Monday, April 28, 2014

Sprinkler Shuffle

Some time ago, we expanded the grass area in the back yard to end at the same place as the concrete.  The only problem was, the new area didn't get a lot of water with the existing sprinklers, so it was time for a change.

On the left is the old sprinkler location, with the new plug installed.  On the right is the new location.  It took a little investigating to figure out which of the six pipes I needed to tap.

Here's what the new installation looks like below ground level.

And here's the finished product.  Hopefully this will help keep the whole lawn green.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Vicious Valves

I bought a valve spring copressor at Harbor Freight for $10, hoping it would allow me to get the valves out.  It initially failed, and I was prepared to give up on it, but I didn't have any other free good options, so I tried one last time and basically forced it.  Luckily, it worked--with a little help from the dead blow hammer*.

I proceeded to clean the valves and intake/exhaust ports in the method described in this video.  It involves a brass brush in a Dremel for the ports and a brass wire wheel in a bench grinder for the valves.  The trick is to mount the valves in a drill, so they spin while you clean them and they're easier to hold.  Everything seemed to come out really well, so I'm happy.

This project also involved mounting and using my Black Friday bench grinder for the first time.  I actually had to Jerry rig it for the wire wheel to work.
Notice the removal of all safety guards.

Here are all the valve parts, sorted neatly.

And the naked top end.

Here are some before and afters:
Before - Exhaust Port
After - Exhaust port

 You can see I taped up the valve stems before putting them in the drill.
Before - Intake Valve
After - Intake Valve
 This was the most impressive transformation.
Before - Exhaust Valve
After - Exhaust Valve

I had planned on letting professionals do this, but the video gave me confidence.  It really isn't that tough, at least when you have a simple engine with four valves.
The next step is to re-seat the valves with some grinding compound.

*I might start a dead blow hammer fan club.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Switching Switches

We have been noticing for a while that our house looks a little uninviting at night.  Our solar lights helped, but we needed more light.
The first step was installing an LED bulb out front so I wouldn't feel guilty leaving it on for extended periods.  Next, I installed a solar sensor that would turn the light on whenever it was dark.  Chrissy warned me it wasn't the best solution, but I insisted.  After a couple days I realized it didn't make sense to have the light on in the wee hours of the morning, so I started looking for another solution.

I eventually settled on a timer that would let us dictate when the light would come on.  I looked for one that would go in the light socket, but it didn't look promising, so I found one that is built into the switch.  It looks like this:
Notice the orientation of the screws.
Here's what our house looked like before:

And after:
Isn't that more inviting?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cleaning Combustion Chambers

It's time to get back on the bike project.
As you can see, my combustion chambers were covered in carbon deposits.

I did some scrubbing on this one by hand, with the help of some carb cleaner.  It worked pretty well, but it was miserable work.  I needed something better.

A little time on YouTube taught me that brass brushes in rotary tools are an option.  I went to Harbor Freight and picked some up.  It worked like a charm.

I still need to get the valves out and clean them and the seats.  The exhaust valves are pretty rough.  I need to figure out if they need to be replaced.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Time for a Shelfie

The cabinet above our oven/microwave is pretty tall, but it didn't have any shelves, making it not particularly useful.  That has now changed.

I used some creative fastening and added a handy shelf.  Magic.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Miracle Product: Magnetic Stud Finder

In my experience, electronic stud finders work about 5% of the time.  I was skeptical, but this little beauty works like a dream, and it costs less than $10.  Better performance and a lower price; that's a miracle product.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Completed Crown

Your eyes do not deceive you; that piece is coped and mitered.  Possibly the first in history.
After finishing the crown molding in the bedroom, we still had to do the living room, and since we were tired of the molding sitting on the floor in there, we decided to finally mount it.

It started with more masking tape to mark studs.

Followed by mounting the molding, always with perfect corners.

Then we patched the nail holes.

After that, we touched up the paint and were done.  It turned out really well.  Chrissy is particularly pleased with the area around the fireplace brick.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Broken Bar

 I recently realized our bar/buffet/hutch was drooping in the drawer area.

A little glue and a couple nails fixed it right up.  Got to use the bar clamps my dad gave me, for what I believe was the first time

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Swinging Stemware

We decided we wanted to clear out some cabinet space, and the easiest way would be to move the stemware.  It made sense to put them in the "bar" area, so I built some hanging racks.

I started with "T molding" which is meant to go on the floor between two different types of flooring.  We bought ten feet and got twelve pieces out of it.  We went with mahogany so it would somewhat match the existing wood.

 I pre-drilled each piece.

And countersunk them.

Then a couple coats of Danish Oil.

I carefully calculated how far apart each piece should be and marked the underside of the shelf.

I started the stainless steel screws in every piece.

Then I screwed them in.  Notice how I staggered the margarita glasses and champagne flutes since the margarita glasses were too wide to fit side-by-side.  This project enabled us do another upcoming project.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Toilet Troubles

So, the fancy dual flush valve I installed started leaking, probably wasting more water than it ever saved.  Since I'm a glutton for punishment, I returned it and bought basically the same thing, but even more involved.  Hopefully they've updated it so it won't leak now.

The project got of to a bad start when the new fill valve (which I didn't replace last time, and I don't think I really needed) didn't seal correctly because it was too close to the edge of the tank.  A little time with the rasp solved the problem:

And here's what it looks like installed.  I added the loop in the tube for dramatic flair.  Hopefully I don't have to deal with this thing again for a long time.