16 February 2013

DIY Heavy-duty steel utility wagon, info needed!

Folks- if any of you guys stumble across this and are DIY sorts with input, I am all ears...

I need a utility wagon, mainly to move my engine hoist and other heavy/unwieldly shit from the garage to the back shed- BUT, will also need to transport a 600+ pound engine back there at some point as well.

Looking to go about 18"X36" for the loadbed, wheels directly under the assembly (ie: the widest point is the loadbed).

I have a good bit of scrap 2X2X1/8" wall tubing as well as angle and such, from past 4X4 suspension and bumper builds. I have no problems or questions regarding the building of the frame...

What has me flumoxed is the steering, and appropriate axle for the fixed and steering axles.

Basically, want this: http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/wagon-made-from-scrap-steel.html

It looks like he used solid rod for the fixed axle, and steering knuckles for the steering bit. I don't think the solid rod is up to this sort of stress unless I go larger diameter. I do, however, think that welding grade-8 bolts to the frame itself would work just fine. Yes, they will loose some strength from the heat and welding- in that case, second thought I could through-bolt through the frame (dropping the frame down another few inches to allow this, of course), leaving enough length on the bolt to properly affix my wheels (which will have bearing-equipped hubs). So I don't think the rear axle is such a big deal- anything I am missing here?

The front axle, though: I am flumoxed. I have no idea where to obtain the steering knuckles. I could make the entire front assembly pivot, but this seems like it would be a weak point of the structure, and would make the cart more tippy. I don't want "Radio Flyer" single-pivot wagon steering, looking for something more like a solid-axle equipped truck's steering (ie, the pivots are at each wheel, a la "kingpins" on a Dana axle).

 I realize box-section tubing is overkill on this project. I will use expanded steel for the load deck, or perhaps wood if consensus says this would be better. I am using box section because I have a lot of it that's going to rust if it's not used, so this is a $0 supply. I can buy the wheels if I have to, for $10 per- but I already have a source lined up for wheels off an old commercial lawnmower, at $0.

 Costs for the project looks like a bit of hardware (which I probably already have from previous projects- I have a 200-pound case of misc stainless and zinc fasteners), some paint, and whatever the solution ends up being for the load deck and steering. I anticipate I can do this for less than $50, and some welding time. Harbor Freight has something similar to what I want, for $120, but it's actually much weaker (the 1000-pound rating of their unit is said to be VERY generous).  Yes, I could buy the HF unit and weld on some reinforcement, making it suitable to the job- but that is akin to throwing good money (and time) after bad. I am not a wealthy man, it's time I stop spending on things I can make myself simply to "Have it right-the-hell now". Actually, it's WAY past time I stop doing that, and this goes double for the country at large and most of us as Citizens... but, another discussion, moving on...

I realize the box section will make this thing HEAVY, that is fine. I have some clevises I plan on welding to the frame for tiedown use as well as hoisting use. Hoisting, as in: to hoist it up into my trailer if I need to go mobile with it (which I will- this wagon wil lbe used at my local pick-a-part salvage yard to retrieve axles, transfer cases, etc). I have a milsurp M101A1 trailer that I use behind my S-10 (itself highly modified- Dana 44 solid axles from an 82 Wagoneer are under it, about 12" lift all told), it is of course quite tall. I am modifying it for civvy voltage and 7-wire RV harness, and plan to delete the tiltbed feature and mount a pickup bed hoist in it to allow me to easily load axles, engines, etc. So there are no concerns of keeping this wagon light enough to get into the back of a SUV without throwing my back out. Any finished product under 150 pounds will be fine.

Could use your input on the steering and load deck!

03 February 2013

So yeah, how's that posting more often thing working out for me?

I came across a neat topic lately I wanted to share real quick - mainly because I will forget it if I don't:

An outstanding, DIY cleaner for around the house and garage-

1 cup Dawn dishwashing liquid
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water

That's all there is to it. Put in a spray bottle, shake it and have at it.

I have used it in the kitchen, bathroom (dispatching some VERY tenacious rust-rings that have been in the shower since I bought the house, without ANY real effort), and even in the garage (and on the truck).

