A Japanese Type 89B I-Go Otsu Medium Tank Is On Display at Villa Escudero in Quezon, Philippines

On July 16th, 2017, I had the opportunity to visit the Villa Escudero Plantation and Resort during a trip to the Philippines. Villa Escudero (VE) is a working coconut plantation about two hours drive from Manila near Quezon and was founded in the 1880s by Don Placidio Escuderio and his wife Dona Claudia Marasigan. It was opened to the public in 1981 and is definitely worth visiting either as a day trip or overnight.

The reason I am writing this is that outside their museum they have a number of interesting WWII Japanese artifacts on display. What caught my eye immediately was the aging hulk of a Japanese Type 89 I-Go Otsu Medium Tank. I vaguely knew the Japanese had some tanks in WWII but this was my first time actually seeing one in person.

Quick History of the Type 89

The Type 89 was designed in 1928 and fielded by the Imperial Japanese Army from 1932-1942. The light tank version waas based on the 10-ton French Renault FT tank and the 2o-ton design was based on the Vickers medium tank and so underpowered that it was redesigned to 10 tons based on the Vickers Medium C.

It had a crew of four, a 57mm Type 90 gun with 100 rounds of ammo and two type 91 machine guns on the hull and rear of the turret with 2,745 rounds of ammo.

Given the 1920s design, it was intended to support infantry and lacked the armor of allied tanks. The Type 89 was consideredd a poor match for the American M4 Sherman for example. The Type 89 was regarded as obsolete by 1939 but was fielded in the Philippines.

The Japanese produced a Type89A I-Go Ko with a gas engine and a machine gun on the right side of the hull. It could only hit 15.5 Km/h and 113 were produced.

The second variety was the Type89B I-Go Otsu. Production started on these in 1934 and they had an air-cooled Mitsubishi A6120VD 120HP diesel engine. The machine gun was on the left side of the hull, the front hull was a single plate. The diesel engine was preferred because they had better fuel economy, more torque at lower RPM and diesel is less explosive than gasoline during a fire. 291 Otsus were produced.

Given some digging, I found the following Imperal Japanese Army units with Type 89 tanks were in the Philippines:

  • 7th Tank Regiment led by Colonel Seinosuke Sonoda from 1941 to 1942. The 3rd company of the 7th tank regiment advanced south along Route 5 towards Manila.
  • The 1st Tank Corps also had Type 89s
  • The 3rd Regiment had 26 Type 89s
  • The 4th Regiment had four Type 89s

Villa Escudero’s Type 89B

I am unsure of where VE obtained the Type 89B Otsu, if it was retrieved locally or just what. We can definitely say it is an Otsu because the machine gun is located on the left side of the hull (Ieft from the vantage of the crew looking forward).

Also, note the camo paint. I have seen black and white WWII-vintage photos of Type 89s with camo paint. I just can’t confirm the pattern or exact colors match.

This photo is from Wikipedia and is of a Type 89B Otsu during field trials. Note the camo pattern but we can’t tell the colors.
This fellow climbed on the track and it gives you an idea of the Otsu’s size. The Otsu is 18′ 10″ long, 7′ 1″ wide and 8′ 5″ tall. The weight is 14.09 tons (12.79 metric tons).
The main gun was a 57mm Type 90 that was lower-velocity and no match for the US M3 Lee’s 37mm cannon not to mention it couldn’t penetrate the Lee’s armor. The main gun could have helped with machine gun nests and vehicles lacking armor. It’s interesting the gun appears to be there but the machine gun is lonmg gone.
Closer view of the front. The ring is off the tow point. There’s a closed hatch on the hull. I didn’t see any welds to lock up the track. I’ve seen static displays in other countries where the goverment welded parts so there would be no moving the vehicle. Front hull is a single plate riveted on.
Closer view of the front
Notice the rear mounted machine gun cupola on the turret and the heat shield on the exhaust. Now look at that wierd attachment on the back. My best guess is it was added in to enable the tank to better back up without getting stuck or maybe even to handle barriers – going up ror down.
Here’s a better look at that rear assembly. Clearly there are rounded skid plates. I see them in some historical photos and the video below but I didn’t find details on why they are ther. In some photos, there were supplies/boxes on top of it. I did find one very informative website that called this “unditching gear” that was added around 1937.
A view of the rear drive wheels and that rear skid assembly. Rust is taking its toll. Kudos to Villa Escudero for maintaining it as best they can. The heat, humidity and being surrounded by the ocean takes its toll on anything made of steel over time.
One last photo – I found the tread pattern very interesting.

