Saturday, May 31, 2014

How to Transport Your Refrigerator Without Having it Turn to Junk!

Yes dear readers, there is a right way to transport a refrigerator from point A to point B and the best advice I can give you is "no". Have someone else do it. Whether it's a moving company, the company you bought a new or used one from, whatever.

The second best option is that this must be in a pickup truck, trailer so it can stand up. With that, you must have it strapped securely or you will have it tip out on you. I had this happen to me with my personal vehicle 10 years ago and the ramifications were far from life threatening, but it could have ended really badly. It doesn't matter whether you're moving it a block or across town; SECURE IT. Ratchet straps work great for this. If you aren't sure how to do this, get someone to help you or have someone else move it.

The third and final option is to have this laid on its back to transport. If you have a station wagon or van this may be your only option short of hiring a contractor to do it for you. Personally, I've done it and never had a problem, but you must take something into consideration first. As you probably don't know, there is a pump at the back of every refrigerator (unless you own a gas one, then you should NEVER tip it). and connected to it (even the high end ones like LG and Samsung) are a filter dryer, a capillary tube as well as tubing going to two or more coils. Inside of this system is a gas called refrigerant that soaks up the heat inside the refrigerator with one or more evaporators and throws it outside with the help of a fan and the condenser coil.

Problem is that the pump, which is called a compressor, also needs oil in the worst way. The oil lubricates the valves, pistons, or other working parts to keep them from having an untimely death. This is not unlike the motor oil in your ride. If you tip the fridge on its back, oil will travel from the compressor to these coils from the compressor. While this isn't harmful in itself, turning the unit immediately after standing it up will cause problems with your system. The compressor could lock up and fail. Oil could still be in the capillary tube and plug that, as well as in other parts in quantities that it shouldn't be.

The best bet is to let it set long enough for that oil to drain back where it's supposed to be before you plug it in. A good rule of thumb is 24 hours, period. If you've just moved it, say from house to house on its bottom, it might not be a bad idea to let it set for a few hours as well. The oil is just oil, nothing special. However, it just needs to be where it can do some good. Contrary to popular belief, it won't affect the refrigerant or coolant. Again if you had to move this on its back, wait a full 24 hours to plug it in

As for moving them on their side, I've never done it and can't see how it would be any worse than on its back. My advice is not to do it though, as some units use condenser coils to heat areas inside the stiles (sides) and mullions (lintel or top) behind the doors to keep moisture off the cabinet. Sometimes these are looped in ways that might not allow oil to drain back to the compressor easily, if at all. So go ahead, let it drain, then plug it in and enjoy those cold ones (I like PowerAde myself). Don't forget to make sure the coils are clean and the water lines are hooked up if you have them. If you have an icemaker, this will need to be below freezing to make ice cubes. Maranatha!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Beretta Nano Review, Part Deux.

Beretta Nano
Finally, I got a chance to practice with the gun I've saved for months to get and even more months to get to shoot. I cycled 99 rounds through this piece, which amounts to about 14 magazines. All in all, the gun does what it's supposed to do, but some concerns remain. I will say that I'm not a pro or gun "expert" and in fact have only owned handguns for a couple years. Again, this is not a site for discussing whether or not citizens should not have guns. In the United States of America, this is a right and with that right comes responsibility. Never point a gun at anything or anyone you do not intend to destroy or end. Always treat a gun as if it were loaded and keep any and all firearms out of the hands of children and irresponsible adults. Use a safe backstop when practicing with firearms and make of what's beyond your intended target. Obey all laws concerning the sale, possession and use of any firearm.

Again, 99 rounds isn't a whole lot for some, but considering the price of ammo it was more than enough. Even though I've heard that you should use a minimum of 124 grain ammo in this gun, the fact is that when I bought it, only 115 grain was available locally. I practiced with Lellier and Bellot as well as Federal Champion. The Nano ate the former without complaint, but the Federal Champion had two failures to eject out of 70 rounds, which I contribute more to ammo at this point. Since I carry 135 grain hollow points with this gun, there shouldn't be an issue with these. However, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Aiming and firing the gun is easy enough. Despite the low profile sights, they were relatively easy to line up and with a firm grip, were quick to get back in line. The trigger pull is what I would in layman's terms is in stages. There's a half inch of slack, followed by another half to three quarter inch of tension terminated by a vague break. In contrast, my Ruger SR9c bang switch needs just a press to set it off. As with my PX4, it was still smooth.

