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Archive for August, 2007

David Lee

The Forever Floor

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Forever Floor

Hello. I love your magazine but I have a question about the floor. I’m disabled. I have several diseases in my back and it’s impossible for me to sweep. I can push a broom, like the swiffer sweeper types. My son has to do the sweeping for me now, and my husband and I would like to find a way that I can do it myself. We are in the process of remodeling and I ran across this article by David Lee in issue #92. My husband got a scrap piece of the roofing and we painted it to see if the swiffer sweeper would go across it or not. Well, it works fine, but my question is how does he recommend mopping with this floor? I mean, I usually use the solution that comes in the swiffer. Will this hurt the paint? Will it clean my floor? Or do I have to use a regular mop with just water? Won’t the cleaners hurt the paint? I’m so sorry to bother you all, I know you must be terribly busy, but we’re trying to decide on this floor or regular linoleum. This floor would cost us $120.00 without the price of the paint, over $330. for the cheapest linoleum. We have a big kitchen and I do alot of canning and cooking in there, and have to clean the floor a lot. Any help would be so appreciated. God Bless you and your staff. And I do really enjoy your magazine. We live on our own little 2 1/2 acres of God’s beautiful land in southern Ohio. I raise most of our food in our garden and love to make homemade bread and can our goodies. Everyone loves my Christmas presents, they usually get canned goods or my famous homemade strawberry jam. Sorry I’m rambling. Any advice would be so appreciated. Thanks. Gail

* * *


The Forever Floor has been a popular floor covering solution since the article came out.

I used the method for years on balconies and small decks. It wears very well when exposed to rain and snow.

We clean our indoor Forever Floors with bucket, mop and and whatever cleaning solution was on sale at the store. None have ever hurt the floor. We have not used the Swiffer solution but I doubt it would be a problem. I suggest you do a thorough test of the Swiffer, with its solution, on your sample of Forever Floor (smart thinking by the way) and see if anything bad happens. That should answer your cleaning question.

If you want extra protection on your kitchen floor you may consider using a high quality exterior latex deck paint for coats three and four of paint on your floor. This might increase resistance to wear and washing somewhat but most latex paint is washable.

When you and your menfolk install the Forever Floor be sure to follow the directions in the article very carefully, especially the part about using just enough, but not too much Plastic Roofing Cement. Too much makes the floor “mushy”, too little means the roofing won’t stick properly.

Since writing the article I have learned a couple more things about this flooring method that may help you. When the granules start to show and it is time to add new paint, you must thoroughly clean away any grease or oil and the floor must be very dry or some of the new paint will come off when exposed to water.

In the pictures of my version of the Forever Floor you may have noticed that I use a rather colorful mosaic pattern. This is for good reasons. It disguises little stains and wear marks. It allows me to only have to repaint the areas of the floor that get the most wear, postponing the need to redo the whole floor. If some damage occurs, like the time we gouged the floor when our refrigerator was moved, it is easier to disguise the repair with a mosaic theme.

One other thing. Oil paints would seem to be better for this floor method. I did a small section in my shop to see how it would work. It took three days for each coat to dry, all the while collecting dust on the sticky surface. One of our cats put paw prints in it. It did not level out very well around the granules. It made the floor slippery when wet. It got dull in the high traffic areas. It took 20 days (!!) to install but I finally tore it out because of its poor performance.

So Gail, I recommend that you install the flooring, give it two coats of mismatched paint, two coats of deck paint, then create a pattern of some kind in various colors, using less expensive latex paints, for the mosaics and get on to making all those goodies.

David Lee

David Lee

Flying Safer

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Dragon Weathervane

Today I am raising Alternative Building Ideas to new heights and taking a little break from the Home Made Ph.D.

About 15 years ago I had an idea about airline safety – specifically, concerning bombs smuggled in luggage taking planes down . Since then you can’t avoid reading, or hearing first hand, stories of passenger inconveniences, hours of waiting around in terminals and…well, you know the mess that has been generated, and continues, at airports by the threat of terrorist acts.

Instead of all that, imagine this. You arrive at the terminal with your luggage. You go to a counter and check in. Then you walk to a special container full of storage compartments and place your luggage in one, shoes too if the terror alert is high. Possibly your carry-on bag would go in there too. Then you proceed directly to the plane and take your seat.

