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Making a Clamp into a Spreader.

The clamp being used as a spreader

The clamp being used as a spreader

As I said in the last post I took a little time off to zoom out and think about the direction of this blog.  Also as I stated I worked on some maintenance both on this site as well as at home and my vehicles.   Some of that went very well and some not.  You will get to hear about some of both.

First:  lets talk about the direction of this blog.  It has become very obvious to me that I cannot keep up with the amount of volume of work I was putting out and it will especially be so if I try to work more in actual construction and less in theory. That was one of the things troubling me before I took the time off.  The site is about making as well as creating.

We have covered basic electrical theory very well and have covered some electronics theory.  The future direction of the blog will work more with mechanical things but a good portion of that will be electro-mechanical devices such as motors and solenoids.  We will probably wind some coils.

I hope to do some simple machining but I want to figure out ways to do it accurately and cheaply.   The thing that fancy equipment does is save on set-up time, but at a fairly large expense.  I just don’t see me needing the equipment often enough to fork over the money for equipment I have to stumble over in the future.  (That is until I look at those tool catalogs an dream of what I could do with that equipment.)  Yes, I can often purchase the part or the service, but what is creative about that?   We are here to learn and I am not here to push the tools.  One of my stated goals is to learn (and show) a good way to machine O-ring groves.  Probably I will only be doing that with soft materials.

Another skill I will be working on is being more accurate while bending sheet metal.   It should be fairly easy to come up with a bending brake that will effectively do the job.  Brains over Bucks!

Other things:  I have changed the look of the blog.  I am using a “theme” that is a whole lot more flexible so the looks of the blog will change some more in the future.  (I still have to learn what some of the settings do.) On the home page you will find a new area called “blog roll”.  That is a link to blogs I have found interesting.  Currently there is only one, but I promise more will be added.  If you know of some I should add please e-mail them to me and I will check them out.

I did some research during “my walkabout”. (Much thanks to those old Crocodile Dundee movies for that term.)  I know how I will retrieve the data from the Arduino and the thermistor card.  Now all I have to do is order the parts and do it.   I do have a passive water heating solar project planned where that data will be very helpful.  That will require a little digital theory and some theory about programming.

I am starting a new series of videos and one is already in the can waiting to be published.  Those are on a subject called “Geometric Construction”, “Engineering Construction”, or “Graphical Construction”.  (You choose the term you like I will probably end-up using all three at one time or other).  I show it in LibreCAD, but also will show the paper and pencil method because that could also be done with sheet metal and scribe, or a wood board and pencil method when laying out a project.   The first couple will be trivial with CAD, but of course, things will get more complex quickly.

Finally, I have started using KiCAD for redesigning the thermistor board.   I have done the schematic part, but have yet to learn to do the board layout part.  Once I learn it there will be posts on that subject.

OK… enough about what I am gonna do…. time to make this post worth reading before you start comparing me to a politician or some other scum of the earth that always says what they will do.

Making a bar clamp into a spreader:

The squealer on a brake pad.

The squealer on a brake pad.

Before I took the time off my old Honda was making a noise whenever I backed up and eventually even when I was driving forward.  During an oil change while I had the wheels off the ground, I spun the wheels to locate the source of the noise.   It was coming from the driver’s side front wheel so I removed the wheel and found it to be a brake squealer rubbing.  Disk brakes on a car work by hydraulics from a cylinder connected to the brake pedal squeezing two friction devices, called brake pads, against a spinning disk. The purpose of a brake squealer is to do exactly what it was doing.  It makes a noise so you will replace the brake parts before the friction material is all gone and your brakes are metal against metal.  The second picture shows the Honda version of a squealer.  Normally it only does makes the noise when the brakes are depressed, for some reason this seemed to only make the noise when the brakes were not depressed.

Squeeler wornThe next picture shows how the face of mine looked and how I knew for sure that was the problem.  Notice how shiny the end of the metal is.  If the brake pad was less worn, this piece would never touch the brake disk.

The problem is how could I remove the wheels off the car when the wheels are off the ground and able to spin easily?  As normal when I am working on something like this I was home alone and I could not get someone to press the brake pedal to lock the wheels so I could loosen the bolts holding the wheel to the car.  The answer was to make myself a brake pedal depressing device.   There are profession tools designed to do exactly that job and these are used by mechanics when they do alignment on cars.  I can’t see me purchasing a special purpose tool for a job I will only be doing rarely… so head scratching time!

The standard bar-clamp

The standard bar-clamp

What I did was use a standard Irwin brand Quick Clamp and turned the moveable end in the opposite direction so it could be used as a spreader.   To do that it is necessary to remove a roll-pin at the end of the bar of the clamp.  The purpose of the pin is to prevent the movable end from going past the end of the bar.  A punch and a hammer and a pair of pliers can easily remove the pin.  Support the bar while driving the pin out so you do not bend the bar.

Once the pin is removed, simply squeeze the metal trigger part and slide the movable end off the bar, reverse this end and slide it back on the bar in the opposite direction. Make sure you do not release the metal trigger until you get the clamp slid back on the bar.   If you do release the trigger the metal piece will come off and a spring will fly out of the clamp.  Time lost hunting the spring and then aligning the trigger hole with the bar.  (This is personal experience… you don’t want to go there.)    Once you have the  clamp modified it is easy to use it between the seat of the car and the brake pedal as show in the first picture.  If I had a newer car, I would probably put a piece of wood between the seat and the clamp, but my old Honda is on it’s last legs anyhow.  It is my drive from point A to B get me to work mobile.

The movable end installed in the opposite direction.

The movable end installed in the opposite direction.

This worked well at depressing the brake pedal because I was able to use the end of the clamp to do the job.  If I needed to actually spread something where I cold not use the end  of the bar to do the job and needed some offset from the bar I would have had to get creative at the non-movable end of the clamp because it is molded onto the end of bar and is not reversible. I am sure something can be done, but I have had no need to do that yet.

Once you are done using it as a simple spreader simply grasp the metal trigger again and reverse the movable end back so the clamp can be used as a clamp.   If you want to replace the roll-pin use pliers and a hammer to drive the roll pin back into the hole.  I can see no need for me to do that and left it out.

As always, I hope you found this interesting and useful,   I’m back!


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