For those of us that cannot justify a pick-up truck, but still on occasion need to haul items famously labled as “Stuff” a small utility trailer can fill that need quite well. However to pull a trailer you need a hitch on your vehicle. Fortuntly most cars now have tapped holes in the frame for an easy install, provided you get a hitch designed for your car.
In my case I ordered a hitch and wiring harnes from etrailer.com
Since the holes were not protected from road dirt I needed to clean them out before the bolts would thread in. I spent more time looking for a brush in my garage then it ended up taking me to install it. Only 5 bolts in holes that were already tapped meant that once I actually started mounting it I was done in less than 15 minutes. The whole job including the wiring harness was only a bit over an hour. It did take 2 people as it needed to be held up while the bolts were started.
Over the years I have hauled all kinds of things in a small 4′ x 8′ utility trailer that I got from Harbor Freight. Everything from lumber to moving to compost. I have several projects planned for the next year and this will help me get the materials to get things done.
A simple upgrade you can do is to convert your can lights to LED. In recent years LED lights have become widely available and very reasonably priced. I got the above light from Costco at about $15 for a two-pack. In my case, I have 10 of them on my front and back porches.
One problem I had with my old lights is they were open around the bulb and this allowed wasps to get up above the soffit and build nests. If you look at the picture you can see this problem and there really isn’t any way to fix it that I have found. With an incandescent bulb, there isn’t a cover that you can put over it due to the heat created.
Looking at the replacement LED you can see that it simply screws into the existing socket and has what is in effect two springs that hook into the can and draws the light up to be flush with the ceiling.
Installation could not be simpler:
Remove the old bulb and trim ring
Screw the plug into the socket
Hook the springs over the lugs in the can
Push the light up and it will snap up to the ceiling
I cringe whenever I see a galvanized pipe in a plumbing project I’m involved in, I cringe. It is difficult to work with because it is almost always corroded, all joints are threaded and you either have to make the lengths you can buy at the store work or you have to buy expensive threading tools. It is best to go back to a joint you can get apart and switch over to something else – I prefer PEX. Note that if you are moving to copper you need to use something called a dielectric union, otherwise bad things happen between the two metals.
An Example of the Problem
I got called to work on a plumbing problem for a relative and after I got the crawl space opened up my son declared “We have a PSO”. I had never heard of that so I had to ask “What is a PSO?” My son is taking robotics classes at the local Community College and one of them was fluid power. That is the class where he learned about “Pressure Squirting Out”, or PSO which is used to describe a leak under pressure.
If you look just to the left of the elbow you will see the hole. And since the hole is a result of corrosion I didn’t think I could get the joint you see apart. The pipe then goes into a concrete footing, so going back to the next coupling was not an option. Plus the pipe ran right next to a block foundation so even if I had pipe thread cutting equipment there wasn’t room to use it.
What you need
If you ever run into a situation like mine where you have to cut the galvanized pipe in place I have found a way to repair it that doesn’t require cutting threads. The item you need is a “Galvanized Pipe Compression Coupling” and I found it at Menards. Interestingly the staff at Menards didn’t know it existed, I had to find it on their website and show it to the person that worked in the plumbing department. Make sure you know what size pipe you have so you can get the right coupler. Supply is probably 3/4″. Also get a 6″ nipple and cut the threads off of one end. The compression coupling has an inner rubber ring that gets compressed against the outside of the pipe to form a watertight seal.
Preparing the Pipe
Cut the pipe off square and make sure there are not any burs and use sandpaper to clean the outside of the pipe. I used a right angle grinder with a cut-off disc. This produces a much cleaner cut than a hack-saw. Plus I’m much better and keeping the cut straight with a disc than a saw blade and it is quick.
Change to Something Else
So you want to get away from galvanized as quick as possible so I threaded a 3/4″ pipe thread to PEX on the nipple that came out of the compression coupling and my problem is solved.
It cannot be stated strongly enough how important it is for your cutting tools to be sharp. Sharp tools are far safer than dull ones and will do more work with less effort. You need to learn how to sharpen every cutting tool you own or use.
Sharpening An Axe
Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” The tool of choice for an Axe is “The Puck” which is a round sharpening stone with a course and medium side. It works fairly well but does not produce a fine edge because it does not have a fine grit.
If an axe or hatchet is really bad you will need a file or grinder to re-profile the cutting edge. A file might be the safest for someone new to sharpening, as it is much harder to mess up the edge by hand.
Be careful using any power grinder when sharpening that you do not heat up the metal and draw out the heat treat. One tip is to hold it barehanded as you can feel it if the heat starts to build up. Some kind of belt sander/grinder is what you want if you want a shiny finish. You can sand by hand, but that takes a fair bit of time.
Page 27 of “An Axe to Grind” have more information about sharpening and page 29 has an Axe-Bit Gauge you can print.