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Joel Bercardin

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since Aug 15, 2014
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Living on land for decades. At times a carpenter, retail clerk, freelance writer & editor, business-association manager. I'm a local environmental activist.
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Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Recent posts by Joel Bercardin

On the topic of the Brown Recluse... Two years ago I found an unfamiliar spider in our house, and I remembered images of the Brown Recluse.  I'm not an entomologist, and we don't have a specialist like that in our neighborhood or friendship circle. So I didn't capture, I just killed the spider.

Checking out photos on the internet, that spider definitely resembled a Brown Recluse. Coloring, form, and size range. Then I did a web search for our general region -- not just southern-interior British Columbia, but Washington state that lies just south of the national border. Well, turned out BRs are not common, but not unknown.

So when I spotted a second spider resembling the first, a few days later, I killed it too. Habitat? Most of us live in clearings in the forest around here, with substantial gardens. I made a point of mentioning the spiders I'd found in our home to friends, because of the fact that the BR bite can cause more than pain: it can result in flesh necrosis. I haven't come across any others yet. Hoping they're not proliferating.
2 months ago
Hi. I've been asked by a woman with a small homestead to consider whether I can modify a small C-can that she's acquired for use as a utility building. I'd need to drill holes for fasteners in the can's walls. I have a corded half-inch-drive drill (powerful)... also, for higher rpm, I've got a Makita 18-v cordless.

I'd be using 1/4' carriage bolts. I'm guessing the steel on these cans is pretty tough material. My question is how easy or difficult will the metal be for driving a 5/16" cobalt-steel bit through?  Along with all the materials for the modification, the woman would pay for bits for the task, as beyond 1/4" my cobalts are various random sizes.

Have experience?  Please answer. Thanks.
2 months ago
This may be an unfinished story. Hope so.

Had a single-cylinder, OHV, 7hp Briggs & Stratton rototiller engine breakdown. A friend & I tore the motor down. It was determined, by calling around, that the required crankshaft, connecting rod, seals & gasket would cost $500 (including tax) in our region. I asked about a short-block, but the local shops could not obtain it.

With a short-block, I'd have all the other parts in good condition already, with the exception of new seals & gasket. Started searching online, and found that there are companies in the U.S. that claim to have a service specializing in buying up short-blocks. A kink is, the engine model has been discontinued by Briggs.  

But I found one supplier, Small Engine Surplus, which is probably a division of some larger company. They do business through They provide a very lengthy list for Briggs short-blocks that you can search through, using your engine's manufacturing serial number (not .the engine's model number). I found my engine listed, with a price for the short block (under $190 U.S.). They enable you to order & pay online.

But they don't list a phone number. I wanted to make sure they actually had the specific unit in stock, and I wanted to learn where they are geographically located, so that I could get a good idea of the shipping cost. They have a handy little email form you fill out to communicate with their Sales department. So I provided pertinent particulars, and asked for confirmation of availability of the unit, plus the company's location info I wanted, and pressed send. I received an immediate automatic-reply email saying their Sales division got my message.

Well, it's now two weeks later, I sent the Sales dept another email ('cause I had that 'reply' from them, with the email addy)... No communication of substance coming back from this company!

Frustrating!! As we all know, there are way too many scams & empty promises on the internet. So if anybody reading this knows where I can actually get a price on availability & price for that short-block, please do let me know.
3 months ago

Ted Abbey wrote:.. when you pull discarded wheelbarrows out of the dump for spare parts!

Coincidentally, three days ago a neighbour woman brought over a junkyard wheelbarrow (contractor's style) to upgrade, for which she'd taken certain parts from another barrow. She wants help disassembling certain things on the better one, so it can be fitted with the good stuff. It's in the works right now, I've got rust-buster spray on four bolts, plus a plan for reinforcing the frame. Worth doing.
3 months ago

thomas rubino wrote:
My question is the fact they do not mention the file size, one would guess they are 7/32

See those four bits at the top of the pic? To me, they look like they're diamond-coated. The selected bit is spun by a crank, and gradually moves in to the depth of the abrasive. Probably the four bits coincide with the common range of needed "file" diameters.
4 months ago
For decades, I've used a fairly simple file jig for sharpening my chains. Clamps onto the bar. Theres a nut which you trickily adjust with a pair of pliers to switch the file angle for sharpening one row of teeth, then for the other.

