Rack Can’t Help Fix A Cellphone, or Can He?

I’m that guy. I can repair a piece of electronics down to “the board level” and replace the components that are on it.

Lets be fair, some of the components are beyond me, smaller than a grain of sand. But the larger things are possible.

If I go out and buy a piece of electronics, I look into how repairable it is. I’ve replaced volume controls on a transistor radio, and the USB port on an external hard drive case.

I guess I was lucky that time, everything was spaced out just so.

Some of that can take a small forever to fix too, but I will give it all a try.

Once the warranty is up, I’m going to at least look inside the case of something.

In this case, it was much more involved. “It” was my HTC One M9 Cellphone. “It” was also rated “Very Difficult” to work on by www.ifixit.com and that was fair.

You see these days, you find things sealed up, glued together and made so that you the owner never have a chance of putting a knob back on something. Specifically I am thinking of anything that comes out of Apple these days.

It’s also why I don’t use Apple laptops. I’ve had to replace bits on my own Thinkpads, Dell, and HP computers. There’s a limit with those too, but I demand the ability to easily replace the hard drive and the memory.

Try that on a Mac. I’ll wait.

Didn’t think so!

I waited for the house to be empty. Had to. Humans being social, they demand attention. Since the replacement of the battery on iFixIt was rated “Very Difficult” and at 30 minutes, I knew that I would probably have to take double the time to put a new battery in the phone.

It took a half hour alone to find the tools to do the job, and I have the tools. We keep them here specifically to do this sort of thing.

Started the whole mess at about 10:30. It would give me time to get it done, shower before lunch, and do it in a leisurely manner.

Nope.

That first half hour of very carefully taking off the plastic fascia, and a few very strange screws had me stressed.

Then the wet nose happened.

Rack was checking in. He padded across the tile floor in the quiet house without my knowing. I had a tickle at my elbow and looked over at the familiar black and white face.

Then I glanced at the clock. 11:30. I frittered away an hour getting tools, and a plastic sliver off the top of my phone.

Oh and two “T5” Torx screws from the top of the thing. I wasn’t completely lost.

Basically I was taking it slow. It’s a beautiful piece of hardware, but it’s ridiculously difficult to work with.  In comparison, my older Samsung Galaxy S4 snaps open with a plastic cover in the back I can run a fingernail under.  The battery is user replaceable as well as my SIM and my memory chip.  Done in seconds.

I took the rest of the time to Noon to get the entire case open and splayed out in front of me.

Sighing, I got up and let Rack out for a walk in the back yard, and to make my lunch.

Lunch, Shower, and back at it in about a half hour.

The disassembly of the phone is a fourteen step process.

Remove screws.

Remove antenna wires.

Remove ribbon cables held in by ZIF connectors.

Lift motherboard.

Remove battery.

It was about 3 in the afternoon before I had the thing disassembled and reassembled.

Each half hour I had a wet nose looking in on me. I guess that I was worried, Rack probably smelled it. He’d come in, look in on me, sit down, make me clear my head.

I’m glad he did. Oh he can’t handle a screwdriver or a soldering iron. He doesn’t have opposable thumbs. But he did serve a very good purpose.

He made me pause and look around. These pieces are so small that in some cases I used another cell phone to take a picture, zoom in, and look at it.

As a result Rack stopped me from having total vision failure from eye strain induced by bad design and teeny tiny itsy bitsy electronic parts.

Well, great! Time for a Smoke Test. You know, press the magic button and see if it comes on?

Oddly enough I had bumped it trying to seal the back and the phone came on before it was snapped in place.

Camera did not work. Flashlight did not work.

Rack came back. I paid attention to him. Set that phone down. I couldn’t see the monitor without

being right on top of the thing now.

When Rack left, I pried it all apart and re-seated all the connections.

Success! I could tighten those screws down and begin to charge the battery.

That half hour repair took me six hours.

Including lunch and a shower and letting Rack out when he needed it.

