The Importance of Cleanliness in the Machine Shop

Many people do not realize the importance of making sure the shop is always clean. After a good while, things begin to pile up and then there almost seems no point in cleaning up. However, if cleanliness is maintained from the very start, then it is easy to clean up from a job. Cleanliness involves much more than the floors. This would include the machines, accessories for the machines and seemingly insignificant areas such as the offices and bathrooms.

So, why should the shop always be clean? First, you will save a lot of money with your tools. Tools always operate a little bit better if they are clean and greased properly. Over a period of time, a build-up of dust and particles can bring a drill press to its knees. Particles and dust can cause a drill press or a lathe to overheat to the point that the motor will simply burn up. But, not just with the machines themselves, the accessories for the machines have to be cleaned as well. The perfect example of an accessory that needs maintenance is the step drill bit. The step drill bit, especially when used on wood, can become clogged up with particles that have seared or welded onto the bit itself. This makes the bit to be extremely inaccurate and causes the bit to dull and burn up. Many people will clean the floors of the shop and they also have clean bathrooms, but it is important not to forget the seemingly insignificant pieces that need a little tender loving care.

Another forgotten accessory is the annular cutter. This marvel of ingenuity can cut a hole so precise in a pipe or really anything. The problem is that the flutes on the side become clogged with particles and debris from the material being drilled. It is extremely important to clean these flutes as good as you can. It is recommended to use a cleaning agent of some kind that will not leave a scum or film on the tool. Many tools can be burned up or lose accuracy when cleaned over and over with a soap that leaves a scum.

Some have tried certain products, but the one that works the best for cleaning drill bits, such as the annular cutter and the step drill bit, is an automotive brake parts cleaner. This cleaner is very powerful and has the potential to cause damage to your skin and eyes, so do be careful with its use. First, just spray a little of this cleaner on your part and then quickly wipe the debris off with a clean rag. It is important not to let this cleaner sit on the tool for a long period of time, as this may cause a form of erosion on the tool itself.

So, the next time it comes to clean up the shop, make sure that everything is cleaned, because if you take care of your equipment, it will take care of you. You will not be buying these little items over and over again. This may not save you a lot of time right now, but it certainly will pay off in the future.

Truck Bed Mats – Dent Stoppers

Truck bed mats are one answer to protect your trucks from life shortening damage. Pickup trucks were made for hauling. Unless you are very careful though, quickly a shiny new bed can look like a rust bucket. Scratches and scrapes from just casual use will start the rusty trail if the paint is scraped down to bare metal. And a work truck that’s used hard can quickly pick up big dents and dings that lead to an early grave. So what’s the answer? Can you really use your truck and still keep it looking good?

One choice to protect your bed is a spray on bed liner. That may be the number one choice now for a number of reasons. The bed liners are attractive, tough and permanent protection for your bed. But maybe you don’t want a permanent coating or maybe you choose something with more padding or less money. Maybe you want some protection for that expensive spray on liner. That would be protection for the protection!

In many cases a bed mat may be a great choice to protect your bed or even to cover up existing damage. Bed mats come in a variety of types and variations. Your main material choices are carpet and rubber. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Carpet Liners

Carpet is an especially good choice if your truck sports a tonneau cover or a topper shell. Most carpet liners are weatherproof, but a wet liner can hold moisture on the bed and start damage to the bed. However, some new carpet covers are made of closed cell foam like life preservers and dry very fast. A carpet covering is a non-skid surface and that may be just what your hauling requires. Plus carpet is cushion for knees if your loading or hauling calls for some crawling around on the truck bed. Also carpeting is perfect for cushioning big, messy hauling jobs.

With these mats you may choose a reversible cover. For really messy, rough hauling some mats have two usable sides. Sometimes one side is carpet and the other rubber. These dual side mats are just the thing for real work trucks that need tough non-skid protection.

On the other extreme, pick a custom made carpet lining that covers bottom and sides of the bed with luxury carpet. You wouldn’t want a luxury carpet liner for messy loads but for more casual hauling and recreational use. Many of these liners are installed with velcro so the liners are easy to remove and clean.

Rubber Liners

For really nasty or rough hauling, rubber mats are virtually indestructible. These mats are also weatherproof, unbreakable and shock absorbing. Rubber mats can take severe bashing with little or no damage. Plus you get some road noise muffling with the bed protection.

