Tag Archives: DIY

An Excellent Garage Door Pulley Replacement Is Available on Amazon

Folks, I have a really heavy garage door – I don’t know the exact weight but it uses springs rated for a 400 pound door – that much I can tell you . Some years back I replaced the pullies with two units I got from Home Depot. They did last maybe three years (I’m not exactly sure how long but it wasn’t very long relatively speaking) and then the door started jamming and the cable was jumping the pulley so I needed to get some replacements. Note, I was only having a ton of trouble on one side but garage door pullies are best replaced in pairs.

I got a good look at the pulley and it was fried. For whatever reason, I did not get a picture of it before I threw it in the trash. The pulley was bent away from the axle, the bearing were very loose and the outside lip of the pulley that should hold the cable in place was bending/rolling outward and no longer retaining the cable – no wonder there were constant problems.

So, I first went to Home Depot and was not impressed. I then started reading on pullies on Amazon and found the units I am now running. They are amazingly more beefy than what our local Home Depot had.

The sides of the pulley are stampings but they are made from heavy gauge steel and the groove in the pulley is deeper than what I originally had.
The bearings turn smoothly and there is no play. I was very impressed.

If you are looking for a new 3″ diameter pulley that uses a 3/8″ bolt to mount, I’d definitely recommend these. There’s a good reason they have almost five stars with 158 reviews.

Installation

I’m to the point where anything that is easy really makes me happy. This was really easy. I’ll tell you what I did for my door and your design may require different or additional steps.

  1. I opened the garage door to remove the tension on the cables.
  2. I worked on one pulley at a time.
    • I removed the cable from the pulley
    • Used one wrench to hold the nut in the back and a socket in the front to remove the old pulley (it was a wreck)
    • Installed the new pulley along with the shackles to keep the cable in place just in case – that means running the bolt through the assembly and back into the hole on the garage door’s wall frame.
    • Put the cable back on the pulley
    • Sprayed Teflon dry lube on the bearings. I don’t like oil as it collects dust and dirt but that’s just me.
  3. Moved stuff out of the way
  4. Tested the door
  5. Done
You can see the new pulley mounted on the frame. The powdery look is the Teflon dry lubricant. I moved the shackle around some to try and figure out where it might do the best to keep the cable from jumping out. The pulley’s groove is so deep that I honestly don’t think it matters in my case but it is there for added insurance.

Conclusion

Happy to report that these are rock solid replacements – it came as a pack of four so I have two for the future as well – if I ever need them. I’m very happy with the results – the door opens and closes very smoothly and the cable no longer jumps the pulley. It’s also much quieter I notice.


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.


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.


What To Do When Your Highlander’s Battery Is Dead And the Remote Power Door Locks Will Not Unlock?

My wife and I ran into a first for us – she went to unlock our 2008 Toyota Highlander and it wouldn’t unlock with either remote. Yeah, I figured the battery was dead as we hadn’t run it for maybe two months due to the pandemic crap. We put it on storage and I really hadn’t thought about the battery … until the doors wouldn’t unlock.

How to get in the highlander with just the key fob?

Okay, I tried both key fobs and my wife was right – no sounds of any kind came from the Highlander. There was a key slot in the door so I figured Toyota must have had some kind of plan. We bought the car… truck… thing, used and never needed to get in manually until now.

I knew with other keyless cars that I had seen in the past there was a backup key that could flick out of the fob so I took a close look at the fob for the Highlander. There was a small rectangular button on the side with the image of a key on it.

I pushed on it and nothing happened. I then looked at the attachment where the key ring connected and noticed it looked really beefy. The button wasn’t the key, it was a rocker that unlocked the key to pull out.

There’s the release button right there. Push on the circular dot for that end of the release to push in.
So push the dot in and pull from the end and the key slides right out of the end with your key ring.
So there’s your skeleton backup key. Just reverse the operation to push it back in.

Not Home Free – Expect to Lubricate the Lock

Okay, I saw one key slot in the driver’s door and thought I was home free. Nope. Wouldn’t turn. Not only that, there were no other key slots because I thought I would try another one.

There’s the one manual key slot to the right of the handle. You do not want to break your little key off in there.

Okay folks, piece of advice here from past mistakes – don’t crank on the key or you will break it and then you are completely out of luck and will need to pay a ton to get help. I busted a key in college trying to do just that and had to enter from the passenger side and slide across for almost a year before I could afford to have the door fixed.

Push the red tube all the way to the back of the lock and start spraying as you pull it out. Why that way? I tend to find I make less of a mess. I am still standing their with a towel to wipe up the black goo as it runs out. I sprayed and tried the key three times. After the third spray and testing, the mechanism freely turned. This stuff works great for sticking door and ignition key cylinders by the way. I keep it in stock.

