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Have you ever taken a unique approch to solving a problem?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by telleutelleme, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. telleutelleme

    telleutelleme Telefied Silver Supporter

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    My Price Pfister thread got me thinking about What we call Shade Tree or Southern Engineering down South. When I was living in New Orleans I had a 66 Mustang 3 speed 6 cylinder that was bought new but had a pretty hard life through 1969. I was routinely doing repairs and fixing stuff myself because I couldn't afford to do otherwise.

    While driving to Avondale Shipyards (I had a temporary job after I got out of the service high pressure washing the insides of barges). Anyway while going to the job, I leaned back to get at my wallet and the seat frame broke. I made it to work looking like I was driving a low rider, almost in a reclining position.

    Wasn't sure what to do, but on the way out I saw a guy doing some welding on the deck of a small barge. I stopped and went over and asked if he could possibly help me. Took a look and said sure, just have to get the seat out. Managed that with some tools I had and took it over to him. He popped the stitching and pulled the cover off the back of the seat and proceeded to weld the break and added some re-enforcement plate to provide extra strength. Caught a little of the seat foam on fire but got that out OK. Put it back in the car, later hand stitched the cover and it lasted until I sold it. I use to joke about the guy having to take it underwater to do the welding.

    I kind of miss the days of those kind of successes and its probably why I still like to take on projects I could easily just have someone else do.

    What is your best shade tree memory?
     
  2. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I was preparing a talk for a national math conference (joint AMS and AMA) on music and math. I was doing some fine tuning, and had enlisted the help of a couple of grad math students. When I was explaining something with words, I got stuck in one place, where it looked fine on paper with symbols. But I had never used words before, so this particular aspect of the problem suddenly became obvious.

    The math students attacked this problem (as in tried to fix it) using a few tools they thought might work. We never resolved it, and one of them was going to take it to her professor. On the walk back home, a solution hit me. It wouldn't look pretty, but it would work. I called one of the grad students and proposed my solution. He weakly said, yes, that would work. I could clearly tell that he didn't like it, even though it got the job done.

    Long story short, after I gave the talk, a guy asked for a copy of the paper. Afterward, he got back to me asking why I did this particular thing. I wrote back and explained that I had two options. I asked him which he preferred. He said he preferred mine, even though it wasn't optimum.

    Later on, a math/music guy read my paper and also hated my solution. We became friends and help launch a music and math journal. But, I have to say, I have had so much fun with that little hiccup.
     
  3. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    I have an 85 Yamaha XJ700 Maxim with a transverse 4 cylinder motor. It had 4 individual Constant Velocity Carbs that are a giant PITA to clean and sync, they also don't do well with air and exhaust mods. So I bought 2 larger Mikuni Round Slide Carbs and built 2-2 into1 intake manifolds to adapt them to the motor. The first intakes were made of pvc pipe to find a workable design. When I found the right design, I fabricated the intakes out of mild steel tubing that I got at work. They worked great. My health prevents me from riding anymore, so I put the intakes and carbs on my son-in-laws bike.
     

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  4. Zepfan

    Zepfan Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    I also made my own mufflers for that bike. I wrapped fiberglass muffler packing around some drag pipe silencers and stuffed them inside a automotive turn down pipe with a screw through the back side to secure the packing assembly.
     

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  5. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

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    Constantly
    Used to be a mechanic , and have a good eye for what works and what doesn't
    If I don't have a tool, I will make one , or have one made up , if I don't have the tools to make the tool, LOL
    Anything can be fixed , if you are stubborn enough
     
  6. VintageMike

    VintageMike TDPRI Member

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    I'm a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none type guy. When I worked in a GM dealership, I was low man so I got a lot of recall repairs. The one i did a lot was replacing the O2 sensor. Easy taking out-just unhook the wire from connector, snip wire and remove sensor with socket. Harder going in because of previously mentioned wire. I went to the Snap-On tool guy for the "special" socket that had slit cut in it. $57?? Are you on dope? I sacrificed a Craftsman socket by cutting the slit in with my grinder. $ 8.00. That's more like it. I gave it to another mechanic when I left. probably still in use if they still have the sensors. Next was when my son broke the hinge on his center console. Dealer wanted over $100. Nevermind. I put a small hinge on it. $2.95.
     
  7. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

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    I enjoy solving problems and learning how to do/repair things with what I call the head scratcher method. I stand and stare at it and scratch my head until I come up with a plan. It often results in non standard approaches.
    I get satisfaction out of it too.
     
