Monday, January 30, 2012

Tool Tip

I have a Dremel Moto-Tool that I use occasionally for small cutting or grinding jobs.

When buying a Dremel tool it usually comes with a few miscellaneous bits and wheels.  The cutoff wheels that are supplied are normally the stone type. (above left) These are very inexpensive, but are so fragile that they are almost useless. The fiberglass reinforced type that is shown on the right is more expensive, but works much better.  They cut almost anything and last a long time.

If you stack three or four of them on a mandrel the wider surface works great for grinding. I use this trick occasionally to grind a welding job that needs great precision or is in an awkward location.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ATV Plastic Repair

Occasionally I have to repair the plastic body work on ATVs and snowmobiles.  In this case I had a cracked fender and a broken headlight mount.

Here is one of the broken headlight tabs.  Most of this plastic body work is impossible to glue.  It can be welded but that requires special equipment that most people don't have.

I have found that the best way to fix these problems is by stitching the parts back together with wire.  I drill a series of small holes and lace the parts up with stainless steel "safety" wire.  McMaster Carr has a large selection of stainless wire, I think that the wire I used here is .025".

Here is the repaired fender around the head light.  Notice that the wire is passed through each hole twice, this will hold the parts together more secure than a single wrap.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Over the last few years I have managed to salvage a few thousand pounds of copper from our local garbage dump/landfill.  Most of this is heavy copper cable that was scrapped when the local power company rewired the main distribution system coming out of our local power plant.  The cable was just dumped with the rest of the trash and left to burn.  I went back after the rubber insulation was burned off and pulled the bare cable out of the rubbish pile.

Scrap copper sells for about $2.00 per pound down in the lower 48.  Unfortunately the normal price to ship something from rural Alaska to the lower 48 is around $1.00 to $2.00 per pound.    At that price I wasn't going to make much money for all the work I put in.  Recently I realized that a USPS large flat rate box only costs $15 to mail anywhere in the U.S. and you can put anything you want in the box as long as it is under 70 lbs.  This puts my shipping cost at just under $0.25 per pound!

Here is a photo of the setup I put together in my shop to cut up the copper cable to fit in the flat rate boxes.  Spending a little bit of time to set this up will let me fill the boxes quickly  and easily. 

 I screwed my abrasive chop saw to a temporary work bench.  Behind the saw installed a dust collector hood made from an old Rubber Maid tub.  The large black hose connected to the tub runs to my shop dust collector system, this catchs most of the dust and smoke from the cutting.  The orange arrow points to a small piece of angle iron that I bolted to the saw to support the cable while it is being cut and prevent the smaller wires from fraying.  The green arrow points to a large piece of angle iron screwed down to the work bench, this is a guide to make sure each peice is cut to just the right length to fit in the box.  On the handle of the saw you can see the spring clamp that I use to hold the trigger down on the saw.  Leaving the saw running all the time saves a little bit of time on each cut and avoids all those high amperage starts on the motor.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Taiwnese ATV

On of the ATVs that I own is an Arctic Cat 366.  I purchased it used this past fall, and it is now a few years old.  It has been an OK machine, it mostly gets used for running errands around town.  It is has independent suspension in the front and rear, a CVT (belt) type drive train with high low and reverse gear.  It is powered with a basic air cooled engine with a carburetor.  Overall I would rate it's performance high.  The only negatives with this machine are it's small size and the lack of EFI (fuel injection).

Recently I was reading an article in an ATV magazine about some of the new Taiwanese and Chinese machines that are starting to be sold in the US.  In on of the photos I notice that the machine offered by Kymeco looked very similar to my machine.  I looked underneath my machine and found this label on the frame.  It turns out that my machine was not made by Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls Minnesota, but was actually produced by Kwang Yang Motors in Taiwan (that is the parent company for Kymeco).

I knew that Arctic Cat has sourced engines from Suzuki for years (and Polaris has used engines from Fuji), but I was surprised to see that they sourced the whole vehicle from overseas.  It looks to me like the smaller basic machines offered by Arctic Cat come from Kymeco, but the larger machines in their line up are produced here.  I wonder how many of the other big manufacturers are getting machines from China?