgrade and finally took the time when the boss offered up some sheet plastic that was left over from a dump truck bed liner. My vision isn't getting any better and the bright white surface works great for spotting small parts and really helps me see what I'm doing. The following job was one of the first repairs done on the new work top. So far I like it.
 A while back I was prepping a new saw for a customer. I poured bar oil in the tank and the work bench started filling up with oil. Further inspection revealed a crack in the oil tank. Not sure if it happened at the factory or at our shop but it needed to be fixed. Unfortunately the oil tank is part of the engine shroud which is the piece everything else is bolted to.

 The broke ass saw on the left, the replacement engine shroud on the right. Pretty obvious that everything has to come apart.

  A view of the other side with the clutch removed.

 Muffler and oil pump removed. Oil feed hose and bar stud swapped directly onto new shroud.

 Here is a close look at the damage. Someone dropped this saw before it had a bar on it.

 Heres what works for me to remove screw-in bar studs. I screw a larger Stihl style bar nut on first then jam a smaller Husky style nut against it. Now I can easily use a wrench or socket to run the stud out (and back in).

 Starter cover and handle isolation springs were next. This white surface is really nice to work on. 

 The air filter, carb and fuel lines, and ignition wiring are all removed. This job is so much easier being a clean brand new saw. 

 Intake boot, spark plug and the bolts holding the shroud to the engine are all removed.

 The engine can now be removed from the shroud and the whole process gets followed in reverse. Its easy for me to see that no screws are left on the bench although I can't say if any rolled onto the floor. Maybe I should paint the floor white?

 Echo allows 1.3 hours labor for this repair. I came in at about 1.5 hours but its hard to be certain. There are no one hour blocks of time when there are no interruptions so I'm just guessing. I know I can get that number down now that I've been in this model once plus if I ever do it again I probably won't be taking pictures. The work top is a big success and I now wish I'd have done it sooner. One thing not seen in these pics is the right side of the work top near my tool box. I left a 2" overhang and drilled a series of holes so I can store commonly used tools. Its really made a difference in the cleanliness of my work area. I know the guys at the shop will laugh at this but I'm making an effort to clean up my work space. We'll see how that goes.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019


 In my last post I hinted toward a vlog post. If I do this again I'll probably use a camera other than my phone and maybe loosen up with the narration. Check it out:

Let me know if you'd like to see more videos or if I should not bother charging my GoPro batteries.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Locker Lights

 The other day I got a phone call from the local Harbor Freight store telling me my side locker was in. I said thats odd because I was sitting here looking at it. There was some confusion on the other end of the line but I explained that I paid for and walked out of the store with the locker on the same visit. I wonder how often they give away stuff that the customers already have?
 Anyway, today we will look at adding lights to my side locker.

 I bought the led lights a few days before they came around and upgraded the shop lights in my bay. Sure I can see into the locker but its dark in the back half of the shelves. The closest thing I have to "cat like" vision is when last week I accidentally stepped on the cat in a low lit room. In my defense, Olivers cat like reactions are getting pretty dim as well.

 The kit is 13 feet of adhesive led tape, a power supply and on/off/dimmer switch. I also added a proximity sensor so the lights will come on when the door is opened.

 I wanted the lights to illuminate all shelves and to get the led tape across the bottom I decided to add a piece of steel that the lights can hide in as they cross the bottom shelf. I've seen videos of tool boxes where guys have added these lights and it looks like shit when you can actually see the light or if its shining back into your face.

 A little modifying was necessary to allow clearance for the lights where they pass the shelves.

 I should have taken the above pic with the led's off. Its just showing the clearance between the shelf bracket and shelf.

 That little black plastic angle piece on the door passes under the proximity sensor when the door is closed and that shuts off the lights.

