Category Archives: Fixing Stuff

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.


NOCO Boost Jump Starter Batteries for Cars and Trucks Are Totally Worth It

So I went out to move my wife’s 2000 Camry with a V6 engine. It had been sitting for about a month, it was about 20 degrees outside and, of course, the battery had discharged enough that it wouldn’t turn the car over – I could hear the solenoid click and the starter would just begin to crank and then stop. Great…..

In the old days, I would have wheeled my truck or tractor over with jumper cables, given the battery a bit of a charge and the started the car. Starting some years back, I started using various battery backs with jumper cables – man do they come in handy.

I’ll tell you though, I had a bad experience with four DB Power 1200 battery packs. I wrote about them back in February 2019 and it’s interesting that I can see people searching my blog 2-4 times per month about why their DB Power pack will no longer work. Don’t buy one is all I can tell you.

What was my go-to unit with my wife’s car and in general now? A Noco Genius Boost GB40 1000 amp starter. I’ve used it to start our lawn tractor, my 1996 Land Cruiser, her car once or twice — it’s reliable and it works. I fished it out of another car where it had sat for a month in the cold and it started her car no problem.

This is my GB40 jump starter – I bought it and a storage case to protect it when bouncing around in our vehicles. It has never failed me. I do get it out before a long trip and charge it just to be safe but it’s never empty and it has always worked when I needed it.

I bought the GB40, a storage case and the combination is always with us when we go on trips. They certainly make other models as well so you can pick the combination of size and price that works for you. For our regular cars and trucks – the GB40 has worked just fine. I definitely recommend the Noco products.


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.


Recharging The R134A Refrigerant In A Glacer Bay VWD5446BLS-2 Water Cooler

Years ago we invested in a water filter unit that sits on top of a regular water cooler. This lets us have clean good tasting cold water – at least it did until about a year ago. My wife was the first to notice that the water wasn’t getting as cold and finally it got to the point where it was only just a tad cool first thing in the morning. Because this thing was older, my first thought was that it was low on refrigerant because we’d had this happen before with old fridges.

Refrigeration systems are sealed but over time the seals age and slowly the refrigerant leaks out. At some point, there isn’t enough left to effectively cool whatever it is in questions – a fridge, freezer or a water cooler.

So, step one was to pull the cooler out and look at the manufacturer’s sticker on the back. Glacier Bay is a Home Depot house brand – no surprise there. The refrigerant used was R134A – definitely needed to know that, which was nice because I keep R134A around for use on cars. The sticker also told me the unit was made back in September of 2014 — yeah, this thing was just over six years old and we bought it new way back when.

This is the manufacturer’s sticker off the back of the unit.

Note: If you need R134A refrigerant, go to your local discount car parts store. Odds are you can get a can cheaper there than mail ordering one.

Now there’s one thing I have learned – do some research on things that need to be repaired before you make the wrong assumptions and really screw things up. Boy, I’m glad I did that in this case because these small refrigeration units work at way, way lower pressures than a car or truck.

Watch this great video

What helped me out the most was an amazing video that a fellow put together about how to recharge small fridges. It was exactly what I needed to know and I only made a few small adjustments to his recommendations:

What I did

The first thing I had to figure out was how to get to the low pressure line to attach the bullet valve. While you may think to come at it from the back, which was my first thought, it will be a nightmare. It turns out that you remove the water tray by pulling it straight out and you are then looking at the one screw you need to remove to then pull off the front lower cover – voila – you are looking right at the lines.

Pull the water drip tray straight out and you will see that single philips screw in the middle. Remove it and then the front metal cover pulls off. You are then looking right at the low pressure line – it will be the one that is cool and/or wrapped in insulation.

I got my bullet valves off Amazon and you definitely need to back off the valve or it will pierce the line when you clamp it on. The gentleman mentions it in the video and I just want to reinforce you better make sure it is backed off.

This is the way the tap looks when I first disassembled it for installation. You can see the hardened steel point is extended. If you don’t first use the supplied hex wrench to back the valve out, this point will pierce your copper line while you are trying to install the valve and you don’t want that.
Seriously, this is a wickedly simple elegant valve. Everything you need to tap into the line is there with the exception of using sand paper or a brillo pad to clean any oxidation off the copper line where the piercing tap and the green rubber o-ring seal will go.

