Category Archives: Fixing Stuff

Preparing a Pressure Washer For The Winter

Whether you call it them pressure washers or power washers, these are darned handy machines to have around. For portability, we use models with a gasoline engine and are on our second one. The first lasted for a few years until one wither the water in the pump turned to ice and finally cracked the housing. As they say “and that was that”. I thought about just buying a pump but for a little bit more we bought a whole new unit. My friends also cautioned me to always winterize the unit to make it last through Michigan winters. That was 6-8 years ago and I have learned a few tips to share.

By the way, the photo above really is of our pressure washer. I don’t have space to store it indoors so I really do need to Winterize it. Regardless of the brand you buy, there are three things I would tell you to do.

Drain the gas and/or use a mix with Stabil

Assuming you have a gasoline pressure washer, you might want to drain the gas from the tank and run the unit until it stalls. There are two reasons for this – gas can spoil if left untreated and also, when it evaporates out of the carb it will leave a gummy residue that may need to be cleaned out. In my case, my washer only sits idle a few months so I don’t always drain it. I’ve not had a problem so far. I always drain my chain saws because they may sit an unpredictable amount of time.

The second recommentation that you can do along with the first is to always add Stabil, a gasoline conditioner, that keeps it from breaking down for at least 12 months. I always add it to all of my gas cans when I fill them.

Blow out the system and disconnect the gun/wand and hose

What did in my first pressure washer was not draining the water out of the pump. I made a small air fitting by taking an old piece of hose and a 1/4″ air fitting that I can screw into the pressure washer and blow all of the water out of the pump, lines and wand. It works great.

I just use junk hose to make the adapter. You just need a male hose fitting on one end and a way to connect your compressor on the other.

If you really want, you can buy pre-made winterizer fittings for $12-20. The above fittings were all made with old stuff I had laying around.

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Pressure Washer Pump Saver and Winterizer Attachment

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Sun Joe SPX3001 Electric Pressure Washer | 2030 PSI | 1.76 GPM | Hose Reel

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Sun Joe Electric Pressure Washer | 1740 PSI Max | 1.59 GPM | 12-Amp

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Drain The Soap Tank

Don’t forget to drain the soap tank also. You don’t want it to freeze and crack anything. I did forget this one year and had to rebuild the fitting that cracked with epoxy.

Don’t forget to drain the soap from the plastic soap tank.

Add a Winterizing fluid

I then use an aerosol based pump winterizer. It can blow the water out by itself technically but I’m paranoid. I use my compressor to blow out everything and then I disconnect the air lines and wand/gun. I then connect the Briggs & Stratton 6151 Pressure Washer Pump Saver Anti-Freeze and Lubricant to further protect against freezing and to lubricate the pump and prevent the O-rings and seals from drying out. This works great for me and one can will last me 2-3 years at least.

This is what I use and have never had a problem.
All you do is connect the hose assembly to the hose inlet and push the trigger. The foam will come out pretty quick – it doesn’t take a lot. Note, stand to the side or you will wear the foam. I kid you not that it took me two years of wearing foam until I remembered to stand to the side when filling the unit with foam. Also, remove the hose and wand/gun before doing this or you will use a lot of material to purge them also. You can blow them out or even hang and drain them vs. using this stuff unnecessarily.

Now a ton of reputable companies sell some form of pump protector / winterizer. I suspect one or two companies actually make it and then applies different labels – Generac, Briggs & Straton, Stabil, etc. Just go with a name brand and I bet you will be fine.

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Pressure Washer Pump Saver Uses Anti Freeze And Lubricant Formula 4 Oz 6039 New

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Pressure Washer Blow Out Adapter/Pump Saver

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Summary

I hope this helps you out. My current pump is still going strong even though it is out in the winter weather every year. The paint is fading but it is mechanically solid.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Replacing the Drive Belt On A 1998 Simplicity Broadmor 16HP Tractor

This fall we had a ton of leaves to mulch as usual. This means every week I mow our acre and a half for about two hours at a time. Long ago, I replaced the OEM Simplicity blades with Oregon Gator blades in the tractor’s 44″ mowing deck to help with this. At any rate, I pushed on the parking brake and all of a sudden heard a weird rattling sound so I turned the tractor off expecting to see a branch stuck underneath – no such luck. I started feeling and looking around and the drive belt felt loose and the idler assembly was as far as it could go. I looked closer and could see the cracks in the 21 year old original drive belt. Argh …. it needed a new drive belt and I really didn’t have the time but what are you going to do?

