June 19, 2012

Working Around the House

Working Around the House
One of the joys of being a homeowner, and I'm not being facetious,  is getting to fix and improve things around the house.  With my garage clean-up & organization routine well underway I was motivated to fix a few things that I needed to and wanted to.

Yes, the garage is not finished yet.  I've got the hard stuff done and now just have a ton of fiddly things to deal with.  I've come up with a new method of completing the work where I spend an unspecified amount of time in the garage each day working methodically until my time is up.  Sounds kind of lazy, but what I do is turn on the radio and take note of the first song being played. From then on I just work steady until I hear the station repeat that first song at which point I clean up and pack it in for the day.

Works for me.

Yesterday, in addition to the time cleaning up in the garage I managed to fix a broken light switch, install a new lighted switch in the garage (so I can easily find the switch in the dark), replace the broken deadbolt, clean, sharpen, & oil the lawn mower, and fix my broken weed-eater.  That's a lot for me even though each task should have been easy.

The broken deadbolt had been a thorn in my side for some time.  It was one of those "simple" jobs that went horribly wrong during installation.  The deadbolt is supposed to be easily re-keyed with a simple tool, but either it failed or, more likely, I screwed up the re-key process and then the deadbolt wouldn't work with any key.  Fortunately for me the manufacturer was good about replacing just the locking mechanism and when I got my tools squared away I was able to find the appropriate sized allen wrench to disassemble the lock to swap out the parts.

The Circuit Detective
The light switch....the broken one, was a nightmare to fix.  The electrical box seemed overly complicated as it had two three-way switches.  One was for the outside lights and I think the second one might be for an outlet along that wall.  It was a confusing mess of cables when I ripped the old multiple timer switch out.....before noting how things were wired up to begin with.

I was lucky in that I was able to get online and discover The Circuit Detective.  I was able to put in the specific configuration of cables I had coming into the box and skip down to this picture and then narrow it down from six possible hookups to the correct one.  There was a lot of back and forth between the switches and the breaker panel....and a trip to the hardware store before this one got fixed.

Of course once it was fixed I had to try twice to put it all back into the box because the first time something wasn't right and the breaker wouldn't flip back on.  The box was pretty tight for space with all those cables.

While I was at the hardware store I managed to score the mower blade balancer I needed as well as a replacement head for my weed-eater.  In the past I've been a bit lazy and just bought new mower blades, but now that I have a working tool bench I figured I should just sharpen the blades I already have.  That was a quick job when you have the right tools.  While I was at it I cleaned the underside of the mower and gave it a generous spraying of WD-40.

My last project was to fix my Ryobi CS30 Weed Trimmer.  I love this power tool.  It has served me well as a weed eater, but the lower half of the shaft is removable and you can replace the weed-eater with an edger.  I often forget that I have an edger, but with the progress I've made with the garage I could now find, and properly store, the edger attachment.  Unfortunately the trimmer head didn't want to feed out line anymore.  It happens with these bump-feed trimmer heads, but I wasn't highly motivated to tinker with it and see if I could coax another season out of it.

Ryobi Reel Easy String Head
Fortunately for me I stumbled upon an awesome replacement head.  How awesome is it you might ask?  Awesome enough that had I not needed a new trimmer head I would have picked this up when I saw it. The head uses the thicker .95 trimmer line, which is nice, and the whole head went on easy, which was great.  The kicker for this thing is how you replace the trimmer line.  Usually you have to take the head apart and wind the line in.  This can get a little finicky and the resulting feed-out problematic.  Over the last few trimmers I've used I recall quite a few times having to stop and rewind the spool because the line bound up instead of feeding out smoothly.  With this replacement head you just measure out about 25' of line and stick it in the hole once you've lined the bump head with the outer casing.  Simply pull the line all the way through the head (an easy push) and basically get the head to the halfway point in the line.  Then you just grab the bump-head and rotate it.  The line gets wound naturally inside the casing, which will let it feed easily.  Wind it until about 8" is exposed and you are done.  I also liked how the bump head is easily replaced.

This product is called the Reel Easy String Head and is Ryobi model number AC04151T.  If you have a Ryobi Trimmer, get this head.  If not, get a Ryobi trimmer.  I highly recommend the CS30 because it can take a whole slew of attachments.