You may want a trim to fit universal mat. That will be your cheapest choice. A custom fit rubber mat is probably made for your truck too. Another option is to get a multi-piece liner just for your truck that includes a rubber floor mat plus snap in side pieces to cover the whole bed.

Whatever your choice, truck bed mats are an important option to protect the value of your old or new truck.

Car and SUV Winterization

Protecting your pride and joy and one of your largest investments this winter. The automobile has become an extension of its owners personality as well as representing a huge chunk of our hard earned income. Lets face it, as Americans we love our cars. We want them to look good, cruise smoothly and last a long time. Then of course there is the weather. Man is constantly adapting to his environment and adjusting to his climate. We put stuff on the roads so we can drive in any weather without fear of becoming the next human driven hockey puck.

During the Winter Months different agencies apply different things to the roads to keep them drivable like salt, sand and chemicals such as de-icing chemicals, which are environmentally friendly but can destroy a regular wax job. Magnesium Sulfate works great to keep cars from sliding into the guardrails and ditches, but it plays hell on an automobiles finish. With rust and corrosion threatening to destroy your investment and reduce the value of your car by thousands of dollars the stakes become high. We may not be able to control the weather quite yet, but we can give you the tips from years of experience and industry knowledge to help you minimize your risk, fight back against jack frost and work with mother nature to co-exist and cruise successfully through winter. How can you win the war on winter?

Winter is coming and will soon be in full swing. Roads will be packed with vacationers and outdoor sports aficionados. You and your car need to be ready. We know from experience that bare metal will rust when exposed to moisture and harsh elements. Take a look around your car, are there paint chips? Even small chips can allow moisture to get underneath your cars finish and work its way all the way through the metal. Holes in your car needless to say will not improve your chances for good resale value. And if your car is on a lease they will be hitting you hard on its return. There are several things you can do to take care of these chips now. To find a chip repair person go to Paint Bull’s website and find one of their 500 mobile chip repair dealers. If you have a fiberglass body or a primarily plastic car such as a Saturn it may not be as critical if you have a chip or two.

Every car that drives through harsh winter climates needs some type of undercoating. There are many options. You can go down to your local auto parts store, buy a can of undercoating and spray it on yourself or you can go to any auto detailing company and have it done for about $80-100. There are a few detailing companies who have a number of stores throughout the country as well as mobile units, which can provide this undercoating for you. You can also go ziebart’s website, they have 216 stores Nationwide. They have been closing stores at a fast rate of about 30 per year. They charge about $200-300 and will touch up the undercoating job free each year. They use this as a gimmick to get you in their store next year to sell you more stuff. Their guarantee is of questionable value since if the store closes then who will do the guarantee wok. Another problem with the lifetime guarantee is that most people do not own their cars for their entire life.

If you own a truck or a cargo van you may consider a lining. There are a few different types of linings. Rhino Lining at Rhino Lining Wesbite has a rubber like lining. An average bed runs about $300. There is Line X, which is a harder liner at Line-X website and Permatech which has a really good liner that is between the hard Line X liner and the softer a Rhino Lining. All these brands have hundreds of franchisees and dealers. You can conveniently search their websites to find a location near you. The going rate is around $300 for an 8 ft bed and you can negotiate a little with your local dealer.

What can you do to protect your cars paint? Several things. It is important to understand the different types of wax and how they perform against salt spray tests. Carnauba the most popular wax name amongst consumers, will not hold up well under harsh salt conditions, de-icing wetted areas or on magnesium chloride soaked roads. It does however work well against roads, which have been covered, with sand. Teflon and silicone waxes do not work well in any of these conditions or in colder climates.

So what is the best modern wax for these Winter environments? Polymers work best, but are usually put on in a liquid form and therefore goes on in thinner coats. It may take several coats to insure that the protection last longer than three months. It is best to put on several coats and then re-apply in three months. If you do not feel that you want to do this yourself you can call several companies that provide onsite service at home or office. National Detail Systems has over 300 dealers.

