Area51 - Mike's Misc Projects 2020:



Its been a busy few months in my Area51 shop. First up, project Argo is near completion. One of the last hurdles was deep cleaning and rebuilding the carburetor, and it was probably the most satisfying result as the machine is now running beautifully. Check out Project Argo on the Projects in the Shed page for more details on the process and products used.




In January I had a few minor repairs on Project Foreman which included rebuilding the starting motor and a replacing the voltage regulator. On top of these project updates I've been filling a huge order of custom built alarm boxes out of my shop which has kept me very busy over the last few months.




Also in January I got a call from Rob of R&D Towing fame. He needed some work done on his Honda 13/32 Snowblower as it just stopped turning the track drive. It's a common problem so we picked up the parts as well as new belts and a muffler heat shield and got to work over at his shop.





Replacing the belts at this time was a good call as the hydrostatic drive belt was 90% totalled!



As usual grease inside the crawler drive gearbox was toast so the bearings failed which led to other damage and eventual failure.





The indentation in the crawler drive axel is were a large pin normally resides. When the bottom bearing fails the shaft moves, the gear cocks over and snaps off the pin causing the blower to stop moving. The kit from Honda one included a new crawler drive axel, some new gears and all new bearings, bushings and seals. I also replaced bearings on the opposite side of the crawler drive axel and bearings behind both cogged drive wheels.



I always use lots of grease during reassembly making sure the grease I pack in there is the same as the customer has in their grease gun, in this case Lucas Green Heavy Duty. After this pic was taken I added even more grease to take up space where air & water could reside.



There is a grease nipple on the crawler drive gearbox cover right behind the right track that will allow you to add grease when servicing your blower. If you keep adding more it will force fresh grease down to the bottom bearing and extend the life of the system.



Lastly we installed a new muffler heat shield as the old one rusted out around the mounting screws and was vibrating.



On January 19th while housebound during the State of Emergency I installed my 13" tracks and convertible top on Project Argo so it will be ready for some winter adventures!



My next project was custom re-finishing my new Hultafors Arvika Axe, the full story can be found on the Projects in the Shed page.



It was now February and I hadn't yet changed the oil in my own Honda 9/28 Snowblower as it didn't get used very much last winter (and I use quality full synthetic oil). However so far 2019-2020 has seen 2 blizzards, 1 major snowmaggedon blizzard and we're having regular snowfalls now every 4-5 days. With so many hours being logged on my machine I did an oil change and 2nd full service and inspection for the season!



With Project Argo in French's trailer for awhile I finally got a chance to really mop & scrub the floor after a long summer/fall/winter of projects in Area51. It's great to have a perfectly clean floor to work on again, although it's soon time for another coat of epoxy paint!



In mid February my fluorescent shop lights started acting up. One was intermittently flickering, and the rear fixture failed completely. These fixtures are of unknown age and appeared to be recycled, they were already in the shop when we bought our house 5 years ago.



For a temporary solution while working on Alarm Boxes I popped open the housing and threw in my magnetic 4' LED under hood work light which provided a surprising amount of temporary lighting.



The light fixtures I chose came from Home Depot and are the same ones Bill installed in his garage a couple years ago. They are a beautiful design and we found them extremely bright in his garage.







The garage is much brighter now and it was already pretty decent with my old light fixtures. A bright garage makes working on stuff much easier.



Next on my project list was a quick little custom ice fishing line project to replace my older plain Jane ice fishing lines.



As you may have seen in my February Ice Fishing stories on the Crew Adventures page, I purchased some new ice fishing sticks from Outdoor Pros. They are made by a local fella in Paradise and he does a beautiful job. His sticks come painted in the Republic of NL flag & Labrador flag colours. I wanted 6 sticks for my set (enough for 2 people) so I picked up one pair of Republic of NL, one pair of Labrador and an extra set that I would custom paint. I decided to paint my last pair in colours representing the new Newfoundland Flag to create a unique set.



