When is KISS too simple?
It was just the other day, I met up with two Friends to introduce them to the trail and snowmobiling, I’m no expert by any means; but I have ridden in the back country, on groomed trails, and more. I know what it’s like to get machines really stuck, and to know why it’s a bad idea to go into the back country by yourself.
When I first saw my Friend’s used sled purchase, I noticed the previous owner has made a trailer hitch for the back to pull a sled. It was made of angle iron, hacked off with sharp corners, cut off bolts, and more. I visualized myself slipping off the back of the seat, and ripping off the family jewels, and maybe needing 40 stitches too.
Was this an example of ‘KISS’?
I took the liberty of warning my Friend about sharp edges, and I suggested he make the effort to remove the home-made parts and round and blend the sharp corners and assure the threads ended flush with the bottom of the nut.
The experience spawned a thought of how I would build my own hitch , just what is KISS and how do we best define it? Are the bullet items below part of KISS design?
- It does the complete job with a minimum of parts?
- Form follows function (exactly what does that mean?)
- Made in a way that does not create an unnecessary hazard?
- It’s made of readily available parts, and can be made with the tools you have on hand.
- Easily repaired or replicated.
To be honest, I don’t really know how we best sum it, same as I don’t know exactly what all makes a woman beautiful.
KISS Trailer Hitch? Just what the heck does that look like? Would I know one if I saw it? Do I need use it to know it? Do I need make it myself for it to be KISS?
The first step of KISS design is to think about it a long time, you need take at least one shower, and a walk by yourself. Those are times when good ideas come to you.
I looked at my wire feed welder, and remembered that I bought it with faith I’d figure out how to weld with it. I remember looking on as people built space frames for cars, and far more. I was amazed by how smooth and free flowing their welds were. I praised their efforts, and they told me.. “it’s easy to learn, just buy one, and start playing, you’ll be surprised how quickly you get the hang of it”.
It’s a reminder that NOTHING replaces hands on experience! My wire feed welder is 240VAC, and yours should be too, it is one of the greatest tools a DIYer can own, perhaps it follows your purchase of a drill press?
As I always say, do the math first! Not much to do here, but just where will I attach this hitch? Yes, in this case, it will be mid center of that combination rear bumper and grab bar on the back of my sled. But exactly what is the tube diameter? I grabbed my calipers and snapped them around the bar, the inside part of the calipers allowed me to go through my scrap pieces of pipe, and quickly find the right piece that might form a clamp or collar to go around that handle.
I cut off a length that seemed about right, and then noticed that opening in the bottom of my inexpensive cut off saw that allowed the blade to drop down below the cut. I laid my piece of pipe on top of that opening, and it allowed me to cut the pipe in half lengthwise with little effort or prep.
The rest is pretty much self explanatory, the heads of bolts got rounded and blended on the grinder, then finished smooth on the wire wheel, I allowed the welds to flow and fill areas that might catch clothes or flesh.
When done, the entire piece was taken to the grinding wheel, and blended to remove weld splatter, to smooth and blend, not to make it a thing of beauty, but to improve it’s function according to my vision of good function in this case. I visualized an expensive snow suit, and a big rip in the pant leg, or worse.
So.. here’s my example of a KISS part, I am no welder, I’m no professional engineer, but I am a student of KISS, and I’m very thankful I have some basic tools.
Some will read this, and say, why the heck didn’t I just go a buy the hitch? If you’re a DIYer, you already know, it’s so much more rewarding to do it yourself, and if I find it needs to be modified, I’ll do that too, as this is just step one of the process to develop a KISS part.
As I close, I think about that Lexicon we should start here.. Utterpower terms, like ‘Gang Green’, I think about the opposite of KISS.. I instantly envision a man walking into my shop. “Hello, I’m from the Government, I’m here to help you with your design. Matters not if it’s a septic system or a Solar PV System, you know it isn’t going to be anywhere near KISS, as there would be no room for Kick Backs, and funds for Re-election campaigns 🙂
Maybe we call that stuff Kiss My Ass Engineering?
All the best,