Category Archives: Cars

The EWK Vacuum Fluid Extractor is Darned Handy to Drain Engine Oil and ATF Through the Dipstick Tube!!

Folks who know me also know that I am always tinkering with something – cars, trucks, tractors, firearms, you name it.  A few years ago a guy showed me how he could change fluids in his car using a vacuum siphon and I was intrigued but let it slide.

I recently went through all our old Toyotas and changed the transmission fluid to Valvoline Max Life and it dawned on me that it would be real nice to have a way to more precisely get the fluid right where I wanted it in the transmissions because I had slightly overfilled one car.  Then I remembered the vacuum siphon and hopped on Amazon.

The EWK 6.5 liter (1.71 gallon) pneumatic or manual fluid extractor looked like just the tool for the job.  I always pay close attention to reviews and this unit really had good ones – 277 reviews and a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars.  That’s pretty good statistically – I like to get well past 30 reviews and the more the better.

At any rate, thanks to Amazon prime, I ordered it and the unit arrived two days later.  I must say that I was impressed.  The plastics are all well done and it worked like a charm.

In this next photo you can see the little adapter and hose extension that comes with the unit.  They say three in the ad and the first hose is attached to the cap with a strain relief.  The hose is about  .39/.31 (OD/ID) and 39.3″ long.  The other two hoses are basically extensions via a soft rubber connector.  I am using the medium extension that is .26/.21 OD/ID) and also 39.3″ long.  That diameter has worked fine for Toyota T-IV ATF, Valvoline Max Life ATF  and also 10W30 engine oil.  When I say it can suck, that is a compliment in this case 🙂

The next photo shows the pump handle and also the venturi vacuum generator.  I have that air line on my dryer system and is running 90PSI off a 60 gallon IR two stage compressor.  It really didn’t use too much air.  No vacuum generator will win awards for air use but you don’t need to run it for very long – just while you are pumping the fluid out and that will probably be about 2-3 minutes for most engines and transmissions.

The first time I used it, I did so with an air line (it can use compressed air to create a venturi vacuum) .  It actually pumped way faster than I realized and I had over a quart out of the car before I realized it.  You can definitely reduce the air flow to reduce the vacuum – it was just faster than I thought it would be, which is good news.

I was so impressed that I used the extractor to remove all the ATF from a 94 Corolla in very short order.  I let it pump until nothing else came out — no problem.

I recently needed to change the oil in my tractor – again, used the siphon and it drained it very quickly.  This is noteworthy as I used the hand pump to create the vacuum and it really was effortless.  This was also when it dawned on me I better take some photos 🙂

In this next photo, you can see the unit with the hose cap off – it just twists off – and this is the pour spout to empty the unit also.

In summary, it’s a great unit.  I’ve not had any problems at all and recommend it.


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EWK Pneumatic/Manual 6.5 Liter Oil Changer Vacuum Fluid Extractor Pump Tank Remover (Misc.)

●Customer Service:
1. Office hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am to 3:30pm (Pacific Time).
2. We will reply your message within 24~48 hours.
● Shipping:
1. Monday to Friday (orders placed before AM8:00) will be shipped within 24 hours.
2. Orders placed after Friday AM8:00 or national holiday will be shipped on the coming business day.
3. Buyers responsible for all custom and brokerage fees for shipments outside of the United States.
●30 Days Money Back Guarantee:
1. Customer MUST contact us within 30 days after the purchasing.
2. Item must be sellable condition with the original packaging. Fees may apply if item is determined as not original condition.
3. Buyer should be responsible for the return freight.
4. 20% restocking fee is NON-REFUNDABLE under any circumstances.
● Warranty:
1. Most of items which were marked “warranty” on the selling page apply to the warranty policy. Some item is not included.
2. Warranty period: 1 year
3. The warranty only covers the defects under normal use.
4. The warranty DOES NOT cover the defect was subjected to misuse, negligence or accident.
5. The warranty DOES NOT cover consumable parts.
6. EWK reserves the right of final decision.

Features: 

  • MULTIFUNCTION OIL CHANGER MANUAL & PNEUMATIC MODEL – Quick Extraction On Pneumatic Mode, 1.6L/Min. – Oil Changing Anywhere Without Compressor On Manual Mode.
  • WIDELY USED FOR FLUID EXTRACTION – Engine Oil, Gear Oil, Brake Oil, Coolant, Water, Etc.
  • PIPE FITTINGS FIT MOST EQUIPMENT – Connected Hoses Fits Car, Marine, Lawn Mower And Industrial Machinery.
  • EXTRACTION WITHOUT CAR LIFTED UP – Special Angle Spout Design Makes Everything Clean. Changing Oil, Your Best Partner!
  • REPLACING HOSES CAN BE PURCHASED SOLELY – The Nylon Hoses Are Consumables In The Set And Should Be Changed When They Are Worn Out Get New Ones By Searching【 EWK Extractor Hose 】You Can Also Get An Extra Brake Hose For Bleeding Use.

