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In the Shop

RSS By: Dan Anderson, Farm Journal

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.

Harvest, 2012: Tools I'm Glad I Bought

Oct 28, 2012

 Sometimes, out of desperation, on impluse, or simply because of poor judgement, I buy a tool or tool accessory. Rather than remind myself of the money I've wasted by reciting a litany of poor purchases, I'm going to list a few things I bought during this year's harvest that actually worked like they were supposed to:

-a gun-type dispenser for dispensing silicone, glue or other products that come in "toothpaste" tubes. Every time I try to squeeze a nice, even bead of silicone or other semi-liquid product from a toothpaste tube, I end up making a mess because squeezing evenly and hard at the same time never seems to work. On impulse I bought a little hand-operated gizmo you place over the end of the tube, then you squeeze the handles and the tool evenly applies pressure to the tube. It's like using a mini-caulking gun because it allows you to accurately control the pressure on the tube and simultaneously see the bead of silicone, caulk, or whatever you're applying. I approve.

-Getting an electrical splice or the backside of a repaired electrical connector sealed against moisture is tough. Electrician's tape is okay, but I never fully trust it to be moisture resistant. Duct tape--well, maybe in a pinch. Silicone guarantees the seal, but takes time to cure so it's not handy for field repairs. For all those reasons I'm becoming fond of a special type of tape offered by Loctite that has impressed me with it's versatility, it's moisture resistance and its ability to wrap and seal tightly around irregular surfaces. It's called Loctite Insulating/Sealing Wrap. There may be other brands on the market with similar quality. The tape doesn't have glue so its not sticky, but after you make a complete "wrap" and pull the tape to stretch it, it adheres instantly and magically to itsef.The more you stretch it while wrapping it, the better it seals. Because there's no "glue" there's no oozing stickiness. Be forewarned, it's tough to unwrap if you make a mistake. Like, impossible to unwrap--might as well reach for a pocketknife or some other sharp utensil to cut it. Otherwise it makes a tight, tidy, water-resistant, electrically non-conductive seal. I like it.

-There are other products beside J-B Weld on the market, but J-B Weld's quick curing compound is the one that got me out of a bind, so I'll focus on it. I like the original J-B Weld, but often can't afford to wait 24 hours for it to cure and be ready for use. Their quick-curing formula worked well to repair a damaged fiberglass radiator shroud that couldn't wait 24 hours. The machine was up and running 2 hours after I started mixing the compound. Even though I was supposed to wait 4 hours for full-cure. Oh well.

-And, in the name of full-disclosure and to reassert my knack for being a sucker for shiny objects, I'm still in search of an accurate, reliable, long-lasting digital tire pressure gauge. I paid $85 for a full-featured, fancy-schmancy air pressure gauge that is reliable to eat batteries, give inconsistent readings, and generally be undependable and extremely annoying. Live and learn, I guess..

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