ShopTalk Sunday: Second Depression Fix-It Shops?

Play before Work, I always say. (But never actually do.)

Where is the Welder Review???

There’s a “dog ate my welder” story in here…

Today was scheduled to be a review of that Chineseum knock-off of the Smith Little Torch.  That one retails on the Zon for (take a look).  While the Chineseum was under $25-bucks – including shipping on eBay!  They even copied the Smith manual which is really, uh, insulting.

Saturday, out comes Mr. Ure, ready to work and he sets up a couple of things on the welding table, like so:

Next step was to attach the mini welding torch to the acetylene and oxy bottles.

Before removing the hoses, though, a mandatory safety check.  Oxy regulator looked like it was supposed to:

BUT the acetylene?  Look closely and see if you can spot the problem:

OK…why are we showing 52 PSI on the gas regulator with the tank off and the hose bled?

Whoopie!  This is exactly  the kind of systemic failure Mr. Ure lives and schemes for!

OK Wise-Ass…Why?”

Because, at this point, I shuffle over to the shelving unit adjacent and pull a dusty black box off the shelf…


“WAIT, URE.  You’re saying you had a complete oxy rig as a spare with regulators and, tips, cleaners, strikers…EVERYTHING???

Mean you don’t?

This was laid down in 2013.  Even (thanks to the net still being up (give it time) I can show you what I paid for it.  Campbel-Hausfeld WT-4000 series:

(OK,… So this overboard prepper stuff borders on compulsive and hoarder, but let’s not quibble. Gas welding rigs haven’t gone up much.)

Me being the son of a firefighter (and father of one, too, come to think of it) it struck me that I needed to closely inspect the hoses while I was at it.

The new rig only came with 12 1/2-feet of hose, and the couplers to extend them was missing.  So those were ordered along with back-flash suppressors, too.  (You’d gamble a fire and worse on unknown Chineseum without explosion arrestors?  Braver than me, Bud….)

I can almost hear what Pappy would ask before such a test.  “You sure you trust that Chinese micro welding rig and lines just 3-feet from your regulators?

“No of course not!”

Two sets of couplers will give you 37-feet which would be safer, wouldn’t it?”

OK, another order to the Zon.

Still, gives me time to mention a few things from the family welding safety notebook.

ALWAYS turn the acetylene gas on your rig off FIRST.  If you don’t, and shut down the O2 first, the acetylene can get up into the O2 hose and that can lead to misery (or Missouri) or worse (if that’s possible) when sparked-off.

And if you even have good gas practices (not chili jokes), remember R-rated hose is chintzy. Pop the extra for T-Rated (all fuels) hoses just in case…

Remember the gas nuts have a scored filing in the middle of their nuts (bet that hurt!) so you remember “score some acetylene” when you go color blind.  Meantime, even the semi-sighted can generally get red is for fire fuel, green is for oxygen.

We’ve given up trying to write a cogent explanation for why which some of the threads on are “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey” but others are not. Maybe Oilman2 could insert some offshore rig wisdom for us mainly electric sorts. (If you have to ask, you can’t go offshore, sorry.)

Fallback Fell Apart, Too

Our fallback story for this morning was to be a demonstration of the $250 TIG welder because I picked up bottles of Argon Friday.  One bottle is 100% argon (for TIG) while the other is 75-25 argon/carbon dioxide for MIG welding.

The reason that didn’t happen?  Well, by time I played “dances with regulators” (which F-500 companies also do), I was tired, grumpy, and was sitting down. So I sat down at the new “small projects workstation.”

Dare I begin building the model of our old airplane, the Beech Musketeer? No, best not.

As you’ll notice, though, I did lam up two thicknesses of harder blue stryo for build boards.

Even watched enough YouTube How-To videos to figure the build should take about 10-hours.  That will be an interesting block of time to carve out.

For now, we retreat to something less fun but more important.

A Depression Fix-It Shop

William of the Radio Ranch admitted this week to having a similar vision to ours: Why not set up a local, walk-in Fix-It Shop for when either Asia cuts off our disposable goods addiction, or China decides to skip ahead to invading the West Coast.

While we can’t fight off too many killer drones, we might be able to fix a broken cord on a coffee percolator, which with power, might quickly become the biggest unit in the American arsenal.

Or, having a geared head lathe, maybe would could made new and interesting “accessories” for the gun club members.  When, that is, home defense really does come home.

This set off a firestorm of additional thoughts.

