"Keep a Journal: How else are you going to get a good look at who you were?"

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sitting in an Airport...wotta yawn.  Got the laptop perched on top of the valise. (anybody want to buy a hard sided display case suitable for sales samples or WarHammer figurines?  It's Air Canada certified for carry on.)  All told, my vacation with the Folks has turned out well...until now.  Arrived one hour before departure to be informed that owing to "maintenance issues" my flight would not be departing at 7:45...but instead at 11:25 PM.  This has since been updated to 11:48; or "midnight" as we English speakers would have it.  Latest update on the story of this flight was that it was out of Halifax, NS bound somewhere southern-like (Carribean?, I've no idea), and there was a medical emergency that necessitated a return to Halifax.  This aircraft is now inbound from Halifax to Calgary.  I got a couple of "meal" vouchers from WestJet (for a whopping 16$)...I think I'd rather have a 50% discount on my next trip...or an upgrade.

Got to see Karen and the niece and nephews...except Evan.  He decided on Friday to stay with his Dad past the weekend and was unable to make Xmas at Grandma's.  Karen was a little ticked that the Rundquists didn't say anything about the change in plans until the last minute on Xmas eve.  Classy.

Got Mom's new (to her) desktop set up. Transferring the files between the Dell and the new HP was a little tricky; when I tried to mount the Dell's hard disk in the HP...it crashed.  The HP has been acting a little un-stable since.  I can see I've already got a maintenance call ahead of me in the Spring (or Summer, whenever), when I go back for a visit.  I set up the Dell with the spare monitor and keyboard the Folks had kicking around, so there are now two PC's living on Mom's desk.

Mom and Dad are in California on Art's (dad's boss) dime.  They were unable to make it to Disneyland as there was some unseasonably WET and WINDY weather in LA (more than typical in California in December, I mean).  Too bad; Mom still hasn't been on "Soaring over California".  The reason I mention it is because Mom was profoundly stirred by the "America Sings" presentation in 1976.  That building, in Tomorrow-Land, has since been re-purposed.  "Soaring over California" is the new "America Sings".

Going back to C.B.I. for physio on Monday...and I have to drop by the HBC offices in the morning, or Tuesday morning, to get some vouchers signed off.  Also must remember that tax information form for WSBC so they know how much to keep paying me before my "early and safe return to work" plan kicks in.

Next on the Agenda is to set up the remaining HP desktop unit + goodies for Susan.  She'll be without a PC come the new year 'cause her ex took theirs with him.  She's got a work-from-home gig coming up and she NEEDS this unit.  All good to me, 'cause it means I can empty one of the storage bins that are crowding the project table that Colin and I want to build Rockets on.

Got to see Keith.  He's living just north of Lethbridge, and working for the GEEK SQUAD of the Lethbridge Best Buy.  He ROCKS this gig.  We went to dinner on Friday eve and I was supposed to get him at 6:30 for his end of shift.  Instead, I arrived late to find him poring over a macbook pro that had apparently run out of hard disk space.  Wouldn't boot, wouldn't do anything.  Watched as Maestro Keith did a command line re-write of the drive and convinced it to dump about 2 gigabytes of superfluous log files and backups.  30 mins later, the mac is working brilliantly and the customer happily paid the 104$ OS install fee.  That's not what he did...but that's what they decided to bill it as.  What he actually did is the kind of thing you would normally send a unit back to the national service center in Toronto for.  A manufacturer-level fix.

Speaking of manufacturer-level fixes:

Since I've got the time, I'm going to tell you how I got that mainspring back into the pull starter on VJ's echo line trimmer.  Newer models have a sheet metal "keeper" that holds the spring even if the pulley that holds it inside the housing is removed.  As I mentioned before, this early model trimmer lacks that refinement.  SO: the problem is to keep the spring wound, and immobile long enough to get the pulley in place over top of it, then bolt the whole thing to the starter housing.  At the factory, this is done with a jig, and a special press.

I don't have those.

Winding the spring was no problem; put a couple nails in a scrap of wood and use the fitting on the center of the pulley to wind the spring up until it is slightly smaller than the diameter of the pulley.  Keeping it wound is no problem either; use 3 zip ties (in a sort of triangle configuration) to hold the wound spring around its circumference.  Getting it back into the housing with the zip ties around it ... that is a problem.  The zip ties around the circumference of the wound up spring make it too big to fit into the housing.  Even if you could slip the spring out of the zip tie "keeper" and into the housing, there is no way to keep it in there.

I used three copper paper clips, tapped and formed with a kraft hammer and using a door hinge pin as a tamper.  The clips slipped into the spaces provided by the three zip tie clasps (at each corner of the triangle, as it were), and once wound tight and formed around the spring , they held it in place and allowed me to remove the zip tie "keeper".  The clips were only a couple of mm thick, so the spring fit quite easily into the housing.  Next step was to use two 4" c-clamps to hold down the spring while I cut the clips.  I backed off one c-clamp just enough to cut away and remove the first two clips; then re-tightened it and loosened the other c-clamp, then cut away and removed the third clip.  Now: how do I remove the clamps and get the pulley back in there without the spring flying out of there again?

I froze it.

I used wax (thanks, Babybels!) to plug the hole the starter cord comes out of, then filled the housing, c-clamps and all, with water - up to the top of the fitting for the pulley.  After a couple hours in the freezer, I took the assemblage out and fired up the old 65 Watt soldering pencil.  I melted the ice around the foot of one of the c-clamps, and removed it.  I re-filled the melted hole with water and stuck the starter housing back in the fridge for a couple more hours; then removed the remaining c-clamp, re-filled, and re-froze.

So now I've got the spring wound up, in the housing, held in place by a 1/2" cake of ice over top of it.  I removed the wax plug, and melted the ice immediately around the fitting in the center of the housing where the pulley attaches.  I bolted down the pulley...and waited for the rest of the ice to melt; tightening the bolt a little more every few minutes while I waited.  After the pulley was bolted down completely, I treated the starter with compressed air, aerosol part cleaner, and WD-40.  Installed the pull cord and VOILA' - good as new!

I'm just that good sometimes.

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