Category Archives: Tools

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.


Ryobi P721 Hybrid 20 Watt LED Work Light is Fantastic!!

I finally gave up trying to keep my old Ryobi 18 volt flashlights working or converting them to LED.  Ryobi sells a 20 watt LED worklight, model # P721 that is really slick and uses their 18 volt batteries.  I bought one at my local Home Depot and used it all summer while working on cars, plumbing and electrical work.  I must say that I am impressed.

The light has two settings, low and high.  When I was working in a room or under a car, the high setting was great.  Inside a bathroom vanity it was way too bright and the low setting worked much better.  They say the high setting is 2,400 lumen — let me tell you, it’s bright.

The problem I used to run into with incandescent bulbs is that the filament would burn out and I would need to install a new bulb.  LED lights do not have that problem.  Ryobi estimates the bulb will last 50,000 hours.  To put that in perspective, if you ran the light for one year, it would run for 8,760 hours non-stop.  Of course you would drain the battery over and over but the point is that it will be a long time before the LED gives out.

The legs are an interesting design and can hang on a two by lumber such as framing or a floor joist.

They claim 34 hours on one of the big Lithium Ion batteries and I suspect that is the low setting.  When I was doing plumbing and electrical work at my mother-in-law’s house, I killed a big battery in less time than that on full power.

All in all, it is a great light.  Since I have Ryobi tools and batteries, this purchase was a no-brainer and I plan to buy a second one for ever better coverage while working and the occasional power outage.

5/30/2019 Update;  I did buy a second one and these things are great.  For example, I just used them the other night to light up an area outside where my wife and I were working.   The batteries last a surprisingly long time on the lower power setting but I can’t tell you for sure how long.  Also, that base is so well thought out.  You can attach it to two-by lumber or even use the hook to dangle it – which I did from a rope.


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.


NEW RYOBI P721 18-VOLT ONE+ & 120V HYBRID 20-WATTS LED WORK LIGHT - TOOL ONLY

$64.97
End Date: Tuesday Sep-17-2019 21:08:20 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $64.97
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

New Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Hybrid 20-Watt LED Work Light (Tool-Only) # P721

$57.00
End Date: Thursday Sep-12-2019 14:37:01 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $57.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Ryobi One+ P721 18v 20-Watt LED Work Light Dual Power Hybrid 2-Level NEW IN PKG!

$67.00
End Date: Tuesday Sep-17-2019 11:53:08 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $67.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Ryobi One+ P721 18V 20-W LED Work Light Dual Power Hybrid 20WATT NISB(NOT P720)!

$78.59
End Date: Sunday Sep-8-2019 20:42:01 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $78.59
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

RYOBI P720/P721 RYOBI 18V 18-Volt ONE+ Dual Power Hybrid 20-Watt LED Work Light

$99.99
End Date: Wednesday Sep-11-2019 12:25:43 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $99.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

2 Pack New 18V 4.0Ah P108 Li-ion Replacement Battery for Ryobi 18V ONE+ Tool

$49.99
End Date: Friday Sep-6-2019 1:58:09 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $49.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

For Ryobi One+ 18 Volt 18V One Plus P100 P101 P105 ABP1801 High Cap Battery 3.0A

$15.49
End Date: Tuesday Aug-27-2019 2:59:46 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $15.49
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

FOR Ryobi ONE+ 18V 18Volt 2.5Ah P108 P102 P103 P104 P190 Lithium-Ion BATTERY NEW

$19.99
End Date: Wednesday Sep-4-2019 18:40:55 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

For Ryobi One Plus 18V P108 Max Lithium Ion Battery Replaces P104 P102 P107 P105

$19.99
End Date: Sunday Sep-1-2019 3:37:09 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

New 6.0Ah 18Volt P108 For Ryobi One+ Plus Lithium-Ion P109 High Capacity Battery

$31.49
End Date: Wednesday Sep-11-2019 4:16:06 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $31.49
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Ryobi P739 18 Volt Compressor Is Very Handy And Is Holding Up Great!

