ShopTalk Sunday: Diesel Tomatoes, Chiseling

It has been a matter of some pride around here that our lean-to greenhouse has worked out so well, not to mention being a fun project.  Especially with the place being kept warm by one of the best bargains in the world: Our ubiquitous Chinese-made diesel truck heater.

In fact, we were so tickled with the reliable heat output from it all last winter that we picked up another one this year.  Spares for everything come the end of the world this week, right? Unlike most things (even remotely connected with food) these heaters are still moderately priced at Amazon.

The the unthinkable happened.

I walked out of the house after breakfast and there was that pungent smell of diesel fuel in the air.  Inspecting the heater area, there was a small puddle on the floor.  An inch or five across.  Grabbing the closet container (a large plastic garbage can) I shoved it under the fuel outlet and gave the fuel line a gentle (like wouldn’t be called a yank) and it parted ways.

A few minutes later, a camera shoved under the tank revealed what had happened: the line failed where it attached to the tank nipple:

Always Have Kitty Litter on Hand!

Many years ago, Elaine turned me on to kitty litter as one of the best clean-up tools to keep ready.  Wine, gas,, paint, diesel – all loved by kitty litter.

If you don’t have one of those 5 or 10-pound jugs of it, put it the hell on your shopping list.  Don’t wait.  A Home Handy Bastard can’t be called such without all the right tools.  Including kitty litter.

The dark areas above are where the diesel was sopped up.  When the first coating is saturated, sweep it up and apply a second coat. Then a third.  After three rounds, the surface will be relatively cleaned of diesel, though just a bit shy of being able to serve canapes on it.

The litter with a bit of fragrance and baking soda in it is fine. Upscale your shop. Whatever is cheapest at the Dollar store is what we roll with.

Since the heater was running fine, the only real problem was line replacement and a new “fool oil” filter.  Ah, but which line? Too many choices for an old man…

The two main choices were the greenish – easy to work flexible line that came with the Vevor heater.  However, there is a better grade of line (which look just like the 3D printer tubing from the feed stepper down to the print head).

The green stuff is easy to work, goes on easily and will last a year in normal service before needing replacement.  The white tubing (looks like the Capricorn printer feed tube) is a little thicker walled and nearly impossible to get on without heating it.

The failure may relate to the dye (red) in off-road diesel.  Since I don’t drive the heater, off-road seems to be legal to use and I do have both a USDA (tree) farm number and a state tax number.  Makes it a little more Fordable, if you follow. (Pun police have the day off, right?)

If this was a “virgin installation” (no jokes, this is serious shit here!) then the white tubing would be a better choice.  But, son G2 is off being a server farm construction medical rockstar. With no professional firefighter to supervise my rapid-onset senility, I lost interest in applying a heat gun within inches of diesel. Guess old age has addled me. Nerve’s gone missing. May have run off with my senses…

One thing made very clear in the heater install manuals (which will drive you to drink trying to understand) is the mounting of the fuel pump.  First trade secret is you actually want them to be mounted at a 45-degree angle, or so.

The second trade secret? Only tighten the lower support clamp far enough to keep the heater in position.  IF you lay too much “Arm-strong” into tightening this clamp, every pulse of the pump will sound like someone beating a hammer on the 2-by-4 it was mounted to.

Ideally, I would have taken the time to design a clever “perfect angle” holder over on Then download the .STL file, printed it off in printer alley in the shop. And sprayed in a good sound-absorbing cellular foam.

Why, I could even put the design up on or Thingiverse and become fabulously wealthy from all the people who hate loud banging from fuel pumps.  In fact...wait!  Did the diesel fumes just damage my brain? No one tips creators enough!

After Action Report

Despite watching umpteen videos on handy-tube, I was unable – no matter what – to get the now ready-for-action-system to drop into prime mode.  I eventually took the new hose off the heater end and (no jokes, please) sat there sucking on the loaded with diesel fuel line through at least a half dozen start cycles (each of which was a five-minute grind).

The reason this job (literally) sucked was a) no prime cycle could be triggered on the (two-year old, old style) controller and b) the new fuel line and filter were full of air.

Almost an hour of controller cursing, fuel-line sucking (uh-uh – no jokes!) and cycling the heater through start cycles, the fuel was finally up to within 4 or 5-inches of the heater.  At this point, Fellatio Heater Blower reattached and clamped the heater end back on and life continued. Replete with heat.

