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December 2006 Willies Workbench Shop Tips

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on December 1, 2006
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I've had a bunch of little notes sitting in a file for some time now that I need to get rid of. Little tips I've thought about over the years that maybe someone else can use.

Let's start out with oil filters. I own three vehicles and two tractors, and never can remember which filter they take, or how many quarts of oil they need. Instead of having to look it up each time in a service manual, I made up a little chart with the information and put it in the top of my toolbox. As a backup, I use a paint pen to write under the hood the filter number, number of quarts, and the wrench size for the pan bolt.

Oh, one more thing: before I remove the filter, I punch a hole in the end of the canister for the oil to drain out. This prevents that gush of oil all over your hand and down the arm when the filter is removed. I also make sure to fill the new filter with oil before I install it. This way, the oil pump doesn't have to fill the filter before any oil reaches the engine bearings.

Ever tried to fill a jug or other container when the base of the funnel seals the container's opening? As the liquid goes in, trapped air can't get out and the liquid can't go in until you lift the funnel a bit. A couple of tricks I use: A length of small-diameter plastic or rubber tubing inserted into the funnel's opening. Now air can escape out the tube as the liquid flows around it. Another way is to tape something to the outside of the funnel's neck to force it a bit offset to prevent a tight seal. A popsicle stick works for me.

Speaking of popsicle sticks, they work great for mixing epoxies, like JB Weld. Cut the end off so it is squared. They also work as splints when you break your finger doing something that you knew was an accident waiting to happen before you did it.

Drill bits generally are sharpened at a 118-degree angle. I'm not a very good judge of angles, nor are most people when it comes to that kind of accuracy, so that's why they make drill gauges. I found a really cheap way to make one. Take two hex 9/16-inch nuts and braze them together, one flat side to another. The included angle formed is 120 degrees-just about the right drill-cutting angle. Not only can you place the drill in your new tool to check the cutting angle, but you can also eyeball that the drill point is centered.

When sharpening my drills, I use beeswax on the grinding wheel to give the drill a better finish, and it seems to make the wheel last longer. Don't ask me why, because I'm not sure. Just something an "old time" machinist once told me.

Some time ago, I had to replace a broken stud on a Chevy V-8 exhaust manifold. Got the stud out OK, but the manifold had sprung out of alignment and wouldn't line up properly. None of the attachments to my Porta Power would work. With a bit of thought, I finally figured out a simple tool that worked perfect. I took a 1/2-inch bolt that was about 5 inches long and threaded a nut all the way on to the end of the threads. Then I took a length of heavy-wall tubing with an inner diameter where the bolt would just slide inside. I cut the tubing to the proper length and slid it over the bolt with a heavy-duty flat washer up against the nut. I took this new tool and put it between the exhaust ports on the manifold and began turning the nut. This "spreader" produced enough force to flex the manifold just enough to allow the holes to line up with the exhaust studs. Since that time, I've used several variations of this spreading tool for other applications.

Oh, and as for the Porta Power, I found another use for it that I doubt the manufacturer ever thought of. Ever had a grease fitting that, no matter how hard you tried, just will not take grease? Pump on that grease gun as hard as you can, and all you succeed in doing is slipping to the wrong angle and breaking the Zerk fitting off. Swell! I had this problem on a piece of farm equipment that hadn't seen a grease gun in 20 years.

Get out that Porta Power, take the coupler off the end of the hose, and put your grease gun fitting on it. Now you can easily generate enough pressure to free the blockage, no matter how long it has been sitting or how hard the grease is.

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