List Price: $77.49 USD
New From: $77.49 USD In Stock
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Getting Unstuck With Traction Mats

Well, I parked our full size Ford Transit van at the end of the driveway on the grass to get it out of the way.  Of course, given the recent snow melt the ground turned out to be too muddy and soft to support the van’s weight – but I didn’t notice that because it took a while to slowly sink.  Yeah, I didn’t notice anything – my wife did we she went to use it!  Oh crud.  So she called my cell phone and was none too happy.  I didn’t really worry about it because my truck could pull it out – or so I thought.

I drove to the house, cockily pulled my trusty old 96 Landcruiser up in front of the van and got out one of my big tow straps and walked up to the van.   Should have been easy, right?  Wrong.  Nothing, nada to hook on to.  Ford, in their infinite wisdom does not put a tow hook, eye or anything up near the bumper!  Crap, crap, crap.  [Note, near the bottom of this blog post I added in what I found after researching how to recover a full size Transit.  I’m still irked at Ford.]

Did I mention my wife was standing their fuming?  Yeah, she was.  I should have known better than to park the heavy full size van on soft ground.  Point taken – I didn’t realize it was that soft.

At any rate, I went back and looked at the 5″ deep rut the driver’s side rear tire had dug for itself.  By the way, these photos are after removal.

I needed something long to fill the ruts and give traction.  Luckily, back in 2010 and then in 2014 I bought these things called “traction mats” from a company called OTW Enterprises who touted them as portable tow trucks.  In 2010 I bought the black ones after getting my truck stuck on ice with the plow blade buried in a snow mound.  In 2014. I bought an orange set to put in my wife’s car in case she got stuck.  Here they are after I hosed all the mud off.

Well, they bounced around in the trunks for a while and did bail me out a couple of times over the years but were actually leaning on the outside wall of my shop.  They don’t fold and while they fit in the trunk you have the little plastic spikes catching stuff so I tool them out at some point and leaned them against the wall of the shop.  At any rate,  I walked over and they were exactly what I needed.  Each mat measures 36″ long and 8″ wide.  Since I had four, I butted on up against the front of each tire and placed a second one in front of it to help the tire get up and out of the rut.  The sides are labeled by the way – the relative few long spikes go down and the side with many spikes goes up.

I got in and rolled the the van back a bit and then forward to get up on the mats.  I then slowly gave it more gas (not much) and the van up and forward onto the mat and got out of ditch and I kept moving forward onto the pavement.  I don’t have any action photos – things were stressful at the time and I really wasn’t thinking about a blog post 🙂

Well, I was pretty pleased with the outcome.  Wreckers charge at least $65 to come out to our house so avoiding that charge is always a good thing.  My wife was relatively happy but gave me a hard time for causing the problem in the first place.

Are these mats perfect?  No.  They will fly out from under your car if you don’t go slow and make sure you have the correct side down.  Even then they sometimes do so I would never have someone stand behind the car.  My recommendation is to go slow – avoid your spinning tires and rock the vehicle onto the mat if need be – don’t spin your tires onto them.

My wife is so impressed she wants them back in the cars.  I just wish they had a carry case but I do recommend them as another tool to keep in your bag of tricks.

I hope this helps you out.


Comment about Ford and Their Oversight on Towing

By the way, I looked up the tow/winch location up for future reference  so if you are surfing the web trying to figure out how to tow a full size 2016 Ford Transit, here is the reference link at Ford – click here.

Look just behind the tires at the frame and you’ll see the eye rings that are part of the frame.  You can’t make this stuff up — Thanks Ford.  It drives me nuts when you look at decisions made in ivory engineering towers vs. real world needs.  Sure, let’s bury it under the van, make it hard to get to and pretty much ensure damage will occur if you actually use this to pull the van for whatever reason.

Now look how their factory winch attachment point lines right up with hitting the front radiator.  If you pull this at just about any angle where the recovery vehicle is higher than the van then the cable/strap is going to cut right into the aluminum radiator at the front.   In the next photo, you can see the silver aluminum radiator just above the lip of the bumper molding.

If you wanted to protect that radiator, you’d actually need a harness with something to push the attached cable lower to the ground – or fabricate another attachment method.   Maybe my 4″ drop hitch in my rear class IV receiver would be low enough to tie onto vs. my truck’s winch or front recovery hooks.  … Something for another day.  I didn’t buy a new van to have to worry about something people in rural areas need regularly in the winter.   They should have been in the front.


2/11/2018 Update:  The traction mats bailed me out again when I got the van stuck on ice in our yard while turning around.  I’ve come to realize the van does a fair job on the road but the tires are damn near useless on uneven icy surface,  With this van, it’s really handy to have four.  With only two handy, I could move the van forward and then get stuck, move the mats, move forward again, get stuck, etc.  I had to do the cycle about three times.  I think if I had all four handy it would have done the trick in one shot because I could have built up some forward momentum.  I now have all four stored together,  We’re nearing the end of Winter finally and I think I will keep all four in the van next year and need to find some kind of carrier bag to store them in.


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Portable Tire Traction Mats – Two Emergency Tire Grip Aids Used To Get Your Car, Truck, Van or Fleet Vehicle Unstuck In Snow, Ice, Mud, And Sand – Orange, 2 Pack

“Portable Tow Truck’s emergency traction pad provides you with the way out of messy situations. Getting stuck in mud or snow on the side of the road is a common roadside emergency. You could could call for a tow truck to pull your vehicle out, which can be expensive, or install tire chains when you’re stuck, which is messy and dangerous.