The line you need to attach the valve to has the insulation on it. I slid the insulation out the way, installed the valve assembly so it was just barely snug and then did the final positioning so I had easy access to the valve hex screw and could also attach the refrigerant line.

I moved the valve around until I found a good spot for it where I would have easy access to the valve screw where the hex head wrench is in the photo and also be able to easily get to the refrigerant line. Make sure your copper line is clean. I’d recommend using very fine sandpaper to make sure there’s no oxidation that will interfere with the seal.

The compressor was drawing a vacuum and it appeared to be working and holding the vacuum so I did not use a vaccum pump to draw down the whole system. For me, this worked.

The fellow mentioned these things run at 1-3 PSI on the suction side so I opted to slowly fill it until it was at 2 PSI. Note, I did purge my manifold line before I opened the valve so as to get rid of any air first.

Now when I say slowly fill, I would add a bit with the cooler’s compressor running and then wait a few minutes to see what happened. I did this over and over for almost 30 minutes until the pressure gauge read 2 PSI. Don’t try to do it all in one step.

This is the Master Cool model 66661 air conditioning manifold gauge set that I use on cars and the low-pressure blue side started with a low enough marked increments on pressure and vacuum to work. You can definitely use what the fellow has in the video – I just used what I had. The red hose was not needed in this case.
The blue gauge shows vacuum in inches of mercury (In Hg) colored green down in the lower left and then it switches to pressure in PSI in black above the 0. Again, you just need 1-3 PSI and I stopped at 2.
The cooler is working great once again and it’ll be easy to add refrigerant again if needed.

In conclusion

It’s been two weeks and the water cooler is still working just great. I have a spare bullet valve should I need it but other than those, since I already had the gauge set and the R134A, the repair didn’t cost me anything. Even if I had gone with complete repair kit, it would have been cheaper than having a repair person visit.


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.


Going Nuclear on Mosquitoes – Awesome Affordable DIY Sprayer System

For whatever reason, maybe the really wet Spring, the mosquitoes have been horrible this year. For the first month or two of the season I was trying to use my M4 sprayer to apply the Talstar P Pro insecticide to combat them but they were still coming. Seriously, in the past the M4 sprayer and Talstar were a powerful combo and all but eliminated the damn mosquitoes but not this year. We did not have any standing water and they seemed to be coming from all of the vegetation that I could not reach with the M4’s relatively small spray pattern and reach. I needed to up my game.

The My 4 Sons M4 sprayer had worked well but it could not reach out far enough and with enough droplets to be effective this year. I still use the unit for smaller areas but it is now largely replace by the unit I’ll tell you about in this post.

My First Choice: Get a Tomahawk Fogger

My first thought was to get one of the big Tomahawk backpack foggers. Those things are amazing and can project an atomized fog of Talstar 40 feet horizontally and 25 feet vertically. It’s really wicked and my buddy John has one that he bought off Amazon. He uses it on his property and loves it. I looked at it and the unit is remarkably well made.

There was only one thing that stopped me – the weight. It’s 38 pounds empty. The tank can hold 3.7 gallons of mixed Talstar and water at about 8.3 pounds per gallon, which comes to 30.7 pounds. Add the two together and you get 68 pounds. I knew there was no way my back would be able to handle that load. John’s in way better shape than me and admits it is a heavy load.

So, even though it works amazingly well, I had to pass on it due to the weight. I find I have to think about these things as I get older. In case you want to get one, here’s the listing on Amazon:

Needed to Find Another Solution

I started researching other sprayers and foggers and ran into an unanticipated problem. It turns out that tons of businesses and people are buying these foggers to apply disinfectants to sanitize surfaces in response to COVID-19. Either units weren’t available or the prices were jacked up – mostly they just weren’t available and I bet part of that is disruptions in the supply chain causing supply shortages as well.

Crap.

The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Solution

The solution came from a surprising angle. I knew I needed a long reach and particles that could drift around. Literally, I woke up thinking of what might just work – have you ever used a power washer? They are essentially kicking out water under a ton of pressure using a tip at the end of the wand that adjusts the pattern. Therein was the idea. I need a something with pressure, was portable and would not cost a fortune and then luck entered the door.

