27 April, 2014

Some auto related upgrades, and improvement to the safety center.

As I have mentioned previously, I own 2 vehicles, a 2001 Saturn SL2, and a 2004 Ford F150 4x4. The F150 weighs in at a beefy 7200lbs stock, that doesn't count the additional weight for the 35s, winch mount, winch etc... I figure I have at least 7500lbs on that thing.

 Unfortunately my old floor jack was just a puny little Goodwrench "trolley" jack i bought at Walmart probably a decade ago. It has been sufficient, sort of. Lifting the truck has always been a scary strain, and the lift height has been barely adequate and I mean barely. I also had a welded steel, decent quality, but still light gauge set of jack stands that really weren't up to the task of keeping the truck supported.

 Well Harbor Freight sales being what they are I headed in... I upgraded to the Pittburgh Automotive 4 ton service jack. And if my initial impression of the quality of this stands the test of time, this is one of Harbor Freight's few items that exceed the big name brands in every way I can imagine.

 The jack is a dual piston design, featuring a rubber bump strip to protect the sides of vehicles should the handle get away from the operator, and easily pumps from full retracted to full extended in 7 pumps. Not to mention this is the highest lifting standard service jack I could find. By standard I mean intended for auto and light truck, not the monstrocities intended for medium / heavy trucks. I don't need 20K lb handling in a floor jack, but nice try!

While I had thought previously about keeping my auto stuff all together in / around the rolling tool chest, with the size of this thing, it just wasn't workable. Thankfully I had just the right space between the lathe and tool stacker!

So now that I had a safe way to LIFT the truck, I now needed a way to keep it in the air. You do know working under a vehicle supported solely by jacks is a good way to make your wife a widow don't you? Well Harbor Freight again. They had the 6 ton jack stands, real quality pieces at that, on sale for $39.99, great reach to them, and perfect load rating for my truck. I wish I could have bought a second pair, and may still at some point in the future... For now they get stowed next to the big compressor by the rollaway tool chest.

Now mind you, the truck is still up at the BILs shop in Houston, but I did get LOTS done this weekend. The pump gasket, o ring, bushing, seal, torque converter, and even a new vent line have been put in place. My BIL was going to swap the fuel filter for me as I had a HUGE problem figuring out how to release those Ford quick disconnects. I got the rear, just not the front... All that is left is swap the fuel filter, double check the nuts, bolts and connections, reconnect the battery, fill, start, run through gears on the lift, check, adjust, double check for leaks, and drive home... Will be VERY happy to have my truck back. It is old too, but my Saturn is getting Geriatric these days... 

With the automotive lifting duties SAFELY squared away, and while I was still in Harbor Freight with a fist full of coupons, I wandered over to the aisle that I have been avoiding since the late 90s. Yes boys and girls, I bought a cheap cordless drill / flashlight combo.

I don't expect much from it, and because of this, it has by far exceeded by expectations. The price after coupons was $18.99, and the poor girl at the register seemed a bit confused when I refused the extended warranty as I explained I considered this a disposable experiment.

I have long hated cordless tools due to their unpredictable power source, low power output, and in general poor performance. In the few short days I have owned / used this tool, it has so far exceeded the performance anyway, of the old Skil, B&D, and even Makita cordless tools from back in the late 90s. I used it to cobble together my next item on the list of what I wanted to talk about today, and honestly, I must say I was pleasantly shocked by the torque / power output of this thing. It's by no means fast, but it will certainly punch holes and cut countersinks just fine! 

Overall the fit and finish is far better than I expected, but I must admit some concern for the durability of the directional selector switch. It feels rough and plasticy in operation. But it did work fine for now. So no complaints yet. For the dirt cheap money at least so far it has been a fair investment. However cheaply made switches, and ancient battery chemistry and this I can honestly see as a throw away tool... Too bad too. It has the capability to be a good tool if they would just put that extra little bit into it. Maybe charge more sure, but go with Lithium Ion batteries and put a decent switch in it!

Well once I got the new stuff situated, I started in on the safety center. Tonight I moved the simple bracket I made to hold the safety glasses (To make room for the respirators), and created a dispenser for my Nitrile gloves. The dispenser if pretty basic just screwed together using drywall screws and made from 3/4" and 1/2" plywood scrap. The carriage for the respirators will be made similarly. The idea is to make a safe way of keeping them somewhere handy, and that somewhere is the back of the man door. It works exceedingly well, and I could only wish everything else went together as easily as this...

The nitrile glove dispenser is simply a holder designed to hold a box of the Harbor Freight nitrile gloves A new box just slides in to the open top and is retained by the plywood straps on the front and the bottom. The opening in the box has been provided with full access. I can only hope and pray that Harbor Freight never changes the size / opening of the nitrile gloves box... 

I am not certain at this point, but I may just take a hair of extra time and simply knock the edges off of the exposed surfaces with a palm sander just to make it safer to work around... 

You may have noticed that I have 2 sets of safety glasses, but only one hearing protector. That is because my second set grew feet and walked off a few years ago... I need to find a new set. I am using Winchester shooters muffs. They work great. I just need to find a second set...

Lastly, it's not pictured because, well it's not completed yet, but I have the cutlines for the carriage / box for the respirators done. I will simply build a holder that will hold the sealed plastic mini tote that I use to hold these in. I like the tote because it seals shop dust out of my respirator, so it doesn't in itself become contaminated while I am not there, and not using it.

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