There is an alternative. The Portable Tow Truck tire traction aid provides emergency traction to your drive wheels and allows you to get back on the road. The innovative cleat design bites into your tire and allows your drive wheels to climb the mat instead of spinning in snow. No more digging and pushing and rocking back and forth. Simply wedge the Portable Tow Truck under the pulling wheel and slowly drive the vehicle to a more suitable surface . At only 2.5 pounds and 36 inches long, the Portable Tow Truck is easy to handle and consumes very little trunk space. Buy this Portable Tow Truck and a future version of yourself, stuck in the snow or mud, will be thankful you did.”


Features: 

  • Provides emergency traction for your tires in snow, ice, mud and sand. Works on all vehicles with summer, winter, or all-season tires.
  • Comes with 2 reusable polypropylene solid and virtually indestructible traction mats.
  • No installation required, making it hassle free, easier and safer to use than tire chains and snow chains.
  • Each only 2.5 pounds and 36 inches long, allowing easy storage in your trunk or under your seat.
  • Avoid the stress of shoveling, slipping and sliding, being stranded, or calling for a tow truck in emergency situations.

List Price: Price Not Listed
New From: 0 Out of Stock
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20 tips for getting better results with epoxy

I use a ton of epoxy as part of my work plus fixing all kinds of stuff at home, on cars, guns, knives and more.  I’d like to take a few minutes share some lessons learned with you to bear in mind on your next project that involves epoxy:

  1. Buy quality epoxy – not cheap junk.  Epoxy is a generic term and a lot of the no-name blister pack retail stuff is crap.  Go for brand names.  If they list real specs about the formulation then it is probably legit.
  2. I recommend industrial epoxies and not the consumer stuff.  My hands down favorite epoxy is Brownell’s Acra Glas liquid.  It is strong and resists breaking down from repeated impacts very well.  It’s one down side is that it takes a long time to set up so it may not be your best bet if you need something to be fixed and back in service quickly.
  3. Know your application and match the formula to your need – there is no magical formula that does everything.  You may need a putty, a fast cure, a short pot life, higher heat resistance, improved impact resistance, shear strength, etc.  Figure out what you need and then look for the epoxy that will work best for you.  At any given time I probably have 3-4 different formulations on hand.
  4. The longer it takes an epoxy to cure the stronger it is.  All things being equal, an epoxy that cures in 24 hours will be stronger than one that claims to do so in 5, 10 or 30 minutes.
  5. Read the package – setting up vs. curing and reaching full strength are two very different things.
  6. If you want to get epoxy to flow into wood or difficult areas, heat it up.  The liquid thins as it warms up but note this will also speed up how fast it sets up and cures.
  7. As epoxy gets colder, it takes longer and longer to cure.  If you are working outside, use a space heater, flood light or other heat source to keep the epoxy and the work piece area being repaired at least 70F.  I shoot for 80-90F.
  8. Epoxy can get really thick as it gets cold and not want to come out of the containers.  Either keep it inside where it is warm or at least warm it up before you use it,
  9. Epoxy resin can sugar with age just like honey.  What I mean is that will develop a solid mass in the resin bottle – it’s not really sugar!  If you heat up a container of water, take the resin container’s lid off and then set it the container in the water, the resin will warm up and the solid will dissolve back into liquid.  I buy 28oz or larger bottles of Acra-Glas that I don’t always use right away so when it sugars, I do this.
  10. As mentioned above, I buy my epoxy in bulk.  Acra-Glas can be measured by volume and it has a ratio of 1 hardener to 4 resin.  The way I deal with this is very simple – I use 10cc syringes without needles.  I have on syringe in a cup that I use for hardener and one syringe stored in a cup that I use for hardener.  The reason I do this is that the two parts do not react to the air very fast.  I may be able to use one syringe for a several weeks/months before it stops working so I set the syringe in its dedicated cup when done to be used again.  I do not use fresh syringes every time.  A 100 count syringe pack will last me at least a year.
  11. You can definitely color epoxy.  You can buy purpose-made dyes such as So-Strong or add in powdered tempra paint.
  12. You can add fillers for strength or looks.  When filling gaps, I mix 1/32″ milled glass fibers with the epoxy.  The ratio depends on the epoxy you are using, how thick/pasty you want the result to be or how much you want it to still flow into place.
  13. To get rid of bubbles you either need to draw a vacuum, apply pressure or at least use a heat gun to thin the epoxy once it is applied and this allows the trapped air to escape.
  14. When I am gluing big objects together, such as wood panels, forms, or other construction I will use a cartridge based epoxy.  My favorite is Hysol E-20HP.  To use a cartridge, you need the dispensing gun and also the correct mixing tip.  This allows you to squeeze the trigger and properly mixed epoxy comes out of the tip.  When you are done, you just let the tip harden in place sealing the epoxy.  When you are ready to use the gun again, you simply remove the plugged tip with a new one.  This allows for you to deploy a bead of epoxy very quickly but the con is that you throw away a tip every time you stop.  You also can’t color the epoxy first but it is fast and convenient on larger projects.
  15. The surface must be clean for epoxy to work best.  Remove dust, dirt, oil, etc.
  16. A rough surface is always better than a smooth surface.  I always recommend sanding, brushing or blasting a surface to improve adhesion.  Not only do you increase the surface area but you also are creating a texture where the epoxy can get under the base material in thousands of tiny places to really grab hold.
  17. Wear disposable gloves to avoid making a mess.  I buy boxes of the Harbor Freight 5 mil nitrile gloves when they go on sale for $5.99/box of 100.  They really are a good value for a medium-light duty disposable glove.
  18. If you need to clamp parts together, wrap the assemble with wax paper to avoid gluing your clamps to the work piece – yeah, I’ve done that.
  19. Whenever possible, I prefer to clamp work together to get this best bond.
  20. Check, double-check and come back in again later and check your work again to make sure nothing has shifted.

