Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fixing a Thermos Lunchbox

What Dad's Thermos lunchbox used to look like (not his actual lunchbox)
My dad, Melburne Shimniok (he passed away in July of 2011) is the one who taught me how to fix things and I wanted to share some of his fixes and inventions, starting with his old insulated Thermos lunchbox. 

An insulated Thermos lunchbox; came with drink container
I remember as a kid seeing this old Thermos lunchbox every day he'd go to work at the sheet metal factory. Well, somewhere along the way he crushed it and cracked the end off of it.

Can you tell that my dad liked bananas?
Dad grew up in the depression and wasn't one to throw things away easily. He kept this lunchbox for at least 35 years. He fixed what broke instead of throwing it away. I try to do that too.

Using a sheet of aluminum that he cut and bent to fit in the hole, Dad pop-riveted the metal in place, then bent and pop riveted a bracket on so the clasp would still work. He used it like this for many years. I don't even remember a time when it wasn't in this state of repair.

Pop rivets aka blind rivets
Pop rivets are one of the earliest fasteners I remember learning about from Dad. They are simple to use, hold permanently and look cool when you're done. They're particularly useful when the back side of the materials to join is difficult to access; that's why these are also known as blind rivets.

You drill a hole through two or more materials, stick the rivet side of the pop rivet into the hole, then insert the shaft into a special pop rivet tool. Squeeze the handles a couple of times and it pulls the shaft, which pulls the secondary head and deforms the back side of the rivet, clamping the materials. Finally, the shaft pops off (hence the name) and you're left with a nice rivet.

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