Category Archives: DIY – Do It Yourself

Restored A BHG 4-Burner Stainless Outdoor Gas Grill / BBQ

This past June, my wife and I spotted a big stainless four burner BHG gas grill with a side burner at a neighbor’s house set up for trash pickup.  It looked to be in a pretty good shape so I stopped and took a look.  The drip pan had rusted away and dropped rust everywhere in the grill plus there was minor rusting elsewhere but it was in very good shape otherwise.  My wife asked if I could rehab it because we had a bunch of family coming for a visit a month later.  I said “yes” so it went in the back of the Highlander leaving a trail of rust everywhere.

It looked like the grill was used and then left to sit and rust but it was actually in quite good shape.  Besides the drip pan, the only other items in tough shape were the heat plates also sometimes called diffusers that sit over the burners. They had rusted significantly and were an eyesore.

What Gas Grill Was It?

“BHG” stands for “Better Homes and Gardens” and the model number was BH13-101-099-01.  I don’t really have much more info than that – it’s a big generic stainless grill that was imported from China by Blue Rhino Global Sourcing.  You may not recognize the name but when you see their logo – they sell propane tanks, grills and what have you through a ton of stores under their own brand name as well as Mr. Bar-B-Q, Chef Master, Endless Summer, Grill Mark, Mr. Pizza, and Uniflame. BHG is no longer listed by them so one must surmise other brand names were used in the past as well.

According to a sticker, it was made in January of 2013. From there, I bet they were sold through retail stores but I really can’t find any more details after searching but I will say it appeared to be a decently made gas grill.

If you hunt around on a grill, you can almost always find an information sticker that at the very least has the model and maker listed.

Armed with the model number, I could go digging for parts.  There is a whole cottage industry of parts suppliers out there when you search but the challenge was finding what I wanted in stock and that the price they wanted plus shipping wasn’t astronomical. In some cases, the part price was low but shipping was sky high.

Note, I also found that most parts places are selling parts that will fit the grill but most advise you to confirm dimensions before you buy. The grill is over 9 years old and these places are selling generic parts – so be sure to check dimensions and even that the seller is legit.

The Drip Pan

Okay, the drip pan was trash.  You see, at the end of the day, they are made from steel and salty liquids are dripping on them.  If you don’t keep them clean or put foil on top of them, they will eventually rust out. 

The drip pan had rusted to pieces so the inside of the grill looked far worse than what it was. I think the neighbor took the cover off after maybe a season or two of no use, saw the rust everywhere and pulled it to the curb for trash pickup … or for me to pick up depending on how you look at it.

You need to double check the measurement of your pan – mine was a loose fit in the grill so you have wiggle room in terms of dimensions.  Mine was about 15-1/4″ deep x 28-5/8″ wide.  The replacement pans will all be in the ballpark but you want to make sure that pan reaches from left to right so it is properly supported.

After a lot of digging looking for an affordable exact match to the original pan, I decided to order a 30″ adjustable pan off of Amazon.  The problem I was running into was a combination of the total cost including shipping and also lead times and availability.  So, I went with an adjustable model and you know what?  It’s just fine. 

The AJinTebby pan is 15.5″ deep and can adjust from 27 to 30″ wide. Yes, it is pricey at $46.99 but there is a 5% discount coupon you can apply and if you have Amazon Prime, shipping is free (technically it’s factored into the price but you get the idea – it’s a good deal). Click here to open the Amazon page in a new tab.

An adjustable pan lets you adjust the width to fit your grill. It’s the width that adjusts but not the front to back depth so you still need to make sure of that plus the how much adjustment the model has. The is an AJinTeby 30″ pan that can adjust 27-30″ and has a depth iof 15.5″. It fits the BHG.
The drip pan comes with a nice small drip cup that slides in or out of place under the main pan. Drippings ooze into there and are collected so then you can dump and clean it as needed.
I painted the drip pan and it’s drip cup with Rusto-oleum BBQ & Stove 1200F paint to slow rusting. It has three coats of paint
To further lock and seal things, I put 3M High Temperature Flue Tape on the top of the joints. FYI – the oval hole is where fluids drip through to the aptly named “drip cup” under it that can be emptied as needed.

The Heat Plates

I had to decide what to do with the heat plates.  They had rusted to the point of being pretty thin – the heating and lots of salty fluids had really taken their toll on them. 

You can see the brand new AjinTebby drip pan under the original heat plates and they looked awful. The grill saw quite a bit of use, that I have no doubt of, and then it sat and rusted even more.

My first thought was to try and save money so painted them with Rustoleum’s Ultra High Temp BBQ paint first to try and save money but I could’t get past all the bumpy look from years of rusting.  There are so many affordable replacement options, I decided to go that route.

I painted the heat plates plus I put three coats of Ultra High Temp Rustoleum on the drip pan to slow up the rust. I could have stopped here but the really worn plates were bugging me so I decided to replace them.

The BHG uses 15″ long x 3-13/16″ wide heat plates and they are very readily available in a variety of metals and finishes.  I bought a set of five stainless steel replacement heat plates made by Shinestar off of Amazon – click here to open the listing in a new tab.

Here’s a look at the new Shinestar plates prior to installation.
The 15″ Shinestar heat plates are nicely made and are going to last for a long time. I definitely liked them more than the painted ones.

The Gas Regulator Turned Out To Be Bad

During initial testing, the grill ran just fine but then it started getting flaky and finally would barely produce flame. This is usually due to a regular failing and/or rust or a spider web getting stuck somewhere. I pulled the lines and blew everything out with compressed air. Sometimes that fixes the problem but not in this case.