Depression 2023

If the gas pumps aren’t “talking to you yet,” perhaps an audiologist visit is in order?

With the Biden administration playing “Three War Monte” – stoking war odds between Taiwan and China, Ukraine backing Russia into a “first-use corner, and just waiting for Israel to pop Iran – which will likely generate a nuclear response, there’s no question that the Doomsday Clock is perilously close to striking.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists figured – in mid-January of this year – that the nuclear countdown clock was at 100-seconds to midnight.  Which will be when the first mushroom goes off.  Back-timing from there, we can almost see the clock having to be adjusted again – maybe before summer is out – given that Iran reportedly has enough 60 percent enriched uranium to build a bomb. A really crude, heavy, kluged bomb.  But it’s still a what?

Israel has made it abundantly clear that Iran will never be allowed to attack first, and this leads to a second obvious nuclear battle.

The good news about China/Taiwan?  Well, there isn’t much. Excerpt I have mental flashes of Michael Jackson’s “moon-walking” every time Biden walks something back.  But with less style, fo sho

Just as the US/NATO has been tweaking Russia harder than warranted – and now sending in missiles which will raise Russia ire even more – the odds of “mushrooms” for dinner on the evening TV news shows is escalating.

While China doesn’t have a viable reason for nuclear weapons on Taiwan, it really depends on how much China wants (or needs) to preserve the fine-pitch semiconductor manufacturing based on the southern side of the island.  The U.S. is willing to fight, because we allowed far too much critical electronics manufacturing to move offshore, and because we now need Taiwan to make the parts to keep American industry working.

(Not to rehash the Friday notes on Three War Monte, with a side of gun-grab, but the character of the playing field here is important.)

Personal Industry in Collapse

If it’s not a little scary to think about, I’d propose we all do a little “class project thinking” and offer up comments (in the Comments section link below) to answer the question “What do you think you’ll actually DO in an economic collapse?”  Day one, month one, year one kind of thing.

There are plenty of signposts:  We can look at the two decades before on the onset of Depression (1) and see some ideas.  A 1900 book, “The Home and Shop Mechanic” for example, includes fine points of working with (and repairing) steam-powered machines:

This book is one of many in the New Century Library of Useful Knowledge series.

Books like this were followed by the popular Shop Notes series (Popular Mechanics) and later by the Audel’s series.  Between these plus having more recent compilations like Michael Geier’s savory “How to Diagnose and Fix Everything Electronic” we figure we’re in better condition than most for being ready to fix things.

My theme all year has involved not only do-it-yourself gardening, but also getting the tools, workspace, and knowledge so that you’ll be able to keep useful machines and devices working when we’ll need them most.

Imagining Life-After

The novel One Second After offers one gritty outlook for America entering collapse.  It’s a good starting point, sure.

But of necessity, books can only generalize to a region.  What really matters most is how well you get on with your neighbors.

We’ve gamed out some scenarios – though none of it is fun – in an effort to see what kinds of help neighbors might need.  And what life would be like.

A bit of “non-U.S.” travel over the years opened my eyes.  Driving around the Blue Hills of Jamaica and along the coasts. Key take-aways were that people – even if wrecked on local ganj – would not go too far out of their way to mess with you.  Provided there was respect.  Hard to teach that  Most people just want their space (and another toke, right?) and get out of my shit….

Another learning moment was in the old Church (1536, was it?) in Cusco – highlands of Peru – and gateway to the top of the Amazon once you descend into the jungle north and east of Machu Picchu.

Point was I spent some time watching a local craftsman – armed with a simple hand saw, a straight and a curved gouge – and a pocketknife, hand working the wood.  That a chair would take several weeks to carve was not an issue.  It was a quality thing. Pride in work.

Remember that?

Time Will Change

Measuring the “flow of time” in a Depression is different.  It becomes more time versus reward; things are less “check-list” oriented.  Instant will take longer – a lot longer.

Whoever doesn’t have a half-hour a day to begin at least experimentally attempting basic container gardening now, may in a year or less wish they had seen it all coming.

The role of the Fix It Shop in such times is hard to forecast.  Will we be overrun by gangs from cities within weeks?  Or, will there be a slow spread and a lot of gunfire while America returns to a time when almost all men carried guns?

In that world, what would be “in demand?”

When electricity is gone, the highest values (after food and water) that I can think of will be energy of all types.  Solar panels would be more than worth their weight in gold.  Which means investing in controllers, panels, not to mention a few rounds, some armor, and some trigger parts, might not be bad investments in such a world. Screw-on oil filters, ahem, anyone?