I think the finished product turned out great and I already had these colours in Tremclad paint in stock!  The only changes I made to these lines were removing some of the spinners that came with the lines and using my own and/or hook/worm only, and installing some lead weights.



Next on my ice fishing equipment upgrades was fabricating an auger extension to make my ice auger longer when using my cordless drill adaptor. This Mora Fin-Bore Micro is nice and compact but its quite short which is a problem when the ice gets thick.



The smaller diameter pipe is actually a section from the original manual crank handle that I no longer use. The larger black pipe is a piece of 3/4" inside diameter 3/16" wall pipe I had laying around the garage and was the perfect size. I drilled 2 sets of holes in the heavy wall pipe, I drilled all holes 13/64" so I could tap one side, the opposite side I drilled out to 1/4" for the bolt to slide through.



This is the finished product after extending the threaded portion of the bolt and trimming to length. I wanted the smooth portion as pictured so the drill adaptor wasn't touching bolt threads which will wear and become sloppy.



Trimmed and threaded to proper length.



I used my de-burring/chamfer tool to clean up the end of the cut bolt so it threads in easily.







After I had finished I decided to install two nylock nuts as an extra level of safety for the bolt coming loose and loosing my auger down the hole!



By removing the upper bolt I am able to reinstall the old manual crank handle in place of the drill adaptor should the drill fail or battery die.



Fully extended I'm over 36" of drilling depth which should be plenty for around here, if not I'll by a longer piece of 3/4" black pipe!



Adjustable height is great, makes it a little more compact for travelling, by removing the wing bolt I can separate the unit and fit it in my ATV box with ease.



Also this month I purchased another gas stove from Outdoor Pros (not a sponsor) to use on our many trailside cook-ups throughout the year. My MSR superfly compact stove continues to work well, but it takes longer to cook when it's windy and often I can really use 2 stoves depending what I'm preparing (eg marinated moose & rice).



This 2nd stove is an awesome GSI Pinnacle stove with Dualist kit which comes with some mugs, bowls and a nice pot all folded up in a nice kit. This stove also has a really good windscreen which will help cook & boil waster much faster on a windy day. Check out my full review on the brand new Outdoor Lifestyle Product Reviews page!



I modified the windscreen on my Pinnacle Stove ever so slightly (raised the notches where the bottom arms rest) to better accommodate my silicone Sea to Summit X-pots. These stoves should make for some epic outdoor meals this year!



March 19, 2020. This has been leather work week at Area51. I finally received the parts needed to fabricate some custom leather sheaths for my newly acquired cool as hell axes, particularly the Council Tools #2 Double Bit axe and Hultafors Arvika. Check out my Council Tools #2 Axe Story on the Projects in the Shed page for more on the re-finish work and sheath fabrication.



For more pictures and details of the Arvika axe project please check out my Hultafors Arvika Axe story on the Projects in the Shed page.



April 12th. Still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic we are all spending the majority of our time safe at home avoiding exposure to this terrible virus that has gripped the entire world. On the bright side it allowed me a lot more free time to get some maintenance completed on project Argo after an awesome winter of tracked Argo Adventures with Mark French.



First up was greasing the drive chains which I try to do about every 10 hours as it's cheap easy insurance against drive chain wear and tear. I simply jack up one side at a time and spray Castrol chain lube with one hand and turn the track or tire with the other hand.



On my machine I can reach three sets of chains from the engine compartment. Idler from transmission to idler shaft, idler shaft to front wheel, and idler shaft to middle wheel. The rear chains are accessed by removing the rear floor pan.



Also completed today was greasing of wheel bearings and an engine oil change. I have put 28 hours on the machine since purchasing it this time last year!



Earlier this winter I replaced a lot of snap fasteners on the convertible top using a kit from Canadian Tire which turned out to be of very low quality as most of them broke. Today I replaced these fasteners with quality stainless steel pieces purchased in a kit at Blue Water Marine.



