Monday, January 25, 2016

Clumsiness Redeemed

I have sung the praises of Brion Toss' splicing wand before, so I won't repeat that here.  Of course I have one.  But sadly, I am a clumsy oaf.

Sheath, inner brass rod, and snare at the tip of the rod.
For those of you that don't have one of these (why not?), the tool is comprised of a plastic handle, a brass inner rod embedded firmly in the handle, a "snare" made of very thin line that is inserted into the tip of the rod, and a stainless sheath that fits over the rod and snare.  To use, you would slide the sheath out far enough to hide the snare and then you'd tighten the thumbscrew.  Then you'd thread the needle part into the rope and back out at the designated spot.  Loosen the thumbscrew and retract the sheath, exposing the snare.  Trap the end of the portion that needs to be pulled back thru the rope in the snare, extend the sheath far enough so that the rope end is held tightly in the snare, and then withdraw the needle from the rope.  If you've spliced double braid, you can visualize what I am saying.

Now here's my mistake: I picked the tool up by the "needle" part instead of the handle.  This would have been OK except that I hadn't tightened the thumbscrew.  As a consequence, the stainless sheath - the part I was holding - slid right off of the brass rod, leaving me holding just the sheath.  The rest of the tool fell to the cabin sole, hard.  When I picked it up, I found that the tip of the brass rod had broken off, ruining the tool.

I was dismayed.  Splicing wands are not cheap, and no replacement parts are available.

But then I realized that this was an opportunity for another zero-cost experiment!  Attempting to repair the tool would cost nothing.  Ah, but if it succeeded!

Now having a good workshop is a critical part of this - I don't think you could do this with hand tools, at least the third step anyway.  Here's what I did:
  • I ground off the ruined end of the brass rod, back to straight unbent metal.  With the broken off end, this meant that I had lost about 1/2" of length of the rod.  This is not critical - if necessary, I could just make a longer snare.
  • Center punched the end of the rod.  I really wanted to get this in the very center of the rod - it's only 1/8" in diameter and I could tolerate only a little eccentricity.
  • Mounted the rod in my drill press vice vertically, extending it from beneath the table up into the vice.
  • Drill a 1/16" pilot hole 1/2" deep in the end of the rod.  Pause and withdraw the bit frequently to clear chips.
  • Over drill with a 5/64" bit.
  • Now using a Dremmel tool with a small grinding bit, cut away enough of the sidewall to expose the drilled channel and to make a relief cavity for the knot at the end of the snare.  Of course I didn't get the hole exactly in the center (tho it was awfully close...), so I chose the thinner side to cut away,  leaving more meat on the other side.  In fact, I had a lot more meat than the original tip had. 

Sorry it's blurry - my phone camera won't focus this close

Finished, snare installed
The experiment succeeded! For the cost of about 20 minutes delicate work (I'm not counting the cost of the shop or the tools, because: He who dies with the most tools wins...), I got a new splicing wand, saving myself $65 plus tax and shipping.  And because I've got more meat up there in the tip, the tool is sturdier than a factory one.



Captain Curmudgeon said...

Several times I have used the rod and patch holder from an old shot gun cleaning kit to pull cordage through a halyard. I love Imagineering. Doug.

Captain Curmudgeon said...

Nice work Skippy. I use to use cleaning rods from a shot gun cleaning kit. Removable eye on the tip. One removable tip still intact. Another with part of the loop of the tip cut away to make a capture like hook. Times past. Most of my cruising now is done via the Vanagon. Wine country in Napa has no wake zones too.

Robert Salnick said...

Hmmm rods from a shotgun kit are pretty big. Maybe a .22 cleaner would be better? But the snare is a key feature - it doesn't/can't catch on anything when the captured end is being withdrawn thru the line.

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