Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020 Overview

 2020 sucked and I don't need to tell you why. Despite the high level of suckiness I did have a productive year. A lot of us did because we found ourselves laid off and working on our project lists. I scrolled back through the blog and made a list of some of the things I accomplished this year. Heres a condensed version:

 I built tool boxes. There were three major builds on my toolbox ensemble and two of them were this year. Of course there were a lot of posts about those builds and continued modifications.

 Grandpas table saw got a much needed rebuild. It was one of those things that needed to be done decades ago but just kept getting pushed off.

 I built a much over due parts cabinet that puts all the hardware I own in one location. Its really nice being able to look in one spot for something instead of ten different possible spots. If its not in the parts cabinet then I don't have one and can quit looking elsewhere. Think about it. How many times have you spent twenty minutes looking for a particular screw or nut or rivet? I bet this will gain me a month of free time over the rest of my life. Ya, my mess was bad so at least a month.

 I finally gussied up our front porch. New posts, paint and such. I painted all the exterior doors. I replaced all the screen doors. I painted the roof. I painted all the soffit, fascia and trim. I replaced some siding on the garage and painted the whole thing as well. Oh and I seal coated the driveway too.

 I remodeled the garage. This project started with two new garage doors and morphed into a full blown makeover. Insulation, walls, ceiling, floor paint...the whole works. This is another one of those projects I should have done thirty years ago but who has the time?

 I posted a video on the 5 stages of shop rags and another about a stolen motorcycle.

 Speaking of videos, In October of 2019 I posted my first regular Sunday blog with a video attached so in 2020 I completed my first full year of 52 videos for a total of 63. I still haven't become comfortable in front of the camera but have no plans to quit filming. In fact, I enjoy making the videos more than writing this blog so if Blogger ever goes away I guess I'm set up with a venue I'm ok with.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Side Locker Bumper

  I was messing around with the big ass toolbox again and came up with another project. This time it was a bumper to help protect the side locker cabinet. In a busy shop, anything you can do to protect the toolbox is a worthwhile effort.

Check it out:


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

It Takes All Kinds...

 ...Of people to make the world go 'round. At work we get our fair share of examples of some very odd varieties. I went through my phone and picked out a large sampling of oddities but decided to limit myself to just one for this post. 

 It started out innocent enough. The complaint was that the recoil handle jerked out of his hand while trying to start the machine, breaking the rope. He was mumbling about warranty. I think when people talk to the counter staff they think they can say whatever they want because the staff isn't smart enough to know the difference. The truth is that they know plenty and many times when I pull a work order they'll warn me about "special customers".

 When I got this particular saw the first thing I noticed was that the recoil rope he used was too thin in diameter. It was also way too short. The next thing I noticed was that this saw was neglected and had probably never been serviced or even blown out. It needed a tuneup and then maybe some of that rope pulling could be kept to a minimum.  

 I cleaned it up and did some basic maintenance along with repairing the recoil. When I called to tell him the saw was ready for pickup the only thing he was concerned about was the recoil. Something must be wrong with it because the handle kept pulling off the rope. He stated he put three knots in the rope and the only way the handle could come off was if something was wrong with the saw. He was expecting a new rewind assembly free of charge and when I told him I just replaced the rope he about lost his mind. 

 "How many knots did you use"?


"What? Thats not gonna work. I had three knots in that rope and it still pulled through the handle". (as seen in the pic above. I saved the rope as a reminder)

Sir I'm confident in the repair. You should be all set to cut some wood.

"I'm not happy about this. What happens if I pay for this and it breaks again"?

I explained that he was putting undo stress on the starter mechanism because the saw was lacking in maintenance. Thats why the rope broke the first time. The rope was so short it would come to the end of its length before the pull was over, thus jerking the handle out of his hand. I also told him we would be happy to go over maintenance with him when he picked up the saw and that if it broke again we would stand behind our work and fix it free.

"But I had three knots in the rope and it still pulled through".

This went back and forth a few times and I didn't know if I could hold back. Here was a grown ass man with a drivers license and a job. Probably even raised some kids. How could he not figure this out? I took a deep breath and found an opening in his verbal rampage to tell him this: 

Sir I saw what you did. You put three knots in a row. Because you chose a rope that was too small in diameter the handle pulled through the first knot and there was no reason why it wouldn't pull through the second and third knot because the knots are all the same diameter. We use a special recoil knot thats much bigger in diameter. I'm sure the repair will hold.

I guess he just needed to know he was getting the "special" knot because he came and got the saw weeks ago and I haven't heard back from him. BTW, there really is a special knot but I'm not authorized to reveal its secrets.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Office Slide Out Doohickey Thingamajobber

  Like the title says, this weeks video is about the office slide out doohickey thingamajobber. Hey, you got a better name?

Check it out:


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Fixing Damaged Threads

  Working on chainsaws and other small 2 cycle engines means I deal with a lot of soft lightweight materials like aluminum and plastic. Because I deal with them every day I have a pretty good feel for when a screw is tight enough but not all my customers have that same feel. I get a lot of people that think "crank it till it strips then back off a quarter turn" is a real thing. They then bring it to me and ask if it can be saved. Pretty much all stripped threads can be saved but a lot of times the deal breaker is the amount of labor it takes to restore the threads. Is the bolt broke off in the threads? If so is the broken face flat so drilling is possible? Is the bolt exposed or recessed? Did the bolt vibrate out and leave a sloppy hole? All of these things require a different method of repair. 

