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Lately I have been stropping all my knives because I think that it makes them much sharper than the traditional method.  Using a leather strop can’t replace a sharpening stone, but it is good to use after you have your knife somewhat sharp.  This method originated when barbers were still using straight razors.  When shaving your beard about half way through, the razor would start to dull.  They would get a leather belt and run the knife blade up and down as if they were using a sharpening stone.  Here are some pictures!

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//EWINSLOW

Every now and then, we have to put most projects on hold for a few days in order to clean and reorganize areas that have been neglected.  This tends to happen mostly in the winter, because everyone limits the amount of time spent outside working on such things.

Needless to say, that’s the biggest thing I’ve been working on recently, so here are a few pictures of the current progress.

The workshop

The workshop

It's getting there...

It’s getting there…

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Indoor work space

Indoor work space

The media lab

The media lab

The lounge

The lounge

We’re making progress.  More to come later.

Lately I have been doing quite a bit of drywall work in a single wide trailer. Due to the way trailers are transported (and the expense of paying someone to properly install drywall), they just staple on some cheap cardboard/trim over all the seams and call it done. This is okay, but after 20+ years of abuse the trim is coming out all over and it is almost easier to just rip it all out and do drywall the right way, this is what I’ve been doing.

I have used 3 kinds of mud.

around 18$ (includes bucket).

 

Mix your own low dust compound $18 or so and no bucket.

 

for about $6 (no bucket)

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Mixing drywall compound

This is pretty much the best way to get the non premixed stuff mixed. Make sure your bucket is clean, dump the mud in, add water, and mix. It is important to have a bucket with a good lid to keep the mud from drying out. The kind they sell premixed drywall compound with works good, but a food grade bucket is even better. Now, to my final conclusion.

The premixed regular dust compound is the easiest. The consistency if perfect, but it is pretty dusty.

The mix your own low dust compound is true low dust, it all goes straight down. That said, I don’t know if I contaminated my bucket with something or what, but it stunk, bad. And I kept having off color brown streaks show up as I was applying it. Not to mention a few certain spots did not dry white, but stayed gray. They are dry, but maybe not completely cured??? Also, after mixing it fills only about 2/3 if the bucket, paying the same price for less.

The regular dust mix your own compound is what I will use from now on. The dust doesn’t seem as bad as the premixed stuff, and I personally don’t even use a mask for it. It to only fills about 2/3 of my bucket, but for 1/3 the price it is not bad at all. FYI The product says it is ready for use, no mixing required. THEY LIE!!! This stuff is like clay, where mud should be about like pudding. Not a big deal, but it WILL need mixing.

 

This A/C repair includes a new compressor and receiver/dryer for a 2000 Ford Crown Victoria. It’s not too hard, but rather time consuming to do the job right, and doing it wrong could ruin a new compressor. Most of these procedures are the same for any car, the only things that change are mounting location for each component. In older cars, there is an adapter needed to use R-134a  in the system designed for R-12.  These can be purchased for $10-$12 at any auto part store.

Note that if there’s any freon left in the system, it will have to be properly recaptured before you can do anything.

First thing I did was remove the receiver-dryer and all the hoses:

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The other hoses are all held on with a similar quick disconnect to the one pictured above, so I went ahead and removed them all to set aside. Next the orifice tube needs pulled out and replaced.  It’s located in the metal tube that goes to the evaporator (one of the hoses removed in the last picture):

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There’s a lot of metal stuck to it from the previous compressor’s failure. All this has to be flushed out of the system before any new parts go on, or they will likely fail as a result very quickly.

That’s why you always replace the orifice tube.  Even if nothing catastrophically failed like this one did, there can still be bits of metal stuck to it.

Slip the new orifice tube in the same way the old one came out.

Next thing I did was unbolt the compressor and remove it.  The pictures from under the car were terrible, but they can give the general idea of where the bolts are:

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Here’s the compressor out of the car:

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This manifold needs moved to the new compressor before it’s installed.  Lubricate all gaskets and O-rings with the appropriate PAG oil for the compressor.  If the compressor needs additional oil, pour it in now.

