Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I spent a little time with the maintenance on the logsplitter. Cleaned the engine drive shaft and pump shaft, and the new LJ couplings using a Dremel and wire wheel attachment. Then sprayed it all with Liquid Wrench and wiped down. I installed the coupler on the pump shaft and THIS TIME I left enough gap for the puller arms to get into, thinking ahead to the day that I will eventually have to replace it. I am waiting for the "spider insert" to come in the mail. I realized that I bought the "standard" when I should have gotten the "heavy duty". Hopefully this will come in time for the weekend.

Then I got to spend time in my shop. For the gifts I am making there are 40 cherry pieces that needed a "bullnose" (router table) and a "rabbet" (two separate table saw cuts). All of that was accomplished last night over a few hours. My fingers are so tired of pushing wood, but I still have all ten of them. Before I can continue I need to pick up some things at a woodworkers supply store, which may not be for another day or two. Still thinking that this is going to come down to the wire, meaning I'll probably finish on Dec 24. I need to start this stuff in the SUMMER from now on. Again, can't show any pictures at this time because gift recipients view my blog.

Oh, my friend called me last night to say we're on for Sushi this Saturday. So what, you ask? Well, this was for a "set up" date with a lovely, single lady. I have met her twice and it looks like there is mutual interest, so my friend and his wife arranged a get together.

Monday, November 28, 2005

No Love, and no Joy !! Part 4 of FOUR !!

As Dexter would say..."SUCCESS!!!!"
As Hannibal Smith would say "I love it when a plan comes together."

I drilled holes in the LJ coupler, ground down some nuts a little, and installed the steering wheel puller.

Then, I turned the center bolt down as far as I could. It could go no farther because the threaded part was too big to go into the hole.

But, that left enough gap to remove the steering wheel puller and reinstall the gear puller.

And the gear puller was able to complete the job !!!

So the final picture on this repair is old coupling parts on the left and new coupling parts on the right. I decided to replace the one with the bigger center hole because it was just as old as the one with the missing teeth. Since this required a lot of work, better to do it now, than again in the near future.

Hope you enjoyed reading these posts. This was a chore, but entirely doable.

No Love, and no Joy !! Part 3 of ??

A thought came to me this morning.

First, that LJ coupling is so stubborn that penetrating chemicals haven't done anything, and it is has been a week. Second, I WAS intending to drill holes in the coupling, ask my neighbor to "tap" threads in the holes, and use a steering wheel puller to get the coupling off. Well, I don't like to disturb people if I don't need to.

So here's the thought. With a small amount of grinding I can slip 2 threaded nuts between the coupler and the metal plate. Rather than tap holes I can drill the holes slightly larger than the diameter of the bolt. Then slip the bolts into the holes and thread them into the nuts that I grind to fit. When using the steering wheel puller the nuts will pull against the bottom of the coupler since they will be too big to go through the holes.

That should be simple work tonight. A little grinding, a little drilling, and hopefully success. Will document the process with pics as I go along.

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 21, 2005

No Love, and no Joy !! Part 2 of ??

I had some time today and this evening, so I thought I would add to the story.

I could not remove this "LJ coupling" because it it is stuck on the shaft and the jaws of the gear puller could not fit between the coupler and the pump mounting plate. Also the plate cannot be removed because the coupler needs to come off first.

Picture showing how the jaw cannot fit into the gap:

So I removed the arms/jaws from the puller tool and took them to my bench grinder. I only wanted to remove enough material so that the jaws could slip into the gap. Too much would compromise the strength of the tool. By the way, this tool cost $7, so if I broke it, it would not be a tremendous loss.

Picture showing how 1 jaw now fits into the gap:

I remounted the arms and started to pull.

Picture of the puller installed on the coupler:

Before very much pressure could be applied, the entire tool slipped off. I reinstalled it and it slipped off again. Looking carefully at it, the jaws had bent under the pressure. SO, this solution failed.

