How To Build a Teardrop Trailer

teardrop trailer complete

In the March/April 1939 issue of Popular Homecraft an article ran– along with detailed plans– for a new, cool oddity called “Honeymoon House Trailer.”

Built by Louis Rogers of Pasadena, California, the guy literally saved his dimes and built this little gem back in the late 30’s, to take his new bride on their wedding trip. The 8’x4’ floor plan was had tongue-and-groove flooring on a pine chassis, and Rogers used a Chevy front axle with 28” wheels and 1926 rear fenders.  The odd little trailer slept two and had a raise-up deck lid for a rear kitchenette, complete with ice box and stove. A curtain-enclosure outside the starboard entry served at the “dressing room.” The whole project set him back about $60 ($1,026 today). This may or may not have been the first teardrop trailer, but it was certainly in the ballpark.

DIYers went crazy. They followed Rogers’ plans, and soon added touches of their own. After World War II, models of the trailer morphed even further, sporting Jeep wheels and exterior skins made from bomber wings. After the 50’s, though, their popularity started dropping as big RVs appeared. Then the teardrops returned with a vengeance. Today you can find a number of websites for plans (some free!), photo galleries, forums and clubs. Teardroppers believe that creating, renovating and modifying unique, personalized models are what give the little campers their timelessness—and the most rewarding way to own a teardrop!

vw teardrop

 

Probably the coolest part of all this is, you don’t have to be a master builder to make your own drop-dead gorgeous teardrop trailer. If you’ve got just a basic knowledge of woodworking and some tools, you’re already ahead of the game.

First thing, how to go about it? On a recent Google hunt, I found this most EXCELLENT “HOW-TO” tutorial on building a teardrop trailer on Instructables.com with extremely detailed steps, TONS of pics (man, you gotta have pics!) and a comfortable daily planner. Building it on a U.S. General 1720 lb-Capacity. 4’x8′ Super Duty Trailer

HF super duty trailer…the author created this beautiful camping capsule, complete with aluminum siding, wiring and lights, vent fan, sink-&-stove kitchen area, windows on the sides and front, and a roomy bed with a second kid-sized bunk, for under two grand!

teardrop beds

Necessary Tools:

teardrop camping

While it’s not exactly be a 2-weekend project, the finished product will leave you buzzed with sublime satisfaction and give you years of fun and memories you just can’t buy.

Of course, most of the tools necessary to make this dream a reality can be found at Harbor Freight Tools. Make sure you check the ads for specials and coupons for even greater savings!

How To Make Your Very Own MAN TABLE

man table

So, up ’til now you’ve proven your manhood through food dares, awkward school fights, asking-a-girl-out dares, changing your own oil, jumping in a frigid lake with your bros, peeing in a soda bottle whilst driving through the night, crying at the end of “First Blood”… but lately, you’ve been getting a growing hankering to MAKE something– something COOL. If this is uncharted territory for your ever-emerging MAN within, here’s a DIY project worthy of bragging rights and endless sprees of fist and chest-bumping: The Man Table.

The Man Table, by definition, should be rugged, solid, rough-hewn and indispensably usable. Something that takes a beating and just smiles back at ya. This isn’t a beauty contest, bucko. We’re talking about a baptismal exercise of Man and Tool. I actually stumbled on this “how-to” quite by accident on Instructables.com by a guy named “Pointy” in the Netherlands, and I’ve been thinking about little else for future garage activity. Just be warned, this project is “metric-centric,” so get used to using the other side of your tape measure.

So, here’s what you’re going to need:

Tools and Materials

Power Tools
Angle Grinder with Cutting Discs and Abrasive Discs

angle grinder
Welder (in this case a stick welder)

stick welder
Jig saw

jigsaw
Power drill with 2, 5, 8 and 10mm drill bits (our numbered bits will work!)

power drill
Hammer

hammer
Clamps

clamp
Angle Finder

angle gauge
Marking tools (pen or painters tape)

Center Punch

center punch

 

Adjustable Wrench

adjustable wrench

Materials:
– Steel angle 30x30x3mm, total 4,6 meters
Measurements 700mm (2x), 1600mm (2x).
– Steel angle 40x40x4mm, total 4,2 meters
Measurements 700mm (6x)
– Steel plate 15x15x4mm, 6 pieces
– MDF board 160x70cm
– Reclaimed wood for the inlay (Meranti is used here). Bear in mind that the thickness of the MDF + inlay = 27mm MAX when using 3mm steel. Otherwise, the wood will be too high above the tabletop.
– 18xM8 Nuts and bolts
– Box of nails
– Black spray paint

About the Steel…
If you can get the steel angles at a metal shop that will cut them for you (45 degree angles), go for it. Your world will suddenly get so much easier. Use regular steel, not stainless, for two reasons: One, you’re using it inside and it will be painted. Two, stainless is harder to weld (and for paint to stick on it. and regular is cheaper.. so, four reasons).

