Area51 - Mike's Misc Projects 2021:
As far as winter weather goes, 2021 is not off to a good start. Granted, warm weather was convenient to get Project Foreman outside for a wash (badly needed after the last snow adventure) but its still disheartening if you enjoy snowmobiling and other winter activities.
Fortunately there were a couple storms in the forecast. I prepared by getting Project Argo ready for winter starting with a thorough cleaning after a long moose hunting season.
Next was an engine oil change, greasing the inner and outer bearings, and lubricating the drive chains. I also knocked another minor issue off the list by installing a new seal on the transmission shifter as it had been weeping a little gear oil while driving.
I like to use decent oil in the machine, it's 32 years old and air-cooled so synthetic oil certainly holds up better than conventional. This older engine also does not have an oil filter and utilizes splash lubrication. I change the oil every 25 hours as cheap insurance and to rid the engine of contaminates.
Next up was installing the tracks, this year I took a few more pictures of the process and updated my HOW TO: Install Argo tracks guide here on the website.
Next was the windshield,
Followed by the convertible top which I actually finished on the night of our 30cm Blizzard.
Meanwhile we also had to get Mark's Argo ready starting with a light service (greasing bearings & chains) and installing tracks.
Mark also retired the 2-year old drive belt replacing it with a freshy keeping the old on onboard as a good spare. We like to replace drive belts fairly often, you get top performance with a fresh belt, plus the strain and heat can damage a belt to the point it just catastrophically fails, not a huge deal if you have a spare but a nicer job to do in the garage vs in the woods.
Next up Mark and I picked up some new ice fishing gadgets. First are these simple yet effective rod holders made by HT which work really well with our new ice fishing lines purchased at Outdoor Pros last year.
Next we built some automatic Jaw Jerker rigs based on a design I found on the Facebook Group Newfoundland Hunting & Angling Junkies Page. It starts with an HT tip up rig & a 29" rod/reel, and adds a custom bent jaw jerker rig. I'll have a full write up later this month after we get a chance to field test them!
New Tool!!! I finally grew tired of regularly fixing or replacing my Weller Butane soldering irons which I have been using commercially for over 20 years, when my current one failed I decided to give the recently released Milwaukee M12 soldering iron a try.
The iron is great, it heats up and is ready to use in 20 seconds, comparable to Butane (both of which are much faster than my 110v corded irons). It has a light to illuminate your work which will probably be a nice addition, it has an LED to indicate when it's up to temp (green) and an LED to indicate its too hot to touch/store after you shut it off (red).
It also bends which might also prove handy. Like most irons it features changeable tips and included a chisel & a pointed tip in the package.
In February I took advantage of warm weather and cleared up the backyard taking a full pickup load of soggy old scrap lumber to the dump.
After my Argo Snow run in January I found my new wiper was leaving a nice bit of the upper windshield untouched. I modified the wiper arm by shortening it 3" and swapping the 16" wiper blade for an 18" which made a huge difference. Full write-up on my Argo 6x6 Project page on the Projects in the Shed page. Also Project Argo is finally sporting new Shed-Headz and Pussy Magnet Decals! I hope to have decals and shirts available for sale very soon.
Parts for my snowmobile arrived. When I stored my sled 2 years ago I found the kill switch broken (left-big black section broke away). Of course you cant just buy that small part so I picked up an full used assembly and harvested the part I needed (right). Hopefully I'll soon get Project REV out of storage, make a few repairs/maintenance items and get out for at least one ride in 2021!
Also in February the Front Fender Kit arrived for Don French's Kubota 5460 tractor. As you can see below, without them the front tires make a heck of a mess travelling between Don & Mark's houses.
The kit seems pretty sturdy and instructions were decent so Mark and I knocked out the install pretty quick.
In February Project REV finally makes it home for a couple minor repairs and hopefully a few rips with the boys if time and weather allows. Check out the full story on the Mike's Project Powertek REV page.
Near the end of February French and I spent the afternoon doing up a couple dozen bottles of moose which we look forward to utilizing for lunches up in the woods. We prepared the bottles in the kitchen but did the cooking using French's All American Pressure Cooker/Canner in my Garage as it was quite cold and windy outside hitting -14șC plus wind-chill. We kept the overhead door propped open, rear garage window open and had fan running to prevent build-up of poisonous CO gas and everything went well. Look for a How To article soon on this process!