Finding the Belt

Simplicity did me a favor by having a decal under the hood that identified the drive belt part number along with a few other belts:

The top one is the drive belt – the 1717932 part number.

The correct drive belt part number for the tractor is the 1717932. If you look that part number up, it is an 84″ belt with a 4L profile. “4L” means that the top of the V=belt is a 1/2″ wide and from top to bottom, it is 5/16″ tall. The “L” means the belt is for light industrial or lawn & garden use.

Now, one could argue the original belt lasted 21 years so just get the same thing – either an original Simplicity part of a good 4L-84 belt. I tend to like safety margins and when something is a bear to do, I really just want to do it once and not worry about it again for a long time if ever. I have no idea how long the tractor will last – I’m replacing parts like the ignition switch and starter and even more recently torquing the motor mount screws back down. More concerning is that it smokes just a tad after it starts (wearing valve stem seals I bet) and has a slow oil drip (seals). At some point it will die on me but I do hope it is a long way down the road plus a friend pointed out I like tinkering and it gives me something to do – as if I ever have free time anways.

At any rate, let’s get back to the drive belt. All belts deteriorate over time. The question becomes how fast will they break down? There are many factors including the rubbers and fibers used plus the strain placed on the belt. 21 years was really a good run but I wanted to up my game and move to a 4LK belt – the “K” means that that Kevlar fiber is used vs. polyester or whatever.

Ordering The Belt

Once I knew the Simplicity part number, it was easy to do the searching and I found a Kevlar belt on Amazon that I ordered. Amazon’s delivery speed is astounding now – I have Prime, ordered in on 11/21 and receiver it on 11/22! I like Amazon because I can see the ratings and the delivery speed is fantastic.

I did take a bit of a gamble on the D&D PowerDrive belt – it had one good review and one complaint that it was the wrong size. D&D belts get mixed reviews but seem to be more positive than negative so we’ll see. I’ll post updates about how well it lasts because it definitely will be installed correctly.

If you are wondering why I didn’t get a Gates or a Dayton – I tried to go with an easy purchase experience. Hopefully it sorts out in the long run and time will tell.

How to Install the Belt

The installation went pretty well with two notable exceptions that I will cover shortly. I did some digging on the web and found a PDF of what to do that I then converted into a screenshot for you:

My two biggest headaches were unplugging the PTO clutch snd the moving the damn cotter pin on the brake rod. For the PTO clutch electric fitting, slide a blade up under the locking tab and then keep working around the block with a small screw driver to try and loosen it up. I suspect that fitting hadn’t been disconnected since the factor and it did not want to come loose. Be careful to pull the fitting apart by focusing your efforts on the plug and the housing – if you pull on the wires, they may pull out. Eventually it did come apart and when I reassembled it, I applied silicone di-electric grease to both seal the connections and ease disassembly in the future.

The hardest step was removing the cotter pin (C) that secures the brake rod (A) onto the brake lever (B) in Figure 42 above. It is an absolute pain in the ass to get to and I had to work blind because I could only get one hand back in there. How they made it a pain was that the closed end of th pin was facing towards the inner rear meaning I could not hook it and pull. What I did was to take and hook the flared ends and pulled them relatively straight. I then shoved one jaw of a pair of needlenose pliers into the eye of the pin. To remove the pin, I then rotated the pliers and wound/curled the pin around the jaws until it was out of the hole. Sheeesh. When I reassembled it later, I put the eye facing the front of the tractor so I can grab and pull it way easier. By the way, I did not use a Dremel to cut out the pin because the plastic reservoir for the transmission oil was too close for comfort.

Before you remove the old belt, pay careful attention to the belt and how it passes around the brake assembly, through the idler assembly and around the arm. The illustration above is pretty good but the devil is in the details and the belt must not rub on anything when reassembled. My tip would be to take a ton of digital photos to refer to. In the old days you had to sketch stuff and the photos are way easier.