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Flush EVERYTHING.  Any components that weren’t replaced need flushed with an approved A/C system flush.  Follow the directions on the can.  I flushed a LOT of metal out of the evaporator, but not nearly as much out of the condenser.  The hoses need flushed too, so you’ll probably need at least two cans.

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With everything flushed, I went ahead and replaced all of the o-rings for everything I took out, again lubricating them with PAG oil.  If the system needs more oil than is in the compressor, pour it into the correct port in the receiver-dryer. Go ahead and install the compressor, receiver/drier and hoses.

Now is the part where you pull a vacuum on everything.  If you don’t have a vacuum pump, find a good independent shop and they’ll be happy to “Evacuate and Recharge” the system for a reasonable fee. If you do this yourself, you need a vacuum pump and set of manifold gauges.

Attach the gauges to both the low side and high side, and open all the valves completely.  Attach the yellow hose to your vacuum pump and start it running.  After the gauge goes as low as it will (I got around 25 in-hg), continue to run the pump until there is no steam coming out of it or for the next 30 minutes, whichever is longer.

IMG_2768IMG_2771Once you’re done pulling a vacuum,close the two valves on the manifold itself.  If you have a leak, the system will lose the vacuum and you need to start over again after fixing said leak. If not, close the other remaining valve and remove the high side hose altogether.  Coil up the high side hose and put it away.

—SAFETY NOTICE—

CHARGING THROUGH THE HIGH SIDE IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND CAN CAUSE A TANK OF FREON TO EXPLODE.  ONLY CHARGE THROUGH THE LOW SIDE PORT.

Now is the time where they system can be charged up.  You can use cans of freon from any auto part store or Walmart, or you can charge it from a tank.  Start the engine and turn the A/C on high while you’re charging the system. Either way the process is the same, except the small cans will come with their own hose and won’t need the manifold gauges.  If you use a tank, hook the yellow hose to the tank and just open it up. Again, charge the low side only.

The acceptable pressure range varies based on ambient air temperature, but is typically around 45-50 PSI on the low side.  Once you’re close to the range, add freon until the air blows cold but without exceeding the high end of the acceptable pressure range.

Here are the new straps installed, and a picture with a car loaded.  I was impressed as to how well it pulled, the dolly tracked straight and it wasn’t difficult to stop.IMG_2506

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Here are pictures of a rather unsafe way to use a tow dolly that I saw in town a few days ago:

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It was a truck pulling a trailer pulling a tow dolly, but the hitch for the tow dolly appears to be homemade and attached to the trailer with some chains. I’m just glad it was stationary when I saw it.

Here’s another bag I’ve put together.  Completed, it probably weighs 50lbs but it’s easy enough to load into the car when it’s needed.

The box with magnetic lights, a portable winch, and the mounting plate

The box with magnetic lights, a portable winch, and the mounting plate

Power cable for portable winch

Power cable for portable winch

Switch for portable winch

Switch for portable winch

Handle for portable winch, In case we have to turn it manually.

Handle for portable winch, In case we have to turn it manually.

Spare dolly straps - they're pretty worn out, but they're still usable in a pinch.

Spare dolly straps – they’re pretty worn out, but they’re still usable in a pinch.

A light duty come-along

A light duty come-along

The only thing I don’t have in the bag is a recovery strap, but I always keep that in the car anyway.

Here are several pictures of the car dolly I brought home last week and the repairs I made. It needed nothing but new straps, some hardware, a ramp, and some welding.

What it looked like when I brought it home, but after the old straps were removed.

What it looked like when I brought it home, but after the old straps were removed.

These brackets hold straps to the dolly.  I pulled them off to change the straps, and decided to replace the bolts too.

These brackets hold straps to the dolly. I pulled them off to change the straps, and decided to replace the bolts too.

The broken ramp, which has been discontinued by the manufacturer.

The broken ramp, which has been discontinued by the manufacturer.

The ATV ramp I built a replacement ramp out of

The ATV ramp I built a replacement ramp out of

The replacement ramp looks ugly, but it should work.  I'd still purchase a new one to match the original if I found a source.

