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26 July, 2014

Notice to spammers...

You guys must be a special kind of stupid...

I moderate comments and while I will approve comments that disagree with me or take contrary view points, spam will be rejected offhand and reported.

For what it's worth I believe spammers should be rolled naked in thumb tacks and dipped in rubbing alcohol and rubbed down with salt.

But keep your chins up. In my book spammers still rank above Lawyers and child molesters... Ever so slightly, but still above.

25 July, 2014

Hunting and gathering for the trailer light / backup light installation.

So as of noon today, almost everything I need for this project is in hand, I think...

Large ring terminals for 22 ga wire seem to be extensively difficult to come by, so I am going to take a different approach, I have 2 wires that need to be ring connected to the battery stud, a 22 ga wire for the switch, and either 22 or 16 ga wire to go to the relay. So I figure I use a 16-14 ga ring terminal with a 1/4" ring and solder the two wires together and crimp that all it, I should be good to go!


The bag in the middle area is the relays, relay sockets, and ATC fuse holders. These things are major overkill for this task, but I am a firm believer in better safe than sorry... Not to the degree engineers are, but you get the idea...

Looking at the AWG ampacity ratings, my 2@ 18 watt lights will draw a total of 36 watts, and that means 3 amps, the charts for chassis wiring, which is what this technically is, rates 22 awg at 7 amps, WAY above what this will actually draw, or even think of drawing...

Now if we look back I think it was 3 posts ago, when I discussed designing the circuit, you will recall that the red wire comes from 12V source (battery) the black wire goes to chassis ground, and the blue wire feeds power to the lights.

It just so happens that I have the black and red wires in 16 ga, and digging through my toolbox I found 16 ga blue wire from the pilot off road lighting kit I never ended up using (and wish I knew where the relay from THAT went...)

In my digging to find my soldering iron, and spool of solder, I found a spool of white 16 ga wire as well... The green and yellow wires being signal wire being 22 ga is fine... So I am good to go, at least once I find the shrink tubing... I know I had it around here somewhere...

24 July, 2014

Dealing well with the pressures...

I just wanted to touch base with those that have been following my compressed air system journey. I realized my last entry on this issue was on June 8. I have been keeping the compressors powered off except when I am actively using them, but keeping the tanks pressurized. The system is holding pressure perfectly. The only time the compressors cycled was during hard use... I couldn't be happier...

Auxiliary LED reverse lighting continued. Prepping the brackets.

Simply put, these lights HAVE to work, and they HAVE to be out of the way when backing up, especially off road.

Now when I was considering how to add additional reverse lighting to my truck I will be completely honest, hanging LED fixtures were not at the top of my list. I was originally considering adding some of those 6" oval LED fixtures cut in to the rear bumper. Mostly for clearance sake. But I could see a minor bump in traffic causing damage, and honestly, I was having a very tough time finding sufficient quality fixtures for my application. Most of them are either REALLY expensive, or to be polite, severely lacking in build quality.

While I was looking for insipration, I came across F150Online.com member lakemarykid's beautiful Oxford White / Pueblo gold 2 tone 2007 F150 FX4 Supercrew. The job he did on the install looks great, although he is only powered by a dash switch.


Now the brackets he used are something used in commercial construction, not readily available to the average DIYer, so I had to take a different approach, but then again, what I used followed the same idea at least...

Yes, there was some DIY to it...

Step #1. Look around the shop and see what I have on hand. The aluminum angle I was planning on using appears to be all used up, so option #2. Use flat steel and make it the shape I want...
Step #2. I know I want a 1.5 x 1.5 L section with 5/16" holes for the bolts, so I take the 1.5" wide steel stock and measure up 1.5" up, using a sharpie mark a fold line, another 1.5" up and mark a cut line...
Step #3. Secure the stock in the bench vise, and using my 4.5" angle grinder, Harbor Freight cut off wheels, and of course safety glasses, respiratory, and hearing protection, made my cut.
Step #4. Repeate step #s 2 and 3 for the second bracket.
Step #5. Using a straight edge and sharpie, mark center of each half segment so there are two X's on each piece. 
Step #6. Using a punch and hammer, dimple the center to guide the drill bit.
Step #7. Secure the work pieces, and drill a 5/16" hole at each dimple.
Step #8. Using a file, clean up all cut lines, corners, and drill hole edges, insuring that a 5/16" fastener can easily pass through.
Step #9.  Using a machinists vise, secure the work piece such that the fold line is just at the top of the jaw, and squared to the jaw. Lock the jaws down so the piece can not move, and using a large, broad headed steel hammer bend the pieces to a 90 degree angle.
Step #10. Using a disposable cloth paper towel, shop rag in a box type of rag, and at least rubbing alcohol if not a stronger solvent that does NOT leave a residue, thoroughly clean all surfaces.
Step #11. Scuff surfaces with sandpaper, clean off any dust / residue then prime, and paint with at least 3 coats of rust inhibiting paint. You can also use plastidip if you'd like.