Original Video

When I see something like this, I wonder what it looked like. Here’s a black and while video with sound from Youtube that shows the Otsus and you can see they have a camo pattern and also the rear skid assembly is present.


If you want to see some Philippine history, great views, and have some great food then visit Villa Escudero. I’d like to thank them for trying to preserve some unique history and make it accessible to visitors.

To learn more about the Type 89 Otsu tanks, see:

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

A Surprisingly Good Tomahawk From Amazon – The Nedfoss 12.2″ Tac – Yeah, I’d never heard of them either

I like axes, hatchets and tomahawks. I actually inherited a number of axes and hatchets from my dad and grandpa. I also have a number of CRKT and ColdSteel models among others – some are worth talking about and some are best forgotten or not mentioned out of sheer embarassment. This story is about a surprisingly good one.

You every buy something on a whim due to a photo? That’s what happened with me when I ordered the NedFoss 12.2″ Tac Tomahawk with G10 handle, full tang and 4.3″ bearded blade. I have a thing for bearded axes, hatchets and tomahawks (‘hawks’). Guess what? It’s surprisingly good – I’ve said that twice now – I didn’t expect to be impressed so let me tell you more – I’ve had it for almost five months now.

Let’s start with the ugly

I opened the Amazon box and saw the product box and wondered WTF I had just bought. It looked like the designer dropped acid and created the graphics. Literally, “what did I just buy?” went through my head.

Uhmmm…. what mall ninja shit did I just buy? Do I return it? Do I tell anyone I even bought this? — These were all going through my head when I saw the product box.
It was packed in a form fitting hard foam and when I pulled it out, the sheath, handle scales and rivets all caught my eye – they were all very nicely done both in terms of fitment and finish.


After my intial panic over the box, I started taking a closer look at the little hawk. It was a fairly common size for people looking for a tactical or combat hawk. It’s just over 12″ long and the beareded head is 4.3″.

The hawk is just over 12″ overall.
The blade is just over 4″ and front to back is approximately 5″. Note the NedFoss lion logo that is elegantly cut into the head.
The back of the hawk’s head comes to a chisel point. Conceptually, it would hold up better striking a hard surface than the sharpened head.
The handles are two separate G10 scales (one on each side) held in place by brass rivets. The grooves give for a very sure grip. The bottom of the tang swells open and serves as an effective hand stop. The hole helps reduce the weight.
All of the rivets are well formed with no tool marks/blemishes on them.
The handle is about 1″ front to back. That size should fit different size hands comfortably.
The handle is about 5/8″ thick overall.
The whole steel part of the hawk – tang, head and all – is made from one piece of 0.213″ 8Cr14MoV steel hardened to 55 HRC.
I could have done without the hokey printed “runes”. I would have been more impressed if they cut them in like they did the Lion’s head. Note, it is a pretty deep beard – I like the profile.
It includes a leather sheat/blade guard. It doesn’t have a belt loop – it just protects whatever from the sharp edge of the blade it it did arrive sharp.

How did it hold up?

That’s the big question right? I really wasn’t sure how the edge or the finish would hold up and it just so happens I have a wood pile with a lot of dried hard oak. I whacked on some of pieces or oak and so did a friend of mine.

Guess what happened? To my surprise the edge held so so did the grey “titanium” finish. The hawk swings easy, balances well and hits hard.

I really expected the oak to do a number on it and at least roll the edge over or markedly dull it but the edge held. I did not expect that. The 8Cr14MoV steel with a 55 HRC hardness held up remarkably well.

8CR14MoV is a general purpose Chinese knife alloy is a clone of AUS-8 having an identical composition. If you’d like to read a very detailed analysis of it, click here for a post on KnifeSteelNerds.com.

In Conclusion

You can’t go wrong for the price – you just can’t. This hawk is $79.99 at Amazon and has free returns if you don’t like it. In terms of ratings, it is at 4.6 out of 5 with 113 reviews. It’s not a $400-1,000 hawk so don’t compare it that way.

