Wednesday, April 9, 2014

In the shop: de-cluttering

I got a break today - I mean, oh shucks, it's raining and I can't work on the travel trailer porch. I guess there's no steel-work for me today!! But I have been staring at this corner, this disaster waiting to happen, for far too long so I decided this would be a good day to do something about it.

 The garden tools all started out down in the other barn with the tractor, but over time they have slowly, one at a time, migrated up here to the main barn closer to where they usually get used.

That hook with the rope, extension cord and tool belt has been a constant source of frustration for several years now. It always seems like the item you want is on the bottom and everything else has to be removed first.

The corrugated PVC roofing are the off-cuts from creating a semi-enclosure in the barn to house the fridge, freezer, washer/dryer and the utility sink. I did that about five  years ago and the scrap has been sitting there against the wall ever since; when it's not falling down on top of me that is.

And you might be wondering what we're doing with a bag of salt. Well the small barn has a raised deck and the salt is handy for the one or two times a year, (More this year.) that the deck ices up. I put it into a little hand-held broadcaster and spread it around when needed. Only the season is over and I need the broadcaster to get some ant poison down before we are overrun.

So first real task of the day, get the salt out of the broadcaster, through that little hole and back into the bag. The largest funnel I have that isn't contaminated with oil is too small for the salt crystals so I improvised with a plastic cup and a bit of scrap cardboard from the recycling bin. By cutting the bottom out of the plastic cup, which fit into the hole in the bag nicely, and using the cardboard to extend the 'funnel' I was able to get the salt back where it belonged without spilling any of it.

OK, back to the original task, cleaning up the clutter in that corner. The PVC is easy (though if throwing perfectly good bits of scrap away was easy why didn't I do it long ago???) The garden tools not so easy. I could take them back down to the tractor barn but they'll only make their way back up here to the main barn over time, so I need to hang them up so they aren't falling on me every time I need to get into the breaker box, or am trying to untangle one of them from the rest.

Due to the nature of the stressed, skin building that makes up the main barn I have studs on 24" centers behind the Hardy-panel that covers the vertical portion of the wall. There's nothing behind the paneling other than air and foam insulation, so I created a hard-point by pulling a strip of furniture grade plywood off my lumber rack and fastening it to the studs. Because the building curves as it seamlessly transitions from wall to roof the studs end right about where the wood strip is mounted, but it was high enough.

I had a couple of tool-racks in my projects bin, the kind designed to go on the back of a closet door and hold brooms, mops and other lightweight stuff like that. With a little heavy-handed reshaping of the metal fingers I made them work for heavier garden tools. My project bin also yielded up a couple of single hooks that take care of the rope and broadcaster, a shelf bracket that, with a bit of modification, serves as an extension cord hanger, and a couple heavy two-pronged hooks that handle the ax and sledge hammer. The salt will just have to stay there on the floor and the boot-scraper isn't much good if it's not down there on the floor where most of us keep our booted feet.

In the first photo, the one showing the clutter, you might have noticed my tool belt. Back in the late 70's I worked at a shipyard as a marine electrician. It was one of those jobs where, when you were hired they handed you a list of tools you had to buy for the job. Since there were up to 20 ships under construction at one time it was the kind of job where you never stood still long. With about 10,000 people per shift, it was also the kind of environment where any tool left laying was quickly going to wander off and become someone else's possession, so we all wore tool belts.

You pulled it out of your crew's tool locker at the beginning of the shift and didn't take it off until it got locked back up at the end of the shift.

It was a tough, dirty job and I went through about one leather tool belt system a year until I finally spent a fortune and bought a ballistic nylon/canvas system with suspenders. I think the thing only cost about $30 dollars back then but, even with my top-secret security clearance and specialized electronics knowledge, I was making a whopping $5.25 an hour so $30 was a lot.

When I left that job about a year later I had replace the belt itself because it wore out but the tool pouches and suspenders still looked like they were brand new and I've had it ever since. It saw some use in the years following, though nothing like the daily abuse it saw at the shipyard, but when I finally had a proper shop with room for all my hand tools, the tool belt was relegated to hanging on the wall and holding a few surplus tools.

When I pulled it down today it was clear that the wasps liked all the little dark pockets and the spiders liked the wasps.

Not ready to pass it on yet, though I have no idea what I'll ever use it for, I chucked the tools into our donation bin and took the hose to the pouches. Even after all the abuse then neglect, the things look pretty good.

Now I just need to find a place to store them for the next 5 years. . .

No comments:

Post a Comment