The idea behind smoothing wood has had effects on both the visual appearance of an object as well as its texture and feel since man first used tools. The feel of tools and instruments and the way they perform has has long been effected  by methods of smoothing them. The sand hasn’t always been just on the paper. Historically wood has been smoothed by rubbing wood on stone or rubbing a stone on wood.
Millions of years ago, when I was a kid, we felt, like all other kids, the need for spears. Since wise and discerning adults had hid all the sharp tools, we were only left with the obvious method of sharpening sticks.  Another historical method of sanding was drawing a sharp edge perpendicularly to the surface being smoothed. On rare occasions, I will still grab a piece of broken glass and draw it along an uneven surface, to remove material faster, in a hard to reach location. Since the historicity of arrow and spear heads makes them off limits, and a cabinet scraper won’t fit in some places, sometimes even using a utility knife blade will work wonders. But… most of the time sandpaper is the answer. Not wanting to count, I’m sure that we have a least 30 different power tools that use abrasive paper or cloth. If you want it smooth and clean, sandpaper is your friend.

Road Trips 4

So, the trip down from Boise to Rancho Cucamonga was punctuated with uneventfulness (which, as it turns out, isn’t a word). The idea here is a loooooong drive, at night, with 35 raw horsepower. Cinderella, that’s my truck, sometimes I call her Princess, was doing fine. You just can’t expect too much. I got pulled over, the officer said I was going too fast, I threw him the keys, said, “here, you try”. I guess I can afford the extra time driving since Cinderella gets up to 48 miles per gallon loaded. We had built a “special” lumber rack for Cinderella to transport this portable sawmill. When I say lumber rack I don’t mean ladder rack since we constructed it out of 2×6 and I currently do not have the equipment to weld aluminum.
I guess the high point came as we reached the summit between LA and Las Vegas, Princess quit. Quickly pushing in the clutch we maintained enough inertia to gracefully glide to the shoulder. Apparently the alternator had seized and the belt was strong enough to kill the engine. We promptly removed and disassembled the offender. Typically this would happen at night, but fortunately it was early Saturday afternoon. The front bearing was locked up tight. I noticed the dip stick on the sawmill motor. Great small oil dropper. It was within arms reach. A few drops of oil then vise grips and a big pipe wrench and we convinced the frozen bearing to turn again. Once we had it loosened up fairly well we reassembled and reinstalled the alternator. Not qualifying as a rebuild it would hopefully at least run. We only had about 90 miles to Las Vegas. It didn’t sound great but at least it was running. We tried to locate parts as we drove in. We were able to find an alternator shop whose doors were open although they had closed 30 minutes before. The alternator has not been available for this model for years. As the shop owner looked up the parts we asked if he would have  enough time to wait until we could make sure that they were right. He did not but we were glad he had at least stayed long enough to help us. We asked if there was a hardware store close. We drove around the corner to a hardware store and got ready to pull out the alternator for the second time. The parts we purchased cross referenced twice through different manufacturer changes did not fit. The rear bearing size was the right size for the front shaft but the the outside diameter was way too small. There had to be something in the hardware store that we could jam in the crack. We found an o-ring that fit and filled the rest with epoxy. Another trip inside produced a set of files to shape the carbon brushes to actually fit. Once the epoxy cured enough we re-reinstalled the alternator and we were off and running. I was glad to be back on the road. As we concluded our road trip we stopped in Boise and picked up the right parts. They currently ride in the ashtray waiting for our temporary fix to fail.
I guess it never hurts to have tools along. I’m not saying that I have any problem with AAA, but somehow there is something satisfying about saving a Princess.

Road Trips 3

On the road trip with the previously mentioned parameters, I think the best thing that you can do is to bring a good set of tools. I don’t mean just tools tools. But, sometimes you need tools to make tools. Sometimes, you will need tools to make tools out of. As an example, mom has a drawer full of screwdrivers where she used to have butter knives. The trouble is, when you come full circle, eventually you have to turn a putty knife back into a couple of butter knives. But, anyway, tools can come in handy.
We’ve always been fortunate enough to break down where there has been some access to parts or supplies or we’ve been able to make due. Now we have never been forced to check out the apocryphal nylon stockings in place of the fan belt (God bless the faith of the guy that thought that would work). Nor have we been forced to fix (temp) a radiator with chewing gum. However, occasionally, a half a dozen egg whites will work in place of a leaky head gasket repair.

Road Trips 2 (choosing a rig)

  Well if you have a new truck, dependable and all that you might want to leave it at home. It would cost way too much to put a lot of wear on it. Much better to choose something  a bit less attractive. Your second choice might be an old Mazda, or perhaps your only choice. A least you won’t have to worry about anyone stealing it. As a matter of fact, if it looks bad enough no one will even steal anything out of it. Now they are not making tires the same size as they used to. So bring plenty. If your odometer reads anywhere near 150k you might bring a starter, alternator, water pump, etc.

Road Trips

cross cut
So, recently, we came across a portable sawmill that was located in southern Cal. It promised to be a good addition to our collection of stuff as it would perform within a different spectrum than our current portable. It was looking like a road trip. As a preamble to our departure prayers were asked, divine mercy requested, when a not so subtle suggestion was made, by the Divine Reverend, leader of our small congregation, that it might perhaps be an oversight to misguidedly embark on a journey of indeterminate length with me without further forethought. But what could happen?
As far as a road trip goes there are rules. I mean, what is the challenge if you bring a perfectly good automobile? If the tires don’t leak a little, and if everything works what is the point? We’re not talking about 8 track, but maybe the factory cassette player failed so an additional one has been installed (that also doesn’t work). It’s better that way anyhow, at least you could hear yourself think if it weren’t for the exhaust leak and the diesel rattling.