So, if the key will not turn, spray lubricant in the slot. You will get a ton of conflicting advice on the Internet. What I have always used is Lock-Ease. Put the little red tube on the nozzle and hose down the inside of the key slot starting as far back as you can. Try and turn the key. If it still will not turn then spray it again. What I have found is that most of the time things turn fee with the first try and almost always by the third. I think the solvent that is carrying the lubricating graphite helps free up what is sticking and then the graphite takes it from there.

Okay, so the door was open and now I could open the hood. The battery read 0 volts – empty and introduced a new hurdle.

Why Smart Chargers Aren’t Always

So this takes us to the topic of smart chargers. The designers built in all kinds of safe guards including the need for a voltage to be present before they start. I really like my NOCO Genius chargers and was using one of the G26000 models. Here’s what I tried:

  • Just attached the charger – it would not switch to charging
  • Went to boost mode – it would sense the lack of voltage and switch off
  • I tried turning on the 5A 12 volt supply mode and that was just enoug to make the security system chirp and reset over and over.

So much for the easiest ones. That meant I needed to try and trick the charger. I brought my Landcruiser over and connected good old jumper cables to start charging the “dead” battery and also hooked up a digital meter. It showed the alternator was cranking out 14.09 volts and as soon as I disconnected the positive cable from the Landcruiser, the meter showed the volts dropping down through 13 volts down into the 12s and so forth over the space of a few seconds.

Now this is the trick, for about 5-7 seconds the “dead” battery would appear to have enough juice for me to connect and start the NOCO. So, I staged stuff and had the gear ready to go, disconnected the positive jumper cable from the Landcruiser, safely moved it out if the way and quickly attached the NOCO charger and it started charging. I jumped the dead battery just enough for it to show a charge to the NOCO that then turned on and did the rest.

I really like the NOCO G26000 charger and definitely recommend it and their other chargers. Here. the battery is past 50%. It just so happens my camera caught the flashing 75% light while it was illuminated.

After about 12 hours the battery was fully charged and I then set the NOCO to repair mode to desulfinate the plates. The battery appears to be okay and we’ll see what it looks like come this fall when the temperatures start cooling off — the colder it is the harder it is for batteries to work and the marginal ones fail.

Lessons Learned

First, I now know where the spare key is. Second, I plan to hook up my smaller NOCO G7200 charger and run the cable under the power out of the hood so I can periodically top the battery off. Modern vehicles have a ton of electronics in them so I am not overly surprised it ran out of juice.

I hope this post helps you out!


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


Do It Yourself Resources For Protective Face Masks – Use Shop Towels!!

Everyone is scrambling for face masks to protect themselves and it makes perfect sense. On one hand we want to protect ourselves and our loved ones and on the other, we don’t want to spread the illness either. At this point, if you are going to the store or other area with people, you really should be wearing a mask. Particles will float in the air and that is bad news for everyone.

The recent CDC guidance to wear face masks seems to be mainly aimed at capturing droplets from the wearer so as to not infect others. It’s not really aimed at protecting the wearer from inhaling. I would recommend you do some reading about what amazing people are figuring out in terms of making your own personal protective face masks using shop towels and other materials. In general, if you can see light readily through it, such as a basic T-shirt or bandanna, you really aren’t stopping anything. I’d like to help improve your odds and want to share some resources with you.

  • A study found that denim, 80-120 thread count bed sheets, paper towel, canvas and shop towels are the top 5 materials for face masks combining both filtering and breathability.
  • There is a new material called “Filti” that can hit N95 filtration that you can buy. Click here to learn more.

Buy the shop towels at stores such as home improvement, hardware, automotive and industrial supply stores. Blue shop towels are *not* regular kitchen towels. If you try to buy them online they will likely be insanely expensive. You will probably pay $3-4 from a store for a roll with 50 sheets. They often come in single rolls, doubles, six packs, 12 packs and boxes. Don’t go nuts and hoard them please.

The following are shop towelas and 1/16″ bungee/elastic cord for making masks at Amazon

The following is a great how-to video. By the way, the accordion folds help with fit and increase the surface area which will make breathing easier. The larger the surface area then the easier air flows.

By the way, there are tons and tons of designs as media and bloggers share advice. Google and read by all means – educate yourself. Always ask – does this make sense? Also remember that you need to both be able to inhale as well as exhale.

Quick test to see if your mask has any chance of helping you – Dr. Gady Abramson

Cleaning Face Masks For Re-Use

With face masks, assume they are contaminated when you remove them with your hands. Immediately wash your hands and do not rub your eyes, touch other surfaces, etc.