I posted a request for help on a bulletin board of handy guys that I admire and received some good advice. One was to try a penetrating solvent called "Kroil" instead of the Liquid Wrench. Sounds good, but I don't have any and am not sure where to find it, but will look.

The second piece of advice that sounded promising was to drill and tap holes in the broken coupler and use a different kind of puller tool. I have a steering wheel puller tool and it uses threaded bolts instead of arms and jaws. Not being good at drilling metal I was a bit skeptical as to whether or not this chunk of metal would be too formidable. So I took the OTHER coupler, that is being replaced, out to my shop and drill press. In a short time I was able to drill a hole in it, then enlarge it a little at a time.

I am pretty confident now that I can drill into the coupler that needs to be removed. I have a neighbor with a tap and die set, and I think he'll be happy to tap the holes for me. The only thing left is to carefully lay out where the holes will go. I removed the bolt from the cross bar of the puller and eyeballed it. Layout should not be a problem.

Since Thanksgiving is coming up, I won't have time to finish up this week. I should have that part removed by Monday or Tuesday of next week, though.

No Love, and no Joy !!

Yesterday I decided to replace the Lovejoy couplings on my logsplitter. I removed the pump and the "bracket that houses the pump and engine drive shaft connection." That was simple. It was immediately clear that the teeth on the pump side of the connection were completely gone (picture later, not in this post). With an Allen wrench I loosened the set screws of both Lovejoy couplings but could NOT slide them off their shafts.

Here is the one stuck on the engine drive shaft:

A few years ago I read a humorous book about life and tractor repair. In that book, the author, Roger Welsch, told of a trick for removing stuck parts. Spray some Liquid Wrench on the stuck parts, tap with a hammer, wait. Repeat until you can get the parts unstuck. I spent about 2 hours doing that (every half hour) and got impatient. In the past I have used a special tool for pulling a steering wheel off of its shaft, so I figured there must be a tool to do this. I drove to a couple of stores and found a device that I believed might work. It is intended for pulling gears off of shafts (yes, a "gear puller"). That particular store was also the one that sells the replacement Lovejoy couplings, so I was able to choose the size of gear puller that would work best by comparing it to a new Lovejoy coupling.

Here is the gear puller, installed and ready to do the job:

The gear puller has arms with "jaws" that you place behind the gear (or LJ coupling) and a bolt that you snug up to the end of the drive shaft. Then, by turning the bolt it exerts force against the shaft (a push) and force behind the gear (a pull). This worked PERFECTLY. As I was typing this I realized that this is very much like how a "screw drive" garage door opener works.

Here is the shaft after removal:

So that is one victory. However, the pump is mounted to a metal plate. The distance between the LJ coupling and that plate is too small for the jaws of the gear puller to get into. I can't remove the plate because the LJ coupling needs to come off first. SO I may just have to be patient with the Liquid Wrench method. Unless I can come up with an attachment for the gear puller.

Part 2 of this repair will come after Thansgiving. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Ready for a refill

I emptied the cart full of sycamore sawdust this morning. And there is probably enough cherry sawdust on the shop floor to come close to filling the cart again. All 40 of the cherry parts are now milled smooth on 4 sides, are the perfect width and thickness, and are ready for the next shaping steps.

It was below 30 this morning. I went out to the shop to just move things around as a first step in cleanup. In about 5 minutes I could barely move my fingers. I'm going to keep these frozen fingers crossed for warmer weather this weekend.

There are Lovejoy couplings to replace, wood to split and haul, and woodworking to be done. Tonight may be my first fireplace fire for this winter.

Have a good weekend! Stay warm!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cherry, ingenuity, and cold.

Last night (before that AWESOME episode of "Lost") I got in some decent shop time. I rough cut the last 8 of the 40 cherry pieces and planed all 40 smooth on the two wide faces. Then I ran 20 of them through the jointer to smooth one edge. Then, in a spark of ingenuity, I "ganged" 10 at a time and ran them, smooth side down, through the surface planer to smooth the opposite edge. Normally, I would have cut each piece, one at a time on the tablesaw and run each piece another 2 passes through the jointer. This "new" technique not only made each one perfect, but saved about TWO HOURS of work.