 The following repair came across my bench yesterday. One bolt was holding the muffler on and the other was broke off just below the deck surface. A lot of times these bolts can be walked out by drilling a hole and using an "easy out" extractor. Some times a left handed drill bit is all thats needed. In this case it appears the bolt was cranked tight against the bottom of a blind hole and would need to be drilled.

 Don't adjust your picture. The saw was laying on its side on the bench. The upper muffler bolt hole is our concern.

 I taped the exhaust port to keep debris out of the engine. I center punched the bolt shank as best I could.

 The next step is to drill a nice straight hole through the bolt. I like to start with a small bit and work my way up.

 At this point I did try an easy out extractor just to see if the bolt would move but it was tighter than a camels butt in a sand storm. The answer would be to either drill it to size for a tap or drill it for a thread insert. Thread inserts have worked well for me.

spiral extractor

"Perma-coil" thread insert kit

Our new threads

 The kit requires drilling to a specific size depending on the insert being used. That hole is then tapped for the insert. Next the insert is put in a special holder that is held against the top of the hole while being turned in. Its all pretty easy.

 That blue piece is the holder and a driver runs through it turning our insert. Below is the finished results.

  "Why not just drill and tap for the next larger size bolt"? Sometimes that works but in this case a larger bolt would not have fit through the muffler.
These kits work pretty well and make a permanent repair for the original size bolt. The steel insert holds up better than the original aluminum threads and the only time I see come backs is on some sketchy spark plug thread repairs that probably shouldn't have been done in the first place but the owners felt any attempt at more run time was worth the effort.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Hidden Toolbox Storage

  If you've followed any of my videos then you probably know my work toolbox is a bit like Frankenstein's monster. It has bits and pieces from many sources but it all kinda fits together. Kinda. Todays video addresses a two inch gap that has been bothering me.

Check it out:


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Time To Vent

  No I'm not pissy about anything and don't need to get anything off my chest. This post is actually about vents. You know, an aperture that allows the movement of air. Just go with the flow and follow along.

 I'm storing the Ultra in my enclosed trailer and last year at some point I opened the door and noticed the bike was sweating. I don't think it was because he got caught looking at pictures of curvy roads but rather he was a victim of condensation due to differences in air temp between the inside and outside of the trailer. I told myself I'd vent the trailer for this year and did just that.

 Do I need a power vent or just a couple of grated openings? I turned to the internet for some answers and found a range of opinions that left me with more questions than before I began this project. I finally decided the right thing to do was add a pair of waterproof vents that would allow a cross flow of air in the trailer. I also decided to get a small fan to help move things along. The fan is a heavy duty project fan like you find in a desktop PC console.

 First I needed to drill a couple three inch holes in the sides of the trailer walls. Those holes were then filled with the grate that came with the two piece vents.

 The outer piece keeps the rain out. It was caulked and screwed to the outside over each grate.

 I already had power running to the trailer for the trickle charger so I just ran a power cord to one vent where I'd install the fan. 

 Ya I know its not a very neat job of routing the wires so lets just keep it between me, you and the rest of the internet.

 The finished project looks fine from the outside. 

At first I didn't know if that little fan would make any difference but it sure seems to move a lot of air. I'll be sure to check in on the bike more often this winter and see if my efforts were worthwhile.


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Will It Fit?

  Now that I have a snowplow on the front of the big ass station wagon I sure would like to be able to park the combination in the garage. I also want to be able to mount and dismount the blade while its in there.

Todays video answers the question "will it fit"?


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The Big Reach

  Project ideas come and go. As I stumble through life I manage to dream up a lot of projects that are just fun or maybe a learning experience or an exploration. The best projects are the ones that fulfill a need and lately I've been struggling with "the big reach". The big reach may also involve crawling on my knees or jumping to the ground. What am I talking about? 

 If the picture doesn't explain it then I will. Reaching from the liftgate toward the front of the truck for an object just out of reach can be difficult. With my last truck I used a broom to drag things to the rear. My 50+ pound toolbox won't drag on carpet and anyway I should be smart enough to come up with a better way. 

 Bed slides are the answer. In fact bedslide may be a brand name of a truck bed insert that is on rails and just pulls out allowing access to the entire load. I need one of these in my life to save my aching knees. Because I'm a gearhead on a budget I can avoid the $1500+ investment of a store bought unit and just build exactly what I want. 

 The absolute cheapest way to build one is to just let it slide on the carpet. The problem with that is you can only pull it halfway out before it will want to tip forward. Thats a fail when I consider some goals I've set which include:

-Full extension slides so the furthest back pieces on the deck slide out to the tail gate.

-Low deck height. I don't want to build a slide system that ends up raising the deck height more than 4" off the existing carpet.

-Use of available material. I'm struggling with this one.

-Low cost, after all I'm a gearhead on a budget.

-The possibility of a stow away ramp

-Easy removal. I don't want this to be so permanent that replacing the third row seating isn't an option. 

 Ideas come and go and often get revisited. I'm not sure what the trigger is but sometimes a rerun idea just gets stuck in my head and the only way out is to build it. A bed slide is stuck in my head so stay tuned for updates on this project.