Now, you can disinfect these things and other PPE using an oven. Heat them to 70C/158F for 30 minutes. Be sure not to touch other surfaces around your oven. Clean all surfaces just to be safe.

Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer

We now have a blog post with lots of information and videos for you – click here.

Disinfecting Surfaces

Lastly, are you running out of disinfectant to clean surfaces? Use bleach and water.

I hope this helps you out – we’re all in this together.

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.

Photo of people wearing surgical masks in Hong Kong is from Wikipedia. Posted By Studio Incendo – DSCF2199, CC BY 2.0


Research On Home Made Pepper Spray – Tread Carefully. Something Reliable and Effective Is Not As Easy As You May Think.

Up front, please let me stress that this post if for informational purposes only. The author will not be liable if you decide to attempt to make or use pepper spray. You assume all liability going forward.

Please abide by all laws and regulations in your area – it is illegal to possess pepper spray in some places let alone use it.

Last but not least, please follow safe practices if you choose to attempt making pepper spray.

Pepper spray irritates the eyes, lungs and skin. The intent is to cause extreme temporary discomfort and allow the defender a chance to get away or the police officer to more easily restrain a subject. The reason I researched and wrote this post is that a number of people are worried about personal and family safety and how to ward off attackers given the craziness with people panicking over COVID-19.

For one reason or another, not everyone can buy a firearm and. thanks to government regulation, many law abiding citizens can’t even purchase pepper spray. Now, machining a firearm and its costs are beyond many but making pepper spray is something people might want to consider but there are a whole lot of potential issues I want you to think through before you make some home brew and pour it in a spray bottle.

What is pepper spray anyways?

As you can guess from the name, the main ingredient is technically known as oleresin capsicum (OC) is derived from peppers. OC is an oily organic resin obtained from finely ground chili powder where the capsaicin of the pepper is removed using an alcohol – typically ispropyl or ethanol. The capsaicin is most concentrated in the parts of the pepper that hold the seeds and the rest of the pepper to a lesser extent.

The following video does a great job explaining how pepper spray affects the human body and how it is made:

How do you make a pepper spray?

Do not rub your eyes and be careful breathing any airborne powders or liquids. I’d recommend wearing nitrile gloves, eye protection and a dust mask – even a basic nuisance dust one.

Please abide by all laws and regulations in your area and follow safe practices if you choose to attempt making pepper spray.

Let me tell you up front that I am not incredibly impressed by anything I have read or watched. Do you research and be very, very careful.

The “heat” of pepper varieties is measured by the Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The SHU value of a given pepper is measuring the concentration of capsaicinoids, which is premoninantly capsaicin – the part of the pepper we need. So, the higher the Scoville rating, the hotter the pepper is and the stronger the pepper spray will be.

The above is a Scoville Scale with popular peppers rated. You can see that Cayenne is in the middle with some god awful hot ones at the top.

Note – Focus on the peppers not some of the weird home brews folks are making where they are adding in other ingredients because they seem to be irritants based on their own past experience – for example, people adding salt, black pepper and even curry.

Going back to peppers, bear in mind that commercial pepper sprays range from 2-5.3 million SHU. Just because you think Cayenne pepper (30-50,000 SHU) or a Jalapeno (2,500-8,000 SHU) is hot does not mean it is adequate. You need to be thinking about the hottest peppers you can find and using them. Let me give you specifics of the 10 hottest peppers

Safety comment – you do need to realize pepper sprays made by the hot peppers over 80,000 SHU are dangerous and may cause permanent damage to eyes, etc. You better not spray this hot stuff on anyone without real good cause and be extra careful working with them!

With the god awful hot peppers, I have no idea how you can safely test your concoction. Honestly, at some point of capsaicin concentration, you are going to cause chemical burns. If you are trying to make liquid hell, you have some very dangerous stuff going on. Please don’t test it on other people, pets, animals, etc.

First extraction video

This gentleman does a good job showing you how to extract the the capsaicin that we need. Note, he uses acetone but I’d recommend an alcohol as it is less volatile and doesn’t dissolve anywhere near as many varieties of plastics as acetone does. There’s solid guidance other than that.

Video Two – The author makes and tests his pepper spray

This fellow both made his own pepper spray and then tests it while reporting the results. Notice how he points out the delay — keep that in mind.