At your destination you exit the plane, walk directly to this special container, retrieve your luggage and you’re on your way. No waiting on either end of your journey, no baggage searches, x-rays, body pat downs or stress, other than the natural fear of flying many of us have.

The special container is a sleek little glider towed behind the passenger plane. With the baggage in the glider the worry about a suitcase, or anything big enough to be a bomb, is gone. If the glider blows up you lose some luggage but the airlines do that all the time anyway. In fact, since no one handles your bags except you the chances of losing luggage is pretty near zero.

When I thought of this I wrote to several airlines and the President of the United States, at the time, George Herbert Walker Bush. All I got were polite but condescending letters of thanks for my interest from low level staff people. One airline did send a $25 gift certificate. You can understand what a waste of time that felt like.

Since then I have brought up this subject with most anyone I’ve met who has anything to do with the airline business and not one person has had a logical reason why it would not work. Some even had good reasons I had not considered.

Next time I’ll talk about the benefits of the Luggage Glider. For now, if you have constructive thoughts on this send them along. I have to believe there other people out there who can think outside the flight envelope.

David Lee

Investment Vehicle

Saturday, August 25th, 2007


It was fun getting to know my truck when I first bought it. As I said, I knew it had the basic requirements I wanted. I had the general maintenance book for 1961 to 1971 Dodge trucks which let me know its internal secrets. Next I bought the specific engine repair manual and the chassis manual for the 1971 D200 model. These told me everything I needed to know about the engine, transmission, brakes, body and every little piece of chrome. I specialized in knowing all about this one truck.

I did not expect everything, or anything, on the truck to work perfectly. As problems arose I consulted my manuals and figured out what to do. This saved me serious amounts of money over the years. Gradually all systems were brought to good working order, which gave me more confidence about returning home with no breakdowns when I took a trip. Even when something went wrong I became increasingly skilled in taking care of it on the spot.

My truck was my hobby. Each year I brought it into the garage to do some upgrading. I cleaned up the body, hammered out and filled dents and gave it a paint job using Rustoleum gloss black paint applied with a brush. I think there are about nine coats on there now from those bodywork sessions. Someday I will have it professionally painted. The Rustoleum preserves it until then.

I considered the cost of such things as rebuilding the brakes one year, a new exhaust system another year, rebuilding the transmission, new suspension bushings, dual batteries, an electronic ignition, a sound system, and two-way radio as my version of car payments. Instead of my vehicle becoming worth less after each ‘payment’ it was becoming more valuable in practical ways.

When the government, in its wisdom, outlawed lead in gasoline, condemning older engines to early deaths, I took the cylinder heads to an engine rebuilder and had special valves installed so I could use unleaded gas. My research had also led me to one of those rare 245 horsepower engines I mentioned earlier. I bought it for $75 from a junkyard, had it rebuilt, and bolted it to the heads. Now I have a customized engine. It is not a racing engine, though I could have gone that route. My engine is meant to have extra torque at low RPMs. With a load of rocks in the back I can drive slowly up a steep hill out of a quarry without straining the engine.

Over the years I have collected strategic spare parts for my truck. Water pumps tend to wear out on these engines so I have two extra ones in storage. I have extra carburetors, starters, fuel pumps, a distributor, and lots of odds and ends. Since the parts are also antiques they increase in value too.

As an Alternative Builder I could not resist giving my truck some custom touches. I built in a console, storage compartments, a dashboard and other projects out of wood. I moved the gas tank from behind the seat into the bed of the truck for safety reasons and enclosed it in a wooden case.

The lesson for you to take away from all this car talk is that you consider a new perspective regarding your choice of vehicle. Lose the Lexus and the monthly payments, set a budget for a vehicle and spend half of it buying one you can love that fits your lifestyle as a builder. Spend the other half of your budget getting the vehicle in good running condition for your work, and learn about its innards from the manuals that you buy. That should set you up with economical, practical transportation for Year Two of becoming a builder. Later, when you have more money, you can increase the worth of your chosen oldy and enjoy it as a hobby and an increasingly valuable asset.

So, this vehicle investment course during Year One will save you money, get you practical transportation and give you knowledge that you can use for life.

David Lee


Thursday, August 23rd, 2007


Buying a used, perhaps even a much used, vehicle has benefits.