Your brackets are now ready! You can go ahead and bolt the light to the bracket using the provided bolts, however I would suggest instead sourcing up stainless steel replacements, and an additional pair of 5/16 x I think it is 1" stainless steel bolt, flat washer, and nylon insert lock nut to secure to the frame of the truck...

So you want to know where to find the bargains?

Harbor Freight 4.5" angle grinder. If you have a HF close, these are so cheap even if it breaks after a year or so just toss it and get a new one... Mine is an older B&D I bought at Walmart, the HF grinder seems to be better made...

4.5" metal cut off wheel for the angle grinder? Yeah HF has those too! I have used the ones from the big box stores, and the HF ones actually seem to hold together better...

I could give you a link to online ordering the flat stock, or easier yet, aluminum angle but get the stuff locally. It will be cheaper. Shipping on that stuff with eat you up!

Center punch. Yeah Amazon has those cheap. The HF ones I have tried are junk. The Stanley is okay, great considering it is dirt cheap and likely to get lost before you dull it... I have them in my Amazon affiliate store.

If you are like me and like to have the big box of crayons to color with as it were, and like having your bits etc... come in large sets, probably THE most impressive set of bits I have used to date are the DeWalt pilot point bits. They do help make drilling metals much easier. The DW1969 29 piece set is on Amazon at the lowest price I have seen recently...

For a lower budget option, you could try the Warrior 29 piece Titanium Nitride bit set from Harbor Freight. Mind you, I have not tried them out yet so I can not attest to their quality, or even usefulness. If anyone wants to donate a set for testing I would happily accept and test the snot out of a set of these...

Most of the items needed for this project have arrived already. I have 2 items left to have come in, One was due to an error in my observation. They are...

#1. The Tow Read 118136 Universal plug mount bracket. I thought I didn't need it, but I was wrong. It happens...
#2 12 volt illuminated rocker switch with green LED. I figure instead of the high dollar switches, which mind you are ultra cool, but pricey, that LakeMaryKid used, I figured I would color code. Keep the Red LED rocker for the front off road lights, and use a green LED rocker for the rear reverse / flood lights.

Package tracking says I should have all that stuff in hand tomorrow afternoon, so I should be moving forward with this project, and some work on the Saturn this weekend...

So stick with me, and enjoy as I document how the project all comes together!

22 July, 2014

Adding LED reverse lighting, and 7 pole trailer plug.

Anyone that has ever backed up in the dark, rainy, unlit night with factory reverse lights know the white knuckle braille experience it can be, now put yourself out on the deer lease, or in the mountains somewhere in those same conditions, you are going to want light and a lot of it...

Now my project here is twofold,

Fisrt off, I am wanting to add the final piece of the OEM "Towing Package" that my truck did not ship from Ford with and that is the 7 pin wiring pig tail under the rear bumper. It's a good thing this is a common part, and lots of the aftermarket produce OEM quality or better replacement pieces, and an even better thing that Ford designed the wiring harness to be modular. Simply snap on / snap off and you are good to go!

Second issue I need to tackle is the extreme need for radically improved back up lighting. Simply put, backing up this beast in the dark is a dangerous, white knuckle affair. I have wanted upgraded lighting on the tail end of this truck for years. And with the new LED lighting fixtures coming down radically in price, it looks like it is time to tackle this project! Tons of light, great durability, and greatly reduced power draw. What's not to like?

So first things first, design the setup and start hunting and gathering what I will need to make these changes, and get the knowledge I need to do the job...

Thankfully TowReady has part number 118247 trailer wiring and relay kit available at a variety of retailers. www.etrailer.com provides a pretty decent video instruction on how to install it. I WILL be varying my install from etrailers install. Their install is using a band clamp on a round tube trailer hitch, my hitch is square tube and I honestly think Etrailers use of a band clamp is beyond pitiful. It is barely better than bailing wire and bubble gum. I want this done RIGHT... So please ignore that part on their video. I will attampt to shoot and edit my own video on this project, so hopefully you will have something a bit better quality to work with...

Mind you, etrailer has been kind of nasty about this as they have disallowed embedding of the Youtube video, but I CAN give you the link... The video overall is decent, but like I said, they cut a HUGE corner quality wise in the install by relying on a band clamp. That just will not do!

Anyway the video link is HERE.

Like I promised on my forum posts, I will post the links to the products and the best prices I could find to get the job done, so if you go to my Amazon Store at http://astore.amazon.com/davework-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=14

There are 2 items that while I can find at Amazon that there are MUCH better buys at Harbor Freight tools if you have one of them close by...

