Category Archives: General

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.

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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.


The Rise of Useless Reviews on Amazon – Read Before You Buy

Amazon is really cool. I can get good deals on stuff and have it delivered to where I live. The problem is that I used to historically look at the number of reviews and the average score to determine if something was worthwhile or not. A pure math approach of looking at the numbers is not working any more and let me tell you why.

I’m noticing a lot of reviews where people give 4 to 5 stars without really using the product. I don’t know if they feel they need to report right away or just what but you will read stuff like “it looks good” or “it feels good” and nothing about the actual use. I suppose it’s better than nothing but not by much.

Also, some merchants reach out and correct problems then ask the buyer to revise the score. You know, I’m cool with that. A friend of mine recounted the story of being hounded – email after email – from the seller to change the score. So, you need to be aware of this too – I’m not a huge fan of wasting time troubleshooting stuff – I want it to hit the ground working.

Recommendations

Again, the basics are true. Products with no reviews are very risky and less than 30 are still risky but you are starting to get a safety margin. However, you must dive deeper to learn what folks are saying.

What I am finding is that you need to read the reviews and:

  • Look for people who actually used the product and are reporting back.
  • Look for trends – was the product great and having more and more problems or vise versa?
  • Look out for tons of edits where people post that they have revised the score after the vendor sent a replacement. Why was this necessary? I could understand a few but not a lot and definitely not a trend.
  • Be sure to click on the number of reviews right under the product name so you can see the breakdown of scores and even click on the number of stars to read the reviews. So, if you click on “1 star” you can read those reviews.

Fortunately with Amazon, they give great customer service and I can’t guess how many times they have made things right over the years. I think a lot of folks have a level of comfort with Amazon now and I also think you need to use the tools they gave us to make a better purchase decision.


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.


Hoover Carpet Shampooers are Totally Worth It!!

I bet you did not expect to see me do a post about carpet shampooers or as some call them “carpet cleaners” or “carpet cleaning machines”.  We’ve owned dogs and had kids for years plus we have light colored carpets.  Keeping them clean is no easy matter and maybe 4-6 times per year we shampoo them – plus occasional touch ups if something gets spilled, etc.  It makes a HUGE difference.

We used to rent Rug Doctor carpet cleaners and while they do the job you have the expense and hassle of having to rent one.  Back in the early 2000s we bought our first Hoover.  We went with one from Sam’s Club if I recall right.   One of the big selling points over the competition at the time was that the clean water reservoir was built right into the unit whereas some models make you run a hose way back to a bathroom, utility or kitchen sink.  That just would not work the way our house was laid out.

We wore out our first unit in probably 5-6 years — it last quite a while and did a ton of cleaning with it.  We then bought a newer model that we are still using and just got a brand new model to do my mother-in-law’s home after it flooded.  It is a FH50258 “Hoover Professional Series Power Scrub Elite Pet Plus Upright Carpet Cleaner”.  That is a mile long model name but it really did a fantastic job.

Why Did We Get It?

Thus summer we had a crazy storm that just parked over our town and dumped a ton of rain for two days,  Pretty much everybody had problems with water coming into their basements including my mother-in-law.  We were super busy and other than helping move stuff out of the way and putting a dehumidifier down there, we had to wait a bit to do the cleaning and restoration.

One of the reasons we bought a cleaner for her house was to leave it there in case of future problems plus we can use it for shampooing.  Something we found out many years ago is that a shampooer can suck up water from a carpet like there’s no tomorrow.  If you have water come in and get  carpet wet, a heavy shampooer will suck a ton of water our compared to a light Ship-Vac wand and hose.

This new unit is lighter than our old one plus the tank appears much more ruggedly made.  We busted the tank on both previous units – the “ears” that would clamp the lid to the tank would bust off way too easily – they fixed that design flaw with this model.  They also say the unit is blowing heated air to help with cleaning and drying – I can’t speak to that.  We use hot water from the tap to begin with.