First, you save yourself from buying a new vehicle. A new truck, equal in performance and amenities to my old Dodge, costs a minimum of $28,500! I have kept records on how much money my truck has cost me over the 27 years I have owned it. Not counting gasoline, I have spent just over $4200. I just noticed. That is only a dollar a pound.

Insurance premiums on new trucks are much higher than on my Dodge. Add in “scheduled maintenance” visits to maintain the warranty, interest on the loan, high registration fees and taxes and it comes to so much money I can’t even count that high. Plus (I should say minus) as you are driving home in your new truck its value drops 20% while you are just beginning to enjoy the new car smell! Even with those penalties some people trade up to new every few years. What are they thinking?

My Oldy is insured against damaging people or other vehicles and the policy is not too expensive. If I damage my truck I can fix it myself. Since it is an antique I do not have to submit to yearly or semi-yearly vehicle inspections, those creative income opportunities for repair shops. By the way, that new car smell comes in a spray can.

I am proud of my truck and keep it in top condition. It gives me satisfaction to own a classy old vehicle and I enjoy the friendships I have made when someone comes along and says “Nice truck.”

Another good thing. As my antique truck gets older it becomes more valuable. There is a market for old vehicles just like any kind of artwork. If I had kept and maintained my 1965 GTO it would now be worth $40,000 to $65,000 according to Hemmings Motor News listings.

1957 Chevrolets have always been classics. Even ‘junkers’ cost thousands of dollars just for their parts. Restored to stock or hot rodded, they are among the most valuable classic cars in the world. Imagine how much money GM could make if they reproduced that 1957 body style with modern engines. Too bad…Toyota will probably do it. American car company executives seem to be asleep at the wheel.

David Lee

Family Truck

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Panel Van

Make a cup of coffee, more auto tech talk coming.

When I was searching for my Dream Work-Truck, my first consideration was to find one with minimal rust on the body or frame. The Dodge truck from Tennessee (where they do not use salt on their roads very often) had no rust. There were some dents but I could straighten those. Vehicles from southern and southwestern states and ones not driven much during winter in other states are often free of rust.

Next on my want list was finding a heavy duty truck. Not too heavy, not too light. 3/4-ton was just right.  3/4-ton trucks may look like 1/2-ton models but they have heavy duty suspension parts. I also wanted real bumpers which most of these trucks had. If I have a fender-bender with my truck it’s not my fender I worry about.

I wanted an engine in my truck that was made by the millions so parts would be easy to find. The 318 cubic inch Mopar engine was my choice. It has been around for decades and used in just about every full size vehicle built by Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler. New and rebuilt parts are inexpensive and easy to find. There are stock and after-market parts to customize performance if you like. Chevy and Ford have engines of similar displacement and truck model choices as good as my Dodge. I just like Dodges.

It is not politically correct or “green,” but I wanted a vehicle built before the hysteria of emissions controls came along. That meant finding something made before 1976. An engine with so many wires, tubes and inexplicable little electric and mechanical gizmos attached that it looks like it is on life support violated my simplicity requirement. Fortunately there were untold numbers of vehicles like I wanted available in 1980. It is a little harder to find them now.

Next time I’ll give more reasons for adopting an elderly truck into your family.

* * *

Reader Bob Taylor has a 1991 Nissan pickup with a gas engine and wants to investigate getting a small diesel pickup with better mileage. He remembers Isuzu selling such a pickup that got 50 miles per gallon.

Bob, Isuzu has been around since 1936 and they are still here. I know general things about them but I always had trouble getting my fingers into those tiny engine parts and using those odd sized little wrenches they need.

If you want an Isuzu engine you will find them under the hood of Chevy trucks and cars these days. Google Isuzu Diesel Engines and you will find plenty of information to start your search. You will find contacts for technical information, history, vehicles for sale and parts to fix them.

In these latest posts I recommend specializing in one brand of vehicle, even one particular model year. If an Isuzu diesel pickup is your Dream Vehicle then go for it. However, read my next post or two and maybe you will be converted to an alternative vehicle buying philosophy. You may decide to consider something as tempting as the 1930’s vintage beauty in the above picture to use in your business. Notice the resemblance to the PT Cruiser which is so popular these days? Retro styling means old will be new again.



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