The previous owners apparently surrounded a cedar (?) tree with a ring of large, decorative rocks. The tree vanished long before we arrived, with the stump accreting random stones, bricks, and similar impedimenta ever since; my first task involved (re)moving a couple hundred pounds of rocky debris.
After using the stump as a fulcrum for that steel bar to break the rotted roots and loosen the surrounding soil, it’s out and away:
Although Jason’s comment suggesting carbon-fiber reinforcing rods didn’t prompt me to lay in a stock, ordinary music wire should serve the same purpose:
The pins are 1.6 mm diameter and 20 mm long, chopped off with hardened diagonal cutters. Next time, I must (remember to) grind the ends flat.
The solid model needs holes in appropriate spots:
Yes, I’m going to put round pins in square holes, without drilling the holes to the proper diameter: no epoxy, no adhesive, just 20 mm of pure friction.
The drill press aligns the pins:
And rams them about halfway down:
Close the chuck jaws and shove them flush with the surface:
You can see the pins and their solid plastic shells through the wrench stem:
Early testing shows the reinforced wrench works just as well as the previous version, even on some new valves sporting different handles, with an equally sloppy fit for all. No surprise: I just poked holes in the existing model and left all the other dimensions alone.
I think the sliding fit between the two ceramic blocks laps itself into a more perfect joint, to the extent it’s wrung together and can’t be moved. Even after filtering, our town-supplied water apperently has enough micro-fine grit for the purpose.
Shooting the modified copper elbow with gloss black atop gray primer definitely improved its disposition:
I’d have been more inclined to apply several light coats if the wind weren’t blowing up a storm. As it was, I shot enough black to cover the not-quite-dry primer (“top coat at any time”) and called it a day.
The scuffed tubes aren’t quite that ugly in person, but they have suffered some abuse along the way. Seen from a normal working distance, however, it’s all good:
The lamp isn’t quite as tippy as I feared, so I’ll try it without the broken truck spring counterweight until something untoward happens.
After trimming off all the extraneous bits, the larger half of the connector (male pins) fits through the tubing and the smaller half (female sockets) barely fits through the bottom bushings.
It turns out half-inch copper pipe fittings (ID = 15.9 mm) almost exactly fit the tubing (OD = 15.7 mm):
A quick test showed the 45° (actually, it’s 135°, but we’re deep into plumbing nomenclature) positioned the lamp head too high and with too much reach:
So shorten the tube attached to the head and deburr the cut:
The 45° fitting is too high and a 90° fitting is obviously too low, so cut a 20° slice out of a 90° fitting:
Cut a snippet of brass tubing to fit, bash to fit, file to hide, buff everything to a high shine, silver-solder it in place, and buff everything again:
The 5/8 inch aluminum rods serve to stiffen the fitting, smooth out the torch heating, and generally keep things under control.
Wrap the obligatory Kapton tape around the butt ends of the tubes to fill the fitting’s oversize hole, put everything together, and it’s just about perfect:
I immobilized the fitting with black Gorilla tape, but it really needs something a bit more permanent. One of these days, maybe, a pair of setscrews will happen.
The additional reach required a little more counterweight on the far side for security, so I added the broken stub of a truck leaf spring. It should be secured firmly to the base plate, but no tool I own can put a dent in those three pounds of spring steel. Maybe it’ll merit a fancy enclosure wrapped around the base?