Now, I made a bit of a costly mistake here because I was in a rush. We had an Ace Hardware nearby and I bought a Weber regulator that fit but was a tad short for $44-46 if I recall rgiht. Because it was short, I took a piece of 2×12 lumber and cut a hole in it with a jig saw to hold the tank. A week later, I was in Home Depot and found out they had a ton of gas grill repair parts in stock (I didn’t know they did) including the exact hose and regulator I needed for half the price of the Weber.

The old regulator went straight in to the tank and the Weber unit is at a right angle.
Quick comment – when you are working on gas fittings, there will almost always be a way to support the existing tube/hookup and ou need to do that. See the small nut formed into the black tube? You need to hold that with one wrench while either tightening or loosening the hose fitting. If you don’t support the tube you run the risk of it bending or breaking free. Just remember. always do what you need to do to support what your line is connecting to. Don’t just torque on the hose’s fitting alone.
Because the Weber hose was too short, I took a piece of scrap 2×12 lumber I had, traced the outline of the tank’s botton on it and cut the circle out. Note I drilled four holes so I could start the jig saw blade that did the actual cutting.
There it is – nice and stable. Again, if I had known that Home Depot had a bunch of repair parts, I would have taken the busted regulator in there and found a match.

I could have saved even more if I had the time to order a hose and regulator from Amazon. They have them for $15-18 depending on the length of hose you need. Click here for to open a new browser tab with the Amazon listings – be sure to get the hose length you need and round up vs. down if need be.

Other Minor Touch Ups

  • I ran a 180 grit sanding mop in the same direction as the stainless “grain” finish and removed surface rust.
  • Sprayed the inside of the grill so it looked better
  • One hinge had a missing Cotter key that I replaced
  • Put a wire brush wheel in my drill and cleaned up the grill grates so they had a nice clean brushed look

The Result

It turned out quite nice and gave us another grill to use during a family reunion we had during July.

The cabinet cleaned up really well.
So did the inside. There is a smoker box down on the heat plates to add a bit of smoke flavor.
Here’s the restored BHG next to my pride and joy Chargriller Competition Grill that my kids got me for Father’s Day a few years back and I converted for wood (click here if you want to read more about that).

Conclusion

One man’s trash is another’s treasure I suppose. The grill turned out nice. The only things it really needed were a new drip pan and the regulator replaced.

I hope this post helps you out.


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 Rebuild A Residential Diving Board

Have you ever been stuck between a rock and a hard place because you need to get something done but a vendor fumbles the ball … badly? That happened to me recently. We have a home made in the 70s and the pool is the same. While we have replaced the liner a number of times over the years, it was the original slowly falling apart diving board. We actually bought our home in 98 and the previous owner had put a 2x8x6 between the board and the spring to keep it alive.

Let’s fast forward to about a month ago. We were getting ready for a family reunion to be held at our place so I got the pool ready for the summer and decided I better check the diving board. Oh man, it was shot. The fiberglass underneath had torn around the board it encased and there was just no way it was safe.

One thing I have learned about pools over the years is that you can usually find parts. So, I new it was an 8′ residential diving board and the hole pattern for mounting it was 4.5″ on centers in the back and the front single hole was 36″. I did some digging and the hole pattern and distances from the back and sides corresponded with the SR Smith 8′ Frontier II board.

A number of vendors carried it online and the problem was that I needed it with only about a two week lead time before people started arriving for the party. InTheSwim said they had it and it would arrive in time. I used my wife’s card on the website and it wouldn’t go through so the website gave me an 800# to call. I did, the lady told me it was a fraud screen, I approved a text message sent to my wife’s phone and the InTheSwim operator told me it was all set and I should get an email shortly. She never said she resubmitted it … About an hour later, still no email so I called and I am pretty sure the same lady answered and said the order was fine …. in fact it was not.

After a week of no updates, I called and after confusion on their part, they found the order in limbo, fixed it and told me it would probably still make it in time. Okay… I kept tabs on it and finally called and said I needed the board. They told me it would not even ship until after the party. I asked that they expedite it, that I would even pay for it and they said they had no way to do that. I then told them in no uncertain terms to cancel the order. If that reads like a rant, it should. I hate it when a vendor fumbles the ball and literally does nothing to make it right.

I was left with two options – disappoint a bunch of relatives or figure out how to fix the board. I decided to do the latter and I suspect this is the part of the post you really care about.

What went wrong with the board?

Many, if not most, residential diving boards have a fiberglass top and bottom but the core is wood. Through the tears, rotting wood was plainly visible. I put the board on sawhorses, put the old supporting board underneath it and flipped the diving board over to access the bottom. Again, the diving board was resting on the old supporting board – I new that if I didn’t support it, the odds were high that it might snap. Once supported, I used a diamond masonry cutting wheel in my 4.5″ Ryobi cordless grinder to slice off the torn fiberglass to see what was going on. I had a hunch that If I could salvage the top of the board, I could fix the bottom and I was right.

Important Safety Comment: Wear eye protection and a quality face mask (N95 or better) when you are cutting or sanding on fiberglass. You don’t want stuff getting in your eyes or lungs. I also wear gloves to protect my hands.
I used a masonry cut off wheel – in this case a diamond coated one – because the glass fibers can dull saw blades, etc. Just about anything can cut open fiberglass – it just depends on whether you care about what is happening to the blade.

Once I cut open the bottom that held the wood, I could see it needed to be replaced. What is there are three pieces of wood and there is a cap on each end with nails that held it together. Over the years as holes and cracks opened up, water got in and slowly rotted the wood. I really wasn’t surprised when I went to lift the board off the spring – it weighed a ton due to the waterlogged wood.

The wood wouldn’t lift right out so I would prop it up and cut it with a small hand held Ryobi circular saw into thirds. I used a small pry bar and lifted the sections out. I didn’t cut all of the fiberglass out yet thinking that I might use some of it to make things stronger. In hindsight, I’d now tell you to remove all of the hold fiberglass wrapping on the bottom -there was no need to save it.