The replacement ramp looks ugly, but it should work. I’d still purchase a new one to match the original if I found a source.

The bottom of the ramp, with some reinforcements

The bottom of the ramp, with some reinforcements

Painted, so it looks just slightly less ugly

Painted, so it looks just slightly less ugly

I welded this bracket onto the tongue to hold a portable winch.  That should assist in loading vehicles that don't run.

I welded this bracket onto the tongue to hold a portable winch. That should assist in loading vehicles that don’t run.

The portable winch attached to aforementioned bracket

The portable winch attached to aforementioned bracket

A newly welded crack in one wheel pad

A newly welded crack in one wheel pad

Another newly welded crack in the same wheel pad

Another newly welded crack in the same wheel pad

All of the bolts I had to remove were rusted in place, so I cut them off. Here’s an easy way to do it with an angle grinder:

Slot the top like so

Slot the top like so

And chip off the four pieces with a heavy duty chisel.

And chip off the four pieces with a heavy duty chisel.

 

I’ll add another post with pictures of the whole thing once the ramp and straps are attached.

In the end, it’s fully functional and heavy duty, but it only looks good 50/50.  That is, 50 feet away and rolling 50 miles an hour.

IMG_5163 I usually climb to our antenna-mast several times a year for adjustments/additions. It is a bit of a pain as  it can not be climbed and I have to pull out the ladder. Lately I have started carrying a basic tool belt up with me to carry whatever tools I will need for that visit. Whenever I need something, I have it on my hip, much safer than trying to tote up all the tools and grab them from the ladder.

That’s it for now,

 

I believe the pictures are self explanatory. I used a bolt for a hinge pin and still plan to add a latch to keep the door closed better.  It is ready to attach a chimney!IMG_4781 IMG_4780 IMG_4779 IMG_4778 IMG_4776 IMG_4775 IMG_4774 IMG_4773 IMG_4771

Lately, many spark plugs have been pre-gapped from the factory.  Those cut a step off the total work in replacing your spark plugs, because you just have to take the old one off and put the new one in.  While they’re nice, not  all plugs have the gap set at the factory.  Setting the gap on a spark plug is easy, it’s just another step that requires another tool. You can purchase a spark plug gap tool like the one pictured below at any auto parts store for about $1:

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To set the gap, all you have to do is slide the spark plug onto the narrow end of the gauge and move it up to the appropriate setting.  The end of the plug will bend easily, so be careful.  If the gap is too wide, make it narrower by tapping the end of the plug against something hard before setting the gap.

Here’s one set to 0.054″:

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You can see in this picture how the gauge works.

Most pre-gapped spark plugs are labeled as such, but if you’re not sure it’s easy to check them.  I’ve also heard that some brands are known for being gapped wrong from the factory, but I’ve not had this problem yet.

Occasionally, an important tool will break partway through a job, and this typically happens when you don’t have time and/or don’t have a way to get another suitable tool.

Such was the case when the legs collapsed under a table saw a few months ago and flipped the saw/partially cut board over into the dirt. The temporary workaround I came up with actually works quite well: securing it with ratcheting straps to a sturdy table. As an added bonus, it is actually much sturdier than the legs that were under it and doesn’t move around as much.

Eventually I’ll build a sturdy table to bolt the table saw to, but in the meantime this works very well for occasional use.  I ripped 10 2x6s lengthways on it like this just last week, and it never shifted or moved a bit.

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This weekend I decided to make a small, 15 inch, pine club.

IMG_5052  I cut the limb from a live pine tree and started by stripping the bark off with a pocket knife. I then went on to make a club shape with a draw knife (a spokeshave will work as well). After much sanding I used a rasp for the round end and topped it off with some sanding and oiling. It has a nice feel on the hand, and being pine it is somewhat light as well as easy to shape. For those who like to carry something around, but not a full on staff, this has a great feel, and doubles as a good conversation piece.

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I’ve found a great way to repair damaged or worn out tool handles, both for power tools and small hand tools: Heat shrink tubing.  Cut a piece to length, slide it over the existing handle, and heat until it fits tightly.