Unlike a lot of guns out there, the grips are small and not adjustable. Considering the price point of this gun, which was about $400, this could be an issue. Even though there is a magazine with an extension that comes with the gun (it did with mine) They aren't always available. What really surprised me was how little recoil this piece has when firing it. It needs a firm grip, but I never had the feeling it was snappy or had too much muzzle flip. Even with the low profile sights, follow up shots were easy to line up. With something as high centered as this gun is, that's an achievement.

What will take time to achieve is some accuracy along with practice. This one was not accurate right out of the box. While you can adjust the sights with an Allen wrench, you also need to remember to bring the Allen wrench to be useful. As a result I found myself shooting low and to the right six to nine inches at 30 feet. Even my amateurish self can hit within six inches of the center of the target with the Ruger consistently. This is no fault of the gun, but a need to practice and familiarize myself with it and adjust it properly. It also means not carrying it until this is taken care of.

With the Federal ammo, I had two malfunctions. Both were failures to eject. One where the round went up and down and the other with where it jammed behind another round. Both times a pull on the slide cleared it. A minor concern plinking at the farm could be a huge problem defending oneself at home or the street. I've heard in some circles this gun likes at least 124 grain ammo, but the manual doesn't specify. All it does make mention of is not to use submachine gun or reloaded ammo. Neither of these are a problem for me. However, when I can find something bigger than 115 grain that isn't a dollar a round, I'll try it again and see what it does. Even with that, the Lellier and Bellot fed through without an issue.

As for the verdict, the jury is still out. The Nano is comfortable to shoot repeatedly without any drama. Although my hands are average sized, a woman would have no problem shooting or carrying this gun with relative ease. It disappears under a shirt and waistband. What needs to happen is practice, and often if you are going to defend your life with it. The trigger pull is long, and between that and it not always being accurate out of the box you will need more than an afternoon a year to dial this in. Plan on either bore sighting or burning some ammo and playing with the sights to get it spot on, or as much as a piece with a 2 inch barrel can get anyway. As always, I will follow up when I get another chance to shoot it, and I can't wait. Maranatha!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sodium Light Redux and Repurpose.

As always, electricity is dangerous when not respected and injury, death and property damage can happen even under the best of circumstances. Some training on wiring, and the use of some safety tools and procedures including lock out/ tag out would be a good idea. Be sure to follow all applicable electrical codes and perform all outdoor wiring through a G.F.C.I. or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. This will shut off the electricity during a ground fault, a condition that is extremely dangerous. Think of the scenario of taking a bath and a hair dryer falling into the tub when you think of a ground fault. I've put these in my kitchen and bathrooms as well as outside. These outlets cost about $10 to $15, but are much cheaper than an emergency room visit or funeral.  If there isn't one or you aren't sure there is one or how to do it, better to contact a licensed journey electrician to install a G.F.C.I for you. I've done home repairs for over 20 years and will still consult one if there is something I'm not sure of. Do this and any other repairs or mods at your own risk.

To be honest with you, this is more of an idea for the handyman than an actual fix. Back in December, my then employer at Aire Serv had me relamp the four lights at the back of the office and they looked and still look like this one. They have a 75 watt high pressure sodium bulb. As you all may or may not know these bulbs are $15 to $20 apiece. He bought four bulbs and in the intense cold, I was able to resurrect three by just replacing the bulbs. I told him that the fourth was going to need to be rebuilt and likely was going to exceed the cost of a new assembly. He agreed and bought an L.E.D. fixture, which I dutifully installed. I asked and he let me keep the light in which I saved rather than trashing it. Except for some yellowing and a little sun damage, the casing was fine and the socket was intact. I relegated it to my shed for nearly six months. Fast forward to yesterday, I bought a 13 watt CFL bug light, some plastic conduit and an elbow, along with a couple of male adapters to fit into the socket and the bottom of the light, which incidentally had no knockout, only a casting on the bottom, which I drilled out with a Christmas tree bit and threaded one of the adapters into so I could feed the conduit to.