The one thing I notice about getting older is that I don’t have the strength to go lugging around as much as I used to not to mention I don’t have a ton of patience either.  This issue affects me when it comes to portable compressors.

Because of Ronin’s Grips, I have a big stationary 60 gallon Ingersoll Rand compressor.  To work on cars, I run 50-100 feet of 3/8″ air hose to where I am working and life is great,  For years I had a portable two gallon compressor that required AC that I sold because it weighed quite a bit and needed an electrical cord.

Last Spring, I started hearing about various tool companies making cordless air compressors that could be used to run nailers, staplers or even inflate tires.  That idea definitely caught my attention.

I then read about the Ryobi P739 1 gallon air compressor that uses their common 18 volt batteries.  I have a ton of Ryobi tools and batteries so I bought one from www.homedepot.com with home delivery.  Note, I specifically bought the model above – there are other previous models but I can’t speak to them.  Also, the website will frequently sell different bundles (the unit with a charger and at least one battery) that you will probably not see in a store so at least check the website before you buy.

First off, this is not an inflator that puts out tiny amounts of air.  This has a 1 gallon tank that is pressurized to 120 PSI and has an adjustable regulator.

This little compressor is meant for tools that have low air requirements or inflation as it does not put out a ton of air – 0.75 standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) at 40 PSI or 0.5 SCFM at 90 PSI.  Note, I am just going to write SCFM for the compressor because Ryobi says the above is a SCFM rating.  CFM is different and click here if you want a pretty good explanation.

Once the tank is pressurized, you’ll have enough air to run a brad nailer, finish nailer or stapler.  The question becomes how many nails can you drive before the compressor will need to kick on and refill the tank.  The answer unfortunately is “it depends” because of the requirements of the tool.  It will never put out enough air for tools that require a lot of air like ratchets, impact hammers, sanders, spray painters, etc.  Don’t even consider it for those tools that say they require over 2 CFM.  The Ryobi simply was not designed for those use cases and never claimed to be.

This little compressor will probably be great for 10-20 finish nails/staples and then need to run its compressor.  If you try to use the tool too fast when it is trying to recharge the tank, odds are you will draw more air than the tool can deliver and the pressure will continue to drop.  Remember – the compressor itself is small.  When the tank pressure drops and the compressor kicks on, it will need time to recover.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention a framing nailer or even a roofing nailer.  Odds are the compressor can do a few of those but it would never keep up.  Portable job site compressors for nailers can deliver 3-5 SCFM @ 90PSI and keep up with even several nailers running.  If you plan on some quick fix with just a few nails then sure, this would work.

What this little Ryobi brings to the table is portability.  It is only about 14 pounds before you add the battery and tools.  I use one of the big 4 amp hour Lithium Ion batteries on it and then keep a 25 foot Amflo line on it with Milton 1/4″ quick connect fittings.

I like the Amflo line as it is made from polyurethane and remains flexible even in cold weather plus it doesn’t leave scuff marks everywhere.  The old rubber and PVC air hoses are big, bulky and really get stiff. The challenge is keeping all the Amflo hose on the unit when moving it around. Velcro really helps. I started with an oddball strap that I had laying around. It helped but I needed two more to really secure it and used a cool double sided “Velcro” tape that is out now.

I use a hook and loop tape that rocks.  The brand name you know is “Velcro” but you will hear people generically refer to it as hook and loop.  At any rate, this stuff has the hook one one side and the loop on the other – you cut off the roll whatever length you need and it is simply fantastic for managing cables, or in this case, keeping that Amflo hose on the holder.  I use three pieces – on the two sides and one at the top – because most of the time I am using just a short section for topping off tires.

As mentioned in the past, I just use Milton fittings now.  Harbor Freight, Home Depot and other discount brands have let me down one too many times including excessive air leaks with wear and even breaking.