With the Argo all ready to go, next up was a couple weeks of random truck repairs on my 2011 Silverado 2500HD. First a front wheel bearing decided to crap the bed after 190,000km so Justin at Canada Car Care promptly got me in and installed a quality replacement AC Delco replacement part.



Next the OEM battery decided to give up after 9 years, so although inconvenient it wasn't a complete surprise. I picked up a replacement from Automotive Supplies and installed it myself with ease coating the new battery terminals with fluid film.



Next a rear brake calliper decided to seize after a couple years of use so a replacement was ordered, lubed with quality Permatex Purple brake grease instead of the crap that comes on them and installed along with a new Delco coated rotor.





With the new calliper bled I was back to fully functional 4 wheel disc brakes.



During Snowmageddon earlier this winter the engine compartment of my truck filled completely full of snow. I thought I had enough cleared out when I went to start it but I was wrong. The truck threw the belt but fortunately it didn't break so I managed to clear out all the snow and reinstall it.



While I was ordering brake parts I ordered a fresh belt as the one on the truck was original at 9 years old and 190,000km. Amazingly the old belt still looked great and had no cracks or sign of dry rot, but the replacement belt was cheap insurance against being stranded later down the road.



Next up was a planned repair to fix up the two running boards that Sandra and I broke earlier this year during one hell of a hard winter. The full story can be found on the Projects in the Shed page in a brand new HOW TO: Repair Silverado Running Boards article.





Lastly with so many projects completed I did a spring cleaning in the Garage, hung some new tin signs and made room to hang my new axes including the Council Tools double bit, Hultafors Arvika and my trusty Fiskars.



At the end of April it was finally time to switch back over to the pretty chrome OEM 20" aluminum wheels on my Silverado 2500HD, however first I would definitely be needing a new set of BFG's!



I was very pleased to get 4 long summers (put on early, taken off late) out of these tires purchased new in April 2016. I love how they look and especially how they perform so I hit up Justin at Canada Car Care in Mount Pearl for a set of freshys.



The boys gave me an excellent price and very professional installation with proper sticky weights and wheels hand torqued to spec. Tire size was 275/65/20 Load E.



In May I started having trouble with my Stihl ms250, it wouldn't stay running especially when you apply throttle.



I tried the low cost repair of installing a carb kit to no avail, a leak test revealed defective crank seals. I have parts on order and if I can make the saw work well I'll probably sell it for a good deal. Stay tuned as I will be doing an article on that journey later this summer.



With my saw broken an awesome opportunity to replace it came along, so after a ton of research I picked up this brand new Husqvarna 550xp Mark2 from Parkside RV in Pouch Cove. I'm super happy with the new unit, check out the full review and lots of pics on the new Outdoor Lifestyle Product Review page.



Next up was a minor modification to my epic awesome Chinese 2500 mini chainsaw. This unit has a single bar nut and relies on two broad head torx screws to keep the bar straight.



(plus the saw now needed a good cleaning!)



The heads of these screws were a smaller diameter than the groove of the cutting bar so the bar would rock a bit under use.



I had a wide variety of stainless steel metric hex head screws in stock so I chose 2, trimmed them to length, ground the heads so they were the same thickness as the cutter bar then re-drilled and tapped the screw holes in the chainsaw to match.



I installed the new screws with Locktite and now the bar fits the saw beautifully. This inexpensive little saw continues to impress me a lot. At $150 it was money well spent as it's compact, lightweight and starts/runs beautifully. It has been extremely handy out on the trail and even around the house.



With the worst part of pot hole season coming to a close it was time to switch over Sandra's winter tires for her nice aluminum summer rims and tires and perform a brake calliper service.



Winter tires were washed inside and out so they are clean to store and to remove the troublesome layer of sand and crap from inside the wheels that plays havoc with rim/tire balance.