I think I needed that pause more than he did but I’m not letting him know that.

Trust In Dog, They Know.

That’s a mantra here. There’s a certain something that having a Herding Dog around the house will enhance. They learn. More importantly, they learn YOU. They also know when you need a distraction.

It’s not a weirdly bark at anything that moves thing. He actually knows when there’s too much going on, time to take a break.

There’s that wet nose.

Postie coming by and you’re involved in something? “Moof.” Rack says. Pay attention. Go get the mail, there’s a wee little box in there as long as some circulars and a J. Peterman catalog.

Like I said, Trust In Dog, They Know.

Now the Parrot? He’s shady. Needs to be watched over. He’s got his eye on the woodwork in this house…

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Using Aftermarket 18650 Lithium Batteries in a Rechargeable Garden Tool

Let me start out with saying the lawyer words:

This is at your own risk.

The batteries I am using are Lithium Ion batteries scavenged from (one or more) laptops.  If you puncture, overheat, or otherwise damage one of these batteries it is possible that they may catch fire.

Do not short circuit these batteries.  Use a charger designed for these batteries specifically.

This is at your own risk.

The Science Words:

The batteries were scavenged from laptops, and you can get 18650 batteries online that will be of full capacity.  I am using scavenged batteries because I had a couple old laptops that were going to be recycled.

From what I have learned, you can not charge these Lithium batteries in series.  Connected as a block, the batteries will overheat when charged and they may catch fire.  The circuitry in a laptop will charge the individual cells separately.

They are 3.7 VDC cells, which makes them attractive for this project.  The saw took 14.4 VDC which is four cells.  I had 4 2 cell blocks which gave me more amperage to push into the saw.

I get around all the warnings doing it this way because the cells can be removed, and charged individually in a charger made for 18650 Lithium Ion batteries.

Or so it says when I bought it from a Chinese Supplier – and we all know how trustworthy Chinese Suppliers can be.

Or not.

Sarcasm aside, here’s how I did it.

I had a Saw that was given to me as an oddball item.  No battery pack, No Charger.

I had all these batteries.

I ordered the battery holder (that black thing with the blue cells in them) for emergency purposes.

Connecting four batteries gives me 14.4 VDC so I was able to test the saw by connecting the terminals directly.  The motor worked.

Waiting for a reason to heat up the hot glue gun, I decided to do this one sunday morning.  It took me about an hour.

Step 1 disassembly.

Remove all screws and set the mechanicals aside.  I was lucky that the parts did not fall out onto the table when I went to open the saw, and nothing was plastic welded together.

Luckily, the electronics were simple, and the plug into which the original battery pack was to fit was obvious.  I could slide that connector out and solder my battery pack to that connector permanently, glue the battery pack in place, and screw things back together.

The placement of the new battery pack was by eyeball, and made sense to me.  Your placement will probably vary.  See my last picture for what I’m getting at.

Step 2 solder the connection.

I realized I could thread the two wires from the battery pack through the air vents in the side of the saw without drilling holes.  Of course, if you are modifying a different tool, your placement will vary.

Using Hot Glue, I was able to attach the battery holder to the side of the saw and only covered up one of the multiple screw holes on the side.

When that was placed, then I could connect the block’s wires to the Red, Positive connector to the Saw’s Electronics with Solder.  Red-to-red – to keep the polarity of my connections correct.

I then did the same for the Black, Negative connection.  Again, Black-to-Black to keep the polarity of my connections correct.

I did a test to make sure that the wires were soldered to the connector block like in the picture above.  The motor groaned to life, the wires held, and I noted that the batteries needed a charge.

I then disconnected all of the batteries and wrangled the connector block back into place, seated the wires, and screwed the Saw back together.

Step 3 the finished product.

Once I seated the wires inside the saw back in their original channels, I could close the unit up back as normal.

After it was placed back together, I tested the saw once again and everything worked.

Great!

Step 4 Why I did it this way instead of getting a battery pack.