I’m keeping mine and my friend was so impressed he ordered one the same day he handled it. I’m so impressed that I plan on getting more of their models. I especially have my eye on one of their bearded camping hatchets.

Here are links on Amazon for you:

I hope you found this post of interest.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

How to do Home Manganese Parkerizing

The Following is a Basic Do-it-yourself Manganese Parkerizing Formula

A couple of friends online, Elkaholic and Ding, got me interested in parkerizing years ago and gave me a home brew formula and process steps they use.  I have been tuning that formula for a few years and thought I would share it as I use it both for blades and firearms.  It works great as either the base for a top finish, such as Molyresin or as a finish all by itself.  You may be wondering “why not just buy a premade formula such as the great parkerizing solution from Brownell’s” – the short answer is because tinkering can be fun and more rewarding.  I like to experiment and try different things.   So, with that said, here is the recipe:


– 2 gallons of distilled water  (it gives more consistent results because impurities have been removed – sold at supermarkets and drug stores)
2 “biscuits” of clean plain 0000 steel wool (thinner steel wool dissolves faster hence the use of 0000 grade)
– 1 cup of Klean Strip brand Phosphoric Prep & Etch (or other phosphoric acid etching solution around 35-45% concentrate per the Prep & Etch MSDS sheet. Dilute the acid if higher. For example, if 100% pure then go 60 water:40 acid – you can always experiment with the ratio that works for you)
6 rounded tablespoons of manganese dioxide (available at pottery supply stores, Amazon or eBay)


Do this outside – never in your house or shop (unless you have a great vent hood).  If you do it indoors, you will likely make stuff rust fast!


As you can see, I use a camp stove.  For the first couple of years I just used a Coleman stove but that was always a balancing act with my 48″ long stainless pakerizing tank that I used for barreled actions.  I found the above great Camp Chef stove at Amazon and it is fantastic but any heat source will work. I like propane because its portable and not electric (to avoid any chance of electric shock) and there are tons of propane camp stoves on Amazon.

Also, be sure to use stainless steel for your tanks.  I watch for sales or buy stuff off eBay.  The big cooker above is from Walmart and the rectangular pan shown below is from Amazon and is normally the water pan for buffet lines.

For tongs to move stuff around, use solid stainless.  I tried the plastic ones and they can leave a plastic residue on blasted surfaces and mess up your finish.

Just like baking, if you want more of the solution, take the recipe and multiply it by two, four or however many multiples you want. Just be sure you have a place to store it when done.  I use 5 gallon jugs and label them.

Steps to Follow

  1. Add acid to water in a stainless pan/pot and heat to 190F – don’t boil and waste it.  I use a baking thermometer clipped to the side of the pan.
  2. Spray each wool biscuit with brake cleaner to remove oils and allow each time to dry
  3. As the solution warms shred the steel wool into the liquid and add the manganese dioxide
  4. Let the mix simmer and dissolve the steel wool before adding parts
  5. I always blast my parts before I parkerize them – I’ve heard guys tell about using a wire brush on a buffer or drill press as well but I’ve not tried that.  Blasting removes the oxides and exposes the bare steel.
  6. Make sure your parts are very, very clean and degreased — only handle with rubber gloves after they are cleaned or oils from your skin can mess things up
  7. You can suspend your parts in the liquid with stainless wire.  Leave them until the fizzing stops or about 30-40 minutes.  The time varies.
  8. Rinse the parts with boiling water thoroughly to remove the acid.
  9. Spray parts with WD40 to get the water away from the steel
  10. Wipe down with oil or apply whatever secondary finish you want – don’t do both 🙂  If you are going to apply a finish on top of the parkerized surface, use acetone or brake cleaner to remove any oils and then follow their instructions.

At the bottom of the post are links to Amazon products including long parkerizing tanks.

Cleaning Up

When you are done, let your mixture cool and strain the liquid through a coffee filter into a plastic can for future use. I use a blue kerosene 5 gallon container because it is a different color from all my other 5 gallon containers plus I label it.  Point being, you do not want to get confused and pour this stuff in when you meant to use a fuel, etc.

The precipitate, the stuff on the bottom, should be scooped onto a shallow pan, allowed to dry and be disposed of as a hazardous waste.  For example, where ever your community collects old paints, batteries, etc.

