the idea of screws tapping their own holes
Tuesday, June 3 2014
I've been using the battery-powered chainsaw to saw up heavy backpack loads of firewood nearly every day since mid-March, and the blade chain has become so dull that the battery now routinely overheats while I am cutting wood. I'd ordered a second chain, but I'd need a replacement before it arrived, so this morning I used my chainsaw sharpener system (it includes chain clamp, an advancer lever, and a hinged motor-powered grinding stone). I didn't want to change the settings on the advancer lever (which is dialed-in to the pitch of my 18 inch Stihl chainsaw chains), but since the chain from the battery-powered saw is so small, it didn't take more than about 15 minutes to sharpen the blade even with me having to manually place each tooth in the right position for sharpening. The result wasn't as good as a new blade, but it was much better than it had been, and I'll probably develop more talent for sharpening the chain over time. (I've only had three chain-sharpening sessions to date.)
This afternoon I spent a little time in the garden planting sunflower seeds (the ones I'd broadcasted weeks ago had apparently all been eaten by birds) and transplanting tiny kale seedlings so they'd have more room. I wasn't out there too long, but during that time the weather went from so sunny that I was worried I'd get a sunburn (I was shirtless), to overcast, to a cloudburst so vicious that I aborted my work for fear of being stoned to death by hail (though none actually fell).
This evening Gretchen returned home from a day at the literacy center and reported that, while the uneven air conditioning in her workplace had subjected her to arctic discomforts, the air conditioning in our Honda Civic Hybrid had died. Since Gretchen would be driving down to the City tomorrow, it seemed important to get it working again. So I pulled the little bits and pieces off the front of the car (all held in place by improvised mixes of wood screws and bits of plastic; the plastic rivets that had originally held it together have all been lost or broken) and used the air compressor to pressurize the air conditioner. Sure enough, it had a leak. The screw that had held a pipe onto the front radiator had sheared out of its hole. This was the same screw that had been sheared out last September when our housesitter had accidentally driven the car into a deer. I'd retightened the screw and hoped for the best, but evidently the threads had been too damaged to hold the screw for more than a few weeks of driving. Today I tried replacing that screw with a lagbolt of slightly greater diameter having deeper, coarser threads, hoping those threads would tap their own treads in the soft aluminum. But I couldn't get a short lag bolt to do the job, and I was horrified when a longer lagbolt snapped off as I tightened it. Usually when you break off a bolt in a hole, that's it, the hole is done. Maybe you can drill it out, but it will never be the same again. In this case, though, there was enough left of the lag bolt that I could grab it with ViceGrips. At first I couldn't get it to turn at all, but then I somehow lucked out and it began to rotate. With it out of the way, I decided not to take any more chances with the idea of screws tapping their own holes. Instead, I rooted through a gallon bucket of bolts and screws removed from the totalled Honda Civic and found one with the same diameter as but somewhat longer than the one that had been holding the pipe to the AC radiator. Since the hole it had to go into passed all the way through a block of aluminum, I figured it might find some sound thread deeper in the hole. I don't know if it did, but at least I managed to stop the leak, meaning I could try to recharge the AC tomorrow when auto parts places open.
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