Some mistakes I noticed during my research

When you look around on Youtube and reading blog posts, there are a lot of fundamental mistakes that people make that I want you to be aware of:

  • Your goal is to make a concentrate – start with the hottest pepper you can find
  • You need to extract the capsaicin so grind up the pepper – don’t just add flakes.
  • Focus on the pepper!! Folks adding in other stuff may sound cool but I am not convinced curry powder, salt, black pepper, etc. will help. One fellow even added in a pain killer (lidocain) for reasons I can’t begin to fathom.
  • Use a ton of powder/ground pepper. You want to make a concentrate and not something really diluted. Now is not the time to go cheap.
  • Use alcohol and not acetone unless you know your plastic can handle it – many household/cheap plastics can’t.
  • Allow the alcohol time to dissolve the capsaicins from the peppers. Use a sealed container and give it at least 12 hours to a day while shaking or stirring periodically. A sealed container makes the most sense to me unless you want the solvent to evaporate off and make a concentrate, which is a legitimate consideration.
  • You definitely need to strain the resulting mixture. Any type of sprayer will be at risk of clogging if there are solids in the liquid. The folks with a stew of materials floating around in their dispensers are at risk of a clog just when they need the spray the most. I was really surprised at the number of authors who had dispensers with solid remnants floating around.
  • Nobody seems to know how long this stuff will last – 3 months might be a starting assumption. It’s not indefinite.

Delivery mechanism considerations

I’ve seen everything from squeeze bottles, to squirt guns to home made single shot stream sprayers. Consider the following:

  • whatever you select needs to be leak proof or you will have an awful mess.
  • You don’t want it accidentally going off in your purse or pocket … or you will have an awful mess.
  • If you do a charged can of some type – ensure the propellant doesn’t slowly leak out and/or have a means to recharge it. Even commercial units will slowly lose their propellant charge.
  • Remember to strain the liquid you’re going to use or floating solids will likely clog up your device — and probably when you need the spray the most. Seriously, it blew my mind how few did this.
  • You need to test to see how far the liquid can travel. In general you want a stream and not a fog both to concentrate delivery plus you do not want the person near you! Also, bear in mind that a mist will float around and land on others – potentially even yourself.

More resources

How to treat pepper spray / how to decontaminate

Okay folks, the following is so you know what to do if you get this stuff on you. The short answer is saline, non-mint antacid in distilled water in a 50/50 mix placed in a squeeze bottle to neutralize the chemical or some form of water and mild soap.

This is not magic or the movies – Beware

Reality is not like the movies – especially with home grown pepper sprays. Expect attackers to respond differently to pepper spray.. Some will immediately lose visibility and the will to fight, some may have a delay before the react and some will keep fighting no matter what due to drugs or whatever. Do not expect an attacker to magically drop to the ground.

The best way to win a fight is avoid the situation – don’t walk alone, avoid dark allies, stay alert, and so forth. View this stuff as a last resort or part of a layered defense that you have thought about.

Conclusion

Someone casually making pepper spray without a lot of thought put into it will likely have very mixed unsafe unreliable results. I didn’t find one video or blog post that I felt addressed my concerns for reliability so I collected the above for you to consider. If you can buy commercial pepper spray, I would highly recommend you do so.

The information presented here is for people who need protection and home-made pepper spray might be their last option. Do your research, plan and build with safety in mind. Last comment, don’t rely solely on pepper spray – consider other things like loud personal alarms, clubs, saps, fake money clips, take a self-defense class, etc.

Again, please, please be safe if you make anything discussed here. Also, be aware of any laws and regulations that are applicable. In some locales, pepper spray is treated virtually the same as a firearm and civilian use is strictly prohibited.

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 following are commercial pepper sprays if you can legally purchase them


How To Fix A Broken Vacuum Line Fitting on the Air Box or Air Filter Housing Of A 2008 Toyota Highlander And Other Models – It’s Easy and Cheap!

I’m going to leverage my inner Forrest Gump – used cars are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get. In this case, it was our 2008 Toyota Highlander. I decided to check the air filter just in case and noticed both that the vacuum lines had cracked and that someone had done a “creative” fix on a 4mm vacuum port that had snapped off.

So this vaccum line was just resting in the hole. There’s some white glue – maybe silicone and som odd metal insert.

If there’s one thing I have learned with modern computerized cars – don’t mess with their sensors or vacuum lines. You can get odd random codes thrown, lose performance, fuel efficiency, etc. So, I knew this needed to be fixed. The big problem – the vacuum fitting was cast into the airbox!! By the way, the air box is the car part that holds the air filter in this case – the air filter housing is another way of thinking of the part.

Let me start by telling you the expensive and time consuming way – buy a replacement air box. Yeah, this is going to cost you a bundle. A OEM Toyota air box will run you $275-400, used is about $100-185 and aftermarket tends to be under $60-90 and maybe iffy quality. Then there is the labor to do the actual swap – it’s going to either take your time or you are going to pay a mechanic to do it and the cost is going to go up fast. There is an easier and faster way.

