Tag Archives: cleaning

Airframe Mechanic: I R 1

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 was the day of my General and Airframe practical exams. Coincidentally, that is the date on my newly minted temporary FAA Airframe Mechanic certificate!

It’s been three weeks since my practicals and most of that time has been spent doing non-aviation stuff. I have managed to plow through a six-month backlog of aviation magazines which was no small task, mind you. I hate to get so far behind, but study time comes before recreational reading, though much of the stuff in these mags is relative in some way. Speaking of study time, next week is when I start prepping for the start of the Fall semester. Powerplant, here I come. 🙂

This last week was a flurry of activity cleaning out various spaces around the homestead. After clearing out a space we filtered through the stuff creating Garbage, Recycle, Donate, and Keep piles. We managed to recover over 200 cubic feet of space in one of our spaces. I may seem a bit overly proud of that accomplishment, but getting there required me to let go of a lot of stuff I was “saving” that really didn’t need my “saving.” What prompted this desire to clean out stuff was my renewed, and now shared, desire to move on, figuratively and literally. We still have at least a year before we can even start making any real plans, but we are beginning to make those long term preparations like paring down the accumulation of over 16 years in the same place, and we are setting up little recon trips to potential locations to feel out the scene.

Once my A&P program (two more semesters) is finished, I will be needing some shop space to exorcise my Airframe and Powerplant ratings to there fullest; a hangar preferably or at least something adjacent to an airport. It’s going to be a little difficult working on an airplane in my 6′ x 9′ shop with the scant 12 square feet of open floor space and 8 square feet of bench space. You may have gleaned from the pictures in my previous post Knowledge test done, that I had to squeeze in and do some interesting maneuvers to work on the Stearman wing rib jig. The jig board wouldn’t fit on the bench, so I had to set it up on a moving table in front of my shelving, which made it interesting getting at stuff I needed on the shelves.

The lesson learned was that it is possible to do the work in a very confined space, and it encourages pre-planning the work, tools, and materials before getting started. It also made it very clear how important it is to have a larger space where you can spread out and work efficiently. A lot of time was wasted shuffling around for this and that, and planning how to deal with unexpected surprises. There are of course safety concerns as well. It’s not so much the need for a lot more storage space, rather it is the need for open work space, somewhere to set up a table or bench and have full access all the way around it.

But I digress. The biggest thing now is not to think about what happens after I get my Powerplant rating and focus on the now. I recently had to bow out of two separate and unrelated business ventures and a project. It might have been possible to squeeze in one of the three, but that would detract from my ability to give school the 110% needed to keep the grades up and stay on target. I have two things non-school related on my plate to get done before school and about four weeks to do them. I guess I should get on that then.

Blue skies and tailwinds,

Keeping Clean

I had a heck of a time coming up with todays post, life, the universe, and everything conspired against this post coming out at all today.

Todays topic is keeping a work site clean. Today I had the pleasure of cutting into some decking, a 40+ year old walkway that was originally cement over wood. Sadly the steel railing’s base was installed under the cement. Being a light weight cement it compressed and was ground out by the railing post which necessitated a repair.

At the time the repairs were made a section of the cement was cut back significantly and the void was filled with a hard composite, then the whole surface was covered with a coat of matte fiberglass and polyester resin. Since the repair was made, I’m guessing 20+ years ago, the cement has continued to deteriorate due to compression and moisture passing under the composite. The steel railing of course has some serious rust issues.

My task was to remove the rusted areas of the railing foot and weld on a replacement and button that puppy up. I cut into the composite/cement mess with a 4.5″ mineral wheel on my die grinder. The tool works fine for the job,but oy, what a mess of rubble and dust. This is where the clean work site comes in, with so much dust and chipped debris piling up I ended up developing a close relationship with my new 4 gallon Shop-Vac wet/dry vacuum. The area I was working on is only 12″ x 24″ but chipped cement and composits can make a huge mess.

To make clean up a simple affair I would chip out a 4 to 6 square inch area and then clean up repeating the process over and over. I would spend a minute or two each time I cleaned and then get back to chipping the old materials away. I was able to clear the space in relatively short order and at the end, I spent only 5 minutes of actual cleaning. More importantly, my work space though in a public area, did not inconvenience anyone. The dust was kept down buy the frequent stops to tidy the area and the chances of flying debris from kick-back were nearly eliminated. Another safety benefit was the constant removal of rusty materials that presented an additional health and safety hazard.

The point here is that keeping the work space clean and clear of debris is a mater of safety as well making it a lot easier wrap up when you are done.

Thats the end of my High School shop class lecture.

Till next time,

My kingdom for parts bins!