I hope these tips help you with your next project.


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Did you know most consumer vehicle undercoatings are rip offs?

We recently bought a new van and I wanted to undercoat it so it would last — being old school that was the first thing I thought of anyways.  The next was to do some searching around with Google about undercoatings so I could get the best product to use.  You know what I found out?  When most cars and trucks are made, the manufacturers do a ton of stuff now to prevent corrosion straight from the factory – so much so that you may find it hard pressed to find a shop that even does undercoating/rust proofing any more.  The car companies have improved their alloys, finishes and even learned not to leave exposed lips for mud to settle in to and sit – think about how the old wheel wells had the reinforcing lip all the way around that dirt/mud could sit in and hold salty water or even just water against the metal – of course it would rust.  So now you look in to wheel wells and through one method or another that flange is either not there or protected.

So I want to share some things I learned.  First, rubberized spray on undercoatings often caused more problems than they solved.  Now, you may be wondering why – I know I did.  You see, it is a spay on finish the adheres to whatever surface it can stick to – paint, rubber, metal, dirt, etc.  Over time, that undercoating develops small holes from stuff hitting it and then a pocket starts to form, salty water enters in and is held against the very steel it is trying to protect!  So to make a long story short, after reading tons of posts about the various spray on rubber undercoatings one must conclude they are not worth investing in any longer.

Second, rust proofing sounds great but there really is no such thing.  You are delaying the inevitable if we are talking about steel and salt water – eventually something is going to rust.

Okay, enough doom and gloonm, let’s say you live in a state, like Michigan, where they salt the heck out of the roads in the winter.  What do you do to protect new cars even more than what the factory did *or* you want to try and save older vehicles even if they have started to rust?  The answer, interestingly enough, was developed long ago – Fluid Film.  Eureka Chemical Company, yes that really is their name – started in the 1940s when they developed a product with an unlikely source to help the Navy prevent corrosion – the not-so-secret ingredient is lanolin from sheep. If you want to read the whole story, click here.

Let me cut to the chase – the reason this stuff works is that it oozes and seals itself if nicked.  DoD, NASA, Coast Guard, Delta and others are still using this stuff!  After doing a lot of reading, I bought a five gallon pail off Amazon, an applicator gun and a pail pump dispenser.  They sell an aerosol can version but I really don’t have much experience with it but am a bit leery of it because the liquid is so thin that comes out compared to what I can spray with the applicator gun.

This is my second year using it on our vehicles and it almost makes it a few months before you can tell it has dried out / faded.  In other words, it doesn’t quite make it the whole winter. I get rid of looser dirt by spraying it down, let it try and go to town spraying this stuff on everything – even the exhaust as it will just bake off after the first time it gets good and hot.

Honestly, I think the FuildFilm helps – our newest car after our van is a 2002 Camry and I spray the heck out of it and our other older cars (the oldest is a 1992 Corolla) and my old 1996 Land Cruiser.  I go through about a quart per car/truck liberally applying it real thick all over the under carriage.  I also spray door hinges, locks and hood latch.  The stuff smells funny for the first day or so but seems to really do the trick.  I just finished putting it on our vehicles for the second year.  I’m about half way through the five gallon pail so if you want to test it out some, you could start with a gallon pail – that would do 4-6 cars or trucks depending on how thick you apply it.

So, thought I would pass along what I learned – don’t bother with rubberized undercoatings and definitely check out FluidFilm.



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Note, my local Autozone also sells the below aerosol cans.  I really do not know how long it will protect what you spray it on.

 

 

 

Fluid Film 5gal Pail NAS Rust Inhibitor Rust Prevention Anti Corrosion Anti Rust Coating Undercoating Underbody Rust Proofing Corrosion Protection for Truck Snow Blower Mower Car Semi Tractor Bus (Automotive)

Fluid Film is a rust and corrosion preventative, penetrant, and lubricant. Lanolin based formula embeds in the pores of the metal to remain active, lubricating and stopping the corrosive effects of salts, fertilizers, pesticides, and high humidity. Will not harm paint, plastic, or rubber, or cause burn to greenery. Solvent-free, non-conductive, non-drying, and does not freeze. Fresh inventory shipped direct from Kellsport Products

Features: 

  • Rust Preventive Lubricant
  • Solvent Free, will not dry out. Long Lasting
  • Environmentally friendly. Lanolin based. Clean.
  • Anti freezing agent. Geat for snow blower chutes.
  • Undercoating agent for cars and trucks.