Brownells Has Great Parkerizing Solutions and Kits

Brownells sells very well regarded ready-to-use formulations. I have no hesitation at all to recommend the below items to you – they are top notch.

  • Click here for their manganese parkerization supplies. Their formula meets Mil Spec STD171
  • Click here for their zinc parkerization supplies
  • If you have a lot small parts you want to park, they have a bench top kit ready to go that you can buy – click here
  • Click here for their complete parkerizing tank system. This is a complete system for gunsmiths or others who need to park everything from small parts and pistols up to firearms and swords.

In Summary

I hope this helps you out. I’ve used the above many times and the results are solid.

Updated 2/13/24 with new sources and fixed some grammar issues.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

The Best Reference Book On Uzis

I recently wrapped up building a semi-auto Israeli Uzi in 9mm.  At the start, I researched about this iconic submachine gun and guys kept mentioning that I should get the book “The Uzi Submachine Gun Examined” by David Gaboury.  I ordered a copy from Amazon and must say I was very impressed. [Click here for Amazon’s page for the book].

Mr. Gaboury does an exceptional job giving the reader the historical context of what was going on in Israel with its fight for independence, the plethora of firearms they were using and then search for a new submachine gun.  Of course, this culminated in the creation and evolution of the Uzi design by Uzi Gal.

From there he covers the evolution of the weapon with the Mini Uzi, the Uzi Carbine, Uzi Pistol/Micro Uzi, Ruger MP9 and the Uzi Pro.  The book was published in 2017 and its coverage is very current.

One thing I did not know was how widespread the adoption of the Uzi was and Mr. Gaboury provides coverage of its use in The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, South Africa, China and other countries.

He then covers a number of other topics in the book that I’ll skip for the sake of brevity.  For me, the last section of the book was very, very helpful where he provides significant detail on the weapon including:

  • Operation, Disassembly and Specifications
  • Parts Identification
  • Magazines
  • Accessories

Being new to Uzis, his coverage of the firing cycle, fire control group and how it all comes together in the grip frame (what some call the “grip stick”) was worth the price of the book all by itself.  For me, it was really the history and this last section the detailing of the operation and assembly that were hugely worthwhile.  I’d recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about the iconic Uzi.

Click here for the order page on Amazon to learn more and/or order the book. It has 68 ratings and is 4.8 starts – it’s very good!

Also, click here for a page that links to all of my Uzi posts for easier naviation.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Need a compact hand stop for a Picatinny rail? Check out the Arisaka HS-P

When I built our a pistol with recoil, I worry about my hand slipping off the handguard and going in front of the muzzle. I recently bought a Stribog 10mm and that was running through my mind – so I started digging for hand stops that could mount on a picatinny rail.

I should point out I don’t like angled fore grips (AFGs) or anything that incorporates that design aspect. I like the bottom of the handguard to be flat. I also like hand stops that are small from an aesthetics perspective plus I don’t want the ATF, or whomever, arguing that I actually have a vertical grip which is illegal on a pistol.

I ran across an ad for Arisaka Defense’s HS-P handstop. It mounts on rail though I couldn’t quite figure out how from the website photos. Because I’ve had good luck with Arisaka products in the past, I gambled and ordered one. Guess what? I really like it and figured a quick post might be of interest to others.

So the HS-P is CNC machined from 6061-T651 aluminum and MIL-A-8625 Type III hard coat anodized.
The secret sauce that makes this so cool is that grey aluminum recoil lug. There is a screw attached that you can’t see that raises or lowers it into whatever Picatinny rail slot you want locking it in place. Simple and slick!
The front has slots cut into it. I suppose that could help if you want to use it on a barrier.
On the bottom is the hole for the screw. Use a 7/64″ allen key to tighten (push the lug up) or loosen (lower the lug down). Torque is 15 in/lbs – please note that is inch/pounds and not foot/pounds.
In this photo, you can see the retracted recoil lug. I then just slid the HS-P onto the handguard’s rail to where I wanted it.
I slid the HS-P on and then used my closes allen set with a 7/64 key to raise the lug into position. I brought it up firm but not crazy tight – I didn’t have a long enough key for my torquing screw driver handy (meaning it is “temporary misplaced”) so I opted for ballpark tight. They don’t include a 7/74″ allen key by the way. It doesn’t bother me because I have a bunch. Also, often times the “free” keys that come with something aren’t very good – I’ve torn things up many times in the past trying to use marvel mystery metal included keys so I don’t do it any longer.
The HS-P is rock solid.


