Friday, September 21, 2012

Success (At last)

This latest problem has been one of my most challenging. It was one of those situations where a simple job turned into a nightmare job in the tiny twist of a wrench.

Almost everybody who enjoys turning wrenches will, at one point or another, twist the head off a pesky little bolt. I know I've done it. Four times spring to mind without thinking too hard. This one was the fourth. This one, however, was the trickiest of them all. To be perfectly honest, I've never fixed these before. They were all in places that I could live with letting it slide. This one, on the other hand, crippled my motorcycle. One tiny little broken screw ensured that the motorcycle was garage bound.

The normal procedure in situations like this is to drill out the stuck screw. Sometimes the screw comes out when you do this, but if you're unlucky, like me, you'll just have to drill it out all the way and tap (rethread) the hole again.

Did I mention I was unlucky? It just happens that this little screw was in such a tight place that I had no hope of fitting a drill in there without taking the motor off the frame.

It's a good thing I work with a bunch of toolmakers.

I had about 1-1/4" of space to work with. If I was going to drill, I would have to drive the drill by hand. Fortunately I have this set of ratcheting box wrenches. So my buddy and I got together in his machine shop and he let me spend a little time on his lathe making some useful little tools. Some of the tools he just made for me due to his willingness to help with my project.

We had to take a bunch of standard hardware store tools and modify them for our purposes. Here they are.

As you can see, the wrench is the only tool more then 1-1/2 inch long.

As I said, things were very tight. This is an overall shot to illustrate how tight things were. If you can see the wrench, the problem is at the top end of it. Here's a close-up:

This is where I was drilling the hole (which is the first step prior to tapping). As I said, I was driving the drill with the wrench.

At length, the drill finally made it through the mess and I had a nice clean hole to deal with. The next step, of course, is to tap the hole. This gives it the threads that allow it to receive a screw.

Once again, I was working with specially modified tools, praying at every step that the tap would not break off in the hole. (That would have been very bad - worse even than the screw breaking off in the first place. This operation was very risky.)

Here is the tap all covered with little bits of metal that used to be in the motorcycle.

But, like I said in the beginning, I prevailed. Here it is with the new screw installed. It took more than two months of wrestling with this silly thing, but  now it's back on line. I can't wait to spend the next week riding before it gets to rainy.

 Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pot Cozy

In a couple of weeks I'm going on my first backpacking trip of the summer. Oh, wait, I guess this would be the first backpacking trip of fall.
I missed summer backpacking!!
Man, this year was a busy one. On the plus side, we still did plenty of camping.
Anyway, so I decided to make a pot cozy for backpacking. I got the idea from this back country cookbook:
The idea is that sometimes you have to let your dehydrated or freeze dried foods sit in the hot water for a while before they're ready to eat. The cozy allows you to hold onto a hot pan and also keeps the heat in the food while it's getting ready. So here are some pictures.I used part of one of those blue foam pads that you can get for $5 at Wal-mart. The pot was 8" diameter so the circumference was about 25 inches. I cut two pieces at 12-1/2 inches, then made a saw-tooth pattern on them so they would lay down evenly, and cut it out. After that, it was just a matter of a bunch of duct tape. Piece of cake.

Above the pot is my little trial run.

Getting ready to fold each side down. I made each little joint one by one as I went around.

Here's that one-by-one progress.

It ended up being a little deeper than I thought it would so I put some padding in the bottom.

All in all, it took about a dollar worth of material, and about an hour of prime time TV. I'll let you know how it goes.