Here’s the original bet relative to the brake assembly.
Idler view one
Idler view 2
Clearing the steering arm
The electric PTO clutch
The original belt was in tough shape
The new belt was just a tad bit shorter when I stretched them out side by side with my hands. I learned years ago to confirm the belt as best you can before you install it. I double checked the part number on the bag before I even began just to cut my risk. It sucks to have stuff apart or be in a real awkward position and then find out you have the wrong part.

In Conclusion

Kudos to Simplicity for a good illustration and guide. Re-assembly went smoothly and I then mowed/mulched leaves for two hours including some really thick areas so it passed the first trial by fire. Looking up under the tractor, the belt looks solid – no fraying or cracks. We’ll see how it holds up over time and I’ll report back but so far, so good. I hope this helps you out.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Carburetor For Briggs & Stratton 16HP 14HP IC Allis Chalmers Simplicity Tractors

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SIMPLICITY ALLIS CHALMERS TRACTOR DIFFERENTIAL ASSEMBLY 157471 *NOS PART* H-55

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I thought My 1998 Simplicity 16HP Broadmor Tractor Had Bent A Crank – The Real Problem Was A Surprise!!

We bought our Simplicty 16HP Broadmor tractor back in 1998 mainly because my dad had a Simplicity that he kept running for almost 30 years. So here are in on 2019 and the tractor is starting to show its age plus the dealership is long gone so a lot of self-service and tinkering happens now.

I was mowing leaves a few weeks back on out acre and a half property when I had to turn the tractor off to pick up branches and move stuff around. I went to start it up and immediately heard thud, thud , thud, thud … so I turned the tractor off. Oh crap … the last time I heard a sound like this a car had bent a rod. I immediately checked the oil and it was almost empty.

Now I was really pissed off at myself. I knew it was burning oil but why had I let it get so low? I thought it had a low oil level protection device to stop it running … Needless to say,I was mad and I knew the fault was all mine. It was the worst possible time also – we simply could not afford to replace the tractor.

So, I filled the oil and figured I would run it until it failed. I had to get the leaves done and that’s just what I did. I ran it for another hour and put the tractor away while feeling like an idiot the whole time.

A week later we had a ton more leaves on the ground so I went to get the tractor out of the shed fully expecting it not to start. Much to my surprise, it did start and I made it half way through the yard when I had to turn it off to eat lunch with my wife.

When I went back out I started it up and it was really clanging away and the tractor was really vibrating but the engine sounded good. I turned the engine off and thought about it. I assumed it was a rod because of the low oil but what if that was not the problem?

The exhaust was tight and not rusted out. The oil level was good. So I started it with the top open and put my hand on the engine to feel for vibrations and the thudding stopped …. Holy Crap???? I took my hand off and it started thudding. Put it on and it stopped. I turned the ignition off and found that I could move the engine on the frame!!

I looked under the frame and one motor mount screw was in the hole but loose. Another was cocked in the hole ready to fall out and the other two werre missing. As luck would have it, I found one screw in the yard. Looking at it jogged my memory of a screw I found a few weeks earlier and couldn’t figure out where it came from. To this day I am not sure if I threw the screw out or tossed it somewhere in my shop – I thinkI threw it out.

So, after almost 21 years, the motor mount screws came loose. It never occured to me to check them. Now, here’s what I want to share with you – the screws are M8 diameter x 1.25 pitch x 30mm long. You can find them at hardware stores, etc. The original bolts also have a washer and lockwasher. I bought the replacement and was good to go.

Say hello to Mr. replacement bolt, washer and lock washer. After torquing things down, the tractor was running smooth again. Duh.

The torque spec is 40 foot pounds and if you want to never deal with them again, put a bit of blue loctite on the screws. Note, I would highly recommend that if the engine is hot, let the engine cool down before torquing on aluminum. I’ve watched threads strip on hot aluminum way too many times and have learned to be patient although a floor fan pointing at the engine will help it cool down a lot faster.

When I started the tractor again after replacing the bolt and torquing down all the bolts it was a huge relief to see and hear the tractor operating normally. I figured it was a good story to share.

