Friday, July 31, 2020

2014 Dodge Ram Integrated Trailer Brake Controller

I like factory looks on things.  I love adding accessories, but only if they have that original feel.  Case in point, all of my lathes.  The anomaly is the corvette.  Anyway, I needed to be able to haul my in-laws trailer after their truck experienced issues, and wanted a trailer brake controller.  One (factory look) plus one (wanted brake controller) equates to pay-a-way-over-priced-dealer-or-partially-overpriced-parts-and-do-it-yourself.  Add in the third variable - I'm cheap - and it just happened.  $400 later, and I saved $200.  Can I tell my wife that it was on sale, so it should be okay?

You absolutely HAVE to have the two connectors in the wiring harness for this to work.  For a picture of those, scroll down to the bracket photograph - they are the ones covered in a foam protector.  Anyway, here are the parts :
  • Three screws to attach the bracket to the dashboard frame - DO NOT USE PHILLIPS, SLOTTED, OR TORQX screws - you won't get a screwdriver on them (or a ratchet)
  • Switch itself (part # 68105206AC for a 2014 ram 1500)[the big switch bank [with the tow-haul button] is part # P56054468AA, in case you break that - don't ask me how I know.
  • Control module (part # 68092738AD)
  • Bracket (not sure of a part number, but a tag with a handwritten note had 68160146 if I read that right, see below)
Tools :
  • 7mm combination wrench (if you h]ave one that ratchets, use that)
  • 10mm socket and wrench (for the battery cable)
  • Phillips screwdriver (for the switch bank removal)
  • Small slotted screwdriver (to disconnect tabs)
  • #20 torqx bit (either screwdriver or ratchet wrench/socket, for the small tray at the top)
  • Tiny hands
  • A good vocabulary (see previous tool)
Here are pictures of the parts to the kit :

It's a 2014 Ram 5.7l (everyone says "Hemi", but I don't think it is) 1500.  I ordered the parts, and set to work.  There are a number of videos out there on the installation.  I liked the briansmobile1 video up to the point he used electrical tape instead of the third screw - and he had a dealer make the configuration change.  Another video seemed great, including the configuration change using AlphaOBD ( - that's what I chose (because I didn't want to spend $200 and wait for 2 hours).

Briansmobile1 indeed skipped that top forward screw - and with good reason.  It is painful. I don't want to show my hands after that.  Brian shows running the screws in before any installation to get the bracket threaded.  This is a MUST!  It will allow you to get the screws started using fingers.

After the preparations (threading and disconnecting the negative battery cable using the 10mm), I began.  I pulled the dashboard apart.  Yes, that's my stereo - I had a short and wanted to see if I could solve that problem while I was in there.  Turns out, you find a lot of stuff.  My radio connector on the back wasn't completely connected.  It snapped in.  I found a Camel cigarette wrapper buried in the dash.  I was missing two screws.  I found three wires just hanging out (those were under the steering column).  It looks like this had been in an accident, and had a new wiring harness that had some unused wires.  Oh, well.

With the dash taken apart, I swapped out the switch.  It's an easy change, just four screws, pull the whole switch bank panel, and then pop out the old and pop in the new.  Then re-insert the panel and screw it back in.  Don't re-install the whole center dash panel yet, though, as you will need to put the bracket in.

Next, the bracket.  This shows that I have those two connectors for this to even work, and where that bracket goes.  It's in the drivers foot well (under the steering column, yes, you need to remove that, too).

I started the bracket using that forward/top screw.  It's the painful one that everyone seems to skip.  I had to use the open end 7mm wrench to make it work, and it was very much a contortionist experience.  My hand came out raw and scraped, but once that screw is in, I did the others with less stress.  Expect that bracket to take the longest time.

After getting the module bracket installed, peel off the foam from the connectors, and install the controller module and the two connectors.  Re-install the lower dash panel.  And then plug those center console connectors in.  Make sure they clip all the way in.

With that, you can snap the center console back together, and re-install the top "coin tray" screws.  I was missing those, so i had to go to my hardware bin.  You can take a moment to step back and gaze in amazement that you didn't shoot the truck and leave it for dead with that painful bracket screw from earlier.

Yes, that looks dark.  When doing this on a black truck when the outside temperature is 102.8 degrees Fahrenheit, you start going indoors to cool back off.  It takes longer.