Here are some photos of the new unit:

In the next photo, you can see the reservoirs pretty clearly.  The main reservoir on the top is for the clean water – again, we always use hot water to help clean and dry faster.  The smaller top right reservoir holds the soap.  The big tank under the black bar with “ELITE” on it holds the waste water.  It is easily detached and you can pour the filthy waste water down the toilet.

Our Approach

At any rate, mama had lived there for about 10 years and it had never shampooed her basement so it was worn to begin with.  Add in the water and she had stains all over the place.  My wife used hot water and plenty of carpet shampoo to clean the carpet.

In the above photos, you can see where she already cleaned and what was still dirty pretty clearly.  We tend to use either Rug Doctor or Bissell shampoo.  For the above we were using Rug Doctor shampoo.  My wife has worked out a method that works well – she shampoos the carpet twice and then does a third pass just rinsing.  We’ve found that carpets seem to attract dirt less if we rinse them and make sure no sticky/gummy residue remains.

Look at the example area below.  We had shampooed the lighter areas already but you can see the dirty carpet pretty clearly:

This is during shampooing:

And this is the end result

After we shampooed the carpets, we ran fans a dehumidifier to dry things out.  The shampooer did a great job and I figured it would be worth it to pass along the word.  We bought the exact model above at Home Depot for $149.  We did mama’s house and were so impressed that we bought a unit for ourselves.  I’d say we get at least five years from our older models so you can do the math as whether you want to continue to rent or buy a shampooer.

For us, the shampooers have been very worthwhile.  We have always liked the quality of the results and we don’t have to rush and rent a unit if family is coming over, we need to clean up an accident or even clean in general – we can just do it whenever we want.

As mentioned, this is the third Hoover we have owned/used and were very impressed.  If you are interested, check the various Hoover models and see what is getting good review on Amazon, Home Depot, etc. and also falls in your budget.

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.


[amazonjs asin=”B009ZJ2M7G” locale=”US” title=”Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Washer FH50150″]

[amazonjs asin=”B07F3BHQ62″ locale=”US” title=”Hoover Professional Series Power Scrub Elite Pet Plus Upright Carpet Cleaner”]

[amazonjs asin=”B01N5SMNJ4″ locale=”US” title=”Hoover Power Scrub Elite Pet Carpet Cleaner, FH50251″]

Hoover Power Path Carpet Cleaner / Washer FH50950CA

$72.99
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Hoover Power Path Pro Carpet Cleaner/Washer FH51104PC

$94.99
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Hoover Spotless Deluxe Portable Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner FH11400

$79.99
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Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Lightweight Deep Pet Carpet Washer Scrubber Cleaner

$140.99
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Hoover Max Extract All-Terrain Carpet Cleaner, F7452900

$139.99
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Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Lightweight Deep Carpet Cleaner w/ Cleaning Solution

$155.99
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Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner - FH50141

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Hoover Max Extract F7412900 Dual V WidePath Carpet Washer Cleaner (Open Box)

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Hoover Max Extract 60 Pressure Pro Deep Carpet Cleaner, FH50220

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Hoover SmartWash Automatic Carpet Cleaner / Washer FH52000

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Sick and Tired of Mosquitoes? How I Got Rid of Them With Talstar P Pro

Our home is in a former swampy area that was drained in the 1980s and a subdivision built.  In short, you dig down and can hit water fairly soon – usually within 10 feet.  At any rate, we’ve had a very wet spring and summer and had standing water in our lawn until late-June and the mosquitoes have been the worst I ever recall in the 20 years we’ve been here.  We could not stay out at night or we’d get attacked unless we hosed ourselves down with Deep Woods Off.  In short, something needed to be done.

This hedgerow is right by my garage and ensured the mosquitoes had a perfect base to attack me from and rings our property:

When I was at Ace Hardware, I saw Off! brand’s Backyard Pretreat that was supposed to kill mosquitoes and leave a residue to repel them.  I thought they would know what to do given their experience – as it turns out, this product is a rip off.

I’m sad to report that after three jugs of this stuff and my getting bit over and over while applying it, I can’t say it did anything at all even several days later.  I really had high hopes – I dragged a long hose all over the place spring stuff down over and over with no noticeable improvement.