The sodium light was bright enough for any dark area, and the trailer park I live in is very dark indeed. However, it's nice to be able to see the stars at night too. As it turned out, the electric eye was bad and that needed to be replaced anyway. So I removed and saved the igniter and ballast, installed the new eye and since this was an Edison (medium) base, installed the CFL (Compact Florescent Lamp). All that was needed was to connect the neutral wires together. Attach the black wire on the electric eye to the hot side on the line going in and the red wire to the hot lead for the bulb. Put the case back together and viola!, a light that's tough, not too bright and does the job perfectly. Maybe I'll install an L.E.D. bulb in this thing during the winter, but for now the yellow CFL bug light works great. Maranatha!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Some Dishwasher Woes and How to Correct or Prevent Them.

We were without a dishwasher in my house for a month and let me tell you it wasn't fun. My wife isn't too keen on dirty dishes piling in the sink or on the counter. Considering that my cat uses the counters, tables and furniture as her own personal raceway, I wouldn't want to be without them either. Once thing I will tell you is that we do not have a top of the line model. It's an Amana Five Cycle I got at Menards for about $180 a year and a half ago. Of course, this model is N.L.A. in any store and the next best thing is going to run you about $300. Our dishwasher does a fantastic job of cleaning dishes as long as we fill the water softener with salt. There are others that are going to be lower priced than this, but even the higher end models made nowadays are going to suffer with longer cycles and poor performance if neglected or misused. Without the right maintenance, cleaning, rinse aids and soaps they will not clean your dishes.
The right soap (or detergent) is the most critical, and I'm going to go on record to say that many store brands may or may not work. The name brands, such as Finish and Cascade tablets will work the best. This is because they contain an enzyme. Other, cheaper brands will use silica and bleach. These are great for removing stains, but cleaning dishes is going to be hit or miss with this. The reason for detergent issues were that a few years ago, the Feds outlawed Phosphorus in detergents. It does a great job of cleaning, but is impossible to remove in water treatment plants. Phosphorus depletes dissolved Oxygen in the water, which leads to killed fish and algae buildup. Since then detergent manufacturers have been trying to keep up with this mandate. In this case, you get what you pay for. Buy the cheap detergent and pay the price with dirty dishes.
 Rinse aids (they should be called drying agents) are mandatory, so use them. You can probably get away with a store brand in this case, but a name brand might help depending on the quality of your water and what you do to condition it. Our water isn't the greatest, but we use a store brand and it works fine. A rinse aid keeps minerals and other impurities from setting back on your dishes. Without it, they will likely spot up.
Water temperature is very important to dissolve the detergent. If it takes you a small eternity to get hot water from your kitchen tap, it's going to be the same with your dishwasher. Some will stop the cycle until they've heated the water enough to use. As most modern dishwashers have a smaller element than older ones do, this could add up to a day to get the water hot enough. The best cure for this is to run the hot water from the tap until it is hot enough and then run the dishwasher. You may want to adjust the temperature on the water heater. See your owner's manual.
In days past, most dishwashers had a chopper installed to help break up hard food to an extent. What they won't do well with are woody, or fibrous foods that will not only clog up the chopper, but may even clog impeller on the drain pump. Excessive grease will also cause problems as will poor water quality. Nowadays, dishwashers have a filter that needs to be cleaned every time the machine is run. This is to cut down on noise and save energy. If you don't clean this filter, your dishwasher won't be able to clean and drain properly. See your owners manual to see what yours has.
The most preventable problem comes from dirty water draining in from the garbage disposal or drain. The best way is to either install an air gap on your sink, or simply loop the drain line above the disposal. This is an installation problem that I've found a lot lately, including the installer of the garbage disposal failing to remove the knockout plug. Hey, it happens. Hopefully, this helps you before you have to call in a service person. There are a lot of issues you can have, but these are the main ones. Maranatha!

