Monday, December 12, 2016

Shafted Again

Today, I dropped the transmission out of the old Dodge. Not a horrible job, but a horrible mess. Try as I may, I couldn't get the drain plug out. So, I just let it leak all over the floor. I should have removed the pan and emptied it, but I, incorrectly, figured it wouldn't be bad. At least a gallon of fluid leaked out. Armed with a pail of sawdust and a broom, I cleaned up most of it. I'll scrub it down, later. Anyway, my initial suspicions were confirmed. I snapped the input shaft. The transmission, itself, is fine. I just have to source a new shaft and it'll be back on the road in no time. They're all over eBay for 50 to 75 bucks, so it will be a cheap fix as well. Of course, I could pop for the 800 dollar billet race shaft ...........

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Carl La Fong...Adult Idiot™

The bike has been giving me fits for 6 months. In an, ever increasing, quest to spend as much money as I can, here's what has transpired. The carburetor has never been right from day one. I had two, very good, people go through it. One at the beginning and another a few years later. It was OK, but still never ran right. I finally sent it off to a guru in Pennsylvania for his Super Legatz Stage II rebuild. Worse that ever. It spewed gas out of every orifice in the carb. Multiple efforts to determine what was wrong were met with failure. Having had enough, I went to the auto parts and ordered a brand new double pumper Holley spread bore. I stuck it on and fired it. It ran OK, but there was still some problems. This is where it gets hazy. I cannot recall in what order I began throwing money at it. It was a frenzy. I replaced the plug wires. Top of the line set. Very expensive. New Accel Super Coil. New Accel cap and rotor. New Module, New pickup coil. New plugs. Now I have a bike that won't even try to start. Now, I'm sitting on my little stool, dejected and ready to call the scrapper. I look at the distributor and there are two connections. One for the tach, which I don't have and the other is the hot lead. Everything looks fine. I think, "Hmmmmmm?????", so I switch the hot lead to the tach terminal. What can I lose? If I fry something, I have plenty of extra modules. It fires instantly. I had the coil leads, inside the cap, reversed. You would think that there would be only one way to assemble it, but nooooooooooooo.............that would be too easy and make it too simple for guys like me. You would also, incorrectly, assume that the red wire was the hot lead but, again, no that is the tach connection. I guess the upside is, I have good, used cap, rotor, coil, module and pickup coil as spares, that I will never use, I'm sure