On Facebook, I posted my woes with Mosquito control and a friend, Allan, suggested Talstar P Pro and a Ryobi cordless electric sprayer to help with evenly spraying a ton of solution.  I had never heard of Talstar so I did a search and it is very well regarded.  Allan told me they live on a wooded ravine and he’s been using it for 10 years to control mosquitoes and it worked exceptionally well for him.

Talstar P Professional

Every once in a while on Amazon, you see a review score that is mind blowing.  FMC’s Talstart P Professional 96 oz has 2,263 customer reviews and a combined score of 4.6 out of 5 stars.  That is one heck of a score and is only possible if something works really, really well.

[amazonjs asin=”B00409QKRY” locale=”US” title=”FMC Talstar P Professional 96oz (3/4 gallon)”]

So, based on what I read and Allan’s recommendation, I ordered the 96oz bottle.   I then read up on the Ryobi sprayer.  It gets good reviews, uses the 18volt Ryobi batteries (it comes with one battery and a charger) and it has a three year warranty.  I ordered it off the Home Depot website [Click here]  as they had free next day home delivery and since I had to wait for the Talstar, I figured it would save me a trip.

Note:  You can use any pressurized sprayer you want – I have 1.5 acres and knew I would be applying gallons and gallons of it.  My shoulders and elbows hurt enough as it is and I didn’t want to incur the repetitive stress.

The sprayer arrived the next day and the Talstar the day after.  While I was waiting, I went to the FMC website to read up on Talstar to make sure I understood how to apply it plus I peppered Allan with his experience.

I would recommend you go to the website [click here] as they have recommendations on best practices for mosquito management and Talstar P Pro is actually interesting from a chemical perspective.

The active ingredient is Bifenthrin, which is similar to the chemical extracted from Chrysanthemums to kill insects.  Here are two links so you can read more at the National Pesticide Information Center.the user guide for the Talstar P.

Ryobi Model P2830A One+ 18-Volt Lithiu-Ion Cordless 2 Gallon Chemical Sprayer

Here are photos of the sprayer.   I charged the battery and screwed in all the fittings.  They are all lose so be sure to do that.  I didn’t have any loose plastic in the tank but I did rinse it out just to be safe.

Application

After reading the user guide, I planned to use one ounce of Talstar to one gallon of water to ensure I had residue to continue killing mosquitoes.  Since it was a two gallon tank, I increased it just a bit to 2.5 ounces per two gallon tank.  Note, a real nice perk is that the tank lid is a measuring cup!  I would use it, rinse it out and pour the mix into the tank before filling it with water.

While doing the work, I wore Nitrile gloves just to avoid contact plus I was constantly adjusting the sprayer tip from coarse mist to a stream to try and reach back over brush, through leaves, etc.

FMC recommends spraying at night or in the evening when mosquitoes are active.  I was busy the first night so I did it the following morning at 7am.   I mixed up two gallons and started spraying around the house, pool, garden and so forth.  I hosed down the bushes, the walls of the house and under the eaves.  I also sprayed the hedge – first using a coarse spray on all the brush, leaves and ground.  I found adjusting the tip to a stream was handy to penetrate the brush and also reach further back.  I’d just come back to the hose and what not and mix another two gallons of spray (2 gallons water and 2.5oz of Talstar) and kept spraying.

It took me aboput 30-45 minutes and 8 gallons, or four complete tanks, to do most of our yard.  I skipped probably a half acre of grass starting about 100-150 feet from our house but I did all of the hedge row, bushes, etc.  I was pleasantly surprised that the 2.0Ah battery was able to do the whole yard.  When I finished the first batch, I did plug the battery in and let it charge.

That night I still saw mosquitoes, but fewer of them, and applied a second dose around 7:30-8pm.  Same procedure – 8 gallons focusing around the house, all the bushes, etc.

Results

The next morning – no mosquitoes.  Whoa!!!  I did not see one single mosquito all day.  That night I worked on cars without being attacked!  I did so again yesterday and just had breakfast with my wife in her garden — something that would have been next to impossible.