Wood and Fiberglass

In a perfect world, I would have the exact same size of wood and better yet, treated wood, to replace the rotten wood. I didn’t have time for wet treated wood to dry so I went to Home Depot and bought two 2x12x8 pieces of dry pine lumber. One to go in the board and one to still support it even though it probably wasn’t needed.

I also stopped by the adhesives section of Home Depot and picked two 1-gallon jugs of Bondo fiberglass resin and three packages of fiberglass cloth – if I had it to do over, I would have bought a couple more for complete overkill in terms of strength. I knew I had a spare cloth at home so I had four fiberglass cloths total. I also bought a spare package of hardener just in case.

Here’s one of the jugs of resin. Because I work with plastics, I had a large selection of mixing cups and stir sticks. I used 32 oz cups and a half tube of hardener at a time. I would mix them and then pour the contents into a second 32oz cup. This is known as a double pour and reduces the odds of you pouring unmixed contents and making a mess.

Note: The Bondo fiberglass system uses a polyester resin vs. true epoxy. Polyester is cheaper than epoxy but not as strong. I’m pretty sure it will hold up and we’ll see over time. I’m writing this post a week after our reunion and the board looks just fine – no cracks. m

Cleaning Up The Board and Preparing It

With the wood out, I then removed all of the debris to get a better look at what was going on. I removed almost all of the old fiberglass that was holding the old board – I now know I could have removed all of it.

Here I am scuffing up everything really good with 80 grit sand paper in my orbital IR 6″ sander. If you want the fiberglass to bind really well, the surface must be abraded. Just remember, if the surface is smooth and shiny, your adhesion is going to be bad. A very abraded clean surface is ideal.
Here’s a better view of the center front hole and the big crack that went completely through the fiberglass top. Note, after sanding, cleaning and degreasing, I closed all holes with black Gorilla tape before I started apply resin.
Here’s a close up of the back two holes – they are worn open and stress cracking around them.
One more view of the big crack at the center. I sanded the heck out of everything with 80 grit, sprayed down the inside with brake cleaner thoroughly to degrease it and then stuck big pieces of gorilla tape over each hole. The diving board surface was ready.

Preparing The Wood

The wood was completely dry – let me stress that. If you seal in wet wood, it will rot so make sure your wood is dry.

One thing I noticed with the rotted wood that I pulled out was that they had rounded over all of the corners/edges of the wood to not stress the fiberglass. That made a lot of sense to me. I put a 3/8″ carbide tipped round over bit in my trim router and rounded over the new board too and then sanded it with 80 grit sandpaper to prepare the surface for maximum adhesion.

The 2x12x8 boards were longer than the original so I trimmed them down. I then used a round over bit on both and sanded them. My plan was to embed one in the fiberglass but still have a support/buddy board underneath. Note, I did not drill any holes. My plan was to center the new pine board insert and drill the holes later.

I did test fit everything before I went to the next step. You don’t want to mix up resin and get part way in only to find our boards are the wrong length.

Gluing The Board In Place

Okay, to close the bottom back up, I did it in steps. For the first one, I mixed up 32oz of resin, liberally brushed it in the bottom of the board really thick. I then clamped the ends and put weights in the middle to keep everything pushed together. You need to have this planned out because once the resin sets, it’s game over. I had the clamps and everything ready to go.

This falls under the “make do with what you have” category. The blue clamps are really strong and are on both ends. In the middle we have two brake calipers from a 96 Landcruiser and two full 5-gallon cans of gas. The more pressure pushing the parts together and the adhesive into as many spaces as possible is what you want.

The next step was to put down the first layer of fiberglass cloth. I laid the cloth on top of the board and trimmed it to fit inside and just up the sides. I then mixed up a 32 oz container [don’t forget to do a double pour and use the right amount of hardener] and rapidly brushed it on very thick to the front area I was working on, applied the cloth and then another coat of Bondo on top. If you’ve not done fiberglass before, start with one section and learn. You want to get the cloth in place and wetted down with the liquid before it all sets. Also, have a bunch of nitrile gloves near by or you will get this stuff all over your hands no matter how hard you try. I wear gloves and have at it. I use my hands to rub the liquid into the cloth.

I did the front, the back and then the middle. If you need to stop, just sand the surface, blow it off and continue.
This is about the first half of the board. I let it cure and then sanded it before I applied more.

So I did the front, the back, then the middle. I used the full length of the cloths and overlapped at the middle. At this point, it was rock hard and I really wished I had just cut out all of the old fiberglass walls that surrounded the old wood. I thought it might make it stronger but then realized this wasn’t the case. I sanded again and cut my fourth and last cloth down the middle. I applied one length on the left and one on the right to strengthen those areas that still had the remnant walls that I should have removed.

Here it is with all of the layers applied. My next move was to sand and then paint it.

Drilled The Holes

Before painting, I flipped the board over, removed the Gorilla tape. The brownish color of the Bondo clearly showed me the old hole positions and drilled two 1/2″ holes in the rear and one in the front using the clearly visible filled in holes. I carefully pushed the support board under, clamped it in place and drilled it as well.

Painting The Board

To paint the board whatever color you want, use boat paint – what they call the top coat or deck paint. Years and years ago, I painted our board because it looked really tough and found out you had to add non slip grit to the paint or people would slide off. Yeah, there’s a story there about a teenager falling off so make sure you get the non-slip additive for whatever paint you buy.

I used Rust-Oleum’s Topside White for the board and a Ocean Blue paint made by Pettit for the trim. The only reason I went with the Pettit paint was that the local boat store carried it and Lowes didn’t have the blue colored Topside paint.

So, when you are applying this, do it in a well ventilated area, make sure it isn’t going to rain if you are outside (I was in my driveway) and follow the guidance carefully. One thin coat a day. If you try and do a thick coat or too many coats, the paint will not cure to a hard finish and stay in an odd tacky/smudgy state. I had this happen to me years ago because I’m not patient but I sure hard to learn patience with some of the specialty paints.