Sunday, November 6, 2016

LaFong Lampoon Vacation

We were invited to our nephew's wedding in Boise, Idaho. We both were in the mood for a road trip, so we hitched up the trailer and headed north, up Highway 395 to Reno, where we then drove to Elko and then north, again, into Idaho. Very nice drive. We attended the wedding and took off the next morning for eastern Oregon. We camped along the way for about a week until we found ourselves in Bend. We camped, again, for a few days in La Pine at a nice state park. We thought we would head over the Cascade Lakes region, but after just 4 or 5 miles, it began to snow pretty hard, so I whipped a U turn and drove back to La Pine and got back on the interstate. We decided that we would try Crater Lake. Now, what made me think that it wouldn't be as bad, or worse, weather than we encountered in La Pine will remain a mystery. I'll chalk it up to wishful thinking. As we were going uphill to the park entrance, it began to snow. We were only about a mile from the lodge, so I figured we've come this far, how bad could it get? Wrong question. As we came around a curve, I slowed down a bit, since the road was getting a dusting of snow on it. Once around the curve, I hit the gas to downshift for the grade ahead. The truck lurched hard and there was a loud "POW", and then nothing. There we were, sitting in the traffic lane, dead in the water. I had no gears that worked. I think I snapped the input shaft of the transmission. After a bit, two or three people came by and asked if we needed help. I asked then to notify the ranger at the park of our dilemma. Some time passed and no ranger appeared. There is, also, no cell service, so we couldn't call 911 or AAA. Another person drove up and said he would drive me to the lodge. So I jumped in and off we went. When we got there, it was a ghost town. Closed for the season. We saw UPS delivering something at the store, so we knew there was someone there. We found someone to let us in and I was able to call AAA. We returned to the truck and the Samaritan headed off. After several hours, panic set in. It was pitch black and snowing and no tow truck in sight. Finally, I saw emergency lights in the distance. The driver had gotten bad directions, but looked until he found us. After getting hooked up to the tow truck, we climbed into the cab and he drove us to Klamath Falls and dropped us off at an inexpensive motel. 80 bucks a night, minimal cable TV, worst WiFi ever and cereal, bagels, weak juice and coffee for breakfast. I guess southern Oregon's definition of inexpensive is different than SoCal's. Anyway, the next morning, I called the local Ram dealer and told the salesman that if he wanted to sell a new truck today, to pick us up at the tow yard. About 15 seconds later, he shows up and it's off to the dealership. I finally settle on a Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel, Crew Cab, 4wd with a 6 speed manual transmission. Papers are signed and we write a big ol' check. Now, we still have to get the fifth wheel hitch installed so we can get the trailer home. They tell us a day and a half. Too long, sez I. I go across the street to U Haul and they say 5-7 days to get the hitch and another day to install it. A large U Haul dealer and they don't have a hitch in stock?? So, we head to an RV dealer in town and he says, 2 1/2 weeks!?!?! Now the day and a half is starting to sound pretty good. As promised, the hitch is in and we're good to go. We bid a fond adieu to The dealer and go to the tow yard and fetch our trailer. We make a bee line for home and get there in, about, 11 hours. Now, how to get the old beast home? I go online and find an auto transport outfit that sounds perfect. 600 bucks and they'll deliver it to my door. They have several drivers in the Klamath Falls area and can get on it right away. I say, "Do it". the next day, I hear nothing from them, but I do hear the same BS story from 20 other people in an endless stream of emails and text messages. OK, I see what's going on. A bunch of flim flam men, basically brokers, who have no trucks or drivers of their own, hoping a desperate driver will take the load at their, cheap price. You know what they say about getting a job done right? Yup, do it yourself. I call U Haul and tell the lady on the other end what I need to do. She takes all of my info, what I'm hauling, what I'm hauling it with, where it is, where it's going and so on. She says everything is set and the trailer will be waiting in Klamath Falls. She will text me the location. So, we fuel up and back to KF we go. We arrive late in the afternoon and there is, still, no text. I go back to the same U Haul that I went to for the hitch. "Nope, we don't have it. Gimme your name." he enters it into his computer and tell us the trailer is at another dealer a few miles away. It's too late to pick it up, at this point, so we drive by the other dealer to see where they are. No problem, we'll get it in the morning. We drive to WalMart, the cheapskate RVers campground and try to sleep in the truck. That works about as well as you might expect, but we do manage to get a few hours of shuteye. Back to the U Haul lot to get the trailer. The guy says, no problem, the trailer is here, I just need to get the information from you, again. I give him all of the same info that I gave the lady on the phone when we were home. He says that he cannot rent us the trailer. The old truck won't fit and the new truck won't haul it. I tell him, while pointing at the new truck, that it would pull his building off of it's foundation and why won't a regular cab, long bed truck fit on his trailer. He tell me that his hands are tied and the computer won't allow the deal to go through. This just keeps getting better, moment by moment. There we are, 800 miles from home, without a clue. I go to the tow yard and ask if they ever deal with this sort of thing. Nope, we are just a towing and retrieval service. I go back to the dealer and ask if they do dealer trades and if their guy could help us. They said they could get the truck to Chico in a week. That's only half way home, not good enough. They suggest I go to the RV supply that quoted us 2 1/2 weeks for the hitch. They also rent trailers, he says. Back we go and I tell the guy what I need to do. No problem. I sign a few papers, hand him the debit card and we're off to the tow yard. Of course, by now, it's raining. Still, they get it on the trailer for us, we pull out the debit card again, and we're homeward bound. Again, we drive straight through, just stopping for fuel, food and to pee. We hit the front door around 11 pm. and hit the sack. Next morning, I roll the old truck off of the trailer, safe and sound, though it's seriously wounded. Here's where it gets even worse. The trailer is a two way rental, unlike U Haul, where I would drop it off at a local dealer. You guessed it. The next morning, we're on I-5, headed back to KF. We, wisely, decide to sleep in a motel, this time. A stop over in Redding and we're back at the RV dealer by 11 am. A quick unhitch and we're southbound before noon. An uneventful drive home and we're in bed before midnight. A tick over 3600 miles in one week. I have to say, that this truck is twice the truck as the old one. Quiet as a Cadillac, pretty smooth ride, especially with our trailer hooked up, tons of power, decent mileage, really cool Sirius XM stereo and a back seat to store all of our road necessities. I like the manual transmission. Just feels right. Turns me from a steering wheel holder into a truck driver. Real trucks have three pedals and no spark plugs. In all, it was an expensive, frustrating, tiring vacation. It also was fun and a bit exciting. It all worked out well. I got a spanking new truck. I thought I'd never do that again. Our trips, from now on, should be without incident, at least a far as mechanical issues