Diesel Powered Tomatoes

With the heat back on, I looked around the greenhouse. Suddenly I felt like God.  Sixth Day and it was Good, kind of thing: Time to rest and reflect.

Grow lights were glowing. Last vestiges of diesel stain would be gone before I turn to daisy food.  And over on the legacy tomato plant?  Christmas ‘maters is it?

Why yes, I think if I keep the room temp at 60-F or better at night, (15 or 16 C) the fuel consumption shouldn’t be too bad. The Detroit Red Beets are coming along and the bok choi could contribute to a pork and shrimp soup any old day, now.

There is one mystery, though:  The Peppers.  On the same plant I have one green:

And another that is red:

Stop and Go peppers?  Say what?

Meanwhile, those Big Island pepper plants that Hank sent over from Hawaii as seeds are now fully 36-inches high.  A few more (tiny) flowers, too. But only one suspected “pepper” and it’s scarcely bigger than a grain of brown rice (uncooked) with a little dark spot on the top of it.

At this rate, we may be driven to throw the whole kit and kaboodle into the yard waste chipper and use the sawdust as a crude form of pepper.  Things are bigger in Texas, you know. I’m surely not the first “Texan” to consider a gas-powered pepper grinder.  It would help to have peppers though and I hark back to the (partly joke but actually seen) gas-powered Marguerita Mixer that showed up at a sailing function out on the left coast before the revolutionaries took over.

The idea hasn’t gone away.  Click over to Tailgator Gas Blender – w/ Case ( and order Ure’s today!

For the less homey of the HandyBastards, the option is to get one of those 600-900 watt (girl-sized) portable generators and snag the VitaMix from the house.

BUT, those little generators are about as useless as (fill in an unsuitable for mixed company phrase). Because you don’t have enough power for running a welder or doing REAL (man, manly man) power tool work with ’em.

So, gas powered blenders makes total sense, if for no other reason than you don’t have the conversion efficiency losses that add up in the longer power chain…(diesel fume relapse?). If you really need power losses, we find a 2,860-foot (AWG #18 gauge) extension cord is hard to beat, though.

Attention Chiselers

Black Friday madness is in full swing (swig?) until damn near month-end. Someone asked me about which lathe tooling to get for a new home wood lathe setup.

One reason they might have asked is Ure has this small-sized seldom-used wood turning rig at the hobby shop workstation area:

The question of lathe tooling is somewhat related to the size of lathe you plan to use.  Above is my (too small) Wen 3421 8-inch by 12-inch lathe.  These are good for pen-making, but since I like broad point OHTO Fude roller pens (1.5 mm really wide), it was a hobby bound for the boneyard from the outset. You can make a passable 7 1/2 -inch bowl on it, but it’s not a big powerhouse.

Point I was getting to?  Igeneral, on a wood lathe, you want to have three sizes of chisels.  For big roughing work (assuming you get a more powerful lathe) go for 24-inches, or so, overall.  the “go to for most work” will be a 16-inch set.  Anything under 14 on down to tiny is for delicate work – like pen making and turning out bowls for the local midget population.

There are lots of reasons to start with something smaller than a Baileigh or a Powermatic. ($4-kilobucks and up comes to mind.) You are less likely to be injured if the wood parts the machine at 50 versus 500 miles per hour.

Point – regardless of tool length – is to keep the tool rest close to your work. A quarter inch, or less, is my comfort zone.  You get too much closer; things can go bad in a hurry.  Much further out and tool chatter becomes an issue.  You want a long-enough tool so that you always maintain positive control of the aircraft tool.

Positive control, whether tools, boats, cars drifting corners on a track, all manner of silly shit in the sky, there can never be failure to be in control. Positive COMMAND is critical.

When you are not “in-charge” of something as “simple” as a Skil saw, they WILL kick back, and you can get hurt.  Lathes are the same way.  If you’re a pussy, a wimp, or a coward fearful of responsibility, maybe something else, besides real shop work with big power tools, is more suited to your nature. In doubt? Check with your insurance carrier. Serum testosterone levels.

