Upgrading Your Toyota From A Plastic Oil Filter Cap or Housing To a Far More Durable Aluminum Unit

A number of years back, Toyota decided to move from the old spin-on canister-type oil filters to the use of cartridges encloused in a housing. The cartridge is really just the filter element so that’s what get’s tossed, burned, recycled or whatever and the housing is re-used. The problem is that they made the cap of the housing out of some form of polymer and it can crack or chip over time.

In the case of my daughter’s 2013 RAV4 XLE, the polymer cap was chipped near the bottom (closest to the road) and was starting to crack. We bought it when it was returned to the dealer at the end of a lease so who knows who was doing the oil changes or how much they cared.

At any rate, it puzzles me why Toyota went with Polymer. Maybe they wanted to to be softer than the aluminum. Maybe it was cheaper …. not really sure. On one hand you could validly argue that the cap lasted almost 10 years. On the other … it’s polymer and can crack. After asking around, friends recommended I move to an aftermarket aluminum housing to avoid future problems.

I did some digging on Amazon and sure enough, there was a surprisingly affordable aluminum replacement unit that got very good reviews. It’s made in China and sold by “RJSPHH” with 4.9 stars and a relatively few 20 reviews. Normally I would want more reviews but gambled and it paid off. Here it is:

What Toyota Part Numbers Does It Replace?

RJSPHH figured out that by having the same cap and different filter tubes internally, they could cover quite a few Toyota oil filter caps for Avalons, Camrys, RAV4s, Tacomas and more – you actually need to go to their Amazon listings to see all of them. The Toyota oil cap part numbers this particular model can replace are:

15620-0S010, 15620-31040, 15650-38050, 15620-31050, 15650-38010, 15620-31060, 15620-38010, 15620-36020, 15650-38020

I’d recommend you confirm the part number your vehicle uses by looking up the part number on the Toyota parts website or by using your favorite parts website. This way to can verify both by year and model as well as the OEM filter canister part number just to confirm. For example, I used the Toyota site and confirmed the housing or “cap assembly, oil filter” as they call it is part number 15620-36020. I could then confirm that number on the Amazon listing. That was good because they didn’t list the XLE trim level in the Amazon post. Sometimes those details matter and sometimes they don’t – in this case it didn’t.

How To Assemble It?

In the Amazon listing, they tell you which of the three lengths of tubes to use. You can also just set your original housing assembly next to the new RJSPHH unit and figure that out in a hurry too.

They do have a brief video and assembly in the video. I watched that and the only thing that threw me for a minute was the actor was holding an o-ring at one point when putting the base plate in that the spring sits in. I’m pretty sure that was a spare o-ring for the small cap that can be removed to drain the oil from the canister first if you want to. You don’t use it when installing the tube.

The cap is nicely wrapped and you can see the three tubs that come with it. All of the parts are well made and do not feel weak or cheap.
The drain plate on the left goes on the bottom with the flanged portion facing up to cup the spring in place. The tube of the correct length is then pushed down, rotated into position and released. The filter cap is then assembled.
When you push down the tube, rotate it so the tab goes between two holders on each side of the casting.
I like using Wix brand filters. Here is the 57047XP cartridge for the 2013 2.5L Rav4. It comes with new O-rings both for the the main canister of the cap as well as the small drain plug / drain cap on the end. Even though the Chinese cap came with new O-Rings, I saved them for later just in case and used the brand new O-Rings from Wix.
By the way, make sure the drain cap/plug is on. In case you didn’t know it, that cover with the 3/8″ socket square in it comes off and is used to drain the cap. It should have an O-ring behind it and that o-ring is something you replace when you change the oil. Make sure the O-ring is there and that plug is snugged down so the O-ring can seal.
If you don’t have one, get the correct oil filter wrench to engage the cap assembly correctly to remove it. This is a Motive 2320 that I have used for years and it works great. There are many other wrenches out there as well.

Summary

This is a solid part. It fit easily with no fitting required on my daughter’s RAV4 and we haven’t had any problems. If you are looking to replace a polymer unit on your Toyota vehicle and are considering this one, I have no hesitation recommending it.


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 [email protected]. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Using a Vevor Air Bag Jack To Lift Vehicles To Work On Them

Hi folks – back in 2020, I wrote about buying a Mophorn 3 ton pneumatic/air- pillow jack to work on our vehicles. Actually, I bought it in 2019 and it’s still going strong. This past Fall, I decided to get a second air bag jack but decided to get one with a higher lift capacity to better jack up my 2021 Ram 2500.

To give some background, I wanted an air-pillow/air-bag lift for speed and to save my shoulders that could no longer handle pumping a hydraulic jack arm over and over to lift a vehicle. I have an air-over-hydraulic bottle jack but it is tall and slow. The air bag jacks use compressed air to inflate a rubber cylinder that then lifts the vehicle – like what you see in air-ride or air-lift suspensions on trucks. They are called by a variety of names as you can see in this post: pneumatic jacks, air bag jacks, air pllow jacks, pillow lift jacks. Air-over-hydraulic is a different creature – air is used to actuate the hydraulic pump vs. you hand pumping to move the hydraulic pump up.