List Price: $179.99 USD
New From: $179.99 USD In Stock
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Have an older car or truck with slow power windows? This simple fix will speed them up

My truck is a 1996 Toyota Landcruiser that is showing its age and I’m always finding ways to keep it going.  One problem I had was that the power windows were very slow to go up and down because the rubber around the glass was oxidizing and not as soft.  This was especially a problem in the winter when plowing as I would sometimes have to use my hand to help the window go back up.  I had been using silicone spray but it’s benefits were pretty short lived.  A friend told me to use silicone grease and WOW what a difference.

  

Now, one tip, get a flux brush or some disposable brush with relative small stiff bristles so you can wipe down all the rubber window channels where the glass slides.  Your brush is going to get old rubber and other debris on it.  If you put it back in your silcone grease container, you will have a mess – guess how I know this? 🙂  Instead, put some grease on a paper plate or something as an intermediary to dip your brush in.  This will not take much – maybe a tablespoon or two at most.  I can do all four power windows on my truck with probably right around a tablespoon or just over.  You aren’t looking to leave gobs and gobs of the stuff – just a good coating.

So, a warm day helps.  Put all the windows down and apply it.  Then run each window up and down a few times to get a good coating on everything.  You will see a remarkable improvement with the 2nd or 3rd cycling of the windows as everything gets coated.  Then just wipe off any residue on the window frames (I leave it on the glass edge myself).

That’s it.

Please note to use silicone grease and not petroleum grease. The petroleum grease can cause the rubber to break down or at least make quite a mess.  Silicone grease was designed intentionally to lubricate and protect rubber parts such as seals.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements. EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed. Doing so will help us fund continued development of the blog.


By the way, this might be an example of being able to save quite a bit by purchasing the silicone grease online.  You can check the price of the Mission paste I’ve been using below and others on Amazon compared to what you will pay for silicone grease at your local auto parts store.


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Mission Automotive Dielectric Grease/Silicone Paste/Waterproof Marine Grease (8 Oz.) – Made in USA – Excellent Silicone Grease (Kitchen)

The highest quality dielectric grease available, our silicone-based compound meets or exceeds the standards of other similar products from a variety of competitors (based on in-house testing). Stable consistency from -55 to 570 F, chemical resistant with extremely low volatility. With a variety of auto uses, this is an essential grease to have when doing work on your car. For general purposes, the grease is excellent for lubricating the threads of bolts / screws that thread into plastic. It can be used to lubricate O-rings, rubber hoses, weather-stripping, rubber chassis, steering bushings, rubber grommets, rubber and plastic hole plugs, seat tracks, window tracks and window regulators. Useful for eliminating squeaks in instrument panels caused by plastic-to-plastic contact. Cover battery terminals with the paste to protect them from corrosion. Use to seal electrical connections from moisture / corrosion on vehicles without weather protective connectors. Use to lubricate tight fitting plastic / rubber parts during re-assembly. For engines, it can be used on ignition parts, distributor cam lobes, spark plug wire terminals, distributor cap terminals, distributor rotor tips, heat-sink membranes. For bulb bases, including tail lights, turn lights, marker lights, stop lights, convenience lights, and trailer lights. For brakes, our synthetic brake caliper grease / brake grease serves as a general purpose lubricant for metal-to-rubber applications, caliper guide pins, outer caliper seals, and outer wheel cylinder seals. Useful in the marine environment as a marine silicone grease / marine dielectric grease (as a waterproof grease) with waterproof connectors / marine terminal grease. For many applications, it’s a great alternative to silicone spray lubricant. Meets MIL-S-8660C specifications. NSF H-1 Registered (No. 122830) and KOSHER Approved. PLEASE NOTE: The applicator brush is pre-bent. When quality matters, choose Mission Automotive Silicone Paste!

Features: 

  • SEALS AND PROTECTS: Our dielectric grease is a thick, long lasting waterproof synthetic silicone lubricant (lube) that prevents oxidation, inhibits corrosion & seals out contaminants such as salt & dirt; non-melting, stable consistency from -55-570 F
  • MULTITUDE OF USES: Silicone paste / silicone grease is perfect for a variety of automotive, electrical and marine uses and compatible with a variety of materials, including metal, rubber and plastic; prevents voltage leaks around electrical connections
  • GREAT FOR MANY COMMON TASKS: Most common uses of marine grease including changing spark plugs, lubricating brake caliper pins, lubricating and preserving rubber gaskets, O-rings, hoses, weatherstripping, etc., and fixing sluggish car windows
  • APPLICATOR BRUSH FOR EASE OF APPLICATION: Applicator brush attached inside lid at an angle; product will be clear/transparent/translucent to slightly milky-white. PLEASE NOTE: Applicator brush intentionally bent to maximize reach to jar edges
  • PROUDLY MADE IN THE USA: Our brake grease / brake and caliper grease is PROUDLY MADE IN THE USA to the highest industry standards

List Price: $16.99 USD
New From: $16.99 USD In Stock
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How to restore cloudy headlights using toothpaste – This really works!

