Tag Archives: DIY

How To Rebuild A Residential Diving Board

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

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

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

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

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

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

What went wrong with the board?

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

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

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

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

Wood and Fiberglass

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

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

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

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

Cleaning Up The Board and Preparing It

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

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

Preparing The Wood

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

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

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

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

Gluing The Board In Place

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drilled The Holes

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

Painting The Board

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

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

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

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

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

Painting The Pedestal and Support Board

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

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

Wrapping Up

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

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

In Closing

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

One last parting shot.

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


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

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



Save a Boat Load Of Money Installing Your Own Tow Hooks On A 2019 – 2021 Ram 2500 or 3500

In September I bought my first new truck from a dealership – a 2021 RAM 2500 with the 6.4L Hemi engine. It was a Tradesman with a crew cab and the 2GA customer package group – meaning it had the Snow Chief, Chrome Appearance, Tradesman Level 2, Shift on the Fly transfer case, Power Black Trailer Mirrors, LED bed lighting, and Trailer controller. What it didn’t have was front tow hooks — seriously. I was actually surprised by this. I’ve used front hooks so many times over the years that to not have them wasn’t an option but I figured I could add them later and bought the truck.

Wow – Have You Seen The Price To Add Hooks?

Well, this surprised me. I shouldn’t have assumed the cost wouldn’t be bad. Let me itemize this for you real quick:

  • Tow Hook – Mopar 68349551AD List $132 Online around $93.36 each – you need two
  • 4 hex flange mounting screws / bolts – Mopar 6512808AA. List $5.10/ea and online they are around $3.84/ea. Again, you need four of them – two for each hook
  • 4 hex flange lock nuts – Mopar 6512809AA. List is $5.10 each and online is about $3.84/ea. Thread is M16x1.50mm. Again, you need four of them – two for each tow hook.
  • That adds up fast. The list total is $304.80 and online is $217.44 – a savings of $87.36 but that does not include shipping or taxes
  • This does not include the bezels / changes to the bumper if you do it by the book
  • This does not reflect labor of maybe 2-3 hours or the shop supply charge either.

Also, confirm with the supplier if they have something before you buy it. When I was looking, hooks were hard to find in stock at any kind of discount plus some dealers say they have things but they do not.

So, this definitely wasn’t looking cheap either in terms of parts or labor if I had a dealer do it or even if I went will all new Mopar parts.

How to save money and not sacrifice quality?

What is quality? Quality means meeting my requirements and what did I require? I cared about brute strength. I talked to some guys and they all told me to go with the Ram hooks but to get them off eBay because salvage yards put them up for sale at a huge savings. Wow, they were right. You can get both hooks off eBay that look like new for less than half the price but usually with no fasteners included.

Search on eBay for 68349551ac or 68349551ad tow hooks. The letter designators (aa, ab, ac, and ad) tells us there have been minor changes and the most current version as of my writing this is the “ad” release. I can’t speak to all of the versions but I can tell you I am using the “ac” hooks, no problem. You could search for an earlier release such as “aa” or “ab” if you wanted – I’m just telling you what I did. If you can get a great deal on the newest version, go for it.

When I looked at the Mopar site, it seems to be the hook for all of the trim styles (Tradesman, Big Horn, Laramie, Limited, Limited Longhorn, Lone Star and Power Wagon) of both the 2500 and 3500 series trucks for 2019-2021.

Note: some eBay sellers list two hooks (meaning the pair) in an eBay listing and some just list one so pay attention.

I also always look at how many sales they have done and their rating as well. I’ll pay more for an established seller vs. gambling on a seeming deal from a relatively unknown seller.

I also noticed some sellers put all of the part numbers in their description so searches pull them up so read the listing carefully.

Click on the following to search for:

  • The 68349551ac hooks (this is what I bought and installed on my 2021 Ram 2500 Tradesman)
  • The current 68349551ad hooks

By the way, the RAM 1500 hook is not the same so make sure you get a 2500 hook for your model year truck.

Okay, for the bolts and nuts, I did actually go with Mopar and bought them online. I have read posts of fellows going to the hardware store and buying Grade 8 – 5/8″ x 4-1/2″ long bolts, washers, lock washers and nuts. It’s an option but I didn’t want to gamble with the metallurgy so I bought the bolts and washers from https://store.mopar.com/ and there are other online sellers you could go to as well.

As far as the bezels and stuff go, honestly, just cut the fake plastic grill out of the way. Yeah, you could spend the time and money to make it look factory but this is a work truck and the tow hooks are near the bottom of the bumper so nobody is going to be looking for the bezel behind realistically.

As for labor, you can totally do this yourself in less than an hour. I think it took me about 30 minutes.

These arrived via USPS Priority Mail maybe 2-3 days after I ordered them. They are like new – I doubt they were ever used. Yes, they do weigh a ton. I guess I could have weighed them but that didn’t occur to me as I really didn’t care. The point is that they sure are beefy. These are the 68349551AC series hooks by the way.