127 piece Heat Shrink Tubing.

10 rolls 60ft 3/4" electrical tape.

I assume "normal" mechanical ability, and equipment. Feel free to add crimp connectors in place of solder connections. I personally prefer solder joints over crimp connectors, particularly in 4 wheel drive / off road applications.

So now that all the bits and pieces are on order, I ought to share with you the design for the circuit.


I am giving serious consideration to adding a 3amp diode inline on the feed line from the backup lights.

FWIW, this circuit design should work with any 12V DC vehicle with a factory back up lighting circuit where the desired end result is the accessory reverse lights turned on with both the vehicle being put in reverse, AND the lights being manually turned on with an interior mounted toggle switch with illumination that will allow you to tell if you accidentally left the lights on...

If I opt for the diode and I suspect I will so that I don't induce back feed into an unenergized reverse light circuit, the best price I have found so far is at Radio Shack...

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062578

So now that the design is shored up, and the parts are ordered (somehow Amazon Prime 2 day sometimes means 9 days...).

Before moving forward, there is some equipment you will need to round up. This is...

  1. Factory jack, and handle for operating the spare tire winch.
  2. Wheel chocks, chunks of 4x4, whatever...
  3. Floor jack capable of safely lifting the truck. I opted for the Pittsburgh Automotive 4 ton item #68056. Purchased on sale, with a 25% off coupon so it wasn't that bad...
  4. Jack stands with sufficient height and weight handling capacity to give you ample room and safe load rating to work on the truck safely. I opted for the Pittsburgh Automotive 6 ton Steel Jack Stands item #61197. Same deal as the floor jack...
  5. I am not going to bother with linking one as you really ought to have it by now if you are wanting to take on this project, but you need a socket / ratchet set, deep well, in metric. The Etrailer video shows using an electric impact, no real need, and if I was going to I would go pnuematic not electric...
  6. Crimp tool.
  7. A basic soldering iron
  8. Lighter.
  9. Drill and bits.
  10. Screwdriver set.
I'm sure I will come up with something I forgot about while I am actually working the project. I will make note of it in the video, AND come back and update the list here.

So for now I bid you a good night, and promise that I will post updates here in text, photo, and video here shortly!.

14 July, 2014

When rushed for time, don't rush...

As you know, Dave's Workshop is a hobby shop. The only thing professional about it is the tools I still own that I used when I was a professional mechanic lin my youth. Yeah those tools are now considered "Classic" so that should tell you something...

So as I hinted to, I have been busy, too busy, with things that actually pay the bills, and dealing with extended family issues. (Not going into too many details other to say we have had a couple of losses recently...)

Now with all of that, the projects that need to get done, well, take a back seat... And one of those projects has been repairing paint damage on the back of the cab, and front of the bed of my truck that was caused by the toolbox rubbing... So I tried to take what little time I had available, specifically while my wife was getting her nails done, and found an abandoned part of the parking lot, some wax and tar cleaner, clean rags, newspaper, frog tape, sandpaper / sanding block, and primer, not to mention the color coat...

Everything went great, until well... after.

It would appear in my haste to maximize my time, I didn't do a good enough masking job on the back window of the truck, OR between cab and bed. I now need to clean red primer off of the back glass, and spray a bit more color coat between cab and bed. THEN I need to move on to more wet sanding, and another coat or two of color before I move forward with clear...

Now this is the first time I have ever attempted this, and I must admit, I am scared senseless to try this, but I figure with the amount of paint damage that was there already, I had to try, or simply cough out for a fresh paint job...

Duplicolor has some great videos on actually how to do this, and I highly recommend anyone that wants to try this on their own, to dig up those videos on Youtube and watch them first....


29 June, 2014

Fixing what the body shop set back to factory, and some perspective on the new fender flares...

So as you may recall, my truck had to spend some quailty time in the body shop due to an attempted theft / vandalism that caused some extensive damage to the drivers front fender, wheel, studs, and windshield. I finally get the truck back from the body shop that fixed what the first body shop royally messed up on, and I want to take the time here, since I knocked Cook Ford for the poor quality work, I want to credit Frede Chevrolet for exactly the opposite, although it took them a bit to get the parts in, more on that in a bit... they did first rate work. Everything was aligned properly, and fitted the way I would expect to see it..

Only problem is, they put it back to Factory, excluding the fender flares... They replaced the Damaged Pacer Performance flares, with EGR OEM Look flares. I am not going to complain, those were the flares I wanted in the first place, but couldn't ever seem to locate...

However, as I said, the body shop put the fender back to stock, meaning the plastic trim, and the steel lower / inner edge of the fender were put back where they were from Ford, and the 35x12.50/17s rubbed when I turned / hit a bump. I HAD to fix that again...

