Category Archives: DIY – Do It Yourself

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 – they 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.



Replacing the Crank / Lower Bracket Bearings On A Schwinn GTX-1 700C Woman’s Bike – Model S5230

In the last post, I described changing the inner tube on my daughter’s bike and then finding that the crank was grinding. It was so bad that it felt like metal on metal. When we brought her home last year, I noticed the crank had a ton of play in it and had a grinding feel when turning and knew that meant the bearings in the crank/lower-bracket were bad.

I’ve not worked on the crank of a bike for probably 40 years – literally. I had a vague idea of what to do but some details have changed over the years and I had to do some reading. Given that I had to digging to figure out what to do, I figured it was worth sharing this also in case someone else has “what in the heck is this?” moment with one of these Schwinns or a bike with a similar setup.

Here’s the bike upside down. I have it resting on a work table with the handbars clamped onto a wood working vise. A weird way to hold it but it worked. It just so happens the bike basket helped stabilize things.

I had to watch a bunch of videos and read some blog posts to get an idea of what to do. I thought “crank” applied to the whole assembly but it turns out the correct term for the innards is the “bottom bracket” and cranks just appear to the lever arms the pedals attach to.

Here’s the approximate sequence of what to do

I’m writing this a few weeks after doing the actual work but hope it helps if you find yourself in a similar bind:

Step 1: Remove the left and right cranks. They are pressed in place and I had to buy an actual purpose built puller to get them off. None of my generic gear pullers would work.

You remove the obvious bolt and then use a purpose-built puller that threads into the crank all the way and then tighten the center bolt to push the crank off. The Schwinn needs a puller that has 22mmx1mm threads made for a square crank.

Park makes two tools – the one I used and the one I bought for future use. I bought and used the CCP-22 crank puller but I would not recommend it. Both cranks were on so hard that I had to hit the handle with a dead blow mallet to get it to turn. At least for the bike I was working on, the integral handle wasn’t sufficient to remove the crank.

Here’s the Park CCP-22 crank puller in use. It did the job but the handle alone didn’t give me the torque I need.

After I got done with this bike, I bought a CWP-7 that they call the compact version but what is appealing is that it has a hex head that I will engage with a socket or impact wrench to do the job far easier, I wouldn’t recommend the CCP-22 unless you know the crank is going to come off easy.

Step 2: Loosen the lock ring. When you look at the bracket, you will notice it is threaded and goes into the frame. Securing it is a locking ring that is threaded and is tightened against the frame to apply pressure. You loosen the locking ring by putting a punch in one of the little “notches” and tapping the ring so it will turn counter clockwise. It will come lose and turn very easily. Just move it a few turns from the frame but leave it on the bracket – you do not need to remove it all the way.

The locking ring is the part with the little rectangular notches right against the bike frame. The first evidence of this think being whipped together is here. Look how “smashed” the notch is at about the 2pm position. Regardless, it came free quite easily.

Step 3: Remove the non-geared side of the lower-bracket. If you look at the photo above, you will notice there are splines radiating inwards on the bracket. You need to measure the diameter and count the number of splines in order to buy the correct size wrench to remove this part of the bracket. This one was about 31.5 mm inner diameter and had 22 splines. The Park BBT-22C tool fits these. There are many different sizes so you really to confirm this.

Here you can see my BBT-22 tool on the end of a big 1/2″ E-Z Red extendable wrench with a Tekton 1/2″ to 3/8″ socket adapter. I like to have plenty of torque when I need it. You can also see the dead blow hammer on the left that I had to use to beat the Park wrench to remove the cranks. You can also see the punch and hammer used to tighten and remove the bracket’s locking ring one one of the two bearing assemblies.

I used the above pictured E-Z Red wrench and BBT-22 adapter to remove the bracket, When the bracket came out of the frame, I kid you not, ball bearings fell out. What a mess.

None of the ball bearing assemblies were intact, there was no grease to speak of and the rusty sludge that I had to clear out of the frame had remnants of the ball bearings and the cages/retainers. There were literally no ball bearings supporting the crank axle/spindle. The axle was just turning directly on the ends of the lower bracket! No wonder she was complaining it was hard to pedal

Step 4: Remove the geared side of the bracket. This comes off very similar to the non-geared side with two exceptions. First, it is reverse threaded. Turn clockwise to remove the bracket on that side. Second there is no lock nut. The proper tensioning of the bracket is done from the non-geared side. By the way, if you maneuver the crank and gear assembly around a bit, you can leave the chain in the derailer.

Step 5: Thoroughly clean and grease the frame’s tube where the bracket was at. You do not want debris to get into your brand new bearings. I had a ton of crud to get out and then I liberally greased the walls.

Step 6: Reinstall the geared side of the bracket. Remember that it is reverse threaded and it goes in all the way. The final adjustment is done from the non-geared side. Note, I put a lot of grease in the dome before screwing it back into the frame.