Tool Prices

Black Friday craziness still comes and goes.  In one idle moment, I went off looking for another one of US General / Harbor Freight green roll around tool storage units.  I gave $99 bucks, less a coupon not four years ago. Love it.  Dame color as my old 911-E which was Viper Green. (Before the classic million-dollar divorce in the 1980s.)

Wholly shit!  These tool carts were going for $269 when I looked this weekend.

Horrible inflation, but tools are something that if you really take care of them, they are a joy to use and a way to make a lot for future value-added things in life. Like a new house or a rat rod.

Send links in for our research into earth-cooled Southern climate greenhouses.  I have a lot of plans and ideas, but most end up looking like macro-scaled dehydrators…or paths to bankruptcy even with solar power cooling. Sweat lodges with no ice.

Design parms are 90-F high and 60-F nights spanning the calendar from Snowmageddon to Gates of Hell. If you aren’t enjoying the weather, neither are your plants.

The Sunday Gourmet

Word from our Houston Bureau overnight brings me to mentioning the right way to make mashed potatoes.

You see, Houston advised me to check out the CNN report How to make mashed potatoes step-by-step | CNN.  Well, Houston, we do have a problem, yessir.

OMG, CNN can’t even cover food right.

First, advice like “start with cold water” is somewhere between hogwash and bad physics on Ure’s Reality Scale. And anyone who has even a cursory knowledge of food chemistry knows the whole deal is about differential temperatures and times at temperatures.  But we’re going to let this slide. Because since this is a ShopTalk report, the CNN advice skips over the main tool behind of the most amazing-tasting mashed potatoes – ever – bar none.

Get your potatoes.  Russets will do fine.  For a little different taste, boil up some Yukon Gold’s – or do all Yukon but this quickly becomes addictive. ((If you’re on Keto, burn this web post and never come back!))  Half a dozen big ones is fine. A dozen medium Yukon’s is better, but have the hold punch out in the shop to work-over your belt afterwards.

Boil till done (forkable).

Peel potatoes.  Now, go to the kitchen power tools.

Get out the mixer (in order of choice) either an 8-quart (or larger) Hobart that has been in the family for 50-years.  Or, our more modest KitchenAid works OK, too.  We have a 5-quart KitchenAid bought in 2010. There are only two of us mostly, so a bigger Hobart just didn’t make sense.

Still, as in my bitch-note above about tool prices in general, kitchen appliances are higher nowadays.  In 2010 the mixer with tax and shipping was $267, Today, they are going for $450.  Toss on about $36 of tax on that. But remember, the kitchen mixer is every bit as much a “power tool”: as an Evolution Rage steel cutting saw.  You get what you pay for.

We have about $300 add-ons for the KitchenAid power takeoff.

Not to slice, dice, chop and sauté CNN, but you can’t have enough upper body strength after a hard week of clicking to make even minimally passable mashed ‘taters.

Put the too-hot to handle (or microwave ’em to warm up again) and toss into the mixer with two tablespoons of whipping cream, a tablespoon, or two, of real butter.  (Margerine is poison if you hadn’t figured that out, yet. See The Oiling of America – The Weston A. Price Foundation ( for details.)

Turn the mixer on about medium.  You want it to work – hard – but not so fast that it will polka-dot the kitchen.  Add some fresh ground black pepper.

Let it mix for at least 10-minutes. Have a glass or wine.  Two, maybe.

The difference between tool potatoes and that slope that CNN dished up is amazing.

We’d charitably recommend they join the power tools in the kitchen revolution and read up on food chemistry.

Because bullied, and beaten severely by a mean mixer, actual good can come of it. Though I don’t suppose that’s on their menu, either.

Bottom line is, you need power for this job and the mashing process will take 10-15 minutes, according to taste. NO ONE in the instant world seems to get this.

The Sunday Gourmet teaches that like fine furniture building, there is a return on investment over thyme. The tiniest specks of garlic or the herbs will blow your mind.

The mixing changes the nature of the long-chain carbbies…

Write when you get rich,

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

53 thoughts on “ShopTalk Sunday: Diesel Tomatoes, Chiseling”

    • If you have a cool but not frozen spot.. at the end of the year you can pull the plants and hang them upside down.. the green tomatoes on it will vine ripen..
      My parents did that all my life.. and yes we had fresh vine ripened tomatoes in february

  1. 1. Forget about the thin plastic fuel lines no matter what color, go with normal perhaps US made thick rubber line like you seen under the hood of your car. This will last forever. My all in one heater I bought last year from Amazon (full aluminum case) uses it in critical places.