I did two coats of regular white Topside paint on the bottom to protect the fiberglass from UV rays (they really mess up plastics, epoxies and what not unless they are designed for them) and I applied two coats of the white with the grit mixed in on the top.

That’s two coats of white TopSide Paint on the bottom. I did NOT use the non-slip there.
I painted the top with the non-slip additive and didn’t worry about the old blue colored side paint.
It was hot out and even so, I let the top cure for a day before I applied blue painter’s tape to protect the top while I painted the side trim blue.

Painting The Pedestal and Support Board

While waiting for coats of paint to cure on the board, we removed the pedestal and spring unit, wire brushed it, sprayed it down with brake cleaner and sprayed on three coats of white Rustoleum spray paint.

We cleaned it and applied three coats of gloss white Rustoleum spray paint.
We painted the support board too. All I had was white spray Rustoleum at that point so that’s what I used.

Wrapping Up

We reinstalled the pedestal and spring unit first. I bought new stainless nuts and washers so it looked better.

We installed the pedestal and spring assembly first before the diving board. Have a solid surface to put the support board and diving board really helped. They are too heavy to move all at once … at least for me. My son helped – those are his feet 🙂
The board is held in place by stainless hardware” 6″ carriage bolts, 2″ fender washers, rubber gasket washers under the fenders on the top. On the bottom are regular washers , lock washers and nuts. Your hardware will depend on your board’s configuration and how thick it is. We salvaged the carriage bolts and I wire brushed the tops so they looked better but I bought everything else at Ace Hardware.
Another view.

In Closing

InTheSwim really damaged their reputation with me. On the other hand, this was done in a matter of days, cost us about $300 vs $800 (for the board and hardware) and all the kids at the reunion had a blast. So, problem solved — it worked out to our advantage actually. I’m curious to see how it holds up over time and I have high hopes given how it turned out and performed at the reunion.

One last parting shot.

If you have a diving board, I’d bet you could do the same and save time and money as well. I hope this gives you some food for thought.


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.



Troubleshooting A Pride Mobility GoGo Elite Traveller Scooter’s Power Problem

My mother-in-law is getting older and so are my wife and I. Let me tell you, It was a lot easier pushing around a wheelchair 10+ years ago compared to today. With this in mind, my wife and been watching for a good deal on one of those little electric mobility scooters. Finally, one day she saw one posted on Facebook at a local thrift store so we want and took a look.

The owner of the store buys abandoned storage units and a Pride Mobility Elite Traveller scooter was in one of them. It looked to be in great shape but it wouldn’t run. He could turn the on/off switch and a light would come on the little dashboard but that was it. He said he tried charging it for an hour but nothing happened and thought it was the batteries — this is a great example of someone giving you their diagnoses and then that affects what you do.

At any rate, it came with the original Pride Mobility charger so I figured it was probably the batteries and did a quick search on them and replacements ranged in price from $51-89/pair. With this in mind, we settled on a price of $250 and brought the scooter home.

Here’s the GoGo Elite Traveller scooter. It’s remarkably well made. I was impressed the minute I started critically looking at the fit, finish and serviceability.
Note: Pride Mobility puts all of their manuals online. I really appreciate it when firms do this. You can get the brochure, owner’s manual, specification sheet and more on their website – click here. Just FYI: They do not provide a repair manual or technical guide.

A few days went buy before I could work on it. The first thing I did was plug the charger into the wall, then the cord direct to the power pack, turned on the switch and the little red power light came on. The charger’s second indicator LED was supposed to turn yellow that it was charging. It did not – it stayed off. Also, the cooling fan never started. Hmmm…. interesting but I had run into problems before with smart chargers not starting if batteries were dead.

Now, this mistaken assumption cost me some time but I learned a lot in the process that I’ll share.

Removing And Opening The Battery Compartment

Based on what I saw, the engineering and build quality of the scooter was excellent. I’ve seen people driving them around but never had the need to look at one up close or take one apart. Everything is built heavy duty with reliability and resiliency in mind not to mention they put fuses all over the place to protect the electronics. With that overview comment done, my focus was on getting to the batteries because I thought that was the problem.

The battery pack is the black plastic “box” with a molded handle directly underneath the seat on the floorboard of the scooter and is held in place by a tab of 3M Dual-Lock fasteners on each side. Dual-Lock is a stronger than traditional velcro and it does a great job of holding the battery compartment in place both for the sake of safety as well as to prevent rattling.

To remove the battery box, lift straight up – there aren’t any bolts or clasps – just a combination of weight, the way the pieces fit together and the Dual-Loc. If you try to lift at an angle, you’ll be surprised how it will not want to budge – straight up is what you need to do.

That black molded plastic object with the handle in front of the silver set mast is the battery compartment. It comes off the scooter by lifting straight up. FYI – the white label on the seat mast has the date of manufacture.
Between the way the compartment sits into the molded floorboard and the 3M Dual-Loc tabs, the unit is very secure.

The battery compartment is very well made and to disassemble it, you need to remove six philips head machine screws. This is just an example of where I thought the design and execution was excellent – these are threaded machine screws that go into brass female inserts on the other side – they didn’t just go cheap using some self tapping screw. You flip the compartment upside down and remove the screws. The batteries are held securely in place by Dual-Lock also.

The 12 Volt Batteries Themselves

I’m going to step you through some details on the batteries but I did not change them yet. I’d recommend you read this whole post because your “problem” may or may not be the batteries.

Our scooter is powered by two 12 volt 12 amp hour batteries wired in series to provide 24 volts. In the compartment is a wiring diagram and everything is done very nicely to avoid confusion – red wires to positive tabs on the battery and black wires to the negative tabs on the battery.