On my February 19th ice fishing trip I set up my Rapala ice fishing shelter for the first time in awhile and unfortunately broke a support pole in the process. The pole was in the roof section, I temporarily lashed it together with electrical tape but the roof was quite slack.
I have never worked on one of these before, but I tackled it anyway as I couldn't make it any worse. My first choice is to replace the pole, or even all 4 poles & hub if needed but I cannot get any support from Rapala for replacement parts. No one locally has anything in stock, I may in the future order online from EBay or Amazon.
With the nut and cap removed the pole slid out of its pocked in the tent and out through the hub with ease. I removed the broken pole as well as one good pole to use as a length reference for my repair.
My first idea was to replace the fibreglass rod with Aluminum or steel, but these rods need to flex while setting up the shelter and I was afraid those materials would bend or kink.
Instead I decided to experiment with a fibreglass repair. First I fit the two broken sections back together like a jigsaw puzzle using the good rod I removed as a length reference.
Then I started using 18" lengths of sturdy braided ice fishing line to lash the repaired area. I figured it would be strong, the right colour and it's ice fishing line on an ice fishing shelter. LoL
I applied what I believe is enough lashing to hold the parts together and provide strength which will be made much stronger in the next step.
I still had about a gallon of fibreglass resin left over from rebuilding Dad's boat so I mixed up a batch to finish repairing my tent pole. I soaked the whole affected area so the resin ran thoroughly into the damaged area, and made sure the braided wraps were liberally coated as well, recoating as it soaked in.
I let the pole cure overnight and flexed it the next day and it seems great!
I reinstalled the poles into the hub, fastened the hub cover and set up the shelter in my spare room! Success! It didn't snap or fail! I will order a replacement as soon as I can track one down, but this will get me back on the ice for the remainder of the winter fishing season!
Having sold my rusted out trailer earlier this year and not yet having a replacement I decided to set up my truck for carrying my snowmobile. I installed some EZ Glides on my work bed slide so it would be easier to load & unload without tearing up the plywood surface.
Next I needed a set of loading ramps as there aren't always tall enough snowbanks nearby to get the sled up into the back of my 2500 series truck. My steel ATV ramps are not skidoo carbide friendly. I made these with an aluminum ramp kit and 2x6 lumber (already in stock - if these work I may re build them with 2x8 as recommended).
I didn't want the ski carbides to dig into the aluminum so I covered the aluminum ramp ends with EZ Glide as well which will make loading as smooth as possible.
I made them 88" long which will give me a decent loading angle and still fit in the box diagonally, that way I can lock them under the tonneau cover while riding. I may add a 3rd ramp to carry the track as right now I drive the sled up until the skis are in and lift the rear end up. This is a PITA where my truck is pretty high.
In April I headed to the House in Bay Roberts for a few days to give Dad a hand with a minor renovation. We planned to convert his old home office back into a 3rd bedroom which would be handy for having multiple friends stay at the house. To do so we needed to renovate the storage room next door which will provide a space for his files.
The original wall separating the two rooms was simply 1" rough board covered in canvas, there was no framing or other structure. We framed out the wall in 2x3" lumber which will help cover electrical outlets protruding from the other room and add strength to the house.
Three's quite a bit of history here as told in layers of old wallpaper.
Next we sheeted the walls in gyprock and Dad set about plastering.
We relocated this cabinet from the closet to the master bedroom for some additional storage.
Front office soon to be bedroom mostly cleared out.
Next we started milling some square edge trim for the storage room, we made it to custom dimensions matching trim found elsewhere in the house.
We also installed new crown moulding to cover the gap between the wall and original shiplap ceiling.
A coat of paint, flooring and some baseboards finished out the storage room.
Meanwhile paint and new carpet finished out renovations on the new bedroom.
Some antique furniture,fresh bedding and the room is ready for guests.
Later that week it was finally time to swap over winter rims to my pretty and much beefier looking summer aluminum rims.
As usual the rims (including project Foreman's studded tires & rims) were washed inside and out before storage.