 It's cleaned everything I have tried, very well- I used entire cans of Dow Corning scrubbinb bubble cleaner (toxic shit, that!) on the shower, focusing on the rust rings, without much effect. I don't want to overstate the issue- the shower wasn't THAT bad- but I was never able to get it totally clean down to the white, you know? Even after using 3M scotchbrite pads with the DC stuff, no love. I literally made a batch of this stuff, went into the bathroom and sprayed down the shower. Came back in 5 minutes (letting it sit longer helps), and wiped away the stains with nothing more than my bare hand. Amazing, amazing stuff.

Yes, there's a bit of a vinegary smell, but that's easy to banish with some Febreeze (or the homemade equivalent- involving baking soda, fabric softener, and water- can't recalll the amounts at pesent but it works just as well as the manufactured product, at pennies on the dollar).

The best part? There's no nagging thought in the back of my head that I ought to be wearing CPOGs when using this stuff. Hell, I know folks that use diluted Dawn for bodywash (and I have done the same when I realized I was out of soap). I can literally keep a spray bottle of this stuff in the shower, and clean the shower as I clean me. Win!

Also, just used this in the yard this afternoon- I was changing tires on my Jeep. By "changing tires", I mean taking them off the Jeep, dismounting the tires from the wheels, and placing new tires on those same wheels- all by hand. It's a filthy job, and can be agravating. The worst part is usually the inner surface of the wheel, which collects brake dust. Since I have recently bought a DIY wheel balancing system form Harbor Freight, I needed to get the inner surface of the wheel clean so my self-stick wheel weights would actually... stick.

I got the new tire on, and took an old potscrubber I've been meaning to replace from the kitchen, and the spraybottle of my Wondercleaner. Sprayed it, a couple of rinses and a quick scrub or two with the scrubber, and my formerly-black inner wheel surface is now mostly shiny aluminum. Not ready for show, by any means, but it is definitely clean now. Tar is, not surprisingly, a bitch to remove.

I ran out of light, and wanted to let the tire sit for a bit to dry the whel as well as leaktest it for a couple days before I mess with balancing the assembly. Once I am ready, I will snap some pics of the balancing process. When I have the weights in place I will cover them with Gorilla Tape so they stay.

I certainly don't expect the same exact balance one gets with an active, computerized spin-balance.. but seeing that the last time I paid for that (for a 31" street tire for the wife's Jeep), the Tire Jerk put 2 POUNDS of lead on one side of the rim, and 8 ounces directly opposite it on the same side of the wheel (new wheels and tires, thanks) I don't think I can do any worse, and 2 tires will have paid for the balancer I bought. Given that I now have the wife running Centramatic wheel balancers, without ANY rim weight at all, on tires I assembled manually, and her Jeep rides like a Cadillac, I think I'll be good to go- this will be an improvement on what I already am running once I put the Centramatics on my truck.

Of course, to do this, I am going to have to break down all 5 tires on my vehicle and suck out the airsoft pellets I have been running for balance media for years. Incidentally- they have worked VERY well- the only reason I am getting away from them is to allow me to use a runflat compound inside the tires. More info on that soon, as well!

27 June 2012

Talent, and smokin' hot besides...

Came across this lovely young lady via The Ernest Thing's blog:

Kimbra, or as I call her "Another reason to love Aussie-land":

(having trouble with the embedding. Here's the linkage:
Kimbra: Plain Gold Ring, on Youtube

I may have to look into getting her CD.

17 June 2012

Randomosity: catching up

OK, I've been away for a while- well not so much away as lazy, but whatever...

Random stuff over the last year or so:
-it's taken most of the year, but my truck is just about ready to put back on the road. It's finally (most of) the way the General should have built it in the first place...
-My welding skills... sucked, but now rock!
-got myself a Mosin M38 carbine AND a Victor Arms AK47... for less than $300
-sold the Mosin to my boss, as I needed the money at the time (this was while I was on the 6 month contract to hire gig, making shit for pay..... but rocking their world in terms of work performance
-went fulltime at that gig, getting a nice stipend in pay.
-became, on paper at least, a Senior Network Admin... over my head, but swimming like a mofo to fake it till I make it
-went through the NOC version of an Anal Exam, called a DIACAP. We passed, very well
-started relying less on the faking it, and more on the making it.. ie, grew into my Sr NetAdmin role. I LOVE IT!
-have changed out my EDC kit a bit, will do some reviews as time goes on. Short list: Duluth Trading Company pants simply kick all manner of ass. Expensive, sure- but they also have a lifetime warranty. Simply put, you wear 'em out, they send you new ones, shipping included. I am a thick sort, and always wear out the crotch of my pants- we'll see what happens with this...
-Nearly forgot to renew my CWP in time. I've been carrying for 4 years now. How time flies. I will have to go without for 2 months as they process my renewal. For some reason they're backed up and taking every bit of the 90 days they are allowed. (Sarcasm)I am sure I can't imagine why(/sarcasm)

There's some other stuff, too- that I am not sure I want to get into, here.