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Satisfied with the new grille opening, I decided that the original front bumper needed the heave ho. Several reasons dictated this event. First, the plastic upper and lower portions were looking shabby. The black upper was turning a charcoal gray color. Armorall and other treatments were temporary and not really much good anyway. The second reason was lighting. One thing, about this truck, that has never been satisfactory, are the factory headlights. That is giving them the benefit of the doubt. The lighting is the worst of any vehicle that I've ever owned. I ordered a pair of KC 6 inch, round, driving lamps. I do not want them on a light bar or mounted to the top of the bumper. The new bumper will have two 6 inch holes in it so I can put the lamps inside of it. To my eye, this will look cleaner. I am still going for a more heavy duty look but, again, I want to avoid the off road, rock crawler look. While I was at the metal supply, getting the material for the grille, I grabbed half a sheet of 11 gauge steel. Back in the shop, I made another cardboard mockup. The thicker steel does pose a minor problem. Unless you're Hercules, you aren't going to cut it with snips. All the cuts were made with the torch or a cutoff wheel in my power saw. I hesitate to call it a Skilsaw, since it was a freebee, off brand saw. It lasted through about 4 or 5 feet of this abuse before copious amounts of smoke belched out of the motor housing. So, back I goes to The BORG and buy a new Skilsaw. I have a worm drive model 77 but, it too, needs help because of quite a few years of horrible abuse. So, I chose a lesser model, sidewinder style. I'll try not to kill it, but I do need to repair the old workhorse. I made each piece of the new bumper with one, factory cut edge. That way, I could use that edge to align the ragged, torch cut edge of the adjoining piece and, with luck, get a nice straight seam so it would look as if the bumper was formed in a press brake rather that a bunch of weldments stuck together. So far, my plan has worked and the seams are all nice and flat as well as being straight. All total, there will be about a dozen separate pieces going into the completed assembly. The rest of the job will be pretty boring. Lots of cutting, welding and, most of all, grinding and filing. At this point, I have finished all of the cutting and have most of the pieces welded together. The welding and grinding is tedious and filthy, but I hope to have it done soon

Saturday, July 2, 2016

No Turning Back

Well, I went ahead and welded the new surround to the hood. Again, I made a series of tack welds, a few inches apart, from one end to the other. I then connected the tacks, working about half an inch at a time until the entire piece was welded in. After a bit of grinding, to smooth thing up, I spread a coat of  plastic body filler over the entire seam. There were two, very minor, low spots that required a second coat of mud. At no point is there even an eighth inch of filler anywhere on the hood. Just a thin skim coat. I hit it, again, with the epoxy primer and dusted on a guide coat  from a spray can. For those unfamiliar, the guide coat aids in the final sanding, prior to paint. The area is sanded with blocks and long boards until the black is gone. If any remains, then additional work is needed. It might be just a few more coats of primer, some spot putty or, worst case, some more body work. I think I'll get by with minimal extra work. It seems pretty smooth, as it stands. I'll bust out the sandpaper and blocks, later today, and see how my handiwork looks

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Don't You Be All Gettin' Up In My Grille, Dude