My new chrome centre caps held up well over the harsh winter road conditions. There was some discolouration from road salt but Mother's Aluminum polish took care of that, and Turtle wax ceramic coating should help protect them next winter.
I stored the caps back in their shipping box so they wont get scratched, lost, broken or have the black lug covers go missing.
I had heard a lot of good things about these Stihl chainsaw sharpeners on the Woodcutting Boys Facebook group, with so many positive reviews I decided to pick one up.
It may be blasphemous to use a Stihl tool on a Husky, but the chain profiles matched! I have to say I'm extremely impressed! I found it very easy for myself, an inexperienced sharpener, to put a perfect edge on my chain. This file has all the guide marks you need, two solid handles, guides to automatically set the file depth, and files both the tooth and rakers in at the same time.
On April 23rd I headed down to Marine Park with Mark to help him build a 2nd shed on their campsite for storing outdoor furniture, peddle bikes and the like. First we put our chainsaws to work clearing enough space to build a wooden platform.
Like the last shed platform we build we rested the front edge on the crushed stone and levelled it side to side.
Next we dug away moss and loose soil, filled the hole with stone, and set concrete patio blocks in place.
We installed the corner posts, then all the other posts & patio blocks levelling the platform as we went.
On day two we finished decking over the platform and recruited a few extra hands for assembling Mark's "shed in a box".
It wasn't overly complicated following the directions closely, but it was certainly time consuming!
The shed was anchored to the platform with lag bolts on the inside edge of the structure. Mark later caulked all the inside seams to add another level of waterproofing and to keep the structure sturdy.
It was finally time to swap out the nice black aluminum winter wheels on our 2020 Murano for the beautiful 20" OEM wheels.
New tool time! I picked up this gently used bench top shop press from a buddy of Dad who recently upgraded to a larger floor model unit. This machine is in perfect shape, can be manually or air operated and will be a welcome addition to Area51.
At the end of April Mark and I spent a couple evenings in his garage doing some maintenance on his golf cart and Argo.
The golf card was inspected, greased and received an oil & filter change.
Mark also wanted some custom decals made for it, so I got to work creating custom cut decals for the Snot Rocket.
Mark doesn't play golf but uses the cart with his family down at the Marine Park campground. This unit will certainly stand out from the crowd now!
Next up was removing the tracks from his Argo, swapping all the tires around and greasing the outer bearings.
In May I went to Tilton with Brad Janes to help install some privacy lattice around the patio on their campsite. He had grooves already milled into the uprights so all we had to do was trim them to length and install.
Earlier this month Mark & Heather purchased a new travel trailer for their campsite at Marine Park. As the unit is brand new he wants to keep it looking great for as long as possible.
He picked up a bucket of Proform undercoating, then using my undercoating gun and Bassan's portable compressor he set to work coating the entire steel frame of the trailer.
He did the dirty work and I refilled the container on the undercoating gun for him.
At the end of May I performed a post season maintenance and inspection on my uncle Gary's Honda Snowblower. The unit was in great shape but after 10 years service it had a couple issues. First the machine was way too fast in reverse and dead slow going forward, I found the cable for the transmission lever severely out of adjustment which somehow wasn't picked up during past services at the dealer. A quick adjustment and the unit was working properly just like my own 9/28.
Don't forget, if you own a Honda Snowblower, remove this centre 12mm bolt, spray a liberal amount of penetrating oil into the auger tubes and reinstall the bolt. This will help prevent the augers from seizing to the centre gearbox which renders the shear pins useless and will cause a lot of damage.
Next up the chute height adjuster cable was seized.
I removed the cable and hoped to free it with my cable oiler tool and penetrating oil.
Unfortunately the cable was damaged internally so I picked up a replacement at Honda One.
I also made some minor repairs to the chute and replace a couple incorrect bolts that must have at one time fallen out.
Next up was draining the carb, and I wasn't happy with what I found.
I drained the carb, sediment cup and later the whole fuel tank as the system was severely contaminated with water. This seems drastic but is not unusual after 10 years of refilling the machine, often outdoors in snowy or wet conditions.
The tank was thankfully in great shape, and I had the carburetor bowl looking like new in short order.
