Flight of the Navigator

David, from the classic 1986 movie, had Max (the alien AI spaceship) attempt filling his brain with starcharts.  When David asked how the experiment had gone, the answer was the same as an issue I had with the shed in today’s beating rain.  It leaked.

To be fair, the vast majority of the shed was fine – such a relief not to be ankle deep in a river as was the (exaggerated) case from the previous shed.  That one needed the ShopVac to suck as much of the free water up so it didn’t start lapping around the base of the tools sitting on wheeled bases.

The leak today was no more than a puddle forming on the floor of the mezzanine, directly under one of the windows in the eaves – rain was getting in around the rubber seals of the glass.  Not ideal, but with a bit of glazier’s silicone, should be pretty easy to rectify.  If that is the only leak I ever have to experience, I will be happy.

At least nothing was raining on the cast iron tools – I’ve had enough dealing with rust on tools.  Tried some Killrust Rust-Eeter (sic) the other day, and although I am sure it did a good job in converting the rust, it is only suitable as a product when intending to paint over the surface afterwards. It left the surface completely black, as if it had been painted (which effectively is what it was).


It didn’t work as I was hoping – I just wanted to convert rust back to raw metal, or use something that cleaned rust off.  Both on large surfaces, but also something I could set up as a bath to immerse smaller tools in to clean rust off.

Does anyone have a good product for doing this?  I have some old tools that really need some of that TLC.

Episode 48 Rejuvenating Machine Tops

Episode 48 Rejuvenating Machine Tops.

Using TopSaver and SilverGlide to remove rust, lubricate and protect the top of a major shop machine.

Protecting your Tools

Aside: There is a short video coming (as soon as I can) about reconditioning tool tops, but in the meantime this is a followup to that video……

Oh, and while talking about proposed upcoming videos – yes, the penturning video is coming soon – I’ve just had some delay in acquiring a tool I need for the video, which hopefully will arrive in the next day or so.

So onto the topic on-hand.

When I first raised the topic of protecting the tops of tools, my uncle mentioned how he protects his tools (with a simple sheet thrown over), and it has taken me quite some time to get around to doing something about it.

During the big move etc (and shooting the recent top reconditioning video) I came across an idea for how I wanted to do it for my tools, and annoyingly it has been staring me in the face for a while.  I purchased some felt for a noticeboard a while ago, and it finally struck me that it would also be the perfect material for my tools.

The specific material is a very thick felt, and is sold in Spotlight as the weirdly named “Wonderwall”.  Costs about $12/m

Protecting the Tablesaw

Protecting the Tablesaw...

The main thing I am doing here is keeping dust etc off, which attracts moisture and therefore rust.

...The Thicknesser...

...The Thicknesser...

...And every other Cast Iron tool in the Shop

...And every other Cast Iron tool in the Shop

For all the tools in the shop, including the very large router table, lathe, bandsaw, jointer etc, the cost of the material was a whopping $30.

Air Compressor Health

Do you take enough care of the health of your air compressor?

Do you know what your air compressor is breathing in?

How’s the compressor’s fluids?

3 questions I haven’t given much, if any thought to, at least not in the last 12 months or so, and yes, I should know better.

My air compressor lives in the shed next door to the workshop, to cut down the noise (and to save a little space), but it also then becomes a matter of out of sight, out of mind.  Not a good thing.

Firstly, the oil.  I keep meaning to do an oil change of the compressor, and it is long overdue.  There are moving parts in the compressor, which means that it needs lubrication, and that is obviously important – no lubrication, and the compressor will very quickly become a boat anchor.  However, the other thing that the oil does, is store all the particles that have worn off the components, and that is not cool – do you really want to lubricate the small tolerances in the air compressor with metal shavings?  I’ve no doubt that there is a lot of unnecessary scarring inside mine from just that.

Air quality.  Obviously the air compressor has some form of filter on it, but when was the last time you cleaned / replaced it?  Do you run the air compressor in a dusty environment, or is it getting a good supply of clean, filtered air?  Like the oil, particles in the air will cause significant damage inside the pistons.

Last, but not least, and related to air quality – how dry is that air?  Quality air compressors have drying filters on the air intake, but that is a bit of a luxury for a small air compressor, but perhaps worth considering if making a simple one wouldn’t be worth while?  Moisture in the air (even tiny amounts) will accumulate inside the tank, so venting this tank should be a regular event.  Hasn’t been on mine for quite a while now.

So on the weekend, as I was working on the dust system (and the dust extractor is right next to the air compressor, which probably isn’t the smartest thing, but it is the most practical location in my case), I looked at the air compressor, and it vaguely dawned on me that I switch it on and off from the other shed and it has been just a little while since I last actually considered how it was running and being maintained.
So checked the oil level, and to it’s credit, it was on the low side, but still at a reasonable level.  It definitely needs to be changed, but that is a job for another day.

Had a listen to it, and there is a minor air leak where the flexible tube couples to it – again, I’ll tighten up the connection at some stage, but it is a pretty minor loss.

Thought I’d better vent the tank a bit – there’s only ever been a few drops of water, so I got a bit complacent about it.  Hmm – was this meant to be an air compressor or a water blaster?  I have no idea how much water came out, but it was in the vicinity of 150ml or so – might have been more as it was under pressure, but it seemed to run and run.  Oops.  Was a really interesting red-brown colour too.  Idiot.

So I have probably significantly shortened the life of the compressor, and as I said, to its credit, it has been taking my neglect surprisingly well, but if I want it to keep going, I need to take a little more care of it in future.

FWIW, it is a 40L direct drive GMC air compressor that cost all of $200.  That was about 4 years or so ago, possibly even more but memory is very hazy looking back that far.  I’d say that is pretty impressive for a budget machine, especially given my lack of attention!  But it is well overdue for me to give it a little more maintenance than it has been receiving if I want it to keep chugging away.

Episode 24 Tool Maintenance Cast Iron and Sanders

Episode 24 Tool Maintenance Cast Iron and Sanders
For anyone not living in absolute ideal conditions, cast iron is not only magnetic, but “magnetically” attracts rust to it, and so it is important to both protect against rust, and be able to remove any ‘infection’ as soon as it starts.

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