My Recommended Approach

The magic fraction for today is 5/32″. Why? Because 5/32″ is almost exactly 4mm. If we get a small brass, aluminum or stainless barbed 5/32″ hose fitting with a threaded rear, we can easily fix this. I live in a rural area and this isn’t something I can easily walk into a hardware store and find so I did some searching for NPT to 5/32″ hose barb and found both 1/16″ NPT and metric fittings plus some were brass, aluminum and mystery metal. I discounted anything plastic/nylon because I wanted a stronger fitting.

Another reason I went with 1/16″ NPT is that it can fill a pretty big hole all by itself up to about 0.31″ given the taper plus I could then use a 1/16″ to 1/8″ bushing adapter if I needed to go larger.

After much digging around using Google and Amazon, I opted for an Aeromotive #15630 hose fitting made from 6061-T6 aluminum that I did order off Amazon. There was a no-name generic brass one but no spec so I didn’t go with it. By the way, searching for fittings like this really shows the limitations of general search engines to find parts. I spent a ton of time filtering through tons and tons of search results that turned up the wrong products. What a headache.

Aeromotive #15630 that has 1/16″ NPT thread on ne end and a 5/32″ hose barb on the other.

Installation

The first thing to point out is that the molded vacuum fitting is above the air cleaner so you can safely work on the box without removing it from the vehicle! Any debris from drilling or sanding will land on the filter and you can vacuum it out later. If you have a used car, peak inside and make sure the air cleaner is there and intact.

If you have just the old busted remains of the hose fitting to contend with then Dremel or sand the area flat. You want the installed barb to be able to sit flat against the wall of the box.

Next, pick a drill bit that is just the same size as the tapered bottom of the thread. NPT thread is tapered so the bottom has a smaller diameter than the top. If the air box was steel, we would use a letter “C” drill bit to make a 0.242″ hole. Notice how this is slightly smaller than 1/4″ but I am betting most people do not have lettered drill bit sets so you pick a close size and run with it. We do want the hole slightly smaller in order to thread it. Because this is plastic, we are going to push forward with the metal adapter fitting while turning and let the thread on the adapter cut the thread into the plastic. We aren’t going to bother tapping it first. That’s right – don’t buy a tap to do this uness you are a tool junky and perfectionist, which is fine if you are – I get accused of that a lot.

I’d recommend you start with a bit smaller than 1/4″ where the bit is slightly smaller than the bottom of the adapter, drill the hole and see if you can press it in. If not, go to a bigger bit. If you mess up and have a slightly too big hole, all is not lost – read the “Well crap” section below 🙂

Let’s say that everything goes great and you can screw the fitting into the plastic – Once threaded in, it’s done. Just screw it in and quit. Don’t put too much torque or you can strip it. That works just fine unless the previous guy bubba’d it, which takes us to the next part of the story.

Well crap….

In my case, I had a box of chocolates moment. The previous owner or a mechanic had drilled the hole out and installed some small metal bushing that was hidden due to the white silicone on it. I have no idea what it was from. Once I discovered and removed it, the hole in the air box turned out to be just a tad bigger than the entire 1/16″ tapered thread. Argh… not what I wanted to deal with.

Dear bubba, thank you for hiding this under the white silicone. You just made my fix a bit more complex but not impossible.

Okay, I wanted to get this job and had three options, go to the hardware store and try and find a 1/16 to 1/8″ bushing, install a 1/16″ NP threaded nut on the back to hold it in position, which I also did not have, or glue the hell out of it and call it even.

Because I am always working on cars and pressure systems due to Ronin’s Grips, did have a tube of black Permatex Optimum BlackGasket Maker that I could use. Being black, it wouldn’t be so glaringly obvious. By the way, I opted not to use epoxy due to the flexible plastic walls and expected vibrations that might break down the bond with time.

This is what I had on hand at the time and worked great. I could have used any quality black silicone RTV glue/gasket maker and gotten the same results. I tend to either have Permatex or LocTite brand products that I use the most.

First, I scuffed the surface around the hole with 100 grit sand paper so the glue could get a better grab on the surface. The second thing I did was to spray brake cleaner on the area to remove any trace oils that might prevent a good bond.

I was wearing nitrile gloves and also sprayed brake cleaner on the fitting to make sure it was clean. Gloves both keep your hands clean and also prevent you from getting oils from your skin on the parts — assuming the gloves are clean of course. Having a clean surface makes a HUGE difference in terms of how well any glue is going to stick.