Why have I been a "silent key" for so long? In truth it is partly lazyness and humbleness- I just don't believe anyone wants to read my crap. But the main reason, quite honestly- pains me:

I simply don't need to catch the eye of the administration. I find myself having to second-guess everything I say, since the present administration likes to see enemies and terrorists among anyone that disagrees with their methods and views.

I HATE that it's come to this.

I want to get one thing clear: I am not, nor will I ever be, embracing any sort of revolt or do I consider myself an enemy of the administration. That said- I truly believe that the present administration is not keeping the interests of the country as a whole in their practices and procedures. What will I do about this? I will vote, and urge others to do so as well. To do otherwise would seem uncivilized, and unwarranted.

I pray that I am not in the minority, and that our present "leader" receives a sound thrubbing at the ballot box, which affords them no alternative but to graciously accept defeat and ceed power to the majority opinion.

However, if they don't, I wouldn't be at all surprised. I wouldn't put it past them to get every dirty trick out for this one.. like giving amnesty by Dictat to illegals.

16 January 2012

Welcome to the Blogroll: Red State Witch

OK folks- front and center, cover down- Listen up:

We run a respectful joint 'round here. Yes, even with the sidelong nude of the kneeling woman with the 3' long sword I posted some time ago, and similar. (Have I mentioned, Yumm?)

:makes note to post more eye candy:

That said- we run a respectful site here. There will be things that I post that you disagree with. There will be things that you say, I disagree with. It's an oft-misatributed quote (and correct me if I misattrib), but:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -(random Googleness by way of accuracy: This quote is widely attributed to Voltaire, but cannot be found in his writings. With good reason. The phrase was invented by a later author as an epitome of his attitude. It appeared in The Friends of Voltaire (1906), written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall under the pseudonym Stephen G. Tallentyre.)
So in short, and with the utmost respect:
-Welcome to the blogroll, Red State Witch. Stealing their tagline: "Pagan AND Conservative. Yes, really". It's something I've long said about myself- and as it happens, it's not terribly rare.

-Don't mistake those that don't follow the same god you do, as being Occupy Wall Street types.

-Each their own, and "Judge not lest ye be judged", ring a bell?

-If you cannot respect the above, noone's making you post a comment... and you might as well save us both the time, because your comment will be sent to \dev\null if it doesn't contribute to a rational, respectful conversation.

Now- I just have to poke about in the undercarriage here and figure out where I add a hyperlink in the new interface...

You'd think I'd remember this shi... stuff...

So maybe it's psychosomatic (and maybe I horribly misspelled that, but not feeling like caring right now), but every time I stop and think "hey, you know- I've not been sick in quite a while. Cool!"... I soon come down with a nasty bug.

I'm not given to being sick often, even with my wife working with young children and coming home with all manner of interesting bugs all the time.

It's just like the last time I took a plane ride with the wife- I looked out the window at the baggage handlers and remarked "you know, it really is amazing how they've never lost my bags."

She just looked at me, shook her head dismissively, and said "You just HAVE to tempt fate, don't you?"

Sure as shit- they lost EVERY damned one of our bags. Mine. The wife's. The BSE bag for our then 6-month old child.

Did I mention this was also the weekend of the big reception shindig her family was throwing for our recent marriage? (honestly, they might as well have saved the money and we might as well not have gotten married, but that's an entirely OTHER discussion!)

So, yes- I seem to have the uncanny ability to make stuff happen, just by remarking how it's never happened. Fate, much?

I remarked to myself back in late December, right after Christmas, that I hadn't been sick in a long time- and how fortunate it was, since I'd just started with a new company after having done 6 months on a contract-to-hire "audition" for my new IT gig.

sure enough- 3 days later on the way back to work after picking up the wife and kid at  her work and shuttling them home- I start coming down with this massive stomach and backache, and then spend the next week and a half with a stomach flu. Thankfully, it was light on the "stomach" part, but tripled down on the body aches. I was literally taking 4 ibuprofen every 6 hours just so I could stand up. Yes, I know that's not healthy. I literally felt like I'd been kicked by a mule- I'd have considered drinking heavily had I thought it would have helped.

