Saturday, 28 March 2015 | 15:18

Let’s say you’re working on a vehicle and you discover you need a special tool to complete the job properly. What to do? Well, in the States you go to the store and buy it. Or, if it’s a really special tool, you buy it online and get it that week. However, that’s not an option in Karamoja. That nearest store might be in the States. Or, if you order it online, it’s going to take weeks and a hefty shipping charge to arrive to a town hours away.

So, here’s what I did: I made my own. I’d never done shielded metal arc welding (colloquially known as “stick welding”) before. Four years ago I made of few beads on a plate using a wire feed arc welder, but that’s it. So, I took a morning and taught myself enough to get the job done, with help from an online photo tutorial. Not pretty, but functional, and the welds got better (read “not as many burn-throughs”) as I continued needing to make things. It beats the local mechanics who would be wailing on it with hammers. There’s a phrase for that: Jua Kali, literally meaning “fierce sun”, but would be akin to our “shade tree mechanic”, with the strong implication of a short-term solution done poorly, often creating more problems in the process. It pays to be your own mechanic! So, in case you find yourself in a similar situation, here are the details.

First up: the spindle nut socket for the Toyota Land Cruiser. I thought I took photos of it, but apparently I forgot. Oops. So much for photos of my first welding project. The basic concept: two pieces of angle iron flattened out to match the hexagonal nut’s angles, then welded to a piece of box tubing, with a nut welded to the box for the torque wrench.

Second and third: Bearing drivers to replace the bearing races in the Mitsubishi Canter hubs. A much simpler project, but still time consuming because I had to grind down the circumference so that they wouldn’t get stuck in there with the new races. Lessons learned: use beefier angle or plate for the cross-piece, otherwise it just bends, and weld the pieces together better so they don’t just break apart at the edge of the welds. Photo shows one of two sizes, before beefing up the crosspiece and welds. You want it much beefier than shown if you attempt this.


Fourth: the spindle nut spanner for the Canter. This came out rather nice and worked beautifully. Oh, and how do you neck down those pins to fit in the holes in the hub nut? A lathe, right? Oh, but we don’t have one. How about chucking the pin in a drill press and then using an angle grinder to remove material as the pin spins? Yep, that’ll do! Pretty much the same design as the Land Cruiser tool, but pins instead of angle iron.


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