So now having some experience with this, I started the truck up, set the parking brake, made sure it was in park, and rolled the window doen...

I then got out of the truck, rolled the window down, and turned the wheel to the left (it is the back outer edge of the tire that hits), and watched where it came closest, and marked off about 1/2" past each way...


Turn the wheel to the lock the other way, and turned the truck off, and went to the shop...

Out came the air hose off of my hose reel, an air hammer, an air chisel hammer, and a pair of tin snips.

I trimmed the plastic, just outside of the marked lines, so that there was no longer any protruding plastic. Next I used the tin snips to re-cut the fold that the body shop tack welded back, and then the air hammer / chisel hammer bit came out and folded the sheet metal back well away from tire interference...

There is now more than enough space for the suspension to flex.
The new flares offer close to full coverage of the tires.
Not fully covered, but close enough.

Road tested, and the tire rub is now completely gone over all surfaces I have been willing to try it on. Turning, large bumps etc... Still need to test it offroad, but that will be a bit...


IF the Rancho Quick Lift Loadeds had a strong enough spring, I am certain there would have been no interference problem, as I was running this same brand, model, and size tire with the stock struts and Auto Spring 2.5" leveling spacers. 

But, with all the headache it has been getting to this point, there it is, done for now. 2004 F150 4x4 with 35x12.50/17 mud tires, Only suspension lift is a 2.5" Rancho coil spring / strut lift, 9K lb winch and heavy duty brush guard / winch mount, nerf bar steps to help my wife and I get into the truck easier. I do need to swap the Rancho coils for Moogs, but aside from that, and some minor cosmetic stuff, this truck has seen enough attention from me for a while. On to the Saturn!

24 June, 2014

Prepping for a show, and Ye Olde Heavy Metal...

The workshop is set up and staged for several projects, most notably my lovely bride and I are going to try to reproduce a Talavera-ish look on some large plain tera cotta flower pots. Considering the size she wants in real Talavera runs around $80 - $100 per flower pot, and our lawn service has been known to break flower pots when edging around them, I figured we can replicate the general look pretty easily with some $13.00 Home Depot pots and some Ceramics paint, finished off with full gloss brush on lacquer.

We picked the pots up from Home Depot yesterday, and as they had been rained on in the outdoor garden department, they needed to thoroughly dry before I attempted to paint them. So in the shop they went, unfortunately that takes up a LOT of room...

Another project I had, and this one was more time pressing, was to size up some replacement steel rods for my E-Z Up 13 x 13 Pagoda Gazebo Canopy.
The Auto Show is coming up, and my brother in laws body shop is setting up a booth, and he was going to borrow up the Pagoda to use in the booth, which is great, but unfortunately the last time my wife and I took it to the beach, we got run off the beach by some fast severe weather, and I forgot the extension rods that hold the what would be the eaves if this were a normal structure, out away from the verticals.

So I sized up the bores for the rods, and found that they are 1/2", I used some 1/2" hardwood dowel from the craft store to size up how long the rods should be. I talked with the support folks at EZ-Up, they would be more than happy to sell me replacements for $25.00 + S&H by the way... but they couldn't tell me for sure the length, apparently there are 2 different sizes, mine happened to be the 28", so...

Once the lengths were measured, the angle grinder with the HF metal cutoff wheel was brought out, and the rods were cut, the rough edges were dressed off by hand with a file, and the rods were thoroughly cleaned...

For the Auto Show. I won't bother with paint on the rod yet... But once I get done with that, I get the rods back to the shop, they will get thoroughly cleaned, roughed up with some sandpaper, and then primed, and painted. Mostly to keep rust away from the canopy fabric... The end that goes into the fabric pockets are going to be dipped in Plasti-Dip to finish the job up...

Now as promised in the title... I managed to stumble across a Youtube Channel courtesy of none other than Wil Wheaton, yes, I am that geeky that I follow Wil's blog, and have him in my Google+ circles, and controversial or not, I actually LIKED the Wesley Crusher character in Star Trek The Next Generation! but I digress...

Being a child of the 1980s, heavy metal was a staple of the music scene when I was a teen, and of course, as I ripen, uh I mean mature into the graceful (yeah right) age I am now... I find my musical taste varies quiet a bit more, and I appreciate the finer points of true art that I simply wasn't open to at a younger age. Combine that with far too many years with my fall seasons spent at the Renaissance Faire, and yes... I think I have acquired a fondness for the more obscure musical genres...

So without further Adieu, I present to you 2 classically trained harpists Camille and Kennerly with their cover of Iron Maidens "Fear Of The Dark"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPb20fK0R94

17 June, 2014

Fixing The Flexy Flares...