Moral of the story – don’t assume and check before you jump to a conclusion. I did make a big assumption based on the sound and freaked myself out before I started the process of elimination that I should have started with. I hope this helps you out.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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How To Find Out Torque Specifications for Screws and Bolts: An Outstanding NASA Reference Guide

We’ve all been there – you’re working on a project and wondering how much to torque something so either we don’t bother or just take a guess. What I only found out recently was that in 2017, NASA published a really cool guide called “Installation Torque Tables for Noncritical Applications” – with the document ID as NASA/TM—2017-219475.

The document provides the torque specifications for a ton of general purpose fasteners that do not have an exact specification assigned – hence the term non-critical. As you can imagine, they get very specific in critical/risky situations.

At any rate, given the size of the bolt or screw, the thread pitch, the material and the depth, they provide a reference torque specification you can follow for both metric (M6, M8, M10, etc.) and SAE (#8, #10, 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, etc.) fasteners. Note, they provide an assembly torque (which is a 65% load from failure) and 100% torque. I use the assembly torque spec.

They also recommend that the depth of thread engagement be 1.5x the diameter of the fastener. So a 1/4″ (0.25″) fastener should have at least 0.25″ x 1.5 = .375″ (3/8″).

Here’s an example table. This is for fasteners going into 6061-T6 aluminum with a thread depth of 3/16″. If we go down for a 10-32 UNF screw, the assembly torque is 22.2 inch pounds. I’d use that lacking any other detailed information. I could go up to 34.2 inch pounds but I have stripped so many fasteners I don’t risk it. I’m a huge fan of Loctite so I go with that and the assembly spec.

Kudos to the two authors and to NASA for making it available. The PDF is a cool reference document and one I use whenever I can’t find a specific torque value for a given application. All you machinists and engineers – you know way more than me so please let me know if you have other resources you recommend.

To access this cool guide, click here for the NASA link or click here for the copy on our server.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Videos: How to Diagnose Faulty 2008 Toyota Highlander Hood Latch Switch Causing Intermittent Alarm Problems Plus Replacing the Micro Switch

Okay, while researching what to do with my 2008 Toyota Highlander’s flaky alarm, I ran across some good videos you can watch on how to diagnose the switch and even how to replace the microswitch. As for me, I wrote up how I bypassed the sensor by creating a loopback plug from the old sensor’s wire. My approach still allows the rest of the alarm system to work just fine and can be done in less than an hour with little to no cost. With that said, let’s take a look at these really well done videos that helped me think out my approach – especially the first one on diagnosing the switch.

Diagnosing the Switch

The following is the best video I found on diagnosing the problem and he even disassembles the latch to show you what is going on in detail – it’s very well done. This video helped me figure out my approach and kudos to Ozzstar for making it:

If You Want To Replace the Microswitch

This next video is really well done and is specific to the 2008 Highlander. He ordered the same Panasonic automotive grade micro switch that Toyota used: ABS1413409 from Digikey.

I hope this helps you out.



If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Easy & Cheap Solution for 2008 Toyota Highlander Hood Latch Sensor Switch Causing Faulty Alarms: Make A Loopback Plug

We recently became the new owners of a 2008 Toyota Highlander. It was in great shape and I thought we got a pretty good deal on it. The previous owner disclosed to us that the hood alarm switch was flaky and the car alarm would go off randomly.

After we bought the Highlander and returned home I did some research that night. There is in integral microswitch in the hood latch assembly that detects if the hood is open or closed. The alarm system will not arm if it detects that the hood is open and it will sound an alarm if someone tries to open the hood. Uhm… ok. My first thought was “you can only open it from the inside lever that is protected by the door alarms so why have this one?”

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, the switch is a known problem. It’s also one of the rare times where I will say Toyota did a bad design. Putting a basic microswitch in the front of a car where it will get wet all the time and corrode, not to mention the impacts and grease/oil from the latch itself, is not really that good of an idea — at least not to me.

After reading and watching videos, it seemed like there were three options:

  • Replace the whole hood latch assembly that includes the sensor. Third party, these latch assemblies were about $56 on Amazon and $50-60 on eBay. Original Toyota would be higher, of course. Pro: It is pretty easy to remove the assembly and install this one. Con: It’s a relatively expensive and will fail sooner or later unless someone fixed the switch design and sealed it better.
  • Replace just the microswitch. You can get the unit real cheap from Digikey and other suppliers plus there are Youtube videos that show you what to do. The previous owner did this and it worked for about two years he said. Pro: Real cheap (under $10 including shipping). Cons: Takes time and will not last without figuring out some better way to seal the original design.
  • Simply bypass the switch. As mentioned earlier – you can’t open the hood from the outside so what are the odds that someone will successfully break into the car and then open the hood without setting off the alarm? The risk is real low – low enough for me to go with this option. Pro: Easiest of all and is a permanent solution. Con: The hood alarm sensor will no longer work. This is the one I went with.