 The end result looks pretty good. There is reflection from the lights but you can't actually see any of them. I suppose I could add a matt finish to the walls to reduce glare or just wait till I have more stuff in there. I post a lot of projects on this blog and this simple job is one of my favorites. Not because there was a lot of thought or difficulty involved but because I feel the end result far exceeded my expectations. Clean, simple, big results, plus I'm a sucker for bright lights, shiny stuff and gadgets.
 The other half of this project was adding a power strip to the back of the hutch. Its needed for the locker lights and future additions to the box. The pure genius in this purchase was ordering a snack on Amazon along with the power strip. This way when I opened the box of parts at the shop I also had some wasabi nuts to munch on. This will be a practice I plan to continue in future purchases.

 The wire coming out of the locker is for the lights I just installed. In this shot you can see the 26 is sitting on the slide out shelf I built in last weeks blog.

 The fact that the hutch isn't as deep as the bottom chest is ok. If I park this rig against a wall the power strip is recessed enough that the plugs won't interfere or get crushed.
 I took some video footage during this session of another little project. I've only done video editing a few times and I'm not sure how this will turn out or even if I'll get it done before Wednesday but stay tuned for my attempt at vlogging.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Tool Box Shelf

 In my last post I hinted toward making a slide out shelf under the 26" box, in part to raise the box flush with the locker and also for the functionality of the thing. Three pieces of angle iron and two small straps were all the steel that was needed but of course they had to be cut just right.

 This is the space I'm working with and the three pieces of angle cut to size.

 Before welding the pieces together I decided to tap the sides to accept the slide rails.

 This is a test fit. You may notice the right side isn't flush with the locker. That piece of chrome trim on the 72 hinders slide operation so I had to move this shelf project to the left a bit. I could have easily modified that trim but this actually works in my favor as you'll see in a future post.

 To keep the shelf from tipping forward I added these two straps on the back side. Relying on the weight of the 26 to hold the shelf in place seemed like a bad idea. The above pic is also shows the added depth of the new tool boxes compared to the hutch. That wasted space behind the hutch won't be a waste at all and fits into my plan nicely as you'll see in a future post. Oh I bet you're just sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens.

 After painting the newly made shelf bracket I attached the slide rails. The red paint is left over from the hutch project so at least I know I'm not adding a third shade of red to the ensemble.

 I had originally planned to just use a cheap hunk of pressed board with a piece of shower stall plastic as a top. My boss is an experienced wood worker and I suck at it. When I asked him for advice he offered me a piece of counter top that had been occupying the corner of his shed for five years. Its double thick 3/4" so there would be just, and I mean just, enough room to squeeze it in there. I had some options on how deep to cut the counter top but the width had to be exact. I was close but initially cut it one blade width too big. That little battery powered Makita saw works so sweet and made that second cut a breeze, even for a hack like me.

 This is what it looks like before mounting the 26. You can see that the counter top couldn't be any thicker and that I had to leave a gap on the right side next to the locker.

  Here is the completed shelf. I finished work at noon and by 4pm my wife had called wondering how late I would be. I told her I needed about half an hour yet. Four and a half hours putzing on this project isn't bad considering the only real "plan" I had was that I planned on doing it. In fact in my head the angle iron was flipped the other way. I now have a 20" deep by 24" wide table top surface that I know will get a lot of use. The slides I chose are rated at 100 pounds and seem sturdy enough. I still have to add a strap or handle to open it but haven't decided on a design yet.

 This is how it looks when everything is closed and locked up. I like that the tops are flush and I don't think I'm bothered by the different color of the counter top although I reserve the right to change that in the future.
 Stay tuned for more tool box mods.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Even More New Toolbox!

 I showed you my new 72" toolbox and the hutch I made that sits on it. I then showed you the 26" top box that I added to the mix. Now I'm going to show you the side locker addition.

 I had a locker that I sold with the old setup but that was a Series 1 locker and was not as deep as the new boxes. The addition of this locker really frees things up for me. I'm not using it for hanging clothes like I did with the old locker. I'm using it for storing bigger cases and tool kits that don't fit in regular tool box drawers. This could be all the bigger I need to go as long as I stay in this line of work with varied repairs on smaller equipment. Notice how I left the possibility of going bigger? I know my wife did. In an earlier post I mentioned that the different styles of boxes didn't bother me but now that I see the locker on there I want to make an adjustment. It looks like the locker is hanging too high because the bottom isn't even with the 72 but thats how the mounting bracket lines up. The top is level with the hutch and I have a plan to clean up the bottom of the locker but for now we'll deal with the 26" box.