Always Use Jack Stands

Once the vehicle is in the air, I always put jack stands all the way around to support it. This is always a good idea regardless of jack type you use and the air bag jacks are no different.

Vevor 11,023 Pound Jack

I did some of my usual digging on Amazon and tool sights and decided to get a Vevor 11,000 pound air jack. I bought it in September 2022 and started using it right away because it’s really speeds things up to be able to lift both ends of a vehicle without repositioning the jacks.

There was one thing in their product page on Amazon that confused me until I realized it was a metric term. They say it can lift 11,023 pounds / 5 tons. Well, being used to American measures, 5 tons if 10,000 pounds soI wondered if this was some kind of hype. The issue is that they mean 5 metric tons. A metric ton is 1,000 KG or 2,204.6 so 5 metric tons is 11,023 pounds.

Their stated operating air pressure range is 5-10 kg/cm^2. That comes out to 71.1 to 142.2 PSI. The airline for my driveway tools is at 100 PSI – most of my tools are 90 PSI. My guess is that given their operating range, the jack can’t lift its rated maximum capacity. I can tell you that it has no problem lifting the front or rear of either my 6.7L Hemi 2021 Ram 2500 or full size 2016 Ford Transit F150 van and that’s really what I wanted. The photo at the top of the blog is the Vevor with my Ram 2500 up in the air.

The lifting height is about 15.75″ and the minimum height is 5.3″. The minimum matters a lot when you are trying to get it under some vehicles. One trick I have found is to stand on the air bag to get the air out and then close the exhaust valve to make it thin enough to slide under some cars.

The Mophorn is slightly taller and you can see the Vevor has a larger diameter air bag.

One of the nice perks is that the handle has three positions so you can slide it in flat under a vehicle or at an angle if so you choose. My Mophorn jack’s handle is in a fixed position so that limits how far it can slide under some vehicles but it’s also more sturdy since it can’t move.

You can see the difference between the fixed Mophorn handle vs the 3-position Vevor.

With the Mophorn jack, the screws securing the botton of the bag to the plate started to come loose and the unit was leaking air. With the Vevor, they are in solid and really did not want to back off – I was going to add medium Loc-Tite but since they were in so firmly, I decided to leave them alone. They may even have a thread locker applied already – I’m not sure. I think out of all of the screws there were only one or two I could torque down further.

The Vevor has no problem lifting my Ram 2500 with 100 PSI of air.

Summary

All in all, the Vevor air bag lift seems like a solid unit. I’ve not had any problems at all. I sometimes wish the handle wouldn’t move so easily but its ability to fold flat to the ground makes up for that.

I’d recommend the unit. The Mophorn is always an option also – I’m still happy with that as well.


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 [email protected]. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Boy Did I Get Lucky – Foster Coupler Blew Off Just Over 3,200 PSI And Hit Me In The Glasses

Time for a safety briefing and, yes, I am the cause of the briefing. This is not a blame game post – what happened to me will likely happen to me again and may happen to you as well. The important thing is to learn from it because I got real, real lucky.

I was topping off my new Hatsan Jet II with high pressure air from my Omega tank for maybe the dozenth time or more and thought I was being careful. I am respectful of high pressure air because I am a NAUI certified SCUBA diver and sometimes weld right with Gas, MIG and TIG torches. I have heard plenty of stories over the past 40 years (yeah, I am that old) about tanks, fittings and what not. Guess I got sloppy this time.

I connected the DonnyFL female foster fitting to the male foster fitting on the Jet II and gave a gentle tug to make sure it was seated. You always want to do this by the way. I really didn’t think a lot about it because I have refilled from a tank so many times. Bad routines can lead to bad outcomes and it did here.

I was holding the Jet II off at an angle where I could see the manometer (what they call the pressure gauge in the high pressure / pre-charged-pneumatic (PCP) airgun world. I’d guess the angle was about 30-45 degrees and may 18 inches away – these are all best guesses in hind sight.

I cracked open the valve and was doing a slow controlled fill. Somewhere just over 225 bar (3,263) PSI, the hose’s female fitting explosively slipped off the male fitting on the airgun and rocketed off. It happened so fast that I realized my face was numb, I had taken a direct hit in the polycarbonate right lens of my glasses and had heard something like a gun shot. I turned off the air and went to the bathroom to look in the mirror expecting to see blood. I was geniunely surprised there wasn’t any so then I started looking.

My right lens had a gouge where the fitting hit it and saved my eye. I had a small light bruise on my eyebrow but it really wasn’t bad. Luckily, I had spare glasses and grabbed them to be able to see.