I have discovered something interesting. It seems that when you remodel a workshop to make it cleaner and more organized, you will spend the better part of the rest of your life trying to get things back in order. No matter how much forethought I put into this remodel, I never realized how much crap I have saved up over the last 25 years of doing workshop “stuff”, in particular all of the accumulation of the last 15 years in the same place.

Tool boxes that hadn’t seen the light of day since the 80s have made their way to the surface over the last few weeks. I thought to myself “It’s a small space; it all fit in here before.” Apparently I had discovered how to fold time and space without knowing it. Things are not all bad, though. I have had the opportunity to go through miscellaneous containers from the deep recesses of my workshop and break the hermetic seals that bound their contents in a state of limbo for a decade and a half. Airing things out, taking a look in good lighting, taking time to evaluate if I am going to use something in the next six months, year, decade, never again because the part is obsolete due to no longer used the communications equipment it worked with nearly two decades ago…stuff like that. You know, cleaning house. Buckets of nails, not rusted into a red-brown pile, yet tetanus-laden enough to justify removing them from circulation. A single screw taking up a full drawer or box space, is it really worth the space it takes up? Most likely not.

Remarkably, I seem to be nearing the seventy-five percent benchmark for completion of this little adventure. With any luck, I will be back to the point I can start talking tools again before the weeks-end. Photos will hopefully become a regular addition to the site starting with the next post. Who knows, subtle suggestion of future plans we may even get some video posted to the site in the not-to-distant future. I have been wanting to get articles posted on the site more frequently in general but time has been short, and getting anything posted has been a little like squeezing blood from the stone that is my schedule.

cobblers anvilBefore I sign off for the day, I wanted to mention a tool that once again was unearthed from the depths of time and space that is my currently-disheveled workshop. My great-great-grandfathers cobblers anvil. The photo here on this page is not mine, I copied and cleaned up a photo I found here. I will post pics of my own cobblers anvil in another article. I just wanted to share a little about one of those tools from the past, something that makes me think about my predecessors. My great-grandfather and my grandmother both wore shoes made on the same anvil; shoes made by their parents. Some times I just get lost in time thinking about their daily lives and how much they depended on their tools. At times I am envious.

Until next time my fellow tool lovers,

Clean Tools are Happy Tools

I have several topics I want to cover in September, but I did want to get a quick post in about cleaning tools before the end of the month.

I have been down in the shop several times over the last week, but that time has been devoted to getting stuff back in order after remodeling my shop space. As I am going through all of the stuff (I say stuff but what I really mean in many cases is crap) that was filling my workshop, I am finding that I have been holding on to things I know I don’t need. One such category is Telco materials. Yes, I also worked for Pacific Bell for a while as a repair tech. I have accumulated lots of miscellaneous connectors and even some communications tools that I will most likely never use again, not that I’ll get rid of the tools.

While reminiscing over this accumulation I discovered something else… I have been neglecting some of my tools! I felt so guilty about it that I had to stop, clean them and make sure they were is good working order. Many of the communications and networking tools like toners, amplifiers, and meters just needed fresh batteries, but some tools like screw clamps needed a full cleaning; digging out debris from the threads and a good scrubbing with some Scotch Brite. A few things needed a full tear-down so I could clean them properly.

One tool that needed the full treatment was an old Black & Decker 7″ circular saw I inherited from my great uncle when he passed away in 1989. I figure he bought it around 1979 or thereabouts, so this saw has been in service for 30+ years. This tool, like any other, deserves my respect and attention. It was an in expensive saw back in the day but that doesn’t change the fact that it still does its job without complaint.

My tear-down consisted of removing the blade of course, the guard and and clamping rings. This is when I cringed; there was a thick build-up of debris and oil behind the guard. I am embarrass to say it, but I don’t think I have removed that blade in 5 years, maybe more. I cleaned off the mess and wiped the area clean. The disassembly continued by separating the housing and inspecting the inside of the body and handle. Here is where I was pleasantly surprised. It was mostly clean in here, a little compressed air and a wipe-down and all was well. The commutator and brushes looked good, as did the wiring and switch.

The gear section was opened to check the gear case grease which was also in good condition. I was about to bolt everything back together when I noticed a nick in the power cord. Not really bad, no copper showing, but I could see the white shielding of the neutral wire in the two conductor cable. I don’t have any extra power cord or plug ends on hand, and the damage wasn’t at the point that it would be a structural hazard so I decided to heat shrink that section of the cord. I disconnected it from the switch, slipped on some heat shrink and got it nice and snug, then reconnected everything.

After getting the saw back together and buttoned up I gave it a short test drive on some 1/4″ ply. She sounded happy to have had some time at Dad’s Tool Spa.

More shop and tool cleaning on my schedule for September.

Till next time,