It got cold last night. I don't have good heat in the shop (working on this, but won't have it until NEXT winter) and hate working with cold fingers. So, at least I got an EXCELLENT start on this project, and can continue when temps are higher. Hopefully this weekend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Progress on this years woodworking gifts.

TOLD ya I was gonna make sawdust!!! That 5 gallon bucket is there just for a size reference...must be 6-8 buckets full of sawdust.

The above is the result of Monday night's work. I spent 5 straight hours milling 40 pieces of rough sawn sycamore. They are now relatively smooth, and tonight I milled them into their final shapes. They need to be cut to length, assembled, sanded and finished. Can't tell you what they are.

Also, tonight I cut out 32 of the 40 pieces of cherry needed to complement the sycamore. It's all still rough. My finger joints are rather sore from putting all this wood through multiple passes through the thickness planer, edge jointer, table saw, and router. But I am so pleased with the progress.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Siamese twin gravesite

Here are some pictures I took at the grave site of Chang and Eng Bunker.."THE" Siamese Twins.
Historical marker on Hwy 601:

The headstone:

My son, JP, on the "Chang side" :-) (I also have one of him on the Eng side):

I suppose I don't have to tell those of you who speak Siamese (Thai?) that Eng and Chang mean left and right. Here's a link to more info: Siamese Twins

After the weekend.

JP and I moved 2 trailer loads of firewood. The first was taken to the neighbor as mentioned below. Her daughter and son-in-law were visiting from New Jersey and helped to unload and stack the wood. Nice people.

Then we went up to Mt. Airy. I had hoped to have lunch at the "Snappy Lunch" but JP didn't want to wait in line. We both missed out on a local landmark, and I told him how disappointed I was. But we found a Ruby Tuesdays and ate there. That was close to where the Siamese Twins are buried. It took 5 minutes to find the site.

When we arrived at the church and graveyard we found it marked by a "historical site" sign. I took pictures of that sign and of the headstone. Will post those later. JP really enjoyed walking around the graveyard, looking at names and dates. He was sad when he saw a marker indicating a baby born and died 1 day later. He asked me why, but there was no indication.

We drove around a bit and ended up at the drive-in theater just as it was getting dark. We got some food in the snack bar. It was taking a long time to prepare the hotdogs and french fries and I told the woman there "I'm getting a little nervous that the movie is going to start before the food is done." But she said "Don't worry. It can't because I am the projectionist." So the movie, "Chicken Little", started about 20 minutes late because there were a lot of people wanting food, and this poor lady was working on a foot in a cast. Another, healthier lady, wasn't much help. The movie was cute. If you have kids, see it.

Today I changed blades on my lawnmower, but the battery had no charge. By 3:30 it was charged and ready. It took over 1.5 hours because I had to stop every two pases to empty the collectors. But it looks fabulous! Tomorrow I plan to get out in my workshop and start making sawdust for this year's Christmas gifts. Can't tell what they are because this blog is viewed by recipients. AFTER Christmas I can post some pictures.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Visitation weekend plan

Finally! I have my son this weekend. I've been missing him a lot, especially since my ex-wife's 4th husband is in town. The two of them give me the creeps and it makes me sad that my little fellow has to be with them so much.

Anyhoo, here is what I have planned for us.
1. We're going to move some firewood. I intend to take it to the widow of a neighbor. See post below.
2. We're going to go see "Chicken Little." At a Drive-In !!! In "Mayberry" !!!! Cool. Here's a link:
3. And one weird thing. I want to find the grave site of "Chang and Eng Bunker." They were the guys that are well known as the "original" Siamese Twins. You've seen them in various books. So have I. They are a part of popular culture. Their grave site is not far from the drive-in movie.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Like M&M's ? Hate breast cancer?

