Workshop & Tools

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Having liberated the L16T and 5 speed from the scrapyard Datsun 160J SSS I posted about yesterday, I figured I needed some way of storing it and moving it around until needed. Some kind of platform on wheels.  I have three other spare L series engines stashed away  plus the one from my 510 SSS sat in my workshop and all of them could do with being a little easier to shift about. So I decided to look at making something straightforward and low cost that I could make any number of. In the end, what I came up with serves the purpose well and was so simple that I thought I’d post up some dimensions etc so you can make yourself one. Continue Reading

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… I’d have no luck at all. That’s how it seems sometimes, anyway. The old mojo has been at a pretty low eb for the last month, as evidenced by my lack of posts on here. This was largely brought about by some knuckle dragging halfwits breaking into my workshop and taking all my tools, followed by another attempted theft the following weekend. Apparently I live in a “low crime area”. Hah!

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Mrs Ratdat seriously injured her hand whilst helping me sort things after this second episode, which required specialist surgery, five days in hospital and probably around three months off work. Surely, that’s got the be the bad luck quota for the year all used up?

Anyway, after dispelling the “why do I bother” feelings, I got things back up and running enough to make some progress with the van. After forcing myself to work on it during the recent artic weather (though admittedly it’s toasty warm in the workshop), the mojo has recovered somewhat and I’m now super keen the get it done by April. Progress pics shortly…

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If like me you’re keen on fitting tasty wheels to everything in sight, then you might want to get yourself one of these handy, telescopic PCD measuring tools. This is a dead handy thing to have when you’re at a swapmeet or down the scrapyard as you can instantly check the PCD of any 4, 5 or 6 stud rims. In some circumstances you can also flip it over and use it to measure the studs on a hub but only if the hub centre doesn’t protrude too far. I picked this up at the NSRA swapmeet for a fiver but you can go to Bialbero Racing and order one online. There’s more info about this neat little tool there too.

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I recently scored a new weapon to add to my arsenal of workshop equipment in the shape of this funky Clemco blasting cabinet. I’ve been looking at getting some kind of blasting cabinet for a while but it seemed that to usual DIY ones didn’t seem to offer much for the money. This used Clemco one is a proper industrial unit and was considerably cheaper than a new DIY type unit so I leaped at the chance when it came up for grabs. This is still a vacuum fed system like DIY cabinets but has a benefit of a full extraction system to draw out dust and debris from the media. It’s largely made of some kind of blow moulded plastic (ABS maybe?) and has a drawer at the bottom to collect dust which doubles as a dead mans switch to control the air supply to the gun (you just press your toe against it). I’m not sure what the round black knob on the front does yet but the rest of it is pretty self explanitory. The window into the cabinet seems to have had some thought put into it as it’s a curved, horizontal affair, designed to prevent to media from hitting it and etching the plastic.

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…about time I posted something! Hey, I’ve been busy okay? The weather’s been pretty hardcore for the last month with plenty of snow and freezing temperatures but thanks to some home made heating, my workshop has been toasty warm, enabling me to get on with some work. I was heating my workshop with a propane powered “space heater” but it not only made it really stuffy in there it was also expensive to run. The workshop never got really warm with it either. Figuring I could get plenty of wood for free, I decided to make a wood burner from an old gas bottle I had lying in the undergrowth round the back of the shed. A bunch of scrap bits of metal and three days of tinkering later and I had myself a cracking wood burner, that keeps the workshop at about 22C on a low burn even when it’s below freezing outside. Open the vents on it and it’d probably get hot enough to glow red hot but I haven’t dared let it do so, for fear of burning my workshop down! Best of all, if you chuck a little bit of coal on it before shutting up shop for the evening, it’ll still be going the next morning. I might post a “how to” on the construction of this thing soon if there’s any interest.

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I spoilt myself today and bought a shiny new parts washer. No more scrubbing oily parts in a bucket of  thinners for me! Mind you the ‘degreaser’ that came with it doesn’t actually seem to be capable of dissolving oil in the slightest. I might as well have filled it with water. I think I’ll order some proper industrial stuff from Chemodex. I hate all this namby pamby, non-toxic, eco friendly crap! Parts washer itself seems decent enough although the legs it stands on a pretty flimsy.

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It’s satisfying when you strip something old and worn apart, refurbish it and paint to look like new. But it’s really disappointing when you have to re-fit or re-assemble stuff with manky old nuts and bolts. You could buy brand new fasteners of course, but invariably you can’t get them exactly in the style you want. For example many Japanese cars have M8 bolts with 12mm heads. Most off the shelf M8 bolts have 13mm heads. Manually cleaning them up is very time consuming and doesn’t replace the original finish. Painting them is really an option, so what to do? Recently, I tried out a method for restoring fasteners and the good news is that it not only looks great but is quick and easy to do as well. The method I used is metal blackening. This imparts the black finish that many new fasteners come in. It can be done at home and doesn’t require any special equipment. Industrial metal blackening kits are pretty expensive (£800+) but Frost do a small DIY metal blackening kit for just £35 and if you prepare the items correctly, this will give an equally professional finish.

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Overhaulin’ the yard that is. All projects and car work were put on hold back in August when an unexpected phobne call provided the opportunity to buy 50 tonnes of road planings, albeit at somewhat short notice. Road planing are the crushed up scrapings of tarmac removed from a road before resurfacing it. It is loose but packs down into a pretty hard surface with use. The day after I received the call, three huge 8 wheel tipper trucks arrived carrying my planings and dumped them in a heap next to my workshop. I had long wanted to resurface my yard and increase the parking but up to this point I’d not actually made any plans on how to go about it but it seemed the time to do it had been thrust upon me. Fortunately my neighbour owns all manner of machinery and kindly lent me a big, all wheel drive teleporter and a tracked 3 tonne mini-digger with which to shift the materials about. I literally had to cease work on anything else to get this job done as it was a pretty big undertaking.

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As I previously mentioned, one of the 7×14 River Side Riverge wheels I acquired recently for my Violet SSS is in pretty nasty condition. In fact it kind of looks like it’s spent some time in the sea, it’s so corroded. Close inspection revealed that while there was a lot of surface corrosion, there didn’t appear to be any deep pitting so I set about trying to clean up this nasty wheel. If all else fails I figure I could just get it wet blasted, but doing so would mean I’d have some serious work to do to polish the rim and face of the wheel back to a smooth surface, so the only alternative is to do it chemically.

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Okay… for the lazy and ill equipped. Not all of us have a blast cabinet so often the only way to remove rust from items such as suspension components is to do it labouriously by hand with abrasives and a wire brush. If like me you can think of plenty of other ways you’d rather occupy your time them this technique might be for you. All that’s required is a quantity of brick cleaner and a big plastic container. Before I go any further, I should point out that you’ll be dealing with a particularly unpleasant chemical which is a diluted acid and thus quite corrosive. It can cause burns and is most likely quite toxic if consumed. There is also the potential for harmful fumes so work in a well ventilated space and use gloves! It may also be wise to use eye protection as I dread to think how nasty it would be getting this stuff in your eye!

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