Next is the AlfaOBD install. I used an OBDLink MX+ bluetooth (don't do the wifi version).  Also, thinking I could use the demo version as it claimed to have all the functionality, I ended up paying the $50 for the app because it will not do a car configuration change in demo mode.  There are four changes to make, and when you are done, it should be fully functional.
  • CustSetMenu 2-Trailer selected CSM
  • CustSetMenu 2-Trailer name CSM
  • CustSetMenu 2-Trailer type CSM
  • P/T Chassis Net-ITBM/HWM Integrated Trailer Brake Module
So, after all of that, I kept seeing the check engine light (I hadn't started the truck yet), and grabbed the codes.  I was getting a U113B (lost connection to switch bank module), and I have a random yellow wire hanging out :

It turned out the switch bank (next to the brake switch) had a broken connector lock, so it came loose.  That's what the U113B was telling me.  I made a quick repair (I didn't want to spend another $60 on that module, so I used a soldering iron to melt the clip back together and then used electrical tape to ensure a solid connection).  That part number (for my own future reference if the "fix" doesn't hold up) is listed in the following picture :

Looks good, and it triggers properly!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Wood Lathe Carbide Skew Chisel

I'd made two carbide insert wood lathe tools, and I was hitting the point of wanting to finish the trifecta.  First was the round insert tool, and then came the diamond insert tool.  The inserts are :

10x28mm diamond insert by YUFUTOL
12mm round insert
square 30mm 1.18" (30x12x1.5mm) used for small planing cutter headers

All three were made using 3/8" square bar from the local box store.  Yes, it works, and no, if you have better options, do the better options (like a 3/8" stainless steel square rod, but remember it will need to be welded for the skew).  Even if this is the best you can use, it will still suffice.

The first one (the round one) was simply a matter of milling an arc, tilting the head, and milling the bevel to match the insert, then drilling the hold down screw and tapping.  The second one increased in difficulty.  I had to cut a diamond shape and mill the bevel to go with it.

This one was easier than the diamond, but involved more.  I first ground the end to an angle.  I cut off a second 3/8" square bar, and welded it on to the end where I had angled it.

I placed it into the mill, and flattened my weld out.

Then I marked and drilled some holes.  The holes were tapped, breaking the tap in the last one.  That tap was so far in I gave up on getting it out, and re-drilled the holes offset and tapped.  I did bevel the bottom chin and the side(s) to have a little more clearance.

It turned out nice, even with the apprentice mark.

I still need to make the handle for it.  Also, I need to build some mounts for the tool rests and the tools now onto the stand to make the wood lathe a complete mobile workstation.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Inherited Singer - Sewing the Songs of Heart

About that title, whoever is editing this blog needs to pay attention more.  I don't know, I needed some extra "pizazz" somewhere, and the title of only "Inherited Singer" just didn't cut it.  So, the editor let it past.

I recently inherited the treadle sewing machine owned by my great grandmother.  She lived to be 100 years old (which she swore she'd do).  She was a truly magnificent lady.  Two of her sons, my dad's uncles, did not marry until late in life (one never at all, the other had his first marriage begin in his 70's).  Even though those men were our uncles one step back (great uncles?), they were OURS.

Early this past week, I was contacted by the wife of the one uncle (he passed away a number of years ago, and she has since remarried), and she asked if I wanted the treadle sewing machine from our great grandmother.  Of course, I said "yes".  I picked it up yesterday.  The experience was rejuvenating (except for the allergies).  Here's a backdrop story for you just so you can get an idea of what these boys, uh, uncles were really like.

When we'd visit them on the farm, they had rifles by the door.  They only put them away when people came to visit who were not trusted.  They left them out when we visited, even when we were kids that were 4 to 18.  And they were loaded.  It was because they knew we'd not get our hands in things we shouldn't.  They left black power out in the shop that we ran around in.  No worries.  These guys had home-made cherry bomb competitions (the cherry bombs were to help keep the starlings away in maintenance of the farm).  They were partially deaf because when younger, they sat in the bathroom with the shotgun barely out the window to kill the magpies (because the magpies were smart enough to recognize a barrel sticking out a window).  These guys would give you the shirt off their backs.  They could fix anything, they could make anything, and they also knew how to cause a little mischief when they needed to.