I’d like to point out that just unplugging the sensor is not an option. Doing that will make the computer think the hood is open and the car alarm will not arm at all. This means you must pick one of the three options listed above. I opted for the last one – I bypassed the sensor by creating a loopback plug – a fancy term meaning I joined the input and output wires together thus making it look like the switch was always closed so the computer would think the hood was closed regardless of whether it was or not.

If you’d like to learn more about diagnosing the problem, seeing how to remove the latch and/or how to replace the microswitch, click here.

What I want to do next is walk you through what I did. If you are not comfortable with basic wiring, I’d recommend against your trying this just to be up front. Always ask yourself if you can reverse what you are about to do or can you recover if something goes wrong – if the answer is “no”, then don’t do it. For example, don’t cut wires off right next to a fitting – leave yourself some pigtails in case you need to reconnect them.

One last comment – these directions are just based on my 2008 Highlander. Different years and models may not be like this. Research your vehicle before doing anything like this.

Bypassing the Sensor

So, to bypass the sensor we just need to create a circuit that normally exists when the switch is closed. First, I needed to get a better look at the location of the wiring so the cover needed to come off.

The plastic cover between the grill and the frame needs to come off. It is held in place by Toyota push-type retaining clips and two 10mm screws. The screws are to the front on the left and right sides. Note that two of the clips on the right side are bigger than the others – this will help you with reassembly later.
I use a small flat screw driver to pop the middle part up. You then grab hold of that, lift up and the clip comes right out.
Just remove the clips and then the plastic cover simply lifts off. I found one more that anchors the grille in the middle of the grille vertically and I removed it. That gave me ample room to work and I did not need to remove the grille given what I planned to do.

I did not take as many photos as I should have so let me explain. With the plastic cover off and the middle anchor clip removed, I had plenty of access to the switch and wiring to see what to do. The wire assembly runs from the hood latch – and there is only one wire – do not pick the hood cable used to open the hood. The wire runs from a small switch in the latch assembly and then plugs into a connector shortly below it.

I inserted a small blade screw driver to release the plug from the socket. To be safe, make sure you confirm the wires that you plan to cut lead up to the sensor and are *not* the wires going to the harness / wiring loom.

Why care? Because if you cut the wires on the sensor side and connect them together, you can easily replace the hood latch assembly and go back to having a sensor if you want. However, if you cut the wiring loom, it’s gone. You can manually splice in but it simply is not an elegant approach.

Note I am saying wires and when you look at the plug it looks like just one black wire. What you are seeing is the insulation tube that is black. Inside are two thin green wires that run from the plug to the sensor switch.

I’ll not get awards for artwork but hopefully this will give you an idea. When I faced the front of my Highlander, the wiring from the sensor was on the right hand side. You need to confirm this just in case. It is the wire to the sensor switch wire that you want to cut and not the wiring from the harness. On my 2008 Highlander, the harness wiring was on the left.

Once I was certain which wire to cut, I reached in with some snips and cut the wire leaving a couple of inches to work with. DO NOT CUT THE WIRES FLUSH TO THE PLUG!! You need a short length of the wires to connect together to make the circuit loop back.

To make work easier, I took the short wire with the plug on it and worked at a bench where everything was handy, I stripped a bit off the end of each wire, twisted the bare wires together, soldered them, bent them over the small wire pigtail and then used heat shrink tubing and electrical tape to secure everything. Total overkill but I never wanted to bother with this again.

Here’s the finished result. The front of the car is to the left. Part of the hood latch spring is to the upper right and we are looking down at the newly made loopback plug. As far as the alarm system is concerned, the hood is closed. The red color is the heat shrink tube I had on hand. I folded the heat shrink tubing over at the end and then applied electrical tape to seal it.