I inspected the belts from below and they weren't pretty after a decade of service. I split the machine and installed brand new OEM belts from the dealer.
At this time I also replaced the chute bushing, the left & right auger bearings and the impeller bearing to maintain long-term reliability.
It was a busy project and a little more involved than the originally planned oil change and general service, but now the machine will remain reliable for a number of years to come.
In June Bassan, his father Peter and I headed to Aquaforte to prepare, pour and finish a concrete slab for Troy's new garage.
I troweled the edges making the concrete level with the forms while Troy's son Duncan tapped the forms with a hammer to remove air bubbles.
Peter screeted and sloped the floor which is an art that he has mastered over the years.
With the main pour complete, Troy and Peter quickly formed up a step by the man door to use up extra cement on the truck.
Later that week I had the Airbag light come on in my truck. Three scan tools between my self and Justin at French's Automotive, we finally determined there was no communication from the ABS module. I checked fuses and found this one severely corroded. I cleaned the terminals in the under hood fuse panel, applied dielectric grease and installed a new fuse solving the problem.
Next up was swapping out the K&N air filter on my Silverado for my already cleaned 2nd unit. These filters are great but you need to re-oil them periodically during service to maintain filtering ability.
In September after a long few weeks doing work around the outside of our house, I got a chance to install some additional tie downs in Dad's 16' enclosed trailer. It came with only four tie downs, one in each corner, dad also installed a couple of mounts for his Super Clamp snowmobile tie downs.
I picked up three more OEM tie downs and installed them halfway up each side, and one front and center in the v-nose.
The additional tie downs look great and provide much better tie down solutions especially when towing two ATV's.
On our first moose hunting trip down the Southern Shore on the 13th, my passenger side power window decided to call it quits as we were making our way home. Thankfully Bassan and I managed to finagle it most of the way up for the drive in the rain.
I tested the wiring which was working properly and diagnosed a seized window motor/regulator assembly. Terra Nova Motors was the only place in town with a passenger side unit in stock so I picked it up and set to work.
YouTube came to the rescue and removed all guesswork from the repair. The video clearly showed how to properly remove the door panel and how to get the defective assembly out of the door with ease. All in all not a bad job at all.
Once again it was time to replace the headlights and fog lights in my Silverado 2500HD as I had one of each burnt out.
This is something I regularly check and fix ASAP as it's a big pet peeve of mine to have burnt out lights on a vehicle.
I've always ran Silverstar low beam headlights on this truck as they are a little brighter than OEM. I refuse to blind people by installing HID or LED headlights in housings not designed for them. I do run HID in my high beams as you have to turn off high beam headlights when approaching or overtaking other vehicles.
Replacing the bulbs required some minor disassembly to access the headlight bolts, mainly the radiator support cover and grill.
The easiest way to access the fog lights is through the wheel well liner which you can remove some clips to bend it out of the way. Having the wheel turned out helps a lot too without adding too much extra work in removing the wheel/tire.
In October I picked up this Pit Boss Austin XL pellet grill/smoker on the advise of crew member Matt French. He's had one for a few months now and found them on clearance (50% off) at Walmart.
The unit is heavy duty, it's made of 14 gauge steel and has over 1000 square inches of grilling space. I cant wait to try it out!
Mark French also picked up the same model, as did Michael Stroh a few weeks later!
Immediately after filming the TV show at the gun club I started having an idle/running issue with my truck. It was dumping a ton of extra fuel into the cylinders causing it to run extremely rich. I drove the truck at full throttle leaving the club and it drove OK at highway speeds back to town but burned $80 in gas in the process.
Justin at French's Automotive and I figured out the problem based on physical evidence and computer codes triggering the Service Engine Soon light. I've had a broken exhaust manifold bolt on cylinder #1 for a long time and it ticked when cold but always went away when hot. Now I had 2 broken bolts so the manifold no longer sealed on that cylinder.
Scavenging effect from other cylinders firing on that bank pulled fresh air into the exhaust stream causing the O2 sensor to read a false lean condition to which the computer tried to correct by adding up to 100% duty cycle on the injectors.
