Weekend, markets closed. Summertime in the shop.
But how does “Prepping” (a category we helped ‘invent’ back in 1997) and being a tool-slut go hand-in-hand?
Let’s Big Picture This
Let’s pretend you are – oh – 72 years old (like me). You know (by genetics and stressors of Life) the odds of making it to 92 are about 50-50. This sounds morbid, but follow along, here.
Means I might have 20-years of life left. Which sounds like quite a while if you’re holding your breath. But. when you punch out “the numbers” that’s only 7,300 days.
Worse, only one-day out of seven (for me) really offer “boy time” in the shop. , Works out to 1,042 days. Let’s face it, that pencils down pretty quickly when – as a practical matter, 4-undisturbed hours per day can be had.
That’s why I work so hard on shop organization (now) and on shop comfort (like 10-tons of a/c in the shop). I want as many of those 4,000 hours to be and productive and useful as possible.
Time matters. The older we get, the less we have to spend. Anything with a payoff in time and/or enjoyment is money well-spent. Making more money? (Other than lunch-money trades) Hardly worth it.
Because, as we discuss in extreme detail in the new book (Packing to Die: The suitcase between your ears) the money, rates of return, annual gains rates…none of that matters.
In fact it ALL pales compared to the eyes of your lover over a lingering dinner, watching a waterfall, duking it out with heavy weather offshore, or… well – got the idea? “Head things” are transportable…much more in the book. Which is (shameless plug here) being serialized on Peoplenomics. (Back to point…)
Society’s Thin Veneer
To use those x-thousand hours to best ends, we need tools and equipment that work. Repairs – when needed – should be nearly instant.
Prepping may not seem to have much to do with this, except that if there were to be an overwhelming attack on Amazon and Wal-Mart (all at the same time) and the internet goes down….and let’s toss in martial law, no travel due to lambda variant (or whatever). Then where’s the closest hardware store to get a 3/4-inch long 8-32, 1/2″ bolt, Phillips with a star-type lockwasher?
(The correct answer out here in the dingleberries MIGHT be Tractor Supply, but how are you going to pay if the web (and banking) is down, too? If you don’t have enough gasoline in the pickup truck to get home? Or, if the power’s off at TSC and you can’t see over in the hardware aisle to find the part you need? [OK, wise guy, did you bring an LED flashlight? Ounce or two of silver rounds? Think worst of worst here…]
Live Fire: Rock Tumbler Down
One morning this week, I came out to my shop realizing that the familiar noise of the rock tumbler had been replaced by a simple whirring noise. Bad as Mr. 20/35 is, didn’t take too much study to see the damn cylinders weren’t turning.
This happened on a morning when internet (meaning Amazon, Wally World, Lowes, TSC, and the burger joint in town) were all operating normally.
The fix was expected to be “not too hard” since there was no smell of smoke, so setting up a motor-winding jig wouldn’t be called-for…this time. Instead, that silver vent plate in the picture above was quickly removed to expose the culprit. Missing screw!
Fix? Install a similar set screw:
Within 6-minutes, the tumbler was tumbling and I was back to the next item on my list: An article to write…
What We Glossed-Over?
I’ll tell you here and now why this was a 6-minute problem (tops) from observation to repaired and running: Ure has a “secret weapon.”
In fact, if you “live remote” there are two Articles of Faith never to be questioned.
- If something breaks, you won’t have the part.
- If you don’t have the part, maybe a neighbor does.
Storytime: Neighbor came over a couple of years ago and said “Hey, George, you wouldn’t by chance have a connector big enough to get 3 Number 12 wires and a Number 6 all tied together? I was going into town and thought I’d ask on the way…”
After a jaw-dropping tour of our 3X#12 plus 1X#6 options department, he smiled and said “By-God, George, you really do have everything!” He left happier than a “pig with two dinks. And a suitable Kearney (split) bolt, extra electrical tape and some 3-M goo to finish it all off with.
Assortments Save Your Ass!
Here’s just a piece of Ure’s “assortment of assortments.”
I told you about having a “tool kart” so the workbench has ample room on bigger projects? A basic assortment of metric, SAE and wood screws lives there:
(Tip: The X’s on the ends of screwdrivers means Phillips…plain is slotted.)
And shoot these are just in the “assorted assortments” area of the workshop. There are specialties like slip washers (assorted) in the plumbing area and twist-locks (*assorted) in the electrical area. Spare switches…and on it rolls…
Even before we go into the office which is where the electronics department is sited:
Electronics is a hell of a lot more complicated on a parts-on-hand basis. Because you have “devices” and resistors, and capacitors, and inductors, and transformers, and connectors (as for antennas and such).
And then each of these are further typed according not only to value, but also tolerance (like 5% – which means the value should be within 5% of whatever the color bands claim). Power handling like these resistors. And then voltage…because a 500 Volt capacitor in a 3,0oo circuit does make a really loud bang and let’s the smoke out.
Back on Point
You may think I’ve got the world’s worst case of Hoarding disease. But I’d point to the little adventure this week with the rock tumbler and pose the question: Where does “prepared” and “well-stocked” cross over into Hoarding?
For me – and this is only a personal matter – I like to be “deep” on things which hold my interest and that I work on or use on a regular basis.
Which means a good set of spares for?
- Basics (oil, filter, fuses) for the car and pickup. Battery charger….
- Basic to intermediate for the Tractor (oil, filters (fuel, lube, and hydraulic) plus emergency hydraulic repairs, hoses, and metric and SAE sockets (including “deeps” up to 2″.
- Which means air tools, which have their own spares: joins, tape, tape dope, compressor oil, tool oil, air caps…
- Shop>General: Who hasn’t needed a second set of sockets and open-ends? Show of hands?
- Wood Shop: Central and shop vacs (3 of ’em) which means they eat bags and hoses, and a few implements you can never have too many of. Like the ShopVac round bristled dust brushes… Spare clamps, jigs, the “fastener cart” and a finishing cart (or shelves of paint, primers…). And that’s like a minimum.
- 3D Printer and CNC lanes: Tools especially a reasonable set of ball-end Allen wrenches…these are so much better than plain-Jane Allen’s it’s not funny. Then you have spares for Bowden tubes, extruders, #4 nozzles, flush cutters (never have figured where they all go, but they do…) plus racks and racks of filament. And supplies and clamping gear for CNC…
- Metal Shop: Consumable spares for all the machines: Cut-off wheels (14″), grinder cut-offs and flappers (4-1/2″), assorted rod, assorted wire welding options (I try to keep to 0.35 but thin material means more spares and consumables…0.30, 0.25).
- Outdoor power equipment: Spare carb kits for everything, spare plugs, spare chains for the saws, sharpeners and so on…
As you can see, this matter of “well-stocked” is location dependent.
If you are living in a city, and the most complex handyman project this year was hanging a picture? You don’t need spares. (You need a life, but this is your deal…)
Even something simple (3D printer – even a small one like an Ender3) means spare thermistors, spare power supply, some specialized tools, maybe a spare extruder, hot-end, Bowden tube, nozzles, heat socks, plus a second set of go-no-go feeler gauges because believe it, or not, using paper to guess 3-thousandth’s ain’t good enough.
I like spares. I even feel noticeably better if I have a dozen, or two, straight hand-picked full 96″ 2-by-4’s in the wood stacks. Fresh pots of PVC primer and glue get ordered with the first frost…that kind of thing.
Fine line it is between Hoarding and Prepping – grant you that.
But only so long as the power’s on. After that? If you haven’t seen what’s coming, you might want to get a checkup.
Write when you get rich,