Next, I applied a bead around the top of the NPT thread of the fitting and pushed it into the hole. Since I was wearing nitrile gloves, I just took a finger and smoothed the glue out a bit and let it cure for about an hour or so. You want it cured enough to hold the adapter in place – you don’t need it fully cured yet. With warmer weather it will cure faster and in cold weather it my take a long time and need a hot light or something to warm it up above 70F to get things done. Depending on what I am working on, I try to get somewhere between 60-110F. The warmer it is, the faster it will cure but don’t burn it or melt the plastic either!

This is the first pass. It’s not pretty but it will dry strong enough to hold the fitting in place while the second thicker coat is applied.

I then put a second layer of black gasket maker on and fanned it out to get a good grip and to securely hold the fitting. I then let this all cure overnight. I’ve learned long ago not to rush faster than what the adhesive’s manufacturer recommends or you are liable to ruin an otherwise good job.

Here is the second heavier coat this was meant to reinforce the part.

So, once it was fully cured I then needed to change the cracked vacuum lines which are what I noticed in the first place.

4mm Vacuum Lines

What got me started on all this in the first place was noticing that two 4mm vacuum lines were very cracked where they slid onto their respective hose barbs. This happens as rubber ages and gets brittle so finding them wasn’t surprising.

This is one of the ends that was badly split.

Fixing this is easy. You just need either real 4mm vacuum hose or 5/32 vacuum hose. You can either go with one formulated from rubber or more expensive silicone. The advantage to the latter is that it ought to last longer.

Because we own a number of aging Toyotas, I bought an assortment bag of metric sized silicone vacuum hose of Amazon some time ago. It comes with 4mm x 82″, and the 52″ lengths of 6mm, 8mm, and 12mm. It was expensive but now I have an assortment for when I need to repair small lines such as this case.

You can see the two pieces I replaced because the new silicone hose is shiny black and a thicker diameter.

Conclusion

Going this route saved us a ton hundreds of dollars and has held up just fine. I did this repair last fall and have not had a single problem. Yeah, the glue does make it a big of a bubba fix but it is revsersible and the fitting isn’t going to fall out. The black gasket maker has held the little barb in just fine and the hose is very supple and shows no wear at all. I hope this helps you out as well.


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How to Make An Affordable and Effective Heated Tank For Acid Etching – Part 1

I like to acid etch blades that I build using apple cider and/or ferric chloride. I also manganese park firearms and tools. Assuming the part is prepped properly, there are two common needs in all of the above – the part must be submerged and the solution heated. So you have two options, buy a stainless tank and heat source or build one using PVC pipe. These next couple of posts are going to dive into how you can build an affordable and very effective heated tank to finish you parts plus have some fun doing it.

PVC or CPVC?

We can use rigid PVC pipe as the container to hold the etching solution. It’s cheap, easy to find and easy to work with. I need to explain a few things first about what we can and can’t do with it.

In plumbing, rigid PVC pipe has an operating temperature of 140F degrees. The reason for this is that PVC is a thermoplastic and begins to soften with heat and will burst due to the pressurized water. We don’t have much pressure to worry about other than atmospheric pressure but you don’t want to push plain PVC towards 200F – it really isn’t designed for it.

If you want to do parkerizing at 190F, then you need to use CPVC pipe. CPVC rigid pipe has extra chlorination that allows it to withstand 200F while delivering water under normal household pressures. Fun trivia, CPVC was invented by Genova Products in Michigan.

If you are trying to figure out what you are looking at, if the pipe is white, it is probably PVC. If it is cream colored, it is probably CPVC. It ought to be labeled/printed on the side of the pipe also but be on guard for people putting stuff in the wrong bins at a store or clerks not knowing what is what.

In this post, I am working with regular PVC purchased from my local Ace Hardware because the tank is for acid etching knives and will the liquid will be 90-110F on average. If I ever build one for parkerizing, it would be in CPVC. The reason it’s an “if” is that I already have a big stainless steel parkerizing tank but it’s a headache to drag out and set up whenI need it.

The Parts List

Basically, we are going to build a tube with a cemented permanent cap on the bottom and a threaded cap at the top. You can go with any size you want. For most blades I work with, 3″ is plenty and I wanted it to be portable.

Let me give you a piece of advice – it’s aways better to be a little bigger than you think you need than to find that out later. When in doubt, make it wider and taller — within reason of course. Note, I knew a 3″ diameter and about 16″ tall would meet most of my needs but not all and I was fine with that. I’ll pull out my four foot stainless tank when I need to do something huge like a cleaver.

