Friday, February 25, 2011

A Slide Hammer

[NOTE -- SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2011: I've added an important safety feature to the end of this post.]

I have an elderly Moen wash basin faucet that I mean to restore to pristine condition. Moen faucets are a 'cartridge' design -- there's a single element that does all the valving. It ought to be a fairly easy thing to deal with -- just pull the cartridge straight out once you've removed its retainer -- but the cartridge didn't want to budge. A slide hammer came to mind as just the thing I needed.

I have a slide hammer, but it's a great brute of a thing with a five pound slide on it. It's pictured below along with the faucet.

The phrase 'disproportionate force' comes to mind. I could have rigged a means of attaching this hammer to the faucet's stem and used it for the job, but it struck me as a clumsy way to go about it.

So I gave some thought to the matter of what a slide hammer fundamentally consists of, and it turns out that there's a very simple way to construct a light slide hammer.

A 3/4" iron pipe 'tee' is a sliding fit over 1/2" iron pipe -- there's your 'hammer' slide. Put a cap on one end of a length of pipe for a strike, and you have the makings of a slide hammer. Here's the completed hammer having just done the job.

That's an eighteen-inch length of pipe from the Home Depot. I would have gone with only a twelve-inch length for this, but eighteen inches was the closest they had.

I added a plug to the 'tee' to give the 'tee' a little more mass. A cap drilled through to accept a 10-24 screw provided the means of attaching the hammer to the faucet's stem.

It worked beautifully. It couldn't have worked any better if it said "Snap-on" or "Crescent" on it. The corporations don't own the fundamentals of physics.

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Safety Feature -- SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2011

If you make one of these, I strongly advise you to add the safety feature pictured below.

It's a 2" I.D. x 1 1/2" I.D. exhaust pipe coupler, and a 1 5/8" clamp. Position the clamp so the bracket portion of the clamp straddles the bulge at the tee's opening, and the U-bolt is centred on the bulge. Tighten it very securely, taking care to maintain alignment of the tee and coupler.

This will prevent you from getting your little finger pinched, like I did earlier today. A bonus is that it adds mass to the slide.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Vise Advice

Here's something to watch out for should you be shopping for a mechanic's vise. It's a little undesirable feature that you'd be unlikely to notice until you'd installed the vise and begun making use of it.

In the following photograph is my elderly No.3 Record vise gripping a length of 7mm square rod held vertically. Note that the lower end of the rod clears the front of the base of the vise -- the front face of the rear jaw is forward of the vise's base. That's as it should be.

But here's the same rod held the same way in a no-name vise from off-shore that's at my workplace.


That 'feature' would drive me right 'round the bend if it were in my workshop. There are countless times that a long piece of work needs to be held vertically and be clear of the vise's base all the way down.

Something to watch out for and avoid.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Flaunting my Wealth

[This item is something of a companion piece to "Uneconomical to Repair".]

Now and then, I like to tackle some little job that really needn't be done -- the less it needs doing, the better. I figure that if I have the time and resources to do something really needless, I must be relatively wealthy. If I were truly dirt poor, I'd have to spend all my available time and resources on things that must be done.

So, in keeping with that notion, herewith is a 'restoration' of a rusty old ring-lag that I found at a campsite years ago. It's pictured below.

It's still usable, but it's way uglier than it ought to be. It's just begging to be improved upon.

I'll separate the two pieces, wire brush them and give them a gloss black paint job. That should occupy me for awhile in a manner befitting a rich man.

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Here's the lag screw eye clamped in the vise with the eye just having been opened up for separation of the two pieces.

I hammered it open using a piece of hardwood for a 'punch', so as not to distort the threads. Now it wants wire brushing and setting up for spray-painting.

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Any and every item that's to be spray-painted presents you with the problem of holding the thing so you can spray all of its surfaces without marring any of them. Some things are easily dealt with; some things are a bit more challenging.

The screw eye was pretty easy. First, I primed and painted the screw end. Once that paint had hardened sufficiently, I made up a stand from a piece of 2x4 to support the thing while I painted the upper 'eye' portion, like so.

But a ring is another matter. A ring has no end -- anywhere. There is no place you can hold a ring that isn't a place that needs to receive paint.

The best I could do to resolve that dilemma was to rig this arrangement with a pair of diagonal cutters and a small bungee cord.

The ring will be gripped at only two very small points. I can touch up the voids that will be left after it dries.

And further to 'touch up', there's another problem inherent in disassembling, painting and reassembling a ring-lag; I'll unavoidably damage the paint on the screw eye as I close up the eye in the vise. There's no way around that. I'll have to touch up that as well.

Anyway, it turned out quite well. Here's the result -- a nice glossy black ring-lag for locking up a bike or tethering a goat or whatever.

Bill Gates, eat your heart out.

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