This is the lens after my optometrist bent things back correctly and cleaned then lens. The gouges are there to stay. I told her what happened and she told me I was very lucky to be wearing polycarbonate lenses because they can handle an amazing amount force.

What happened?

My next thought was “what the hell just happened?” The O-ring from inside the DonnyFL female quick connect foster fitting was still on the Jet II’s male foster fitting. Nothing had broken – no tears, missing metal or rounded edges.

I was the victim of stacked tolerances. This means that any given specification has a +/- allowance that the machinist can go over or under by and still be ok. The stacked tolerance problem is when you have those tolerances of parts combine to then be outside of specification. Please notice that I am not blaming any of the vendors.

The DonnyFL female quick connect foster adapter, which works fine on my Air Venturi fittings and FX Impact Compact Mk II had slightly different dimensions than the Hatsan male fitting. I had noticed since I first bought the Jet II that I needed to firmly seat the DonnyFL female fitting as it didn’t go on easy. With 20/20 hindsight, I should have realied that was a bad sign and switched to the supplied Hatsan female quick connect fitting. I didn’t make the change befoe because I thought the DonnyFL and was good to go since it worked on everything else. Turns out that was a wrong assumption.

I really don’t know why more harm wasn’t done. Maybe the fitting flew straight out, the end of the hose was reached and it whipped back with less energy. Maybe because my glasses flattened around my eye socket it partially absorbed and then distributed the force. I can tell you I feel real lucky that worse didn’t happen.

What did I do as a result?

All of my air fittings are made by Air Venturi – I buy different configurations of them and keep them in stock so that when I have a fitment problem I can change to an Air Venturi fitting.

In this case, I wasn’t about to take the Hatsan apart so I took the Hastan supplied female fitting and put an Air Venturi male quick connect on the end to get a solid connection both to the airgun and to the DonnyFL quick connect. The fittings go together very smoothly and I’ve not had problem after almost a dozen top offs.

The DonnyFL female foster fitting is above. The Hatsan female foster fitting with the Air Venturi male plug installed is at the bottom.
This combination seems to work really well. The DonnyFL works great with Air Venturi fittings and the Hatsan female foster works great with the Jet II’s make foster fitting.

Summary of Lessons Learned

The problem of stacked tolerances will always be around and thus one brand of fitting may not work well with another. So here are the lessons learned.

  1. Be mindful that when you have to push a foster fitting on harder than normal then that likely indicates the fitment is wrong and you must look at your options.
  2. Use the airgun supplied adapter (if they give you one) and then put a brand of fittings on it that allow you to safely mate the parts together if there is a fitment issue.
  3. I will use the pressure gauge on the tank and not the airgun going forward even though I thought I was at a safe angle.
  4. Do not get anywhere near the fitting during refills – especially with your head or face.

I hope this helps you out. It was a wakeup call for me.


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 [email protected]. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Pick Your Gun Rights Group Carefully

This will be a short piece but I want to take a minute and warn you about the tons of supposed gun rights groups that have popped up to, as they say it, “fight for your rights”. They are all fighting for your money – it’s just that some of them actually do meaningful things and others don’t. Remember that there is always more money and power to be made by creating division and thus fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) than there is on really solving the problem.

Expect Slick Marketing

All of the big gun rights firms will have slick website designers, emails and, in some cases, traditional mailings to tell you that the world is going to end and that they need your support.

You’ll see images of family, hunting, modern sporting rifles, scary politicians and evil government buildings all trying to punch your buttons. There may be a call to arms over some issue such as pistol braces or supposed “assault weapons”.

You can always bet near the bottom of that email, the link that you click on or in the end of the mailer you are reading there will be a call for money. You can be a patriot if you just act now. You can help them fight for your rights if you send them money … blah blah blah.

What Really Matters Are Outcomes

Plain and simple – you want to judge any gun rights group – do a search on them and court cases they have won (to me that is key) and lobbying efforts they were involved in – to me this second part is nice but it is hard to gauge a group’s contributions to a lobbying effort unless there is clear evidence they made a difference. Otherwise they can say they (and your money) made a difference and you really don’t know.

For example, let’s look at Oregon’s Measure 114, the Illinois Assault Weapons Ban and the unfolding brace drama. I will use Google to search on each and see who are actually spending the money to file lawsuits in those three cases and list the organization’s names so this shouldn’t be viewed as all-inclusive but to make a point.

Oregon’s Measure 114

A number of groups, including the NRA filed lawsuits. The group with an innovating argument that won a temporary restraining order (TRO) was Gun Owners of America (GOA). GOA argued that the ban was unconstitutional at the state level because it would deprive citizens of the state from owning firearms when the right to keep and bear arms is protected in Oregon’s own constitution.

Note, a TRO is a delay go give time for the state to respond, more arguments to be heard, etc. It’s not that Measure 114 has been completely stopped.

