Monday, December 20, 2010

Bathroom Fan Repair

Out upstairs bathroom Broan Model 164A light/heater/fan was making too much noise when the fan was on. We purchased this unit in Jan 1978 for $35.

I ordered another motor #99080160 for $45 however it was identical except for the shaft diameter which was 0.249 inches instead of 0.222 inches of the original shaft. The motor did not come with the replacement fan.

Since there were so few options on purchasing this motor I modified the plastic wheel fan to accommodate this larger shaft size. This shaft has a flat edge to lock the fan onto the shaft in a securely. Don said to end up with a balanced wheel I would need to file out the notch on the fan and then drill it to a larger size. By doing it this way the new drilled hole would remain centered in the fan. I found my Dremmel tool easily ground this flat portion of the hole away. Then a larger hole was easy to drill into the plastic fan wheel and then the hole ended up measuring 0.235 inches.

I then pressed and glued this modified fan wheel onto the new motor shaft using JB-Weld. Now the noise is back to normal which was originally rated at 3.5 sones. Maybe this will be good for another 32 years?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Netflix Question

So here is the cost breakdown of our dsl.

Presently we have Century Link at I think 526 kbs for $25/month.
Century Link advertises - (Dec 2010)
$29.95 for 768 kbps
$39.95 for 1.5 mbps
$49.95 for up to 10 mbps

$84.95 for 768 kbps plus tv plus phone with unlimited long distance.

Further Netflix requires -
3.0 mbps for max quality for SD content.
5.0 mbps for max quality for HD content.

So it seems to get Netflix to work right we would need a faster DSL for $25 a month additional along with the additional $10 Netflix cost. Or $425 per year.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Digital TV Antenna Upgrade

Ok, I admit it right off. There is no difference between a digital tv antenna and an analog tv antenna. But the government has required all over the air tv transmission be digital along with the frequencies of our old channel 2-6 have been given to emergency radio and such, so it appears the antenna should be different.

What I did for our digital tv reception enabling us to be off the cable and off the satellite tv grids was to purchase a better uhf antenna and continue to us the old vhf antenna. For $64 I purchased a uhf DB8 antenna. This antenna has a max gain of 15.8 db. It is smaller than the old huge Archer VU-10 vhf/uhf/fm antenna I purchased from Radio Shack in 1991.

I read on the web where my old Radio Shack #15-1108 antenna amplifier was useless. I had installed it in 1997. I did notice the old amplifier had some corrosion on the cable input and a burnt diode inside. I repaired it but since it is not recommended I went ahead and purchased a replacement. I also read if an antenna is installed in an attic the signal will be cut by 40 to 50%.

For $60.50 including shipping I purchased a Channel Master 7778 Medium Antenna Amplifier. This unit has a gain of 16 db on vhf and 23 db on uhf. Vhf now covers channels 7 through 13 and uhf covers channels 14 through 51. What I need from the antenna amplifier as much as the gain is that the two antenna inputs are combined in this unit without any signal loss and then sent down a single coax cable. Any non powered antenna combiner would loose 3 db which is half the signal strength. So I set the amplifier up in the attic close to the antenna. It is designed to be out in the weather on the mast itself. But in the attic the leads are still at most 20 feet from the antenna. Unfortunately with my old antenna configured for 300 ohm twin lead so I used a impedance transformer just prior to the amplifier which probably cuts the vhf signal some. I did have to throw a switch inside the amplifier to configure the amplifier for use with two antenna’s.

I reconfigured my old antenna with new 300 ohm lead in and installed a new chunk of rotor wire as the old wire that was in the weather had deteriorated to the point of being bare of insulation. I reused the lower 10 foot mast and installed the antenna rotor at the top. Then at the rotor I attached a new 10 foot mast with the new small uhf antenna on top and the old heavy uhf antenna just 3 foot higher than the rotor. We are in a valley so height of antenna helps a lot in receiving a good signal.

At the tv I installed the amplifier power box which sends dc power up the antenna coax cable to the amplifier.

Now it looks like we receive the clearest tv we ever have at this location. We now also get more channels than ever before. On a stormy night it looks like channels 9-1, 9-3, 13-1, 13-2, 20-1, 20-2, 20-3 and 20-5 all come in solid. And solid in digital tv means a really good picture! I suspect 90% of the days we will also receive 4-1, 4-2, 5-1, 5-2, 11, 22-1 and 22-2. Tonight with this storm these later channels are dropping out for 5 seconds every 3 minutes or so. Of coarse there will be a lot of magic in tuning when turning the antenna by the rotor. I suspect we will get 12 if we turn the rotor and what else I am not sure. At the moment 12 is breaking up a lot but the antenna is not pointed in that direction. In life we often leave the antenna in one place. Besides with this many channels why look for more.