When car companies moved to plastic headlight lenses they opened the door to them oxidizing over and majorly reducing the transmitted light.  I’m surprised they haven’t been sued yet actually.  I really do not like the fact that light is reduced and people are driving with less and less visibility at night – that seems wrong to me.  However, if they don’t correct this problem we can at least fix it with annual polishing of the lenses.

For badly deteriorated lenses, I use Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Headlight restoration kit. It comes with sandpaper and polish to really let you get through the yellow oxidized plastic.  I have sworn by that kit for several years now and you can do a number of vehicles with each package.  It was also a pretty good price considering you could avoid having to buy new lenses for at least 3-4 cars.

I just learned a trick from my son who was home for a visit.  He uses toothpaste to fix lightly oxidized headlights.  Yes, plan old Crest toothpaste.  Now this isn’t some odd chemical fix that disappears in a few hours.  Toothpaste has a very mild abrasive in it for cleaning your teeth.  Apparently it does an awesome job on car headlight lenses also.  The following is my wife’s Camry that has gone about a year since I last polished it:

  

Basically he would pour water on the headlight, get the toothbrush wet, added the toothpaste to the old tooth brush and then vigorously rubbed all over the lens.   He’d then pour water, wipe it off, look at the results and repeated it about three times per light until he got it just the way he wanted it.  I’m impressed.

He really didn’t use much toothpaste either.  This is real cheap and effective on light oxidation.  I’m doing this for now on and saving the Meguiar’s HD kit for lenses that are badly damaged.


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Meguiar’s G2980 Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit (Automotive)

Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit is the easy way to obtain professional results restoring clarity to uncoated clear plastics with a standard corded drill. This inclusive kit comes with everything needed to safely and effectively remove heavy oxidation, cloudiness, and yellowing while delivering crystal clear results. Eliminate defects with included sanding discs and then polish up clarity with PlastX Clear Plastic Cleaner & Polish and Easy-Buff Wool Pad attachment using a standard corded drill. Follow with Headlight Coating to preserve brilliant clarity and protect from re-oxidation for up to a year.

Features: 

  • PROFESSIONAL RESULTS: Cleans oxidized, yellowed and hazy headlights
  • REVOLUTIONARY COATING: Protects against yellowing and re-oxidation of headlights for up to 12 months
  • HEADLIGHT RESTORER: drill powered polishing combines with sanding for outstanding results
  • CRYSTAL CLEAR HEADLIGHTS: Enhances visibility & safety for night driving
  • MAKES HEADLIGHTS LOOK NEW: professional, clear finish to heavily oxidized or cloudy headlights

List Price: $29.99 USD
New From: $16.10 USD In Stock
buy now

How to get what you want from epoxy – for me it is long life, shock resistance and strength

 

Folks, I work a lot with epoxy and reply on it as a structural adhesive to both fill gaps and bond parts together.  I’ve done everything from fixing car parts, wood furniture, tools, rifle bedding, scope mount bedding, custom knife handles and much more with epoxy.  It is incredibly versatile but you need to do some planning to really get what you want out of it predictably.

In case you didn’t know it, “epoxy” is a general term for a wide range of cured polyepoxide resins glues with different physical characteristics such as how long they cure, strength, temperature resistance and so forth (click here if you want to learn more about the chemistry).   There are a ton of options out there as quality manufacturers experiment with different resin and hardener formulations.  In short, not all epoxies are the same and for people concerned with the quality of what they are building, they need to think things through.  For quite some time I’ve wanted to write down a series of tips for folks to get strong reliable results so here they are:

Buy a quality brand epoxy to begin with

What I have found over the years is that not all epoxies are created equal so spend the money and buy quality epoxy.  There can be a huge difference in how well the epoxy will last over time and/or how strong it really is.  Do not buy the bargain basement junk.  In general, if the maker lists all the physical properties then it is a well thought out and executed formula.  I have three epoxies that I use the most in order are Brownell’s AcraGlas liquid (not the gel), Locite E-120HP, JB KwikWeld and ITW Devcon Plastic Steel.  Once in a while if I need a fast cure epoxy, I will get a retail blister pack of some five minute epoxy and I’ll explain more in a moment.

Strongly consider what your application is

Epoxy comes in many formulations.  They can vary the chemistry of the resin, the hardener and the filler to behave differently.  Consider the following example characteristics:

  • Liquid, Gel/Paste or Putty/Bar — The liquid can seep into pores and fibers plus it can be spread but it can run into places you do not want.  Gels and pastes tend to stay put better but do not seep in as well.  The really thick puttys and bars are great for filling space or creating an impromptu clamp or to seal a hole but they definite don’t sink in much.
  • Temperature – you need to think both about the temperature when you are mixing and applying the epoxy as some will not set up at all if too cold.  You also need to think about the heat when in operation because many epoxies soften and lose their bond the hotter they get.   For example, you may apply epoxy to an exhaust manifold but it will blow off when it gets hot.
  • Pot life – this is how long you can still apply it before it starts to thicken.  Some folks will refer to this as working time.  You need to mix the two parts together, apply the epoxy, position and clamp the work before you run out of time.  Keep this in mind.
  • Cure time – this is how long until the epoxy reaches full strength
  • Color – you can get epoxies in different colors
  • Ratio / mixing – some are by volume or by weight.  The easy consumer stuff is usually 1:1 by volume but when you get into the more sophisticated epoxies the volumes vary or a digital scale is needed
  • Heat resistance – some epoxies resist heat better than others before they soften and “let go”
  • Shock resistance – some formulations hold up better than others before they start the break apart and “sugar”.  Sugaring refers to the powdery look epoxy gets as it breaks apart.  Brownell’s AcraGlas, Loctite E-120HP, JB KwikWeld and ITW Devcon Plastic Steel have all held up very well for me under shocks.  My go-to epoxy for most work is Acra-Glas liquid because it holds up so very well.
  • Others – there are other factors that may matter to you but the important thing is to think through your application