In an attempt to keep rocks, mud, sand, and whatnot from being flung up at the paint on the truck quite so much by the 12.5" wide mud tires I needed a wider than typical fender flare for my 2004 Ford F150. And while I know there are plenty of folks that like them, but I personally don't care for the looks of the big chunky flares like the Bushwackers. After more than a little research I went seriously old school and opted for a set of cut to fit Pacer Performance Flexy Flares. Basically a 2.5" rubber fender flare that attaches to the inside lip of the fender opening.


Now these are really, painfully simple fender flares, akin to what you see on school busses, ambulances, and fender chopped 4x4s world wide... These have been available and in use literally for decades. I remember a guy in high school that had a set of the universal fit (you cut them to match your application) on a 1965 Corvair. Well anyway I digress...

Due to some vandalism damage my truck had to spend some quality time in the body shop at Cook Ford in Texas City Texas, and I should mention here and now,  and mind you, I am a very forgiving customer knowing full well people make mistakes, and I don't take making this recommendation lightly in the slightest, but I have to say, in the strongest terms, DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH COOK FORD! I took my truck there as they were the closest Ford dealer that was in my insurance companies preferred repair facility program. If I have anything to say about it, they won't be for much longer. But don't take my word for it, take a look at their BBB rating. I dropped the truck off on Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, and was told that they would not be able to even take a look at it until the following Tuesday, so I went ahead and left the truck there. I left with a leery feeling of this shop, and started digging into the reviews and BBB complaints, and by Friday morning I got up early and got to the body shop just after opening time. Unfortunately the insurance company had already notified them that I wanted to get my truck out of there, and they had already started pulling the truck apart, and had sanded the fender down and had bondo on it. So I was kind of stuck... End result?They botched the repair job badly, took it in to straighten some fender damage caused by vandalism, they delivered it with the fender STILL bent, proud of the door by no less than 3mm and distinctly bowed out at the wheel opening like it was a wide body kit, fender bottom edge trim wouldn't fit door trim they took off for painting they bent in the process, and the windshield glass I specifically asked  the body shop manager, Sonia I think her name was, some blonde woman is all I am sure of, if they were going to use the OEM glass with the F150 logo, ended up being a generic aftermarket piece, so she flat out LIED to my wife and myself.

Anyway, among the other things that were done wrong such as the fender that was supposed to be straightened, wasn't delivered straight, I also found the fender flare on the other side of the truck had several of the screws removed. This was causing the flare to curl in, and contact the tire during turns.

I opted for a more permanent fix than a replacement screw however, and broke out the Harbor Freight rivet gun. The hole was already in the flare, and in the fender, all I had to do was run the rivet through both holes, put the riveter on the stud and pull the handle.

The end result is that the fender flare trailing edge is now tight up against the fender, MUCH tighter than was possible with the screw. I am actually considering pulling the existing screws, one at a time, making any width adjustments needed, and running rivets in instead of screws.

Tire to fender flare rub now gone, I can now go to a Chevrolet dealer (that just seems existentially wrong) to get the proper repair done. They had an '09 FX4 F150 in black that they were prepping for delivery that just came out of the shop with similar damage, and not a hint of the problems I had... Hopefully they get the job done smoothly, and this can be the end of my fender mash nightmare...

Likewise, not with any of my rigs, but a friend of ours, who happens to do housekeeping work for us (she helps us catch up every other week with stuff we can't finish off), needed help with her little truck. The bracket that holds the gas strut for the camper shell hatch lost the rivets that hold it on, so I re-riveted that, and double checked the other side...

Overall, the HF riveter that I picked up specifically for this purpose, I used to have a Stanley years ago but it grew feet and left me years ago, anyway, the HF riveter seems fairly well made, it does what it is supposed to, how it is supposed to, and doesn't seem like it should have any failure due to skimped materials or construction methods, however it was supposed to come with a spanner to help change the tips, mine did not, I considered taking it back, but I have more than enough wrenches and don't really need it... Oh for what it's worth, the units in the store have yellow handles, not red, and the metal frame black part is smooth either painted or powder coated, not sure, but it isn't the hammered finish shown in the HF pics...

13 June, 2014

How to deal with a jointer that is too narrow.

I am doing some stock preparation of some pretty rough walnut that I picked up off of Craigslist a few years ago. Much of the stock is 8" or wider, and just under 4/4.

Now if you have been paying attention to my blog, and have gone through the shop tour page, you will remember that I have and use a 6-1/8" bench top jointer. Nice, space saving contraption, that is all but useless for face jointing wider stock. I pretty much MUST keep my stock under 6" wide or it's a no go for this little guy...

To solve the problem I resort to the time tested method of all sorts of woodworkers. I built a jig. Well built might be an overstatement...

Simply put, I used a planer jointing sled.