So in the end we are quite pleased with the tv configured this way. And to think there is no monthly charge year after year.

HP printer repairs

Gamble Bay Timber’s “HP All-In-One printer” (Series 7400) failed to scan a document. The display indicated the scanner door was open when it was closed and indicated it was closed when the door was open.

Eventually I was able to pop the side covers off the scanning door which is on top of the unit. The covers did not break and did unsnap, amazingly. Inside I noticed the cable harness coming from the lower unit on the rear left. I was able to unplug this cable connector from the top door electronics and then proceeded to remove the back cover allowing me to unsnap the connector from the main body electronics. I was then able to remove this 23 inch cable and observed 3 broken wires where the cable bends routinely each time the door opens.

I further observed the 10 wire cable was secured by tie wraps which were extremely tight. I believe the tight tie wraps contributed to the failure. All the wire bending was at the tie wrap and all the insulation on all the wires were broken at this point. The 3 wire breaks were here also. This printer was purchased in 2006 so is 4 years old.

After some thought I simply soldered the wires together at the break and removed the tie wraps. I also removed a spiral wire protection where the cable bends as the cover is lifted. This gives the wires much more flexibility and the bend radius is increased now.

The printer now is working like new. Later I found out, I could have purchased the whole cover assembly electronics and paper feeding mechanism along with a new cable for $25 from HP. The cable was not sold by itself. Regardless this fix may last longer that the original due to the slight modification.

Our home HP OfficeJet Pro printer (L7555) failed to scan documents but in a different failure mechanism. It would scan the document but fail to place the file on the computers hard drive. Apparently this is a repeating problem either for Vista users or Vista 64 users which is what we have. Finally I found the workaround was to create an icon on the computer which starts up the correct scanning software on the computer and now I start the scan from the computer. I can now locate the scanned document file on the hard drive. I can live with that. I just placed a little note on the printers scan button to direct us to the computers scanning software.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

TV repair

My nephew’s TV, a Plasma Visio VP322 32" HDTV10A was completely dead, no sign of life when he pushed power button. At first the symptom was it would turn off (after pushing the power button "on") every second or so then on for a few seconds before remaining on. As it got worse, it would take longer "clicking" on and off.

We found several links on the web saying the capacitors on the power board would fail causing these symptoms. The capacitors would actually physical swell. So we dismantled the tv taking the back off which revealed the several interior boards. We saw the power cable entering the center board and found 4 swollen capacitors noting the top of the capacitors were domed rather than flat.

Above are defective capacitors.

We documented them as
C233 10v 3300 microfarad
C234 10v 3300 microfarad
C236 10v 1000 microfarad
C204 25v 1000 microfarad

We ordered up replacements from DigiKey and they arrived first class mail in 3 days for under $8. We then removed the defective ones and installed the new and secured the back cover with at least 30 screws. Plugged the tv in and all works as designed. I was totally amazed. No schematic, no electrical troubleshooting just looked for physical evidence of failure.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gizzard the alligator lizard

Gizzard the alligator lizard has been frequenting the warm sidewalk by our porch recently on sunny afternoons. He must have known Fall was arriving today. I always detour off the sidewalk onto the grass so as not to disturb his sun bathing. Due to today’s sunny afternoon, I was cutting our grass and I met two of Gizzards offspring. They are less 3 inches long, slender and fast. Linda crossed the path of one of the little guys as she walked to the porch today. She is not as impressed as I am, it seems.

Osprey sighting

Today I observed an Osprey leaving our little pear tree. He/she knocked 6 little pears to the ground and may have been eating one as it was half gone. Per the encyclopedia 99% of an Osprey’s diet is fish and they migrate south in the fall.
Picture is not mine!

Coffee Pot

Coffee pot malfunction. We don’t drink coffee but keep water warm for tea and the occasional cocoa. Pot does not get warm. Found both thermal cutoff fuses open. They are designed to protect domestic electrical appliances and industrial electrical equipment from fire. This means that the normal temperature regulator switch must have hung up. Looked over the temperature regulator but could not read a part number. I did see a some melted plastic on the bottom of the pot. Could fix but will get a new pot for the same price I would think. We bought this pot for just under $10, six years ago.