  8. ThreePlyGuy

    ThreePlyGuy Friend of Leo's

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    The old dude is still an amateur astronomer, I have built, fabricated and/or modded any number of gadgets, gizmos and camera accessories over the decades. When cruising Home Depot, Lowes and Hardware for something to do something else or perform a task it was not designed for or just jogging for parts as a fellow astronomer refers to it, of course I'm always asked, "how can we help, what are you looking for?" Years ago I took to taking my assembly or just a napkin sketch with me to assist in describing what I'm trying to do. It has made the quest easier than my using my hands as props for this that needs to that but must hold in place so not to drop in the dark and would be great if wasn't permanent so it could be moved left to right and not get in the way of the dec gear and it needs to be lite enough not to effect RA slew etc. and on.
    It's good when the sales assistant recognizes me, they just smile and say hello and they're disappointed if I'm there for off the shelf "regular" items.
    I'm confidant I can repair any kitchen appliance with what is in this garage creation.
    Never leave the house without a bag o nuts and screws, duct tape and super glue! :)
     

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  9. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire

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    No. I let others do the thinking for me. Then I steal their ideas. When I'm on my game, I may claim their innovations as my own, but that's all.

    :p
     
  10. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I work on industrial machinery daily, the newest is 24 years old, the oldest is 67 years old. If I couldn't improvise like crazy a lot of people would be out of work.
     
  11. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    When my wife and I were starting out I traded an old Ford car for a '49 Chevy pickup that I knew had a new rebuilt engine, and it was a 235 cu incher, but didn't run well. When I got it home I looked the truck over and spotted a split manifold on the engine to allow a dual exhaust but one exhaust port had a cap on it. I pulled the cap, felt around in the hole and found someone had brazed a piece in there to direct exhaust to that port. Took a chisel and knocked the extra piece out, engine ran like a Top. Kept that old truck a long time, wish I still had it.

    Another problem it had was the front wheels were bowed out at the bottom. I thought about it a while, then installed new kingpins and bushings (borrowed a reamer from where I worked to size them) then I found me a piece of rail road track about 4 feet long. I borrowed a chain off the equipment hauler truck at work, ran the chain under the piece of track, bolted the chain around the end of the axle, and put a jack between the piece of track and the axle. I jacked the axle up until I had the wheels looking about right, used a level to get them the same by repositioning the jack. I then used two yard sticks held together with rubber bands to set the toe in and man that old truck drove like a dream

    The final shade tree engineering I did to it was to find a ring gear and pinion at one of those wrecking yards where you pull your own parts for $15 bucks out of newer but closed drive line truck with a hydramatic trans. This changed the ratio from 4.90 to 3.90. The old truck after I got it all smoothed up would cruise 70mph on the freeway as good as it gets. Loved that thing. Over the years I replaced the window guides, the felt and tubing around the doors, tightened every thing in it, insulated it, when I got through it cruised rattle free and was just a pleasure to drive.
     
  12. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I'm a believer in sleeping on a problem. Ideas come to me out of the blue, not when my brow is knotted in concentration.
     
  13. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I love hearing these stories. My dad was always doing stuff like that. I learned that "broken" is a temporary situation. Within a few hours or days, whatever had been broken stopped being broken.

    Interestingly, my father-in-law is the same way. He had been working as an air conditioner repairman, when his boss mentioned an unusual problem that he didn't know what to do with. My father-in-law, known as "Hett," said, "I can do that." After he did it, his boss gave him a new position installing clean benches, then clean rooms. He traveled the world installing and supervising these things, which usually involved some head scratching moments.

    ThreePlyGuy mentioned using his hands as props. This is pretty interesting, if you think about it. At another math conference, I was seated next to a guy who was following the lecture by contorting his hands and fingers, and twisting or rotating them around. Almost as if he was working an invisible Rubik's Cube.
     
  14. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    sounds like almost every day of my life so far. Once I spent a month in Turin, Italy (1974). I was driving a vehicle for a guy who was doing a survey of the water system.
    we stayed in an apartment in a normal neighborhood. Whenever we needed something fixed we would look up and down the street and pick a likely place - maybe a car repair shop, or a plumber... We would ask for help and they would give it. If that guy ran into a problem, he would walk out on the street and whistle loudly, then start shouting at the guys in the other shops; then one of them would come along and fix whatever it was. It was a very fine little community.
     
  15. william tele

    william tele Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I doubt if this one problem solving solution is even what you're asking for but I happened to have the pics to send to Sears for a free replacement part. There have been hundreds of these types of "engineering" projects down through the years, this is just one.

    My Crapsman mower was only a couple years old and the handle just snapped off. This was really unacceptable to me. I was about to put my house on the market and NEEDED to mow. Anyway, drilled a hole and cut a "shoulder" into the lever so the screw head would have something flat to compress to and finished the lawn. (This mower is not easy to push without the propulsion engaged).

    Many of us grew up in rural settings with little availability to replacement parts so I think that does lend itself to finding a way...
     

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  16. unclefred

    unclefred Tele-Meister

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    The valve cover gasket blew out on my Chevy truck, smoke was everywhere, even filling the cab. All I had was a tube of crest toothpaste. I removed the gasket, filled the trough with toothpaste, bolted down the cover and let it set. I never had another problem with it.
     