Later that day I noticed a few drops of oil under Project Foreman. I couldn't find any engine leaks but I found a whole lot of engine oil in the air box! 



I believe this is was from my tangly ATV ride in April where the bike at one point was idling on its side for awhile while I set up the winch line for recovery. The crank breather is on the low side in this pic, so with oil sloshed over to that side normal crank case compression pumped oil out the breather to the air box. I cleaned up the mess, cleaned the air filter and topped of the engine oil for an easy fix.



In mid May I finished summerizing project Argo by removing all rims and tires. I wanted to paint them all grey as half were grey painted last summer and half were new black rims. I also painted the inside of the old rims black to cover up the last of the terrible neon orange paint applied by the previous owner. Check out project Argo 2020 later this summer for an update.



In May Dad dropped off his saltwater boat which he purchased used last year. I have a few items to work on which will include a new fibreglass dash, new wiring and a buff and polish of the outside which has become very dull and chalky. Check back next month for a full update on this project!



In June, Mark & Justin stopped by to install a new performance intake on Mark's new Duramax Diesel Pickup.





The install was a breeze with Mark diligently following the instructions while Justin made fun of him for diligently following the directions. LoL



In early July Justin began preparing one of his service bays at Canada Car Care for the installation of a new 4 post lift and wheel alignment machine. The process began with cutting out the concrete ramp which ran from the front garage to the rear which was added later and sits about 7" lower than the front floor.



The ramp was right in the way of the new wheel alignment machine which needs to rest on a level surface for it to work right.



Andrea & Peter Bassan and I lent a hand by pouring and finishing the new 9'x14' concrete pad with a hand trowel finished surface.







Well after 6 weeks of near constant work on the boat (thanks Covid19 pandemic for the time!) Dad's boat is finally done. It was a huge project that took a lot of time but really turned out well. Dad is beyond happy with his "new" boat and has been enjoying it immensely ever since I delivered it to him in early July. Check out the full story with detailed pics of the entire process on Dad's Boat Rebuild page.



Before towing Dad's renovated boat back out to Bay Roberts I dug into the noisy front brakes on my Silverado HD. The rears were replaced earlier this year due to a seized calliper, but the fronts have been trouble free for over 105,000 km. I found that one of the pistons on the passenger side dual piston callipers had seized causing the pad to wear unevenly.



As the truck now has 195,000km on the clock I decided to replace both front callipers along with top quality AC Delco coated rotors and extreme duty brake pads.



I lubed the new callipers in my normal fashion on the slide pins & behind the stainless steel pad retainers with quality Purple Permatex disc brake lubricant.



Meanwhile Dad is busy doing a complete re-wire of his Mission single place open deck trailer, and while it's apart he also decided to replace the deck which after many years is now becoming soft.



Mid way through July my Silverado decided to start leaking coolant again, fortunately the repair was a quick one. I found the lower radiator hose clamp at the water pump cracked in two.



 I easily replaced it with a traditional stainless steel hose clamp and all is well.



Near the end of July my long awaited Argo manual windshield wiper finally arrived. I ordered it in March 2020 on EBay and it shipped direct from China, probably on the back of a giant sea turtle. It cost $6.00 with free shipping and actually seems pretty decent.



There are local guys selling them for $30 and they are probably the same part. The unit installed with ease in the pre-drilled hole in my Argo factory windshield.



I actually installed these new NL Lightbars LED reverse light bulbs a few months ago but forgot to take pictures. These bulbs are their latest model and are fantastically bright. Much brighter than OEM and much brighter than the last generation bulbs I had from NL Lightbars.



Sneak peak of my current project on my 2011 Silverado 2500HD, bi-annual paint repair which will include for the first time paint repair in the area where a stray bullet impacted my truck in Torbay a few years ago. Will there be a hole under the molding? Are Chev trucks actually bullet proof? Check back soon for an update.


Cheers, MIKE

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Copyright 2011 Michael Smith