Tag Archives: repair

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch this great video

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

What I did

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In conclusion

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


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

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


Running Your Garage or Shop Oil Lubricated Air Compressor in Cold Weather – below 32F

A fellow asked me the other day how I can run my shop Ingersoll Rand (IR) 2340 compressor, which is an oil lubricated 60-gallon compressor, in the winter in my unheated shop. The reason he asked is that as the compressor gets colder and colder, the oil gets thicker and thicker. The end result is that many compressors will not even start below 32F (0C) – the motor tries to spin the air pump, there’s too much resistance, the motor draws too many watts and trips the breaker… or burns out the electric motor. Because of this, many air compressor companies will tell you not to run your compressor when it’s below freezing. I’m going to tell you what I do and you can decide what works for you.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I just said that last part and it’s because I will not be liable for any problems you may have. I’m going to tell you what I do, or have done, and then you need to do some research, conduct some tests and decide what works for you.

Run synthetic oil – not conventional oil

The first thing I will tell you is to run a good synthetic compressor oil and not the basic Petroleum 30 weight oil that probably came with your compressor. I use Ingersoll Rand’s All Season Select Lubricant because I bought it in bulk a few years back. It’s pretty good but you do have other options as well. Note, it does need a crank case heater to not trip the 30A breaker my 2340 is connected to when it gets really cold (down in the teens or lower).

Another option is moving to the thinner 10W30 Mobil 1 Full Synthetic engine oil in your compressor. I did this some years back with a Husky compressor that I eventually replaced with the bigger IR unit I have today. Some guys go even thinner to 5W30 but I have a hard time recommending really thin stuff like 0W-whatever but there are definitely guys out there who do it on smaller compressors – I’m just saying that I would not do so personally. Note, we are talking about full synthetic oils here and not regular engine oil.

Regularly change your oil

If you have never changed your oil or don’t follow the maintenance schedule of your compressor and oil combination, you really need to. Contaminants and what have you can make it harder for the motor to turn the pump over – even in good weather let alone cold weather.

Run heating pads on your pump

A trick I learned some years ago for stationary compressors is to put one or two of the small oil pan heaters on the pump alongside the oil reservoir. I run one Kat’s 24025 25 watt heating elements that measure 1×5″ on each side of my pump. No more tripped breakers for me.

This is a Kat’s 1×5 25 watt heating pad. It has an adhesive backing to help position it. Clean the pump off first with brake cleaner so it will stick. I then add aluminum HVAC tape on top to hold it in place. There’s another one on the opposite side.
It has two layers of 3M 3350 HVAC tape on top to hold it in place and help distribute the heat into the crankcase. I’ve used a number of these aluminum tapes over the years and the 3M seems pretty reliable as long as the surface is clean,

Be sure to keep your tank drained

Condensation is more of a problem in the winter. The relatively warm moist air can condense on the walls of your tank and then go through your air lines causing your tools to freeze up. It usually happens when the weather really sucks and you need the tools the worst.

Start With No Load

One trick to try in a bind is to start with little to no load. In other words, empty the tank so the motor isn’t fighting both thicker cold lubricant and pressure in the line as well.

The thought process is that your bleed off valve that empties the line from the pump to the tank and to the pressure switch might be frozen up from moisture or bad/failing. For example, the switch on my IR 2340LF-V is a real cheaply made POS – I’m miffed about the quality and am not going to mince words about it. I’ve replaced it once already and as of this writing it’s starting to fail again about a year later after the last time and I already have a replacement on hand.

Also, one trick I learned from an old timer is to add more line or a reservoir between the pump and the tank so the motor can get a running start before it encounters resistance. Here’s a post I did some time back about that.

Conclusion

You definitely can run an oil lubricated compressor in the cold weather. It just takes a little planning and preparation is all. It’s my hope that the above gives you some food for thought and you can then research what will work best for you. You’ll notice that if you do some Googling around, you’re in good company with a ton of other folks trying to figure out what to do as well.

I hope this post helps you out.


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the approximate sequence of what to do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Videos

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

Conclusion

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

I hope this helps you out.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the exact Ibera rack I bought:

And this is the wire mesh basket:

The Call…

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

What Size Inner Tube?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Replacing The Tube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the finished rear.

Videos

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

Conclusion

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

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


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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!


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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.

4/9/2021 Update: Still holding just fine. Not one problem to report.


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Why The Mophorn Pneumatic Lift Is a Huge Help When Working On Cars and Trucks But Has One Small Issue You Need To Address

Nothing like getting old and realizing that most of your joints hate you. I bring this up because I have two manual pump floor jacks that I have used countless times over the years and the oldest is probably 25 years old – literally. Well, let me put it this way – I had no problem pumping the handle to lift cars and trucks 25 years ago but starting about two years ago, the action really started to cause elbow and shoulder injuries I had to flare up. It got so bad that I had to make a choice either to stop working on vehicles or to find a different approach.

I work on cars and trucks in our driveway so a permanently installed lift was not an option. It had to be something portable. My first thought was to get a low profile air-over-hydraulic jack that is mounted in its own wheeled carrier. They have an incredible lifting capacity (around 22 tons) but they are heavy (around 80 pounds), slow (air over hydraulic is many things but fast is not one of them) and expensive (they start around $200 and just go up from there). What really stopped me was the weight and the cost. I can’t lift or drag as much weight as I used to and the entry-level units were a tad more than I wanted to spend.

