Nicholas Fluhart

July 13, 2010

4×8 Tilt Trailer

Filed under: Day to Day,Trailers — Nicholas Fluhart @ 10:30 pm

Here’s a nice compact trailer I recently flipped (“flipped” meaning bought and sold, as opposed to having turned it over in the road). I purchased it in combination with a Honda 300 Fourtrax ATV at $500 for the pair. My plan was to fix up the old trailer for resale and part-out the ATV. With this in mind, I immediately got to work on the trailer.

First, I stripped the old dead paint from the metal surfaces before rolling it into the shop. Then I pulled the wheels, lights, etc. to ready it for paint.

Then I began painting the steel surfaces with a good semi-gloss black paint that does not require primer. I also inspected and painted the hubs, hitch, and chains with a good quality silver.

The next to tackle was the lights and the floor. I rewired the lights using heat-shrink connectors and replaced any bulbs that needed it. One thing that I like to install on my trailers are marker lights, particularly on the front of the fenders so they are easy to see in a rear-view mirror.  I also installed a new connector. On the floor, I used a low gloss black to seal the wood.

And that wraps up the project. Now we’ll see how it’s used.

The great thing about this trailer is that it tilts. This eliminates the need for loading ramps. The axle is far enough to the rear that it appropriates the load correctly and does not “fish tail” while pulling it down the highway. The overall length is just long enough for your ATV and an ice chest or tool box. Overall, a very handy trailer. It sold very quickly for $400. So I basically had $100 invested in the ATV that came with it. Not bad. Until next time…

December 19, 2009

Taylor Welding

Filed under: Day to Day — Nicholas Fluhart @ 1:40 am
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Maintaining strategic alliances with competent local and regional companies is a smart move for any business owner. I’ve been blessed to have a handful of these alliances which have been beneficial to my business. One such example is Chris Taylor, owner of Taylor Welding which specializes in pipeline and related equipment in the oil and gas production and transport industries. We’ve worked together on some projects at my shop as seen below.

We’ve been good friends since childhood and have worked together on several endeavors over the years, so when I received a call for assistance in emergency truck repairs I loaded my tools and headed for Louisiana.

The Truck: The rig we’re working with here is a Ford F-250 6.0 Powerstroke Diesel 4×4 with a dual wheel conversion and suspension upgrades.

When I arrived I was informed the issues were brake failure, loose steering and popping during turns. The truck had to be back in service at a job location as soon as possible. We promptly determined we would need new front brake calipers, pads, rotors, as well as ball joints. It was about 25°F outside so we found a place to get the truck inside. Limited on tools and time, we knew it would be a challenge, nevertheless we immediately got to work…

Getting Started

Removing the Spacer.

A few months back we had installed new axle seals on each side of the front differential, new Warn locking hubs, and new brake pads. The truck had seen many miles of rough off-road service since then, and although the brakes and ball joints were now gone, the axles, seals, and hubs were still in great shape.

Now what we had to do once we removed the wheels was pull the brake calipers, rotors, 4WD locking hubs, front axles, tie rods, and steering knuckles which contain the ball joints.

Pulling the left front axle.


Once everything was removed it was time to install the new components, starting with the ball joints. We were able to place the steering knuckles in the vise on the back of the truck and drive the old ball joints out by first heating the knuckle with an oxyacetylene torch. Lacking a hydraulic press, the only way we could install the new joints was to freeze them and then heat the steering knuckle which enabled a fairly smooth installation. However, to avoid damage to the new joints, we fabricated adapters from a few pieces of pipe that matched the outside diameter of the ball joints.

Once we got the new ball joints in, we installed the steering knuckles, axles, and hubs before installing the new brake rotors and Wagner Thermoquiet calipers. We also took time to replace the thermostat on the engine.

Installing the new thermostat.

Installing the front caliper.

When all the new parts were installed and the brakes were bled, it was time to zip it up. We put the wheels back on and took it for a test drive, albeit about 2:00 AM by this time.

It drove out great and the truck was ready to go back into service. This post made it sound like an easy task, and although it was fairly straightforward, it was quite an undertaking especially considering the circumstances. Plus, we had to make multiple trips to the parts store due to the incompetence of the counter help who gave us the wrong parts. This was definitely not a job for the novice do-it-yourselfer. Overall, it was several hours of hard work, finishing up in the wee hours of the morning, but everything worked out great and we got the job done successfully.

Until next time…

December 13, 2009

Manual Tire Changer

Filed under: Day to Day — Nicholas Fluhart @ 10:19 pm

One piece of equipment that has been particularly useful in my line of work is a manual tire machine my father purchased on sale at Harbor Freight Tools for $39.99, regularly sold for anywhere between $50 to $80. The machine has to be bolted to concrete and when I moved to my current location a few years back, I couldn’t find a suitable place to permanently mount it. Most places outside my shop are gravel, and there really isn’t room to put it inside the shop permanently. I had a lot of tires and rims to deal with so I needed to do some thinking. If I could install it inside the shop in a way that would allow me to uninstall it when not in use, that would do the trick.

Before Installation

So what could I do? I could use standard concrete anchors to bolt the machine to the floor and then unbolt it when not in use, but that would leave permanent 3 inch studs sticking up out of the floor that could damage a tire on a vehicle or perhaps cause someone to trip and kill themselves. So after doing some research online to see what my other concrete fastener options were, I found these drop-in anchors, much like the standard type except they are female which means the anchors will be flush with the floor, solving the deadly obstacle problem.  Once I’m adequately convinced this is the best solution, it’s time for installation.