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The rubber coating on this handle is damaged, but hasn’t come off yet. Now is the perfect time to fix it.

Cut the tubing to length and slide it on, letting it stick out just 1-2mm.

Cut the tubing to length and slide it on, letting it stick out just 1-2mm.

Now heat gently until it fits tightly around the handle.

Now heat gently until it fits tightly around the handle.

This also works well on some hand tools that didn’t have a rubber grip to begin with, such as certain pliers or wire cutters.  As an added bonus, they won’t be nearly so cold in the winter.

Rabbit table

IMG_3510       For the past several months I have kept my rabbit feed in a watertight bucket on a rickety “table”. Now I have finally built an Ideal table.

IMG_3515 The first thing I did was securely fix a 2 by 4 to the side of our chicken coop. Once the 2 by 4 was up I nailed the tabletop to the 2 by 4.

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IMG_3512 I then drilled holes in both sides of my table top for the ropes to be tied in.

IMG_3511 Now I nailed the ropes to the coop, with the table at a slight upward angle to allow for stretching. If I did it again I would tie the ropes to hooks.

IMG_3509 Lastly (something I should have done first) I cut a hole for my feed bucket with a jigsaw. Now the feed bucket sets down in the table, and I have plenty of workspace for  filling waterers.

When I saw this one, I was skeptical. Soaking a rusty tool in water would make the rust come off on its own.

So here’s the saw I tried it with:

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In the container filled with water:

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I left it like that for about a week. Today I checked on the container:

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Notice all the rust settled in the bottom.

After pulling the saw out and wiping it off with a shop rag:

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It’s not perfect, but most of the rust came right off with no scrubbing required. I’m not going to sand it, just dry it off and oil before putting the saw away.

I think this method works after all…

The only things left to do on the brooder are hang the door and install a heat lamp:

Rather blurry but you can see the two piece door on the left. Cabinet hinges work great for this.

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Replacing the top on this canopy:

The frame

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After stretching the new top over it, this is how it’s attached. One side had to be rolled around the pole because the replacement top was a few inches off

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Zip ties are really much better than the original straps. The straps tend to stretch, and unless the top is tight water pools on it.

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And removing a pole from one side for easier access:

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The support is needed, so I tied the frame to a nearby tree instead of having another support underneath.

I have determined recently that any information I have to look up on a regular basis should be written in an easily visible place to save time.

One of those things is how to wire a relay. I can never seem to remember which pin connects to what, and often times the diagram is worn off the side of the relay so it can’t be read. I keep that information handy by writing it neatly on a shelf over the workbench:

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I like to hang this type of tool on a wall to make them easy to find/pick the right one without cutting yourself.

The hand saws are hanging on the back of a door – I built a wood frame and screwed it to the metal door to give something better to put screws/nails in.

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Lay them out carefully, and add as many screws as it takes to hold one stable.  Be sure it's not attached in such a way you can't remove the saw to use!

Lay them out carefully, and add as many screws as it takes to hold one stable. Be sure it’s not attached in such a way you can’t remove the saw to use!

I highly recommend tracing each tool with a permanent marker. It makes them much easier to put away in the future.

I highly recommend tracing each tool with a permanent marker. It makes them much easier to put away in the future.

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Notice you can see exactly what is missing.

The same idea is good for C Clamps.  These are hanging on a wall next to the door.  It’s much easier to attach tools to a wall than a door.

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For this project, I fitted a used car stereo into a metal file box to make it portable.

This is the box. It was free, since the latch was broken and it was slightly dented.

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And the stereo purchased from Goodwill. This is the one found in most Ford vans and trucks from 1998-2002.

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The speakers were also purchased from Goodwill, brand new in box and including the covers.

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First thing I did was test the radio and speakers. Testing the radio was easy, because it matches the one I have in a car. I just swapped them out to test everything before going to the trouble of cutting out holes in the box. The speakers were wired to another radio I already had and tested that way.