One last small tip, use good Teflon tape.  The stuff I am using right now is off Amazon and is way thicker than the cheapo stuff you often see.

I have a 16ga NuMax finish nailer and an 18ga Wen finish nailer that work just fine with this plus a Surebonder T-50 Stapler.  I have others but these are the ones that I have used with the Ryobi and am happy.  Again, I am not doing high volumes – more like small projects, repairs, etc.

It Rocks For Topping Off Tires

What I use the Ryobi for the most is to top off car and truck tires.  It really makes this chore easy.  Sure my big compressor is faster but to go around and add up to 5-10 PSI to a tire is easy with this.  To give you an idea of size, the next photo shows the unit next to one of my Landcruiser’s good sized 275/70R16 tires.

I used to lug around a portable five gallon tank but it weighs a ton, is cumbersome and I might need to refill it several times before I get done.  If I didn’t do that, I would have to pull the car around by my shop, hook up a line to reach it and then fill the tire – that can also be a headache unless the line is already hooked up.

What you see above is a Milton S-506 tire inflator that I keep on it.  I have another in the garage that is beat to death but still working.  It is so very, very handy to have the inflator and pressure gauge in one unit plus chuck heads at two angles for bikes, tractors, trailers, etc.

To give you an idea, I recently had to add about 2-4 PSI on each tire of my daughter’s 2002 Camry to get them up to 40 PSI.  The regulator was set at 90 PSI and it had a freshly charged battery,

Part way into the first tire the compressor turned on and continued running as I did all four tires on the car.  The battery’s LED charge indicator dropped one bar out of four.  The compressor turned off maybe two minutes after I topped off the last tire.

In summary, I’ve been using this compressor for over two months mainly for topping off tires and that really puts some stress on the little unit.  It seems to be holding up just fine.  It gets lugged around my shop, the drive way in the trunks of cars and no problems.  I can easily go out and check all our vehicle tires and top them off where they sit .

If you use Ryobi 18 volt tools, have the batteries and are in the market for a light duty portable compressor for the uses I outlined above, I’d recommend this one.  If you use another brand of 18-20 volt tool, I bet your vendor is making a portable compressor as well that you might want to research.

5/21/2019 Update:  This thing has been awesome.  I use it at least once a week to top off tires and has been great.  I’ve also used it a few times to run staplers and a finish nailer.  I really like it.  It definitely uses quite a bit of power so if you plan on using it a fair amount, I’d recommend at least 4.0Ah, or even better the new 9.0Ah, batteries you will be using the unit extensively.  I always have several batteries with me too.


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.


2XFor Ryobi P108 18V 6.0Ah Lithium Ion Battery Pack Replaces P122 P105 P103 P102

$56.89
End Date: Wednesday Sep-18-2019 0:56:08 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $56.89
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

RYOBI OP40401 40V Battery 4.0ah Lithium-Ion High Capacity Battery 4ah

$72.00
End Date: Wednesday Aug-21-2019 19:54:42 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $72.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Ryobi One Plus 18V Brushless Hammer Drill - P251 (TOOL ONLY )

$40.00
End Date: Wednesday Aug-21-2019 15:13:31 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $40.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

NEW! Ryobi One + 18V Lithium + HP Battery P194 BRAND NEW SEALED

$95.00
End Date: Tuesday Sep-17-2019 14:26:44 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $95.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

2XFor Ryobi P108 18V 4.0Ah Lithium Ion Battery Pack Replaces P107 P105 P103 P102

$52.49
End Date: Monday Sep-9-2019 3:17:46 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $52.49
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

NEW!! RYOBI 18-Volt ONE+ Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2 in. Compact Drill/Driver Kit

$58.99
End Date: Monday Sep-9-2019 8:51:36 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $58.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Ryobi OP40201 2.0ah 40V Lithium-ion Battery NEW

$49.00
End Date: Monday Sep-2-2019 13:41:39 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $49.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

