Archive for March, 2012

You Have to be Smarter Than Your Tools.

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

This time around, I thought I’d remind you of some of the perils of power tools. These are the things most of us already know, but forget in the heat of the moment, usually to our chagrin. Over the decades, I’ve seen some dumb things done to people by them selves, and the fact it was self-inflicted, and the victims were far from “short bus” mental-power-wise, makes it even more embarrassing for them.
First, it’s called a drill for a reason. I’ve lost count of the number of times my co-workers did their level best to bore holes in various parts of their bodies. One day, I was working under an Airstream, and I heard an electric drill running. Suddenly, the drill made a funny groaning noise, followed by an unidentifiable teeth-gnashing noise. I looked out from under the trailer in time to see John heading for the office at top speed, trailing both a stream of blood and an electric cord which seemed to be growing out of his hand. Things got even more interesting when John tripped over the cord, yanking the drill out of the spot it had been imbedded in his hand as well as doing a nosedive into another trailer. A trip to the emergency room, a Tetanus shot, and a few days off work later, John was nearly back to normal.
Then there is the champion of digital elimination, the table saw. While I’ve only seen one severed finger over the years, I have seen a lot of serious damage caused by people doing things they know not to do. One memorable incident occurred when a now-retired member of the shop forces held a chattering block of wood down on the saw table with his bare hand. The spray of blood was impressive, to say the least. 22 stitches later, the employee remembered there are tools and other things meant to keep your hands away from spinning blades. If you absolutely have to hold down a small or thin piece of wood, lay a second piece of wood over the one you are cutting. That will not only keep the wood from chattering and give you a much smoother cut, it will keep your extremities out of direct contact with spinning cutting parts.
Next is one even I have been guilty of. When using a knife or other sharp cutting blade, always make sure it will tend to go away from you if the blade slips or breaks. I still have a scar on my hand from where I was using a razor blade to scrape off glue. I was pushing the blade away from me, not realizing I was pushing the blade toward a finger. That one only took two stitches.
Another tool that deserves more respect than it gets is the lowly screwdriver. Many times, people will shove for all they are worth, trying to break a rusty screw loose, only to end up stabbing themselves when the screwdriver slips off the screw.
There are many hazards, and nobody can avoid them all. The most we can do is use our common sense, and stop to think about where that tool will go if the unexpected happens.

Towing Targets

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Hello, again. This time around, we’ll be taking a look at how others seem to view your Airstream, and what, if anything, you can do about it. Our first victim (literally) is a long-time customer that seems to have a bull’s eye painted on his Airstream. This poor guy has had more things hit his trailer than a world war II battleship. It’s been hailed on, had tree limbs drop on it, a deer run into it (at a campground, no less), it’s been rear-ended and sideswiped, and was the recipient of an errant foul ball to a window. He’s tried everything he can think of to keep this from happening any more. I suggested a hardened bunker for storage, but that still won’t stop things from being attracted while towing.
Here, there are a couple of things the average Airstream owner can do while towing to minimize exposure to “things” hitting their trailers. First, of course, is to avoid sudden death lane changes, travel with the flow of traffic, and making sure all marker and brake lights are functioning. Something else is to put a couple strips of Scotchlite reflective tape on the rear bumper. Generally, a combination of red and white reflective tape is best.

Obviously, you can’t do a lot about the occasional hail storm, but you can take steps to minimize damage from violent storms. If you hear that it’s supposed to be windy, roll up your awnings. If it’s supposed to rain, close AND LOCK the windows. Closing the windows does no good, if a gust of wind blows the window off your Airstream. Plus, your neighbor at the campground will likely not appreciate the addition of an extra window through the side of their RV.

For wildlife issues, avoid leaving food outdoors and cleaning up after meals, placing the old food in locking garbage cans should help keep most critters from attacking your Airstream. Of course, if it’s mating season for a species that’s attracted to bright, shiny things, nothing you can do will keep them away from your Airstream. Magpies, woodpeckers, deer, and Madonna are all examples of these.

Then there are shop employees that wait for the crunch of metal and glass before they decide they’ve backed your Airstream far enough into the shop. I’ve tried many things to keep these demolition derby rejects away from your Airstream, but occasionally one slips through. At least we can perform body repairs…


About the Author

Lug Wrench is a long-time mechanic, multiple Airstream owner, and dyed-in-the-wool pragmatist. All tales guaranteed 100% true, although names and certain details may be altered to protect the guilty.