Go with as long of a curing time as you can for maximum strength

What many people do not know is that the faster an epoxy cures, the weaker it is.  Conversely, the longer the formulation takes to cure, the stronger it is.  All things being equal, a 24 hour curing epoxy will be stronger than 90-second, 5-minute, 30-minute and so forth epoxies.  Now there is a time and a place where speed is needed and also situations where strength is paramount.  When I make khukuri hands and other things where strength is critical, I always use a 24 hour epoxy.

Use the Proper Ratios

Be sure to carefully follow the mixing ratios.  For volume ratio work, I use 10cc or larger syringes without the needles on them to meter liquid resin and hardener.  For example, I like AcraGlas and it is 4 parts resin to 1 part hardener.  I keep two syringes separated that I re-use over and over.  With the syringe in the holding cup labeled “resin”, I use it to draw 4 cubic centimeters (CCs) of resin out and squirt it into a mixing cup.  With the hardener syringe, I meter out 1 CC of hardener into the cup.  Now you can vary that.  If you need a smaller about, meter out 2 CC of resin and 1/2CC of hardener.  The syringes really help.  If you are doing larger volumes then either use bigger syringes or disposable cups that have measurements printed on the side.  Also note how I pour from the bulk container into the smaller intermediary containers that are easy to work with plus I avoid contamination, dropping a big bottle, etc.

The Loctite E-120HP comes in a specialized dispenser tube that uses a gun and tip to do all the mixing.  It’s cool as can be for volume work where additional coloring or fillers are not needed.

For the Devcon Plastic Steel, I use my digital scale.

Here’s one thing not to do:  Some guys have heard that if they add more hardener it will cure faster.  This may be true but the resulting cured epoxy will be weaker.  Do not deviate from the manufacturer’s recommendations if you want the physical properties they report.

Mix thoroughly

Folks, I can’t stress this enough.   Mix the heck out of the two parts and combine them thoroughly.  If you are doing larger volumes, consider doing what is known as a double pour.  Pour the two parts into a first container, mix them thoroughly and then pour the combination into the middle of a second container and mix.  What a double pour does is avoid having unmixed materials that have stuck to the walls of the container come out when you are applying the epoxy.  Keep your pot life / working time in mind.

Most of the time I am using a generic 5oz plastic cup and plastic knife to do the mixing.  I buy them by the hundreds for Ronin’s Grips and they are cheap regardless.  Do not use styrofoam.

Prepare the surface

Whatever you want to bond epoxy to had better be clean and free of oils, greases, waxes, release agents and so forth.  Second, the more abraded the surface the better.  If you abrasive blast a surface not only can you double the surface area being bonded together but the irregular surface creates many opportunities for the epoxy to get “under” material to create a better grip.  If you can’t blast then at least sand the surface with 80-100 grit sand paper.

So here are two rules to bear in mind when it comes to the surface:

  1. Clean, clean, clean and wear gloves to not contaminate the surface with oil from your skin
  2. Shiny is bad.  A polished smooth surface will not give you anywhere near the bonding strength that a blasted or abraded surface will.  I blast everything that I can – metals, micarta, plastic and even wood.  It makes a world of difference – seriously.

The following is a bakelite handle from an electric griddle of my parents’.  The unit works great and has sentimental value so I cleaned it, blasted it, cut a quick cross hatch pattern to give even more grip and then cleaned it again.  It set up like a rock and we used it all Memorial Day morning to cook hundreds and hundreds of pancakes with no problem.\

Heating Epoxy

Heat can help you two ways.  First, by warming epoxy it tends to flow better.  If you need to to soak into wood or other surfaces, consider using a heat gun to blow/chase the epoxy into the wood.  Do not burn the epoxy – just warm it up.  Second, in general, warming epoxy up tends to make it cure faster.  Now there are limits and you need to either experiment or talk to the vendor before doing anything too radical.  I will often use a halogen light or other heat source to warm the surface up to 80-100F.  In chemistry, there is a formula known as the Arrhenius Equation that notes that for each additional 10 degrees Celsius added, a reaction rate doubles (click here for more info on the equation).  My experience is that you want the heat to penetrate and warm all of the epoxy and not just the surface and you also do not want to burn the epoxy.  In general, I do not exceed 100F but that is just me.  I found something that works good enough and have just stayed there.

Also pay attention to the minimum temperature requirements for curing.  Some epoxies will not do anything at all at freezing.  Some take forever to cure at 50F.  It just depends.  When in doubt, use a lamp or something to gently heat the part.