NEW - RYOBI P166 18V ONE+ LITHIUM HP 3.0 Ah Battery 2 Pack Starter Kit + Charger

$79.90
End Date: Saturday Aug-24-2019 9:31:11 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $79.90
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Ryobi ONE+ Lithium 18V 4Ah Battery And Charger BRAND NEW

$44.98
End Date: Wednesday Sep-18-2019 19:29:42 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $44.98
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

NEW!! RYOBI 18-Volt ONE+ 2.0 Ah Lithium-Ion Compact Battery (2-Pack)

$54.99
End Date: Sunday Sep-1-2019 7:32:57 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $54.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

P102 RYOBI 18V LITHIUM ION BATTERY * FREE SHIPPING *

$17.99
End Date: Thursday Sep-5-2019 10:45:02 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $17.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

RYOBI P884 18V ONE+ LITHIUM ION + 6 Tool Ultimate Combo Power Kit - RECON !!!!

$199.90
End Date: Thursday Sep-5-2019 9:21:38 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $199.90
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

GENUINE RYOBI ONE+ P102 18 VOLT LITHIUM ION REPLACEMENT BATTERY 18V 24WH LI-ION

$19.99
End Date: Monday Aug-19-2019 14:06:39 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Ryobi One+ 18V Li-Ion 4-Tool Combo Kit - Drill, Circ Saw, Recip Saw, Flashlight

$89.00
End Date: Tuesday Sep-17-2019 10:16:49 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $89.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

NEW - Ryobi OP40201 40V 2Ah Li-Ion Compact Battery Pack

$44.95
End Date: Tuesday Sep-17-2019 14:31:59 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $44.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Ryobi P107 18V ONE+ Compact Li-ion Cordless Battery w/ Fuel Gauge

$20.99
End Date: Monday Sep-16-2019 12:44:43 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $20.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Ryobi P884 18-Volt ONE+ Lithium-Ion Cordless 6-Tool Combo Kit

$6.50 (3 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Aug-25-2019 17:49:36 PDT
Bid now | Add to watch list

Brand New Ryobi P239 18V ONE+ Cordless Brushless speed Impact Driver bare tool

$59.24
End Date: Wednesday Aug-21-2019 7:47:15 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $59.24
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Ryobi P117 ONE+ 18V Dual Chemistry IntelliPort Charger (Li-Ion & NiCad) GENUINE!

$27.90
End Date: Monday Sep-16-2019 11:06:18 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $27.90
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Arctic Cove / Ryobi 18V Lithium Ion MAC102 / P102 Misting Fan Battery GENUINE

$26.90
End Date: Sunday Sep-15-2019 10:32:38 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $26.90
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Houston We Have a Problem: The Onyx 1828 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench Breaks Its Retaining Clip – Resolved

Well, after only moderate use my Onyx 1828 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench has a problem.  On the nose is a small retaining ring, that holds sockets in place.  It came out of its groove and bent.  At first I couldn’t figure out why it was so hard to put sockets on or take them off the wrench.  The last one I had to hammer off and then saw what the problem was:

The retaining ring that holds the sockets on the nose had bent!  It was so bad that I didn’t even try to see if I could get a socket on as you can see in the above photos.

First, I checked Amazon to see if I could return it but could not – no worries – I bought it back on January 25, 2018 — about eight and a half months ago.  So, I Googled Astra Pneumatics, found their warranty page and they said to call  (800-221-9705) with the model number of the unit (The 3/8″ Onyx I have is model # 1828)  and the part that I needed from their breakdown sheet located on the main product page – so I got that too:

I circled it in red above for reference – it’s part number 1822-04 and called the 800 number.  The phone was promptly answered and the lady I spoke to was very professional.  They knew there was a problem with a previous generation of the wrench sold earlier by Amazon that they had since fixed.  She said she’d be very happy to send me a new ring for free.  “Cool – I don’t have to send it in” so I gave her my info.