These are the 12 volt 12 amp hour batteries that are hooked up in series to provide 24 volts. If you look to the right of the silver plug, the two red wires white plastic connector is on a fuse assembly that protects the charger circuit that you will want to check and the far right side has a circuit breaker that is also worth checking. Pride says they can go up to 6.7 miles depending on factors such as the weight of the passenger and cargo. Note how everything is so well labeled, the wiring is very neatly done and they even provide a handy wiring diagram above the left battery. Whomever designed and then built this cared about what they were doing.

For those of you unfamiliar with direct current (DC) batteries, these two batteries are hooked up in series to produce 24 volts. This is done by connecting the negative terminal of one battery to the positive of the other and then the opposite as well. In the scooter, this is done at the wiring block in the middle. You don’t need to worry – just note the wires when you take it out (a photo helps) and do a battery at a time – black wire to negative and red wire to positive,

Note, there are at least two sizes of batteries used – their standard battery pack is rated for 6 miles and uses two 12 amp hour (Ah) batteries. There is a 9.7 mile bigger 18 amp hour (Ah) battery and it correspondingly uses a bigger cabinet so if you decide you are going to replace your batteries, confirm what is in your battery compartment first. You can change cabinets – or even buy entire battery packs ready to go. From what I have seen, the cheapest bet is to just buy the batteries and swap them out in your existing compartment. I also see batteries with other capacities like 15Ah and over 20Ah, I’d recommend you confirm that their physical sizes will fit whatever battery compartment you have.

Troubleshooting the HP8204B Charger

The batteries hold the charge that runs the scooter but they must be recharged by using a battery charger. I should have checked this first but didn’t because I assumed it was the batteries but let me step you through what I did.

I put a voltmeter on each of the 12 volt batteries and they both read just a tad over 4 volts. So, not absolutely dead but boy were they spent. In doing automotive work, I would have expected the smart charger to sense the voltage and begin. Okay, something was fishy and it wasn’t adding up. It was time to look at the charger again.

The scooter came with a Pride Mobility HP8204B charger rated for 24 volts DC at 5 amps. That would mean that if I took my meter and put it on the pins, I should read somewhere around 28+ volts (the exact volts is an “it depends” – I would have been cautiously happy with anything over 24 and stopping somewhere around 30).

This is the original charger. Only a solid red light would come on. That indicated it had power. The cooling fan never turned on and the second LED that should turn yellow for charging or green for fully charged never turned on.

I used my multimeter on the batteries with the Pride charger connected. Only the red bulb on the charger was lit. No fan, no yellow light and no additional voltage detected on the battery terminals. I should have read 13-14 volts when doing the positive and negative tabs on each individual battery with the wires connected but I read just the 4 volts (by the way I word it like this because it was 4 and some decimal but I didn’t write down.)

The fuse you can see outside of the battery pack between the plug and a circuit breaker on the front of the battery pack looked fine and tested okay for continuity.

In looking at the battery pack, I unplugged the pin 1 should have been positive and pin 2 should have been negative. I cautiously touched my probes on the two tips because I didn’t want to unnecessarily short the system out by accidentally touching positive and negative together. Guess what? Nothing – not a thing. My auto-ranging digital meter was doing it’s usual millivolt reading garbage but there was no real voltage coming through.

The next thing I did was to turn off the original charger and remove the fuse from the end of the charger with the lights – undoing the round cap will produce a glass tube fuse. You can usually see if the wire running from one end to the other in the middle of the clear glass is intact or burned out. It looked okay and just to be sure I ran a continuity test with my meter and it was okay.

I also pulled apart the plug that goes into the battery pack just in case something was lose and it read zero volts too. In case you are wondering why there are three pins (I wondered why) – pin three provides voltage to the scooter so the little computer knows the charger is still attached and will not let the driver move the scooter – pretty good idea.

Okay, it was time to Google the scooter and the charger to learn more. The fact that only the red light was coming on but not the fan and/or the yellow charging light was making it look the the charger had failed. I did the “sniff” test to see if I could smell if anything had burned out but if it had, it must have been some time ago as I didn’t detect anything. In short, the charger was history.

There are tons of charger options on Amazon but I want to caution you against the little sealed chargers. They do work but they are going to get hot and they will probably fail at some point due to all of that heat. There’s a reason Pride went with the a fan cooled charger – they get hot converting AC (wall outlet) current to 24 volts DC (direct current).

Companies like Pride rarely make their own chargers. They will either use an existing charger on the market and not bother covering up the name of the maker or they will pay for it have their brand name on the decal. Pride opted for the latter or at least that’s what I think they did. The trick to realize here is that by searching on HP8204B, you can find either the original maker or another firm who did the same thing – had their name put on the charger. Regardless, you can save a bundle off a new Pride charger.

In my case, I found a seller named “ENCAREFOR” on Amazon selling what seemed to be the exact same charger but with the label “High Power” on it. Besides the label, the rated output is at 4 amps vs. 5 which means it will just charge a tad slower. It was going for $89.99 with Prime One Day shipping but I held off as I realized I needed to test the batteries and the scooter before I spent more money. In other words, I knew the charger was bad but didn’t want to spend more money if the scooter itself was burned out – if it was just the batteries, I could still order them.

By the way, you can buy used OEM Pride chargers off of eBay. I’ve had mixed experience with used chargers in general so I tend to just buy new. If you don’t mind gambling on a used one, they are on eBay.

Used a Noco Genius Car Battery Charger For Testing

At this point I was pretty sure it was charger and also thought that the batteries might be okay. Why? First off, there is a sticker on the mast pole of the seat that said the scooter was made in 2019 – that meant it was three or just under three years old (especially given I was doing my troubleshooting in mid-February 2022). Batteries can last maybe five years give or take. If the voltage was zero, I’d bet they were junk but since I was getting just over 4 volts from each battery independently, they weren’t completely dead. I started to wonder if a good reconditioning and charge might work to bring them back to life. I had just the charger to try.

