Losing Until You Win

That’s what any troublesome project is, of course. And, as often as not, at least some of the losing steps make the problem worse, and you have to cope with that along the way.

In this case, replacing license plates. Nothing much wrong with the old ones, especially the back one, but in Minnesota they get replaced every 7 years anyway.  Now, I think I’ve had these 8 years, but never mind.

Plate not in bad shape, except near left hole where I had such a fight with the screw

Front one was easy; though it’s held on by big sheet-metal screws straight into the bumper (which is not sheet metal). But they still feel reasonably solid.

The right-hand screw on the rear one was easy.

The left hand screw, not so much. I was down to my next-to-last idea, before taking it in to a professional (and paying the “if you worked on it yourself first” rate I guess) on Monday, if nothing had worked.

All the tools invoked along the way (plus the corkscrew, which was already lying there)
  1. Big #2 Phillips screwdriver
    No effect.  Didn’t actually raise blisters on my palm.
  2. #2 Phillips bit in ratchet handle
    This gave me more leverage, plus separated pushing in hard (left hand) and twisting (right hand). Screwed up the head pretty good.
  3. Penetrating oil
    Not easy to get at where the screw entered the threads, screw head and plate frame and plate were all in the way. But squirted a bit in the general direction, and waited overnight. Then tried Phillips bits again. No go.
  4. Screw extractor
    Drill into the screw head, then thread the extractor in and twist like hell with a wrench on the end of the extractor. Broke the extractor clean off. Not aware of slipping and getting forces the wrong direction, but no doubt doing this with magic tools to keep things aligned perfectly instead of freehand would have been less likely to break anything.

    Damaged screw head with broken extractor
  5. Break off the plate frame
    It was between the head of the screw and the plate, so removing it gave me more play and better access to where the screw entered the threads. Tried twisting the screw head with slip-joint pliers, no dice.  More penetrating oil, now that I have better access (and wait overnight again).
  6. Try turning the screw head with channel-lock pliers
    This actually worked!  A bit slowly at first, but I got the screw out.

(The next step, not used, was to try to file down two edges of the screw head far enough to give the pliers a better grip.)

New screws are stainless (had to replace the left one anyway, since I’d pretty thoroughly ruined the head). The threads are metric (M5), though, so the heads aren’t a convenient size. The adjustable wrenches will fit them, but that’s much slower than nut-drivers or ratchet sets.

Definitely cheaper than taking it to the professionals (one $5 Irwin extractor, broken; trivial amount of penetrating oil out of existing container). Considerably more time and annoyance, though.

[Edited 7/24/2017 to remove two bad photos of damaged screw head and replace them with one decent one. And switched to consistently label this large machine-screw as a “screw” rather than a “bolt”.]

Still no Moon Colonies

Here’s how I was marking the occasion, 48 years ago:

Shot off my parents’ B&W television

While we’ve done amazing things with remote sensing and with robotic exploration, we haven’t done much more with manned exploration. Given the success of the robots, we couldn’t have gotten that much information for the same money with men. But as somebody who grew up on “the conquest of space” it’s still a major disappointment.

I have several rolls of such shots. They’re all Kodak Tri-X, bulk loaded, shot with my mother’s old Bolsey 35 I believe (I didn’t get my Miranda Sensorex until December of 1969). Developed with stainless steel tanks in a dish pan down by the laundry sink, contact printed in the waterless darkroom the other side of the basement.

The white bands diagonally across many pictures shows that the shutter speed of the camera wasn’t well-enough synced to the scan rate of the TV. The TV scan rate would be extremely accurate or the picture would be complete hash, so the shutter was off.  This was a leaf shutter, not a focal-plane shutter, which affects the symptoms.

This was roll 108; I started the numbering system at 100 to make room for filing older negatives as I found them and organized them.  This was so long ago that the negatives were in glassine sleeves.

Glassine sleeves!

A few of the individual photos:

All the points! We does not have them!

(Promoted from a comment elsewhere, original context not needed for this to make sense.)

Being aggressive, brave, feeling privileged, or whatever it is that makes me speak out in almost any circumstances doesn’t actually correlate well with knowing things useful in a discussion or in having ideas of value to a discussion. It’s worth some effort to me to avoid driving away people who have stuff to contribute to the discussion even if they are “timid” or easily scared off. Brash, outspoken people don’t really lack for opportunities to make their points; but we don’t have “all the points”.