Here we are two weeks later and still no ring.  I called again and this time wrote down the name of the customer service agent and she gave me a reference number, which the last agent did not.  I told her I was bummed because I needed the wrench and the sockets just fell off when I was trying to do odd position work – which was true.   The sockets were just falling off on work with any downward angle.

So, I talked to her on September 11th and we’ll see how things go.  I’m hoping the ring comes this time or I will call back and escalate matters.  I really like the wrench – it’s light, powerful and can get in tight spaces but that all doesn’t matter if it can’t retain its sockets.

So, I wanted to pass this along in case you are having a similar issue and you want to know who to contact and what to request.  I’ll update this post once I have the ring and the unit back in operation … or, worst case, I have to call a third time and escalate but I think things will get resolved this time as the customer service agent made sure (literally) that I wrote down both her name and the reference number.

We’ll see.

This started on 9/11/2018.

Update 9/20:  They sent the wrong size retaining ring!!!  The replacement unit must be for the 1/2″ model.  It’s 8:07pm and they closed at 3:30 Pacific so I left a general voicemail as Marcy’s voicemail box in customer service is not accepting messages.  I’m now getting irked. 

9/21 – Called and talked to Marcy who confirmed they sent the wrong size ring.  I told her this was causing problems for and I’d really appreciate it if they would send the ring some way other than first class mail.  She mumbled something to the effect that she couldn’t do anything about it or it was out of her control.

9/26 – Still dead in the water and am ticked off.

As an update, some time in October 2018 this got resolved.  I called  and asked to talk to a supervisor.  It turns out the rings were back ordered but she had a stash to help out people who had waited a long time.  She sent me two and I was back in business.  If you are going to buy one, first find out if they have changed the socket retaining ring/clip design.  I think someone at that firm told me they had but confirm this.  If it weren’t for this problem, I’d be very happy.  The wrench itself works fine otherwise.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon to buy something.   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.


Cost-Effective Sanding Belts for the Work Sharp Ken Onion Knife Sharpener

I’ve had a number of guys email me asking if there are affordable replacement sanding belts for the Work Sharp Ken Onion (KO) edition knife sharpener.  The short answer is yes.

The actual Work Sharp brand belts work very well but they are pricey.  A group called Econaway Abrasives is making affordable replacement belts that I’ve had very good luck with.  Note that the Ken Onion edition uses a 3/4″ wide belt whereas the traditional Work Sharp uses a 1/2″ belt.  That means the KO can use either but the traditional can’t use the KO belts.

6/1/19 Update:  I’ve also had good luck with belts from Red Label Adhesives.

There are other brands starting to show up as vendors realize there is a market opportunity for them.  Econaway and Red Label are just the two that I have first hand experience with and hope this helps you save some money!


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 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 🙂  You can see it pulling out the 10W30 no problem at all.

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.

I’m still on my first set of hoses but they do have a variety of replacement hoses on Amazon in case you want just one hose or a set.

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


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.

Amazon product listings are at the bottom of the post.


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.

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.

Very Compact Astro 1828 ONYX 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench Is Great For Tight Quarters

This past winter I had the fun of changing the starter motor twice in 15 degree weather in my Landcruiser.  It was a bear getting to the starter bolts with my full size Ingersoll Rand 1/2 Thunder Gun.  It’s an awesome impact wrench and I had trashed a few cheap Harbor Freight ones before taking the advice of my friends and buying it.  To make a long story short, with a long extension and a universal joint, I was able to get the two bolts out.

While working on the truck, it struck me that I really needed a compact impact wrench to get into tight spaces.  I did some digging and found the Astro 1828 Onyx for 3/8″ impact sockets.  I figured I wanted small and probably would not need 1/2″ most of the time.

These next photos show how much more compact the Onyx is compared to the big Thunder Gun:

The little Onyx gets great reviews – currently 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 148 reviews.  I bought it and a Hot Max 28083 Swivel adapter at the same time.   It arrived in a nice little cardboard box from Amazon and I promptly put good Teflon tape on the swivel’s fittings, installed it and then a Milton M-style plug.