This is the Ryobi RY120350 cleaner. The tip has three settings and I find 15 degrees to be best. The siphon hose has a quick connect that makes storing the unit easier. The One+ 18 volt battery is protected by a gasket sealed cover that snaps in place. I find I can almost spray 10 gallons before I need to swap batteries with a 4 AH battery. It can hold both the 6 and 9 AH batteries and they can do all 10 gallons.

At the beginning of the summer Home Depot and Ryobi announced the RY120350 Power Washer. It was a cordless power tool using one of ther 18-Volt One+ batteries. The pump could prime itself and could siphon water out of a bucket and spray 0.8 gallons per minute at 320PSI. I was hoping it would make it easier for my wife and I to wash cars and so forth without lugging out my big gas-powered 3,200 PSI pressure washer. Well, it turned out that the spray it generated was way too weak to do much of anything. By the way, I notice the listing now on HomeDepot.com says “Cold Water Cordless Power Cleaner” to probably admit it isn’t very strong. At any rate, it sat in the garage after initial testing for maybe 4-6 weeks but for whatever reason I held on to it.

Back to killing mosquitoes – I was thinking about how I could spray the Talstar out of a pressure washer pump and suddenly remembered the Ryobi unit and recalled it did kick out a better spray than the M4. I dug the Ryobi out, found the misplaced sprayer hose, set the sprayer tip to 15 degrees, dropped the siphon line into a pail of water, squeezed the trigger, let it prime and out came a great spray pattern!!!

It kicks out a really decent spray pattern at 15 degrees. I find the other two settings useless for this application – they are too weak.

Okay, the unit was never designed to be a insecticide sprayer and nobody has really used it for sanitizing because it is bulky and an odd configuration for that so guess what? It’s in-stock at most Home Depot stores and online for $79 + S&H — best of all, it kicks butt as a Talstar delivery system.

What did I do?

If you are concerned about the unit holding up, all I can tell you is so far so good. At $79, I’m really not worried about the unit wearing out. I have pumped at least 70 gallons of Talstar mix through the unit without any problem thus far but it did take some trial and error to get to where I am today.

So my first try was to drop the whole siphon unit into a 5 gallon bucket and moved it around by hand. Well, 5 gallons x 8.3 pounds per gallon comes in at 41.5 pounds and that got heavy plus it was sloshing around. I used a hole saw and put a hole in a lid with a rubber gasket and strapped it to a dolly. It still sloshed some out through the lid until the fluid level went down and the dolly made it way, way easier on my back. Some duct tape to cover the hole and seal around the hose solved that problem.

This is a 5-gallon Ace Hardware pail with a sealing lid strapped to an old dolly with a bungee cord. You can see all the long white siphon hose that comes with the Ryobi. You have a ton of tubing to work with. This worked better and when I sealed the top with duct tape it was solid but I wanted more capacity.
Safety Note
Insecticide is inherently toxic and you need to protect yourself. I wear gloves, usually a face mask (except for photos in this article), am very careful to watch the direction of the wind and take a shower with soap as soon as I am done. John, my buddy with the Tomahawk, wears painter’s Tyvek coveralls, goggles, rubber gloves and a respirator. John is taking the safest approach and what I want to stress to you is that you don’t want to coat yourself in this stuff as if it were water – it’s not. Follow the safety guidelines for whatever insecticide you decide to use and take precautions.

Coverage

So, the unit was proving itself but it was annoying to go refill the unit part way through the property. Our 1.5 acre lot is flat and bordered by a ton of brush and trees. I found that I could get really good coverage with 10 gallons of spray (1 oz Talstar to one gallon of water) and man could I nuke the brush and undergrowth. I could see the spray running off leaves and and stuff glistening wet.

Getting a Bigger and Better Tank

So, armed with the good results, I decided to get a 10 gallon tank. In searching online, it turns out there are a ton of vendors but only a few actual manufacturers. I went with a Act Roto-Mold model VT-10 10-gallon tank. I ordered it from Tank Depot and it arrived about a week and a half later.

By the way, the tank was $57.99 and shipping was $48.62! Ouch. None of the local farm stores had a tank that size in-stock otherwise I would have bought local. You can definitely just use a bucket if you want to — it worked fine for me in terms of reliability and performance. I just wanted to reduce the trips back to refill the tank.