Now for those unfamiliar with what a planer jointing sled is, it is a piece of dead flat stock, in this case 3/4" plywood, that is 8' long, and just barely narrower than the max capacity of the planer. In my case I have a 13" planer, so the jointing sled is 12-7/8". Thus my stock handling limitation here is 8' x 12.75". You need just enough space around the workpiece to be able to secure it to the sled...

The work piece itself, is secured to the sled via a hot glue gun and glue. Using the same techniques as you would with a jointer to determine which face to start with, secure your work piece to the sled, building up the hot glue to make up gaps between sled and work piece at the edge. The idea here is to solidly hold the work piece, and keep it flat as you plane away at it... In my case, I had approx 1/16" twist over 6' of stock, so I had a corner that was proud of the rest of the stock..

Run your stock, with the sled through as you would normal stock, until you have the exposed surface dead flat. If your planer snipes, it will be a bit exaggerated on a sled, BUT depending on how much material you are taking off, that can be dealt with...

Once the exposed side is flat, just cut the hot glue free, and remove the work piece from the sled. Clean up the sled and set it aside, then process the other side until you get to your final thickness...

With your stock flat, and at your desired width, edge joint it, just like with face jointing, you have multiple options, but in general, unless you are jointing monster sized stock, even a tiny 4" bench top jointer should suffice... I have read on most forums guys trying to say that a bench top jointer can't get a straight edge on anything longer than about 36", I have found that to be pure bovine fertilizer.

I have seen time and again forum members advising newbies to spend the money and buy a jointer first before a planer, the process I just described above to you, along with a similar, and similarly simple table saw edge jointing sled, make me seriously question the wisdom of that advise. If you don't have the budget, or space for a jointer, AND a planer, you are FAR better off with just a planer, and alternative planing methods.

If you would like more detailed information about alternative jointing methods, take a look at Marc Spagnulo A.K.A. "The Wood Whisperer"s video called "The Jointers Jumpin'" http://youtu.be/M-ZZ0dhbJYY . He covers areas that many folks simply don't think about, and unlike certain TV personalities, he takes time to SHOW you how it's done!

08 June, 2014

Follow up update... Dealing with the pressure!

Good morning all, just a quick post between Sunday morning activities...

Upon waking up and prior to heading out this morning, I popped out to the shop to take a quick peek at the pressure gauges. Sure enough the system is holding steady.

I have some long term durability concerns for using the rubber hoses, however I realize that I am pretty much going to require hoses to connect the compressors to the manifolds at least as the compressors vibrate and I need the flexible connection to keep from transferring the vibration to the rest of the plumbing, and in turn to the wall studs, and the rest of the house...

My options as I see them are...
#1. accept the fact that the rubber hoses will eventually spring leaks and fail (they all do) and replace them on an as needed basis.
#2. Upgrade the output side of the system between the filtration system and the hose reel adding possibly a hard drop at the front of the shop using a snap together system such as Rapidair.
#3. Run a system similarly laid out to the rapidair mentioned above, but with sweat fit / soldered copper pipe.
#4. Same as the 2 above, but using black iron...

I know I am overthinking this at this point, as it is all set up and working so well, but I want to have my head around any future possibilities.


06 June, 2014

Clearing the air

With the compressed air system fully sealed and holding pressure I am turning my attention to insure the air supplied particularly to spray guns is uncontaminated... The primary filter does a decent job but I wanted to insure dryer air and no oil passing through.

So I have gone ahead, bit the bullet as it were, and coughed up the bucks to get the Desiccant Dryer / Oil Removal Filter unit, and an FRL (Filter / Regulator / Lubricator) connector bracket from Harbor Freight. While they are still in the packaging, I am starting to wonder if Harbor Freight is trying to position themselves up a step or two on the tool quality ladder...

I am going to say this loud and proud, and will probably catch a ton of flack for it, but after my experiences with the wide variety of tools I have used, At this point I would happily cough out funds for HF tools long before I give Black and Decker or Skil a penny... I am noticing the tools I get from HF are higher quality than those better known name brands which has me wondering if Harbor Freight is going to follow by climbing the price tag ladder soon too...

So I started out with the regulator / filter already installed... That needed to be disconnected, bled down and removed from the wall. I have removed the L bracket from the regulator body as well. The FRL bracket I will talk about in a minute gives me great solid mounting options.


Add to that the Desiccant Dryer / Oil Removal Filter that I have on hand...


And the FRL connector bracket... Mind you, I could have just as easily gone with a 3/8" close nipple and connected them together, but I wanted even, consistent mounting brackets across the devices, so I spent the extra $2.00 and got this thing... It will give me a nice clean install and should actually look like the manufacturer intended for all of this to be together...