So far, both are holding up great in my home garage use (I’m not a pro mechanic – more like a shade tree one with ADD and sleep deprivation).

What I find interesting is that it is a torquy little beast.  They claim 450 ft/lbs.  I have not bothered checking using a calibrated torque wrench but I can tell you it’s done a great job so far.  For big stuff / tight stuff, I still go to the Thundergun with its 625 ft/lbs of torque.  The Onyx is more of a special purpose tool for me.  By the way, if you notice it is shiny above, I had just used it to remove the drain plug off a 2002 Camry’s transmission.  They are about 18mm and use a 10mm Allen bit to come off.  My 10mm Allen bit is for a 3/8″ drive so I just stuck it on the Onyx and it whipped it right off.  Reinstalling, I set torque at 1 out of 3 and then checked it with a 3/8″ drive ratchet wrench after — it was in there solid.

In short, I am happy with the little Nano and Hot Max swivel combination.  I definitely still use my Thunder Gun for wheel lugs and big fasteners but the Nano is now my go to for tight spaces.

October 2018 Update:  I had a problem with the hog ring clip at the end of the nose.  It bent and would no longer hold sockets properly.  It took a while for the maker to get me the clips but they did take care of me and gave me a few spare.  Click here for the whole story.


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.


How to Clean Up Oil On A Cement Driveway

I’m a gear head and am always working on a car or tractor it would seem.  Like many, I have a concrete drive way and it seems like no matter how hard I try, I get engine oil, grease, gas or whatever other crud on the cement.

I’ve seen guys post asking about how to get oil and what not out of a cement drive way and I have a simple answer – I use a degreaser called “Purple Power”.  I know it is a crazy name but it works.  I’ve been using it for probably 10 or more years and buy it by the gallon jug at Autozone.  I can’t recall who recommended to me or just when – but I’ve used it for a long time and vouch for it.

My approach is simple:

  1. If you have standing oil, pour clay cat litter or oil absorbing pellets and let it sit for a few hours to a day and then brush it up and save it to be used again.  We don’t have cats so I usually just keep a big bag of the oil absorbent stuff from Autozone and use it over and over until it gets real oily.  I just keep it in an old pail.
  2. Pour on the Purple Power full strength and let it sit 15-30 minutes.  I would recommend doing it in the morning or evening because you do not want it to dry out.
  3. Use a hose with a pressure nozzle (just something to focus the spray coming out of the hose) and rinse the stuff off.
  4. Let it dry and see how it looks.  If there is still some dark spots in the cement, you may need to do it a couple more times.  For me, it usually does the job in two passes but sometimes I need a third.

Okay, here’s a photo of my drive way after working on a car and a tractor.  The big “blotch” is a combination of gas and oil.  I changed the fuel pump on my tractor and then cleaned the engine up with brake cleaner and it went on the drive way.  The four smaller blotches to the right of the Purple Power jug are soaked in oil from working on the car.

This photo is after three passes with Purple Power and letting it sit 15-30 minutes each time.  If I had done it a fourth time it would be even brighter but I literally ran out of cleaner.  You can see the big blotch is entirely gone.  Really, just a bit is left.  At some point this weekend, I’ll run up to Autozone and get another gallon and finish the job.

If I didn’t use Purple Power, my driveway would be an absolute mess.  I go through about a gallon per year sometimes two – it just depends on what all I am working on and how often I clean up my driveway.

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.


The Vortex Torque Wrench Optics Mounting Kit is Wicked!!

I’m to the point with rifles that when I want to maintain accuracy, I know I need an accurate torquing driver.  For years I have used the Wheeler Firearms Accurizing Torque (FAT) Wrench and it was good enough.  For about $40 I got the base unit that included a few bits and a case.  The FAT wrench had a range from 10-65 in/lbs and good enough accuracy (+/- 2 in/lbs up to 40 pounds and +/- 5% over 40 in/lbs).  My only beef with it was that the mechanical scale that shows you the torque settings was in 5 pound increments.  To get close to 18 in/lbs, for example, required going close to the middle between 15 and 20 in/lbs and calling it even.