Back to the present day.  My aunt choked up, still missing that old geezer.  She brightened back up when she remembered his giggles as he suddenly had some mischief to get into, or mischief he'd already gotten himself into.  That made my day.  She told me of when some the trees at the orchard and died out because of disease, and after they had been cut down (even in his old age), he was ready to go dig a couple of holes and fill them with dynamite to remove the trunk.  Watching her giggle thinking of his giggles - folks, it's contagious.  I'd rather giggle from mischief (even if it's indirect) than think of everything else going on right now.  So, we loaded up the Singer, and I got it home.  Here it is with the drawers removed.

Yes, those are my great grandmothers scissors in there.  There are dice, bobbins, needles, awls, and a belt to connect the treadle to the sewing machine itself.

This was this mornings project, actually.  When I was picking it up, I noticed a piece of wood that had broken off.  My aunt didn't know where it went.  This morning, I was able to find where it went.  I used a wood carving chisel to remove a previous attempt at repair (looked like lacquer was used as a glue).

I glued it up, and clamped it down and gave it a few good long hours to cure.

Once it had cured long enough, I moved it indoors and proceeded to work on better identification.  Knowing my uncles, that thing should have simply needed some light oiling, and I know it would have worked worked.  Everything was well taken care of.

However, there are a few things that were allowed to get dusty since that time.  I will need to remove the machine, and walk through every little thing.  That means I'd better find the model.  I grabbed pictures of every little number I could find on it :

With that done, I set to work on the identification.  I could find no model number.  That meant the serial number is the best option to work from.  Patents should provide some additional detail.

The serial number puts its date of manufacture between June 22 and June 24, 1910.  The design elements pin it to a "model 66" (which began manufacture in 1902) called a "red eye".  The cabinet is a Singer "Cabinet Table No. 5" or a "No.6" cabinet.  The manual was found over on, so a big shout out to them.  A history on the 66 can be found over on if you are interested.

A "model 66" was considered the "queen of the sewing machines" by the previous writer because of the engineering that went into it.  The basic model sold for just under $41 (not much, but in 1910 the average worker made 22 cents/hr, meaning the average person would have to work for 164 hours to pay for it).  To put that in perspective, an average wage in 2019 is $19.33/hr, making this machine cost around $3,200.  Since it had such a price, and since Singer was smart enough to market this to people who may not be able to afford it, you could purchase a sewing machine using a rent-to-own method, paying for it over a 20 year span.  Obviously, sitting at my house now, it's lasted a bit longer than that (110 years, to be honest).  For a sewing machine, that's the cream of the crop.

When I first received this, I hand-turned the spindle once or twice to gauge the shape.  I could feel the grit in there, and knew it needed to be dismantled and cleaned.  I took a brief opportunity to take it apart.  Yes, as someone who does some machine work, I only had a little hesitation.  The machine needed to be brought back up to working condition.  I took each piece apart until I could get to every bearing surface for oil.  I started with the belt end, and slowly worked my way through it.  Each piece was removed, and cleaned.

I moved on to the foot and bobbin side, and gave it a good look and cleaning.  There was quite a bit of lint in there, so I knew it hadn't been cleaned for a long time.

I shifted to the back side :

I grabbed the underside, and worked through that (including the bobbin shuttle (what houses the bobbin), and the foot.  I oiled it a third time,and had it back together.  I had to grab a quick picture of the bobbin winding assembly - this whole thing is really magnificent in it's engineering, and laid the foundation for all of the newer, modern sewing machines.  This is awesome!

However, on getting it back together, a quick hand turn and I could feel a major difference.  I had also replaced the tension spring and pieces, so this is essentially a usable sewing machine.  Perhaps I'll go sew some masks for my wife.  She does often joke about me getting in touch with my feminine side because I want to sew leather for car seats, use vinyl cutters to create stencils for etching aluminum, and toaster ovens to set Cerakote.

Anyway, it's done, together, and functioning again. I think I will actually use this one (not like my other sewing machine).  It might be able to do some light leather, too.  And the power consumption is measured in ice scream scoops (because it's me doing the work).  I think it will work at the rate of 4 scoops per hour.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Mill Table "Bar Clamps"

As I have been working on the Heavy 10 project, I needed to mill a large surface (bigger than my mini mill's table).  The part is the taper attachment swivel - the bar sitting on top of the taper attachment that actually pivots and sets up the taper - and it is 17" long and 2.75" wide, but my raw material was still 3.125" wide.  My mill table is about 16" long and 3" wide, so I do not have available t-slots to use to bolt things down to the mill table itself.  I needed a custom mill table clamp that would extend past the dimensions of my mill table.