It you are looking for a solid small hand stop that mounts on a rail, the Arisaka HS-P is great. I have no reservations recommending it.

Yes, I actually bought this. I was not paid to write this.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

What Magazine Loader To Use For 10mm Stribog Magazines? .45 UMP Loaders

The Stribog line of subguns, pistols and pistol caliber carbines are really cool. When the brace fiasco erupted, I sold my 9mm SP9A1 and regretted it. When Grand Power said they were coming out with a 10mm, I was an early buyer. One question popped out though – what was out there to help load the 20 round 10mm magazines? I hate loading magazines with stiff springs as many hands start to cramp so I needed to find a loader.

First off, they are HK UMP pattern magazines

The Stribog 10mm mags are nicely made, beefy as hell and based on HK’s UMP magazines. I like that – I am really tired or proprietary mags where you have one and only one option. Using an existing mags opens up options. Now, are UMP magazines all over the place and cheap? No, they aren’t – especially not 10mm mags. HK doesn’t make 10mm UMP magazines any longer.

The 20 round magazines have stout springs and it takes a lot of work to manually insert cartridges

Real HK 10mm mags have starting costs around $139 but are 30 rounds so there is a perk for the price. Considering Stribog mags list at $45 and can sometimes be found for $39.99, I’ll stick with Stribog mags.

Stribog 10mm magazines are built like a tank

This is both a pro and a con. The top sports a lot of reinforcements making for a quite a large magazine in terms of circumference. They will not fit inside a Maglula Universal loader – I had hoped they would but it is a no-go.

The girth of the heavily built mags means most loaders will not fit them. On the other hand, those are some impressive reinforcements on the mag lips and thick walls.
Front to back is about 1.62″
Left to right is approximately 1.14″
Distance from the botttom of the locking tab to the top of the magazine body is about 0.96-0.97. It’s molded so there’s a bit of ballparking as to the exact top.
The magazine locking tab is about 0.18″ thick.

Playing a hunch

Ok, so I did some searching on .40 caliber and 10mm UMP loaders and then played a hunch. I make magazines for Rock Island Armory’s A2 HC .40 and 10mm pistols. They use a staggered magazine and my source tube for the custom mags I make is actually a Mec-Gar .45 mag. What if a UMP .45 loader would work? I had a pretty good hunch it would so I started researching them.

The UMP .45 is much more common so I had options. The one that caught my eye was from Custom Smith so I ordered it and must say I am impressed.

It is 3D printed and nicey done. Everything seems thick enough to have proper rigidity. I like finger rests on the sides to give your hand something to get hold of. I promptly loaded two mags super easy. You push down, slide the cartridge in part way, lift the loader up, slide the cartidge in the rest of the way and repeat.

Side shot
The ram that pushes the cartridges done is beefy and nicely done.
Inside is nice and clean also.
The UMP .45 loader fits great.
The ram does a great job pushing the last cartridge down so you can slide the base of the next cartridge part way in. You then move the loader out of the way, push the cartridge all of the way in and move on to the next round.
Parting photo – it works great.


Grand Power Stribog’s 10mm model uses magazines based on the HK UMP design. The Grand Power magazines are affordable and relatively easy to find. You may need to dig just a bit as the 10mm Stribog sales are outpacing magazine availability but I am sure the mag availability will catch up.

To load the stiff magazines and save your fingers, get a UMP .45 loader. I went with Custom Smith’s UMP .45 loader and have no hesitation recommending it.

No, I wasn’t paid to write this – I had to buy it because I wanted the 10mm Stribog and manual mag loading kills my hands.

By the way, S&B 180 grain FMJ 10mm is my goto range ammo. It’s affordable and runs great. I use it for breaking in and target practice with all of my 10mms.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Refinishing Olive Wood Spoons

In 2014 we visited Greece, and on December 30th, we were in Delphi staying at a small quaint hotel whose elevator put the fear of God in us. The vibrant town was quiet and subdued – the summer tourists weren’t there and the arrivals for New Years Eve handn’t arrived so we had the town more or less to ourselves and some locals.