Next was to mark and cut holes for the speakers, and then installing them. Use a compass to draw a circle, then cut it out. I used a drill for pilot holes, and then a jigsaw with a fine toothed blade to cut everything out. The speakers were then mounted with 1/4″ carriage bolts and the covers put on over them.

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Next thing is mounting the power supply. Before mounting it, the supply was modified be removing the two internal fuses and replacing them with a short piece of wire. I’ll add an external fuse later, so if it blows it’s easy to change.

The power supply outputs 12vdc at 4-6 amps. Plenty of power for what we’re doing.

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Now I mark the hole where the radio itself will go, and then cut it out the same way as before (a drill and jigsaw).

The radio is easy to install, because it just snaps into place. I will probably reinforce it later, but this is fine for now.

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All that’s left is to do the wiring. I bought the connectors necessary at a salvage yard, and wired everything to them according to a pin out found online. The antenna plug goes to the mount from a mid 90 Ford Ranger, and the antenna will be attached to it. There is a switch wired to the backlight, so I can control when it’s on or off. A fuse is installed between the power supply and the radio power input.

Next things I do will be painting the box, installing either an internal or collapsible antenna, an adding battery clips so the unit can be run directly off a car battery.

It goes without saying that things get hot while welding.  But what you don’t think about is that not only is the material hot, but also the electrode and the sparks flying through the air at high speeds.  These are the primary safety concern when arc welding.  This guide is specifically for arc welding, though almost everything here carries over to any other types of welding

 

First things first – The gloves.  Any welding glove will do.  I can’t tell any difference between the various gloves at the time of purchase, but have noticed that the bottom of the line welding gloves wear out quickly.  I find that while they are fine originally and can be used if you only weld on a rare occasion, they tend to fall apart too quickly to be worth the cost savings.  TSC and Northern Tool both sell welding supplies, and a decent pair for the occasional welder can usually be had for around $15.  The gloves do a good job of protecting your hands from flying sparks or from accidentally brushing against hot metal, but you can still be burned through them if you try to pick up something very hot (Or hold parts together while you weld!).

 

Next thing, and probably the first thing someone would think about when welding is mentioned, is the helmet.  Again, nothing special here.  The cheapest helmet you can get will shield your face as well as a higher end one, but will wear out and break faster.  For most people, an automatic welding helmet similar to the one Harbor Freight carries is the best value.  They are priced reasonably, usually fit well, and will last the average user 1-3 years (depending on how often you weld).  I have had a professional welder recommend the Kobalt brand automatic helmet, but that one tends to be more expensive and is usually not necessary.  Often times I find used manual helmets, which still work quite well but add an extra step when you’re welding.  They are great to have during welding lessons, because several people can learn at the same time.

If you use any type of automatic helmet, it’s a good idea to test each time you use it.  It’s easy to check by either looking straight at the sun, or flicking a lighter in front of it.  If is dims quickly, it works.

Note: I once had someone tell me to wear a hat that I don’t mind ruining while welding.  Put one on backwards under your helmet, anything hat that won’t melt will work.  It keeps the red hot metal out of your hair and off your head, as it always seems to find its way there.

 

Boots:  I also, after multiple experiments, have concluded that there is no safe way to weld without boots.  Nearly any boot will work, but tennis shoes are not a suitable substitute.  Once again, the concern here are the flying bits of red hot metal that I was talking about earlier.  It is nearly impossible to weld anything without them hitting your shoes, and if your shoes have any sort of vent, the sparks will find their way in and burn the tops of your feet.  There doesn’t need to be anything special about the boots, and if you don’t weld often you can almost always find a pair of nearly worn out boots at a thrift store.  Those will work nicely, because they’re cheap and at that point essentially disposable.  Only wear them when you’re welding, and throw them out when they get too worn to use.

 

Shirts/Jackets/Aprons

1) Never wear a white (or very light colored) shirt while welding.  Believe it or not, the light can and will reflect off it and burn your face and neck.

2) Wear long sleeves whenever possible.  Your arms should be protected somehow, though it seems to me that you’re much less likely to burn your arms than your hands, feet, head, neck, and eyes.