I installed the newly created loopback plug back into the socket. I then tested the system by turning the alarm on with the key fob, putting the key fob out of signal range in the garage and waited for the system arm. Once the alarm indicator light went solid on the dash, I simply reached in through the open window and tried to open the door from the inside and the alarm went off. Yeah, I had to run back to that fob to shut it off 🙂

If the system thought the hood was open, it would never have armed by the way. That’s why you can’t just unplug the switch. I then reinstalled the plastic cover by installing the clips and then pushing the middle piece down to lock it in place. By the way, remember that the right two clips are bigger than the others. The two 10mm screws went back in with a dab of non-seize on each just in case they ever need to come out again.

That was it – the alarm is happily armed and protecting the Highlander as I write this and not one single false alarm since. I hope this helps you out.

9/3/2019 Update: This has worked great for me. Not one single problem since.


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Waging War On Mosquitoes – Got a My4Sons Sprayer To Apply Talstar Pro Insecticide!!

We’ve had a crazy amount of rain this year in Southwest Michigan. It seems we can’t go more than a day or two without rain. The photo at the top of our yard shows how everything is a lush green plus it shows the standing water that won’t go down because everything is so water logged due to all of the rain. We have friends and family complaining about the huge amount mosquitoes that are attacking them as a result – we don’t have that problem. I declared war on mosquitoes last year and upped my attack plan even further this year.

The ground is so wet and soft that my tractor got stuck and I had to pull it out. It’s sldo so wet that the mosquito population has just exploded and folks are saying that ticks are booming as well.

Last year, we started using Talstar Pro insecticide sprayed from an 18 volt two gallon Ryobi sprayer and I wrote a blog post about it because I was so happy with the results. It took me four batches (8 gallons in other words) of spray with 1 oz of Talstar per gallon to get control. It also took over an hour to apply. It definitely did the job but it took a long time and my arm ached from holding all the Ryobi sprayer unit as I walked around.

To be honest, the Ryobi far exceeded my expectations it was just too small, didn’t spray as far as I would like and holding it was killing my elbow, shoulder and back. I decided in April to buy a better sprayer and started researching on the Internet and reading reviews on Amazon. I happened across a vendor on Amazon called “My 4 Sons”, their features looked great and they got very good reviews so I decided to order one.

My 4 Sons Sprayers

First off, they really are a family owned business started by Lance and Lisa Ensign in 1998. Yes, they do have four sons. At any rate, they started with carpet cleaning and eventually branched into battery powered sprayers. I’m no expert but I think they fill a middle niche between little light use sprayers and the big dedicated units that you pull by a tractor or ATV.

In terms of features, what attracted me were:

  • a 4.5 + a bit gallon tank (the listing says 4 but it is at least 4.5)
  • 0-60 PSI with a claim of spraying up to 30 feet with the right nozzle
  • 15 foot extended hose
  • Wand and pistol – I thought I would use the pistol too but find myself sticking with the wand
  • Heavy caddy to pull it around in or backpack straps (I knew I would never use the backpack feature)
  • A ton of accessories
  • The battery can be easily accessed and replaced – it just slides into a compartment with a door
  • They say the battery will last up to 8 hours. I’ve run it for 2-3 hours and never had a problem

The following is an Amazon link for the exact model I bought:

Here’s another model they have without the caddy and extended hose:

It Arrived

In typical Amazon fashion, the unit showed up a few days later in a big box. What surprised me were parts everywhere and very limited instructions. The guide said to call Lance and listed his number. I left a message and he called me back a short while later and I got everything squared away. He and I then exchanged a few text messages also and they replaced a couple of accessory parts no hassle at all.

Here’s the tank, charger and caddy fresh out of the box. Some of the parts were in the tank to save space.
It just slides in and is retained by a velcro strap then there is a door that snaps in place to seal it.
Here’s the battery.
the battery has terminals on the top and simply slides into the compartment and makes contact at the end. A velcro strap allows you to snugly keep the battery in place.
Here’s the assembled unit with everything attached – the backpack straps and the extended hose. I removed the backpack straps shortly after.
Here’s how it looks now with just the tank assembly, extended hose, wand and caddy. Note how I had to tie the top bungee strap. I need to go over uneven ground and the tank can tumble off the caddy if the bungee can stretch too much. I’ll probably replace the bungee straps with just plain straps at some point. What you see above works for now – I just am not a huge fan of the looks.

