Friday, March 26, 2010

Feeling handy

Got my hands dirty a bit ago.

When I got my second car, the first sat outside for months after the battery died. I had ignored it too long, and actually began looking up the things that could go wrong with it. Bad idea. I picked a time to give it some attention, and ascertain its status.

I turned the key to just before starting, and checked the fuel level... Full. Damnit. I had hoped I could add half a tank of gas to mix up the possibly settled old gas, but no dice. I wanted to try a start without draining the tank, so I rocked the car as much as I could in the hopes of getting some mixing action in the gas tank. The tires were very low, but still had a seal, so they would work to make it down the street to the gas station and air compressor. I checked the hoses again for any weathering damage, and tried for a start... VROOOM! Just as strong as when I left it. Go Dodge.

After letting it run for a bit, I slowly drove it to the gas station, and saw a hastily made sign taped to the air compressor, "Broken." A little bit further was the Sears I was going to buy the battery from, It was only half a mile, and one light, so I made a go at it. (like I had any other choice)

As I waited to make a left turn at the light, I noticed the dashboard lights flickering as they got uneven energy without the help of the battery, and realized that given my position, and my intended destination, the car dying at this moment would mean me pushing the car across a large busy intersection, ~500 yards down the street, and up a notable slope into the parking lot. I pushed the thought from my mind as I idled the car a little high until the light changed.

I parked the car on an incline, and bought the new battery. I popped the hood, pulled the connections, and pulled on the battery. It didn't budge. I checked around the battery, and it looked clear, but it wouldn't move. Could it be glued by the factory or something? That wouldn't make sense. I noticed a screw that held a small piece of metal at the base of the battery, but it was at such an angle that it didn't look like it was holding the battery at all. So I thought for a bit, and decided that bolt had to go, mostly because it was my best guess. But all I had were some vicegrips, and the engine jungle of wires and hoses made it impossible to get at it without a ratchet and an extender. Well, I've needed a ratchet set for a while.

I walked from the sears auto center to the main store, and bought a ratchet set and extender set, and was able to replace the battery with no problem. The screw held down a piece of metal that put pressure on a flair at the bottom of the battery body I hadn't noticed before. Pretty solid hold for such a simple system. They were kind enough to let me fill up my tires there, so I was off to the oil change spot where they changed the oil, topped off fluids, and cleaned a layer of crud off the windows, and cobwebs out of the interior. It almost looked normal again.

I am a dangerous man.

Feeling handy for the rest of the day, I lightened the trigger on my 91/59 by placing two short pieces of a plastic straw under the sear/spring/thingy on either side of the screw that holds it there. This makes the trigger just ok, but it'll need some more work before it gets to the level of the M39. While I was at it, I floated the barrel by applying layers of painting tape to the stock where the base of the barrel rests. The barrel now sits loosely within the stock and barrel bands. I have yet to shoot it though, so I'll have no real gauge for improvement. Whatever... HANDY!!!

I then thought for a bit how to repair my paintball pants, which had a hole worn through the kneepad clear to the lining. It's very painful when you slide into a bunker into a position on your knees and stop your knee right on a rock without the benefit of padding. I wandered the house searching for something I could use, and actually found something! The old leather couch had been destroyed and disposed of, but we kept some of the cushions for Ava to chew on and play with. I cut a section out of the leather, and cut a cube out of the first layer of foam. With a bit of fitting, the cube matched the hole in the existing knee padding perfectly, and I somehow managed to get the whole thing under the sewing machine to attach the leather patch and foam cube to the pants securely. I didn't want to cut a hole in the liner for fear of catching it when putting the pants on and tearing it, so I just sewed through the liner too. The results were quite good. The stitching was a little uneven, but secure. I used some "anything" glue to touch up the edges so the patch wouldn't catch and tear off, but the glue was so good I wished I had skipped the sewing and used the glue only, which would have left the liner loose. Oh well, it still works great.

It's not like I built a house or anything, but baby steps for now.

I would totally build a house.


JP said...

Welcome to the true meaning of manhood (~_^)
just kidding. But being poor, and wanting things without stealing them from someone else will make one learn to fix stuff, and built it your self.
With all the tricks you use on your cheaper weapons to improve them, the skill can easily be applied to other areas.
When you start watching How It's Made, How Do They Do That, and Mythbusters, and you nitpick all the mistakes and then watch Junkyard Wars an realize your design would be 100 times better than either team's, then you've made it.

JP said...

oh, and congrats on finding the bolt plate for the battery.
I know far too many people who couldn't figure that out if life depended on it.

Davidwhitewolf said...

At the Bower Handgun Clinic in 2006 I bunked in the same room with Richard Mertz of MOA Handguns. He matter-of-factly mentioned that recently his wife had agreed to let him do some off-the-wall thing if he would build her a new house. So he did.

Upon inquiry he clarified that he did it all himself.

This would have impressed me anyway, but on top of that Mertz looks to be in his late sixties at least, probably more.

I'd imagine Wyoming has lax building codes that would help with such a DIY undertaking, but still.... Damn!

Davidwhitewolf said...

Note to self: the bolt plate nut is perfectly positioned to put one edge of the wrench against one terminal while your steel wedding ring brushes against the other. Good times.