Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Harbor Freight Load Leveler and some cool stuff!

I bought a Harbor Freight load leveler a few months ago when it was on sale, stashed it away and had forgotten about it. When we changed the trans in the pilot I pulled it out but we never did end up using it. It basically looked like this.

If you buy one of these it may look pretty good at first glance. I was browsing through some posts on the garage journal and found a post about the leveler so I checked it out. There have been some guys on there that have had them fail. 1 guy had an engine drop on his radiator support, 1 guy had dropped one on the floor moving it and another had it fail and crush his hand between the engine and the car he was working on. They had basically said it just exploded and dropped without any warning. There are a couple reasons they failed and I will explain them here and show you what I did to modify and strengthen mine. This picture shows what I removed and basically threw away from my leveler. I will explain why below.
 Here is all the parts of my leveler. I of course had to strip, sand blast and powder coat it so it would look good and I have the stuff to do it myself. The first thing I did was buy all new grade 8 bolts for it. The ones installed in the original leveler were grade 5 bolts.
 The handle to it is very cheesy. The handle constantly falls off when you try to crank the thing and its made of some very cheap plastic. I decided to cut mine off and chuck it.
 I decided to take an old spark plug socket, cut it down and weld it onto the end of the screw shaft so that I could use a ratchet to turn it or I could grab a gear wrench and turn it with that also. Here is the socket I used.
Here is everything powder coated and just about ready to put back together. I just needed to get some welding done now.
 This is one thing I did. If you look at the original picture you can see 1 big spacer on the crank side of the leveler and none on the other. I wanted one on both sides so I cut it into 2 pieces and reinstalled it after I polished them up.
 OK, here is where some of the failures occurred. The original design has 2 nuts on the screw jack and they are secured by roll pins. When the leveler is put in a very high nose up or down angle there is a lot of stress put on those nuts. On 2 of the levelers that failed (the ones that exploded) the roll pin sheared and the nut came off. That allowed the whole thing to come apart (explode) and drop the engine. I fixed that by actually welding on the nut to the shaft. You can see where I had the socket welded onto the nut also.
 Here is the other side of the jack screw and the nut welded on. It's definitely not going to come off now.
 The socket side wear the ratchet can go.
The other weak link (pun intended) is the chains. You can see from this photo that the chain is not the best chain in the world. The one that failed and smashed the guys hand had the chain fail. I looked closely at mine and found half of my chain links weren't even welded all the way around. I could of welded each link and they probably would of been fine but I chose to just get new chain and not risk it at all.
 Another modification I did was to install a bearing on the part of the leveler that lets the load move. You can see it here in this picture. (I actually am using 2.) The original used a spacer and a bushing that was pretty rough. Most people grease them up really heavy so they are somewhat smooth and movable. Mine is smooth as glass with the bearing.
 I also polished the bottom of the rail where the bearing rides. It works great. This isn't necessary but it makes it work really nice and smooth.
Here it is all put together and ready for some use. I think it will work great and should be a ton safer than it was.
 It's home now on the hoist ready for it's first trial run. I have a Saturn that it will get used on this weekend sometime so I will let you know how it works.
You might ask why I would go through all this trouble for a 20 dollar load leveler. I looked around and found different brand levelers. I looked at them closely and found they were basically the same leveler with a different name on it. I decided to just fix mine so it would be a good tool that should give me many years of service. I guess I should mention that I am not responsible for anything you may do to change or alter your load leveler. I just informed you of what I did and am in no way responsible for any modifications you may do to yours. Now onto the cool stuff I mentioned in the title. I was surfing e bay and came across this auto analyzer. No one had bid on it so I threw a bid in just to see what would happen and ended up winning it for 99 cents. It's suppose to work great and it should work great for the bugs. I think it's cool. I love this old time stuff.
 The other cool thing is that I finally got my piston shift knob made. I had a chunk of aluminum and I finally gave it to a friend who runs the mill and lathe at work. I also gave him a drawing of what I wanted. He gave me it back yesterday and I attached it to the bug. I think it looks cool. I made a few of these in high school but I don't know what happened to them.  
 Bob did an awesome job machining it. It looks cool. If I ever get my 50's lead sled I will put it on that for sure. Until then, I will sport it in Ed.
 I guess the winter wasn't a total loss for Ed. I at least installed a cool shift knob in him. Check back in a few to see how the Saturn works out. Until then, keep on Truckin!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

AutoRama 2013 is here at last!