We walked by a shop and they invited us in. They had tons and tons of bowls, plates, spoons and what have you made from olive wood. There are huge ancient groves of olive trees tended by families for generations surrounding Delphi so there was an ample supply of olive wood to draw from.

Olive wood is simply gorgeous when sanded and finished bears all kinds of browns, tans and wavy grain structure. It’s strong, dense and does great indoors – especially when oiled but doesn’t do as well outdoors or with insects as it lacks natural oils.

At any rate, the products were all made in and around Delphi. We opted for some nice kitchen spoons and a juicer given the striking look of the wood. Before we knew it, the trip was over and we headed home.

December 2023

I was trying to think of something to do as a surprise for my wife and happened across the spoons and juicer from Delphi – they were looking pretty tough. The wood was faded and you could just barely see what they looked like 9 years prior so I decided to clean them up.

The three utensils from the left are mmade from Olive Wood and were showing their age. The flat tool on the far left was a different wood but I am not sure what is – I just decided to try and touch it up at the same time.

The first thing I did was to run over the spoons with a 220 grit sanding mop in a small drill press that I have dedicated for that purpose. I use sanding mops to finish grips so the station sees a lot of use.

The next thing I did was to use butcher block conditioner to revitalize and protect the olive wood. In general, the conditioners are some combination of food safe mineral oil and waxes that penetrate a wood surface to help protect it. I’ve used a few brands over the years and my favorite is the butcher block conditioner from Howard Products.

There is a bit of a trick I do with restoring a wood finish like this. First off, I rub it in with 0000 steel wool to knock down any stray wood fibers. In case you aren’t familiar with steel wool – “0000” is a very fine grade meant for final finishing. You put the conditioner on thick and let it set for 4-8 hours. You’ll be surprised how much gets absorbed by the wood.

I then wipe it off with a rag and apply it thick again by hand – I don’t use steel wool after the first application. Again, let it sit and absorbe for 4-8 hours, wipe off the residue and repeat.

This was after three rounds. You can see the 0000 steel wool and the Howards Butcher Block Conditioner. I’m pretty sure I did another coat after this photo was taken.

You’ll notice with the third or fourth application that less and less is being absorbed so stop where you want and buff the piece with a rag or shop towel.

You may still see or feel a hint of oil but it will disappear in a day or so as it finally gets absorbed. You really can’t go wrong with this finish – just apply, let it sit, rub it off, and repeat until you get the look you want.

They looked so much better!
I love the patterns and colors of olive wood.
This is the juicer. I ddin’t get a “before” photo but it looked the same as the others. Due to all of the angles, I just used the steel wool to remove stray wood fibers but didn’t sand it. It has 3-4 coats of conditioner on it at the point this photo was taken.


The utensils from Greece turned out really nice – like new really. My wife is very happy and I shouldn’t wait so long to do it again in the future. It’s amazing how fast time flies by.

Howard Butcher Block Conditioner is my go-to finishing product for breathing life into any wood that comes into contact with food – cutting blocks, wood bowels, utensils, etc. I pretty much follow the above process on all of them.

I hope this helps you out.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Read This Before You Change the Brake Pads On Your 2015-2019 F150 Ford Transit Van

Okay, I’ve done a lot of brakes over the years – mainly on Toyotas and a smattering of other makes. We bought our 2016 Ford F150 Transit with an Explorer conversion new at the end of 2016 and the original brakes were really starting to squeek in November of 2023 so I knew it was time for them to change. It had four wheel disc brakes so I figured it would be easy. I didn’t even look up the details … oh yes, that caught up with me but let me run with my story and share you the lessons learned.

I ordered in new Motorcraft pads figuring I might as well just use OEM since O-Reilly Auto Parts could get them in quick and at a good price. I planned to flush the brake fluid too and had a good Bosch synthetic blend that I like to use.

I jacked up the van using my pillow jacks and put 6 ton jack stands underneath, pulled the tires because I planned to rotate them and dove in. I popped the master cylinder cap off and checked the brake fluid level so it wouldn’t overflow as I compressed the caliper pistons.

Oh man, I started with the passenger rear and could not it to go in. Okay, it was time to check the web. I realized there was something here new to me.

Getting the compressor to go back in really requires the right tool. I tried to rig a few methods and nothing worked. Note it is resting on wood blocks to take the strain of the brake lines. Be sure to clean and grease the rubber boot before you turn it back in place.