Mosquito Control Results

When the mosquitoes first started this Spring, it was brutal. We were getting crazy amounts of rain and even at 1.5oz of Talstar per gallon of water and weekly applications, we couldn’t stay on top of them. I’m pretty sure the Talstar was getting washed off. Normally, Talstar is really good about leaving a residue that kills the mosquitoes but not when it is getting poured on almost every day. I tried to time my re-applications with at least one following dry day and the more the better. I like to apply at dusk when the mosquitoes are active by the way.

The sprayer and adjustable tipped wand worked wonders. With the My 4 Sons system I could really reach out with the spray -maybe 20-30 feet depending on how I adjusted the jet. Plus I could open up the spray and broadly apply it to the underbrush, leaves, grass by the house, bushes, eaves and so forth.

Instead of just 8 gallons, I’m applying about 12 and it takes me about 30-45 minutes to do so. This is because of the bigger tank and that I can spray a higher volume with the new system.

I’d say it took about three weeks to get on top of things and now I am spraying the normal 1 oz per gallon of water about every 4 weeks. We’ve just made it through one of these normal cycles and will spray again near the end of June – so we have another week to go as of my writing this and the mosquitoes are under control.

The Bottom Line

We can go outside safely now but we do hear of folks fighting tons of mosquitoes. I recommend Talstar Pro to anyone who will listen. If you have small urban property, you can start with a pump sprayer and move up from there.

Note, we have dogs and treat them for fleas and ticks. I hate ticks but they don’t bother me much unless I am in the woods. Talstar Pro is great if you need to get rid of ticks and a variety of other insects as well – read the label below.

I’d guess I’ve applied about four batches with the My 4 Sons unit now and am very happy with it. If you need a bigger sprayer for whatever it is that you are doing, I definitely recommend them.

Here are some links on Talstar P Pro if you want to learn more:

PS – The 18 volt Ryobi Sprayer is still going strong even after a ton of use last year and is now being used to hose down plants with fungicide. Since stuff isn’t drying out, we are seeing a lot of fungus development on our roses and vegetables. I’m experimenting between Immunox (which is not impressing me) and Daconil for fungus control. Point being for people with smaller areas, the little Ryobi is still a solid choice.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Furnace Filter Change Log

As I get older, I remember less and less just to be candid. An old rule of thumb I was told once was to change your furnace filters when the time changes – the whole fall back, spring forward thing. The problem is two fold – #1, I eventually change them around that date and #2, the more modern filters with finer and finer filtration capabilities need to be changed more frequently – maybe every 60 days with a 1″ filter.

So, I created a small “change log” sheet that I taped on the side of the furnace to help me remember when I last changed them. It’s a simple thing – I just made a four column table where I could record the date I changed the filter. Done.

Here’s the PDF that you can print if you are interested.

Click on the above to open or right click to save in your browser.

If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


The EZRed MR34 Extendable 3/4″Socket Wrench is a Beast With Two Quick and Easy Tweaks

I have both SAE and Metric 3/4″ socket sets that come out once or twice a year when I am working on big bolts on cars and trucks. As you may know, the longer the wrench, the more torque you can apply. Back when I was younger would would slide a piece of pipe or heavy wall tube over a ratchet or breaker bar to get even more mechanical advantage. We definitely snapped some socket wrenches while doing this as we exceeeded their design specs.

You see, a ratcheting socket wrench has limits as to how much torque the mechanism can handle before something either bends or breaks. Quite often, the rathchet pawl would bend/crumple and no longer be able to engage the teeth of the gear. When that happens, we’d toss the cheap wrench.

This is why breaker bars were made by the way – they have no ratcheting mechanism and, thus, can handle more torque. There’s one problem though, there are times where you can’t get the breaker bar into position because you can’t turn the handle relative to the socket. So, what is a person to do when they need a ton of torque and a ratchet mechanism?

The short answer is to get a wrench with a long handle that is designed to handle a ton of torque. A ton of companies make socket wrenches with longer handles. I have a couple of these but what I find really handy are wrenches with extending/telescoping handles. When you are working in a relatively tight space, you may not have room for the fully extended handle or you have need to work it into position before you can open the handle.