I used the FAT wrench pretty much exclusively from October 2014 to May 2018.  It was good enough at the time – way better than going for ballpark feel “farmer tight” settings but in the back of my head though, I wanted better.

By the way, in case you are wondering why a person would get one of these torque wrenches or drivers, it’s because many torque wrenches aren’t calibrated in inch/pounds (they are often foot pounds in the US) and they may not go down as low as 10 inch/pounds (in/lbs).

My interests span many types of firearms from AKs to precision rifles.  With the latter, I own a number of sub-MOA rifles and they demand precision tools if you want repeatability and reliability.  These rifles also have very good Vortex scopes and rings as well.  If you want consistency and the rings to not shoot loose, the value of a torque wrench becomes apparent fast.

I’m a Vortex fan – there’s no two ways about.  Their optics are superb and they have an absolute “we will stand behind it no matter what with no nonsense” warranty.  Once in a while I will see guys troll the brand on Facebook but I honestly question whether they have ever actually even owned one.

Folks, I’ve owned probably 7-8 superb Vortex scopes and a ton of red dots.  I really don’t know how many red dots of various types – probably approaching a dozen.  The glass is good, the scopes are durable and do you know how many times I have used the warranty? — None.  In talking with guys that have, Vortex took care of them.

So, let me get to the point.  Vortex came out with a torque driver called the “Vortex Optics Torque Wrench Mounting Kit” that goes from 10-50 in pounds in calibrated 1 in/lbs increments that you set like a micrometer.

When it arrived, the first thing I noticed was the heft.  This is a solidly built metal tool that screams quality.  It comes with a few bits.  You pull the copper colored locking ring down and turn the handle to get the torque you want.  I did find that you have to push the bits in very firmly.  There is a detent ball that holds the driver bits in and it is surprisingly stout.

A nice touch is that the end of the handle has a 1/4″ socket if you want to use a ratchet wrench for higher torque applications.  For example, Vortex precision rings can go up to 50 in/lbs.  I can do that by hand most of the time but a ratchet makes it much easier.

On the topic of bits, it is a standard 1/4″ drive so you can get a large collection of bits and pair it up with this unit.  For example, I had a Home Depot Husky brand driver with a ton of bits that I picked up on sale at some point and just had sitting on the shelf.  I put it with the Vortex and its few included driver bits.  Additionally, when I am working on a firearm, I typically have my Weaver deluxe toolkit open as well.  It contains a great selection of bits that you tend to find on firearms.

There is one thing I changed though – the Vortex unit comes in a round plastic case that is nice and strong but I don’t have the patience to try and put it all back together for storage.  So, I hopped down to Ace hardware and bought a case to hold the Vortex torque driver, the Husky driver and all the bits plus I have room for more storage.  I also used some of my spare pluckable foam left over from cases to pad the bottom of the case.

In case you are wondering, here are photos of my FAT and Vortex torque drivers side by side:

In this next photo, you can see what I mean about precisely setting the torque on the wrenches.  My Vortex Precision Scope Rings specify a torque of 18 in/lbs.  With the Vortex wrench, you can precisely set it for 18 pounds.  With the FAT, it’s somewhere around 17-19 pounds plus we already know the wrench’s accuracy is limited to +/- 2 in/lbs as well.

On the topic of accuracy, the Vortex driver comes with a certificate of calibration to testing standard DIN-ISO-6789 by a gentleman named Tom on Feb 27, 2018.  You can see my specific wrench nails the accuracy – no more guesswork and no more ballpark torque setting.

In summary, I am very happy with my Vortex wrench and would recommend it to anyone doing precision firearms work, notably optics.  You can pick one up at a very reasonable price from Amazon and you ought to do it.


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.


Amazon products are listed below.