I’ve written in the past about Noco products – I think they are great and I use mine regularly. Not only are they excellent smart chargers with a number of safeguards built in but they can also recover/recondition deeply discharged batteries as well. My big Noco G26000 can do 12 or 24 volt batteries but since I was planning on a battery at a time, I just needed the 12 volt option. Indeed, I have three Noco Genius chargers of varying sizes (meaning the amps they put out) and they all could have done the job although the smaller 5 amp charger would have likely taken longer.

Any 12 bolt charger can do the job provided you charge the batteries one at a time.

I undid the battery cables from the first battery only and directly connected the Noco to it. I charged for one cycle and then ran a repair cycle. During repair, the charger pulses the battery to desulfinate it.

Don’t let all the wires intimidate you. I hooked the plus (red) clamp of the Noco to the plus (red) terminal of the battery on the left, I then hooked the negative (black) clamp from the Noco to the black terminal of the same battery. I have a small voltmeter that clamps ,on attached also so I could monitor progress — that’s strictly optional.

Results

When the charging was done with both batteries, I connected the scooter’s cables back and seated the battery back into its cradle. I then turned the key on for the scooter and moved it forward and backward. It worked just fine. I checked the batteries and the voltage was holding – it wasn’t dropping down.

This is what I wanted to see — the batteries were fully charged. I drove the scooter around the house and the charge never went down. I also learned that scooters are bizarre little things to drive – their turning is like sitting upright on sensitive go cart.
Other than the decals and the lower 4 amp output, the new “High Power” charger looks identical to the Pride unit. Note, I’d opened the front of the unit up to inspect the inside — the front panel is what is dangling in the bottom left of the photo.
As soon as I plugged in the new charger and turned it on, the red power light and yellow charging lights came on.

By the way, the charger’s fan will make a pulsing or surging sound as the speed changes as it nears the end of charging. This is normal and will give you an indicator that charging is almost complete.

When the scooter’s batteries are fully charged, the yellow light will turn green. The fan will make a pulsing sound as the charging nears completion.

Bottom line, the batteries and scooter were fine – it was just the charger that had failed so I ordered the replacement above from Amazon and it topped off the batteries. I drove it around the house some and everything was working just fine.

In Conclusion

So I learned a few things. The scooter was exceptionally well made is my first comment. Second, I should have started from the wall and worked towards the scooter vs. focusing on the batteries to start based on what the fellow told me.

I should have confirmed power to the charger, then that there was no power from the charger to the scooter and ordered a new charger. I’d bet a new charger could have recovered the batteries – the documentation says they can recondition a battery but who knows. Even though I started with the battery, at least I could run the Noco charger through charging and repair cycles – I’ve used it to recover a number of really compromised batteries over the years.

The scooter is ready and now we need to wait for warmer weather to let my mother-in-law practice in the driveway. I hope this story helps you out.


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 repair a broken brake light lens with a 3M film you can buy at a car store or Amazon?

Okay, it was late the other night and I was tired. I backed up my 2021 Ram 2500 and heard the truck hit something. “Crap” I thought as I remembered my Western plow was disconnected and sitting on the ground in the area where I was backing up. Well, I hoped I had just nudged the plow frame with my rear bumper but when I got out, it turned out that one of the lights on the plow frame had busted out a golf ball sized part of the passenger side red brake light lens – it was a good thing I was going slow at least but what to do?

If you notice the scuff mark on the back edge of the light, that’s what hit the passenger side tail light and busted the lens. I’m definitely glad I wasn’t going fast.

Well, first I have to tell you I felt pretty stupid. I literally forgot the plow was back there but then my next thought was “how do I fix this?” It was about 11:15 at night, 9 degrees out and snowing. If there’s one thing I have learned about myself, it’s that my patience is gone when I am tired and that was the not the time to try and fix something. I didn’t want the light assembly to get a ton of snow in it so I just lightly stuck some duct tape on it and work on it the next day.

Looking For A Quick and Easy Fix

First thing I did was to get online and order a new right side tail light assembly (68361714AD for my Tradesman) and that will take some time to come arrive – I literally ordered it yesterday morning and am waiting as I write this. At any rate, I needed to apply a temporary fix to the busted lens. In college, I’d used a red self-adhesive tape to “patch” a busted brake light. I figured I would do something similar because I wanted the lens closed and also you can get a ticket for having either a white light showing from a brake light or an inoperable light. The other thing was given the weather and supply chain problems these days, I wasn’t sure how long I would be waiting for the replacement light assembly so off to Autozone I went.

Autozone carries two type of repair kits both from 3M – one was a roll of red colored translucent tape ($4.99) and the other was a semi-rigid red translucent film ($8.99). I opted for the latter because I could cover the hole without seams and figured it would blend in a lot better. Now I have not used the 3M tape but the one I used in college 30+ years ago faded in the sun and didn’t stick to red hot so I just wasn’t that gung ho on it but I will tell you that my general experience with 3M is that they turn out top notch stuff so I am sure it would have been better but I went with the film and not the tape.

3M High-Strength Red Lens Repair Film 03441

The package has a 3.75×7.75″ piece of thick red film. It’s stiff but it will bend and 3M says it measures about 6-6.5 mils (1 mil =1,000th of an inch) thick. For example, if a credit card is around .03 inches thick, it measures 30 mils to give you an idea.

This is the front of the package in case you are hunting for it.
I read and followed the instructions.

As you can see in the photos, it was snowing and 16 degrees out when I did the repair. I cleaned the lens real quick with 409 – a general purpose cleaner. I then wiped it dry and brought over the film and a pair of scissors.

