Sunday, November 29, 2020

Big Ass Station Wagon Gets A Snowplow

  Yep, I'm sick of working twelve plus hour shifts plowing snow at work just to have to fire up a snow blower when I get home and clear my own drive. Sure I'll have to put my big boy pants on and clear the walks if I get to them before my wife does but I'm ok with that. We sell a couple brands of snowplows at work and I was able to make a deal on a non-current blade that we had left over. This was really the only way I would have ever considered the purchase of a plow because I only plan to do my own drive and it will never earn any money to pay for itself.

 The video covers the install process and what had to be done to make it work on a lifted truck. As for the blade itself, it seems well built for a homeowner grade blade. If it gives me grief I'm not too worried because I have access to a torch and welder and have plenty experience building mounts for heavier equipment like tractors.
 Check it out:


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Photo Dump

  Nothing interesting to report so today I'll do another photo dump from my phone. Why I save some of these pics is beyond me.

 This first pic is of an Oreo cookie. I'm sure these are assembled by a machine but what kind of flipping and flopping around of these cookie halves is going on over there? I pay a premium price for a supposedly premium cookie and expect them assembled correctly despite the fact that they taste just the same no matter how assembled. I'm sure theres an inspector that ensures each creamy filling has two halves no matter how they are oriented. Send it! They'll eat it...and I did.

 The next pic is proof that you should always expect the unexpected. I mean really, who would think you could break a half inch drill bit with a battery powered drill. This broke purely with Chubby Checker twist action. None of that Elvis hip shakin led to this failure.

 As a dealer mechanic I see a lot of warranty claims and also a lot of claims that have nothing to do with warranty. What I mean is that we often get a customer that brings their broke ass equipment in along with their proof of purchase expecting a free repair. A lot times its easy to show the customer what they did wrong. When called out on it they always say that they lent it to a neighbor and this is how they got it back. I give them a bill, they bitch, I tell them to get their neighbor to pony up some cash. 

 I want to take a moment to say that there are still some good people in the world. Every so often a "neighbor" will bring in a piece of equipment he borrowed and screwed up. Usually these people just want to make it right no matter the cost and I do what I can to keep those costs down. 

Handheld blower with nylon stocking wrapped
 around crankshaft end. Not a warranty claim.

 The next shot is also from a handheld blower I believe. Its for reference only. Look close at the black plastic crankcase cover.

 Heres a closer look. It took me a few minutes to realize what had happened here. There is a hole worn completely through that cover. How could the crank travel that far over to hit the cover? Well it can't but if the press fit crank pin is no longer a press fit then it could slide over and cut through that cover. You can see the rod bearing through the hole that was created. This repair was a warranty claim.

 Concrete saws and chainsaws work in dirty environments. If you neglect air filter maintenance then you can expect to trash the equipment. This $1200 saw is a parts donor now because someone assembled the air filter on wrong.

 Last time I sealed my driveway I used a squeegee to spread the sealer and used four five gallon buckets. This year I planned on using a brush so I bought and extra bucket. I should have bought two extra buckets. Missed it by Thaaaat much.

 As I write this I'm sitting in my recliner wearing headphones and listening to my favorite jams while tipping back a cool one. My decision to do a weekly video is a whole lot more work. Coming up with an idea, setting up the shot, lighting, audio, not sounding like a total dork, editing and posting all add up to a lot of time invested. This was a pic I snapped during the last video. When I was done shooting I had to clean it all up and pull the car back into the garage. Is it worth it? I don't get paid for youtube videos so the only worth is the enjoyment I get from doing it. When it stops being fun then you'll stop seeing videos.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Automower Storage Tips

   Besides fixing chainsaws, weed wackers, blowers and being an all around great guy, I also work on robotic lawn mowers. Todays video is a walk through of what a homeowner needs to do to prepare their automower for storage. If you don't own an automower then this one might be a yawn fest for you. On the other hand you might actually learn something.


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

New Skins

  Finding material for this blog can sometimes be difficult but I suppose anytime you drop a grand on tires its worth talking about. In truck terms $1000 isn't much for decent tires but I don't own a truck. I own a wannabe truck that takes the shape of a big ass station wagon. Actually I've been really happy with the Yukon XL and should have bought one of these a long time ago.

 Two years ago I put a 3.5" lift on the Yukon. It took that long for the tires to wear out and now it was finally due for new skins. Originally I was looking at a mud terrain tire. Partially to deal with deep snow and partially cuz they look bad ass. The practical side of me knew mud terrains weren't a wise choice but I kept on pricing them. I was considering a low cost set of tires that would not have lasted very long but would have been "cool". Along with cool you usually get noisy, hard to balance and poor handling.

 I said deep snow earlier. I plow snow at work and I have to drive twenty miles to get there, If I'm doing that at 1am then theres a fair chance the roads are crap. Many times the county has pulled the plow trucks earlier in the evening and I still have to figure out how to get there without ditching it. One tow truck call could easily cost more than the difference in price between cheap tires and decent ones.

 There are a few tires out there I've always wanted to try. BFG mud terrains are one of them and I put some on that blue Dodge I had last. They were good from a traction standpoint but were noisy and handled crappy. Cooper Discoverer STT is another tire I want to try but I couldn't find the right size for the big ass station wagon. The General Grabber ATX is something I've seen around and when possible I've asked the owners how they like 'em. I always got a positive answer so when our local tire distributor said he could get them for the same price as the best internet price I found, well I said ok.

 James and I mounted the tires last Saturday. They balanced well without too much weight needed. They handle well on the road and are only slightly noisy. Actually the most noise I heard was when one of the front tires was rubbing on my mud flap. I went one size taller than stock and had to take an angle grinder with sanding disc to that mud flap. All is better now. With a 60,000 mile rating and an aggressive all terrain tread pattern I think I'll be happy with these tires.