I’d say the spray got a good number of them but when they landed in the residue, that got rid of a ton as well.  In other words, you might see a bit of a delay from dose to noticeable reduction.

In four weeks, I am going to do it again.  Even my wife, who always groans at me and my tinkering, was impressed and told me to make sure I apply another dose before the first one wears off!

It’s really not that expensive in the long run.  The bottle holds 96oz.  I use 10oz per 8 gallons (4 batches x 2.5oz/batch).  If I apply it twice per application, that means I’ll use 20oz per time, which means I’ll get just over 4 complete applications (so about four months of protection).  At $35/bottle, that’s about $9/time plus however you want to account for the sprayer.  For me, it’s worth it.  My wife really reacts to mosquito bites plus we can enjoy being outside again and I can go back to working outside without getting attacked.

I’d highly, highly recommend you skip the ripoff gimmicks and temporary fixes.  Spend the money and get Talstar Pro and a spray bottle (if you don’t have one).  It made a world of difference for us and wanted to spread the word that this stuff really works.


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.

Resurrecting a Gummed Up Air Tool Without Disassembly

Recently I got out my Ingersoll Rand model 117 air hammer to use and found out its action had gotten all gummed up.  It’s been probably a year since I last used it even then probably didn’t use it a ton.  I always drip air tool oil into a tool before use because my air lines run driers and particulate filters for my plastics work.  Thus, I have to manually apply the oil before I use a tool.

When I went to use 117 the piston would not actuate and when I shook the tool, it didn’t sound like it normally did.  My first thought was to check the air pressure and it was at 90 PSI and the regulator was wide open so my next guess was lubrication.  Adding more air tool oil didn’t make any difference.  I then remembered a tip a guy told me years ago with gummy air tools – spray a ton of PB Blaster down the quick connect fitting and let it sit with the quick connect fitting up in the air trapping the penetrating oil in the tool for 5 minutes and try again.

So, I did that, reconnected the air line and it worked!  The tool worked like a champ and it blew PB Blaster everywhere!  I did it one more time just to make sure stuff was clear and ran the tool for a maybe 30 seconds to blow the PB Blaster out, wiped it down with a rag and then put in four drops of air tool oil.  Problem solved.

This was a huge win because I was in the middle of working on AK and wanted to use this tool plus I didn’t have time to take it all apart,  I’m writing this post a few weeks later after completing the AK build and the IR 117 is still working like a champ.

By the way, PB Blaster can be found at tons of automotive stores.  The packing looks gimmicky but it is actually one of the best penetraing oils that is out there along with Kroil.  If I didn’t have access to either of those, I would have made up some Ed’s Red or at least used some form of transmission fluid.  Tranny fluid works great but take a while to penetrate gunk.

[amazonjs asin=”B000I2079E” locale=”US” title=”B’laster 16-PB Penetrating Catalyst – 11-Ounces”]

[amazonjs asin=”B000F09CF4″ locale=”US” title=”Kano Kroil Penetrating Oil, 8 oz. liquid (KROIL)”]

[amazonjs asin=”B000F09CEA” locale=”US” title=”Kano Aerokroil Penetrating Oil, 10 oz. aerosol (AEROKROIL)”]


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.

Getting the Simplicity Broadmor 16 Hydro Lawn Tractor Ready for the Season – Air and Oil Filters via Amazon

Given we live in a rural area, it can be a challenge trying to find the right air and oil filter for our Simplicity Broadmor 16 Hydro tractor.  It has a Kohler engine and the air and oil filters are readily available on Amazon.   It makes life way easier to just order them.  Sometimes I’ll get a deal on several and have one for the following year.

So, just to make things easy for you, here are links if you need to order them:

[amazonjs asin=”B00GSI3Q18″ locale=”US” title=”52 050 02-S1 Kohler Pro Performance Oil Filter t KH-52-050-02 WD-C37568″]

I only change the oil filter once a year.  If there’s a real good deal, I might buy a two pack.   You can search and double check prices.