Friday, August 6, 2010


I needed half a cup of raspberries for my cereal this morning so to the raspberry patch I headed. It is cool this morning, great weather for picking and in the quietness I once again remembered these berries are from Mom’s large patch of raspberries in Shorecrest. The bushes I have are actually from those bushes more than 50 years ago. I thought I heavily pruned last fall but I see now I left some of the old stocks. It is easy to see them now as they are dark and woody and their berries are smaller and earlier. It was not that obvious when I was pruning. Maybe half of my 3 cups of berries today are from old stocks. The new chutes are just beginning to fruit with much larger berries. I need Bob up here to help prune as he did it on Moms when we were young.
Then too, I remembered we would spend an hour or two picking raspberries when we were young and Mom would come down and go behind us and pick as many as we had picked commenting "look under the leaves". But then I wondered that maybe she had an advantage that way as she was a “little” bit shorter than us. I remember all the jam she made and then stored in the fruit room.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bathroom Faucet

After years of perfect service the 2 nd floor bathroom faucet started leaking into the cabinet below! Fortunately we had a large plastic tub holding all the stuff that goes under a skink which also caught and held the dripping water. Finally determined the water leaks rapidly whenever either the hot or cold water is on at the faucet. Found the faucet was leaking at the base of the water spout. There were two screws holding the spout to the main assembly and an 0-ring there trying to seal the joint. This o-ring must have shrunk over the years as it was just too skinny.

I just happened to have two o-rings of similar size and installed the biggest and all is sealed up tight. (The removed o-ring measured approximately 0.581 inches ID and 0.737 OD. The replacement was 0.562 ID and 0.764 OD.) The replacement had just a little friction when installing the stem which means it will seal much better.) Now no leak! Maybe good for 10 more years.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The spider and the housefly

Oh the retired life! It happened this way, rather normal really. I was busy doing some housework, yes believe me. I saw a housefly buzzing around but instead of stopping what I was doing, I finished the project and then found my electronic bug zapper and looked for the culprit. It couldn’t have been over ½ hour later. I heard some muffled buzzing and find this fellow trapped in a spiders web.

I have been watching this spider web over a couple of days thinking maybe I should wipe it away but since it is my computer room there was really no rush, no rush at all. So with the close up macro function on our camera I clicked the above picture. Two hours later this poor housefly was pulled almost out of site down through the water weep hole in the window frame. I suppose now the spider will double in size. Maybe he/she will be too fat to come back out of the weep hole? I cropped the picture but noticed the spiders legs were sure long so I clipped two legs off in the cropping. Kind of interesting looking creatures don’t you think?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dad’s Smoke’n Metro -

The boys gave me another nickname. Hopefully only temporarily and they don’t keep it for long. I can’t quote it as I forgot the quote exactly. It’s something like Smoke’n Jim, or Smoke’n Dad or the Dad’s Smoke’n car. The reason obviously is due to the Metro and the large cloud of smoke it has been trailing.

The smoke problem kind of gets ahead of me or behind me, oh I get so confused. For awhile it just had a cloud out the exhaust pipe at startup but recently the cloud is slightly bigger, or maybe we should say huge. Then it began smoking whenever the engine was running.

So looking under the hood I saw oil leaking high up on the engine. I removed the valve cover and cleaned the oil seal groove real well and this time used gasket cement in the groove to seat the rubber gasket into the groove. That still enables me to remove the valve cover without damage to the rather new gasket.

I also suspected the Camshaft Sensor Housing o-ring seal was leaking. It is located at the top of the engine opposite the timing belt. This area has rather easy access with 3 bolts holding the housing in place. This seal groove centered at 2.3 inches in diameter. The o-ring that was installed after some stretching is now 2.218 inches and 0.070 inches thick. I had to stretch the o-ring over a can prior to installation which if greased enough would hold in the groove long enough to assemble the housing without the o-ring moving out of place.

Knowing the o-ring groove was 2.3 inches I thought I could just order up an o-ring that would better fit the situation. Turns out o-rings are measured not in there nominal thickness but in the inside diameter (ID) and outside diameter (OD) along with the thickness. So when I went to Napa I got a little confused along with the clerk as the o-ring table he was using was in metric and it wasn’t for the nominal diameter I had brought in. Eventually I went up to Belfair Hose and Hydraulics in the business park up the street where we crunched the numbers for 15 minutes and came up with an o-ring which he had picked up that afternoon and delivered to his home that evening. He brought it to work and I picked it up that morning for $1 for two o-rings. He had both o-ring charts for metric and English. If I had the right measurements it would have been easier of coarse.

It turns out this o-ring was no too large.

So I cut 3/8 inch off and super glued it together, which apparently is an ok practice. Now instead of the 0.070 inch the new o-ring is 0.092 inches thick. Well it now lays in the groove just fine. Maybe slightly thick but it ought to seal tight as the groove will fill up with o-ring when the housing is tightened.

