Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I need a grinder.

I got myself a hacksaw and finally got the tub, handles and stand away from each other. The handles will definitely need to be replaced, as they have tons of rot on them and are likely the originals. Good thing they're real cheap. Apart from a few bolts I had to destroy to get the barrow apart, the handles will probably be the only other pieces I have to buy to restore it, not counting any tools needed for the job.  This brings me to the title of this post. I have a cheap 18v drill that I bought from Harbor Freight a couple of years ago, and a few wire brush attachments. I used this drill and it's attachments on another project of mine to great success.  Unfortunately, the barrow is a little farther along in the rust department than the control panel on that arcade machine. It's got tons of rust on it. The wire brush attachment I have was working, kinda - but I decided to move to a circular sandpaper attachment. It did a much better job. You can see the difference here. The first picture is the stand, which was done with the wire brush attachment. The second is with the sand paper attachment.

As you can see, the sand paper attachment is working a lot better. Also, ignore the mess in my garage. At any rate, I've realized that I need an actual grinder if I'm to do this on my own. I really don't have the money for one though.  Especially since I'm not really going to use it a lot more apart from this project, at least at this point in time.  So, I'm thinking what I'm going to do is look into a sandblasting service.  I have to check prices on that though. I seem to remember calling a place about sandblasting that arcade control panel and I think I was told somewhere in the area of $75. This is a larger (and dirtier) job so I know it will likely cost more. Bummer. Also a bummer, I was hoping to do the work myself. Honestly after the rust is removed there won't be much work left on it but to hit it with a rust stopping primer and a few coats of high quality paint. Still haven't totally decided on a color though. I wanted to paint it blue because it used to be blue when I was a kid. But it also looks like there was green paint on it. Also, most wheelbarrows you see are a nice bright red, so there's that too. I've got plenty of time to decide on that though.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I worked on the barrow today a little. I decided to have a bum weekend and not do any real work around the house because I was tired. But this afternoon I figured I had some time and it wasn't too super-sunny or super-hot, so I decided to work on it a bit. As stated previously, this barrow is very old and it's got lots of grime and rust from over the years. So when I tried to remove the lower part (wheel and stands) of it, I came upon frozen bolts and nuts. I ended up getting some heavy duty WD-40, as well as a couple of vise-grips. I was able to remove most of the bolts after spraying the nuts with WD-40 and letting them sit. But a couple of them were sticklers. The bolts themselves spin when trying to loosen the nuts, so the vise grips came in handy. Unfortunately, one of the bolts is bent and will have to be sawed off with a hacksaw.  It's a good thing I can just get a new set of bolts and nuts from the hardware store.  Lastly, two of the bolt heads are in a certain area/position to where even vise grips can't get a good hold of them, so removing the nuts is (at this point) impossible.  I'll spritz them again with WD-40 this afternoon and let them sit for a day or so, and see how they behave later on.

Once I get the bin separated from the handles and stands, I'll be able to start grinding the rust off in prep for painting.  What I like about this wheel barrow is that, while it'll look good after being restored, it will still look used. It'll have dings here and there. But a nice coat of paint will make it look sharp. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012


When you think of heirlooms, what comes to mind are gifts, jewelry, a painting or even a small brooch. Not necessarily a wheelbarrow.  My grandfather gave my father a simple wheel barrow when he was in his early 20s. I don't remember this happening because I was probably 5 years old at the time, but judging by it's current condition, it was originally blue.  My father always told me as a kid that you need to take car of tools, especially if they mean something to you. One of the things he made sure to mention was to keep the wheelbarrow upside down when it wasn't in use. "Don't keep crap in it," he would tell me. "If you're not using it, it should be upside down in the garage."  The second thing he told me about keeping it in operable condition was to keep it covered in oil. He told me it would prevent rust. The wheelbarrow was already at least 10 years old when he got it from his father, so I think rust had already begun to appear on it. Oil stopped the oxidation and prevented rust. Maybe a new paint job with rust-stopping paint would have been a better thing to do, but regardless, it kept the wheelbarrow in operable condition. Needless to say, it's still around.  This wheelbarrow meant a lot to my father, and he told me I would eventually inherit it. I know a wheelbarrow isn't something glamorous. It's not a set of jewels, or a painting created by a famous artist. But it's still important, just the same. It means something to me just like it meant something to him.  My dad died in 1997, and I inherited the wheelbarrow when I moved out of my mom's place.

At some point it was borrowed by a friend without my permission. My sister originally had it at her place (my uncle brought it up from South Texas for me) and I figured that since she was doing a lot more yard work than I was at the time, she was welcome to it. Eventually someone else borrowed it and to be honest, even without my permission, I didn't really mind. I mean, it's a landscaping tool. It needs and deserves to be used. But then I found out that it was sitting outside, not upside down, in the elements and not covered in oil. I wasn't too happy about it so I requested that it be returned to me.  It sat in my garage for the next couple of years until I attempted to start a garden (which failed miserably). I purchased a new wheel for it, as the tire that was originally on it was visibly aged and worn. The wheel was fine, but it was just cheaper and quicker to buy an entirely new wheel/tire combo. I decided recently that I'd like to do a restoration project on this wheelbarrow.  That's what this blog will be for. I'll post pictures of my restore process as I go along. And there will be a couple here on this post as a 'before' shot, as it were. The restore process will likely be slow and drawn as I will no doubt get distracted my a great many things down the line, not to mention that Texas Summer heat is nearly unbearable so I'll probably stay inside a lot of the time.  But for now, this blog is here as a reminder and a testament to an unorthodox family heirloom - The Wheelbarrow.