The boys at French's Auto replaced the now warped manifolds (choosing to do both at the same time), all new hardware & gaskets, and did a tune up to replace the 200,000km/10 year old spark plugs and wires as well. We also replaced both upstream O2 sensors at this time.
Next the mechanics noticed a fair bit of play in the steering, they replaced the pitman & idler arms and drag link, which cascaded into tie rod ends as the old ones were seized onto the old drag link. We also replaced the power steering box which has had a long term weep on the bottom seal which got worse as the work was performed, totally understandable and unavoidable on a 10 year old Newfoundland truck.
I can't thank Justin and Crew at French's Automotive in Mount Pearl enough for fantastic service, top quality workmanship and very fair priding on such a big job. I highly recommend them to anyone needing automotive repairs. 709-745-6111.
At the end of October I popped down to Bassan's Area51 location to help him wire up Heat Demon heated hand grips on his fathers 1997 Fourtrax 300 ATV. Check out the full story in Bassan's article Pietro's Monster 1997 Fourtrax 300 Project on the Projects in the Shed page.
In November I performed some maintenance work on Dad's new enclosed trailer which he lent me for the summer and I was about to return it to him. Last spring dad hooked a wooden loading ramp on a muddy snowmobile trip putting a sizeable dent in the left fender. I'm not a bodyman, but I managed to pop out most of the dent with some hammer and dolly work.
Next I inspected the brakes and decided to paint the drums with some high heat paint to prevent rust from forming as the trailer gets older.
The trailer has a corrosion resistant full aluminum frame, but I coated both the frame and the steel sections of the suspension with my undercoating gun to protect it from harsh road salt this winter. I also applied anti-seize to each hub face and aluminum rims to prevent dissimilar metal corrosion forming over time.
Next up was re-undercoating my truck and Sandra's Murano. For the frame and undercarriage I once again used Pro Form black which has the consistency of pudding and lasts a long time on the underside without drying and trapping moisture.
Inside the doors, panels and rockers I use red Rust Check as it's thin and will creep into every interior crevice. It works well for this application as it's protected from tire spary and wont wash off.
My undercoating gun has a 360 degree spray nozzle for rockers and interior panels for easy application of your project of choice. You can check out my full review of this gun on the Outdoor Lifestyle Product Reviews page.
Another trick I use for undercoated vehicles is not to wash them in the winter other than spraying panels with a hose. Let the undercoat product creep around and protect the edges of your painted surface, becoming a sacrificial layer against harsh road sand/salt.
In November I gave Bassan a hand to replace the front brakes on his 2018 Toyota Tacoma.
Installation was a straightforward affair following the How To/How I did it guide on the How To (How We Did It!) Articles page.
In December I gave neighbour Dan a hand to replace a couple fender lights on his enclosed trailer. This required cutting out corroded wiring and replacing with fresh copper.
I made up this handy tester to test all the lights and ensure they are working properly, it's convenient if you tow vehicle is not close by.
I picked up all new Christmas lights last year as the darn things are so poorly made they don't last much more than 4-5 seasons max here in NL. I also chose these NOMA clips to make installation quick, tidy and easy; and they worked out very well. However when taking down and storing the light strings many of the clips fell off as they don't firmly attach to the bulbs.
Fortunately I have a few thousand T&B mini ty-wraps in stock so although it took quite a long time to secure the clips the effort was worth it. It made installing the lights this year much easier as clips didn't fall off.
Quick pic from work: Replacing the stand by battery on a still in service and still working home Security System my father installed 30 years ago! We still use quality products from this Canadian Company today!
This year French decided to do some preventative maintenance on his Honda 9/28 Snowblower by replacing the impeller bearing and drive belts. This was done as the machine is 10+ years old and will keep it from potentially breaking down this winter.
I picked up this Milwaukee SDS dust trap awhile ago and finally had a chance to try it out at work. I wanted something to make drilling 3/4" holes in steel door frames safer. I picked up a step drill with a 1/4" hex drive and installed it in a spade bit extension. The dust trap is spring loaded and collapses as you drill deeper. It worked perfectly collecting hot metal shards from the bit preventing them from uncomfortably going down my shirt sleeve or dangerously into my eye.
Copyright © 2011 Michael Smith