Coloring Epoxy

What many folks do not know is that you can actually color epoxy.  I have found two approaches that work.  First, use powdered tempera paint.  You can stir in a bit of black powder to get black epoxy.  Now I did this starting out and have since moved to using epoxy dyes so I am added less powder to the mix because I want to save the volume for glass fillers which we will talk about next.

Fillers

You can modify the physical strength of epoxy by adding a substrate or fillers.  For example, fiberglass is matted glass fiber that bonded together with epoxy made for that purpose.  Folks working with carbon fibers are using epoxy for bonding that together.  I add 1/32″ milled glass fibers to my epoxies to get more strength.  If I want more of a paste, I add more glass fiber and if I want it to be more of a liquid, I use less.  The exact volume of glass fiber depends on what you are trying to do.  Some vendors will give you recommendations and others will not.

Clamping / Work holding

In general, you want to apply the epoxy and then clamp everything together really well and then let it sit.   You may choose to use traditional clamps, vacuum, etc.  Bear in mind two things:

1.  Be careful that you secure the material and that it can’t shift while curing.  I can’t tell you how many times I have checked stuff and found out it moved and had to change my approach.  Figure this out before you apply the glue in case you need to make something, change your approach, etc.  Check it regularly to make sure it hasn’t shifted regardless.  Every time I think something can’t move – it does.

2.  The epoxy will run out of what you are working on.  Decide how you are going to deal with it.  Wax paper can protect your tools and table.  You can scrape the epoxy off after it has partially cured.  You can wipe things down with acetone when partially cured.  Just think it through otherwise you are going to glue stuff together really well that you do not want bonded – trust me.  It is a real headache so plan for seepage/dripping and how you will deal with it.

Patience

This is something I have gotten better at over the years – wait the recommended amount of time.  If they say 24 hours then wait 24 hours.  If you have questions about using the part sooner then ask the manufacturer.  For example, you might be able to assemble something after 10 hours but not actually put it under strain for 24 hours.  Factor in the temperature.  The colder it is then the longer it will take.  Remember what I said about the heat from lamps above.

Safety

Yeah, I had to add this.  Follow all guidance from the vendors.  The resins aren’t too bad but some of the hardeners are nasty.  Wear rubber gloves, use eye protection, work in a well ventilated area and wear a real good dust mask when sanding.  I use N99 masks now for everything.

I hope you found this general epoxy guidance helpful!


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Here are links to some of the stuff I use:

AcraGlas at Brownells.  As a reminder, I prefer and recommend the liquid, not the gel:
http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/stock-work-finishing/stock-bedding-adhesives/acraglas–prod1033.aspx

Loctite E-120HP [note that most sellers on Amazon charge a fortune for this so dig around at industrial supply houses such as McMaster, Zoro, MSC, etc.  Also, remember that you need the tube of glue, gun and disposable tips.  When the glue hardens in the tip, it protects the cartridge and you then replace the tip for your next work session but it does mean you need multiple tips.  I use this glue mostly for big projects like bonding together larger pieces of wood, etc.]
http://na.henkel-adhesives.com/product-search-1554.htm?nodeid=8797913677825

ITW Devcon Plastic Steel

JB KwikWeld – note that this is a thicker grey liquid.  I use it if I am in a rush and need an epoxy.  I’ve used it to bed rifles and repair stuff mainly.  I have not used it on knife handles.  Also, due to its grey color, you can go darker towards black but not lighter.

Now I have used a ton of their sticks to create clamps, fill voids, etc.  I typically have 2-4 sticks sitting in my supplies because when I need them, I need them.

Epoxy Dyes – there are a bunch on Amazon but I don’t know them.  In general, I use So-Strong dyes from SmoothOn when I need small amounts.  My black dye is bought by the pound in bulk containers.
https://www.smooth-on.com/product-line/strong/

10cc Syringes

Digital Scale – it will get filthy so buy something cheap but with good reviews.

Clamps – there are so many ways to clamp stuff together.  I use everything from woodworking vises to spring clips to C-clamps to the big heavy duty Irwin clamps that can do up to 600 pounds of pressure with one hand.

Wax paper

Plastic Cups – I’d recommend checking around.  You need to balance cost and quality.  Some cups are absurdly thin and you can’t use them for mixing.  I get mine from GFS and you can tell they have made them cheaper and cheaper over the years.  5oz is still good but 9 and 16oz cups aren’t so red hot any longer.

Plastic Knives – again, check around.  I get mine from GFS in a big box and they work just fine.

Heat gun – I have burned out a ton of them.  This DeWalt D26950 is the first one to last longer than a year.  I’d guess I’ve been using it for almost three now.

Dust Mask – I used Moldex 2310 N99 face masks now exclusively.  They hold up fairly well and aren’t hard to breath with.

Nitrile Gloves – the best deal I have found is from Harbor Freight for their 5mil gloves.  When they go on sale or you get a coupon for $5.99/box of 100 gloves, go get them.  They are thin and don’t hold up to tough use but to keep your hands clean and balancing off strength and cost, they are a pretty good deal.  Even at $7.99/box without shipping they are a pretty good deal.