Using 1-2-3 blocks, I could raise the part off of the table and lock a bar underneath the part to the table, then use the bars to anchor the part to the 1-2-3 blocks and the table.  I chose to order some 1" x 0.75" rectangular bar stock (36" long).  The height could have been 7/8", but absolutely had to be below the 1-2-3 blocks small dimension because I didn't want to mill these bar clamps.  This long bar was cut into 8" long pieces.

I marked the center line of the bar on the wide surface (this will be the top, so the bars are 1" wide).  Once that was done, I marked the center point.  My table has three t-slots in it, so I used the center mark as one hole for the t-slot, and marked the other two t-slots in distance.  Once complete, I marked a second set of holes on the outside of the table (and subsequently the part I needed to anchor).

These were drilled out with first a #18 drill as a pilot hole, followed by a "Q" drill bit (the one for tapping a 3/8-16 thread).  The middle three holds for the t-slots were drilled to a "W" for a close-fit through hole - this would allow these three holes to anchor the bar to the t-slots.

I then took the parts to the mini mill with the "W" drill bit.  I'd use the drill bit to center the hole for the spindle, lock everything into place (e.g. clamp it down, and all axis' except the vertical locked), and then swap out the drill chuck for a 5/8" collet and end mill (perfect size for the socket cap 3/8-16 bolts I would use).  The hole was then countersunk to get the head of the socket cap bolt to fall below the dimension of the 1-2-3 blocks (clearance, see the previous photo).

With that complete, I could then bolt everything down to the mill table and proceed to mill a flat surface.

I would call that a success!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Instant Machinists Jack

I had a really long part that needed support via a machinists jack, but I didn't have one small enough.  Here's an amateur tip (since I'm not a pro, it can't be a pro-tip).

Take a short bolt that fits in the place you need, and a matching nut.  Instant low-profile machinists jack!

It supported the work piece just fine!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Increasing Boring Bar Adapter Size & Starting 127 Hole Index Plate

I had an internal AG60 IR16 threading/boring bar and a cheap chinesium AXA tool holder.  Unfortunately, the boring bar was 0.787" in diameter, and the tool holder took a 1" (direct) or a 3/4" (with the included sleeve) boring bar.  So, I needed to increase the size of the sleeve.  Here's how you do it.

First, take ALL the dimensions down.  This is required because once we set up for the actual work, the measurements change, and we have to do this with a relative dimension.

Determine the existing inside diameter of the sleeve.  In this case, 0.757" (a few thousandths over the size it supports).  With the target of 0.787" (I'm guessing 0.787402", which is 20mm), I needed to increase the inside diameter from 0.757" to 0.794".  This is the critical measurement - it is an increase of 0.037".

With that known, grab a slice of metal the approximate size of the gap (relaxed, of course).  The closer to the sleeve wall thickness the better.  Shim this as needed to get a decent, nearly tight fit in that sleeve slot.

Lock this down in the lathe chuck.  You will note the diameter will probably change, which is why you had to determine the relative size earlier.  Now you can measure the inside diameter (not through the shim area, of course).  Add the relative value from earlier, and that is our target.  Now you can bore it to the target dimension.  When you release it from the chuck, it should fit the boring bar and the sleeve should still slide into the AXA holder (since we didn't change that).  Here is the finished assembly.  Note the shim sitting right by the tool holder (under my hand).  I'm pointing to the slot in the sleeve.

Next up, I printed out a template for a 127 hole pattern onto a 5" disc (that is 0.25" thick).  This will give me a 127 hole index plate.  There are a number of tools to generate these templates, which include the diameters.  As my index plates are so small that the index holes would run into each other,  i had to run the pattern in three layers.  The pattern was glued to the blank using 3M's contact cement (it will come off easily when done).

Then, I could use a spring punch to set the drill holes for everything.

With that done, I just have to drill 131 holes (the 127 index holes, the center hole, and the three holes to lock the plate down).