The paint prep is going well on my truck. I'm taking my time and doing it right. I used to paint cars for a living but, to be honest, I was never very good at it. I am good enough to do it one more time, I think. Aside from the peeling paint, the chrome on the grille surround has bubbled badly and begun to peel, as well. The surround is made of plastic with a "chromish" finish on it. It held up OK, I suppose and, probably, better than the cheap plating that is used on most steel parts these days. Thanks Erin Brockovich. I could have opted for a replacement from the dealer, But I have heard that they begin to bubble pretty quickly since they've been on the shelves for years. The other choice was a cheepo, eBay, Pacific Rim, knockoff. Yeah, right. So, with a plan in my head and a song in my heart, I went to the metal supply and picked up half a sheet of 14 gauge steel. Back at The Fongderosa, I took some cardboard and duct tape and made a mock up grille surround, Pleased with the way it looked, I transferred the patterns to the sheet metal and cut out the pieces with snips and a circular saw with a metal cutting blade. I made up some tabs that bolted to the hood where the original grille was attached. I then formed, with a hammer and dolly, a little bump up in the center of the surround to match the profile of the hood. I then tacked the new upper portion to the tabs, working from the center to the outside edge of the hood. Two separate pieces were welded to the ends of the upper and bent down, vertically to the top of the bumper. This completed the upper and side part of the grille. Using the same cardboard patterns, I cut out the face of the surround. I cut it in two matching, mirror image pieces. They were then tacked to the completed upper and side portion. Once everything was straight, level and even, I finish welded everything together. I worked an inch at a time and skipped around to keep warpage at a minimum. Once I was finished, I reinstalled it on the truck to check the fit. I needed to grind and file the edge, a bit, where it meets the hood. At this point, I am pleased with the look and the fit. After some thought, I have decided to weld the new surround to the hood. This should give it a custom look and confuse onlookers who, if they know the Dodge trucks, will realize that something is different. My plan, all along, was to paint it the body color, so why not make it all one piece. The actual grille, itself, will be some simple expanded mesh, left over from the barbecue build. Hey, Left over parts from a grill to make a new grille. Seems fitting and the price was right. The mesh will be powder coated in a matte black finish that will match the new front bumper. What bumper, you may ask? Stay tuned, the old factory bumper is headed for the scrap heap. I have a plan, again in my head, for a new bumper that will be very purposeful looking without being overly huge and off roadish. Something that hits a happy medium between stock wimpy and ten ton, Baja 1000, giant winch, overkill. It will have provisions for some high intensity driving lamps. The stock headlights never were, especially, bright, so they will make our roadtrips more pleasurable since my night vision isn't what it one was.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Thanks, Tree Huggers

In the past 6 or 7 years, my old Dodge truck has developed MoPar leprosy. We've all seen it. Trucks, usually silver, usually Dodges, with large patches of paint peeling off. It is relentless and there is no cure. It is because of the crummy waterborne paints that the manufacturers have to use so no unicorns will die. Now, I love my old truck. 300,000 miles and it runs as good as it did the day I drove it home. Unfortunately, it looks like it went through the hammers of Hell. Besides the paint, the interior is shot, as well. We will be addressing that part later on. Paint first. The black portions have held up fairly well, though the clear coat has failed. What remains is easily removed with a bit of judicious sanding. So, I have begun to prep the old girl for new paint. Most of the black has been sanded smooth and shot with epoxy primer. I've never used the stuff, being an old lacquer primer/surfacer guy. I have to say, it went on real nice. It has a long pot life and it cures hard. Yet, it is easy to sand and it fills well. I like it. Ordinarily I would have prepped the entire truck and masked and shot all the primer at once. Not being familiar with the product, I opted to do it a panel at a time. The hood, roof and B pillars are primed, guide coated and sanded smooth, ready for color coat. I will do the fenders and doors in the next few days. As they are, mostly, silver, all of the old flaking, peeling paint will have to come off. No problem, as it falls off on it's own. I do want to properly prep and paint the back of the cab. This will require removal of the bed. I have, pretty much, decided to leave it off and build a flat bed. The old bed is pretty beat and I'd rather not deal with it. I've watched a bunch of YouTube videos showing different bed builds. Some, very nice, some OK, some lousy. I have a plan, in my head, of what I want. Attractive, but functional

Saturday, April 23, 2016

WOT's New

A while back, I modified my throttle shaft to allow my carb to open all the way. It worked well, for a while. I noticed that it still wasn't going WOT, so I moved the ball fitting a bit closer to the center line of the throttle shaft. Much better.......until last Saturday. I was riding along and the throttle stuck in the idle position. I jury rigged a fix and was able to finish the ride. Upon getting home, it was evident that the pull on the cable was almost passing across the center of the shaft. No good, at all. I brainstormed it, for a while and decided that I needed something like most bikes have, a circular drum that allows the cable to pull, regardless of the distance from the butterfly shaft. I tossed a hunk of aluminum in the lathe and whipped up this gizmo. It screws to the throttle shaft via a sheet metal strap that I riveted to it. The cable slips in a radial groove on the edge of the drum and is secured in the open hooked hole. After a few tries, it works slick as snot on a brass doorknob. I only had to deepen the groove a tad more to get WOT. The deeper the groove the quicker the action.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Buttoning Things Up