[amazonjs asin=”B00FXWXI7M” locale=”US” title=”Kohler (2 Pack) 52 050 02-S1 Engine Oil Filter Extra Capacity For M18 – M20, CV11 – CV16, CH11 – CH16, LV560 – LV675, CV460 – CV490″]

For the air filter, I definitely use the model with the pre-cleaner.  The foam pre-cleaner catches a ton of dust.  Each year I have to clean and re-oil the pre-cleaner several times due to all the dust.

[amazonjs asin=”B00FXWXZJI” locale=”US” title=”Kohler (2 Pack) 12 883 05-S1 Replacement Air Filter With Pre-Cleaner”]

I change these each season plus I grease the oil fittings.   When we got the tractor I asked the mechanic who delivered it what would be the one thing he’d recommend to get long life from the tractor.  Of course he pointed out the oil and air filters but then he added to make sure to keep the tractor greased using the Zerk fittings and I have ever since.

I hope this helps you out some as well.


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.


 

Fixed a Starting Problem on my Simplicity Broadmor 16 Hydro Tractor

We bought this Simplicity Broadmor 16HP lawn tractor back around 1999-ish and it has served us well.  In the years since, I’ve had to replace a few parts and figure things out as the dealer went out of business.  Luckily, finding parts is pretty straight forward given the WWW and Amazon.

At some point last summer, the tractor began to develop intermittent problems with starting when it was hot.  It didn’t happen all the time and was a bear to try and find – sometimes you’d turn the starter switch and nothing would happen.  Well, I just assumed it was the solenoid given similar problems with cars over the years.  I did some digging and bought both a solenoid and starter off of Amazon.  In the Simplicity, and many tractors for that matter, they are two separate parts mounted away from each other.  The solenoid is up under the dash held in place by two screws and the starter is held in place by two screws and a collar.

I ordered a Caltric Starter for the Kohler CV16 engine and it mounted up just fine.

[amazonjs asin=”B007HA7RF2″ locale=”US” title=”Caltric STARTER Fits KOHLER CH14 CV11 CV12.5 CV13 CV14 CV15 CV16 NEW”]

I ordered a Stens 435-099 starter solenoid and it went in just fine as well.

[amazonjs asin=”B0015MNK9U” locale=”US” title=”Stens 435-099 Starter Solenoid”]

Well, I thought I was set but the problem got worse.  In a ways, that was a good thing.  Because when the problem happens readily, you can sort out what is wrong.

This spring, when we got the tractor out, every time it would get hot it would not re-start.  I put my multimeter on the starter power cable and it was dead.  I did not hear any clicking from the solenoid either.  If I wiggled the switch then it might start but not always so the switch made me suspicious.  If I used jumper cables and went right to the starter, it would start and run no problem with the key one.  Okay, time to replace the switch.

I did some digging and the replacement switch was a Briggs and Stratton 1686734SM unit.  I got that on order from Amazon and waited for it to show up.

[amazonjs asin=”B019WEI7QI” locale=”US” title=”Briggs and Stratton 1686734SM Ignition Switch”]

Now there is just a bit of a twist here that I want to share with folks to save you some time.  It turns out the tractor was built using an all plastic switch (groan) part number 1718305 that requires you to change the wiring in the connector.

Note the letters next to the male spades – this is how you confirm it is the 1718305 switch – the layout of the pins:

It just so happens that to use the replacement 1686734SM unit, you need to diagonally swap the four lower wires – upper left to lower right and upper right to lower left.  They recommend you label the wires before you do the swap – I just jotted down the color codes.

The following photo is from the instruction sheet that came with the switch — it’s actually well done and helped me figure this out:

Figure 2 shows the identifying marks for the plastic 1718305 switch and exactly matched what I had.

Figure 3 shows the pin out of the original connector

Figure 4 shows the new lay out.

In case you lose track of the wires for whatever reason, here are the color codes that are in my Broadmor by labeled connector pin:

  • A.  Red / White (meaning primarily red with a white stripe)
  • B.  Red — this is from the battery so make sure your battery is disconnected
  • G.  Black
  • L. Red/Black
  • M.  Purple/White
  • S. Blue/White

First, disconnect the negative cable from the battery or you risk some fireworks when you change the red/hot wire.