The break in the lens had a slight curve so I worked the material around in my hands to get the basic curve I needed and trimmed the material so it could sit flat on the surface. I then removed the rear backing materials and kept pressure on it while working out air bubbles. I figured it might need the heat of my hands to both stay bent and to bond so I did this for 1-2 minutes. For some reason, after I applied the patch was when it dawned on me that I did not take a photo of the hole – why? I have no idea.

Here you can see the hole covered with the film. I have a pretty good seal except for at the bottom where all the cracks are. There’s a raised ridge there that the film cant conform to so I called it good enough and stopped there. I figure this only needs to last maybe 2-4 weeks but wanted it good enough that it can go longer if need be.
It was definitely snowing and cold. This is a piece of film left over after the patching so you can see it.
The lens cracked but did not come apart of the top right side. If you look close you can see a rectangular piece of film I stuck there just to make sure the track doesn’t get worse.
You step back a few feet and you can’t even see the film. I checked the bond the following day and it feels like the film has really bonded to the lens. I’m genuinely impressed.

The Results

I’m surprisingly happy. I didn’t know for sure if it would work but it’s holding up just fine and from a distance you wouldn’t even know it is there.

If things change, I’ll be sure to post an update but so far, so good.

2/19/22: Still holding up just fine. Nothing has changed at all – adhesion and color are just fine. I’m still waiting on the Mopar parts dealer to send me the tail light assembly. Thanks to the film I’m not in a rush and it looks just fine from a few feet away – you wouldn’t even know it is there.

2/19/2022 – still holding up just fine a week later. No sign of the plastic film letting go from the base tail light lens. It’s solid. We’ve had weather ranging from snow and 12 degrees to rain and 15 degrees. It seems to be a solid repair.

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 Japanese Beetles Are Awful This Year – Use Traps To Save Your Plants

There seems to be a ton of Japanese Beetles this year – these fat little buggers can really do a number on plant leaves – eating them leaving holes or just ragged parts of leaves. Spray is one option and I know folks who use Sevin and others but another option that does not involve spraying is to put up traps that are made just for them.

Here’s one example of the damage the Japanese beetles can do.
Here’s another.
This close up photo of the culprit. It’s from Wikipedia (1) shows a Japanese Beetle. You can easily catch them eating leaves during the day to confirm whether they are the actual pest or not. You can also sometimes spot them flying away from plants as well by the way.

Personally, I use the Spectracide Bag-A-Bug Japanese Beetle Traps. I kind of fell into them years ago – I don’t even recall how. I think someone recommended them to me and I have used them ever since. They are very easy to assemble and definitely do the job.

The package has the the plastic frame that holds the bag and the bait (that brown disc in the sealed aluminum package, and a long wire tie to suspend the trap and two bags. It does not come with a stand. You can buy one, make one or hang it off something that you already have – the target height should be with the bottom about a foot off the ground. The bait/lure is supposed to be good for about 12 weeks – enough for the season.
These are bushes near our garden. The recommend putting the trap 30 feet away from plants you care about because you don’t want to attract the beetles and have them decide to stop and eat your plants vs. going to the trap. I have four traps up this year protecting areas where we have plants and vegetables and have caught literally hundreds of beetles in less than a month.

The way it works is kind of interesting. You put the bait block on the trap and the rather clumsy beetles fly for the bait, hit the walls of the trap that are smooth and have nothing for them to grab onto and they fall down in the trap. Once in the trap, the walls are also smooth and they don’t have enough room to fly so they are stuck there and perish.

This is the top of the trap. The beetles are attracted by the bait, hit the walls and fall down. It really works.
There are probably 2-3 dozen beetles in here after a few days. The most stunning situation I had was putting a trap out not far from rose bushes we have and I had dozens of beetles trapped in less than four hours.
They do make and sell a purpose built stand that comes in sections. I bought a few of them but I just make them now out of 3/16-1/4″ steel rod. The sections are easy for storage but you do need to avoid losing pieces. I lost the top hanger of one and made a replacement.

In Conclusion

The Spectracide Japanese Beetle traps work great and I have no hesitation recommending them. I have read reviews/posts where people complain about the bag ripping but I am not sure why they had a challenge. I only have two recommendations – don’t put them in amongst the plants you care about because they will absolutely lure the beetles right where you don’t want them and the second is to make a couple tiny slits at the very bottom to help water drain out.

These traps definitely work and I hope this helps you save your plants!!

Note, Amazon sellers tend to be very expensive. EBay tends to have far better prices for these traps and accessories like bags and stands:


Photo source (#1) is By Beatriz Moisset – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78747216


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.



Still Nuking Mosquitoes and Ticks With Talstar and The Ryobi Power Washer

A reader dropped me an email and asked if I am doing anything new this year for mosquitoes as he read my past posts. I’m still very happy with the effectiveness of the Talstar insecticide plus the combination of the Ryobi 120350 Power Washer and 10-gallon tank strapped to a dolly continues to work fantastic.

Here’s the full write up I did last year about the combination – click here.

I hope everyone has a great summer and be sure to nuke the bugs before they get to you 🙂


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.



Used DryLok To Stop Brick Spalling And Sealed a Chimney Cap

Our home was built in the early 1970s and someone decided to use same relatively soft red brick at the threshold of the door as the rest of house’s exterior walls. I noticed in the fall of 2020 it was really starting to spall – meaning the brick was starting to flake apart. This happens when water gets in, freezes, expands and causes parts of the brick to crack and split. The above photo gives you and idea of what it looked like.

I did what I normally do – I started reading about how to stop spalling brick. The consensus was that sealing the brick before spalling started was the best approach but you know what – that really didn’t help me much because I already had spalling going on but the core of the bricks was intact.

Let me tell you something – there are a ton of brands of masonry sealer and based on the forecast, my procrastination was forcing me to get something applied within three days of cold weather really setting in. This meant and I had to rush and get something on-hand at a local store.