So… a number of gun rights groups filed suit in federal court but GOA and the Gun Owners Foundation really drove in well thought out wedge to get a TRO at the state level. This then creates precedent and ideas that others can use to oppose gun control in other areas.

Other lawsuits are underway from other groups including the National Shooting Sports Foundation (the NSSF is an industry trade association), the NRA, and the Oregon Firearms Foundation.

Here are sample articles:

Illinois Assault Weapons Ban

And then we have the state of Illinois introducing an assault weapons ban that also has a TRO. The TRO was granted based on a suit by four FFL dealers and 862 concerned citizens. This is a clear example of Chicago wanting to run the state with their liberal policies and the rest of the state really not wanting to play by their rules.

Attorney Tom Devore, a former Republican nomineed for attorney general in the state, won the TRO but it only applies to the 860 people named in the lawsuit and not the entire state.

Other lawsuits are also underway including the Illinois State Rifle Association and Thomas Maag (an Illinois-based attorney).

Here are sample articles:

ATF Stabilizing Brace Final Rule

The ATF’s Final Rule on stabilizing braces will make millions of braced pistol owners felons unless they register their pistol as a short barreled rifle (SBR), lengthen the barrel, remove the brace or turn the weapon in to the ATF to destroy it. The facts are that none of those steps are that easy – unless you consider giving up a pistol to the ATF to be destoryed that cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars as “simple”.

GOA was one of the first groups to point out the deeply flawed logic that is essentially creating a trap for some gun owners if they go the SBR route. GOA is preparing to file a suit. Rep Matt Gaetz submitted a bill to defund the ATF that, while it makes a statement, is unlikely to go anywhere.

Here are sample articles:

Did That Surprise You?

You can see what a quick search turned up. Did you find it surprising? There are a lot of groups out there that will mention all of these fights and more and beg you to send them money so they can afford to fight on your behalf but if you dig, they are doing little to nothing.

Sorry, but I am old and cynical at this point. To be a non-profit just means you file tax paperwork. A lot of these firms are getting rich by scaring you half to death constantly. I even got an “EMERGENCY – Open Right Away” email from one group that wanted a donation because they were going to miss their internal fund raising goals. Seriously? F-off. I have never seen their names on any lawsuits or industry trade articles. I unsubscribed from their email list and added them to my spam list.

What Should You Do?

The next time you get an email or even a physical paper mailer asking you to donate to some gun rights group, do some digging and see what is said about them.

To be very clear, their own website, trumpeting their achievements and what they are going to do does not count – of course they are going to write “press releases” saying they are fighting the righteous fight. Look for articles, government statements, lawsuits, etc. Look for action – not just words. Again, a gun rights group’s own website with pretty pages stating their opposition do not count. Notice how I am stressing that?

I have no affiliation with GOA but right now they are the only gun rights group I am supporting. I used to fund at least three off the top of my head but stopped because they do fear-mongering, maybe some online email forms where I could fill out to contact representatives via email but that’s about it. By the way, very few politicians care about all of those emails you flood them with. They have spam filters too.

1/27/22 Update: I should mention that the NRA may be going bankrupt due to all of the lawsuits and reported financial shinanigans that went on. I was a member for years but stopped some years back. (click here for an article from Newsweek). I hope they get their act together because they had a lot of political clout back in the day.

Yes, We Need Gun Rights and Conservative Lobbyist Groups

As you can imagine, I am pro-gun rights. I do want to make a difference and I do that partially by treating the funding of gun rights groups as an investment – I want to see a return.

We are increasingly seeing a clash of cultures as the big cities try and force their will and beliefs on rural America and I am firmly against that. I will also always remember that criminals don’t care about laws and all of this political drama will have next to no impact on crime – just look at Chicago and LA for example.

To counter this, we need to work together. We need our voices heard. We need the pro-gun and conservative lobbyist groups to help with this. We must still be active and not just rely on these groups but they do play a key role.

In Summary

The whole point of this blog post is to tell you to be careful when it comes to picking which gun rights groups you donate your hard earned money. My email inbox is getting flooded daily by groups I have never heard of and I bet your’s is as well.

As things continue to heat up, I will continue to evaluate which gun rights groups make a difference based on their actions and outcomes. Based on what I find out, I will invest accordingly. I’d recommend you do the same.


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 [email protected]. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Update on the Hatsan Jet II – It’s Pretty Wicked!

I wrote a series of posts about purchasing a .22 Hatsan Jet II right after I bought it in early January 2022. After shooting it for a month I have some feedback to share.

I’d guesstimate I have just over a 100 rounds through it. I’ve changed quite a few 7 round mags – that much I know for sure. The first thing I want to tell you is that the performance and reliability are surprising. It reinforces to me that Hatsan can turn out some great airguns.

The Shroud Is True

I was a little worried about how true the shroud would be relative to the center of the barrel’s bore. In my Gladius, it was not. With the Jet II, it is. The way you can tell is that pellets are landing all over the place because they hit the adapter or somewhere in the moderator and spin out of control. In other words, accuracy is horrible until you remove the moderator and/or the adapter. The DonnyFL 1/2-20 male to male adapter screwed right and then the Hugget Sniper to it and accuracy was great.