  17. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It probably took me 40 years to realize that sometimes it's better to just buy a new part that fits, or do a job the way the boss wants it done.

    But my instinct still tells me that I can do it better the wrong way.

    I know a machinist that keeps CNC files in his computer, I have him make camera parts now and then, as I like to build special purpose cameras adapting one lens to another film holder, and wood isn't always suitable.
    The Mamiya 6x9 press film back can be made into all kinds of interesting rigs, with no limits on lens choice once you junk the actual camera part.
    My metal work is pretty primitive, and this guy actually enjoys making oddball parts.

    I have the front end of a Ducati in my garage that is waiting for a roller to call home, and an '80s Corvette front suspension waiting to go in a 56 Chevy.
    But more recently I was restoring some antique shutters, and made some jigs for routing slat slots in the replaced wood.
    Antique house restoration is pretty much constant head scratching, figuring out how to fit as little new as possible in with the old, replicating parts so they can't be detected in the finished work.

    I built architectural models for Paul Rudolph for a while, as well as working in his home.
    This man designed buildings that fit together like puzzle toys, and then actually got them built after structural engineers told him it won't work.
    That was some fun recreational high pressure shop work, with no solid precedent for method.
     
  18. tap4154

    tap4154 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Yes, works often with me to sleep on a problem (also when learning new songs on guitar), but in my daily work installing kitchen appliances, kitchen remodels, hooking up sinks etc. I'm constantly presented with challenges and have to find good, unconventional solutions fast.

    BTW, here's a tool I came up with and made many years ago to lift and install double wall ovens by myself. Have rebuilt it several times when the jack wears out, and when one was stolen with my truck. I have a socket welded onto it and use a Milwaukee Magnum drill with 3/8" ratchet drive bit to lift it.
     

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  19. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Clear Nail Polish to fix a small tear in one of my speakers.
     
  20. ItchyFingers

    ItchyFingers Tele-Afflicted

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    High Five Viking. We are of a like mind. Some of the tools I had to make on the spot include the following:

    From left to right:
    A hook to grasp the power steering pump and just a bar to pry it to tighten the belt on an International 2050A with a 3208 cat engine.
    A 1" wrench I made on the spot for something where a normal wrench wouldn't fit.
    A 1/4" piece of flat iron welded to a half inch square to adjust the steering tie rod end On a flat nosed international.
    My own homemade hydralulic brake tool for removing the shoe retaining springs and the other end removed and reinstalled the return spring on most pickups and cars back then.
    A tool for compressing a clutch pack spring on a Turbo 350 automatic.
    A socket welded to a chunk of an old hydraulic motor shaft so I could apply more pressure to the gearbox of a salt unit so I didn't have to shovel out 5 yards of salt to free up the chain that had frozen to the bottom of the salter.
    A couple washers modified to compress a spring in a hydraulic control of a champion road grader.


    [​IMG]

    from left to right

    A tool for pulling the axle bearing out of a ford pickup or was it a 3/4 ton. I forget
    A tool for loosening and tightening the cap of a hydraulic cylinder to install a new seal kit
    2 homemade distributer wrenches for adjusting timing and/or removing distributors
    A couple of many bearing and seal drivers


    [​IMG]

    From left to right.
    The bearing/seal drivers
    A king pin driver so I wouldn't keep smashing my hand with a sledge hammer (well used)
    I forget this one.

    [​IMG]

    A tool for pulling cat injectors
    A tool for adjusting brakes on a small grader

    I had to make a lot of tools and parts on the spot when repairing vehicles and equipment while working as a road service mechanic.
    A parts replacer would have never survived.
    You can't say "I'll order the parts" and have a dozen people standing around for days or weeks.
    I once used a choke cable as the shut off for a grader. The proper one took over a month to come in. It graded a lot of road while waiting.
    One can't get tunnel vision. That is the first thing you have to throw out the window and you ask yourself. "Is there another way"?
    I often didn't even order the right part. They would not give you the vehicle back to install it as long as it was running.
    A young apprentice took over from me for a week or two when I hurt my back. He told me he had used the spring out of a pen to repair a horn where the spring had broken inside the steering wheel. He asked if he should order the spring. I said "heck no, it's fixed even better now. "You'll be a good Mechanic lad" and he became a good one.
    I raced cars and bikes for years. If it broke, I made it better and stranger my way. I am not the guy who ever "calls the guy"
    Think outside the box. Don't dwell on it. Lose the tunnel vision. Get stuff done.
    When I came off the road and became a garage foreman all my staff knew my one rule. "There is no such thing as Can't"
    Here's hoping my pics match my words. If not. read between the lines. Nuff time spent lol.

    [​IMG]
     
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