The closest hardware store to me is Ace so I want to the section where they had masonry sealers and started googling and reading reviews of each one that they had in stock. Again, I was pressed for time so I had to move. What I wound up buying was UGL DryLok Floor and Wall Masonry Sealer.

This is what I bought.

I got home, read the instructions, cleaned the brick off, put down a piece of cardboard to catch the drips and applied it fairly thickly with a painbrush taking care to daub it into all of the corners. The stuff seriously reminded me of Elmer’s Glue but not such a bright white.

This is the second coat. I applied the first coat the day prior and I took care to make sure I worked the sealer into all of the cracks.
I literaly laid down on my side and worked the sealer into every crack – including where the masonry was gone. I did this for both the first and second coat.

I let it dry overnight and then applied the recommended second coat . After drying, the bricks had a “wet” look to them – they were slightly darker and shinier than before but they appeared sealed. So, I crossed my fingers and hoped it would at least make it through the winter and I would plan a new approach if it failed.

Okay, I am now writing this in June of 2021, about seven months later and the DryLok worked. Not one bit of new spalling and even more surprising, the sealer looks the same. I can’t say that I see any wear in teh shiny finish. I guess now I will just wait and see how long it holds up.

THis photo is from June 21, 2021. No new spalling and the sealer does not show any sign of wear. You can see that the wet look faded as the sealer dried but the bricks are still slightly darker and shinier than the uncoated bricks. All of the bricks in this photo were coated by the way both the top protruding threshold and all of the bricks underneath it.

I Was So Impressed I Used It On Our Chimney Cap

A project on my list for this June was to seal my poured concrete chimney cap. It was starting show some surface cracks and when I ran my hand across it, I could feel loose grains of sand. It definitely needed to be sealed.

Guess what I used? I bought a gallon of the DryLok to do the threshold and only used a tiny amount to do it. I went and got the gallon and used over half of it applying two decents coats to the chimney cap and flue covers. We’ll see how long it holds up but I suspect it will be a few years at least given the threshold.

You want to protect the integrity of your chimney cap as it prevents water from running down into your chimney and causing the bricks to crumble. We replaced the original cap with this new one about 3-5 years ago and the sealer I applied then was long gone. I honestly don’t recall what I used.
That crack is what got my butt in gear to get up and seal the cap. As with the threshold, I applied the recommended two coats and I do put it them on iberally. It was scorching hot up there so the sealer dried fast but I still waited until the next day to put on the second coat.
If I can take an easy path I will. I noticed the caps to the flues were starting to rust so I sealed them as well. I was there … I had the sealant … it just seemed a lot easier than going down to the shop, getting black Rustoleum, climbing back up, etc. We’ll see how it holds up – that is a pretty brutal surface when you think about it – full sun and heat in the summer and full sun and cold in the winter … time will tell.

In Summary

The UGL DryLok Floor and Wall Masonry Sealer did a great job stopping the spalling of our front door’s brick threshold and it made it through one winter. Given how it performed, I just used it to seal our chimney cap and we’ll see how long it lasts there as well.

I hope this helps you out.


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.



Brother MFC-L8610CDW Color Laser Printer And OnlyU Replacement Toner Cartrdiges – A Very Affordable High Quality Solution

First, let me start off by saying I was an HP laser printer customer for years. The middle one didn’t last as long as I thought it should and I don’t recall the model. The last HP laser I will ever own was a M254DW. I use it to print all kinds of documents including all of my packing slips and mailing labels. At least I did until the printer downloaded an update and completely stopped working. Turns out the update was to set the printer to only work with HP brand toner that they charge a fortune for.

In an HP corporate response, they hid behind their end user license agreement (EULA) – the thing 99.99% of us never read – that said they could do that. Sorry HP – I bought a printer, paid you a fair amount of money for it and for you to brick it such that I couldn’t even work with no way to remove the update was completely unacceptable – EULA or not. I’m done with your printers.

With this incredible headache in mind and that the previous printer didn’t last very long, I started researching and really wanted a new all-in-one system. After digging, I bought a Brother MFC-L8610CDW. It came with introductory toner – meaning the cartridges were not full but Brother comes with a really good reputation and they did not block third party toner.

I bought one of the Brothers for $476.99 off Amazon in September 2020 plus after digging, I bought OnlyU TN-431 TN-433 toner cartridges for $47.99 and then got a $6/off coupon. I’m writing this in May of 2021 and will tell you that the printer is awesome and we’ve already gone through the starter set of cartridges and the OnlyU replacement toner set works great – there is a reason they get such good reviews – the printer and the toner.

The OnlyU cartridges come very well packed and since I have Amazon Prime, they are here usually the next day.

So, small business owners – and really anyone else – Brother printers have a great reputation for a reason and I wish I had moved sooner. I’m using it for all of my office printing including documents, presentations, packing slips and 8.5×5.5 self adhesive mailing labels. The scanner works great – I’ve not gotten around to setting up the FAX as of yet. I have an old FAX machine that is clunk that still works so I am not in a rush.

In terms of the toner, all of the OEMs are higher than a kite for their toner cartrdiges. GIven how well OnlyU works, I already ordered my next set of replacement OnlyU toner so it’s here when I need it.

Again, I bought the printer off Amazon and here’s the link:

Same for the toner – here’s the link:

The OnlyU toner print quality is just fine. Most of my printing is black and white but I do color also – the above is a photo of me working on my Desert Eagle 10mm 1911 pistol that I printed.

Now I should point out that OnlyU makes toner cartridges for a ton of different printers so if you are looking, I’d bet they will work … unless you have an HP (yeah, I am bitter – it stopped me dead in the water for two-three work days diagnosing, researching what to get, waiting for the new printer plus the setup time).

Here are some other products OnlyU makes:

I truly hope this helps you out.


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.