Got over that, finally, Friday last. Felt ok till abotu wednesday, and now I've got a damned head cold. Sneezing/wheezing/coughing my head off, but it's not gotten into my lungs and there's no sign of actual infection, so I'm just OTC'ing it.

Yes, probably all TMFI, but explains why I'm not getting as much done as I would like. I've been trying to turn over a new leaf with regard to tasks around the house, but it's difficult to do when you're ill. Yes, I know the wife troops on and does her stuff round the house when she's ill. I admit I'm a big baby when I'm sick. Shut up. ;P

On top of it all, I need to have dental surgery soon, as I have a broken and impacted wisdom tooth. It's not hurting, and I am fresh out of leave on the books, so it has to wait- the new company doesn't have a policy in place to let you go arrears on leave, and I'll only be out 3 days so it's not even long enough for STD to kick in. I'd had everything in place to have it done 31JAN, take that Wed-Fri off and have a weekend buffer in place, but that's not going to fly now. Next holiday weekend when I'll have sufficient leave is Memorial Day. I had planned to have The Big Snip that weekend, but it'll have to wait. I'm understandably not too upset about that. (Ladies, if you're wondering what The Big Snip is, read that sentence out to your 40-something male friends, and watch them cringe. Got it?)

Hopefully Fate's had her fun here, and I can get back to feeling well soon. Does the inverse work?

"Wow, it's been a long time since I felt great!"

06 January 2012

Getting my home cookin on...

So due to having the flu, I wasn't able to participate in a noble Southern Tradition-

Hoppin' John, collard greens, and barbeque for New Years' Day.

It's been entirely too long since I used the barbeque for anything more than a fire pit, let alone used black iron to cook more than a grilled cheese sandwich, and now I'm feeling better I think I will split my time outside this weekend with going through the truck project and cooking up some good food.

I made two loaves of Irish soda bread a couple days ago (while I was still sick, even- promises to keep to my kid!)- one white, one wheat. Both are excellent, and were super easy. I really need to bake more often, I haven't even got the cast pans I was given by a dear friend last year properly broken in yet... :/

I am thinking the menu this weekend will consist of hoppin' John, greens (though I may wimp out and do frozen), and maybe a couple steaks for the wife and I. At the very least I am looking for some reason to cook over campfire- the hoppin john can be done in a dutch oven, and the steaks will cook nicely on my lodge Sportsman's grill, as I need to get some more oil into the exterior of it since I left it out a few months back.

Pics will follow...

05 January 2012

Regarding recent legislation...

I'm referring to the bill that was signed by Barack Obama over the last weekend, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012.

Among other things, it gives the Military carte blanche to detain American citizens on American soil, without charging them, trying them, etc. The mind just boggles at the "unintended" consequences...

.. but, in an accompanying Signing Statement, Barry "promises not to use it". After all, "if one Muslim is taken off the street in the dead of night, none of us are free" (if you can find the quote from Obama's speech a few years back I am paraphrasing here, please provide link in comments!). Perhaps the same thing doesn't apply if you're white, Veteran, believe in the Constitution, the Bible, and such silly little things?

Pardon this- but WHAT. THE. FUCK, OVER? If Bush had done this (yes, I realize Extraordinary Rendition has been done to non-US citizens, on foreign territory, when they're captured in a war zone. NOT near the same, ok?) the lefties would have had a joygasm with the gnashing of teeth and so on.

ACLU: Stand-the-fuck-TO! If ever you people wanted to stand up and be counted as defending Civil Liberties (yaknow, since it's in the damned name of your organization and all), the time is now. Of course, I doubt you will- you haven't served as more than a shit-stirrer for the left for quite some time now... and Barack's one of yours, right? (EDIT: ok, I found this, and it seems the ACLU's found some scrot after all..)

And to top it all off- go google for "H.R 3166". Here's a hint: Congresscritter Dent comments on the act he introduced.

(pardon the language and vehemence, folks- I'm just really sick of what the present "leadership" is doing to our country. I wasn't a huge fan of the previous few leaders either- but I am really starting to wonder if the present administration just simply has it in for us)

The American Mercenary recently pondered a simple question: Wouldn't it be nice if there were one set of rules that applied equally?