So yeah I could have thrown money at this saw.  The thing was that I knew that I would not need it much.  Having a lot of these batteries around, as well as the battery packs from last Hurricane Season, I knew that I could rig a lot of this sort of thing together.

I had a couple of other tools in the shed that I could have done this with, but the Saw was the only oddball that ran at 14.4VDC.  The other tools were powered by 18VDC and we had gotten a charger and a battery for them.

So my red saw being the only odd man out was going to get “hacked”.

Safety would dictate not doing it this way, but I do have the batteries, and I did have a little better than basic knowledge of electronics being able to replace individual components on an electronic appliance.

“I do board level repairs” on electronics, when they are readily apparent as to what needs to be replaced.  This kind of a mod is trivial.

It rendered it “more safe” because the batteries are taken out of the unit and charged separately.

But ultimately this kind of thing is at your own risk since it is what a pharmaceutical would call an Off Label Use of the product.

But really ….

I Think I Sold A Jeep

I have been driving Jeeps since 1996.  Real Jeeps.  Jeep Wranglers.  None of that cushy living room sofa giant beast crap out there that you suburban types like so much.

Sure, they’re a bit on the simple side, even crude.  I can see the sheet metal that makes up the part that we call The Bucket when I sit down in it.  That is by design.  It doesn’t need extra frills like layers of plastic to muffle the noises and make things all “pretty”.

Plastic is optional, it will just break anyhow.

It is as simple as you can get for a car.  At least it was.  Mine is a 13 year old Jeep Wrangler TJ4 Liter Inline Six Motor designed by AMC.  That motor could be called the last gasp of AMC before it was bought by Chrysler.  Chrysler knew a good thing and kept it in production until 2006 when they went with a V6 that is slightly smaller.  It’s predecessors date back to the early 1960s, so you know it was a keeper.  Pushrods and all that sort of mechanical “stuff” made for a tough motor that really didn’t need a lot of electronics to keep it going.

I’ll keep my straight six, thank you very much.

I had a repair to do to it because, Jeep.  You see Jeeps have the reputation of being tough but they also have a problem with their electronic controls.  You get a check engine light that comes on around 40,000 miles and people scratch their heads and say “It’s a Jeep” and walk away.  Meanwhile that light stays on and you’re annoyed.
No.  I don’t.

Thanks to my buddy Craig who gave me his old code reader, I was able to find out that the throttle body sensor wore out.  I replaced it in my driveway.  The only grief was the mosquito bite I got while bent over the hood.

No codes, no lights.  Happy Jeep, Happy Jeeper.

We noticed that there was a Jeep sitting in a driveway a block or three from the house on our dog walk.  Someone was putting it out to pasture… or rather selling it.  Good price too, 8900 for a Wrangler that was newer than mine.  Of course mine is Cherry and in Good To Excellent Condition With Low Mileage (45K) but that’s a different story.
Or Brag…

I don’t think they’ll miss that Jeep.  There was a Black TJ sitting next to it all lifted and chromed and basically pimped out.  So there’s still a Jeep “In the family” for when they want to go ride.

I saw it, and wondered how long it would take to sell it.  One day it was gone.   I thought it was sold.

I walked past the property and up to the park when I saw that Jeep making a very tight turn.  Too tight, the wheels rubbed with a “VRRRRT!” sound.

If you put too tall a tire on a Jeep, they will rub.  You can fix that by loosening a bolt.

That was exactly what I told the woman who was going to buy it:

“Hey, you’re rubbin’!”
“Oh you heard that?  I don’t know…”
“It’s easy to fix!  Just a bolt!”

I went into my Jeep Guy Geekery full on at that point.  Showed the woman then and there which bolt and told her to look online for my blog.  “I did the same thing.  Put 31s on mine and took all sorts of pictures to show you what to do.  It’s a 15 minute fix if you rush, 5 minutes if you take your time!”