Table Top Frame

table top frame

Tools needed
Angle grinder with both discs
Welder
Angle gauge

First step,  lay out the four pieces of 30×30 into a rectangle. If the steel isn’t cut in angles yet, do that now, using the grinder with the cutting disc. Take your time measuring out the angles, using the angle gauge, always measuring twice before you cut. If you cut them at the wrong angles, you might be forced to to shorten the whole thing to make up for the mistake. You can only fix so much with the welder. After cutting the angles, lay the pieces together. Do they fit? Are there any obvious gaps? If not, then sweet! A trick the tutor used with his stick welder was grind a small angled edge of the materials to be welded. By doing that he created a ‘path’ to drag his welding rod on.

Get out the welder and tack-weld it first. That way you can fix and prevent mistakes before the whole thing is welded solid. As said, this isn’t a beauty contest, so don’t worry about having photogenic welds. The primary goal is only that they’re tough and can take a pounding.

Switch the grinder to the grinding disc now and clean up the welds. Fill in the gaps with the welder and grind it flat again. Don’t sweat any grinding marks you might leave. This is all about badass Man personality, right?

(If, for some reason, you have to clean the stuff up between steps, be sure to mark the corners so you don’t forget what goes where later (see bottom photo above)

Legs

Legs

Tools needed
Angle grinder with both discs
Welder
Clamps

First you need to cut the corner braces. Stick a piece of painters tape diagonally from corner to corner, making a 45 degree angle.

An unwanted result of welding flat objects is the risk of them curling up when you’re just welding one side. To prevent this, tack the corner braces on and then flip it and weld the other side, too. That way you make sure the brace is flat and flush against the tabletop’s frame. Use the clamps to keep it from curling and keep them clamped until they cool. By tacking and flipping you can work a lot quicker. Just make sure to add the corner braces before welding the legs. Be sure to suspend the legs in mid-air before welding the braces on. This is why you see bolts in the above photo.

After welding the corners, then grind and clean them up.

Drilling the Bolt Holes

bolt holes

Tools needed
Power drill
Steel drill bits for 2,5,8 & 10mm
Center punch

Now to drill the bolt-holes. Three bolts per side are sufficient– and it looks good. The corners should be 15.5 cm. The first bolt goes in dead center in the corner profile and the rest space out + 5CM.

Center punch it first to prevent your drill from slipping. To save time, drill all the holes before moving on to the next bit size up. When you get finish with the 2mm holes, put the tabletop frame upside down and line up the legs flush with the top. Then insert drill bit in each hole and give it a little spin. This way you don’t have to centerpunch the legs and they all fit nicely to their corners. Then do 5mm, repeat, then 8mm, repeat. Finally, span your 10mm bit and give each hole a quick spin. This will remove any burrs left.

Putting Together the Frame

table frame

Tools needed
Adjustable Wrench

This is a pretty straightforward step. Legs + top + bolts: First bolts go in with the table upside down, then flip the frame and do the rest of the bolts. Sit on it to test the weight. As the pride floods you, feel free to let out a Tim Taylor grunt.

Painting the Frame

paint the frame

 

Tools needed
Black spray paint

Paint…

Putting On the Top

putting on the top

Tools needed:
Jig saw
Hammer

Either cut your MDF board to size yourself, or have it done at the local home improvement store. You won’t lose Man Points if you do the latter. There’ll be some small cuts you need to make to accommodate the bolts; just measure how much the bolts protrude, and maybe a 1/2 cm extra, and saw. It doesn’t need to be precise, the wood will be covering it.

Finally, the last step is to drop in your reclaimed wooden top. As I mentioned earlier, this DIY guy used reclaimed Meranti. You may have your own ideas. Just lay it down, mark off any protruding stuff and cut. Then nail it down to the MDF.

I’m a Man, Yes I Am

final man table

Now just let the Man within take over and do what you do with your magnificent creation. Maybe run your hands over the perfectly imperfect surface and watch the end scene of First Blood again.

 

How To Get Perfect Cuts From Your Circular Saw

 It sure would be nice to have a table saw setup in the garage. It would also be sweet to have a hot tub home theater in there, but life is full of disappointments.

hot tub home theater

Fortunately, you don’t need a table saw to get perfectly straight cuts out of sheet materials. All you need is a Circular Saw and a Guide Track, and you can get all the perfectly straight cuts you need.

And while we’re on the subject of “glass-is-half-full” rationalism, you’re going to find that using the circular saw and guide track over the table saw will be easier because you’ll be moving a bantamweight circular saw over plywood rather than a heavy sheet of plywood over the table saw.

There were a few slightly variant techniques to execute the perfectly straight cut– with various tools– but we were most impressed with Jay Bates’ method on Instructables.com, and we used that as our road map.

So, without further ado, the perfect cut:

Tools and Equipment Needed

7 1-4 10 amp circular saw

12-in quick release bar clamp

two sawhorses

safety goggles

Materials Needed

5-8-in brad nails

wood glue

  • One sheet of 1/2″ plywood. You don’t need the whole sheet, but you do need the full 8′ length.