The EZRed MR34 Wrench

So, when I need a ton of torque and mechanical advantage to help me get there (I’m at the age where I need to work smarter because my body doesn’t support harder any longer 🙂 – I break out the wrench I affectionately call “The Beast”. It is a beautifully made and chromed giant 3/4″ ratchet wrench.

The wrench is sold in the US by a firm called “EZRed” with a lifetime warranty and, like many things, is actually made in Taiwan. When you do some digging around, there are a lot of guys using this wrench for heavy equipment, farm equipment, trucks, steam pipes and more. After reading about the real world experiences with the wrench, I ordered one in.

Here is the wrench closed and you can see it is about 24″ overall.
Here is the MR34 fully open and about 40″ long overall.

The first things I noticed was that it’s a big wrench even without the handle extended. Next, it’s a heavy wrench and weighs in at about 8.5 pounds. I have to be honest, I don’t usually pay much attention to looks but the chrome finish is gorgeous.

Pull the collar down and a detent is released that allows the handle to telescope out. The handle then locks into position in the next available hole. The locking feature is definitely nice.

I use this for 3/4″ sockets and also have a SunEx 3/4 to 1/2″ reducer for those times I want to apply a ton of torque to a smaller bolt.

Here’s the wrench with a SunEx 3/4 to 1/2″ adapter.

So far, I am very happy with the wrench. As you can tell, I haven’t used it a ton yet but for the few quick jobs so far, it worked great.

Two Big Tips

A fellow recommended apply Blue Loctite to the head screws and grease the wrench while it was open. He was spot on – the screws were surprisingly lose. Even though they have blue thread locker on them from the factory something seems odd and guys have reported losing the screws. I really think if Ihad not followed the fellow’s advice I would have already lost mine as well – they are that loose.

The screws come out and then the head is very serviceable. You can see the two pawls and their springs plus the selector in the middle. What you don’t see is any lubricant! I must say I am a bit surprised.
You can see the faceplate and the 24 tooth geared head.

So, I used a brush and lightly applied SuperLube grease to everything, reassembled the wrench and put Blue Loctite on the two head screws before tightening them down. The whole thing took maybe 10 minutes start to stop including taking the photos.

If you ever need it, the EZRed sells a rebuild kit – part number RK34.

Summary

I really like the wrench. It’s worked great so far but I really haven’t done anything super stressfulso far – just breaking some very rusty 1/2″ diameter carriagle bolts free off my plow. It’ll definitely get used this upcoming summer a lot more.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Do It Yourself Cold Weather Mechanic Work Gloves That Are Insulated But Still Allow You To Work

Here’s a quick tip for you when you need to turn a wrench outside except it is really cold but you still need to feel what you are doing or can’t wear bulky insulated work gloves.

What you need to do is real simple – put on nitrile gloves first. This layer next to your skin insulates and protects you from both the wind and your hands getting wet. This is a big deal when there is snow. The second layer is your regular thin mechanics gloves. I have several brands of work gloves but Mechanix is probably the brand I use most followed by Ace.

I meant to write about this last year but forgot. Yesterday I had to work on my plow and it was +9F. The above worked great. Of course there is a limit and I don’t want anybody getting frostbite so use your common sense and play it is safe it is super cold.

At 9 degrees Farenheit, holding steel tools and moving metal parts around is a recipe for frostbite. It was this kind of work last year that led me to experimenting with putting Nitrile gloves under my thin Mechanics gloves.

I buy boxes of 5 mil Nitrile gloves whenever they go on sale at Harbor Freight. I think the sale prices tend to be around $5.99 and there are 100 in each box. I use a ton of them with my plastics work but also when working on cars. Any brand ought to work but I think the Harbor Freight gloves are a great deal when on sale.

I settled on 5 mil thick gloves because thinner ones fall apart very easily and thicker ones start to be bulky and mess with your sense of touch. I tried both 7 and 9 mil gloves before going back to 5.

I like 5 mil. It’s neither too thin nor too thick in my opinion. Note, they are meant to be disposable so you may or may not get more than one use from them.

The outer gloves are just basic Mechanix brand gloves.

I literally snapped this photo on my way out to work on the plow in 9 degree snowy weather.

I hope this little trick helps you out! I set up some Amazon product links for you below this post in case you would like to buy gloves.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.