Day: February 16, 2023

Thur. Feb. 16, 2023 – no matter where you go, there you are…

Warm and wet, mid 70s to start, and if we get any rain, it might cool down, but if we just get overcast and drizzle, it’s going to be pretty unpleasant.  It was misty drizzle for most of yesterday and warm besides.   Sweaty.

I did get a few things done.   Mainly small but important things on my Ranger.  At 20 years old, the biggest problem is with the plastics.   Whether for cost savings or weight, the plastic parts are really aging out.   First to go was a cable end for the latch release on the suicide doors.  Fortunately there is an aftermarket billet aluminum replacement available.   It’s a niche product made by some guy, and sold world wide through ebay.   Peak civilization?  The next thing was the soft plastic over the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel.   I replaced them once with NOS, but they crumbled again.  This time I replaced them with OOS, or scavenged parts from my ‘parts truck’.   I did soak them in silicone, which seems to reverse and delay the crumbling, if you get it in time.  The latest thing, which had to be addressed, was the driver’s door handle.   The whole thing is molded from some sort of polymer, looks like glass reinforced.   The lever actuator that moves the rod to open the latch broke at it’s root, where it joins the handle.  I stole a very similar handle off my parts truck, replaced the one time fasteners with some bolts, and got it working again.

What does this all have to do with anything?  Well generally I see a lot of failures in soft plastic overlays.  They will suddenly get sticky or crumble.  Usually I can remove a thin layer of ‘soft’ sticky and continue to use the device.  Sometimes I re-coat it with clear FlexSeal spray.  The thicker items that crumble could be made on a 3D printer, or re-created in some other way.   The door bhandle definitely could have been printed.   There are a couple of take aways for me.  If you want something that will last, avoid overmolded soft plastic.   Avoid plastic in structurally important parts.   If you can’t avoid it, be prepared to replace or re-make critical parts in the future.

I believe that the best economic choice (most of the time) and the best ecological choice, is to repair an item that breaks, especially if the repair is straightforward.   There might be items that don’t have parts available, or the parts are expensive, or they are not available in a timely fashion, and then you need to be creative, and prepared to do some work yourself.  To that end it’s been one of my goals to have the tools and materials on hand to re-create most industrial processes, or to replace the process with something equivalent.

If the door handle was critical, I could 3D print it (or have a friend do so).  I could fab one out of metal.   I could design something to do the same job that I could make more easily than duplicating the Ford design.  Or I could bypass the handle entirely.     I took the easy route yesterday, because my time and money are limited, and I already had a part that was a 98% solution.  I got to practice repairing my truck.   I used stuff I’d put aside against future need.

That’s the essence of prepping, and disaster response.   Very small disaster in this case, but still a good chance to test my skills, knowing I can get a real repair shop to buy the real piece and replace it if needed.

Test your self, your skills, and your stores, while there is still backup in the world.

And stack some stuff.



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