SAFETY TIP: Your circular saw is one of the most dangerous power tools in your arsenal. When accidents happen, they usually happen fast and without warning– and more often than not, the damage is bad. The most frequent and dangerous blunder is binding the blade in a cut. This can happen when the saw blade is set too deep and more of the blade is exposed while cutting. The saw blade jumps up and kick back at you. It also happens when you’re cutting a long board or large sheet of plywood in half without the proper support. To prevent this, make sure the cut-off piece is free to drop or move away from the blade. This will eradicate any chance of binding and make your cuts safer.

The Project

1. Cutting the Fence Board

circular saw track (7).jpg

First, make sure the plywood you’ve got has at least one perfectly straight factory edge. You can tell by looking down the full 8-foot length of the board. If it looks straight, it should be straight enough to use. Mark the straight factory edge to keep track of it throughout the project. Nothing can drive you as crazy as forgetting which one it is. Lay the plywood down on the sawhorses to work. Cut a small piece off of the long direction, about a 3”-wide piece. Cut it as straight as you can, but it doesn’t have to be exact.

The main thing to keep track of here is the plywood’s factory edge. It’s the right edge in the above photo.

2. Cutting the Base

Picture of Cut The Base
circular saw track (9).jpg
circular saw track (10).jpg

Because the factory edge has been verified as straight, it’s the most important part of the track build– but it’s only half of the saw’s guide. We still need a base for it to ride on. So, use the factory edge as a guide and clamp it on both sides to the rest of the plywood to saw off another strip. This time, it should be around 9” wide.

With the first strip clamped down and ready to be used as a reference fence for the circular saw, you might notice there’s some flex in the middle of the panel. To prevent this, clamp a piece of scrap wood in the center of the plywood on the opposite side of the first strip. This should prevent the first strip from flexing.

Then, with the saw tracking against the factory edge of the first strip, cut the 9” wide base strip (photo immediately above).

 3. Putting It Together

 Picture of Assembly
circular saw track (12).jpg
circular saw track (13).jpg

Here’s where measurements might differ a little from saw to saw. You may have to adjust your dimensions as needed. With the circular saw blade resting against an edge of the plywood, measure the distance from the furthest edge of the circular saw base plate to the blade. Here it’s 3-3/4″, but, as mentioned, your measurement may be different (top photo above)

The first strip with the factory edge will be glued and nailed to the wider base strip, but the factory edge needs to be just a little further from one edge of the base strip than the distance from the blade of the circular saw to the furthest edge of the saw base plate. So, here it was set at close to 4” on both sides, and the base strip was marked (middle photo above).

After adding glue to the smaller strip, nail it to the base strip, ensuring it is on the reference lines from the previous step.

4.  The Zero Clearance Line

Picture of Make It Zero Clearance

The precision of the jig comes from this important step. Once the smaller strip is secure and the glue dried, make a cut referencing against the factory edge of the smaller strip. This establishes a “zero clearance line” for where the circular saw will cut every time you use the track.

 5. Perfect, Straight Cuts

Step 5: Enjoy Perfectly Straight Cuts

Picture of Enjoy Perfectly Straight Cuts
So, now we can see that the outside edge of the base strip is exactly where the circular saw will cut when it slides across this track. Simply line up the edge of the track with reference marks on your material, clamp it down, and cut a perfect line every time. Remember, the saw blade will remove a little bit of material as well, so best practice is to place the track on top of the material you are cutting to length and not the off-cut of your material.

Having this 8′ track is incredibly handy for cutting sheet material, but it can be unwieldly when you need to make smaller precision cuts. For this reason, you may want to make another 8′ track and cut it into 5′ and 3′ sections.

Even the best carpenter can’t do good work with a dull blade. And besides making lousy cuts, a dull blade is dangerous. Dull blades can heat up and warp or bind, and they tend to climb out of the cut. But how do you know if your blade is too dull? The best indicator is how the blade cuts. If you have to muscle your way through the cut, your blade is dull. A sharp blade will glide through even the toughest wood. Burn marks and rough cuts are other signs of a dull blade. When it’s time to get your replacement, we recommend a plywood blade with at least 140 teeth like this:

circulaw saw blade

You can find these and other quality woodworking tools at Harbor Freight Tools, at great, low prices!

 

RUNNING COMPRESSOR AIR LINES IN YOUR GARAGE

air line installment

Wouldn’t it be great to have access to compressed air throughout the garage or shop without having to haul and set up your compressor everywhere you need it? Well, it doesn’t take as much as you think to make it happen. Here is a simple, rudimentary way of setting up the workshop to do just that.

What Kind of Pipe?

If you’re considering PVC pipe, don’t. If the PVC broke under pressure, the plastic would burst and send a salvo of splintery shrapnel all over the place. For a home shop, we recommend copper– 1) you won’t run into the same problem; 2) it won’t corrode; and 3) it’s readily available at the local home improvements stores. For the fittings, you’re going to want to find a refrigeration solder designed for 200+psi working pressure, such as Stay-Brite #8, which installs easily with a standard Butane or Propane Torch, as well as the Stay-Clean flux to spread it out (don’t cross fluxes).

