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June 11, 2014 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

Dogs Enjoying Summer Vacation | Bes...
Dogs Enjoying Summer Vacation | BestWoof

Remember six weeks ago, I told you about a fun part-time summer job I was going to do? I started my first day on Monday and it was a blast.

The Hobo Railroad wants me to have a full grasp of how the train works so I'm starting out for a couple of weeks as a fireman and then will finish my training as the conductor.

My good friend Jim Cluett is mentoring me on how to be a fireman and conductor. Tony Keegan, the engineer for the past two days, is teaching me all about the locomotive and endless safety tips.

A fireman on the Hobo Railroad does all the switching, uncouples the locomotive from the "consist" - that's a fancy name for string of cars/locomotive, reconnects the all-important air hoses that provide the air for the train brakes, does brake checks, and helps run through all the checklist items before starting the locomotive each day.

The fireman also provides an extra pair of eyes for the engineer when the locomotive snout is blocking the engineer's view as the locomotive travels down the track.

The conductor on a train is the same as an airline pilot or the captain of a ship. He's in charge of the entire train. The railroad wants me to have a full understanding of how the train works so you need to do the work of the fireman before you put on the conductor's hat. It makes perfect sense to me. Here I am in the cab of the 1008, an Alco S1 switcher.

Tim - Train Conductor

Tony, the engineer, let me start the locomotive on both days. It was a HOOT holding in the starter button, feeling the massive straight-6 diesel engine turn over and watching the oil pressure come up to 35 lbs before letting go of the starter button.

The past two days, I was throwing the switches and reconnecting the locomotive to the cars after we did a runaround.

A runaround is when the locomotive goes from the front of the train to the rear of the train. This is done when the train has to go back the same line to the original station it departed from. Keep in mind that not all rail lines are like that small circular loop you have in the model railroad under your Christmas tree!

Wait until you see the next photo of me in my conductor hat, bow tie and crisp white shirt! If you're coming to NH this summer or fall, be sure to let me know as you may want to ride one of the amazing dinner trains.

Both days this week ended with a chartered dinner train. The turkey dinner was YUMMY and many of the guests had huge smiles as they got off the train! The train runs along the edge of Lake Winnipesaukee from Meredith down to Lakeport on Paugus Bay.

The strangest thing that happened to me on Monday was filling out a time card. I hadn't done that in over 38 years. I've been self-employed ever since graduating from college.

Don't worry, I'm being very careful when going in between the cars. Tony is extremely safety conscious and we always have two-point protection before I go in to reconnect an air hose.


Tip of the Week - How to Drill Into Steel

You might think it's no big deal to drill into steel. Or, you may have tried in the past and either failed at the task or you ruined a drill bit or two or three.

If you want to know how I drill into steel, have no issues, keep the drill bit sharp and do it safely, then read my newest column - How to Drill Into Steel. There's a link in the column to a video showing you how to do it too!


Taking Offers: Collector's Items Pipe Wrenches and Gold-Plated Sockets

I'm in a massive purge mode at my house. I inherited a moderate case of packratitis from my mother years ago. I've got too much stuff that I don't use or don't want any longer.

If I were to die, I know my son would just call in a dumpster company and throw much of it away. He's got much of his grandmother in him. Granny would pitch stuff faster than you can say "three cheese coneys no mustard heavy onion". (Yes, I have a craving....)

I've decided to sell off a ton of my things and either save the money or buy a few things that interest me now. Instead of selling some of the items to a nobody on Craigslist or eBay, I've decided to offer them to you first. I feel you might treasure them more than someone I don't know.

Maybe you have a special plumber in your family or you like to collect rare tools. I've got two rare Ridgid pipe wrenches in a set I received fifteen years ago at an event!

two rare Ridgid pipe wrenches

Or are you a mechanic and love sockets? How about a set of gold-plated Craftsman sockets in a walnut box?

gold-plated Craftsman sockets in a walnut box

These sockets are stamped the way they were years ago as the Craftsman logo morphed. With Sears looking more and more like they're going to crater, these sockets could become quite valuable down the road.

Here's how we'll do this. I'll take offers for each of the tools over the next week. I'll accept what I feel is the highest and best offer, you and I will then settle up and I'll ship the items to you. If no respectable offers come in, we'll push to the next week.


Mussel Bound Adhesive Tile Mat

I received a roll of Mussel Bound Adhesive Tile Mat about a week ago. It's a double-sided adhesive mat you use if you want to install a standard tile backsplash between wall cabinets and a countertop.

It seems like a good idea as it can be tough to spread mastic in a narrow area like this.

The biggest issue I have with it is how thin it is. If the wall has the slightest amount of imperfection in it, the back of the tile will not contact the entire mat. That can be problematic.


Short Columns That Could Help You!

Joe's Sinking Shed

Brandon's Sea Salt Sand Situation

What Size Fence Posts are Best in Life?

Controlling NOISE from a NEIGHBOR in a Condo!

Is it SAFE to Insulate a 1920's House with Balloon Framing?


Dremel 3 in 1 Saw

I received a Dremel 3 in 1 Saw to test a few days ago. I've not yet had a chance to try it. This saw features a clear line of sight when using it. You can also monkey with the blade and turn it into a flush-cutting saw.

Dremel 3-in-1 Saw

It seems like it is best suited for little jobs. I can't see you using this to cut 2x4s or even three-quarter-inch material all day long. That's not what the small electric motor is made for.

Are you into model railroading? Wait until you see a few photos I may have for you next week.

More Tips and News Next Week!


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