I told her to keep an eye out for the AC Controls since the resistor pack burns out.  You can fix those too, but they’re annoying to get to.

I’m on my third one.  They usually last about 20,000 miles if you keep it on 3 instead of 4 like I always did.  4 is just too damn loud but you don’t hear it once you’re over 55MPH anyway.   Soft tops are loud, no way around that.

She smiled and thanked me over and over and took off with a quick chirp of the back wheels.

New learner to a stick.  You need a stick, at least once in your life.  A stick shift gives you a healthy respect for what your car does.  Much more of a primal feel instead of the numb computer-room feel of an automatic transmission, especially one of those new Continuously Variable Transmission.   Those things turn your motor into a constant drone that gets wearing after a few minutes.  The motor runs at peak torque the entire time and never changes.  Monotonous.

I went on my way.  Never saw her or the Jeep again.  The motor sounded like silk so she got a good one.

I know I did.  You see, I went in for an overdue oil change the other day.  The man behind the counter hinted strongly that he wanted to buy my car.

Nope!  I don’t want a computer room on wheels.  I’ll stick with my car.

“You know, I understand I can get classic plates for it now.  How about THAT!”

I left with an oil change and a new air filter and a big ol’ smile on my face.  If that car doesn’t make you happy every time you get in it, why have it?

New Nut, New Skates – Fixing my K2 227G Skates For Another Couple Thousand Miles

I am the kind of person who can repair the inside of a switch.

No, I don’t mean go to the parts store and buy a new one, then solder it in.  Of course I can do that.

I mean actually disassemble the switch and most of the time I can actually remanufacture the switch.

I’ve always been creative at reusing things, my first repair was dad’s 8-Track player way back in the day.  He hated that I did it, but was shocked that I could.

I’ve got this massive box of parts for electronics, a cabinet of parts for my own odds and ends, and deep in the closet under my dress shirts and my running shoes is the Skate Box.

I think it is probably true that I have the most number of inline skate bearings in Wilton Manors under one roof.  It isn’t that I run a skate shop, although I easily could, it is that I have been refurbishing bearings for decades at this point.

Literally two decades.  I got into the sport in 1993.  I have skated every year since.  I have skated 21,100 miles total.

Yes, I count.

When I was competing, I skated as much as 2,500 miles a year and 200 miles a week.

Wanna come?

I didn’t think so.  Inline skating as a sport collapsed in the early 2000s.  It’s now That Kid Down The Block or the trick skaters.  The rest of us do it because we really enjoy the activity.

I mean really.

Given the parts, I am able to keep my sport going.  I can tear down a pair of skates down to the component parts and tighten them back again so that the wheels roll free with no binding and no crunching due to crap in the bearings.

I have also trained people in how to actually skate without breaking their fool necks on a number of occasions. 

After all, if you skate, you will fall.

But all that mechanical stuff sometimes goes awry.  I’ve thrown bearings and bolts in the past.  What I mean is that I’m skating along and all the sudden something feels a bit “wrong”.  Looking down, I notice I’ve lost a wheel or my brake is wobbly.

Slow to a crawl and retrace the last mile.  See if you can find that nut.  If you can’t you probably won’t find an exact replacement.

Why?  They stopped manufacturing that skate back in 2003 and you are stuck.  I contacted K2 and that was their answer.  Too bad.  Amazing skate.

That was what happened with my favorite pair of “Cruising Skates”.  They’re a pair of K2 227G Softboot skates.  I could strap those things on and do a 50 mile workout in comfort gliding from Philadelphia to Valley Forge and beyond not thinking twice other than how far is it to the next Water Stop.

Five Wheels Good, Four Wheels Meh. 
Bigger Wheels Fast, Smaller Wheels More Maneuverability.
I’d kill for a proper pair of cruising skates with five 100MM or greater wheels on it…

The problem with all skates, not K2 alone, is that those soft boots wear down due to your foot sliding against the fabric.  Eventually they get to the point where your heel has worn the fabric lining down and you’re against the padding.  My skates are all at that point, and I have lined them with, you guessed it, Duct Tape.