In terms of parts, you need the following:

  • A length of pipe of the diameter that is needed
  • A coupling for that size
  • A threaded adapter for that size – you cement it onto the end of the pipe and it gives you a national pipe thread on the other end
  • A threaded plug that fits into the adapter
  • An end cap of one type or another. If you use 3″ or 4″ pipe, you can use a toilet flange adapter to actually both plug the end and allow you to connect it to the wood if you aren’t making it very tall. I would be worried about torque on a tank with an overall length of 24″ or more. In those cases I would cement on a normal end cap and build up a crade around the pipe to support it.
  • You may want a drain for a big tank – I didn’t need one for this little unit because I can easily lift it even when it is full of the acid etching solution.
  • PVC cleaner and cement (note, PVC and CPVC use different cement)
  • Wood to form a base to keep the pipe from tipping over so it needs to be both wide and heavy enough. Really it’s up to you as to how you secure it to be vertical. I like a mobile base but you could tie it to something, etc.
  • A heating source and controller – we’ll get into more detail in the next post.

Weight Considerations and a Drain

Bear in mind that this tank can get pretty heavy if you plan on using really big piple (6″ or bigger). Water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon. You will find that other liquids can weigh more. Apple cider vinegar may be around 8.6 pounds and ferric chloride might weigh 10-12 pounds per gallon depending on the concentration.

I bring the weight up because if you are thinking of building a big tank, the weight is going to add up and you may want to install a drain near the base. There are two big reasons you need to think about this – you may want to move the unit around plus you will need to change the solution as it ages and breaks down from use.

This is my 3″ tank I just built. The toilet flange us availab;e for 3″ and 4″ pipe and is handy for smaller tanks. I’d build a cradle/surrounding frame to support a bigger tank.

The pictured tank is about 16″ tall with 3″ pipe and has about a gallon of 70% ferric chloride and 30% apple cider vinegar in it. I can move it around very easily and portability was one of my design goals.

Assembling The Pipe

PVC is really easy to work with. You cut the pipe to the length you want or have the store do it for you. I use a big miter saw for stuff like this to get nice square ends and use an airline to blow all the loose plastic out (wear safety glasses).

To “glue” the pipe together, you first prime the surfaces and then apply the cement. Note, PVC and CPVC use the same primer but different cement. In this case,I use Oatey’s purple primer and clear cement. Read the directions on their box just to make sure. Bear in mind the solvent is really thin and is going to run everywhere – especially in cold weather.

I’m a creature of habit. I’ve had very good luck with Oatey products so I stick with them. There are other brands out there such as Ace’s own private labled stuff, but I stick with Oatey to avoid surprises. When following their directions and using their products, I’ve not had a joint fail/leak yet,

The Base

To make the tank stable, you need a big enough base both in terms of area and weight. I had some old 1×12 stock that I chopped into squares and stacked if four deep for weight. You can do whatever you want and your goal is stability, however you get it.

I centered the flange on the first board and screwed it in. I’m not sure I would trust the flange to handle the potential torque of a long pipe. For me, once I get around 24″ overall, I am going to build a cradle and not subject that flange to a ton of stress.
I then applied epoxy and clamped the layers together. I was kind of experimenting as I went. Just one piece of wood wasn’t heavy enough so I then added the additional layers after. I could have glued the base and then used longer screws to secure the flange had I known more up front. I wound up with four layers of wood in the end.

I have another tank that is full of a boiled linseed oil an turpentine mix that I use for hydrating wood handles in khukuris and cleavers that I restore. It has a rounded end bap on the bottom and the base is more like a heavy cradle made up fo 2×4 lumber that gives it weight and then goes up the sides to provide support.

This is a 4″ pipe with a wood scaffold base. It’s very stable. This is a tankI use for moisturizing and treating long wood hanndles.

Summary

That’s it for now. In the next post we are going to talk about heating the tank. This is where I did the most experimenting and can share some ideas with 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.


How to Make An Affordable and Effective Heated Tank For Acid Etching – Part 2

In the last post, I covered the basic construction of the tank. In this post I want to talk about heating the tank. Thanks to mass production of digital temperature switches, you can build a digitally controlled heated tank for a very reasonable price.

Why Does Heat Matter?

In case you are wondering, heating the solution does matter. Years ago, in 1889, a chemist by the name of Svante Arrhenius proposed an equation that would later bear his name. Basically, a chemical reaction increases as the level of activation energy increases. The reason temperature enters in as that you are raising the energy in the liquid, more energetic particles are bouncing around and increasing the volume of reactions which means that more successful reactions will occur as well. We can use a rule of thumb that for each 10C increase in temperature, the reaction rate will double and for each 10C drop, it will be cut in half. To sum it up, cold=bad for chemical reactions. As a side note, this is also why marginal batteries fail when cold weather hits.