  When I'm sitting in front of the hutch using the laptop, I often print out paperwork for reports or billing. I need a flat writing surface and place to stack those papers temporarily. In the pic above I drew a blue line to show how I want to raise the 26 to be flush with the locker and hutch. The blue square under the box represents where I want to put a slide out tabletop that will raise and support that box. That tabletop will also offer a place to set down tool cases that I pull out of the locker. I suppose it could also be used as a work surface. It just occurred to me that I should make this work surface big enough for an Automower but I'm not sure if thats possible. (short mental pause while I work out the idea of a fold out top) It seems like a simple enough project that could pay off big in terms of functionality.
 The yellow lines represent a gap between the hutch and top box. Right now I just have a box of bitch mittens stuffed in there but they could be stored anywhere. I'm still in the idea stage but I'm thinking about building some kind of slide out rack. This rack could possibly have a flat side that faces the computer hutch and have space for work orders. The deeper side might have bins for nuts, bolts or maybe consumables like sealers, tape and glue. I only have about three inches to work with so there will be some limitations on what I can do.
 I'm using the big bottom drawer of the 72 incher as a dresser drawer. Its full of clothes. If I ever need that drawer for tools I figure I can build a storage cabinet over the hutch. The clothes are not accessed often because its stuff like rain gear, sweatshirts, hats, gloves and the like. Because I look back at this blog for notes on projects I need to add this thought. Any storage cabinet on the hutch and locker should be tall enough to just clear the lid of the 26 when its open. A future overhang with lighting and speakers would be cool. The boss won't build a wall to separate me from the rest of the shop so I might as well build one out of tool boxes.
 I like these Harbor Freight US General tool boxes. Sure the big name brand boxes are fun to look at but I wouldn't want to have to pay for one. Even the new Harbor Freight Icon branded boxes are too high priced for me. Would all the fancy features be nice? You bet. Can I modify these boxes enough to keep myself happy? You know I can.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

It Was Nineteen Years Ago Yesterday...

 ...when I hit a deer with my motorcycle. That little incident earned me a week in the hospital. You can read all about it here.
 I spent a good part of yesterdays work day thinking about if I wanted to go for a ride that evening. When I got home the sun was shining and the temperature was in the mid sixties so I was leaning towards going. After dinner the amount of time the sun would still be up was diminishing fast so I was leaning towards just saying to hell with a ride and chill in my lazyboy. What happened next was that my phone chimed at me. The special tone it made told me it was an automower in distress. I looked at the app and sure enough one of the units in Berlin was down. Now I had an excuse to go for a ride and set aside the fear of hitting another forest rat. I really feel that if I hadn't gone, that the deer would be the winners and forever scare me from riding at night. I don't want to say that I faced my fears because I don't fear deer but the idea of hitting one again does make me a bit nervous. Obviously I worked myself up thinking about it all day and any other day I'd just throw a leg and ride.

 As it turns out I didn't see anything with four legs during this fifty mile ride. Birds, bugs and bats were all that were on the menu last night. I've hit all of those and don't fear hitting another although scraping bat remains off a bike is kinda disgusting.