(If you don’t want to solder, use black steel pipe. Measure the pipe runs and buy exact lengths– the home improvement stores will cut and thread them for you. The nice thing about air compression lines is, unlike water or gas lines, they don’t need perfect joints, so it’s OK if they leak a little. For the purpose of this article, we’re going with the first choice– copper)

Tools Needed

Here are the necessary tools you’ll need to do this project:

Adjustable Wrench

adjustable wrench

 

Air Compressor

21 gal vertical air compressor

 

Air Hose

air hose

Tube Cutter

tube cutter half-inch

Butane Torch

butane torch You will also need a wire brush handy for cleaning the copper joints.

Materials

  • 1/2-inch copper pipe and fittings
  • Solder
  • Flux

We recommend you run your main line high, but exposed, up near the ceiling, with a drop anywhere you think you’ll want an air hose. At the bottom of the drop, install a TA ball valve at the top and bottom of the T, and a quick coupler on the 90 (facing, of course, away from the wall).

There are plenty of sites that go in greater detail regarding connections and PSI, etc. We would advise you to look for the most authoritative direction (if you find multiple sources that concur, even better!). The subject is diverse and there are lots of possibilities for configuration. Good luck with your installation!

HOW TO MAKE A HAMMER HEAD COAT RACK

Hammer Head Coat Rack

Instructables.com

As Father’s Day is upon us, we at Harbor Freight thought we’d share this DIY project idea that we stumbled across recently: a relatively low-cost, low-time-consuming enterprise, creating a snazzy coat rack out of hammer heads. It occurred to us that this would make the ideal gift for that someone who likes to spend copious amounts of time in their garage, shop, cabin, studio or ice fishing shanty. While the claw hammer seems to be the predominantly popular hardware, you can use a number of different types of heads and styles. What we’re offering here is a suggested “how-to” “carpenter-style” rack that we liked. If you’re comfortable enough with your tools, by all means, have at any deviation you’d like to take:

hammer head coat rack multi 1

LumberJocks.com

Materials:

hammer head coat rack 3

thechroniclesofhome.com

Cutting the Wood

  • Cut the red oak rack boards 9 in. wide x 3 ft. long
  • Using your 1/2″ roundover router bit, bevel the edges
  • Measure 3/8″ from the top of the board and draw a straight line across
  • Drill eight 1/8″ holes equal distant from each other across the board and, using the #8 wood screws, assemble the rack
hammer head coat rack cut heads

Instructables.com

Sizing Up the Hammer Heads

  • Get a feel for the right height, length and angle you want your claw hammer. Do you want it straight, or at a slight angle? Do you want 2″, 3″ or 4″ of handle? Here’s one at a long, heavy angle:
hammer head coat rack 5

LumberJocks.com

  • Mark and cut one hammer handle.
  • Hold the hammer head  to the board and make sure it’s the angle and height you want. When you know, cut the other four hammer handles exactly the same way.
hammer head coat rack mount heads

Instructables.com

Mounting the Hammer Heads

  • Pre-drill holes in the base of the handle stub with a 7/32″ drill bit
  • Pre-drill holes on the board with a 1/4″ bit
  • Mount the hammer heads on the board with the 1/4″ x 1-1/2″ tap con screws
hammer head coat rack mount angles

Instructables.com

Mounting the Rafter Squares

  • Mark and drill four 3/16″ holes in each square, two holes on either end
  • Mount the squares to the either end of the board (as shown)

miniwax polycrylic

Protective Finish

  • The Miniwax Water-Based Polycrylic is a good coating because it can go over bare wood as well as water, and oil-based, stains. It dries quickly, doesn’t have an odor and leaves a durable shell against scuffing, etc.
  • If you prefer, you could sand the hammer handles and boards and stain it with a richer color before adding the Miniwax.
hammer head coat rack 4

thechroniclesofhome.com

Happy Father’s Day!

Once the coating is dry, your coat rack is ready to mount– or wrap for Father’s Day! If you want to scan other methods and ideas, we’ve linked each of the above photos to their respective sources. After all, there’s more than one way to skin a hammer. Meanwhile, keep in mind that Harbor Freight Tools has whatever tools you’re missing at low prices, making this project even easier!

2015 Father’s Day Gift Guide

fathers day 2015

When you think of the best parts of your childhood, Dad is indelibly among them. The smell of his after shave and brush of his stubble. The excitement of his coming home and throwing you in the air. The weird songs he chose to sing along to when driving or working in the garage (“Love is a burning thing…“). Yup, Dad is a large part of our favorite memories, so of course we somehow want to convey that to him come Father’s Day. And since he still likes to tinker in his garage, work on his car and stay busy, here are ten excellent suggestions from Harbor Freight Tools on what to get him.