    2. I discovered last night watching TV that if you use the pop top tab of an open beverage can in a certain way, you can send code in a way that probably sounds like the old telegraph sounders.

    That is, you can send a dot with a quick up and down motion that produces two clicks close together, and you can send a dash by holding it down longer. This was an Italian fizzy water can. This is something you can do in your retirement.

    To add to the excitement, the sound of the clicks will vary with the amount of liquid in the can!

    (My grandfather was a telegraph operator circa 1900.)

    • the diesel heater is nothing more than a forced air rocket stove.. I seen one on youtube made from a puppy bowl feeder.. simplistic in design.. I use to work with a company that made oil furnaces that all worked on the same principle.. once the oil is started the incoming oil vaporizes and is ignited..
      even in coleman camp stoves.. they work on the same principle.. pre warm the fuel it vaporizes..

    • RM did you know you can also use those pop tops as a duck call? Yes that’s right! After removing the pop top you put it up to lips and call through it: Here ducky ducky, here ducky ducky!

      • I love mine.. did you know you can vacuum seal a jar with one.. yup.. great gadget..
        I used one for years doing pickles LOL..

        Normally .. home canned pickles are mushy.. dang if that wasn’t the worse thing ever.. mushy pickles.. grrr..
        then one day I was watching HOW ITS MADE.. and what did they have.. pickles.. LOL LOL they sterilized the jars.. then the pickles were introduced and hot brine was put in to the inch below the top.. a vacuum chamber and the lid was pressed down on it and the vacuum released sealing the jars.. I haven’t had mushy pickles since.. the big issue is cucumbers.. getting the garden to produce a bunch..
        I like Mrs wages.. the cost of making the brine ends up about the same.. the pre measured out packages are perfect..
        3 pints apple cider vinegar W/Mother (6 cups)
        1 1/4 cups pickling salt
        4 1/2 quarts water (18 cups)
        Fresh dill (one spring + a few fronds per jar you can use the seeds to but that doesn’t have the kick that the sprigs have)
        grape leaves (1 per jar) this is optional.. the grape leaves leave the tannins that keep them fresh..
        7 large cloves of garlic (1 clove per jar)you can eliminate this.. I also like to put in baby onions..
        Alum ( 1/2 tsp per jar)this helps to keep it crisp..
        now.. buying the mrs. wages.. is a lot simpler.. you can use white vinegar to.. most actually prefer white distilled vinegar.. I prefer the apple cider with the mother in it..
        mix up your brine.. bring it to a boil.. take cucumbers cut the flower end off ( I cut both ends off) fill the jars.. put a sprig of dill at the bottom and your alum.. fill with the hot brine.. put a grape leaf on top and a sprig of dill.. place your lid on and vacuum it to seal it.. done simple and easy..

    • I have a very similar kit and yes they are very handy. If fact I used mine yesterday while helping my youngest son change brake pads and rotors on his Dodge Dakota truck.

  2. If Ure diesel line gives out again, you or Ure designee might want to go shop for a fuel line at an auto parts store.

    • I second this. The dye was not the cause of your problem — Cheap Chinese plastic tubing was…

      Get automotive “biodiesel approved” hose (You’ll actually have a hard time finding any that isn’t.) For its many benefits, BD is more volatile than dino-diesel (kinda like gasohol is more-volatile than real gasoline). The clear or opaque hose is sexy. Do you want sexy, or functional? If you want to see the fuel flow, buy some lab glass. Every HHbastard should have some borosilicate tubing laying around anyway, and it makes an excellent sight glass. (JD uses a piece of ¼” x 2.5″ borosilicate glass as a sight glass in their hydrostatic plumbing. They also sell that piece of glass for $12.95. I use a triangular diamond file to cut mine (score, tap, done) and a MAPP torch to round the edges or bend/form it. MY replacement sight glass cost about 20¢ and I didn’t have to burn ten bucks worth of petrol to drive to the dealer and back.

  3. Hi George – thanks for the tips on dealing with the fuel line on the Vevor heater. Just installed one in my unheated workshop here in the Great White North – works great! Will keep some kitty litter and spare fuel line and filters on-hand.