 I seem to get more practical as I age. I'm not sure if I'm ok with that but we'll just roll with it for a while and see how it plays out.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Up Valve Break Down

  Not long ago I showed you some work I was doing on my Harley. The air ride suspension was having problems with moisture and I added a water separator. Theres still water in the system and the other day it fouled my "up valve" again.

 We had some wonderful weather last weekend and this video was taken during a sunny, 70 degree November day in central Wisconsin.


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Raising Sodium Levels

  Not long ago I showed you a John Deere tractor that was getting a v-blade put on the front of it. That same tractor now has a drop spreader on the back. The problem in the past has always been that there isn't enough capacity for salt in the hopper and the operators are carrying extra bags in the cab, on the fenders and even strapped to the hood. Theres no doubt they are gonna haul the extra weight so we decided to just try to get that needed capacity in the hopper itself. This is a plan that will surely back fire as we've taken the rated capacity of the three point hitch and added 10% assuming John Deere must certainly have a fudge factor built into their numbers to please the lawyers. I have a vision of the hopper being filled up AND the extra bags being loaded on the tractor which would most likely end up resulting in broken parts. The mentality seems to be we should crank on it till it strips and then back off a quarter turn. Once we know the limits we can work within them. In an effort to minimize damage to the machine I'm trying to arrange staging pallets of bagged salt near the work site but what I'd really like to do is stage bulk salt. Anyway, this isn't about stashing salt around town where it won't grow legs and disappear. Its about a lift kit on a salt spreader. Here is what we are starting with:

 That white piece of plastic is the stuff used to line dump truck beds so crap slides out better. Its 1/2" thick and quite rigid.

 We used a torch to heat the plastic enough to bend it. Some bends were heated in place and others on the bench. Once heated enough to bend, the plastic retained its heat and flexibility for a long time. Once cooled it was permanently set in that shape.

 We needed ten feet but only had eight. This meant an extra seam.

 Those seams were made of steel and we used them to tie a cross brace front to rear. Strength won't be an issue. Here is the finished project.

 As a joke I drew a "fill line" inside the hopper only about an inch above the stock fill height.

 I guess the joke is on me. When I saw the operator looking in the hopper I thought he was just discovering my attempt at humor. Actually, he had his own sharpie and was making some adjustments.


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Tool BOX Tour

 Now that I've split this blog into what you see here and a YouTube channel, it seems I have two separate audiences. Many of the followers on YouTube are gear heads and into tools. So am I so you'll continue to see videos like this. I've done a bunch of individual videos on the tool box build and to be honest I'd like to do a lot more but for now I just wanted to do a single video that included most of the features I've built into this project.

 I capitalized the word BOX because this video isn't about whats inside. Its about the box itself. Its true the tools inside are what makes the money so building much of the box myself and saving some coin helps fill the box with goodies. Check it out:


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

New Sidewalk Tractor Update

  Last week I showed you a video about our new John Deere 2025R that we are tooling up for a sidewalk snow and ice rig. If you remember, the blade mount was complete but the blade didn't sit level. Here you see the blade attached to the tractor in a fresh set of mount holes.

 It was as easy as moving the bottom hole on the mount to the top hole on the tractor and then adding a new set of lower holes on the mount.

 I say drilling six holes in 3/8 steel was easy because it really was effortless. If you look closer you'll notice that there is a mag drill inside the pocket of that mount.

 If you're not familiar then I'll explain. This drill is like a mini drill press. The base is an electro-magnet. Line up the bit with your marked hole, flip the switch and the magnet is activated. Its a strong magnet and it takes a bit of stupidity to run into a problem. The bit is not a typical drill bit but rather an annular cutter. These things eat steel quicker than an unsupervised fat kid can tear through a bag of halloween candy. I look for excuses to use this tool just because I like how well it works.

 When building a rig for a specific task there are usually certain dimensions that it has to meet. We drove it out to the city sidewalk to see how it fit. The look on my bosses face was the same one I've seen in the mirror after getting off the scale during the holidays. Too big and needs to downsize. Our V-blade didn't meet the needs of our sidewalk tractor because sidewalks are 48" wide and this thing was well over 50" even in the V position. This meant it would either peel sod back or ride up on frozen turf. Neither situation is acceptable so we set out to narrow the size of the blade. Besides the width on a sidewalk we needed to consider that this rig will be used at a factory where a building borders one sidewalk edge in many places. The issue there might be less obvious but without going into great detail it has to do with scraping a new tractor with glass doors along a brick building. If the blade is too narrow the tractor gets too close to the building. Once we came up with a compromised size the next step was to start disassembling and cutting. I'm not sure what Dan was grinding here but it seemed like a good spot for an action shot.

 In this shot you can see how much we narrowed the blades. 

 To just say we narrowed the blade is an understatement. We reused everything on that cut off piece and welded it back on to create a factory look. Double the amount of cussing you think it took because there were two blades that got narrowed. Also, this is a trip-edge blade meaning the lowest piece you see in the pic (with the holes in it) is hinged and controlled by that spring. Bottom was a lot of dickin around to get it all back together.

 I make it sound worse than it really was. Four of us did different tasks whenever we had some extra time to kill. Its not the way I normally like to do these things but its a great way to give guys experience in projects like this so they might do it on their own some day.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

New Sidewalk Rig

 At work we do snow plowing and we run a few sidewalk tractors. Last year we needed a second rig and the boss put up his Polaris Ranger. The Ranger is a nice utility vehicle but it doesn't make a good sidewalk machine. Tractors work best so this year he picked up a new John Deere 2025R. The machine needs to be tooled up for our purposes and thats a job I really enjoy.