Accuracy

Speaking of accuracy – I was very happy. Once I dialed in the scope I had no problem shooting 1/2″ 7 round groups using 18.13 JSB Exact Jumbo Diabolo pellets at 12 yards from a bench. To be clear – just me resting my arm on the bench. I didn’t have a true rifle stand.

That is 7 rounds of .22 18.13gr JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy Diabolo pellets at s12 yards. Ignore the blatant flier – that was my fault, not the gun’s or the pellets. I was firing supported from a bench but the Jet II was not in a bench rest. I’ll do some accuracy testing one of these days.

Now, another form of accuracy is to tell you about squirrells. I have cleanly dispatched 8 over the last three weeks. Distances vary from 12-16 yards.

The Jet II really likes these pellets. I really like JSB in general for all of my pellet guns.

The Charging Handle

In my first review I voiced a concern about the polymer charging/cocking lever. So far, it has worked just fine – no signs of any loosening or bending.

The cocking handle is doing just fine.

Air Use

I purposefully bought the Jet II due to the larger air reservoir than the Jet I. I could shoot two mags with no noticeable change in trajectory in my 12 yard test range shooting 18.13 JSB Exact pellets.

My usual approach is to shoot a mag and then top of the Jet II from my air tank at the same time I reload the pellets in the magazine. I have a spare magazine ready to go so if I was in a rush for some reason I know I have a little bit of buffer just in case I need it – I’m using the gun for pests and not target shooting.

I had it filled pretty close to the 250 bar max. What you see is the amount of air left after 14 shots (two magazines). I have not tried shooting more than two mags after refilling.

Snipe Moderator

I’m using the Hugget Snipe moderator and it almost makes the Jet II backyard friendly. It’s far quieter with it of course – I just wish it was quieter yet and will experiment some more with different cans.

The Hugget Snipe does a very good job. I wish it was even more quiet but that’s not really a negative reflection on the Snipe.
With the Snipe, the overall length is approximately 30″. From an overall length perspective, it’s a great combination.

Summary

At this point I am still very happy with the Jet II for it’s intended pest control purposes. It’s definitely effective and amazing for the price when you stop and think about it.

Here’s the listing at Pyramyd Air and I always recommend you use their 10 for $10 test service:

Hatsan Jet II 0.22

Hatsan Jet II 0.22

Hatsan Jet II Convertible PCP Pistol

Convertible pistol or rifle Includes removable synthetic stock PCP Two 40cc air cylinders fill to 3,625 PSI/250 BAR Shots at optimal velocity*: 48 (.177), 42 (.22), 30 (.25) Magazine capacity: 8 rounds (.177), 7 rounds (.22), 6 rounds (.25) Integrated manometer Max. velocity (lead-free): 810 FPS (.177), 700 FPS (.22), 611 FPS (.25) Max. velocity (lead): 788 FPS (.177), 700 FPS (.22), 608 FPS (.25) Max. energy: 9.7 FPE (.177), 15.6 FPE (.22), 16.5 FPE (.25) Length-adjustable buttstock Elevation-adjustable cheek rest Ridged rubber buttpad Flip-up fiber optic front sight Flip-up adjustable fiber optic rear sight 11mm Dovetail optics rail Picatinny accessory rail Barrel length: 7.9" Overall length (pistol): 15" Overall length (rifle): 22.8"-24.6" Overall weight (pistol): 2.4 lbs. Overall weight (rifle): 3.4 lbs.

* – within 85% of peak velocity.



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 [email protected]. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


You Can Use Spacers To Fit Tires That Are Just Barely Too Wide On A Car

My wife has a 2001 Camry with a V6 and stick shift that is her baby. It’s also 21 years old and a daily driver so on one hand we want to keep it running but on the other we have to be mindful of costs. When it needed new tires and rims, we had to think about what we could do. A few years ago we got a great deal on a Solara that was garage stored in the winters and put new tires and rims on it but we also kept the old set…. could we use those? The answer was that they almost fit.

The Camry’s Tires

The original tire size specified by Toyota was 205/65/R16.

The Camry came from the factory using 205/65R15 tires. What do those numbers mean? The first one is the section width. To explain, 205 is the tire’s width in milimeters. For those of us who grew up with inches, we divide that by 25.4 and it is about 9.25 inches. This is the overall left-to-right width of the tire (not just the tread).

The two digit “65” is the aspect ratio. It is the percentage of the tire’s width. Why they couldn’t just give us a measurement there, I don’t know. So you take the 205mm x .65 = 133.25mm. Divide that by 25.4 and you get about 5.25″. This tells you the distance from the rim to the top of the tread.

Just to show you how screwed up the automotive industry is, the “R15″ means the tire mounts on a 15” wheel. Yeah, that last bit is in inches.

