Siding lift for replacing siding on a 2nd story wall.

The bottom of one of the siding panels on the North side of my house was starting to rot from the bottom.  The old siding is made of what feels like cardboard.  A number of years ago I got involved in a class-action suit against the siding manufacturer and receive un-remembered thousands.

It’s actually lasting fairly well except certain parts so I’m just replacing what needs replacing with Hardie cement board siding.  This particular one has been on my mind for a long time marked as rather difficult because it is on a 2nd story and I have nobody to help me.

I spent the last few months looking at it and designing ways to do it in my head.  I was set on using a hand cranked winch and using a pulley on the eaves to hoist it up.  The other day, while sitting in the hot tub, I came up with a better plan.

Using two 15 foot 2x4s, cross members and a pulley I could just crank a 80 lb panel up there and slide it right into position all by myself.

Yesterday I built the mechanism and today I removed the old siding and hoisted the new one right into place.  My plan worked perfectly and cost me around $50 for the hoist and $30 for the siding.

Damn I’m good.  Natural born engineer here.  Congratulate me.

 

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Prius brake actuator luck out!

prusbrkactrMy wonderful good luck has helped me out yet again.

The other day a bunch of indicator lights lit up on the dashboard of my 2008 Prius.  I stopped at Advance Auto and they, always being so wonderfully helpful, scanned my OBD and the results indicated that I need to replace my Brake Actuator.

I planned on replacing it myself with a used part since a new one would cost $1200.  I found one on eBay for $189 so I bought it.  It arrived and I got psyched up to work on it but further research indicated that it was HIGHLY unrecommended that it be done at home.  Special tools are needed to complete the installation.  Bummer!  I psyched myself to pay $2300 for a new one plus installation.  I guess I can sell the part again on eBay and get a little money back.

My luck kicked in when I did further searching and found that Toyota has a special extended service warranty on the part that is good until December 30th this year.  Only a month away!  YES!!!   I printed out the Toyota Memo and took it to the shop.  Sure enough, it was covered.  They took the car and gave me a loaner.  They even had the part in stock.  I should be getting it back today if not tomorrow.  No cost.   Damn sweet!

I bought a lottery ticket but my luck doesn’t seem to extend to the lottery for some reason.  Only 1 number.  Oh well.  I saved $2300!  That’s like winning the lottery anyway.

 

 

Free Weed Whacker

A co-worker gave me an Echo SRM-210 Weed whacker.  He had used too little oil in the gasoline and the engine had seized up due to lack of lubrication.

He bought a new one but knew I could fix things so he asked me if I wanted it.  I didn’t need or want it but I’ve always been interested in freeing a seized engine so I took it as a educational project.

It sat in my garage untouched for almost a year until recently when I bought some land out in the country.  I’m still waiting for the closing on the deal but when the time comes, there is a lot of brush that is going to need to be cleared.  Searching the internet on means to clear land I came across using a weed wacker with a brush cutting blade.  BINGO!  I have just the thing in my garage!

When I got home from work, I Youtubed freeing seized weed eater and found a video showing how it is done.

I removed the spark plug and filled the cylinder with some air tool oil that I happened to have on hand and let it sit for a few days until I would have time on the weekend.   When Saturday finally came, I emptied the oil from the cylinder and took off the string started unit.  I clamped on some vice grips and expected to have to torque on it pretty good but it almost instantly freed the piston.

No Way!!!    I put the string starter back on and it pulled freely.  I reinstalled the spark plug and put some gas/oil mixture in the tank.  After a few pulls, it started!

That just saved me $219 or more for a new unit.  I immediately ordered a brush cutting blade kit for $44.00.  I’m all set now!

Providence strikes once again.  Things I need automatically come to me.  Sometimes before I need them.  My luck is amazing!

 

Repaired my Xantrex inverter

Last year I bought a 1500w Xantrex inverter for my RV.  At most I expected to run my microwave.  I was testing it out when POP!  The power went out.  This inverter has a surge current rating of 2000W and microwaves don’t use that much power.  Still.  It couldn’t handle it.  I was sad.  I expected better from Xantrex.

Not knowing what to do I just let it be.  This year I decided I would try some exploratory surgery and see what happened.  What could I hurt?  It was already dead.  Maybe it was just a fuse or something.

Fortunately it wasn’t too hard to open up.  A few screws on the ends and pull out the bottom plate.

Taking the circuit board out would be difficult so I hoped that would not be necessary. There were a bunch of fuses which I was getting ready to test first.

I noticed right away that a capacitor had completely blown up.  There were cap guts all over. It seemed unlikely that JUST replacing this capacitor would fix the whole thing but what the heck.  I looked through my parts bins and found an exact replacement.  A 100 uF electrolytic.  It was used and had short leads but it was on hand.

The remaining plates sticking up wouldn’t hold solder so I had to remove the rubber base and trim down the plates to the leads.  I still didn’t want to take out the whole circuit board so I decided to just solder onto the existing topside leads.