 

3 ton steel jack low profile

This best-selling 3-ton low-profile steel jack can fit in small spaces and lift big things– and it makes the job easier, ’cause it gets the vehicle up, fast and high. Embodied with strength and durability, the heavy-duty jack rolls and maneuvers easily on concrete with its wide steel wheels, and is long enough to get way under the vehicle. A winner for anyone looking for a “heavy” jack!

 

13 drawer tool cabinet

For the man who has everything… something to put it in! Finally, Dad can consolidate his multiple toolboxes into this one durable, spacious cabinet. Made of heavy-duty industrial-strength steel, this baby can hold over 2,500 lbs. of tools and roll around the garage to assist him with whatever job he’s got cooking. You’d spend hundreds more elsewhere to get the same lifelong service this favorite tool cabinet will provide.

 

12000 winch FB

If Dad’s the kind of guy who boldly goes where no man (in their right mind) has gone before, then our Badlands 12K electric winch is the ticket. Built to be tortured and come back for more, this winch will emancipate stuck vehicles, haul downed trees and load boats. Rain? Snow? Mud? Please. Throw in the Wireless Winch Remote #61474 and Dad can Snapchat his adventures while the winch does all the work!

 

90 amp flux wire welder 61849

If you’ve noticed that, from time to time, Dad’s been in need of a welder– or if he’s expressed interest to get into welding– here is the perfect unit to get him equipped, With our best-selling 90 amp flux core welder, you get the functionality of a MIG welder without the hassle of gas. Set-up and operation are way easy, and the performance is awesome! Dad will find out soon enough how invaluable this welder is, for small repairs and in the garage. Pick up one of our Auto-Darkening Helmets #61611 while you’re at it.

3 gallon pancake compressor 61615

While the old man’s still got plenty of hot air to spare, why not make life easier for him by having one of these handy, reliable units in the garage? This 3-gallon oilless air compressor is a mighty mite for inflation, stapling, nailing, sanding, buffing, spray painting and all kinds of small pneumatic projects around the house. It takes very little space and tucks out of the way until it’s needed again. A nice addition in any home, shop or garage.

 

ladder 67646

With the ability to set up in 23 different configurations, our multi-task ladder will perform for Dad like a boss, whatever his chore. Made of super-strong aircraft-grade aluminum,  this unit can transform into 4 kinds of step ladders, 6 kinds of stair ladders, 7 types of extension ladders, 2 kinds of scaffold trestles and 4 sizes of storage ladder. We wouldn’t be surprised if it’ll make him a sandwich, but don’t quote us. As the title suggests, our multi-task ladder stretches out to 17 ft. and can easily sustain 300 lbs. And, it sells for much less than the leading competitors! (*in stores only)

 

10-inch miter saw 61971

This 10″ sliding compound miter saw will easily make a home in your Dad’s shop. For it’s size and price, he will be pleasantly surprised at how big a cut it makes. Great for plywood, baseboards, trim, molding, flooring– and with the switch of a blade, can also cut masonry and metal. With its robust 15 amp motor this power saw delivers precision cross, bevel and miter cuts. A great deal and a handy addition for Dad.

 

reciprocating saw 62370

Here’s the tool Dad will grab whenever he announces, “Stand back, Junior, and prepare to be dazzled!” Our 6″ reciprocating saw is a top-rated workhorse that cuts through heavy lumber, nails, siding, branches and roots, exhaust pipe, etc., like butter. This is the go-to tool for remodeling kitchens, tearing down porches and removing a door or window. One of the features he’ll really like is how he can control direction, making it easy to get around tricky areas. The reciprocating saw could easily become his favorite tool in the garage.

 

motorcycle lift 1000 lb cropped

If Dad’s a “Wild Hog,” here’s the item on the type of every rider’s wish list. With our motorcycle lift, he can wrench and clean his bike with ease, saving his back and knees,  and making it a lot less effort to get up for another tool. With just a pump of the foot, he can lift his bike to a comfortable level, safe and secure on the stand. This motorcycle life is strong, rugged and could easily be employed for commercial use. Throw in a couple of our Magnetic Bowls, and the old man will be in hog heaven!

 

image_21577

Speaking of wrenching, may we suggest Harbor Freight’s most complete, end-all mechanic’s tool kit. At a fraction of the cost competitors’ similar sets, this professional mechanic’s tool set contains a comprehensive collection of the most-used automotive and mechanic’s tools in both SAE and metric sizes.  It’s got everything organized and clearly labeled so he won’t waste time zeroing in on the right tool or right size. Dad will not only be excited about the performance of these tools, he’ll be happy to see how many different kinds are all together in one box. As one customer put it, “Hands down, the best tool set for the money!”

Whatever you think your dad might like, chances are good you’ll find it at Harbor Freight Tools— and because of the low prices there, you’ll be able to get something really nice and look like a champ (not that you’ll ever be the champ Dad is).