To change the wires around, I moved them a pair at a time – just the lower four are changing — I ran a small blade screw driver in and loosened the female spade fitting inside the connector and pulled it back out gently with a pair of needle nose pliers.  I then swapped the location and pushed each connector into the new location.

To seal the connections, I applied a layer of silicone grease on the female connector openings so that when the male spades pushed in, they would be coated with the grease.  I have a jar of Mission Automotive brand Silicone grease that I use all the time.

[amazonjs asin=”B016E5E59G” locale=”US” title=”Mission Automotive Dielectric Grease/Silicone Paste/Waterproof Marine Grease (8 Oz.) – Made in USA – Excellent Silicone Grease”]

I then confirmed the layout one last time, sat on the tractor, made sure the engine was clear and started it.  Everything worked on the first try – a good sign.

The switch fit nicely inside the OEM hole.  It comes with extra parts for mounting and I just did what Simplicity did – I installed the switch, used the supplied hex nut to secure it on the front and pressed on the switch cover.  I then tested again just to be safe.

By the way, here are photos of the back of the installed switch:

I then mowed part of the lawn for 10-15 minutes and when the tractor was good and hot, I turned it off and back on several times.  I then let the tractor idle for about 10-15 minutes and again could turn it off and on with no problem.

I think the problem is solved as the tractor is still working just fine.  I wanted to post this in case you needed to know what to get from Amazon or see the wire colors and hope it helps you out.


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Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ AirStrike 18-Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer

Well folks, I recently needed to install some molding at my mother in law’s and realized I no longer have a small compressor to run my air nailers at a remote site.  So, I recalled an article I had read that spoke well of the Ryobi Airstrike 18ga brad nailer.

The interesting twist on this nailer is that it uses an 18 volt One+ battery to operate and you don’t need a compressor or air lines.  I have a ton of Ryobi tools and decided to pick up just the tool for $129.99.

I read the manual and the tool has both an air pressure adjustment and a depth adjustment.  In the next photo, the silver dial on the top adjusts the air pressure and depth is down towards the nose.   You’ll notice I have one of the slim low-profile lithium batteries on it.

It came with 200 1-1/4″ brads and they look just like the ones I use in my air brad nailer so I have plenty for the future.  They load in the magazine just like other nailers.

Now, I definitely would recommend practicing some with this.  The balance is fairly good but what is really different is the way it cycles when you pull the trigger.  There is a split second delay as it builds up pressure and then it fires the hammer driving the brad forward.  For me, the delay took some getting used to.  We’re not talking very long at all but I’m used to bang-bang-bang-bang with an air nailer as fast as you can pull the trigger.  Here there is just enough pause to throw you off.  I found myself pulling the trigger and lifting to fast so I needed to make my self slow down, pull the trigger, let it cycle and then pull.

What I was installing was some of that cheap paper/fiber molding so it was very easy for the nailer to drive the brads in.  I really should have dialed the pressure back a bit and/or reduced the depth.  That will take further experimenting for me to learn the right combo.

All in all after driving about 30 brads, I am happy and would recommend the unit to someone who is interested in going cordless.

Note, I would consider a bigger nailer if I needed it down the road but most of the time I am close enough to my shop that I can run an airline to my big compressor.  The reviews are mixed on the big nailer as it uses a relatively oddball sized nail and I’m hoping they change that.

If you are thinking of buying one of the brad nailers, they are on Amazon but you will pay a premium.  Either get them at your local Home Depot store or buy them online:

Just the tool – click here.

The tool, battery and charger – click here.

Update 10/4/2018:  I used this while remodeling my mother-in-law’s house and did not have one problem.  I was driving between 1″ to 1-1/4″ 18ga nails through paneling, baseboards and door moldings.  Not one jam, misfire, light strike, etc.  I’m very pleased with the tool.  Like many things, I just had to get used to it.


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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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