OK, so I told you that I got a Unimat … so, what do I do with it?
Well … the first thing is to fix my patio umbrella. Last year the (cheap) umbrella that I got failed. The rope broke. This was due to the wheel at the top that the rope turns on … it broke and fell out (into the post), so the rope was rubbing on the metal and well it didn’t like that.
I used a makeshift coat hanger hook to keep the umbrella open for the summer.
Now that I have the Unimat I could make a new wheel.
I got some new tool bits (Taig set from Lee Valley), an 1″ diameter acrylic rod, and new cord line rope (you can actually find “patio umbrella rope” on Amazon).
It’s been about 35 years since I used a lathe so it took me a long time (machinist time) to replicate the broken wheel … I had to “learn” how to use such a small lathe with thick material.
… anyway, I think it turned (hmm, sounds like a pun there) out very well … though there was a lot of mess since the wheel was only about 1/2″ in diameter. One thing I noticed about the original wheel was the sides are cut through with a slot … this is actually the part that failed first. When I made the new wheel I did not slot it first before I fitted it into the umbrella … I am not sure why they did that, as the wheel spins freely.
Oh, and when you use the vac to clean up the workspace make sure to keep important things away from the area … I almost “lost” an important hex screw that secured the tool post.
Now one thing I will say about repairing a patio umbrella … it’s a pain in the ass if you haven’t done it before.
I should have stated at the beginning … when you take apart the crank, make sure you document. In my case I should have taken off the cover on the other side of the handle and really looked at the latching mechanism … make sure to document what place everything is, otherwise you end up scratching your head and cursing for half an hour … and possibly (like me) end up with some extra washers. Also, melt the ends of the rope to a nice point as you may have to thread them though some small holes.