So the F150 Ford Transit is an example of vehicle where the piston screws in due to the integrated emergency brake. Okay, no problem but I could not get it to twist in. More reading and surfing … the rear passenger brake twists in counter-clockwise – not clockwise. Man, I did not have any caliper piston compressors that went counter-clockwise and neither did O-Reilly or Autozone. On, the other hand, my best friend John, who is a mechanic, did have one as part of his big Sunex 3930 caliper tool set and he loaned me the set.

So armed with the knowledge and the counter-clockwise tool for only the passenger side (driver side is clockwise), I went to work. Thanks to my Carpal tunnel and other stupid things I have done to my body over the years, I didn’t have the strength to rotate the piston – I made a 12″ cheater bar from a piece of pipe and then it went smooth. I found if I turned a bit, and then let it sit for the fluid to work its way back in the system seemed the easiest.

The front pads were easy – just standard straight in pistons. After fighting the rear calipers, it was nice to have something easy. I was so impressed by the Sunex caliper set that I bought one for furture use.

I was so impressed by John’s Sunex 3930 set that I bought my own afterwards. I honestly don’t think you can push the rear caliper back in without a counter-clockwise tool. Click here for the listing on Amazon.

The following is a pretty good video on doing the rear brake pads. My van’s brakes did not have the dampener he shows in it so I did not add one plus I used the really good Permatex ceramic brake grease on the back of the pads and contact points.

And here is a video for the front brakes:

Flushing the Brake Fluid

The importance of changing brake fluid every couple of years is something John convinced me of and the van was due for a change. Brake fluid degrades from heat and also by absorbing moisture from the air. All of this changes the chemistry of the fluid and negatively impacts the fluid’s ability to actuate the brakes. I like using Bosch’s ESI6-32N brake fluid and had plenty on hand to flush the brakes.

in preparation, I used my Mighyvac MV6835 vacuum bleeder to empty the master cylinder reservoir. The goal is to just empty the extra fluid in the master cylinder – nothing else. You then fill it with fresh brake flud. This way you are pushing fresh brake fluid through the system from the start.

When I first started out, I would use a vacuum bleeder to pull new brake fluid through the lines. A faster and more effective method that has lower odds of introducing air into the brake lines is the use of a pressurized bleeder.

A few years ago, I bought an ARES 18036 3-liter pressurized bleeder that makes changing brake fluid or bleeding brake lines really far easier. Basically it has a hand pump, like a garden sprayer, that enables you to pressurize its tank that holds the new brake fluid. When you open a blleder nipple, brake fluid is pushed through the lines, out of the nipple and into a 1 liter catch tank.

To the left is the Mightyvac MV6835 that I used to remove the old brake fluid from the master cylinder’s reservoir. The main ARES 18036 pressure bottle is to the right.
This is the cap that goes on the master cylinder and connects to the pressure bleeder. The Ares unit is modular and there are different caps you can get for different makes and models of cars. I do not like their universal adapter – this one fits late model Fords and seals nicely.
This is the catch bottle. You push the black rubber fitting onto the bleeder nipple. As you open the valve, you can see the brake fluid going through the translucent hose. Old fluid will appear dark. I wait until the fluid coming through is clear.
Before you hook up the pressure bleeder, remove the old brake fluid if you can and then add fresh brake fluid until the full mark on the master cylinder. Do not fill it all the way to the top. When you start there will be air in the pressure bleeder’s lines. That air will just add to the air at the top of the master cylinder and the fluid will run down to the pool of fluid. In other words, the air in the master cylinder is needed as a buffer to capture any air that comes through. Only pump the unit to 10 -15PSI and then make sure it does not run out of fluid or air pressure while you work. When you first hook up the unit, pump it up to 10PSI and make sure it holds air-pressure and there isn’t a leak somewhere – if there is it is usually around the master cylinder cap or something isn’t secure/closed on the pressure bottle.

In Closing

The biggest think I learned and wanted to share was that you need that counter-clockwise tool if you want to do the passenger side rear brake pads. I recommend the brake fluid flushing at the same time – you ought to change the brake fluid every two years really – using the pressure bleeder – they are optional but I think they really help and I use my Ares on all of our vehicles.

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