The Solara’s Old Tires

I have a point – the Solara’s tires were slightly different. They were 215/55R17. I was more concerned about the height but what bit me was the width. Again, the original was 205 and the Solara was 215. That is a 10mm difference. 10mm/25.4=0.39″. That was just a tad too much.

These were the 215/55/R17 tires on the Camry.

Well, the tires seemed to fit on the Camry and I took it for a test drive. Other than a bit of rubbing if I turned hard around a corner it was fine. I thought I was done but I wasn’t.

The rear tires were rubbing on the struts

Turns out that the tires were rubbing slightly on the struts. This is where that extra 0.39″ thickness bit me. I noticed it a few weeks later when I checked under the car to make sure everything was ok.

Turns out the tire was far closer to the stut than I realized and would rub on the strut. Argh, I did not notice it when I spun the tire with the car int he air when I mounted them.

The solution – add 5mm spacers

I took a real careful look at the tire-strut gap with the car on the ground as well as in the air and I needed to make it wider. There are spacers made that can move a wheel out just a tad from the hub without causing a ton of problems. As you move the entire wheel assembly further away from the hub you are increasing the strain on the bearings and everything else for that matter.

I don’t have an absolute gospel answer about how far is too far but was told once to keep it as little as possible – certainly 10mm or less. I know there are thicker spacers out there for the people wanting the look of the tires pushed out past the fenders. I just wanted to add a bit of clearance without sacrificing reliability or handling so I ordered in a set of 5mm spacers. 5 mm is about 0.197 inches. Now that is less than the tire difference of 0.39″ but I felt I could get away with it given the extra space I needed so I decided to order a set off Amazon.

The HubCentric brand 5×114.3 60mm bore spacer units were very well made and also very affordable – they were $9.67/pair.
The spacers simply slide on between the hub and the wheel. Note the rust – you want to get rid of that and lightly grease the rims or else the aluminum is going to corrode fast. If you have time, paint the spacers. I didn’t have time to do that.
I used a surface conditioning disc and knockled the rust off the hub. I then applied a thin layer of wheel bearing grease before I reinstalled the spacer.

Before I put the tires back on, I did spray three coats of satin black Rustoleum to try and protect the exposed surfaces. In Michigan, rust is inevitable due to all of the salt put on the roads in the winter. The name of the game is to slow down the rust and that was all I was trying to do.

Mounting the wheels was a bit of a challenge because I needed to hold the wheel in position as I started the lug nuts. I like to start them by hand before I run the nuts down with my impact wrench. I set the final torque using a torque wrench.

It was rubbing the sidewall where the lettering was at. You can see there is no a decent gap. The top looks far closer in the photo than what it is due to the angle.

Summary

By using 5mm spacers, I could mount the larger Solara tires on the Camry. We have not felt any handling differences or had any problems so far – it’s been about two months now and a few hundred miles. The car is really just for local use – it’s days of long trips are over so I feel like we made a good choice all things considered.

I hope this helps you out in those cases where you need just a hair more clearance.


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The Brace Ruling Is a Nightmare

Okay, I wrote about the ruling, barrel options and was working on a post about removing the brace to avoid the whole SBR declaration when I saw a video interview of Steven, a Gun Owners of America attorney attending SHOT explaining how the brace rule and legal gun owners availing of the SBR option will trap a lot of people and potentially get them in major hot water legally. Rather than reinvent what he said, watch this video:

If you aren’t a member of Gun Owners of America (GOA), I recommend them. They actually get things done and don’t just take your money. This rule has a fatal flaw that will trap gun owners and must not be allowed to pass.


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Trying to figure out what to do with your braced pistol? You could either lengthen the existing barrel by installing a sufficiently long muzzle device or you could install a brand new barrel

Please note that I am not an attorney and this is not legal advise. It is critical that you read the actual final rule and follow it as well as any state or local laws that might apply.

Well, on Friday, January 13th, 2023, the ATF decided to post their final ruling on stabilizing braces. My first blog post was about this rule and options. As folks try to figure out what they are going to do, one option is to do something with the barrel so it will be considered a rifle. This blog post is about that and may be far easier than you think.

Let’s start by looking at the exact text from the final rule located on page 272: “Remove the short barrel and attach a 16-inch or longer rifled barrel to the firearm, thus removing it from the scope of the NFA.” At issue is the barrel length – so let’s pick this apart.

Barrel length is measured by having the bolt closed, inserting a dowel down from the muzzle end of the barrel with any removable devices removed, marking the end of the barrel on the dowel and then measuring the result. The bold italics text is for any barrel with a removable device such as a muzzle brake. They are not taken into account when it comes to barrel length. (Page 18 (printed page 6) of the linked to NFA PDF file on the ATF website states “Barrels are measured by inserting a dowel rod into the barrel until the rod stops against the bolt or breech-face. The rod is then marked at the furthermost end of the barrel or permanently attached muzzle device, withdrawn from the barrel, and measured.”