In this case, Olive Drab, Military Spec, Industrial Strength Duct Tape, but Duct Tape nonetheless.

But back to that bolt thing.

Every time you disassemble a skate, and this is also pretty good to remember for when you repair your car or the back gate, use some “Loctite” on the threads of the screws. 

Loctite is a sort of glue that you put a dot on the threads of the screw or bolt, then tighten up.  That glue will hold a screw in place instead of allowing it to work free under use.  For “light duty”, something you intend to remove later for service, use “Loctite Blue”.  You can remove it and replace it later.  The other strengths like Loctite Red may be too strong for duty, so you need to research that yourself.

For skates, Loctite Blue is perfect, and is even what my skates came with.

But in the case of my favorite skates, I forgot to use it on the nut on my push wheel.  That’s the back wheel on the right foot.  Most of the force from my skating was on the back wheel due to my not skating in racing form lately, but most people tend to push from the heel as a matter of course.   It is incorrect technique, but if you’re just out cruising around the park in loops, nobody will hold that against you.

Fitness Skating vs Racing. 

Somewhere around the Pompano Beach Airpark, near to the Goodyear Blimp base, I threw that nut.  It’s somewhere in the grass, I’ll never find it, and I’ll probably never stop looking for it.  It’s an aluminium nut that looks like a mushroom.  The stem part goes over the bolt that holds the push wheel in, the cap held the brake assembly tight to the skate “truck” where the wheels live.

I took the skate with me to the Home Depot on Sunrise Blvd in Ft Lauderdale.  Instead of going to the local small old line hardware store, I went there only because it is closer.  Standing by the parts bin full of weird fasteners, I was poking around.  The bolt tested to 8MM (Metric) and I knew I could find a standard hex nut, but I wanted a cap on the top. 

I’m looking at it all “cluessly and confused” until this little woman came up.  A former Skater herself, we had a great time talking about The Good Old Days of the 1990s and early 2000s when we could get up dozens of people for a long haul workout.  But she knew exactly what I needed.  A “T-Nut”.  We found one that fit.  All that I had to do was bend the prongs back.

That’s the thing with doing something out there that others have stopped doing.  It’s like keeping a classic car going.  Sometimes you have to machine the part, other times you can rebuild it with Loctite and Duct Tape, and other times you really need a friendly Skater Chick to find a T-Nut to get you back on the road.

Thanks Skater Chick!  You were the Best!  Lets hit the park sometime!

Replacing A Jeep Wrangler 2002 Fan Resistor Pack

Join me on a journey with my Jeep. 

You will see me scrape knuckles.  You will see me swat mosquitoes.  You will see me refashion tools.

But you will see the job completed.

Ok, enough of this Zen Crap.  If you found this article, you have a Jeep.  Probably a Wrangler, but it could be a Liberty, Patriot, Cherokee, or Grand Cherokee.  I am under the impression that this is common for these cars of the 1996-2002 era, plus or minus a few years, and maybe even to this day. 

This is informational only, you’re on your own, At Your Own Risk.  I take no responsibility for any mistakes you do or whether you damage yourself or your own vehicle.

Lawyer disclaimer crap aside, it took me an hour to get the part out, and an hour to get it finished.

However, if you had the right tool in the first place, you could have had it done in about a half hour total.  If you have a Liberty or a Grand Cherokee, I understand the resistor pack is in a similar location but much more accessible since they are a newer design or just larger.

My Wrangler still has some AMC Design Elements in it, and that means it’s a simple beast and you can still fix it in your carport while swatting mosquitoes, swearing, and sweating, but it could be somewhat improved.  That was what Chrysler did in later models by moving this part into a more accessible area.

I was able to diagnose this with a little logic.