What is the minimal inventory of parts (passive and active) electronics that would provide for a robust clientele?  We’re thinking basic land-working equipment repairs – the ability to make up hydraulic hoses, for example and maybe have a few dozen 5-gallon cans of fluid might be useful. Someone can always find something to weld out here “on the range.”

Seed exchange will be another key part.  We have asked which would do you more good in the “just after collapse” world?  A hundred dollar bill or a $40 package of a year’s worth of “survival seeds?”

A bag – maybe two – for the critical neighbors, but only if they have the means to grow.  Which then circles back to why we put in rainwater catchment and the greenhouse this year.

Tool Library?  Computer Cafe?

One good after-collapse idea that resonates in me is the notion of a tool library for local farmers and ranchers.  Granted, our tools are not specific to the big heavy-duty farm equipment (a 65 HP diesel tractor with a stump grinder on it is a big-ass rig).

On the other hand, I’m starting to think in terms of tool library because they seem to work in urban areas.  The 2012 Patrick Dunn Shareable article Building A National Digital Library is also still very much on point.

If the Internet goes away, who will have the (obviously password protected) drive with all the shop manuals for Ford, Kubota, IH, Massey, Long, Kioiti, Mahindra, et al?

Still, doing hydraulics may be worthwhile, too.  Some hose, some pipe, a few bending tools and a big kit of fittings…

When you start looking at the work that will need to be done – and the lack of energy generally – it makes an interesting argument for instead of just focusing on getting seeds, lots of mulching straw and maybe a 3-0point rototiller for the tractor co9uld be bingo calls.

Don’t mean to go off into the weeds here.  But other than having a number of workstations to choose from, what at the in-demand services likely to be and how would the commerce take place?

  • General fix it
  • DC power systems installation and repair
  • Communications (HF radios)
  • Sharpening service
  • Gas power equipment repair
  • Hydraulics shop with hose making
  • Tool library
  • Local “mini farm and hardware” store
  • Water well and pump service
  • Surveillance and interdiction drones

…you can see how the list becomes pretty expansive! (And, did I say expensive, too?

I think the coffee-hour takeaway comes down to this:

  • No one will be able to know with certainty, until actual events, how the future will roll out in the next year or two.
  • For now, our money is on:
    • Depression based on wrong-headed energy policies.  The hate people have turned their focus on energy as efforts ramp up to take down America. (See Tesla stock, lately?  Liberals eating their own.)
    • At the same time, the gun-grabs being promoted by the teary=eyed Lefties, won’t solve the problem. Criminals don’t follow laws and it’s an insult they can hold office when they can’t grasp something so fundamental.
    • Drought and food failures will come too.
  • What we don’t know is how our “three precursor wars” will play out.  Lack of parts due to Taiwan falling?  Mass government power-grabbing as in the Covid lock-downs except due to nukes in Russia-Ukraine or Iran-Israel?  Pick your poison. N-100 masks this time?

Out here, rumor has it that some street signs may be “rearranged” if the sunshine cans get opened.  But that doesn’t really answer fully our “Problem of the Day.”

What will we all DO, exactly – hour by hour – when things go horribly wrong?

I stared at the model of the old Musketeer and wondered:  “Should we have kept it and made a run for Central America?”

Too late now.  In for a penny, in for a flash.

Besides, should be a lot of welding scrap after.

Write when you get rich,

2 Weeks to Fed, Awaiting Markets, Shop Talk Monday

[Exceptionally long (for the free side).  But go ahead, take some time and relax with it… Holiday, and all.]

Today’s coffee klatch of day-traders and tool sluts is now in order!

Our usual dose of news, but then back out to our shop as the weekend enters its final hours.  (Gimme a chorus of “Damn!)

Before knuckling down, there is hope.

There’s a very good article on ZDNet today proposing The four-day week will solve some of work’s biggest problems – but only if companies can adapt.

There are plenty of reasons to work the world around into a 4-10 week.  Not the least of which is the environment and the hiring boost it would likely bring.

But companies – and government – rarely listen to the real customer feedback.

You see, we (citizen-victims) have long-ago let loose of the Metrics of Success in America.  Government is largely reporting to Congress on a hit-or-miss.  When it does, it’s another “issues-shuffle” instead of an agency-wide mission audit.

Of course,  companies measure performance by other means.  Such as “free cash available to common” (stock).  Or, they go off in sector dominating which leads to customer disaffection.