Ask for polymer wax and ask for a multiple coat discount. Expect to pay $65-90 plus $15-25 for each additional coat from National Detail Dealers. It will vary significantly from dealer to dealer. The Car Wash Guys have standard pricing and charge $35 for an exterior polymer coat and charge $10 for additional coats. Many car washes also have express detailing service starting at anywhere from $35-55. To get a listing of car washes and the new J.D. Powers Car Club website. This site is quite helpful. The website will give you a map to the nearest carwash based on the zip code you put in. You can print it out and drive down and get your car waxed. Fixed site carwashes vary so much from operator to operator it is hard to say what additional coats might cost, it may even depend on the day of the week you go, which manager is working and how busy they are that day. You should try to go on a Tuesday.

You may wish to put a protective coating on your cars carpets. The very popular product ScotchGuard was taken off the market this year due to environmental problems in manufacturing and is no longer available. Blue Coral does make a similar aerosol product although not as good as the former 3M leading brand. With new genetic woven splicing of nylon into cotton plants we are seeing a new breed of interior carpeting in vehicles. It is more durable easier to clean and holds up well under multiple steam cleaning passes. Perhaps a simple plastic cover over the carpets might be your best bet. Most modern day min-vans come standard with plastic covers and if yours did not, you can buy plastic covers for next to nothing at any auto parts store.

There are also some very high tech solutions to automotive protection. For window glass there is a hydrophobic treatment called Diamon Fusion. It prevents chips in the window and allows you to drive in heavy rain without use of wipers. A simple solution may be RainX, which can be purchased at any auto parts store for about $5. All of the companies listed in this article can also put on RainX for you. Be sure to ask them to apply it to the interior windows also because it prevents unnecessary fogging when you do not have your defroster set exactly right. The coating industry has evolved and out of the NASA Space Program came a glass coating used on the tiles on the bottom of the Space Shuttle, which can be put on at room temperature. It is put on 2 to 4 milimeters thick. Glass of course is impervious to moisture.

This new revolution in ceramic technology is also being perfected by the Japanese. PP&G, the leading automotive paint company, is also on the cutting edge of this new field and we may soon have a new and more advanced clear coat for cars for the 21st century. That is the good news. We may see a new clear coat for cars coming out which will make waxes obsolete in the next few years. The bad news is that for now there is no substitute for waxes, coatings and undercoating. You can pay now or pay later. You really should consider protecting your investment. If you neglect to take this opportunity to plan your winterizing strategy, Mother Nature already has a plan of her own and she is coming soon.

Many people are only going to keep their car for two years on a lease and then trade it in for a new model. So if there are no chips in the paint, you may only need a single coat of polymer wax and new windshield wiper blades before Winter. If you are going to keep your car for many years however protect your investment against the inevitable Winter. Please realize that most manufacturers warranties on bodies and paint do not cover salt or environmental damage. If you pay attention to these simple things you can cruise through winter with no problems providing your tires dont get recalled and you can still afford the gas.

Leather Repair – How to Repair a Worn Leather Steering Wheel

I wrote a post a while back about how to repair a worn leather steering wheel and have gotten a lot of traffic to it but to be honest with you it’s what I call a quick fix, not a good permanent fix like what a person really needs in this business. So today I’m gonna write it a little different and give the right way to repair a worn leather steering wheel.

All the leather in today’s vehicles are being dyed with a water based dye. It’s not only safer for the environment, which we all know is really big right now, but it’s also more flexible and better for the leather itself.

My last post I wrote I gave you a quick fix using a solvent based dye. Now I’m not saying that if you were in a pinch that using a solvent based would be a bad thing, but like I said it’s a quick fix, nothing you would really want to do for a customer that’s expecting a long lasting repair.

The basic’s are the same as far as the use of a drop cloth to avoid over spray getting on the instrument panel, and the prepping is kinda the same too. But what I’m here to do is to show the right way to do this.

So with that said here we go.

After you’ve put your drop cloth behind the steering wheel, wrapping it around so that no over spray will get where you don’t want it to, take a scotch brite pad and my prepping solution and clean the leather steering wheel really good making sure you get the back of the steering wheel too. Nothing bugs me more the to see a steering wheel that has been repaired and all they have done is repaired the front. When you look through the windshield from the outside what do you see, umm the back of the steering wheel, so clean all the way around.

Once you have it clean, it’s time to address the wear that has been done to the leather.