In terms of weight, even though I was using a dolly, I didn’t want the unit to be a bear to pull. A 10 gallon tank weighs about 83 pounds when full. The dolly with a full 10-gallon tank is very “do-able” for me as I walk around the lawn pulling the unit.

Doing the Plumbing

One irritating thing was that the engineering drawings said there was a 3/4″ pipe fitting at the bottom. That fitting is actually 1″ so I had to return the PVC valve I bought and get the right size. Also, for whatever reason it is shipped lose. I had to tighten down the tank’s pipe fitting prior to installing the valve and other fittings.

Ryobi designed their hose nicely. It’s secured to the ends via fittings and it was very easy for me to remove their filter end and push it onto a 3/8″ barb fitting and secure it with a hose clamp. By the way, they do give you 20 feet of hose and I plan on going back and probably cutting it in half at some point. I velcro wrapped the extra to the dolly and it’s just way more than I think I need for this application. I’ll save the left-over of course just in case.

The Proline 107-135 is made from PVC and has 1″ female NPT fittings on both ends. It’s installed into the tank via a small male-to-male piece of PVC pipe. Bushings were used to step it down to a 3/8″ barb fitting that was used to connect to the supplied Ryobi siphon hose. It works great.
Note I turned the valve assembly to the side. As I pull the dolly along everything is at an angle so by having the outlet at the side more if the liquid can come out before sucking air. I did use a ratchet clamp to secure the tank to the dolly. It’s a lot of weight and I don’t want it shifting around on me. Quick comment – the Ryobi’s pump does need to prime so expect it to expel air until it draws liquid. Also, I used their same siphon hose to not constrain the pump.
It does a heck of a good job. Note I am spraying with the wind and letting it carry the droplets even further into the brush. Normally, I am wearing a face mask.
Let me show you a video of the spray pattern – it works great!!

Conclusion

Boy, am I happy with this set up. I spent about $300 on the sprayer, tank, strap and pipe fittings. The dolly is close to 20 years old so I am not counting that. I’ve put about 70 gallons of mix through the sprayer and used the tank system three times now. The combination of tank, dolly and Ryobi sprayer is fantastic and will be using it going forward.


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.


Upgrading A Char-griller Competition Pro Model 8125 Smoker For Use WIth Firewood

As a father’s day gift this year, my kids chipped in and bought me a brand new grill. My wife helped them hide it and together they surprised me. Man, that really touched me. I’ve had a Char-griller Super Pro 5555 grill for almost 10 years – we’re not exactly sure how old it is but it was rusting through in a number of spots. The kids know that I love to grill and decided to go in together to buy me a new 8125 Competition Pro Offset Smoker Charcoal Grill. I had made a few assumptions about that grill that didn’t quite turn out as expected but with a little bit of work I was able to make a grill I really like.

Eye catching packaging and it weighs a ton – 140 pounds.
My two daughters helped me assemble it. The size and weight of the components really make it a two person job.

My biggest problem has to do with my preference to cook with wood and not charcoal and some usability issues this created. Here are my observations after using this for a few weeks:

#1 – The 8125 was really designed with charcoal in mind and they say that right up front. It has a fairly small fixed gap between the grate that holds the charcoal and the expanded metal cooking grates. It would work for a layer or two of charcoal but not for wood.

You can see there’s not much room between the lower rage and the shelf that would hold the cooking grates. Note the expanded metal food grates sitting on the left end of the shelf.

#2 – The paint they put on the 8125 flat out burns right off. What in the world were they thinking? I’m sure this is why the manual says not to exceed 400F but come on. My old grill never did that.

Yeah, the junk paint came right off where it got too hot. We read this might be a problem so it was entirely a surprise but for the price they could have used a high temp paint.

#3 – The expanded diamond-pattern sheet metal is really thin and doesn’t help at all when it comes to transferring heat. I prefer a heavier grate that will help conduct heat to the food.

#4 – Maybe because I am using wood but I can’t seem to run the little smoker piece as well as the big section. Not a big deal but definitely an observation. I’m not even going to worry about this and save the little side smoker box for when I do really want to smoke stuff.

So what did I do?