While the Gun Control Act specifies the barrel must be at least 16″ for a rifle, most manufacturers or folks modifying firearms target a length of 16.5″ to avoid an accidental NFA violation. The penalties for violating the NFA are always severe so always go past the minimums.

In case you are wondering about the barrel swap option and why it exists, it’s been the case for quite a while that a pistol can be turned into a rifle. The following is from the ATF’s website:

Assuming that the firearm was originally a pistol, the resulting firearm, with an attached shoulder stock, is not an NFA firearm if it has a barrel of 16 inches or more in length.

Pursuant to ATF Ruling 2011-4, such rifle may later be unassembled and again configured as a pistol. Such configuration would not be considered a “weapon made from a rifle” as defined by 26 U.S.C. § 5845(a)(4).

With this in mind, that a pistol can be turned into a rifle, which is what we want to do, you have two options – permanently attach a muzzle device or replace the barrel. Let’s explore both options.

Option 1: Permanently Attach A Sufficiently Long Muzzle Device to get 16.5″

The Final Rule on braces says that one option to avoid having the braced pistol be considered a NFA controlled short barreled rifle (SBR) is to replace the barrel with one that is at least 16″. Builders in the AK and AR communities have long used permanently attached extended muzzle brakes or barrel extensions to get the barrel to the length they want (Personally, I go for 16.5″ because I like having a safety margin.

You will notice I am using “extension”, “muzzle device” and “extended muzzle device”. They are related but can be different. There is such a thing as barrel extensions that are a steel tube with male threads on one end and female threads on another. Muzzle devices are the broad category for anything that goes on the muzzle end including brakes. Extended brakes are stretched to purposefully take care of the length required while doing something to quell recoil. You can do any of these or combine them but they must be permanently attached so let’s review that

This next part is critical – the extension must be permanently attached and there is long-standing ATF guidance on this. To be considered permanent per the current ATF guidance (page 18 (printed page 6) of the linked ATF NFA PDF document – be sure to read it), a muzzle device must be attached via one of the following three methods:

  1. Welded all the way round the barrel-to-device circumference (attention old-timers, they now use the term “full fusion gas or electric steel-seam welding”. The use of a fusion welding method half way around the circumference or four equidistant welds may no longer be acceptable)
  2. Blind pinned meaning you drill a hole through the brake, part way into the barrel, a pin is inserted and then welded over. This can be done in such a way that it is practically invisible when done.
  3. High temperature (1100F) silver solder – this is brazing solder to be very. This is not low-temp plumbing silver solder. Do NOT use regular solder.

These are the only three approved methods that you can use. Epoxy, rusting, any form of adhesive – they are not acceptable to the ATF and you will be found in violation of the GCA rifle length of 16″ if you use them. Ignorance of the law is not a defense. You must use one of those three for it to be considered permanent.

This is quick, easy and relatively cheap and I used blind bins because I thought the resulting “looks” were cleaner plus it allowed me to attach an aluminum fake can to a steel barrel (you can’t weld dissimilar metals like those two).

In short, there is clear published ATF guidance that says adding a permanent extension works – it’s not a loophole and perfectly acceptable. If you have any concerns, then have a gunsmith do the work.

This is a fake solid aluminum can that looks like a Soviet PBS-1 suppressor. It was blind pinned and welded over to permanently attach it to compensate for the AMD-65’s short 12.5″ original barrel. The fake can was 7.87″ long so I cleared the 16″ minimum by quite a big and it looked cool.

By the way, let’s talk the math needed to get the correct length of extension or muzzle device for just a minute. Measure your barrel with a dowel with the bolt closed. Let’s say it’s 12.5″ and if you want it to be 16.5″ long the difference is 4″. What length extension do you need? This is where you need to know how long the thread of your barrel is and how far it will go into the muzzle device before it stops. If the device will overlap the barrel by 0.5″ then you are right at 16″ not the desired 16.5″. You must factor in that overlap! So, if we want 16.5″ of barrel length – 12.5″ currently = 4″ + 0.5″ overlap then you need a muzzle device that is 4.5″ long. It never hurts to be a tad over in barrel length but you never want to be short. Read about the fitment before you buy is the bottom line. If the muzzle device requires a backing nut / “jam” nut to secure it, that goes into the planning.

Device length = 16.5″ – current length + overlap device and jam nut if used

I would recommend steel muzzle devices if you have the choice. Steel devices stand up to the heat and muzzle blast better than aluminum. If all you can find is aluminum for your application or you want something that looks like a fake can or whatever then go ahead. Steel does get heavy fast so some larger devices intentionally use aluminum to avoid the weight.