I copy his post here, with full admission it is not my work- I just can't improve on it, and it would be a shame to see it disappear from the web:

28 December 2011



Wouldn't it be nice if there were one set of rules that applied equally?

Senator Bacon felt the hood coming off of his head, and a single bare lightbulb, not CFL he noted airily, swung overhead.

The idea that a sitting US Senator would be kidnapped by terrorists was something that they all had to prepare for, but Senator Bacon wasn't prepared for the reality, his bodyguards going down with the muffled flashes of sub-machine guns, the black masked bad guys kicking him down and flex cuffing his hands behind his back. The hood over his head was the part where he knew that it had to be terrorists.

"Do you know who I am?" Senator Bacon demanded, sensing a presence behind him.

"Yes, we do." A cold voice said. A folder slapped down on the table in front of the Senator and pages of correspondence and photos of meetings with Saudi princes came out. "You are a terrorism supporter. There is no use denying it."

But Senator Bacon couldn't NOT deny it, his meetings with a Prince of the house of Saud was purely business! "I met with Prince Saud as part of official business! I was part of the envoy to Saudi Arabia for the last energy deal!" The Senator's voice held plenty of righteous indignation. "What are you? Some sort of fringe homeland group? Let me go now and I won't press charges."

There was nothing but laughter from multiple voices now.

"So you admit to having correspondence with a known terrorism support, you admit that the correspondence in front of you is actually yours?" The voice held a hint of bitter humor.

"Of course it is, I was doing my job! Let me go and I promise you immunity." Senator Bacon began to feel that something wasn't right. The desk in front of him was a simple field desk painted olive drab. The bare light above him was powered by a faint generator noise he heard in the distance. The room he was in wasn't a room at all, but a field tent. The sound of helicopters in the distance told him he was close to an airport.

"We can't do that Senator, you've made yourself an enemy of the state and will be held without counsel until we decide what to do with you." The voice was calm.

"Screw You, I AM the state!" Senator Bacon yelled, angry beyond reason. "Nothing gets done in this town without my hand in it, NOTHING!"

"No one is above the law" The voice replied. Silence followed. Minutes ticked by.

"What do you want?" Senator Bacon realized that bargaining and anger didn't affect his captors.

"Simply to do the job that you gave us to do." The voice said.

"What job did I give you to do?" The Senator asked, bewildered. He may have known the Prince wasn't entirely a savory character, but that is just the cost of doing business in the Middle East right? The Senator couldn't recall hiring the services of a terrorist cell or mercenary group to do anything....

Footsteps came slowly around until a man in uniform, three stars on his chest came into the light of the single bulb.

"We are to detain all who are suspected of terrorism and supporting terrorism." The Lieutenant General smiled a weary smile. "And you have already admitted to supporting terrorism. Unfortunately I cannot let you have a phone call or access to a lawyer since it would tip of your terrorist buddies. The good news is that this is all perfectly legal. You made it so."

"I demand to see an attorney." Senator Bacon felt dead calm.

"That is impossible Mr. Bacon." The 3 Star replied. "You will be held until we feel we have a case strong enough to go to trial."

"But that could take YEARS!" the Senator wailed.

"It took us years to get Jose Padilla, but we got him."

"But I'm up for re-election in 18 months!" The senator couldn't imagine what was happening to him. The law was supposed to PROTECT people from bad guys who wanted to blow them up, not a crooked politician who threw some business to a Saudi Prince who had arranged for several boys to entertain him on his last trip to Riyad...

"You are a terrorist supporter, not a sitting US Senator." The 3 Star walked back into the shadows behind the former Senator Bacon.

"Stop Tape" The 3 Star said. "Seriously Ben, what the heck did you think would happen when you turned the military into your personal attack dogs? I told you it was a bad idea two years ago. I'll let Melinda and the kids know you are all right but will be incommunicado for a while. It is the best I can do. Start Tape"

The 3 Star walked out. Ben Bacon knew where he was now, in a field outside Fort Lee, in an impromptu detainee camp where thousands of others had already been processed. Taken into custody and whisked away to Gitmo or some foreign country for interrogation. Ben Bacon knew for the first time in his life true powerlessness.

The truth of the matter stunned Senator Bacon into silence. The light went out, and Senator Bacon was thankful for the darkness so he could weep unobserved. Unobserved save for the IR camera recording his every tear.