So, I kept digging and ran across pneumatic/air jacks. Think of the air suspensions you see under a big rig. Basically one or more air bladders fill with air and lift the top of the jack. They max out in terms of lift height around 18 inches and 3 tons of lift but it depends on the model. Definitely spend some time researching before you buy. I found that I needed to think about:

  • How low I needed the unit to collapse down to fit under our cars to get in position prior to lifting
  • How much weight did I need to lift
  • How high I needed the unit to lift
  • How much did it weigh?
  • What was it going to cost?

I then started reading listings on Amazon plus paying careful attention to review scores. I also talked to a mechanic friend of mine about the safety of the unit and what his thoughts were. He told me to consider two things: 1) always immediately put jack stands in place and 2) don’t lave the unit out in the sun and weather thus harming the rubber. Those suggestions made a lot of sense to me.

On January 8, 2019, I wound up buying a Mophorn Pneumatic Jack, 3 Ton, Triple Air Bag, with a 16″ lift height for about $150 with free shipping. The unit arrived with just little bit of assembly needed. I recall I had to install the handle and the pressure line but that was it.

I get about 15″ of lift at 90 PSI.
Left lever is the exhaust and due to the lever design, you can adjust how slow you want to drain air out. Even if you hit it and have an “oh shit” moment, you typically have a few seconds before the vehicle starts to go down. The middle unit with the pull ring is the safety blow off valve. The far right lever is the air inlet and there is a Milton M-series male plug under the Milton quick connect female fitting. If you want a reliable air system, use Milton fittings – they last.

As you can guess from the sticker above, the lift is made in China and the instruction sheet is pretty terse but it’s really not that hard to figure out. I do want to cover a few specifications with you and convert them from metric to US customary measures – these are from the owner’s manual included in the kit unless otherwise noted:

DescriptionMetricUS
Capacity3,000 kg6,613 lbs
Air Pressure5-10 Kg/cm^271 to 142 PSI
Air pressure from label on handle – presumably the recommended pressure8 kg/cm^2113 PSI
Minimum Height145mm5.71 in
Maximum Height400mm15.75 in
Lifting Time5 seconds5 seconds
Working Temperature-69C to +50C-92F to 122F

What have I lifted with it?

When I say “lift”, I am talking about the front end or the back end – not the whole vehicle.

  • 1994 Toyota Corolla DX
  • 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser
  • 2000 Toyota Camry
  • 2006 Toyota Solara
  • 2008 Toyota Highlander
  • 2016 Ford F150 Transit
  • Others more or less along the lines of a Camry or Highlander

There are a few things I have noticed

First, let me point out that I like this unit and would recommend it but there are a few things I want to point out:

  • The highest my lift will go is 15″ and that may be a function of my only running 90 PSI to the jack
  • I don’t think it actually can lift 3 tons. It bogs down on the front of our old 96 Landcruiser and also our full size F150 Transit. Again, I think it’s my lower air pressure. This summer I might plumb a dedicated 120 PSI line and see what that does. It will depend on time and money.
  • There are stabilizing cones made from steel inside the jack. Maybe 1 in 20 lifts they need a whack to start coming down. I may polish and lube these if I get a chance.
  • The rubber is pretty thick on the bladders. With that said, I do store it indoors away from the sun and the weather. I’m writing this a year later and the bladders show zero signs of wear.

The One Little Thing You Must Do: Blue Loctite Your Screws!!

I have used my jack many times since I bought it. Starting around September I was hearing faint air leak and thought the jack had bent. When I had time I found out that the bottom screws had loosened up and air was simply escaping from between the gasket and the bottom plate. I was surprised and disappointed to note that none of the screws had any thread locker applied to any of them. Many were in varying states of coming lose.

The unit is well made. The air bladders secure to that steel plate you see on them and then that assembly bolt to the dolly.
It’s the screws that attach the bladder to the while disc-shaped plate in the previous photo that came loose. Here are the metal stabilizing cones. I wish I had polished and lubed them when I had it apart and will go back and do that at some point. I did apply air tool oil to the cones after cleaning them of a gritty dust that probably dated back to when they were manufactured.
Before re-assembly I put a thin bead of Permatex Blue RTV gasket seal on the rubber gasket and then applied Blue medium-strength Loctite to each srew and brought them down lightly. I then went criss-cross lightly bringing down each screw to firm and then applied a final torque of 11 NM (about 8 ft-lbs or 97 in-lbs.

I then did the same thing to the top plate as well just to play it safe. No more leaks.

The reassembled bladder assembly then screws back down to the baseplate of the dolly. Note, this photo is actually from when I was taking it apart. The screws were so scuffed up that I just replaced them. Did I mention I use this a lot?

The following is the exact jack on Amazon that I bought and this review is about:

Bottom Line

I would buy this again and recommend it as well – just due the Loctite thing I mentioned. Note there are other Chinese suppliers on Amazon also but they do not get as good of reviews as the Mophorn units so my recommendation is only for that brand.


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.