It's that time of year again! The first car show of the year kicked off in Utah this weekend and me and Isaac went to it. It was a really good show this year and we had a great time checking out all the cars.
Here's a few of our favorites from last night. This was a copy of john Melnar's 32 Ford from American Graffiti.
 An old Indy 500 race car from the early 1900's Super cool!
 Isaac got to climb into this race car. Kids his age race these at Rocky Mountain Raceway and other tracks around. Looks like it would be a blast but might be expensive.
 Very nice 36. The metal work on this is amazing. I wish I had that kind of talent.
Gotta love the rusty ones. They are always a hit in my book.
 This is a super clean Chevy. I think it was the best Chevy in the show from the 55, 56, 57 era.
 Cool original woody. Laid Back Garage has a website that you can buy clothes and signs from. Check it out. www.laidbackusa.com
 Isaac doing his best James Dean pose again in front of a 59 El Camino. I love these cars/trucks. My buddy had a 59 in high school that he wrecked and sold for 500 bucks. I should of bought it.
Stags car club out of Ogden had the all time best display that I have ever seen at a car show. This was the front of it. We spent a lot of time checking out all the cool stuff in the display and then all the cool cars they had also. I loved it! I love the old garage look. I am trying to get my garage to resemble the old garages like this display. It was great. If this was the only thing I was able to see all night I would of left happy.
 It was like looking at art. There was cool stuff everywhere. There was even some old wasp nests in the upper portion of the wall. It cracked me up. Blow up these pictures and check out all the cool equipment they brought in. It's all cool old school stuff.
 Still some more of the display. Neat, Neat, Neat!
 Cool old drill press, and other stuff.
I have been having it really bad for these 50's customs. I want a 49 to 51 Ford bad. This merc would be great too but definitely out of my price range. Love the satin black and the flames.
 I would love to drive this everyday. That's the epitome of cool in my book.
 We had to throw in a bug picture. I've been looking for a trailer like this for my bug but haven't been able to locate one. It's a nice little bug.
 Here's a salt flat racer. Isaac was asking if that's real salt.
 This type of Hot Rod is where my interests are headed also. I am really digging the old school hot rods from the good ole days. I like the flat head V8. I think I will have to build one sometime.
So we always choose our favorite car of the show and this one was mine. It's an old school Hot Rod that was absolutely beautiful! Simple, yet amazing! I dig the flat head, the steel wheels and the basic not overly fancy look of the whole car.
 Great Flat Head V8 with just the right amount of chrome and 2 carbs. I am still drooling.
 More pictures of my choice for best of show.
 Nothing Fancy, Just perfect. Perfect in every way.
To the opposite extreme is Isaac's choice for best of show. This one is tricked out to the max. A genuine Ed Roth special. Rat Fink is even driving it. It has cool paint and wild modifications done to it.
 Another shot of Isaac;s favorite.
 I have been trying to come up with a cool logo for Olson's Speed Shop and saw these 3 at the show. I liked them so thought I'd show them here. I actually wanted to name my garage the Salt City Speed Shop but didn't because there already was one in Utah. Here it is on a car. I like the name and their logo is cool.
 Here is another one on the salt flat racer. It's also cool. I wish I had an artistic brain and could come up with one for my shop.
 This one cracked me up. Looks great.
If you have a chance go check out the Auto Rama. It's going on the next 2 days. We had a fun time and it's nice to start off the car show season. It doesn't really feel like it this afternoon because it's snowing like crazy right now but spring is coming up fast. I haven't even done anything on Ed this winter. Oh well, I will get around to it sometime. The next project in the garage is a 2000 Saturn that threw a timing chain. The engine looks to be toast but hopefully it can be saved. See you then!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The icing on the vise!

It's been about a year I think when I started to restore my vise. I bought this vise at a Surplus sale Boeing was having for 5 bucks. It was in production use for many years. It's a columbian vise and it's a great size for the shop. When I bought it it was painted green from the FR prime that Boeing uses for the inside of their skin panels. I was tired of that so I painted it black with some rattle can paint I had lying around. I didn't take much time to do it so it was pretty ugly. When I finished my garage I decided that I needed to refinish my vise properly. I have posted some of this stuff previously but I will do the whole rundown here also. I tore it apart and dipped all the parts in an ultrasonic tank we use for cleaning. It takes off all the paint and rust and grease and anything else that may be stuck onto the vise. Here it is all torn apart ready to be put into the tank.
This picture shows the shape it was in before I started to restore it.
 This shows the inside of the vise. At this point it has been stripped, cleaned, sand blasted, cleaned again and I put on the high temp tape to the areas that I didn't want powdercoat  to be on.
 It's almost ready to be powder coated now.
 It's just been removed from the oven after it was powder coated.
 I polished the handle and some of the other areas and put it all back together. This is the way it sat for quite awhile. I even mounted it onto my work bench but it never felt finished to me.
It looked good and functioned great but something was missing. I decided I wanted to put some old school pin striping on it. There was only one problem. I didn't have a clue on how to pinstripe.  I put a post up on the local VW club I am involved with asking for help with my vise. The president of the club got in touch with me and told me he pinstripes and would be glad to do it. I was excited. I dropped it off to him last Saturday and he called me this weekend and told me it was done. I gave him a very vague idea of what I wanted. I left it pretty much up to him on what to do. I had seen his work and I wasn't a bit worried that it would turn out great. Here it is before the pin striping.
 Here it is when it was done. I had an idea of what I wanted in my head but I have a hard time expressing that. It was a good thing because the vise turned out so much better then what I was expecting. I really couldn't have dreamed up anything better and it matches the shop perfectly. I will let the pictures speak for themselves!

So the vise is finally completed. I love the way it came out. The only bad thing is that it's so nice I'm not sure I will want to use it for what a vise is suppose to be used for. It really is a piece of artwork! Thank You again Brian!