03 January 2012

Drilling leaf springs, made easy

Welcome to 2012, folks.

 Those of you counting down to "ZOMG!! TEH END OF TEH YEAR ON DECEMBER 21, 2012" Should go right ahead and leave. Now. Quietly... or there will be no apologies. ;)

I hope all are doing well after the holiday season. I, for one, feel MUCH better, having it aft of us. I HATE that time of the year, not for philosophical reasons, more for familial stressors and the overarching fact that just about everyone has forgotten the meaning of the season- and no, I'm not referring to strictly the Christian mythos, either... most belief systems have a common goal for the November/December timeframe... but I'm off-mission, there... ;)

So I am STILL working on this darn truck. It pains me to admit I am looking at about 7 months since I've driven it. Long story short, the axle ripped out about June, I wasted a month and a half while a buddy was insisting he'd "get it out in a day or two" while adapting one of my Dana 44 solid axles to replace the back Corporate 10 bolt, I finally said hell with it and decided to just dive in and do the solid axle swap (ie: cut off the factory IFS (Independent Front Suspension)) and convert the whole damn thing to oldschool solid axles out of a Wagoneer) myself.

"Couldn't take more than a month or two, longest". Pfft. Well, yeah- if I'd had bank to back up the goal, no job, more tools, etc, etc... I am wrapping up the project now, though.

One of the things I found after mounting the springs as far forward as I could without fabricating a frame extension, was that I needed to still move the axle 2" forward to clear the back of the fenderwell- I couldn't cut the fenderwell because on this truck the back of the fenderwell is actually the firewall, and if I didn't move the axle forward I'd actually have shortened the overall wheelbase- not something you want to do on this truck, given my goals.

The easy solution would be to completely rework the entire front so I could use different springs off of a YJ (about $400 for springs, plus all my wasted time, etc). No.

Or, I could order some custom springs with the spring pin moved 2" forward. I checked into that and it's about $400 or so, and would bolt in... but might provide it's own problems by way of addressing lift discrepancies front/rear.

Or, I could just drill a hole 2" forward on the springs I have built. Gee, how hard could that be, after all I own a drill press... Go google "drilling leaf springs" and you'll find the following "advice" (all of which proves to take anything you see on the Internet with a VERY big grain of salt...)

-don't EVER drill springs, if you do the stress risers induced in the metal will make the springs fail in short order, and you'll die when the axle comes out from under the truck
>(I should note, I actually saw a highly-degreed fellow (at least, he claimed to be) espousing this approach. Now, I respect the man's education and qualifications- but I feel the need to wax Heinleinian here: "Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it. - Robert Heinlein. Yes, I am a bit partial to just about anything Heinlein said or did, as I basically consider myself a Heinleinian Libertartian, but that is Another Discussion Entirely(tm).. and requires alcohol, steak, and a fine cigar). I should note I've actually seen this attitude invoked by people whose rigs look like company advertisements for Rusty's Offroad Products, and anyone who's had a chance to inspect the aftermath of when those products fail should realize that's a pretty big freaking joke. I had a friend (mumbles something about "Absent Companions") whose XJ's lower control arm actually broke at the weld- while backing out of the driveway. Anyway- enough said about that at the moment...

-heat the spring with a oxy-acetylene torch to detemper it, drill the hole in the now unhardened steel, and retemper it. Use your barbeque and a 5 gallon bucket of water to do this.
>Gods, where to begin! First off- your barbeque grill is NOT going to get the steel hot enough to properly detemper/retemper the steel, even if you can get the damn spring to fit into it (how many of you have a 5' long barbeque, hmm?). Likewise, that 5 gallon bucket of water isn't going to quench the red-hot steel, either- quenching steel requires IMMERSING it in a liquid, entirely, and usually oil to boot so you get some carbon transfer from said oil. Thirdly, tempering/detempering steel properly is a rather exacting operation involving heating the steel to a specific temperature and doing so in a uniform matter. While yes, it is done in primitive conditions (notably by Nepalese blacksmiths- see the Gurkhas and their distinctive khukuri blades), those folks aren't depending on the product to maintain safe operation while several tons of force are regularly conspiring against the integrity of said product.

-cut the hole with a plasma cutter
>yes, because everyone owns a plas. Nevermind that the plasma operation doesn't transfer *as much* heat into the spring, it is still transferring LOADS of heat into a spot on the spring- to the tune of several thousand degrees.... it's *plasma*, folks. Not real wise.