 

 

 

 

How To Prep, Run & Maintain Your Portable Generator

generator with wheel kit - brand new

You just bought– or are about to buy– your first generator. That’s great, it’ll be a valuable asset to you and your family, especially in times of emergency. But even though it’s got a gas engine and a pull cord, a generator isn’t the same thing as a lawn mower or weed whacker. There are a number of steps in the process of prepping, running and maintaining your gas generator that you should be aware of before you do anything with it. Here are a few tips to make sure you get smooth, safe operation, and the power that you need:

generator outdoors

  • CRUCIAL– If you take anything away from this article, it’s NEVER run your generator in a garage (even an open garage) and NEVER run it in the house. Keep it outside, at least 15 feet from the house, and way away from all windows. As valuable as your generator is to keeping things going, it’s also a carbon monoxide machine.

generator manual

  • Before you do anything, read the generator’s manual, from cover to cover. The more you know about your portable gas generator, the more apt you are not to do anything wrong, and it will provide many years of low-maintenance emergency power.

grounding rod

  • Prior to setup, you need to ground the generator. This is done by connecting a #6 AWG grounding wire from the Grounding Terminal to a grounding rod which is at least 24 inches in the earth. The grounding rod must be an earth-driven copper or brass rod that can adequately ground the generator. The grounding wire and rod may not be included with the generator, so make sure you get those as well when you make your purchase.
  • A premium feature that some gas generators have is an electric start, which makes for fast, effortless starts. If yours has an electric start, now’s the time to make sure the 12v battery is installed and connected.

generator oil fill

  • Now it’s time to add the fluids. A key to long engine life is oil. Also, without oil the generator won’t start. Check the manual and make sure you’re using the right type and changing it according to manufacturer’s specifications. SAE10W30 is often recommended for general-purpose, all-temperature use.

generator gas fill

  • Add fuel to within 1″ of the rim of the tank. Be careful never to overfill. Unless otherwise instructed, use regular Unleaded 87 Octane gasoline.

generator startup

  • Now you’re ready to start the generator. Note the slight difference in the above chart between the Manual Start and the Electric Start.
  • Let your generator run briefly before you plug anything in it, and make sure when you do plug, that the appliance is off. Plug in appliances one at a time, and power each one up before you plug in the next one. You want to make sure you’ve got the power to spare. Pay attention to the watts of each unit before you plug it in after the other; you want to always stay under the generator’s max. If the generator overloads, it could damage the appliances.
  • Now you’re ready to rock n’ roll!

Other tips to keep in mind…

  • Never connect your generator with a power cord into an electrical outlet in the house. This power will “back feed” into the utility lines running to your house, and in the event of a blackout, this could kill a utility crew called in to restore power to your neighborhood.
  • Only use  the proper power cord. The power supplied by your portable gas generator is measured in watts. A power cord is measured in amps. If, for whatever reason, you need a replacement power cord, choose one that matches the most powerful outlet on your generator. The power cord would need to be heavy-duty, at least 12 gauge, and less than 100 feet.
  • Never refuel a running generator, or even one with a still-hot engine. The heat could ignite the gasoline. Shut it off and let it cool for at least 10 minutes. And only refuel in a well-ventilated area.
  • Change the oil during lengthy outages. Check your manual for the proper intervals. If your generator doesn’t have an hour meter (telling you how long it’s been running), keep a log so you don’t lose track.
  • Conserve your gas! If your neighborhood’s power went out, chances are the local gas stations are also in the dark. Only use whatever appliances you need to and, if possible, turn it off overnight. A refrigerator can handle no power for 3-4 hours, and your neighbors will love the break, too.

When you’re done

  • When the power comes back, drain the gas from the generator. If you leave the gas in, it can ruin the carburetor.
  • Change the oil one last time.
  • Every month, feed the generator a 1/2 gallon of gas and run it for at least a 1/2 hour. This will prevent blockage in the carburetor.

Your portable gas generator will be ready for the next emergency, and will last for years!

When you’re ready to purchase your generator, but need help determining what size to get, here’s a GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE to help you out. And don’t make any decisions until you’ve had the chance to look at the award-winning Predator Generators at Harbor Freight Tools! Read the reviews and research the YouTube videos, and you’ll learn for yourself what a great value they really are.

Hyperbole aside, in the event of an emergency, having a portable gas generator can mean the difference between life and death for you and/or a member of your family.

Dutch Oven Mountain Man Breakfast

mountain man breakfast

Every year we go beach camping up and down the California coast with 10-12 other families, and every year our meal assignment has been the Dutch Oven Mountain Man Breakfast. Like Coke and Mentos, and the midnight grunion runs, the Mountain Man Breakfast has become a demanded tradition of us and ours. It’s got all the favorite breakfast foods in one dish: sausage, eggs, cheese, hash browns. Not only is it the most delicious, wonderful mess you’ll ever shovel in your mug, it sends torturous wafts of incredible aroma throughout the campground, causing many a family to look down miserably at their breakfast bars and weep.