My Jeep had either no air when I turned the selector to off, or it only had air when it was turned on full.  The middle speeds simply did not work.  This implied that the switch should be intact, and the resistor pack was fried.  I confirmed this with a multimeter inside the house when I had it removed on a cool down break.

The Resistor Pack is necessary to put a load on the power lines supplying the blower motor that moves all that precious AC and Heat around your car.  What it does when you select speed 1 is to put the highest electrical resistance in line.  Select speeds 2 or 3, and you get less resistance.  Speed 4 is no resistance, and the fan runs at its highest speed.

That was what I saw in my Jeep.  Darth Jeep by name, he’s black and tan just like a good beer.  DJ to his friends.  DJ the TJ.

You don’t name your Jeep?  How does it know how to get home? 

Anyway…

The Resistor pack has a large flat area in the back where the resistance is actually created by a number of lines of resisting wire.  The large flat area is stuffed inside your air flow boxes so that it acts like a heat sink and is kept cool while the fans are on.

In my case, my Jeep has 44,000 miles and 12 years on it.  That means, 6 years of use, and it went pop.  That fits with my memory since I needed replacement a couple years after I moved to Florida in 2006.  I almost never use the car since I generally don’t have to go anywhere here other than by foot.

The first picture shows the location of the resistor pack as installed in the dashboard of my Jeep.  It is in a cramped spot, and is held down by two 5/16 inch bolts.  You can see the first one in the picture, the other bolt is at the alternate corner.  If the first one is at the Northwest corner, the second bolt is at the Southeast corner. 

Both bolts must be removed, and doing so is a task that I completed with a 5/16 inch crescent wrench.  Since a wrench that small is typically not bent to have the circular end at an angle, and they are made of thin metal, I used a leatherman’s tool to bend a 30 degree angle in the wrench in order to be able to get the bolts out.  Once I did that, the bolts came out much easier.  There are tabs that are simply in the way of your being able to do this job. 

You will be removing that lower bolt blind unless you are small enough to wrench yourself under the dashboard.  Since I am 6’4″ tall there was simply no way I was going to get into that spot upside down and looking up at the part.

You will also need to temporarily remove the green Connector Block from its tab on the air box/plenum/dashboard.  There is a little red tab that snaps to lock the whole thing in place.  Unlock the red tab by snapping it forward, then slide the connector block out of your way. 

I disconnected the connector block, then pulled the resistor pack out.  It wasn’t easy, it required a lot of maneuvering around to get it out of the little hole.  I was able to do so by removing the connector from the back of the block.  That itself was difficult since there was a red plastic lock holding it all together.  I removed that lock by pulling it apart and removing it permanently.  It may cause problems later, but at least I know where it is!

The detail shows the block in close up as assembled.

Two final things:

To get the part?  You can find it at your local auto parts store.  I got mine at Autozone for 1/2 the price of the dealer.  You can also find it on Amazon.  I wanted it TODAY, not in 3 days.

To see someone else do the work?  Search Youtube.  There are videos and none of them showed the detail that I am showing here – where the blasted thing actually is. 

Before you even try, remove the glove box, get your flashlight and look to see if you can find it.  If you can find it, it’s an easy fix even if you’re going to get your knuckles scraped or maybe mosquito bit.

After all it’s March and its in the 80s, and mosquitoes are everywhere.

O||||||O

Painting is Over My Head

I’m handy to have around the house.  I’ll admit it.  But there are some things that maybe I should step back and procrastinate a bit longer with before I actually DO them.

I earned my home repair chops before I was a teen.

I used to have Dad “upgrade” my little toy cars by polishing the roofs shiny with his sander.  I’d then watch Dad cut into the furniture with an electric jig saw.

Measure twice and cut once, Dad.

I haven’t removed any body parts doing strange things with electric tools, but I have come close. I just don’t tell people when I do.  Plus, reading glasses work for safety goggles, right?

My first real repair really ticked Dad off.   He had an 8-track player that stopped working.  That should tell you how far back this was.  He told me outright not to touch the player, he was going to take it back to the dealer and have them fix it.

