In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
In The Shop: Sometimes I Get Too Fancy
Oct 27, 2010
Having a respectable assortment of tools is good, but sometimes I get carried away and forget that fancy tools aren't necessarily better than simple tools.
For example, today I was installing a bearing and seal. I was frustrated and talking to myself because I didn't have a bearing/seal driver the exact size I needed for the job. Then I asked myself, "What did you do before you had a set of fancy (expensive) bearing/seal drivers, dummy?" After a vigorous head-slap, I grabbed a small wooden block, tapped the bearing and seal into place, and vowed to not become so enamored about having the perfect tool that I can't figure out a simple way to get the job done.
With that in mind, here's a short list of "innovative" ways I've got around not having the perfect tool for certain jobs. I'm not bragging, and I'm a little ashamed at some of the crude things I've done, but...
-for small motorcycle and ATV wheel bearings and seals, I've used various half-inch drive sockets as bearing/seal drivers. My 3/4-inch drive socket set is kind of battered because I've used the 2-inch and larger sockets as drivers for larger bearings.
-when I didn't have an ammeter available to check for faulty circuits that were dead-shorting a battery, I systematically pulled all the fuses for the machine, then then installed them one by one to find the shorted circuit. Duh.
-when I needed a big allen wrench but didn't have the correct size, I used a hex head bolt upside down to fit into the allen-headed bolt, then gripped the bolt's shank with a pair of Vise-Grips to turn my impromptu allen wrench. On occasions when I couldn't find a hex head bolt that had the right size hex head, I ground the flats on a larger hex head bolt until that bolt fit into the allen head I was trying to remove.
-and I, uh, "know" of a mechanic who was in the field, needed a sledge hammer to knock apart a stubborn assembly but didn't have one, so he used a large rock on the end of a fencepost he liberated from a nearby fence to bludgeon things apart.
Isn't it amazing how creative a person can be when he's tired, hungry, miles from home, and nobody is looking...