Links added:
If you scroll down, on the right I have added links to blogs that I read. Also, a link to my favorite comic strip, "Pearls Before Swine." Once you read a few days' worth, you may be hooked. As with "Dilbert" comics, people are sticking these up on the walls outside their cubicles.

Firewood donation:
A fellow named Fred, in my neighborhood, approached me about buying firewood. That was two months ago and my log splitter was needing repair. Since then I fixed it, and this past weekend I was splitting wood (previous blog entry) and was intending it for Fred. The LOCATION was at a neighbor's house right across the street from Fred. Just before I started splitting, "Mr. Z.", the homeowner, said to me "Did you hear about Fred? He died 2 days ago from a heart attack. He was 67." No, I hadn't heard. I had only just met Fred and he lived a quarter mile away. But when Fred came to talk to me I recall that he said he recently retired. Can you imagine? Work hard, retire, and die without getting to fully enjoy retirement? Something tells me that Fred's widow may still need firewood, so now I plan to introduce myself and bring her a trailer load of wood. To that end I emptied the trailer last night (was loaded with dirt for filling holes around the yard) and my son and I will go move firewood this weekend.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Lovejoy coupling.

Sounds nice, doesn't it? Love+joy+coupling ?

Two round blocks of metal, milled with teeth. Each one is mounted on a shaft using 1 or 2 set screws. A rubbery plastic "spider" goes inbetween them. In essence, they are sprockets. One sprocket turns the other when their teeth mesh. If the teeth get damaged, the engine shaft turns, but the pump shaft doesn't. Explains to me why the hydraulics failed. Will post pictures of the new ones and the old ones later.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

After the did I do?

These are some things I thought I would work on and maybe accomplish. How did I do?
  • Cut and clean out some overgrowth in backyard. Too much to do all at once. Nope.
  • Change Lawnmower blades and cut lawn (to collect leaves). Nope.
  • Finish stripping and cleaning chest and drawers. Nope.
  • Finish stripping and cleaning butterfly table base parts. Nope.
  • Wood splitting for neighbors. Got it mostly done.
  • Start milling wood for Christmas gifts I am making. Nope.
in roughly that order.

I didn't realize how exhausting my work week was, and slept extra on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday there was a birthday party for the son of some friends. After that I had a screaming headache. In 2 hours I went through 5 Advil and took a nap. My friends had invited me to go with them to dinner at a Japanese steakhouse. The headache was gone in time for that. I love that food. Then we just chilled and watched TV at their house. Got home about midnight.

On Sunday the only meaningful thing I did was the wood splitting. I had promised these neighbors, so their task came before mine, and mine aren't critical. I split wood for almost 3 hours (red oak) and made a huge pile of firewood that I have to pick up over the next couple of weeks. At one point I was wedging a piece of wood with my foot and started to feel the pressure of the machine. The wood has slipped and gotten on top of my foot, so I slammed the handle into reverse and my foot was fine. But right after that the hydraulics stopped working. I stopped the machine and investigated. After a couple of seconds I determined that it was the "Lovejoy couplings" that were the problem.

When I first bought the logsplitter it may have been assembled improperly. The Lovejoy couplings and the plastic "spider" that goes between them stripped within minutes of starting the machine. Lovejoy couplings are what connect the driveshaft of the engine to the driveshaft of the hydraulic pump. I replaced them and aligned the pump and engine correctly. And they have worked flawlessly for many years (8?). But, being mechanical, they are things that break down and need to be replaced. It will be 20-30 dollars, I think, but well worth what I saved over taking a broken foot to the hospital.

Friday, November 04, 2005

This weekend

These are some things I would like to work on and maybe accomplish this weekend.
  • Cut and clean out some overgrowth in backyard. Too much to do all at once.
  • Change Lawnmower blades and cut lawn (to collect leaves).
  • Finish stripping and cleaning chest and drawers.
  • Finish stripping and cleaning butterfly table base parts.
  • Wood splitting for neighbors.
  • Start milling wood for Christmas gifts I am making.
in roughly that order.