      • PM’s:

        I wrote a bunch of preventive maintenance work cards for AF equipment used in Vietnam.

        Mentioned this once on and a guy replied “i remember those, we used them for target practice!.”

  4. Nice start on the mashed taters – unfortunately you have submitted incomplete work-recipe. Therefore since you made a decent effort I will assign a I for Incomplete, so you can resubmit Ure work for letter grade and full credit.

    Where is the Sour Cream ?
    Where is the Garlic ?

    You no likey getting an Incomplete, after working on this piece all morning? Tough titties – Wheres the GRAVY ?

    Huh ? You cant have Mashed Potatoes without Gravy – that would be UN- American and I dont see no wet back, sack of beans or fentanyl or any other sign that would indicate you be Mexican.

    Like trying to heat Ure leanto greenhouse and run a heater – without Diesel .

    In fact – I believe serving mashed potatoes without Gravy is indeed a violation US code OU812 . Fines and jail terms apply..

    *Write when Youse got a decent Gravy recipe..gobble, gobblegobble.

    • Watched the video. Over-simplification and happenstance are pitfalls in analysis. That is as true for academics as it is for people working ordinary jobs. Larger, higher energy machines don’t necessarily pass the risk-reward sniff test, for local operation.

    • Lycopene from tomatoes is a major help/cure for enlarged prostate and associated problems, but to a large extent ONLY when the tomatoes are cooked.

      Approx half a can of tomato paste daily or equivalent does the trick.

    • Forget Quantum – aint going barking down wrong trees. All Einsteinian physics has gone NOWHERE – part of great scheme to keep the Sheeps STUPID. Everyone knows nowadays – Stupid Is as Stupid Does.

      Know ‘Aether’ Understand what is Qi, and you can start the “integration” process.

      “The Meaning of Qigong;

      Qigong features simultaneous training of heart-mind and body, through parallel cultivation of character and destiny, in forms of concurrent motion and stillness, with methoda emphasizing the coordination of intention, qi, body, and shen (spirit). It is ideal technique for health maintenance physical wellness, fitness and prevention of disease, diagnosis, self-healing, therapeutic treatment, longevity prenatal education, performance, martial arts, skill enhancement, latent energy activation,wisdom development, special ability cultivation, and increasing work efficiency. Its is a multi-dimensional scholarship integrating epistemology and methodology. It has highly harmonized outlooks on life, world, and universe. This is the meaning of Qigong.” -YX

  5. The image of you sitting there with the hose doing well…….you know will be in my mind all day. Talk about mind imaging.
    I put in a small potbelly stove in the hoop house that’s been sitting unused in the corner of the shop for a long time. Made by my dad. First load may happen soon for an evening sitting in the patio furniture with Diana if the weather keeps getting cooler here. Every time I start any kind of fire around a sitting area her first comment is don’t get any ideas, Its too cold out here. Sheesh.
    Peppers under glass/plastic are a challenge between length of daylight and temps and it looks like you have some blight issues going on as well. Still can’t beat fresh vegtables when were not supposed to be able to get them.
    Stay safe. 73

  6. Green Peppers Turn Red? Red peppers are more expensive because they take longer to grow. Red peppers are simply mature green peppers, so producers can turn around green peppers in less time than red ones, and the price reflects that.


    Now thinking about that.. he used an old water heater tank.. but.. a fifteen gallon oil drum would work as well.. snap on top coiled exhaust pipe inside it.. with an inlet at the top and an outlet at the bottom then fill it with any thing that can absorb the heat and radiate it.. Salt would be good.. salt absorbs heat really well and once it has absorbed it takes much longer to radiate the heat.. it cools much slower than sand.. but that is just my opinion.. and you get the heat from it.. double the coil an inside coil to begin with.. then an outer coil before exit.. you would take all the heat out of the exhaust pipe..

  8. “Peel potatoes. ” ? I really like ure greenhouse
    but CNN knows cnnothing, I never peel potatoes
    but alias, they often remove the good stuff from a story line

  9. George
    Do you have a way to introduce extra CO2 into your green house? As I understand it some of the commercial green houses do this to speed up production. I am not suggesting using any diesel exhaust!