While I was ready to go, documentation on configuration is kind of lacking, so I needed to make a decision on to mount the dryer / filter before, or after the regulator. I am opting for after so that the flow goes from compressors --> manifold --> regulator / filter --> desiccant dryer / oil removal filter assembly --> output manifold --> hose reel...


The steps I used to install and test were....
  1. Depressurize and bleed off existing system.
  2. Remove the existing regulator / filter from the wall.
  3. Prep wall mount board (already cut to desired size, simply pre drill counter sunk mounting holes and mount to wall).
  4. Remove the nipple and manifold from the outlet side of the regulator.
  5. Thoroughly clean all mating surfaces of outlet including female threads.
  6. Prep the dryer by installing desiccant beads.
  7. Assemble the bracket to the regulator and the dryer / oil removal filter.
  8. Reapply pipe thread compound to the male threads on the nipple / manifold assembly and assemble that into the outlet of the dryer / oil removal filter.
  9. Mount assembly onto mount board and reconnect inlet and outlet hoses.
  10. Pressurize and test for leaks.
I do feel I need to address those that are pooh poohing this rig for lack of lubricant in the air stream. Well that is the whole point! I have for literally decades, used lubricated air tools on pnuematic systems without lubricators, and with filters. You simply need to add some air tool oil to the inlet at the outset of each days work and periodically through the day...

The installation, particularly of the FRL connector was not documented at all and wasn't completely obvious and not everything was machined to fit nicely. Specifically the regulator / filter body niche for the bracket wasn't milled out entirely far enough, and I had to finesse with a fine file. I opted to file a shave off of the ear of the connector bracket though, easier to get to cleanly...

Of course I also addressed swapping out the flaky Husky regulator on my HF 8 gallon compressor. I sourced up a replacement regulator for the HF from HF... Go figure right? Although the gauge ranges higher than the stocker, this regulator appears otherwise identical to the unit the small compressor was outfitted with from the factory. Should be a good clean install. When assembled and pressurized, the gauge still didn't go up to 125 PSI, and shockingly, I had been making a mistake. My small compressor is the 115 PSI not 125 PSI model! No harm no foul on the Husky regulator though, It wouldn't show anything over 100PSI, and the gauge would swing from 80 to 100 all day long... It HAD to go...The Central Pnuematic piece build quality wise is yet another example of HF beating the competition quality and cost wise! 


Once all of these were assembled, pressurized, and adjusted, I ran bubble tests against the joints, addressed any and all leaks, and there were a few, most notably the clear cap for the filter fail indicator on the oil removal filter, and I had to fiddle with the bracket to stop the leaks there, and then ran a leak down test. Keeping them pressurized but off overnight, and both compressors are holding pressure with no drop. Looking good!

***UPDATE***

I should have posted these earlier, but here is the photo of the completed rig... The regulator / filter has a clean factory assembled look when joined to the dryer / oil removal filter.

In order from left to right, in to out. couplers, check valves, reducer nipples, tee, nipple, regulator / filter, FRL coupler, oil removal filter, FRL coupler, desiccant dryer, nipple, tee, reducer nipples, couplers.  The plastic bulb thing on top where the filter replacement indicator on the oil removal filter is where my leak was when I assembled this. I loosened it up and straightened the O ring, then ran it back in carefully using a 19 MM deep well socket.

The mount board is a simple piece of scrap 3/4" ply screwed directly to the studs, and then the FRL couplers screwed to it using 1-5/8" drywall screws.


And after 26 hours turned off but kept pressurized, the in tank pressure is exactly where it was when I threw the switch to the off position. On the 29 gallon unit mind you, I didn't check the 8 gallon...


Yeah, I am LOVING that picture... 

04 June, 2014

Keeping up the pressure, and adding on for more flow!

As I mentioned previously, I haven't had the 8 gallon hooked up to the system while I was hunting gremlins down. Well I went and hooked it up, and the port it connected to leaked, BADLY... I bubble tested it last night, and it produced so many bubbles it was actually hard to determine exactly where it was coming from!

Instead of trying to reseal the existing 1/4" NPT male x male quick connect plug I simply replaced it, doped the replacement with plenty of pipe thread compound, and installed it tight, but not ham fisted.

The results were thus far good. However I have questionable readout from my gauge on the compressor. It is reading 100 PSI, and hasn't budged...  My compressor is supposed to produce 125 PSI... Either the compressor is failing to produce that pressure, or the regulator isn't reading / regulating correctly... I have a spare 1/4" regulator on hand, it's a simple matter to swap it over and test...

I should mention before any HF haters out there blame Harbor Freight for the funky regulator. The regulator on the 8 gallon is a Husky from Home Depot. I did something stupid and dropped the nail gun right on the original and smashed it to bits. Just about any modern regulator would come flying apart like that. I didn't wait to wait to get a HF regulator. They now carry them in store so no biggie to just grab one, but back then it was a problem...