Ugh,  127 holes with a size/number 32 drill bit takes a while, and your arms get tired.  Add in to that that you are likely to break multiple drill bits, and you should order a bunch of bits before you start.  I had to wait until the replacements came, and finally got it drilled out and set in place :

To do the bore for the plate, I needed to get to 1.26".  I don't have a drill bit that big.  So, I left that hole as a 0.25", and then used the drill bit still in the hole to get it centered in the lathe.  The set up is the plate in the 4-jaw independent, with the drill bit protruding and being used as the registration surface with the dial indicator.  Once adjusted, then I could drill to to 0.5" and bore it all the way.

Now, I've increased my ability to cut a 127 tooth gear now, which will enable metric threading.  I'm kinda excited for this.  I just need an 8.125" blank that I can prepare.  While I am at it, I need to do a 100 tooth gear blank, so about a 7.250" blank that I can turn down.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Another Lathe (I Have a Problem)

Please, someone might need to run an intervention.  Yes, I have picked up my 5th lathe.  You read that right, I have five of them. I have two metal lathes (A South Bend Junior 9" [nick named a "Heavy 9" from 1929], and a South Bend Heavy 10 10L from 1957), and two wood lathes (make that three).  The new one is just like my first one - a Dunlap 1942 534.0601 Sears special, and the middle one was a little tiny cute thing that came with a bunch of motors and probably will do well turning pens and other small wooden objects.  In fact, I specifically targeted the Dunlap model because I know I can use the first one for spare parts as needed, it's a really high quality cast iron, and I can also even daisy chain the Dunlaps end to end and make some rods that are longer than the 3'6" maximum it provides.

Over the last few months, I've been building the lathe stand and refinishing the new old one.  I used machine spray paint on the last Dunlap, and I don't like the results, really.  This time I am using a brush-on enamel.  Both the stand and the lathe were painted with it.  I've been doing the assembly, and aside from the motor, this lathe is ready to run.  I did have an upgrade, though.

All parts came off.  This one even includes an upgrade.  The concept came from the South Bend Heavy 10 build, where you use a roller bearing as the take up washer instead of a brass washer.  This tiny wood lathe doesn't have a takeup washer.  I purchased

With it installed, I could adjust the tightness of the spindle turn until it had an acceptable amount of play with ease of rotation.

Next, I have to figure out how to attach the motor underneath this (inside the frame).  As this will use a link belt, I'm not worried about the belt "forming" or causing too much vibration.  I started out by taking a chunk of 3" found scrap aluminum (1" wide), cut it in half, milled the flat even flatter, then milled a notch on the opposite side.  I drilled holes to bolt it to some C channel, and one big one in each side to take a 7/16-14 tap.  This would become a clamping surface for the counter shaft and motor, without altering the stands structure.

I picked up a 7/16-14 left handed tap and die, and proceeded to cut the threads into these blocks (one left hand thread, one right hand thread).  Once I had them ready to go, I used a chunk of hex rod, threw it into the lathe, and rounded off each end (had to face it).  I put a right hand thread one one end, and then puckered up for the left hand thread on the opposite end.  This was my first job at cutting a left hand thread on the lathe.  Of course, I cheated.  Once I had the thread close, I used the die to finish it off for a perfect thread every time.

With the threads cut, I could start the assembly.  With opposite threads on each side, you can turn the hex bar one direction to tighten, or turn in the opposite direction to loosen.  I put the milled ends (I'll call them "nuts") on as far as they'd go onto the hex rod.

Then I could slide the assembly into place between the bars on the lathe stand, and expand the two nuts out.

From above the lathe

From below the lathe
Once tightened in place, it was absolutely solid.  Now, I know it will work.  I can build the bar next to hold the jack shaft bearings, and then put the counter shaft in place.  Once I had that, I could install the countershaft and motor.  While I was at it, I installed two aluminum bars across one side that was about the same as the bed gap, and on that I put the old lathes milling attachment, spare tool support, and the old tailstock.  The old bed was bolted to the back of the stand, and the headstock underneath the bed.  With the castors in place, I can easily raise the lathe off of the ground and onto castors, move it, and then drop it back down.  It's effectively stable in either fashion (I tried to do the weight distribution in a way that would work).

I have yet to attach pegboard on the tailstock end for the wrenches, screwdrivers, sandpaper, and turning tools, but it's operational and ready to use right now.

I'm stoked to remove the old bench and put this one in it's place!