3) Do NOT wear anything that can melt.  Burning yourself isn’t pleasant, but really isn’t that bad.  Burning yourself and then having your clothes melt to your skin, however, is a whole different story.

4) Consider getting a light weight jacket to use only while welding to help protect your arms.  Leather is ideal, but anything that doesn’t melt will work. I typically only use an apron, but the jacket would be a must if working in tight areas or welding very frequently.

5) If you must weld close to the ground, wear a heavy apron (again, leather preferred) and kneel so that your legs are covered.

 

This makes welding sound rather confusing and dangerous.  It can be, but a welder is just a tool.  Used properly and with the correct safety equipment, you have very little chance of hurting yourself.  In my opinion, one of the most difficult parts of welding is getting the safety down.  Once you know, remember, and practice all of this safety advice, actually learning to lay a bead and weld on regular steel isn’t that hard but requires a lot of practice.

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An 8 Track, for the younger people, was like the predecessor to a cassette tape.  It is similar to a cassette, since it’s a tape with its own cartridge, but you couldn’t rewind it to the very beginning or skip a track.  The only control was the channel, and each channel usually had 3-5 songs.

 

I put this 12v automotive player into a toolbox with its own speakers to make it portable.  In this project, I used a small metal toolbox, two 4 ohm speakers, a wall wart that outputs 12vdc at 1.2a, and some metal brackets and bolts.

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First I had to figure out how to mount the player itself in the toolbox.  I finally determined the best position to mount it would be as shown in the picture below.

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This was achieved by using part of the original mount with two carriage bolts at the bottom, a wood shim on one side, and a large zip tie across the top.

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All that’s really left is the wiring, as I decided to let the speakers sit in the box with some extra wire so they can be pulled out of the toolbox.

12v + goes through a 5a blade fuse to the player main power, and 12v – goes directly to the radio case (this one grounds to the case instead of having a ground wire).

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Now all that I have to do is wire the speakers according to the label on the player.  Here is a picture of the finished product.

 

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Safety is an important aspect of any shop, but sadly is often overlooked. People tend to think about some things, like wearing gloves and safety goggles, but there are other things that no one considers.

One of these is having an emergency eye wash station. Many people are under the impression that there’s no reason to have one as long as you wear safety glasses, but that belief tends to be inaccurate.

Do you ever use a fan during the summer to keep cool? And is there ever a time where you might be working with wood or metal and have wood shavings, sawdust, metal filings, or other small particles in your shop? Or do you use any chemicals or cleaners that come in aerosol cans or spray bottles? Imagine spraying some WD-40 on a metal part, or drilling holes in a piece of wood while the fan is running. If you aren’t wearing safety goggles, (and honestly, who wears safety goggles the entire time you’re in a shop anyway), that might not turn out real well. All it takes is the tiniest particle of metal flying into your eye to cause a lot of damage, both temporary and potentially permanent.

The four main types of emergency eye wash station are as follows:

1) Direct-plumbed eye wash stations – This type is mounted in a permanent location and connected directly to a water source. The main advantage is that it is always available, never moves, and can be turned on with a push of a button. The only disadvantages to this type of system are: The system must be flushed every 1-2 weeks to keep it in working order, and that it can’t be moved. This type of system may be required in some areas if you are running a business.

2) Tank-Style eyewash station – These stations operate essentially the same as the system above, but don’t require direct plumbing. They will have a tank that is filled with tap water and a preservative. This unit must be cleaned and the solution replaced every 6 months. This system can be a good alternative for a direct plumbed eye wash station when plumbing is unavailable.

3) Portable Self Contained Unit – As you would guess, the main advantage here is that it is portable. This system has a holder that can be attached to a wall, or the bottles can be carried in a toolbox or stored in a vehicle. This type has two bottles that are filled with a saline solution and tap water. It needs cleaned and the solution replaced every 6 months.

4) Sealed Fluid Cartridges – This one is as simple as it sounds. The solution is in a sealed cartridge that can easily be carried in a toolbox or car, or can be kept on a shelf until needed. The cartridges typically have a shelf life of 24 months.