FWIW, if you have a small compressor with 1/4" fittings on the outfeed and need a good cheap replacement regulator, look at the Central Pneumatic #68223 which is the unit I should have gone with in the first place.

Given this fix, if it all holds, I will then have in / out all sealed up and holding. My flow rating far exceeding any of my tools, and even a good loss factor given to run my tools... I should be a happy camper.

I still want to install the Desiccant Dryer with Oil Removal Filter to insure that my spray guns aren't contaminating sprayed material from the inlet air. Not worried about lubricated tools as I manually lube them... God, and my wife willing, I will be able to have my air system completely done by this weekend so I can move on to other projects...

03 June, 2014

As promised... Detail on how I secured the fire extinguisher to the door safety center.

I had to solve the issue of the fire extinguisher flapping around every time I opened and closed the door. It was making an awful noise, and transferring a lot of red paint to the door... It HAD to stop.

The top was secure enough, but the bottom would simply flop around willy nilly.

My first thoughts were for an over-engineered bracket to cradle the thing with a quick release metal band / buckle arrangement, but let's face it, that makes for some serious overkill. I just needed to hold it steady...

On a trip through Walmart's craft aisle with my wife the perfect solution almost literally smacked me in the face as overtstuffed products on pegs came spilling out as I was trying to fetch some black velcro for another project...

"Safety Red" hook and loop tape (not velcro brand, sorry...) and of course a couple of screws I already had on hand...

I simply made sure the 2 pieces met securely enough in the middle, and measured out enough so that I could double up the end, then run 2 screws into each end close to the extinguisher body. Then simply strap the 2 together...


The results may not win me any awards, but they sure are functional, and it doesn't look too shabby... Best of all, no more extinguisher knocking on the door!

02 June, 2014

When safe is not so safe, and keeping up the pressure. A tale of failure, and success!


Over the weekend, I whipped up a quick holder for the box holding my respiartors, the idea was to keep all of my PPE in a small area, out of the way of everyone else.

Sounds like a good idea right?

It sticks out from the door approximately 4", and obviously, most folks don't expect to find things mounted to doors. , and it appears that my wife of all people, failed to look before proceeding through the doorway, and caught herself on it. No serious damage, but realizing this, and the fact that my brother in law, who is very uh... vision impaired, goes through this door to get to the freezer, this holder HAD to go... Dang...

Now I need to rethink how to store my safety equipment and supplies... For now, the box of respirators are housed on the lower shelf of the workbench.

Now on to the success!

As you may recall, mid week last week, I had to redo the FTP x Male I/M coupler plug on the hose that feeds the hose reel as it was a persistent leak point no matter the sealant used...

Well I can gladly say that after a weekend of temp highs and lows, the pressure is holding steady.


The next test is in progress now. I have fired up the 8 gallon compressor, tested the fittings between it, and the regulator / check valve. It is presently holding at 125 PSI... Will check on it over the next few days...  I have messed around with the regulator on the 29 gallon compressor so that it will kick on prior to the 8 gallon compressor under hard load...

The errant FPT x Male disconnect plug will be repurposed to the rubber / PVC blend hose. I don't much like that hose, and chances are better than good that it will see VERY brief use, if any at all, and so if it leaks, who cares?

My compressed air plumbing system is so painfully close to done... Like I mentioned previously, I still want to add a secondary / finer filter / dessicant dryer that also filters out oil from the air stream to provide clean, dry air to spray guns. I will likely make those upgrades this coming weekend. I will have to make a quick and dirty mount board, so that I have a solid surface to mount the components to. I would like to paint the mount board before installing it to insure a good clean install. Once it is done, I will move on to the next projects.

My next project that if my wife allows me time to work on it this weekend, will be to replace the 30 year old Masonite siding on the back of our house by the master bedroom, with Hardie Panel. The panels are cut already, and have been painted and are waiting in the shop. Sadly keeping me from getting to my lathe, I think she made sure I would be motivated to get this done... Of course with the install of this stuff, I will be using my nail guns, which means compressed air. This one will take the portable 8 gallon unit to the back yard for use...

****UPDATE 6/3/3014***

I set up the test on the 8 gallon, and found a leak, similar to the one I just fixed, but at the MPT x Male quick connect fitting at the check valve. I have not narrowed it down exactly where, but I think it may be that coupler plug. I have tons of those, and no hesitation to re-seal the joint... For now the compressor is disconnected. I am somewhat concerned though. Fully pressurized I am getting a reading of 100 PSI at the on compressor regulator turned all the way up. Either the compressor is not developing the 125 PSI it should, or the regulator is giving me a bad reading...