G.E. Refrigerator Water Dispenser Issue.

A little over a month into my new job/career and I've seen and worked on a lot. Tomorrow, I get to work by myself into what is hopefully a slow day, but whatever it is, I will fight my way through it. One issue I've been seeing a little bit are with the water dispenser on G.E. side-by-side refrigerators. I have worked on a few of them and recommend them as being reliable. The main problem, exclusive of issues with the valves, tubing, a frozen tank or more rarely a plugged water filter, is a frozen line in the freezer door. You heard this right, a frozen water line in the freezer door. After about 10 years, the insulation breaks down enough in the door (probably due to environmental laws on foam insulation) to allow this line to freeze. The best fix is to replace the door with a new one, and provided this isn't made of unobtainium, or N.L.A. (No Longer Available) is going to run about $750. Aside from the inconvenience of not being able to use the water from the fridge, the rest of the operation isn't affected. You can still get ice (as long as the icemaker is still working, and this isn't very expensive to have done or do yourself) and open the door to get a cold drink. You can also try putting cardboard between the freezer compartment and the door (make sure the door is closed) to thaw it out, or even a old bedspread. This fix will last for anywhere from 2 weeks to several months and then you will have to repeat the process over and again. The other option is to live with it until you get a new fridge. Maranatha!

When Not To Fix It Yourself! Control Arm Bushings on a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am

As many of my regular readers know, one of the autos in my "fleet" is a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am. This car has a 2.2 liter DOHC engine with multi point fuel injection, a four speed electronically controlled transaxle, air conditioning, an aftermarket radio, power windows, brakes and steering. Since 2006, it has been the family workhorse; eight years going on nine. It has hauled numerous kids and travelled almost 100,000 miles under our ownership taking my wife and I, as well as others to work and back. It has done this with very little other than preventative maintenance. We've done 3 window regulators, 1 door glass, a fuel pump, 2 sets of tires, 2 sets of spark plugs, tie rods, 2 sets of front struts, 2 front brake calipers, several sets of pads, two sets of rotors and 2 sets of control arm
 bushings. Other than the control arm bushings, I've done the work myself and after this weekend I'm glad I left them to a pro. True, the parts were less then $40.00, but the labor amounted to $175.00 and about 5 hours of backbreaking labor.
It took a torch (which I don't have oxygen and acetylene at the moment) to get one of them loose from the K-member, and several tries getting the through bolts tight enough to prevent them from banging against the frame when I stopped the car. After about 4 hours I was about ready to junk the car after 114,000 miles with a relatively decent body. I wasn't even doing the work, but imagine if I was doing the work, with no air tools, hoist or working torch.
Oh I did price how much it would have been to get an electric impact wrench. The cheapest one I found was at Harbor Freight for $50. Oxygen and acetylene would have probably run me about $20 to $30 or so for the small tanks. Since I live in a trailer park with a limited budget, I would have been doing this stuff on my back under jackstands.
Needless to say, the car will be completely done Monday night if my wife can remember to take it  back to the shop. After talking to a young mother who had just bought a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix for $8000 at a local dealer (the miles were identical to mine, but the body on mine is less beat up), this one might hang around for a while. This car is still too small, but at least it's done for now. Maranatha!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

What is Going On Lately?

Okay, I'll tell you. Went out to the farm to practice my shooting skills on my Nano. No such luck as the workers were out ploughing and planting the fields and too close to where we shoot anyway. So much for that. Our culture with guns is one about safety, and more of when not to shoot. Today, this was not an option. This past week, I've fixed lots of appliances, including Samsung, LG, Whirlpool, Frigidaire, GE, etc. Friday we fixed three dryers, checked out two refrigerators, fixed a range, and two washers, and had seven or eight calls in the course of eight hours. It's been fun thus far.