Tip: Re-install all threaded pieces such as brackets and bolts by hand to make sure the thread is properly aligned and not cross-threaded. Use a wrench to tighten things down only once you know the threads are properly mated.

Step 7: Grease and install the bearings. I had grease everywhere at this point and didn’t want to touch my phone. Normally you would be able to see your old bearings and have an idea of what to buy. All I had were some rusty ball bearings and pieces of the retaining rings. So, I did some digging on Amazon only knowing I had a Schwinn bike and needed bearings with an inner diameter based on the axle or shaft between the cranks of about 0.72″ and an outside diameter of about 1.14″ (29mm).

Okay, I got lucky. In reading the comments of a lot of different bearings, a 1/4″ x 9 ball unit from Jaceyon popped up with people reporting they worked on Schwinn bikes. I was running out of time so I ordered them and they worked!

Tip: The Jaceyon bearings were fairly cheap and got good reviews. The fact it came with four bearing sets – meaning two pair. For some reason I busted one during installation and was very happy I had a spare. For $9.28, it was totally worth it. If you can swing it, I’d recommend getting four so you have a couple of spares just in case.

Use wheel bearing grease to pack the bearings as best you can. I apply a lot of grease to all surfaces including the bracket face, the axle/shift and the bearings. I like to use a synthetic wheel bearing grease, such as Mobil’s, because I find it doesn’t ooze oil like normal grease does. In the end, use what you have but just be sure to grease the bearings before installation.

When you install them, there is a proper orientation. Please look at the inside ends of the brackets – they are domed. This means the exposed bearings will engage with these ends. The flat part of the housing faces the inside of the tube.

This is the front or top of the bearing. It will be facing outward from the bicycle such that the bearings are engaging on the domed surfaces of each end of the bracket. Those are some remnants of the original. I don’t think any grease was applied during assembly. By the way, some will refer to the ball bearing group as a set or say that the bearings are caged. No matter how you look at it, the retainer properly positions the balls around the crank’s axle to allow it to turn freely. You can imagine that if they rust it will be game over pretty fast. The retainer is just folded sheet metal.

I slide the geared side bearing and the axle in. Again, make sure the bearings are facing outward so they will engage with the bracket. I then put a bunch of grease in the non-geared bracket end dome and hand screw it back into place.

They will go in like this with the ball bearings facing out on each end. I have not greased these yet and this set of bearings is just sitting on the end of the installed bracket for the purpose of this photo. If it were really being inserted, I would have it covered in synthetic wheel bearing grease.

Step 8: Tighten the bracket and install the lock ring. Now this part may take some tuning. By tightening the non-geared side, you are compressing the bearings into place. Tighten the bracket until the crank axle can no longer wiggle but it can still turn. Do not use a huge wrench here or rush – you can smash the bearings – I’ve done it. Tighten a little and feel the axle, over and over.

Step 9: Tighten the lock ring. Use a punch and hammer to rotate the ring clock wise and lock the bracket back in place.

Use a punch or whatever tool you want and a hammer to tighten the lock ring and secure the backet.

Step 10: Reinstall the cranks. Situate them on the shafts and use the center bolt to press them back into place on the axle as well as lock them there. Each crank arm should be 180 degrees opposite of the other. The square ends of the axle are intended to make this easier 🙂

Reinstall your chain too when you are wrapping up the gear-side if you haven’t already,

Step 11: Give it a test ride. If it makes a creaking or groaning noise when you pedal either the bracket needs more tightening or you trashed the bearings. If the sound will not go away, you will need to take it back apart because the bearing probably failed for some reason. That means you go back to step 3. Hopefully you will not have this happen. It did to me the first time and luckily the bearings I bought were four sets to a bag. I’m really not sure why it busted but I am glad I had a spare.

Videos

I didn’t find any exact videos, which is one of the reasons why I wrote this post, but there are videos that can give you a better idea of what is needed. I’m hoping that between my post above and your watching these videos, you will have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done.

Conclusion

With this done, the bike was all set for my daughter to use again. I don’t think a ton of care was taken during assembly and really wouldn’t be surprised if little to no grease was applied to the bearings.

I hope this helps you out.

6/27/2021 Update: The bike is still doing just fine. No problems with the crank and bearings at all.


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.


Replacing The Inner Tubes On A Schwinn GTX-1 700C Woman’s Bike – Model S5230

Growing up in the 70s, Schwinn bikes were real popular as there was a dealer in town. Over the years, the brand has been bought and sold and is owned by Pacific Cycle now. The bikes are made in Chang Zhou China and are sold through places like Walmart and Sam’s Club.

With that said, my daughter needed a bike and we bought her one in 2016 from Sam’s Club. It was already assembled so I was happy I didn’t have to mess with it. Growing up in a rural area with few kids around, one of my hobbies was fiddling with my Sears Free Spirit 10-speed and often needing my dad to bail me out when I messed things up — I tend to learn a lot by screwing up 🙂

At any rate, the big went with us on a number of trips over the years and went with my daughter to college. It’s hard to beat having a bike on campus to get around and we invested in a basic rear basket for two reasons – the obvious was to let her throw stuff in it. The other was that it could block the water and mud that otherwise throws a stripe up your back when you have to bike in the rain.