So what this means to acid etching is that in my cold unheated shop in the Winter, reactions are going to be real, real slow. Thus, I must have a way to heat the chemical and the submerged part to improve the reaction.

The Heating Element For The Tank

The first thing I wanted to do was to keep the cost down and the second was that I didn’t want something that would get so hot that it would melt the PVC. I had a 30 foot length of roof heating tape from when we cleaned out my dad’s garage that I had been thinking about for a while. It always makes me feel good when I use something that was my dad’s.

These roof heating cables use AC voltage to warm up and melt ice are readily availble and are designed not to get so hot that they melt the shingles but also are designed to be spread out and not right next to each other so I was going to need to test the design. I planned to wrap the tape from the bottom of the tank until I ran out cable with each coil right against the previous. I was counting on convection of move warmer fluid up and cooler fluid down but I wasn’t really sure how it would sort out.

Another nice things about these heating cables, or heating tapes, is that they do not use a lot of electricity. The 30 foot model my dad had was spec’d to draw only 150 watts at 12 volts. That makes for a nice portable unit that you can run off just about any extension cord.

So, step one, I applied the tape to the empty tank and secured it just with 3M 3340 aluminum HVAC tape. This is the tape made for higher temperatures with an aluminum foil backing – it’s not dcut tape. I then watched the temperature with my Fluke 62 Max IR thermometer. You need an accurate thermometer and the Fluke has served me very well – it’s proved itself to be accurate, reliable and durable – it’s been bounched around a lot in my shop.

So, the temperature slowly climbed but made it all the way up to 170F before I shut it down. The PVC still felt pretty good but it was way hotter than what I wanted. Just plugging the tape in and calling it done was not the answer. Sure it would heat the liquid up fast but I couldn’t safey leave it unattended. I needed something to control the temperature but use the heat tape.

Please note that there are pipe heaters that are a different creature. Some of them need to be submerged in water or wrapped around a steel pipe. Do not use those types of heaters. There are a ton of different names buy you are looking for the cable or tape that is put on roofs to melt ice dams, etc.

Solution – Use A Digital Temperature Controller

I thought I knew the switch I was going to buy until I did some further research. Some controllers are very easy to set up and others seem a bit more confusing. I opted for the WILLHI WH1436A Temperature Controller 110V Digital Thermostat Switch. All you do set set the temperature for ON and the temperature for OFF. That’s it. If you want them, there are some more advanced settings that you can explore if you want but this seemed like just what I needed.

I undid the top few coils of the heat tape and rewound them with the temperature probe wrapped in them. I then used aluminum HVAC tape to secure the top. I set ON to 90F and Off at 95F and plugged the roofing tape into the controller.

I inserted the temperature probe a few coils down and secured the top with 3M Aluminum HVACtape. Note the small cable clamp screwed into the wood base securing the bottom of the heater tape and preventing it from unwinding.

I started watching with the Fluke meter and since the temperature based on the probe was 40.2F, the controller turned on power to the switch and the tape heated. It did cut power around 95F but the tape continued to warm up even so by about 10F so the peak temperature was between 103-105F according to the Fluke. This was actually within my acceptable range. I was just ballparking 90F but even 105F was fine by me.

The digital controller works well. I’m going to leave it loose some I can move it around depending on what I am working on and were.

There was one minor hitch I noticed during experiments – the controlled heat took over an hour to warm up the fluid. If I unplugged the tape from the controller and plugged the tape straight into AC power, the fluid heated way faster and the pipe never felt soft – probably because the tape was heating part of it and the acid was cooling it. This was the fastest way but risky because if you forget, it’s going to get quite hot. I let the fluid get up to 160F during one run and decided that I would only do this if I was in a big rush and going to be there working the whole time. If I wanted to play it safe, letting the controller keep things safe was a better bet. I could have also sped things up by setting the OFF temperature higher, say at 110F and that’s something I will experiment more with.

The temperature controlled tank worked out great on these high carbon steel damascus blades.

Operating Temperature Range

Do not heat ferric chloride past 131F. Remember that the heating element will still heat the chemical another 10 degrees or so past the upper limit you set as OFF.

The operating temperature range from MG Chemical is 95-131F. Based on my results, I don’t see a need to push the upper limit.

Click here both for their technical sheet and MSDS sheet,

Conclusion

I had about $30 in the PVC and fresh glue, nothing for the base, the controller was $29.99 and the roof heat tape was free but if you bought it, the price would be around $30. This definitely falls in the affordable category plus I turned out some really cool etched damasus blades using the controlled tank. If you want to know a bit more about the chemicals and my process, click here.

When I was done, I let the tank cool down, screwed on the lid, cleaned things up, coiled the cords up and stored the tank for the next use.

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.