Step One: Find a suitable location to mount the machine, make measurements, and mark the floor. The location I chose is at the back of the shop in front of the rear doors. There is plenty of room to work the mechanism and most of the tires and wheels I’ll be dealing with are located behind the shop. Once I found the location, I measured the bolt pattern and marked the floor with a center punch in preparation for drilling.

Measuring and Marking the Floor

Step Two: Bring out the hammer drill. Now if you’ve ever drilled through solid concrete, you know a standard drill with a hammer setting will not work. I even have a 3/4 inch drive drill with a hammer setting, and while it will drill through blocks, it will not handle concrete. For concrete I break out the sure enough concrete hammer.

Becoming enthralled with the hammer drill.

Since I will be using 3/8 inch drop-in anchors, I will be drilling the holes at 1/2 inch diameter. The hammer drill makes short work of the concrete. I set the depth guide to the length of the anchor and punch the holes.

Punching the Holes

Step Three: Clean the residual dust and install the drop-in anchors. I simply drop the anchor in the hole and use a drift punch to drive down the expansion center. There is actually an installation tool available, but I found a drift punch to be as effective. Once it’s driven to the bottom, the anchor is adequately expanded in the concrete and will never come out. Check out the video here for detailed installation procedures.

Using my shop vac to clean the bore.

Once the hole is adequately cleaned of dust and debris, I’m able to easily drop the drop-in anchor into the floor.

The drop-in Anchor.

It drops straight into the hole and is flush with the surface of the floor. You can see the center that has to be driven down to expand the anchor in order for it to permanently reside in the shop floor.

Anchor in the floor.

Rather than purchase the $5 installation tool, I use a punch I had in the shop.

Setting the anchor.

And that’s it for the anchors. As seen below it is ready to receive a bolt and can withstand 4,400 lbs of pullout force.

Bolt threaded into anchor.

Step Four: Install the tire changer and test it out.

Installing the tire changer.

I decided to test it with a Super Swamper because they are known to be difficult.

Using the bead breaker.

Ready for dismount.

The project was a success. Now it’s on to the final step.

Step Five: Removal. Once I’m finished using the machine, I need to get it out of the middle of the floor. I simply unbolt it and move it out of the way.

Removing the tire changer.

Now here’s the greatest part: Once the machine is removed there are no obstructions in the walk way. The anchors set flush with the shop floor. I install Allen-head plugs into the anchors to keep them clean of dirt and debris.

Installing the plugs.

…and that’s it. Another mini project completed. Now I just have to do the back breaking work of busting tires. I’ve probably got about 30 sets I need to deal with. Fortunately I don’t have to do them all right now, so I’ll have one of my shop guys do a set here and there as we get time.

Until next time…

December 8, 2009

Catchup at the Complex

Filed under: Day to Day,Project: AC Forklift,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 10:20 pm

In business there are sometimes periods where things are a bit relaxed or less urgent whether it be because you are caught up and ahead or perhaps because things are slow. So what do I do during those periods? Take a vacation? Well, not exactly. I try to use those periods to get caught up on the small things like inventory work, facility cleanup or organization, and equipment maintenance.

There’s been some things I’ve wanted to do to my forklift and a few weeks back I was able to do some of that. It is typically parked outside and gets junk on it from the rain and trees so I washed it good and then applied touch-up paint to all the chips and scratches it has accumulated since I painted it a couple of years ago.

In the shop for touch up paint.

I then re-wired one of the lights and installed a new key switch and toggle switch for the strobe light.

Fixing the rear utility light.

I also gave it a partial tune-up by cleaning the spark plugs and plug wires and there associated components.

Then I inspected a few fittings and components and reassembled everything to put it back in service.

Everything worked out great and my ole Alli-C is back in business.

December 5, 2009

Driveway Maintenance

Filed under: Day to Day,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 10:38 pm

The driveway here at the Omni Complex was getting pretty rough so I decided to do some maintenance. Typically, if you have major ruts or holes you would want to bring in some clay-gravel to fill in the low spots and then top it off with a load of wash-rock which packs into the clay and leaves you with a smooth clean finish. However, in this case there really wasn’t any “major” damage, mostly just some soft spots that were starting to get worse due to the wet season. So I had a load of wash-rock hauled in so I could spread it out over the soft spots in order for it to pack in and restore the integrity of the driveway.

It’s important to spread wash-rock thin or else you end up with thick patches of gravel that makes it hard to walk or drive in. The load seen above is 8 cubic yards which is about half of a load for the truck shown. Now if you’ve dealt with gravel before you know a pile like the one shown can be deceiving because the amount looks a lot smaller than it actually is. I was concerned it wouldn’t be enough but my concerns were unfounded. It was just the right amount. Given how thin wash-rock has to be spread, the load actually covered a lot more than I thought it would.

Since my tractor was down for upgrades I had a friend bring his tractor over so we could spread the gravel. He started out until he got called out to work so I jumped on the tractor and finished the job. The front-end loader spread the gravel like butter on toast. Fantastic.

Shortly after the gravel was spread we got a chance to test it. I had a freight truck stop in for a pickup.

Everything turned out great. The amount of gravel was perfect and now I have a nice driveway that keeps my tires clean and my ride smooth.

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