If the leather has frayed then that frayness (not sure if that’s a word but it fits) needs to be sanded down smooth. You do this with a combination of the use of different grits of sandpaper, dry and wet sanding, and the use of leather filling compounds.

What I will do is start with a heavier grit, 240 usually but sometimes even a 120 to get there a little quicker. Wet the paper with my prepping solution and start sanding. The prepping solution will break through the dye that is already there and actually smear around bit, use this to your advantage, it kinda works as a filler and helps to smooth things out quicker. Sand until it becomes dry. Then move up to a finer grit like 400, and do the same. If it’s not as smooth as you want then move up to an even finer grit sandpaper like a 600. At this time you can still use the wet sanding technique or you can dry sand it, this will depend on the amount of damage your dealing with.

Once you have the area fairly smooth, you need to seal the leather with your water based grip base, this will not only help your compounds to stick better but make your repair easier to work with and last a lot longer in the end. I do this by taking my grip base in a small squirt bottle and put a small amount onto a folded wet paper towel then wiping it over the leather steering wheel.

After you have sealed the leather it’s time to break out your leather repair compounds. Now I have found that applying it with your finger is the easiest then trying to use a pallet knife, kinda hard to curve your pallet knife around such a tight curve. Compounds that I use the most on leather steering wheels is the old Leather Crack Filler or I’ll use Viper Products Leather Extreme Fill. Both work really well with applying it with your finger and both stay put really well too. I mostly use the Leather Crack Filler first then if I need to fill smaller imperfections then I’ll use the Leather Extreme Fill. I’ve found that the Leather Crack fill just works the best, it sands out nicely as well as stays put when sanding too.

The biggest thing to remember in repairing a worn leather steering wheel is to get it as smooth as possible, the less amount of leather repair compounds you use the better. It’s just less to go wrong later and you have a better chance of the dyes sticking in the end.

One other tip I can give you is on the Chrysler leather steering wheels and it’s on these only I have found this. Not really sure why they do this but they do. The dye actually balls up and makes the steering wheel look really rough. You can sand this if you want but I have found a better way of dealing with this without wearing your arm out trying to sand the dye down smooth. Take a terry cloth towel and some lacquer thinner and rub the dye off with the lacquer thinner soaked towel. This will take it right down to the leather and make it nice and smooth. Sometimes you will have to sand a bit after wards to get the raw leather smooth but you will surprised at the time and energy this will save you. Once your done you can fill and seal the raw leather then dye to match.

After all the imperfections are sanded, filled and smooth, you will need to prep the leather for dye. I will wipe the leather steering wheel down with my prepping solution careful not to rub the filler out then apply another coat of grip base. This ensures the dye will stick and not come off later down the road.

Now it’s time to apply your water based dye to match.

You can do this a couple of ways, either wipe it on or spray it on with either a paint gun or a preval. I almost always spray my dyes, it just seems to look better in the end and less dye is wasted, but that is totally up to you. I have found it’s easier to also run the vehicle while your dying the leather steering wheel because you can position the wheel where you need it and your not trying to dye with your gun upside down. Remember the back of the leather steering wheel too 🙂

Some people after dying will stop and call it good, which is OK because the dyes I use are ready to spray and really don’t need anything else. But I like to topcoat all my dyes with a clear water based topcoat, to me it just gives more of a barrier to wear and makes the repair last longer. I use a low gloss topcoat applied with a spray gun just like the dye.

Now I still don’t stop there either…This is a little trick I came up with kinda on my own. I found that some of the leather steering wheels after being repaired and dyed just felt dry and didn’t look natural. What I do is apply a water based leather conditioner and then I apply a leather wax or chap wax. What this does is not only restore the oils lost in the repair process but make the leather steering wheel look and feel factory. The wax also protects the leather from water and lotions that may get on there later. It just makes the leather look and feel new again!

Products that I use in all my repairs are from one of I think is the best on the market, Viper Products. I have used a lot of different products in the past and have found Viper has a higher performance dye and compounds then any other I’ve used before. So go check them out, I really think you will be impressed!

Well I hope this helps more then my last post on how to repair a leather steering wheel. Just remember to take your time when doing any repair and use a water based dye on the leather, not only is it safer for you and everybody else but I promise you it will look better in the end and last a lot longer which is what you wanted in the first place.