So, without further ado, here’s our recipe for the quintessential Dutch Oven Mountain Man breakfast (makes 6-12 servings):

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork sausage (mild, medium or hot, it’s up to you)
  • 1 pound bacon (honey cured is sometimes preferred)
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (2-pound) bag of shredded hash browns
  • 12 extra large eggs, beaten
  • 1 16-oz. bag shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • Add any other spices you might like: salt pepper, butt rub…

dutch oven

Directions

  1. You’ll want to get a campfire going about 90 minutes before you’re ready to eat. Let it burn until it’s accumulated a nice layer of coals.
  2. Add and stir the sausage, bacon, onion and garlic into a 12-Inch Cast Iron Dutch Oven with a lid, with the oven beside–but not directly in– the coals, so you have a nice medium-high heat. Cook and stir until the sausage and bacon are no longer raw and the onion is tender.
  3. Stir in the red and green bell peppers and hash browns until nicely blended. Keep stirring for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are hot and the peppers are now tender.
  4. Add the beaten eggs evenly over the top of the potatoes, allowing them to sink into the mix, then cover the Dutch oven.
  5. Carefully place  8-10 hot coals under the Dutch oven and 13-15 on top. Allow your concoction to bake around 35-40 minutes, until the eggs are firm.
  6. Carefully remove the lid, keeping the coals on, and sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly over the eggs. Cover and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes. The cheese should be melted at this point.

Adjust this recipe according to your crowd, of course. There’s nothing wring with having leftovers, though, this chow makes for GREAT leftovers!!

Clean-Up

As any Dutch Oven enthusiast can tell you, there are some “Do NOTs” when is comes to cleaning a Dutch Oven:

  • Do NOT use dish soap or detergent (it can leave a soapy taste in the oven that may transfer to the food).
  • Do NOT use a metal scrapper or scouring pad (it can remove the “hard-earned” seasoning).
  • Do NOT put cold water on a hot Dutch Oven (it can cause the oven to crack).
  • Do NOT “burn out” your Dutch Oven over the fire. (It can warp or crack the oven).

If it’s not convenient to clean the Dutch oven right away, you can pour some hot water in it and let it soak. For BEST RESULTS, though, follow these steps:

  1. With a plastic scraper, scrape out the excess food.
  2. With a little hot water and a dish cloth, wipe up the residual gunk and finish cleaning it out. Then dump out the dirty water and rinse the pan with warm water.
  3. Dry the dutch oven thoroughly with a paper towel, or leave it in close enough proximity to the campfire to dry itself.
  4. When dry, take a clean paper towel and wipe a thin coat of oil all over the Dutch oven, careful to remove any excess so it doesn’t leave a rancid puddle.
  5. Finally, fold another clean paper towel and put it  under the lid and hanging slightly out the side  to absorb any excess oil and moisture and to allow some air into the oven.

Before you even go camping, though, the best thing you could do is season your 12-Inch Cast Iron Dutch Oven  to get long-lasting, top notch performance out of it. You can read about how to season this and your other cast iron pans HERE. Also, you can pick up a Dutch oven at Harbor Freight Tools for a great, low price!

Be sure to check out other recipes you can make in your Dutch oven, like stews, chili, desserts and so much other delicious grub. It may not be pretty sometimes, but it always eats good.

 

HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN 55-GAL. BARREL BBQ*

steak

There’s nothing better than the high octane performance of a flaming charcoal barbecue– and there’s nothing cooler than manning your own 55-gallon barrel grill, made with your own hands. Here’s a cool tutorial we found on the Super Chevy website. Hey, summer’s coming, dude. Let’s talk about how you can make this a reality.

Things You Will Need:

barrel - found

  • Find a 55 gallon drum. Sometimes you can avoid buying a new one by checking out Craigslist or other local classifieds, pet shops or weed n’ feeds. The best kind of 55-gallon drum barrel to get is food related. Try to avoid one that housed toxic chemicals, but if you’re not sure what it contained, you’re going to want to burn it clean when you cut it open. 

barrel - taped

  • Rather than cutting the barrel in half, we’re going to show a clam shell it with a quarter cut. With the masking tape and a level, set all your lines ready to cut.

barrel - cut

  • The next step is to use the trusty cut-off tool and cut down the side of the barrel along the blue tape. The cut off quarter is going to be the BBQ grill’s lid. When you’ve cut out the quarter section, build a large fire inside of the barrel to thoroughly burn out any lingering harmful substances. Then, once cool,  dump the ashes and give it one last thorough hosing.
  • Next, take some angle iron and weld a rectangular shape out of it. Then weld it into place in the middle of the drum. This will provide as a rest for the grill.

barrel - mesh

  • Find a good mesh that can be used as the grill surface, preferably a heavier gauge metal, and one where the edges are flattened so there are no sharp points sticking up. If you need to flatten the sharp edges yourself, that’s what the grinder is for. Here they welded 1/8″ metal rod all along the edges and eventually added some cross bars as well. Besides not getting gouged every time you BBQ, it also makes it easier to scrub after grilling. 