Installing The Hooks

You can totally do this if you are comfortable with cutting on your truck (some guys aren’t and that is okay – find a buddy who is and bribe him/her with beer, BBQ or whatever) and can turn a wrench. I kid you not, you only need a 15/16″ socket, 2-4″ extension and a big ratchet wrench to do this after your cut the little grills out of the way. A torque wrench capable of 80-90 foot pounds is handy but not essential.

This is my 2021 Ram 2500 Tradesman. The hooks go in the openings located right under the left and right sides of the main grill or the next opening over from where the fog light covers are.
That is the driver’s side tow hook opening with the soon to be cut out plastic grill in the way.
The part of the frame rail where the town gook goes is that square opening straight back from the center so I planned to cut the top three horizontal pieces out of the way.
This is an Ingersoll Rand model 529 reciprocating saw used for body work and what not. This thing is amazing. Cheap reciprocating saws have a ton of vibration when they run but not this one. It makes cutting sheet metal as easy as soft grill plastic 🙂 This is a fine 24 tooth blade. Use a fine blade on plastic to avoid any snags and tears. Your other option is to look for one of the small hack saw blade holders or other small saw where you can reach in. The more teeth per inch, the better.
This is right after cutting. I haven’t cleaned up the cuts or blown out the plastic cuttings yet. The tow hook will go straight into that center opening and you will need to jiggle the hook around to get the two bolts through.
This is what I cut out. A fine tooth saw really does a nice job – fast and clean.
Here are the hooks, bolts and buts.
I wanted you to see the side profile of where the bolts engage the hook. The front groove actually has a retaining ring cast into it. I installed the front bolt first – and it will take some wiggling around to get it in and then I did the rear. I did all of this with the truck on the ground by the way, Also, I think the design is pretty interesting. They know the force will be applied by pulling forward so that is where they put their emphasis. The sides of the frame rail clamping against the sides of the hook will further lock it in place not to mention the inevitable rust that will happen sooner or later.
/lbThese are the four Mopar bolts and lock nuts. The wings/tabs on the nuts go into openings in the frames so you can focus on tightening the bolt down to 80-90 ft/lbs. They also limit travel of the nut over time to keep the whole assembly secure.
So push the bolts from the outside of rain through to the inside. This is the driver’s side.
So here you can see the bolts with the lock nuts in place.
This is the passenger side. I had just started the bolts into the nuts when I took this picture.

Torque Down The Bolts

Some guys reported that their hooks rattled and I think they were not torquing them down enough. Yes, they will rattle when you insert them in the frame but not once you tighten them down. Thanks to the WWW, I could not find an absolute “here’s what RAM said for the 2500 tow hook” torque spec. I saw numbers all over the board.

I took a different tact, Mopar says the nut is a M16x1.5 on their website so when I look that up, a class 8.8 bolt has a 245 Nm spec and a class 10.9 has a 335 Nm spec. Converting 245 Nm to ft lbs gives us 180.7 ft lbs. Wow. I divided that by half and took the nuts to 90 ft lbs and called it even. No rattling and the hooks feel solid as a rock. If they loosen up, which I highly doubt, I’ll search around again for the torque spec and/or apply Loc-Tite. Given the design of the locking nuts, I really do not think this is going to happen.

If you don’t believe in torque wrenches, do whatever works for you. Due to a variety of nerve factors, I can’t feel how much pressure I am applying any longer so I torque stuff down to spec.

If you do know a definitive value, please email me and I’ll adjust accordingly.

This is big Ed my 50-250 ft lb 1/2″ torque wrench. I have “bigger Ed” that is a giant 3/4″ unit. I also have a number of 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 torque wrenches for different applications.

The Result

They are rock solid. I haven’t used them yet but am ready for winter.

Driver’s side. I think I could have left the one top section of the grill but I am also not sure if it would have gotten busted off anyways from shackles, hooks, etc. I also can’t get rid of the slight angle of the hook left to right despite trying to make it flat several times so I am not going to worry about that either,
Passenger side

One last comment, I did go in a week or two later and spray painted all of the exposed bolts and nuts with black paint to slow up the rust on the fasteners. In Michigan, fighting rust is an art form and also a losing battle – that salt that gets put on the roads gets everywhere and eventually takes its toll but I sure do try to delay that 🙂

Summary

You can definitely do the hooks yourself. Save some money and get them off eBay, do what you want with the bolts and then trim the front grills so the tow hooks can slide in. It looks pretty good and will do the job.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

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


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


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



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

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

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

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


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



Used DryLok To Stop Brick Spalling And Sealed a Chimney Cap

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

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

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

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

This is what I bought.

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

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

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

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

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

I Was So Impressed I Used It On Our Chimney Cap

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

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

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

In Summary

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

I hope this helps you out.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

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



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 simply 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 enough to make the security system chirp and reset over and over … crap.

So much for the easiest ones. That meant I needed to try and trick the charger. I brought my 96 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. I charged the battery for a minute or two, 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. By the way, I am not faulting the NOCO. They are great chargers and I own three of them right now.

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.