Swapping A Mower Engine – Part 2

As I worked through the various alignment issues I think I finally got it ready to go.  The problem was the shaft on the new engine is not only longer but it isn’t milled down to 1″ all the way to the mower housing.  The pulleys need to line up or the belts will lose power and could be damaged.

According to a friend that is a small gas engine repairman the shafts are cut off all the time if they are too long.  The only problem is if your application gets something screwed into the end.  If you cut it off you might not have enough threads left or the hole could be too shallow.  In my case I’m using pulleys with a key-way and a set screw, so cutting the shaft was no problem.

However I did have a problem with the air supply to the cut-off tool I was using.  My air compressor just couldn’t supply volume to run the tool, so I had to pause cutting and wait for the tank to fill back up with air.  A better solution (other than a much bigger air compressor) is a cut off disk for my 4-1/2″ angle grinder.  These cut of disks are very thin, which is a good thing as that means the cut is narrower so less material is removed which means less heat is generated.  With any kind of metal-cutting heat is always a concern, if you were to just use a grinding disk it would cut a much wider slot and generate a lot more heat.  It will also take more power from the tool so if you are at the limits of what it can do you might find your tool stalling out and maybe burning up the motor.  If the piece you are working gets too how it can ruin the heat treatment.

Next step testing it out.

Start With A course Grit When Referbishing A Cutting Tool

If you are like me you keep an eye out for a good deal on used tools.  Poorly maintained cutting tools like chisels, planes or knifes can sometimes be bought at a great value because they do not cut.  After all what good is a cutting tool that does a poor job of cutting?  Many times the cutting edge is rolled and/or has nicks in it.  This requires a considerable amount of material to be removed and if you start with too fine of a grit you will find yourself spending a lot of time and still not getting it done.

If you have spent more than 5 min and you are not down to fresh metal across the whole line that you are sharpening then you need to move down to a coarser grit.  Many cutting tools have one side flat and you should always start with that side.  Resist the urge to tip that side up to shorten the amount of time needed to sharpen it, however that would be a mistake.  Tools like chisels and plane irons will not function properly if you don’t keep the back flat.

You want to use something hard and flat for an abrasive.  An affordable step many take is to use sandpaper.  However it needs to be on something flat.  A piece of marble tile that costs a couple of bucks and some spray adhesive works great.  If you have a table saw you can also the cast iron part of it to sharpen on with sandpaper.

So the moral of this story is to not be afraid to move down to a courser grit when you come across a badly damaged tool edge.  Maybe even down to 80 grit.  Look for creating an even scratch pattern across the cutting edge, once you have accomplished that you are ready to move on to finer grits.

Swapping A Mower Engine – Part 1

I have a DR Field & Brush Mower from the early 1980’s.  This is an amazing tool for clearing land and property maintenance.  However I’ve been having problems with the engine for the last two years and finally it seized up this month.  I considered trying to fix the engine, but after 35 years of use I’m not sure how worn out this engine might be.  A replacement Briggs was something over $500, however the 8HP Harbor Freight Predator brand was a bit less than $250 so I decided to give that a try.

The first step is removing the old engine and making sure the replacement is as close as possible.  In this case the old engine was an 8HP horizontal shaft engine with a 1″ keyed shaft.  I needed the pulleys from the output shaft and if I couldn’t get them off I was going to take a saw to the shaft and then drive it out.  However the puller worked easily.

You do have to be careful with the 3 jaw pullers and they can exert a tremendous force on the parts involved.  If you get to the point where you are really putting some force on the screw you have to start considering which part you might have to sacrifice.  If you need to save the shaft you can cut the pulleys of if the engine is bad anyway cut the shaft.

Another trick is to heat the parts with a torch.  if most of the heat is directed on one of the two parts stuck together you will get expansion that could be enough to break the connection between the two.  You will not be able to see it with your eyes, but the differential rate of expansion is there and you only need a small amount of movement to free up a joint or connection that is stuck.

Next mounting the new engine.

Review of Socket Saver Plumbing Tool

While trying to replace the pump and motor on my hot tub I broke the PVC pipe at the valve.  The big problem is the male part of the valve pipe was still inside the 2″ pipe that contains the safety suction sensor.  A replacement is not available locally and if I figured it out correctly ordering it online was in the $75 range.  This part of the plumbing was still good except for the broke off pipe glued in it.  I asked Google for a way to salvage this coupling and came up with something called the Socket Saver.  It basically cuts out the pipe in the socket so you can re-use it.