This is the system I am using. One bottle is just water, an the other will have a saline rinse solution. It is mounted on the wall, but the bottles can be removed and used elsewhere.

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I make my own penetrating oil at home using a mixture of acetone and automatic transmission fluid.  This seems to be, by far, the best penetrating oil I have ever used.  The oil I make is nothing but acetone and automatic transmission fluid mixed 1:1.

The theory behind it is this:

Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) is an excellent lubricant in and of itself.  However, it is too thick to seep into rusted parts and bolts easily.  The idea is that when you mix it 1:1 with acetone, it makes the ATF thin enough to seep into these small areas, and then the acetone evaporates leaving nothing but ATF to do its job.

So, with that said, Machinist’s Workshop Magazine did a test to see what is the best penetrating oil that came out in their April 2007 issue.  While I’m unable to locate the exact article, here are the numbers they came up with:

Penetrating oil . Average load .. Price per fluid ounce
None …………….. 516 pounds .
WD-40 ………….. 238 pounds .. $0.25
PB Blaster ……… 214 pounds .. $0.35
Liquid Wrench … 127 pounds .. $0.21
Kano Kroil …….. 106 pounds .. $0.75
ATF-Acetone mix.. 53 pounds .. $0.10

Penetrating oil is what oil they used, and average load is what the force required to bread the bolt free was (measured in foot-pounds).  Supposedly this test was done by rusting several bolts in a controlled manner, so that they were all stuck but still all exactly the same before the test.

If nothing else, the stuff is every bit as good as PB Blaster for a fraction of the price.  I must warn you though…this is for metal objects only – the acetone can dissolve certain types of rubber and plastic.

Lastly, as you see in the picture, I even make it with used ATF.  As long as it isn’t too burnt, the used stuff will work almost as well as new for this purpose.  I measure with the plastic lid, and then store it in an old seafoam can.  Pour the mixture into an old fashioned oiler to make it easy to dispense.

 

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such as utility knife blades, straight razor blades, and scalpel blades.

Small, sharp blades such as these can be kept in a plastic bottle after use.

I do it by cutting a slot in the top of a plastic bottle (I used a water bottle, but it would be best to use something made of heavier plastic) and then hanging it on a wall, making it easy to drop blades in as they’re used.  Once the bottle is full, I’ll tape over the hole and put it in the scrap metal bin.

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This arrangement keeps me from having to come up with a way to get them into a trash bag and not cut myself hauling them off, as well as providing a convenient place to drop used blades if I change one partway through a project.

 

Here are just a few tips I have found handy when using/storing/buying grease guns.

 

  1. Always store a grease gun hanging up.  If you lay it down, it’s far too easy to catch the handle on something and pump grease out.  Once you get grease all over the grease gun, you’ll probably never get it completely clean again.
  2. Keep multiple grease guns for different types of grease.  It is very difficult to take a partially used tube out of a grease gun without making a big mess.  If you grease things that require different types of grease (you can’t mix types), it saves a lot of time to keep multiple grease guns.  We have one with standard lithium grease, one with universal grease, and one with ultra high temperature grease.
  3. If you choose to keep multiple grease guns, consider having different types of fittings on each one.  The grease gun I keep high temperature grease in (I use it for steering/suspension/drivetrain parts) has a hose on it.  The one with general purpose grease has a straight shaft.  Depending on what kind of equipment you service, you might even need connectors for different size fittings.
  4. If you need one to bring along (or keep with certain equipment), consider purchasing a mini grease gun.  These may be slightly more expensive, but take up less space and are more difficult to accidentally squirt grease out of (most have a pistol grip with a spring versus the large handle on a standard size).
  5. You’re better off to buy an older grease gun used than a new one.  One that is 50 years old today will likely outlast the $10 grease gun at the hardware store.  Some of the more expensive ones are better…but how much do you really want to spend on a grease gun?  If you only use it for a lawn mower twice a year, it won’t matter.  However, I’ve had grease guns that didn’t last a year while greasing nothing more than a small tractor once a month. The saying “There’s no tool more expensive than a cheap tool” applies here.

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