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.
Another Trip Into The Scrap Iron Pile
Oct 14, 2012
It's tough for me to consign a piece of metal pipe to the scrap iron pile. I'm always finding new ways to "repurpose" pipe.
I've got a lot of short chunks of pipe in my toolbox. Some are large diameter, some are small diameter. Some are thick wall, some are thin wall. They come in a variety of lengths, and they all make excellent bearing or seal drivers. My goal is to eventually have enough pieces of pipe in different diameters and lengths so that no matter what size bearing or seal I'm installing, I'll have a piece of pipe that's a perfect match.
Sometimes I weld a piece of flat metal over the ends of those pieces of pipe I use as bearing/seal drivers, to give me a surface to hit with a hammer. But I always keep a few long sections of pipe in case I need to slide one of them over a shaft to install a seal buried deep in a machine.
I've even salvaged some pieces of electrical conduit. That stuff is soft and doesn't last for more than one or two encounters with a hammer and hardened bearing race, but the thin walls of electrical conduit are sometimes the hot ticket for installing special seals in tight places.
A lot of my repurposed pipe gets shorter with use. I have to trim off the battered ends, or slice off an inch or two so it's the perfect length for fitting into a particularly tight spot during repairs to a machine. But there's one piece of scrap pipe that is near-sacred. It's about 4 feet long, thick-walled, and around 2 inches in diameter. It's a perfect fit over the handle of my biggest breaker bar. I know that all the tool manufacturers warn against using an "extension" to the handle of breaker bars, but you'll notice that I didn't call that pipe an "extension."
It's simply my "magic pipe," because when I use it, stubborn bolts and nuts magically come loose.