I added some short wires to replace the missing capacitor leads and soldered it in place.  I was lucky. The positive side was marked on the circuit board.

It isn’t pretty but it will be perfectly fine if it works.  No big loss if not.

 

I buttoned it back up and connected it to my battery.  No FAULT light!  Promising! I grabbed a nearby fan and plugged it in to the 120V outlet.  The fan spun to life!  SUCCESS!!!!!   I just saved myself a few hundred bucks buying a new inverter.

Damn I’m awesome!  You would think women would be all over me.  If only they knew.

 

 

Built my model house

It’s July 4th 2017.  I am happy to have a day off from work.  Really not knowing what to do to celebrate Independence day, I decided to just stay home.  It’s far to hot outside and the world is far too crowded anyway.  I asked myself, if I could do anything I wanted on my day off, what would it be?  The answer was stay home and enjoy the time.  Besides, where’s lonely guy going to go all by himself anyway?

I had a brain idea the other day to build a scale sized model of the house I want to eventually build.  I did some googling and ended up on Youtube watching Adam Savage build a model of his childhood home.  It looked easy enough so today I popped by the store and picked up three sheets of foamcore board.  Thanks Adam!

I already had a 3d drawing I did on my computer using Google Sketchup and another using a program called SweetHome so I already had the dimensions on record.

I spent a good portion of the day measuring, cutting and hot-gluing my model together.  It’s far from finished but at least I have the basic framing done.  I might also build some furniture and accessories.  I’ll probably print out flooring and tile and glue it to the floor and walls where appropriate.  It might end up being rather detailed by the time I’m done.

You can see the room layout.  The roof slopes from 8 feet in the back to 12 feet in the front.  The large front room will be the kitchen and living room.  The back side is divided into the bedroom and the bathroom.  You can see a piece of the roof that shows how it overhangs the front to shade the top windows which will be electrically operable for air flow in nice weather.  It has a nice 10 foot wide porch that stretches the whole width of the house.  I’m really going to enjoy that.  I’ve always wanted a large porch to sit in my old-man rocking chair.

All the rooms are very large and spacious including the bathroom which will have huge shower and laundry rooms.  The kitchen is huge an will have a lot of counter space plus a large island.  I never have enough counter space in my current kitchen.  The whole house has a fairly modern and clean look while being very simple to build.  The simplicity is reminiscent of early house design before families exploded and houses became unnecessarily large McMansions.

It’s a 1/24 scale model and the design is completely my own.  I probably should have gone into architecture.  Apparently it’s in my blood.  I understand my father built a scale model of his dream house once too.  That’s kind of cool to know since I don’t remember much about him.

I believe I will be able to build this house pretty much all by myself.  I did the Sketchup model board by board as if I was actually building it.  That took me a very long time but that was during my last job where I had nothing else to do for 8 hours a day.

I really like the way this foam-core model turned out.  I impressed myself again.  I never cease to amaze myself.  It just goes to show that one can do anything he puts his mind to.

 

 

TARDIS almost finished

Last year I, crazily enough, decided to build another TARDIS to sell.  Thought I might make some extra cash.  This will actually be my third.  My 1st eventually rotted away in the back yard due to rain infiltration.  The second is on it’s way to the same end due to lack of maintenance and rot.  It might still have a year or two left in it if I don’t do any upkeep.  Just too lazy and it’s way too hot outside.  100 degrees in the sun is most unpleasant and the winter slipped by before I had time to do any upkeep.

So the third was intended for sale on Craigslist.  It costs me around $400 in parts and a year of labor so I expect to get at least $1500 to make it worth my while.  More if possible because I’m not going to build another one anytime soon. I’m pretty sure this is my last one depending on how well it sells.

Number three is almost done.  Just a little more wood work, preparation and paint and it will be ready.  I may even have a buyer lined up.  There is a restaurant here in town that is known for such novelties.  They had an interview in the paper with the owner who said the he would like to add a TARDIS to his collection.  I’ll probably go and hit him up when it is done and see if he wants to buy it.  If not, I’ll put it on Craigslist and I’m sure it will sell quickly.  If not that, I’ll keep it myself to replace #2.   I’m sure that as popular as Doctor Who has become, it will be an easy sale.

 

 

Smart Meter Installed. Booooooo!

I came home from work today to find that the dreaded Smart Meter has been installed.  I was kind of surprised to see that they hadn’t cut my power because they can now see that I have solar panels feeding power back into the grid.

Now it’s just a matter of time before I get a call or letter asking why they are detecting reverse current at my meter.   My choices will be to turn off the solar system that I spent a lot of time and money on or spend unknown mass quantities of money to have it made official.  Neither one will make me very happy.

I guess now we just wait and see what happens.  What is my punishment for going solar?  Stay tuned and we’ll see how this pans out.