  10. I was told that a big hunk of cream cheese is the secret to great mashed potatoes.

    Alas, I have hand surgery on Thursday and will still be drugged by Thanksgiving, so no Thanksgiving mashed potatoes for me.

    • Sounds like a neat idea, until you figure that anything coming from .gov is going to have strings attached. Sorta like the grants to build a pond on your farm… make your pond a “public waterway” because it was constructed with federal money.

    • Now that brings up an interesting question..they just doubled our house and personal property taxes…
      they are bitching and moaning on how Trump resort properties are valued more than what they should be.. saying that trump was wrong… they have been paying to much in taxrs.. A billion dollar piece of property that’s only valued at a million.. will he be able to get tax refunds for his over payment of taxes??? and how far back could he go..
      this could add up quickly..

        • More jejune non sequitur you pathetic, TDS suffering termagant? One wonders (but only just a little)…what impels you to come to this forum and post such irrelevant (to the topic) drivel? I am leaning towards mental illness. Your posts seem to be the cyber equivalent of talking to yourself. You know, like the addled wretches we try to avert our eyes and pull children away from when they are encountered babbling incoherently to themselves on street corners. Seek help.

        • All corporations grossly overvalue their property holdings. ALL. The whole corporate economy is built on this same house of cards. Compared to what Enron did, this is penny ante stuff. I don’t see anyone going after tech or social media giants for the same infractions; therefore, this is a political witch hunt.

        • What inspires me about he’s had it..lost it and rebuilt it from the ashes of defeat.. A Phoenix..
          his personality is not one I personally like and people with that personality he has I usually avoid.. but dam it he deserves respect what he’s accomplished his sincerity and many homes has our present administration given to deserving individuals. or taken care of their medical expenses from his personal accounts.. his employees feel he’s one that can be talked to in a time of need.
          they should send a few more million to California, Harper’s ferry , Martha vineyard,the Hampton s..

    • The motor for that lawn mower is really cheap from the manufacturer in china.under fifty with shipping .its like the old dishwasher I bought years ago..made in the Midwest for 150.00 lasted over 20 years.. now a dishwasher rarely lasts for two years made overseas..
      on getting our new one installed a week ago..the salesman gets 30 percent commission on a unit that sells for 459.00
      the unit is made in turkey with parts that are made in what did it cost to ship that unit fifteen thousand miles.. then truth that unit across the country to the had me up at night..if shipping an item is 1.25 per mile .. so I checked an engineer makes 34.00 per year.. A scientist there makes 40.00 A year.. A worker makes less than half and has a daily quota.. the dishwasher sold in bulk for less than five dollars us.
      shipping for me to ship it back is 3500.00 plus.. it cost me two hundred to have them deliver it.. get the extended warranty always.. we lost a freezer that had a half a cow in it and sixty lbs of chicken breasts.. pork our whole years meat.. the only thing that was salvaged was a pumpkin pie.
      we have a sixty year old freezer that we put leftovers in..still chugging away..
      when I dreamed I retort canned all the food in it..I should have done just that.. because of it I ordered a bunch of bags..
      Thom is a really nice guy

  11. George,

    RE: Making Fluffy Mashed ‘Taters

    I found a great tip for making fluffy mashed ‘taters a decade or so ago.

    It has to do with the order of addition of the butter and milk (or half & half or cream).

    Add the butter first to the hot potatoes and mix/mash until the butter is melted and evenly distributed.

    Then add the milk incrementally (and any other seasonings desired) and mix until the desired fluffiness is achieved.

    Using this order of addition I get yummy, fluffy mashed ‘taters every time.

  12. George
    Looking at that fuel pump picture it occurs to me that the solution to the banging on the timbers would be a layer or so of bicycle inner tube wrapped around the pump inside the clamp.
    That should absorb the thump and still hold it tight.

  13. As for your Hawaii peppers… remember they are tiny peppers. You saw the full grown ones. Much like boiling water, ‘a watched pot (or pepper) never boils’. Give them time. The stalks like to get ‘woody’ before they really go to town. Ignore them and Someday you will wonder where all the little red peppers came from.

  14. If you can find actual Tygon® fuel line, that stuff is good. Online sellers have pirated and palmed the brand for the cheap yellow look-alike. Ask at your local mower shop. Ask to see the box if the say they have it. Saint-Gobain is the mfg.

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