I saw a very short video about this gadget, which would eliminate the step of adjusting that nut for the correct angle of approach for the two rows. Looks like an interesting system. One trade name this gadget is sold under is Emery, but there's more than one trade name. It appears simple to use, and the precise sharpening angle (for cross-cutting) appears to be ensured for absolute precision.

In Canada, Amazon is currently selling the kit for $40.  61% of purchaser feedback either 4 or 5-star, with 53% being 5-star.

But has anyone here used one? if so, what do you think of it?
4 months ago
About the Husqvarna cordless saw I started this thread to report on: I 'll add something about the battery (37 volt, model BLi22). I'm told it's also sold with some other types of Husky cordless tools.  I'd been using the saw to cut a lot of Douglas-maple rounds, varying from about 2-5 inches. At one point, I checked and of the three battery cells, two were still lighting green (charged). I continued on for  maybe 20 minutes, and got a red-triangle symbol — you shut the power button off, when you see that... and wait a moment or two. But the red triangle continued to show up whenever I pushed the power button on.

I carried the battery to where I have the charger, and plugged the charger cord into the battery.  Saw one flashing red LED on the charger and another on the battery. In four years of ownership & use, hadn't seen this before. Turns out this indicates the battery unit is hot inside, though the little booklet that came with the saw doesn't mention this! I left the battery in our basement for about an hour, tried  charging again and everything worked out. (Really didn't want to have to buy a new one.)
4 months ago
I've been feeling this thread is languishing from neglect.

I thought I'd upload the URL for this Youtube vid I came across. In part, it's my attempt to revive this thread in Permies members' minds. There's lots in the vid, generally the sort of stuff gadgeteers like us can appreciate.  Many interesting techniques, and some easy-to-make gadgets. A succession or mixed-bag of ideas!

I've taken away several ideas that were worth seeing in this how-to (I'm glad it's a Web video, where you can skip back and re-watch just how something is done).

PS: I found it easy to separate which things I would use from those I would not.
4 months ago
Here's a video by a container-plant expert showing a way to solve one common problem faced by indoor plant growers. I realize that this method may seem extreme to some people, or rather "advanced" and not for beginners. But this information seems to me quite worth knowing and comsidering.
4 months ago
I’ll describe what I did, first then give the backstory on it.

We have a small Toro string trimmer. Along with a scythe, grass shears, and a gas-powered brush-cutter/weed-whacker, it enables us to manage feral grass and weeds on certain areas of our land.

I gave up recurrently re-winding the monofilament plastic .065” “cord” (first pic) around the reel, and instead rigged it with one piece of .095” steel-core cord (which I use in the gas-powered whacker). I’d cut this piece to about 9” long then (with some effort) tied a knot in one end, and threaded the segment through the hole in the reel casing (2nd & 3rd pics). The need for the reel and the casing cap is eliminated. While the machine functions, centrifugal force keep the cutting cord in place. Now the cord doesn’t break all the time when put to task, and no more fouling!

My motivation: This is a small, battery-powered motorized grass-managing tool my wife can use with ease. It’s lightweight enough that my wife can handle it comfortably and deftly.  It cost about $160, but is cheaply made by comparison with the professional-model Shindaiwa brush-cutter/weed-whacker I use for challenging areas. The Toro’s cord-feeding mechanism gradually wore to the point that the small-gauge filament was fouling around the shaft that spins the reel that feeds it out. This would drag the machine to a complete stop, and restoring things to working order sometimes took a half hour.

The steel-core cord is quite durable.
5 months ago