-cut the hole with a oxy torch
>I'm suddenly glad I have no hair, as it would really suck to be ripping it out right now.

-can't be done, don't even try, you'll induce stress risers into the spring and it will fail
>Yes, if you cut the hole with the wrong sort of bit, with no lube, and "just go at it" on high-speed. NEVER cut steel on a high speed, particularly tempered steel. First off, you'll just harden the steel as you're trying to cut it- you're working against yourself.

-use a carbide/titanium/unobtainium bit. Replace often.. even if you can resharpen the bits yourself. >expensive, and seems a rather "hack" method of operating. Anytime you're using a tool for its intended purpose and then throwing it away immediately, you're probably doing it wrong.

-use a hammer and a punch, do it with the spring at room temperature
>:crickets: Really? Look, if you've done this, I will NEVER give you any trouble, lest you smite me mightily...

-use a step-drill in a drillpress, and it's no problem.
>this sounded like utter bunk to me- my experience with uni-bits (step drills) always seemed to end up regarding them as the adjustable wrench of the drill world. It'll work, kinda, but will cause more damage than it's worth, because it's not the proper tool... plus they're expensive. I did grab a pack of 3 a few months back at Harbor Freight for $10, as a gamble.

Please note, I say it "sounded" like BS. As in, past tense...

Since I am trying to keep this build as inexpensive (read: "Best bang for the buck") as possible, I elected to drill the spring. Read on...

I've been sick with a low-grade stomach flu since Thursday, so the past weekend has sucked to say the least... even so, I managed to pull the spring on Thursday after work and attempt to drill the hole 2" forward of stock. I used a 1/8" drillbit, and even with it being a high-grade TiNitride bit, still had to sharpen it 4 times. I stepped up a couple sizes- and about 1/4 of the way through the pack (of 7 leaves, so not even getting 2 leaves) I hit the wall. I'd been using plenty of oil, moderate pressure, and still it work hardened and I could go no further. I tried for two hours, numerous bits, all freshly sharpened with my Drill Doctor (BUY one, now, if you haven't!) and it was an act of desperation. I tried the step-drill thing yesterday- disassembled the pack, got one of those cheapo step drills, expecting to frag it immediately... setup the drillpress (again, Harbor Freight*, and the second-best $50 item in my shop) shrugged, and spun the feed wheel around- and the damn bit sunk through the steel like it wasn't even there. I am EXTREMELY impressed.

So, long story short- need to drill holes in a leaf spring? Use a good step drill, a drill press set to slowest speed (sub 700RPM), lots of oil. Cut each spring individually. Easy.

*BTW- yes, I know they're cheap tools, made in China, and no I'm not real happy about it. But when I can spend $50 on a chopsaw that will cost easily 4 times the price if it's "made in the USA" (and that's likely a lie- it's likely made in... China) and it lasts me 9 years of just beating the hell out of it while building several jeeps and projects, and then only needs a new set of brushes, I don't mind saying I got my money's worth. Conversely- I bought American- a Hobart (aka Miller) plasma cutter (AC250i, I think it was?) for $800, using it occasionally, and the damn thing flat-out DIED after less than 2 hours' runtime... to the tune of needing a new $670 mainboard which the company would not honor warranty on, and told me "you can't let them sit, they have to be used often to maintain them (unbelievable levels of bullshit, that- and yes I am qualified to judge)... well hell, no "Made in America" for me, thanks. I have a jeeping buddy who uses a cheap Chinese plasma cutter (I want to say the Cut250?) in his shop all the time and it's not given him any problems- and cost less than half of what I wasted. Well, he's using that tool to put food on the table and it's not even hiccupped. I bought mine as a hobby/very occasional use tool, and I now have a $800 paperweight. How smart was "buying American", again?

Happy New Year, 4X4 Edition

Welcome to 2012, folks. Those of you counting down to "ZOMG!! TEH END OF TEH YEAR ON MAY 21, 2012" Should go right ahead and leave. Now. Quietly... or there will be no apologies. ;) ... I just spent a half hour composing a post, only to have google's "autosave" feature delete the bulk of it. NOT happy. Looks like I'll be composing offline going forward, so as to avoid this issue. I will re-type and post later, the post regarding travails encounterd when trying to move the front axle 2" forward on The Beast so I can get it back on the road. Blogger/Google- get stuffed. Dry.