Sunday, October 6, 2019


 This blog has pretty much just been a series of ramblings that mean nothing to anyone else. You won't find political or religious viewpoints, current event opinions or much of anything that will stir the pot. At one point you could find some tech tips but I haven't posted anything like that in a long time. As far as ride reports go well I haven't been anywhere in a while. I've considered backing off from two weekly posts to one but I don't want to give up that little piece of real estate I own in the back of your brain. Sucks to be you.
 Normally I thumb through my phone and look for pics to remind me of the weeks activities and look for something blog worthy. I'll post some of that but first a few observations of things that are not pics in my phone. The first is SiriusXM which my subscription now allows me to listen to online. I know a lot of people refuse to pay for music but I really enjoy this service. I've been listening to a lot of the comedy channels but also the oldies channels like Classic Vinyl. This is music I grew up with and still enjoy. I can sing along (when no one is in ear shot) because the lyrics are pretty much clearly spoken and all the words used can actually be found in the dictionary. Some of the new music I hear on the radio at work is ok but the radio stations ruin it for me by playing the same tunes four times an hour. I don't even want to hear my favorite jams that often.
 Teens working a drive through window. OMG. To all store managers please remember that these kids are the face of your business. When their stupidity pisses off a customer, that customer doesn't rush back to do business in your store. Maybe a little screening during the job interview is in order so you know where they need help. My suggestions are as follows: Ask potential employee to grab two ranch dressing condiments and bring them to you. I'm sure the results of this one simple test will be quite varied. Now ask them to read the names of some of the things on the menu. Big Mac is easy but see what happens when they get to balsamic vinaigrette. Now ask them to make change for a dollar. Any mix of coins will be fine. The results of these tests should clue you in on how pissed off they will make customers.
 Now on to the phone pics. The first one struck me as having some kind of comedic potential but I can't seem to come up with anything. Its two upside down automowers in the back seat of a little shit box car. What I was thinking when I took the pic escapes me.

 The next pic was at work when three of us were playing scrap metal can Jenga. The game started when someone pointed out how freaking lazy people can be. Rather than deal with a full can they will balance stuff up till they can't get any more on the pile. Oh btw, I didn't lose the game and didn't have to clean up the mess the game created when the pile fell.

 The final pic is of a note that was handed to me when I was paged to pic up line three.

 A customer that had an automower installed by us had some questions. I guess she wanted to talk to me. Now don't get me wrong, this is not a dig on the tall one. This is my badge of honor for all the time I've spent learning about automowers. Someone noticed and wanted to ask me a few questions. The tall one knows as much or more about these units on the installation end of things but I may have the edge on the technical end. He also has a little ammo if he wants to fire back like the time we spent twenty minutes trying to calibrate a guide wire. Turns out I forgot to hook it up to the charging pad.
Its all good.


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Brick And Mortar Shopping

 Not a lot of interesting gear head type of things happened to me in the last few days since my previous post. Its been just an average couple of days with its ups and downs. The other day we went to Oshkosh and did a little shopping and a funny thing happened. We went to Harbor Freight tools and my wife spent more money than I did. Not because I'm not capable of dreaming up stuff I think I need but because I went in there with a list. We split up while I looked for my stuff and when we met back up she had more crap than I did. Atta girl.
 Later we saw a USCellular store and made a quick decision to pay off one of the phones on our plan. Almost never is going to the phone store a rewarding financial experience. We had a goal to lower our bill and one of the ways to do that was to drop the phone insurance. The phones are more than a year old so they're like ancient technology and a recent insurance claim on our daughters phone proved to us that it may be a good idea to insure them while brand new but after a short period of time its not worth it. Somehow some rocket scientist store clerk changed our phone plan during that insurance claim. They added something to our outdated plan and if I knew who did it I'd have words with them. The clerk we were dealing with on this day put us under a new plan and our monthly bill is almost a hundred dollars less now. As with all phone store transactions, I won't get too excited about it till I see our next bill.
 Another stop we made was to the shoe store. My wife was looking for some better work shoes and I wanted some sneakers, black please. Guess what? Shoes these days are all jacked up. Finding a simple black comfortable sneaker wasn't easy and when you do, theres a company logo splashed all over them. I finally found a compromise I think I can live with.
 The last store we stopped at was a large brick and mortar box store that is closing. Are they an Amazon victim? Maybe just too much store for too small of an area? Not sure but we stopped in for a few things and to see if we could find a deal. If I can shop local and pay a fair price thats great but sadly it wasn't gonna happen this day. A couple weeks ago my wife made a purchase of an item for $8. She figured it would be cheaper now that everything was closeout priced. Guess what. They went through and marked everything up before offering the new discount. The same item was now $12. We started looking around and most everything was priced this way. We left our partially filled cart in the aisle and walked out. That evening I went on Amazon and bought exactly what I was looking for and it only took minutes to find it. Guess what? Yesterday it was on my door step.