One super-large online retailer sent two emails in the last week trying to convince me to read minority-written books.

I almost sent them a surly email, but I’ll say it here, instead.

We ONLY select reading material based on CONTENT and our own INTERESTS.

This is yet- another- symptom of Lost America  which seems a worthy remembrance on this day. While “negative racism” is bad, this retailer’s wandering readership  is actively sold the notion that literary racism (white-shaming) is “positive racism.”

Mainly racists would select their reading material based on race, religion, or national origin of the Author.

When my personal readings and research lead me to spend part of the weekend absorbing The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu (dandy reader),  race of authors didn’t even cross my mind.

If it does yours?  Get to WDH – Woke Deprogramming Help.  And GTFU.

World In a Nutshell

Big doings this week over Ukraine.

First, we see the Russian media reporting the US/Corporate Cabal has failed to “rumor Putin out of office.”  Russia’s Lavrov Denies Putin Is Ill.  Still, it has been a delightful piece of agitprop which only serves to reinforce our view that this war is about Globalism Taking Over.

Which is odd when I think about it. Vlad Putin defending the world from (crazy and) expansionist Europe.  Are we the only ones beholding the Brussell’s sprouts idea of Globalism Incarnate as a Ponzi scheme of historical proportions?

Look at maps over time and you’ll see how the megalomaniacs first acquired gently and through largely off-books negotiation has really played.  What we’re seeing in Ukraine is the EU’s version  of “Buy or Die.”

This is the “Die” part.

Behind the curtain, away from the EU puppeteer’s frantic movements, we also see a religious conflict of some consequence.  Patriarch Kirill ‘Understands’ Ukraine Church Schism – in The Moscow Times.

Seems both sides of this conflict are nominally committed to the same 10 Commandments.  How honest or robust can warring religions be?  And so continues sunset for spiritual toll-takers.

Brussel’s intransigence is assured as a possible turning point in the war is reached as Russian troops entering Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine.  Couple this with EU members meeting to “demand” Russian energy. (Vlad’s no fool, he has Europe over a barrel.)

This will be gingerly rolled by the Corporate, Co-Opted press.  Because the whole “meetings whether to join the US with oil sanctions” discussion reminds both of us “thinking people” that the high gas prices and famine coming arer all created by Slow Biden.

EUROPE has unhindered energy from Russia.

The US sanctions merely brought back crooked accounting.  As a new stage of markup was added to the business model by Biden.  We are led by the most dangerous teleprompter reader in America.

A Memorial, Perhaps?

Our Power-Based Future

Some holiday neurons, perhaps, in the direction of how our future is shaping up is in order.  Anyone can play, though many people won’t exercise “command authority” over their own lives.

Here’s a newspaper laying the groundwork for government grants on battery storage technology.  Battery storage necessary for solar power expansion | Miami Herald.  While (thumbs to a different page of his self-published one-man newspaper)  Chinese Mining Billionaire To Invest $300 Million In Zimbabwe Lithium Project.

Thus, you can see how this will roll:  new variants of lithium technology are sure to follow.

But at the macro view, the same corporate drive to consume, looks to us like it will do to Zimbabwe the same way slavers did 200-years ago.

Field hands to lithium – something instructive about Global abuse of Africa if you think about it.  And who made the money on the gold, diamonds, and minerals of South Africa?

Each time indigenous peoples get screwed, there’s a sales pitch trying to convince the masses it’s for their own good.  Some examples? “Oh, this new labor source for plantations!” Or, perhaps in Amsterdam “This diamond business model will make us a fortune!”  Right down through “Lithium batteries will save the Planet!

Yeah, sure, you betcha.

Speaking of Climate

A not everyday story this morning will provide entertainment into the first part of the week.  On the Pacific Side of Central America, we have Hurricane Agatha about to slam tourist places on the coast of Mexico.

Thing is, if you hit the National Hurricane Center, you can see the case for it to “jump over onto the Caribbean side.  Like so:

Once it gets into the Gulf of Mexico – perhaps in a week – then trouble might be brewing somewhere between the RGV and Tampa.

But this is not a story about weather.  It’s really about Gender change.

You see, when I read Hurricane Agatha could spawn Alex, first named Atlantic storm, I just had to ask “Where is the gender-bending storm-naming convention online?

Don’t we need to pop a few billion over that way?

D.J. Ure’s musical accompaniment pick for Winnipeg audiences is Martha & the Vandellas – Heatwave – YouTube. Do Canadians ever learn to spell “heat” outside of the physics track?

