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I saw this a few weeks ago when the Charles and Hudson blog covered work trucks at the 2010 Builders’ Show. The Carmix One, from Italy, is a self-loading, diesel-powered (3-cylinder Cummins), articulated concrete mixer with a 1400-liter drum, a 180-liter loading shovel, and a self-contained water system with meter. The driving seat is reversible, and the steering circuit automatically inverts, so after you’re done loading the drum, you can flip around, drive to where you want your concrete (almost anywhere: it has 4-wheel drive, off-road “tyres,” disc brakes, and will handle a 30% gradient), and tilt the drum for discharge. I don’t know how much they cost, although I did find a used one online available in Kiev with “price negotiable.”

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A former colleague whose son is a Navy Seal sent me information about the soon-to-be-commissioned USS Independence, a littoral combat ship, or LCS. Something about big, stealth-looking, kick-ass ships really appeals to me. Designed by General Dynamics for operation in coastal areas, the LCS is fast and highly maneuverable. This “small, fast, affordable ship” — “affordable” in this case being something around $200M — has a trimaran hull. The LCS is 127.1 m long, has a max. beam of 30.4 m, and a 4.5 m draft. Top speed is something north of 45 knots, possibly as high as 60 knots. The picture above shows the Independence making a turn at an alleged 43-knot speed; its wake is impressively small and smooth.

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This probably wouldn’t pass vehicle inspection, even as farm equipment, here in Texas. On the other hand, the setting appears kind of boatish — or is that shippish?

— so maybe it doesn’t matter. But seriously this is unacceptable, and bordering on a complete travesty. Combination wrenches and electrical tape!? Are you kidding? The situation clearly calls out for a vise grip or two, duct tape, zip ties, and some paracord, probably in international orange. If you have to use electrical tape, use it for its intended purpose, like a seat belt or something.

Quit Wrenching The Steering Wheel [There, I Fixed It]


Put the present down, and back away from the tree. From Inspector Bots via Gizmodo comes this unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), complete with a wireless barrel-cam mounted on its Mil-Sim A5 Paintball gun. The barrel-cam is a low-lux color camera with night vision (“You can see up to 35 ft. in total darkness!”). This 4WD UGV, which can go more than 50 mph, is teleoperated with first person view (FPV) where you control the vehicle as though you were in it. In addition to paintballs, the weapons system can also fire pepperballs and hardened rubber rounds — those will leave a mark — with a range up to 250 feet or more. It’s designed for law enforcement personnel for applications like riot control, tactical SWAT, hostage situations, and surveillance, but I think it would be a great addition to the garage or shop, and handy to have around if Sean shows up to borrow some tools.

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And, just in time for Christmas, Campbell Hausfeld announces their new line of truck storage solutions. The TruckWrks, available exclusively at Home Depot, comprises a variety of storage options, shown above, aimed at the professional contractor with a full-sized pickup. I’m not a professional contractor, and my pickup is not full-sized, so I’m not likely to buy any TruckWrks soon. Besides, they seem a tad pricey. For example, the Hitch Caddy, intended for compressors or generators up to 300 pounds, is $499, and the Bed Box for long-bed, covered pickups is $2,649. In spite of all that, I’m still a little tempted, just so the next time I go out to help someone with a project, I can easily take most of my s#!$ with me.

To all you Toolmongers out there who do this stuff professionally, how does Truckwrks compare to alternatives?

TruckWrks [Manufacturer’s Site]
TruckWrks [The Home Depot]

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I was working on my grandfather’s tractor over the Fourth of July weekend, and I was once again struck by the brute simplicity of the machine. The engine block and frame are the same casting. The carburetor is a leaky single-barrel updraft, feeding a thirty-pound cast-iron intake manifold. The manual transmission has no synchros, making an unholy racket every time you change gears. The front wheels are so close together that it’s basically a three-ton tricycle. The steering has about twenty degrees of play.

And I enjoy the heck out of that thing. So it was designed with a crayon to be assembled with a hammer; after over sixty years in service, it’s still running. After months of working with electronic spark and multi-point fuel-injected engines, it’s very satisfying to get back to something as solid and straightforward as that old Farmall. It’s from an age where problems were solved by throwing lots of iron at them, and has something our modern marvels lack. What do you think, folks? Fuel injection and aluminum blocks, or updraft carbs and iron intake manifolds?

(Thanks to Flickr user kretyen for this great CC-licensed photo.)


A couple days ago Benjamen previewed the upcoming Tow-N-Stow trailer. However, the $2,500 price tag and the odd choice of pairing it with a stationary storage unit got some lukewarm responses from Toolmongers. In light of that, I’d like to see what y’all think of this new fold-up utility trailer from Craftsman.

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The GapShield fills the gap between your tailgate and truck bed to keep gravel, feed, mulch, or anything else from leaking out.  It also keeps the tailgate area clear so you won’t have any trouble getting it closed.

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Toolmonger Sean O’Hara has wanted a bulldozer since he was a kid; maybe the tracks are the common theme, but in an unprecedented statement Sean has rated this lettuce harvester as a tie with a bulldozer for which he would get first! The “Headrazor” lettuce harvester sports all stainless steel construction, for easy removal of lettuce guts, and you can slide the walkways and canopy in and out to easily transition between transport mode and lettuce destructor mode.

I didn’t find pricing on the site, but I’m sure Ramsay Highlander will provide you with a price quote if you want a Headraiser of your very own.

Headraiser [Ramsay Highlander]


Airplane mechanics keep detailed service and maintenance records in the plane’s logbook — it helps ’em prevent that long drop with the short stop at the end. But a logbook can also remind you to do routine maintenance on your car, or it can help you diagnose the reason for loss of gas mileage before a serious problem develops. For tractors, combines, bulldozers, graders, generators — the machines that run and build civilization — logbooks can save jobs and lives. Mechanic Support makes this Mechanic’s Logbook software that you can configure for almost any application.

You can put Mechanic’s Logbook on your computer for $16 — you might pay more than that for a dead-tree logbook.

Mechanic’s Logbook [Mechanic Support]
Mechanic Support [Corporate Site]