In looking at the grill’s performance there were three things that I needed to do – retrofit it to use wood, replace the thin expanded metal cooking grates with cast iron and to use a high-temp paint vs. whatever stuff Char-griller chose very poorly to use.

Welded Fire Plates To Burn Wood

Okay, my old grill had a relatively thin sheet metal cradle that you could raise and lower to adjust the heat. The nice thing was that I could lift it out and dump the ash. What was real important is that is shielding the bottom from the burning wood. I really wanted that.

I bought some 14 gauge mild steel and cut it into strips. I did the wings at 4″ and the base at 5″ wide. If I had it to do over, I would have done the base still at 5″ wide but the wings at about 4-1/2″ to get a tad closer to the shelves that are tack welded from the maker. You could go in with a cutting disc, cut the tacks and remove the lower shelf supports really easily if you wanted to. I decided to just leave them.

Laying out the 14ga sheet metal to cut my fire plates. The straight edge helps me make clean cuts with my Hpertherm Powermax 45 plasma cutter. I could have used a cut off wheel too but at this thickness, a plasma cutter is nice and fast. I tend to spend more time setting up than I do actually making the cut.
I’m always impressed by how fast the plasma cutter goes through steel. Wow. The Powermax 45 is nice and straight forward. Amperage, air flow is indicated on the top right and the bottom three position toggle is for the type of cut you are doing.

Yes, I did think about doing more strips because the grill’s bottom is round. That would have let me follow the contour even more closely but I just wanted to keep it simple. If I were to go this route, I would cut the strips such that they came close to 14-15″ across or whatever you want really.

To form the angles, I actually took a simple short cut. I did three small tack welds to hold the plates together – one at each end and one in the middle. I then took the assembly to the grill and pushed/whacked it into place. This caused the sides to bend up and I got just the angle I wanted with the base plate centered. I then removed the unit and did the final welds all the way around.

Here are the two raw plates. My next step was to paint them with 2000F paint – yes, there is such a thing.

Now the interior length of the grill is about 40-3/4″. The 14ga sheet metal I bought was 24″. I thought about cutting and welding the sheet metal but instead decided to let the two pieces simply overlap in the middle.

There are rivet nuts installed at each end of the grill to hold the legs. These stand that plates off from the bottom of the grill at each end. I put a spare piece of folded 14 ga sheet metal in the middle to lift the plates off as well.

Yes, Virginia, there really is a 2000F heat resistant paint. This Rust-oleum High Heat paint is really interesting stuff and has a staged heating protocol you will need to follow to get the best temperature resistance.
I first sprayed the plates down with brake cleaner to degrease them and put on rubber gloves to avoid contaminating them with oil from my skin. Boy, they got hot in the sun and dried really fast. There are four coats on each side of the
I then installed the two plates into the grill. Next up was to load wood into the smoker unit and heat the grill up following Rust-oleum’s prescription.

Here’s what Rust-oleum recommends in case you have access to a big enough curing oven: “Bake at 400°F (204°C) for 30 minutes and allow 30 minutes to cool. Bake at 600°F (315°C) for 30 minutes and then allow 30 minutes to cool. “

In my case, I loaded the smoker up with wood and used it to heat the grill. I’d open both dampers and hit the recommended temp for at least the allocated time and then close the both dampers to smother the fire and let it cool down. My thinking, and time will tell if I am right, is that you need to hit the target temperature for bonds to be made and then cool down sets them — at least that’s what I think is happening. If it all flakes off then my assumptions will be proven flawed.

Note, I did install new grill plates and baked them at the same time so let’s talk about them next.

Bought Quality Cast Iron Grill Plates

Alright, the expanded metal cooking plates really are a joke. I’m sure they made sense to someone looking to cut cost but you really want a nice thick metal to sear meet and also to evenly spread the heat. My old 5555 grill had cast iron and they really did a nice job. Based on that, I really wanted to upgrade to heavy cast iron.

I did a lot of digging and hit on the perfect cast iron cooking grates on Amazon. These things are amazing!

The replacement cast iron cooking grates I ordered off Amazon fit perfectly. They are very thick and heavy, which will help cook food evenly.