I finally rode the bike today. It ran OK, but still not what I was hoping for. I returned to the shop, figuring I would tinker with the timing and carburetor adjustment. First, I decided to clean up a bit. Put tools away, sweep the floor, do some light house keeeping. As I was sweeping the floor, I noticed a small object being pushed into the dustpan. Further investigation showed it to be the contact button from my distributor cap. The spark had been jumping 1/2 inch, from the coil to the rotor, instead of traveling through the contact. Not good. I yanked the cap off and put the button back where it belongs. The bike fired right up and ran so much better. The idle was better. I reset the timing and all seems well, at this point. I'm so glad that I noticed that button, as I was cleaning up. I would have chased my tail forever, trying to figure out the problem

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Joining The Reserves

I finally got all of my ducks in a row and fired up the bike. I only ran it for 30-40 seconds. The pump seems to work well now. I was surprised to see the amount of gas that flowed from the idle bleed line. I had it running into a can and it pumped a quart, or so, into it. I thought it was no big deal, and I'm sure it is normal. Normal for a standard installation, that is. As we know, this is far from normal. I soon realized that there was a big problem. Let's back up a few years. When I added the pump, I also added a three way valve. On, off and reserve. It has worked flawlessly. When I run out in thee main tank, I would reach down and switch to reserve. Easy Peasy. Now it is very evident that this will not work anymore. Why, you may ask. The culprit is the idle bleed line. When I switch to reserve, the pump will draw from the reserve tank as it always did. However, and this is a big however, the idle bleed line will still flow the excess gasoline into the main tank. I estimate this will take 2 or three minutes and then my reserve tank will be sucked dry. Now, I could then, switch back to the main tank but this seems ponderous and Mickey Mouse. So, what I did was re engineer the fuel lines. The three way valve went into the parts stash. I ran a line from the main tank to the fuel pump suction side. I teed into that line and ran another hose from the tee to the reserve tank. In between the tee and the reserve tank, I installed a small, electric fuel pump and an electric shut off valve. When I run out of gas, I just flip a switch, the valve opens and the fuel from the reserve tank is pumped into the main tank. After 5 minutes, or so, I can switch it off. That's it. Nothing else to do but to look for a gas station.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Error Begats Error

Some would call it a comedy of errors. I prefer tragedy. I seems all of my, carefully diagnosed problems were misdiagnosed. I did not need a new cam. I did not need a new fuel pump push rod. So far, it would appear that it was, after all, a fuel pump failure. I sent off for a kit to rebuild it. I contacted the manufacturer and the inventor of the pump. He said I need to run an idle bleed line. This is a line that runs from the regulator to the tank. A return line. My tank has just one fitting, the outlet. He told me it has to be plumbed so that the gas enters the top of the tank. Fine for a car, bad for a bike. I thought about running a tube up through the bottom of the tank that almost touched the inside, top of the tank. I later felt that it would be awkward to get at and would negate the quick release tank setup that I showed in an earlier post. I finally thought, why not just drill a hole in the top of the tank and solder in a bung to accept the return line. It would be right there in front of God and everyone else to see. Sort of a form follows function, industrial, racer tech look. Here is how it turned out. of course, the paint suffered, but it's acrylic lacquer so it's an easy fix. I drilled another hole in the top of the neck  and ran the hose through it and down to the regulator, which is just at the juncture of the neck and the front down tubes. I also fabbed up a little plate to hold a rubber grommet to keep the hose from chafing. I like the look. no nonsense and purposeful.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Time For A Slice Of Humble Pie