Good luck chilling out this weekend: Heat Waves in the U.S.: Record high temperatures spurring cities to take action.  Which, when you read it one particularly jaundiced way, reads like yet-another warning of government expansion of power – ever.

“Pull over buddy,  we need to check that your vehicle’s air conditioning is set correctly…”

There’s no limit to the lust for power.  Only a limit to money and how many people can be screwed at once.

Adventures of Nancy

Offered without comment: Nancy Pelosi’s husband arrested for suspected DUI Hats off to Napa, CA police for enforcing the laws.

I’ve always harbored questions about how Nancy and Hubby’s work schedule would play out.  “Not tonight dear, I have a Congress.” To something like “Sure I’ll take out the trash, soon as I’m done buying California…”  Anyway, such idle speculations come to close to work.

Let’s wander toward the…

ShopTalk Monday: New Tools!

When I go tool shopping, which is about every day, seems, nothing is more fund than the arrival of Santa.

Santa – being really with the times – dresses up as different people.  The Mailperson, the UPS Person, and the FedEx Dude.

Here are some useful new tools.  Starting with the bottle cutter:

bottle cutter

It was $50-bucks, but I never had much luck with the manual glass cutters.  But even I may be able to whittle a drinking glass from a wine bottle.

What was the first one I remember?  “The Amazing Flemming Glass and bottle cutter!”   Wetted abrasive and 5,000 RPMs may get me there, yet.

Yet Another Welder!

Like the oxy-acetylene rig, MIG wire, and argon-breathing TIG, plus a stick welder were not enough?

These guys are going in the $30 dollar range on eBay.

Our tired old oxy-acetylene rig. Good for cutting things too big for the plasma rig (1/2″)

You can also buy a Micro Welder Torch for $24 bucks.  I have never dinked around with one of these, but it could be interesting.

If you’re after something a bit better on build quality? The original (category) welder was probably the Smith Little Torch.  Which has a much nicer finish, not doubt.  It all comes back to the reason for purchase, I suppose.

A related note is YesWelder has some pretty nice optics on their new wide-vision welding masks.  It was $90 bucks, but the improvement in welds (for half-blind me) was noticeable.

What you’re looking for (to see welds better than most home Makers) would be something that is a: Solar Powered Auto Darkening Welding Helmet, True Color Highest Optical 1/1/1/1, 4 Arc Sensor Wide Shade 4/5-9/9-13″ or better.  I picked this one.

Still Cleaning

Cleaning the shop.  Which entails a lot of work moving machines around to more (or less) workable positions.

Usefully,  Amazon had  tool boxes on sale recently.  I picked up a chest with four drawers because I hate pawing through shit to find the one thing I need.

One of these ended up as a workstation-specific tool chest for the 3D/CNC work area:

Serious tool note:  You will notice that I have ball-end Allen wrenches in rgar drawer.  If you only have the solid (chopped end) variety, do yourself a favor.  HUGE difference as the tool is much for forgiving of alignment.

Label Making

Part and parcel of shop cleaning is also tool labeling. I found myself doing this so that in case I keel-over some day (another way of saying careening for the nautically inept), I have been labeling everything in the shop.

Honestly, Brother makes some fair label-printers.  I used to be able to remember where every tool is – and tell anyone where to find what.

Thing now – as the shop has become more populated with three of everything – Elaine can’t come over and find something on her own.

Now, while Amazon has a good assortment of thermal label markers, I would caution you that in a Texas shop, the thermal paper becomes illegible after 7-8 years.

I was going to relabel the under-bench tools (blow-molded boxes for things like the Sawz-All), but more and more the projects we’re doing evolve either to stationary or battery powered tools.

If you need time sinks to fill out the rest of the weekend, there is never a shortage of garage or “storage room” crap that could be labeled.

Maker Video of the Week

How about a complete 49 min build of an electric car from two bicycles?  Check this out:

Absolutely AMAZING skills.  And (in case you didn’t notice) NOT made in the U.S.A.

Again, more evidence that a country isn’t worth a crap when it forgets to work with its hands.

Survival and strong Industrial Arts seem to go hand-in-hand.

As China is teaching to all but the myopic left.

Asian markets were up 2 percent overnight.  Europe is up half a percent, or so.  But after the opening fray in the US tomorrow?  We will be only 2-weeks from the next Fed FOMC raise.  Well, unless they bend to political pressure and get things wrong once again.

Write when you’re right,