The grates are Vicool model 7526s and measure just over 17-1/8″ deep and about 11-7/8″ wide and almost a 1/2″ thick — they are heavy! The grates come two per package and this meant I would need to order two sets to go the length of the grill.

The inside of the smoker has tabs to limit travel of the grates they installed. I could set in three complete grates. For the last grate, I marked where I needed to cut it and used a grinder with a cut off wheel to cut the last piece to size and drop it in. Since I don’t grill to the far left, that’s where I put the partial piece. It really turned out nice — I am very, very happy with these grates and definitely recommend them (the link is above or click here for the Amazon page).

I used a cut off wheel on my Dewalt 4.5″ grinder to quickly and easily cut the piece off the last grate. I cut the piece slightly too big and then sanded it down to fit perfect. Since I will need to remove the grates too add more wood, I wanted them to not slide all over the place but also easily lift out when hot and the metal has expanded.

One last comment, these grates are heavy. You will need a tool to move them out of the way when they are hot. I bought the following tool – it’s well made and up to the task.

Started Touching Up With Ruse-Oleum High Heat Ultra Spray Paint

The paint that Char-griller put on a supposed competition-grade smoker sucks. I’m not going to mince words – somebody made a very, very poor design decision. Yes, in their documentation they say not to go over 400F but why the low limit? Of course the cooking chamber or the side unit will go past that.

Rust-oleum High Heat Ultra is perfect for replacing the OEM paint that will literally curl and come off your grill.

Dealing with it is a nuisance but not hard and there is a good paint to use to do the touch ups. Rust-oleum High Heat Ultra comes in a semi-glass black version that works great. I use a wire brush wheel on my cordless drill to remove the loose paint and then apply 3-4 coats of the High Heat Ultra. Let it dry for at least an hour and then heat it up to 400F to cure it. Note, they do not recommend it for direct contact with flames which is why I used the 2000F paint mentioned above on my fire plates.

I use a wire brush in my drill to remove the curling original paint. It’s happening less and less now that the high-heat areas have largely shed the original paint.

So far, this paint has held up with no problems. When ever the original paint curls back, I wire brush it and apply the High Heat Ultra. It’s annoying but I don’t feel like using a chemical stripper to remove all the old paint so I just keep doing this over and over.

If you have a BBQ or grill that you want to touch up, this stuff rocks and you’ll see why so many people recommend it.

A Cover

I do want this grill to last so I bought a cover that fits it pretty well. It’s made by iCover and is intended to fit 60″ offset smokers. I bought it due to reviews and wanted to save some money compared to the Char-griller cover and am happy with what I got. We’ll see how it holds up over time including Michigan winters.

Hint: Break In The Grill

If you don’t break in your brand new grill, you run the risk of your food tasting funny not to mention eating some chemicals you really shouldn’t be. Before you use a grill to cook food, get it good and hot – 350-450F and hold it there for at least a half hour to get rid of paints, oils and what not. For example the 8125 came coated in some kind of oil or corrosion protection agent that needed to burn off. After that, I close the dampers and let a good coating of smoke go around and coat stuff inside and let it all cool down. After that, you ought to be ready to use it for cooking.

I’m seasoning the grill here. You can’t tell from the angle but there is over 6″ from the bottom of the grill to the wood. I’d stocked it up more than normal to season the grill and to get ready for cooking out that night. I split oak and maple from our property for cooking with plus whatever else my buddy John gives me such as cherry and hickory. The cherry is simply amazing to cook with.

Conclusion

My kids really surprised me this year. They knew my old grill was on its last legs and really wanted to get me something nice. They were way more upset than I was when the paint started coming off and that it really couldn’t handle the wood I wanted to burn. To be honest, the 8125 is a pretty good platform to make improvements on because they did use relatively thick sheet metal in the construction. You can take the base 8125 and make it do just what you want – that’s what I did and I honestly had some fun working out the details. I am thrilled with the result and want my kids to know they are awesome!!

I have a nice bed of coals going on and am getting ready to do hotdogs the night of July 4th. It did a great job. Those thick cast iron grates do an awesome job of helping to both sear and cook the meat evenly thanks to their ability to conduct heat and thermal mass.
It did a great job on this chicken. The thick grates seared the meat and I could dial in the temperature right where I wanted it.
Pork steaks too!


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.