Well, the "Boy Genius"™ blew it. When I did the new fuel system, with the mechanical pump, I thought I had done everything right. The bike has been running for quite some time and I've been very pleased with it. In the past month, or so, I've noticed it was running a bit rough. I attributed it to the carburetor. I have a core in the shop and all of the parts, except a small spring kit, to do a performance rebuild. It may, or may not be up to the standards of a Quadrajet guru, but it should be far better than what I have now. However, the carb may not be to blame. The bike quit on me. A quick roadside diagnosis revealed there was no fuel getting to the engine. Again, I trailered it home. I yanked off the pump and a bench test showed that it was fine. This left one last cause. The one that I had least hoped for. I knew that a billet camshaft requires a brass tipped fuel pump pushrod. I bought one and dutifully installed it, when I did the mechanical pump conversion. What I, stupidly, did was to install it backwards, with the brass tip on the pump end. The hardened steel pushrod wiped out the cam. So, today was spent tearing down the bike to access and remove the camshaft. Not a horrible job, but not one that I relished. I about 2 hours, the cam was laying on the floor. I have a replacement on the way. This will also allow me to fix a seeping front crank seal that has been misting the sides of the bike with oil for a year or so and to touch up and address some other cosmetic issues.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

It's The Pits

I was approached,  by my church, and asked if I could build a barbecue grill. They liked the one that I built, several years ago, for another church. We decided that it didn't need to be as large as that one. I settled on one that has a 60X30 cooking surface. The frame was welded up, using 1 inch, 13 gauge square tubing. The fire box is 10 gauge black iron. I bough a 4X 8 foot sheet. I had the metal supply cut it to 30 inches and the remnant cut in half which gave me two 9 inch strips. This was money well spent. A full sheet weighs too much for me to handle. The 30 inch by 8 foot piece was about as much as I could deal with. I made the short cuts with a torch. I then had one 30X60, two 9X60 and two 9X30 pieces which I welded up into the box. It was then welded to the frame. Time for the grill. This is the third BBQ that I've built. The first two had grills made from 1/4 inch rod. It was tedious and expensive. I opted for expanded mesh this time. I made a frame from 1 inch angle iron and welded the mesh to it. I also used some of the mesh, on each end, to serve as places for  all of the stuff, like utensils, condiments, gloves and so on. The lift mechanism just evolved, no real plan. I used more of the 1 inch square tube to make the mount for the crank and all the attendant stuff that goes with it. The roller is a piece off EMT capped off on each end with large, flat washers with captive nuts welded to the inside. The crank is welded to a bolt that threads into the end of the roller into the captive nut. I cut a disc from some of the 10 gauge. It is about 6 inches in diameter. I drilled four 3/8 inch holes in it at 90 degrees. With a hacksaw, I cut slots so it will act as a ratchet. The pawl engages the slots as the crank is turned. Each notch raises the grill about 1 inch. To lower it, you lift the weight on the end of the pawl and crank it down. It works pretty well. I used 3/32 steel cable, which should be plenty strong. Initially, I planned on wheels at one end and just lifting the other end to move it about. This thing weighs a ton, so I dug some heavy duty casters out of my stash, cut some mounting plates and welded them to the legs after cutting them down to allow for the height of the casters. Much better. A good coat of high heat paint and another project is done. The members were very pleased with it. I know it will get put to good use. We're an eatin' church

Monday, February 1, 2016

You Can't Be Too Thin, Too Rich...........

......or have too many clamps. I watched a video on making your own clamps. One person commented that, as nice as they are, you can go to Harbor Freight and buy them for about five or six bucks each. I disregarded this as the rantings of someone who would rather take out his debit card than build something he would be proud of. I opted to build my own. After about 8 hours, I tend to agree with the skeptic. Here is what I have, so far. I need to buy some more all thread in order to finish the last two clamps. They work well, though they are slow and a little awkward. Commercial clamps have screws that are half left threads and half right threads. This allows them to open and close twice as fast. Also, you can spin them by holding both handles. These require spinning each handle separately. However, they do work and they work well, so they are a success, with some reservations. Will I build more? No way. I'll get the ChiCom Harbor Freight cheepies.

Just a brief overview of their construction. The jaws are two thicknesses of 1/2 plywood, faced with maple.
I cut 5/8 steel rod into 2 inch lengths. They were drilled. half of them to 3/8 and the other half to 5/16. Those were tapped to 3/8 NC. The handles are walnut with 3/8 coupling nuts epoxied into holes bored in the ends. They are double nutted onto the all thread. There were a few more minor steps that I won't bother entering since if you do decide to build your own I don't want to be held responsible for your frustration. At least I can say that I built them myself. If anyone asks, I'll tell them it was a piece of cake