Normally I would just buy a replacement pipe fitting, but in some cases a replacement isn’t easily available or would require cutting out a lot of other plumbing.  In those cases the Socket Saver may be just what you need.  You do need a different one for each size pipe and the 2″ one I’m using does require a 1/2″ drill.  It appears to have worked, but I will have to reserve my final judgement until after it has been glued up in the hot tub for a while.  My only concern is the inside is a bit rough, but since PVC pipe is joined using a solvent that chemically melts the pipe together I think it will be OK.

Why You Should Own A Cheap Pair of Calipers

While very few of us will be doing projects that require measurements down to the 100ths of an inch, a set of cheap value priced calipers is something I think everyone should have.  I got the set pictured at (I think) Harbor Freight for less that $5.  Amazon sells them as well, a 3 pack for less than $12.  I would stay away from the ones with the dial or digital readout, unless you know far more about them than I am covering in this post.

The ones that are just a one piece sliding on another have nothing that can go wrong, other than physically breaking or the markings wearing off.  These will measure inside diameter, outside diameter and depth.  In this example I need to know what size hole saw to use to mount this gate valve in a bucket that will hold honey.  It is maybe 1/64″ of an inch smaller than 1-3/4″, so I will be using a 1-3/4″ hole saw and let the gasket take care of the rest.

Food Grade Buckets and Lids – Check Lowes

For any of your project that require food grade buckets you might check your local Lowe’s.  The one closest to me carries food grade 5 & 2 gallon buckets and lids.  For the 5 gallon size in stock on the shelf was solid lids, with a bung hole and gamma lids.  The gamma lid costs the most, but I got a bucket and gamma lid for a bit less than $12  If I would have went with a solid lid it would have been about half that.  I’m not sure if they are available cheaper online, but when you take into account shipping charges I think you will have to buy a lot of them at once before you will save any money.  Plus you can have it now if you need it.  I have not found any other stores in my area that sells food grade buckets and lids.

Beekeeping – Problems With My Crush and Strain Process

I’ve always20160321_221403.jpg heard that for a small time beekeeper an extractor isn’t really needed, you can instead crush the comb and put it through a strainer giving you honey and wax.  This appeals to me since I have use for beeswax as well as the honey and don’t want to spend the money on an extractor that I would once a year.

What I’ve read about is using a 5 gallon paint strainer and two 5 gallon buckets.  You drill holes in the bottom of one and cut a hole in the lid of the other.  The paint strainer goes in the one with the holes in the bottom and that one goes on top of the one with the hole in the lid.

20161021_133845.jpgMy biggest problem is that I was harvesting honey from a hive that died out over the winter and a bunch of the honey crystallized in the comb.  Even if I had an extractor this still wouldn’t have got the crystallized honey out.  And it certainly would not have went through the strainer.  When I tore it apart I found crystallized honey that had went through the strainer bag but not down into the bottom bucket.  I think I was putting too much in the strainer at once.  20160924_205825.jpgThe last few frames I crushed I put through a bucket strainer I got from Amazon.  This appeared to work better, but I could only put in a couple of inches of the crushed honey/wax mixture at a time.  But since I’ve got enough honey for my immediate needs I’ve got time to do it in smaller batches.

I saved everything that was left in the strainer (both the paint bag and bucket strainer) and slowly warmed everything up so that everything melted.  After letting it cool I pulled the solids off the top and ran what was left through the bucket strainer again.  This gave me about 3 gallons of honey.  This made my recovery rate about 60%-70%, however I believe that part of this low rate was due to the amount of honey crystallized in the comb, heating it up turned it back to a liquid.  20161019_204806.jpgMy daughter uses honey in cooking so I’m OK with having some of it not being the superior raw room temperature filtered honey I like eating.  I do keep this heated honey separate from my first pass.

My lessons learned are to harvest in the fall to avoid crystallized honey in the comb and to process in smaller batches using a bucket strainer rather than the paint strainer bag so as much of the honey as possible can flow through the strainer.