You have lots of options – muzzle devices are attached by the thread so to buy one you look at the thread on your barrel (such as 1/2×28 or 14x1LH, etc.), the caliber (5.56, 9mm, 7.62, etc.) and the length you need. You do not need to buy something special for a 5.56/.223 AR for example – you would search 1/2×28, .223 or 5.56, and then the length. There are tons of weapons that use those.

The caliber is really important because you can have far larger calibers using 1/2×28 that will not fit through a smaller .223 brake. 9mm is one example. Also, you may know a caliber but also need to check the thread because the builder may have picked a different thread pattern.

Interestingly enough, there are tons and tons of muzzle devices on eBay (click here for a search I set up) – I think partly because a lot of small machine shops realize they can crank out a brake plus you have tons of people importing them as well.

In all cases, just remember to confirm the threading, caliber and desired length before you go shopping and certainly before you install and test fire the weapon.

Option 2: Replace the barrel – In some cases it is really easy to do

This is the verbatim guidance from the final brace rule. On some weapons platforms, such as the AR, replacing the barrel is very easy. On others, such as the AK, it can be done but it is far more involved and you wind up paying for quite a bit of labor. There are also ones that are far easier than you may think such as bolt action rifles so it pays to do some research and ask around.

On the plus side you may pick up some velocity with the longer barrel and if you get a higher quality barrel, you may even get some accuracy improvements. I have to word it that way because all things being equal, longer barrels have velocity gains but if they are of equivalent quality, length does not improve accuracy … unless you tell me the short barrel can’t stabilize what you are shooting. Sigh … barrels & ballistics will always start an argument. I’m trying to point out that going with a longer barrel is not always doom and gloom with no gains.

In addition to the barrel, don’t forget about overall length either – a rifle must be at least 26″

The ATF defines overall length as “The overall length of a firearm is the distance between the muzzle of the barrel and the rearmost portion of the weapon measured on a line parallel to the axis of the bore.” — per page 2 (printed page 6) of the NFA PDF linked to at the ATF.

The minimum overall length of a rifle is 26″. Now things get squirrely between state and federal governments as to how overall length is measured when it comes to folding stocks. Is it done with the stock deployed and fully extended or when it is closed? You will need to find out which applies to you.

The ATF’s position is to measure the overall length with the stock folded per a 2019 ATF letter obtained and shared by Prince Law. I never was a huge folder fan –my preference are the M4 style collapsing stocks. They tend to have better ergonomics for the cheek weld, flexible length of pull and are considerably longer than a folded “folder” when the M4 stock is compressed usually making the overall length a non-worry.

This AK is using a Magpul ACS stock and even when fully compressed it’s far longer than 26″

So, overall minimum length needs to be at least 26″. End of the day, it’s your decision about how you meet it but you need to plan for it via some combination of barrel length and stock.

What about 922(r) compliance for foreign rifles?

To begin, let’s look at the law directly from house.gov concerning 922(r):

(r) It shall be unlawful for any person to assemble from imported parts any semiautomatic rifle or any shotgun which is identical to any rifle or shotgun prohibited from importation under section 925(d)(3) of this chapter as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes except that this subsection shall not apply to-

(1) the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for sale or distribution by a licensed manufacturer to the United States or any department or agency thereof or to any State or any department, agency, or political subdivision thereof; or

(2) the assembly of any such rifle or shotgun for the purposes of testing or experimentation authorized by the Attorney General.

What follows is my opinion and is not legal guidance – because the 922(r) compliance pertains to the assembling of rifles from foreign parts – it does not apply to domestically manufactured weapons using domestic parts – an AR fully made in the US from US parts is not within the scope of 922(r).

What I would tell you is that the any imported pistols were approved for importation and registered with the ATF as pistols. The receivers to be specific were recorded as pistols and still are pistols. In other words, even with the weapons configured as rifles, the receivers are still registered as pistol receivers with the ATF and thus not subject to 922(r). In the eyes of the ATF, the receiver classification is what matters.

To be perfectly clear, this is my opinion, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. What really matters is what we hear from the ATF as this progresses. Don’t hold your breath though as they may never provide additional guidance on this – the ATF frequently leaves things vague and open for interpretation.

1/21/2023 Update: The Final Rule is such a mess that we all need to act and not let it pass. If you aren’t a member of Gun Owners of America (GOA), I recommend them. This rule has a fatal flaw that will trap gun owners and must not pass. Be sure to watch the following video of an interview with Steven – an attorney with GOA – who was at the SHOT show:

Summary

To meet the 16″ minimum barrel requirements you can replace your barrel with one that is at least 16.5″ long or extend your barrel with a permanently attached muzzle device so it is at least 16.5″ long. Find out which works best for you in terms of costs, looks and performance. Also, be sure to consider your overall length as part of your planning and revise your weapon accordingly.

Where to go for parts?

I’ll just list AK and AR websites – for others you will need to do some searching:

First off – parts and tools overall – check out Brownells.

AK parts vendors

AR parts vendors


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 [email protected]. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


When Strength and Quality Matter Most

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