Friday, March 28, 2014

In the shop: A couple of casualties

I was working on the greenhouse trailer the other morning, mostly driving screws, when my power driver stopped. Normally that means I've run the lithium battery down and I just swap it out with the one sitting on the charger.

That didn't work today.

It had a good run but finally gave up the ghost.
I put the new battery in and still nothing. At first I though I didn't get the battery onto the charger correctly and now I had two dead batteries, but I pulled out another tool, slapped the battery into it and it ran just fine. . .

After many years of fairly heavy use, after killing the original NiCad batteries and replacing them with the lithium's in 2011, after dropping it countless times, after shredding the handgrip driving thousands and thousands of screws,  my power driver just gave up in mid screw.

I had to finish up using my right-angle power driver (You didn't think I was going to drive all those screws by hand did you??!) which is a pain in the ass. I don't know who designed this thing but the balance is terrible, the drive speed is nearly uncontrollable, the trigger awkward, and it's really difficult to get good pressure on it to keep the bit seated in the screw.

Obviously I needed to replace the power driver and replace it fast!

It just so happened that there was a Ryobi rep right there in the big box store I went to so I was able to find out from the horse's mouth that I was pretty much screwed when it came to batteries. I have two perfectly good lithium batteries at home and two's all I've needed for years, but I could only buy the driver in a 'kit' which meant I had to pay for batteries, and a charger, that I didn't need.

Making the best of a bad situation I bought the same driver I've been using with a charger and a NiCad battery that I guess will just sit on a shelf until I can talk myself into recycling it. This was about $30 less than the slightly more compact driver that comes in a kit with a lithium battery. I suppose I could use the lithium battery but then I'd have three and I just don't need that many.

Only it's not quite the same driver. Something I didn't realize until I got home and opened the box.

New one on the left, old on the right.
As you can see from the picture the old driver has two bit holders on top of the barrel, the new driver has a single bit holder down on the front of the foot. Since I regularly use two different bits as well as twist drills that's going to be problematic.

The old driver has a target level on the back side to help drive screws straight down as well as a tube level on top of the barrel to help drive horizontally, the new one only has the level on top of the barrel. That's going to hurt!

On the plus side, the handgrip on the new driver has been redesigned and uses a different material that looks like it will hold up better than the one on the old driver.

My second casualty occurred that same afternoon as I was trimming limbs back so we can get the travel trailer down the driveway again. (For the past 5 years we've just left it parked down on the coast where my father-in-law uses it during the winter.)

This time it was my gloves that gave out. A fact that was painfully pointed out to me by pointy sticks poking through the holes and into my tender flesh! Yaupon and Post Oak are the worst!

Of course this happens when you use them hard and I go through several pair a year so always keep spares on hand.
Identical gloves bought at the same time, one pair used to the point of destruction,
and you can almost see the hands still inside them, the other pair just pulled off the shelf

Dad's last pair of work gloves are on the right.
On the left is the wooden replica I carved.
I've always felt that well used work gloves absorb some of the essence of the person using them.

In fact, after my father's funeral it wasn't a photo of him I went looking for, but instead I took the work gloves off his bench and still carry them with me today. They ride up there on the dash of my van so when I go camping he comes along too.

As a sort of memorial I also carved a replica of his gloves and these sit on my workbench.

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