Installing the basket required buying the Ibera adjustable rear rack, installing a piece of wood that I painted black to block the water (you could use any solid you want) and then the Axiom wire basket. I found them on Amazon and bought based on specs and reviews. I did have to get longer bolts from Ace Hardware to connect the basket to the rack due to the wood insert.

Here’s the exact Ibera rack I bought:

And this is the wire mesh basket:

The Call…

The bike worked great until I got a call – “Dad, I have a flat – what do I do?” Well, we live just over an hour drive away so the next time we went up, I brought the bike back.

What Size Inner Tube?

Many bike tires, such as this Schwinn, have an inner tube and eventually it cracks or a hole gets poked in it. Some folks patch their inner tubes but I just replace them – especially given the age of the bike and that I knew it was an original tube.

The info you will need to get a replacement tube is on the side of the tire (not the tube). You may see the  ETRTO (European Tire and Rim Technical Organization – or ISO) number marked as XX-YYY where XX is the tire’s inner width and YYY is the inner tire diameter. On this Schwinn, it is 40-622.

You may also see an older French sizing that is marked something like AAAxBBm. AAA is the approximate tire outer diameter and BB is the width. There will be a letter at the end “m” is the inner diameter. I ike the ERTO method better – it just makes more sense to me. At any rate, the Schwinn had this code also: 700x38C.

Okay, so armed with that info, I hopped on Amazon and started reading reviews. I didn’t want to buy a cheap tube and have it give out prematurely so I looked at Schwalbe – an old name in German inner tubes. I also used their website to confirm the size I needed – their AV17 model. which fits 700x38C, 28×15 or 40-622 tires and has a Schrader air valve. I bought two because if the one was aging, which was my suspicion, I bet the other was as well.

Tip: If you are in the US, you will want a tube with a basic Shrader Valve to inflate your tube. This is the most common type of valve and you will find it on cars, trucks, tractors, and so forth sold in America – it’s nickname you may hear in other countries is the “American Valve” for that reason. There is another type known as a “Presta Valve” and it is unique. Only buy a tube with that type of valve if you know you need it. There is a third type called the “Woods Valve” or “Dunlop Valve” but that tends to only be in the Netherlands and parts of Asia.
Schwalbe AV17 tubes are the right size.

Last comment – there are a ton of bike tubes on Amazon and at stores. There are also different types such as ones that are self-sealing, etc. The choice is up to you, your budget and whether you mind changing the tubes or not. Since my daughter is not readily available and the bike is a big help to get at school, I spent $14 per tube vs. $5-6/tube for tube-shaped objects that may or may not hold up. Read the reviews and you decide.

Replacing The Tube

There are how-to videos out there you can watch if you want. Basically if the tube is already flat, you pull the tire off the rim a side at time. You can use a blade screw drive to help get it started off the rim but I find most of the time if I push the tire away from me while lifting off the rim, I can get it started and then just work my way around. The old tube should just lift right out of the tire unless it stuck due to glue or something from a past patch.

Note, if there is no inner tube on your bike, you have a tubeless tire and the leak may well be in the tire itself.

A nice part of the design is that you can pull the rear tire without having to remove the derailer. Back in the dark ages, that was not the case so you wound up with some really dirty hands.

Before you install the new tire, look at the rim and make sure there are no spokes protruding into the area where the tube is at. Your rim should have either have something rubbery to protect the tube glued in place or at least some type of tape. They sell protective inner tube pads or you can even try putting in 2-3 layers of PVC electrical tape. If you go the tape route, you will need to cut a hole for the inflation tube to stick out.

To install the new tube, put in the tire. Yes, put it in the tire – not on the rim. It’s designed to fit the outside diameter of the tire and will not fit otherwise. So, tuck it into the tire and then push the air valve through the hole the rim. A perk of using Schwalbe tubes is that they have a lock nut you can snug down to hold the tube in hole.

You then tuck the tire into the rim. Depending on the fit, you may need to do a side at a time or be able to do both at once. Take care not to pinch or cut the tube.

A trick I learned years ago is to partially inflate the tube and then gently bounce it all the way around to try and ensure the tube is not caught between the tire and the rim. Not everyone does this so it’s up to you. I then bring it up to pressure and re-install it. I check the air pressure a few hours later to make sure it’s sealed and no punctures happened.

Again, because I suspected the age of the tires was the culprit, I did both tubes. It’s up to you.

Here’s the finished rear.

Videos

In case you have questions, here are some videos that others have created and posted on Youtube that demonstrate how to remove and install inner tubes:

Conclusion

I hope this helps you out when it comes to the tubes.

thought I was done and then I felt the cranks were grinding horribly. That bugged the heck out of me because I knew it meant to bearings were history and that will be the topic of the next blog post.


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.