barrel - stands - relief cuts

  • Take two lengths of 1/2″ box tube and make relief cuts every two inches so you can bend them to the shape of the barrel. Then bend it around the barrel.

barrel - stand - relief welded

  • Once you’ve got the shape you desire, weld the cuts smooth with your 70 amp stick welder. This creates a sturdy cradle on which you’ll be attaching the legs.

barrel - stands welded on

  • Then weld the half moon shapes to the ends of the barrel. They should make a nice snug fit.

barrel - hinges

  • Attach hinges to the barrel and lid, and reinforce it with steel plates on the inside to ensure a long-lasting, sturdy hinge.

barrel - on legs

  • Determine how high you want your grill to be (3-ft. is good) and accordingly cut the 2×1 square tubing into legs. Cut relief marks about 6″ down the legs so you can bend them outward for greater stability. Now weld on the legs, and you have your very own, cheap and efficient 55-gal. drum grill!

barrel - complete

Of course, you’ll probably want to add handles, a couple of vents, a hole on the bottom for dripping. If you came this far, though, I trust you can take it from here.

How To Wax Your Car the Right Way

Get in the habit of polishing your car routinely and you’ll have a sweet looking ride for years.

firebird - polishing

It’s no great secret that waxing and polishing your vehicle will prolong the life and beauty of its appearance. But, knowing how to wax and buff your car properly can save you a chunk o’ change over time.

The Tools

First, you’ll need a competent electric polisher. These can range from $40 into the hundreds and, as I’m sure we’ve all experienced, the highest price doesn’t necessarily mean the best. We like the Chicago Electric 7″ 5.7 Amp HD Dual Action Variable Speed Polisher #66615. It’s a real workhorse and its variable speed and oscillating head eliminate swirl marks like magic.

You’ll also need buffing pads, buffing compound and a car kit, which usually includes car polish, car wax, and microfiber cloths in kit form.

Before you do anything, wash the car first. You want your vehicle to be clean and dry before you start.

Buffing

Apply a liberal amount of buffing compound to the car surface, particularly to the rough, scratched and weathered areas. The whole point of buffing is to make a rough surface a smooth one. It works by stripping away a fine layer of tired paint and exposing the fresh paint underneath; in essence, the compound serves as a paint stripper. When you wax your car immediately after buffing, the wax will restore the protective armor of its original clear coat.

Spread the compound evenly across the area with the buffing pad, while the buffer is OFF, so that it doesn’t splatter onto surrounding surfaces. For example, keep the compound off the chrome, glass or rubber.

Turn the buffer on and work the area in circular motions, holding the pad completely flat at all times. Turning the buffer at an angle or applying too much pressure can burn the paint surface and cause swirling. Work one quarter of a panel at a time until you get a bright gloss. The surface should feel smooth and look new.

firebird - polishing 2

If the paint’s in decent condition and only needed some TLC, follow the same steps as above, but this time use car polish instead of buffing compound. You won’t need as much polish as compound because polish can cover a greater area and strips away less paint. Follow the process across the vehicle’s entire surface until the paint is restored.

Buffing should be done about once a year, and if you keep the car in the garage and the paint still looks decent, just use the polish instead of the compound. If, on the other hand, you live on the coast (or you’re in an area where salt is used to melt ice) and the car’s kept outside, you may want to buff more than once a year. Or, if you keep it parked under a tree where sap and bird poop reside, you should make it a habit to buff the car 2-3 times a year.

Waxing

Wax in conditions between 55° and 85° F, preferably on the cooler side. In hot weather, the wax dries as soon as you apply it to the surface, making buffing difficult. It can also make the wax hard to remove once applied. In colder weather, the wax is hard to move around and apply as well. In a perfect world, you’ll be able to wax your car in the garage or under cover, away from the sun’s rays. Sunlight can heat the car up and leave a waxy residue which can be a bear to remove.

The wax you choose is important, too. The best wax for your car contains carnauba; we like Meguiar’s.

Replace the buffer pad with a new, clean one. Spread car wax evenly over the car’s surface, gently pulsing the polisher’s trigger (as opposed to keeping it running continuously) running the pad over the surface in circular motions with about 3-5 lbs. of pressure. By doing this, you make sure the car wax doesn’t clump or cake on the surface. Only cover a quarter of the panel at a time before removing the wax. Don’t let the wax sit too long on your car. This will cause it to dry to your car and leave obvious marks. Some waxes will require a set time before removal, so refer to the directions on the bottle. Use a soft microfiber cloth to remove the wax, using circular motions to get that spiffy high gloss.

Repeat the process across the entire surface of the paint.

firebird - polished 3

Because the rule of thumb is to wax your car every three months (but don’t buff every time you wax), you should become a master at it in no time. Your car will look great, your cul-de-sac’s property value will go up and you’ll finally be able to punch that bully on the beach (“Thanks, Harbor Freight!”)