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Tales of a Hay Hauler: Tips to share

Brad Nelson for Progressive Forage Published on 30 November 2021

I forget what we were working on underneath the car my wife used daily. My helper claimed he was an extremely competent mechanic.


He was skinnier than me, but not by a lot. He ended up in position and holding the wrench on the insolent bolt we needed to remove to proceed with the repair. It was a combination end wrench, about 8 inches long. He had the box end firmly in place and was reefing on it with all his might. We had drenched it with whatever kind of “knock-it-loose” we had handy, since the position of the bolt was exposed to whatever they blast on the roads in the winter.

I was far enough under the car to see what the kid was doing. He was in a good position to put robust leverage on the recalcitrant bolt. He did. As he exerted all the “oomph” his young body could muster and nothing happened, he said, “It’s too tight. I can’t get it to budge.”

“Take hold of the center of the wrench in one hand then hammer on the end of it with the heel of your other open hand,” was my instruction.

After a, “Do what?” I repeated myself. “Hit it hard, not like a mosquito.”

He did. On the second or third wham with his hand, the bolt turned. He was amazed. “The things I learn from you!” he gushed, as he removed the bolt.

I’m regularly gently razzed about all the doodads, bells and whistles, and customized add-ons in my pickup. Probably “gently,” because at 75 I’m still close to 6 foot 4 and nowhere near skinny enough at around 255 pounds.

I needed (Elli tells me I get “need” and “want” mixed up) a timepiece I could see while using the radio for something other than a clock. I settled on an eight-dollar old-style pocket watch. I glued a flat washer to the back of the case with clear silicone. I had a couple of magnetic clips on the mini desk I’d added to the lid of the console, which I stuck the watch to, with the lid open. It got bumped, and I found the open watch minus its back cover sliding around the console lid. Superglue on a couple of spots fixed that. Or, so I thought. Remembering that superglue is very strong but also brittle, smack it hard with a sharp blow (like falling on the floor or being hit with a hammer) and it’s prone to come apart.

I scraped the residue off the watch proper and the case cover, then gobbed a little clear silicone on the watch body and snapped the case cover in place. It hasn’t moved, and the beauty of using silicone as an adhesive is that it can be removed and 99% of the time (in my experience) it won’t harm nonporous surfaces. The watch has not disassembled itself since. So, superglue isn’t fond of being hit or of vibration. Clear silicone (other colors work as well, but the clear can more easily be rendered invisible) is surprisingly strong and deals well with vibration and outside exposure. When self-sticking stuff like door seal foam doesn’t stick, silicone will stick and stay on a clean surface.

Tubes of silicone or superglue have a nasty habit of clogging the tip when stored for more than a couple of days. When I need just a bit of either and the tube feels like there’s still viable product inside but the tip is hopelessly plugged, there’s a solution.

For superglue, find a disposable clean surface and with the clogged tube on it, gently poke a hole in the body of the tube with a needle or pin. If there is viable glue inside, it’ll readily flow out the needle hole. Then just use the pin, needle or a toothpick to spot the dab of glue where you need it. Leave the tube with the punctured side up and squeezed so the remaining product is oozing out the hole (don’t let air inside the tube) and leave it for a bit where it won’t be stepped or sat upon. The glue will self seal the needle prick.

The same trick works with silicone, including the self-sealing, but you’ll probable want to poke a bigger hole in the tube. I hate to open a new tube when I need just a tiny speck of either.


One more example: A spray bottle of window cleaner works wonders when you’ve driven through a band of those annoying insects that leave a grease spot on the windshield that the washer fluid won’t remove. Next time you stop, or if it’s bad enough to stop on purpose, spray the windshield with the window cleaner. By the time you have it stowed and are ready to go, it will have dissolved the bug residue so your wipers will give you a clean windshield again. It’s also a quick cure when you drip fuel on paint while fueling. Just saturate it and forget it.  end mark

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