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”.]

Loadout for Photographer’s Vest

Hmmm; what should my normal collection of stuff be?  (Current vests aren’t quite perfect, and the most perfect one has annoying problems like the pen pockets aren’t big enough for actual pens.)  Thinking of modifying or replacing the vest I’ve been using (it’s 25 years old or so, anyway!).

This is complicated by the fact that I use the vests for both photojournalism projects and video projects.

(This is the brainstorming phase; I’m wondering what I’m missing, but even the White Knight couldn’t carry all this on his horse.)

  • ballpoint pen (space pen?)
  • sharpie
  • color sharpie
  • flashlight (good one, but little) (emergency as well as seeing clearly in dark spots)
  • notebook (stenographer’s?)
  • rocket blower (remove dust from lenses etc.)
  • lens tissue or PecPads (never touch a lens with the same thing twice)
  • big microfiber cloth (not for lenses, but screens and things)
  • lens cleaning fluid (Eclipse? Kodak?)
  • lens cap (standard place to put the lens cap from the camera in use)
  • body cap (camera should never be left uncapped) (for each mount)
  • rear lens cap (spare) (for each mount)
  • fresh batteries (camera-specific, AA)
  • dead batteries (keep them separate from the fresh!) (but can mix kinds)
  • tape (narrow, wide, colors, dark, white) for marking and labeling in addition to holding
  • badge / pass / id needed for venue access
  • keys (somewhere safer than belt hanger)
  • phone (has apps, too)
  • lenses (at least fast wide and fast medium telephoto)
  • flash (for photojournalism gigs)
  • digital sound recorder (for video gigs) (and remote)
  • monitor earphones
  • lavalier mike
  • memory cards (possibly multiple kinds, for still, video, sound)
  • polarizing filter (sized for main lenses)
  • neutral density filter (sized for main lenses)
  • step-d0wn rings (to put filters on smaller lenses)
  • mini / clamp tripod, or beanbag, or both
  • radio (depends on what the crew is using)
  • gloves (warmth, protection)
  • gray card (for white balance)
  • tape measure (more for studio photos and video than photojournalism)
  • cable ties, to fasten things (6)
  • tools?  I haven’t routinely carried tools; what might be useful?
    • hex key for tripod tension adjustment
    • very small Phillips for batteries in flash triggers
    • generic #2 Phillips (stubby)
    • generic medium flat-head (stubby)
    • wrenches?
    • knife (don’t leave home without it)
    • trauma shears (might replace knife)
    • pliers
    • diagonal cutters (or just use the trauma shears)
  • kleenex
  • lip balm
  • ibuprofen, aspirin, etc. Antacid?  Decongestant?
  • small bandaids (little nicks and cuts, don’t want to bleed on the cameras)
  • earplugs (noisy locations; music)
  • wet wipes (3)
  • pre-moistened lens cloths (for glasses; or lenses if desperate) (3)
  • deoxit (contact cleaner cloths) (1)
  • additional glasses (dark, for example)
  • water bottle
  • emergency food (protein bar?) (2)
  • mousetrap 🙂
  • trash (need designated place, don’t just drop stuff, can’t count on venue)

Clearly some of this stuff could live in the big toolbag that sits at home base, rather than in pockets I have with me at every second.

I may edit this post over time, since I’m still thinking about this.