There appeared to be one other possible reason for the leak and that is the seam on the engine side of the o-ring seal. So I dabbed on a little gasket sealer across these two seams and after assembly I suspect the oil leak is repaired.

By the way, two auto parts stores do not list this o-ring for the Metro and the Chevrolet dealer says it is a discontinued part. I wish I would have asked what size o-ring should I order as Chevrolet uses standard o-rings I am quite sure.

I suspect the oil leaked out of this o-ring and dribbled 2 inches down the head into the corner of the exhaust manifold. The manifold shows signs of erosion at this point. With the engine running maybe the positive exhaust pressure kept the oil from burning but with the engine stopped remaining oil leaked into the exhaust system which caused a cloud of smoke out the exhaust mostly at startup. I think the leak was so bad oil eventually did make it into the exhaust manifold all the time. I never did see any smoke from the engine compartment.

I don’t drive this car enough to see the level to change on the dipstick.

The o-ring groove measures 2.209 to 2.403 inches and about 0.050 inches deep. If I need another o-ring I suspect I could order a perfect fit as there is quite a selection.

It is now September of 2010 and the Metro no longer smokes, ever!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Repair clothes washing machine

I repaired clothes washing machine today. Water was just dribbling into tub. Found plenty of water at the hose where it enters washing machine. With hose off and glasses on, extra light, and a magnifying lens I was able to see the water filter screen where the hose connects to the machine was plugged.

I was able to clean most of the contaminant out using a small screwdriver and an old tooth brush.

Now plenty of water flows into the washer tub in a beautiful proportional waterfall.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Installing New Vinyl Windows

I helped Jeremy and his father in law replace all the aluminum frame windows on the main floor of Jeremy and Jacie's house. Nate and family came over for the last couple of windows. All 8 windows done in 7 hours. (Whew did we work fast and hard. And I am tiered for sure.)

The dinning room and kitchen window had water vapor between the glass panels. The bedroom windows were single pane still. Should make quite a difference in the comfort of the house next winter. And to be able to see clearly out the fogged up windows will be extra special this spring and summer. The baby coming will have even a nicer, warmer, little nursery.

He had a real deal as Lowe’s had 20% off and the government will allow a 30% rebate at income tax time. (Low ‘E’ and argon filled windows.) Lifetime warranted.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Parking brake weak on Caravan 2000

The parking brake foot pedal hits the floor and the brake does not hold well. I found there is no brake cable adjustment as in many of my previous cars. The footbrake pedal assembly is suppose to automatically take up cable slack and also take up any brake pad wear. I pulled the rear wheel hubs and found a reasonable amount of brake pad like a little over 0.100 inch over the rivets of the pads. But it did not look like the pad automatic slack adjuster was not working. After blowing the dust off and removing the brake assembly parts I found all seemed to be in great shape. Even the adjustment screw turned very easily. Not sure why it is not working. Even with the hub off the adjusters did not take up slack with the brake pedal depressed. So I installed new wheel cylinders, (brake cylinders), $10.50 each. The originals would have been easy to rebuild as there was no pitting. It looked like the pistons were gummed up a little. Linda helped with bleeding the brakes. She is an expert at this and it works out easily as we can work together well. Now let time pass a little and see if the adjusters will now take up the slack. The brakes are working great except for the parking brake is still too slack.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Basement water leak is resolved. I found the 3/4 inch water line had a pinhole leak as it came through the 8 inch basement concrete wall. The hole was 1 inch from the outside and 7 inches from the inside and the 90 degree fitting. The pipe through the wall from the fitting and out into the earth 3 feet was flexible copper that was installed in 1975. The picture shows a slight kink 2 inches from the leak. The leak was where you can see the slit on the left side of the picture.

Next is a closer shot of the leak. The leak was small but after I cleaned up the pipe for examination it looks like the leak would be quite a spray now.

You can see in the next picture the leak occurred quite a was from the slight kink. I checked on the internet and leaks in water pipes occur especially in homes built prior to 1970. The reason for the corrosion causing the leak is unknown. The failure occurred in the only chunk of flexible copper that I used in our water line. About 15 years ago I reconfigured the outside line and remember making a new gentle bend in the flexible pipe, but also remember the slight kink. I am not sure if that contributed to the failure. The bad area is repaired now with standard copper pipe.

The last picture above shows the leaking copper pipe removed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Time to be quite. Granddaughters sleeping.

Converting a cassett tape reading of Dallas Willard's book The Divine Conspiracy to mp3 so we can listen to it in the car.