(Sound of hands brushing themselves on pants with a job well done)

That lingered.  In fact that became a real point of discussion with my parents back then.  Since some of their discussions were pretty loud, I left the room and hid.

I also got my screwdriver.  Opened that sucker up, replaced the belt, and handed it to him.  Told him it was fixed and it was just the belt.   Mom told him to take it and try it before he yelled any more at me.

It worked.  I was hooked.  Dad didn’t realize that showing me how to grind the paint off of little cars and cut into Mom’s Old Bureau in the garage was teaching me how to do the same thing.  So I’d practice and get better at these sorts of repairs.

My house here has a bit of bubbling plaster.  I kept patching it with better and better spackling compound until this time it seemed to hold.

At least it hasn’t fallen off yet.

Now I can spackle a wall better than most.  I have patched walls in apartments and was called on the phone by the  maintenance crew to pick up my deposit check since they never saw such a good job.  Oh, and can you show us how you do it?

The trick is to use an old sock with some water and sand it with the cloth before the spackle completely sets.  You can get a mirror finish if you work with it.   Wet sanding is what you are doing.  It really does work and work well.

But all of this is time consuming so I didn’t really want to return to the job.

It became a Point Of Discussion with Kevin and I.  Now, Kevin’s way of discussing things is much more gentle than Mom and Dad.  He merely mentioned it.  We bounced it back and forth for a while and I finally decided to finish Just That Part and see where it went.  I still thought it needed professional care, but We Shall See and I Will Try.

My Try is better than some people’s Do and worse than others.

The spackle held.

I got out that electric sander of mine and sanded it as close to flat as I could get a bed pillow sized area to get.

Then Kevin discussed it with me again.

“When are you going to prime it?”

He didn’t know just how much I hate painting.   Plus the spot is at about 7 feet off the ground.

“You can use the foot stool in the tub.  Really, you CAN.”

Did I mention I hate painting?  The whole cleaning of brushes? Cleaning of surfaces?  Cleaning of drips?

We had the primer.  We bought it about 2 years ago.  It’s been waiting.  Just like Kevin, it has been waiting.

Finally I got the wild hair to try it.  Walked that primer out to the kitchen and used the big screwdriver to open up the can.  May as well use that screwdriver to stir it up.

That should have told me that something was up.  This was the mutant paint from hell.   It refused to come off the screwdriver with the 130F water we have in the kitchen.   I may have to use sandpaper to make it shine again.

I walked into the bathroom with the little pot of paint and climbed the two steps on the ladder with the Cheap Nylon Brush.  Dip the Cheap Nylon Brush into the paint and start to apply it to the wall.

If you ever saw the old TV show Green Acres, their shack of a house wouldn’t hold paint because you
needed a key to close the pores on the wood.  If you didn’t, it would suck all the paint into the wood and it would be back to grey again.

That was my wall.

The paint hit the wall, and it was immediately gone.  Not dry, just … Gone.

Put another coat on that spot.

This wasn’t completely gone, but the paint brush was now glued to the wall.  The paint dries in an eye blink.

Now What?

I’m painting away with this mutant paint from hell, and it’s getting sucked into the spackling compound that I didn’t want to apply anyway.  It seems that the spackling compound was made out of sponge and vacuum.  Yes, the vacuum of space has sucked away about a cup of weird almost white primer paint in an area smaller than my laptop.

A Cup Of Paint.

Having finished that particular spot, I realized that I had to get the upside down portion of the window well and coat that just as thick.

Cue the paint dripping onto the ceramic tiles.   That will come up right?

I had better check the clean up instructions.

Alcohol, water, and Ammonia?  What is this Merlin the Magician’s Alchemy Class?  Clean before it dries?  Oh holy crap, this stuff dries before it hits the wall.

I grab the Kitchen Scrubby and remove the offending splats from the window well.  The tub now has a new “Eggshell White” spot of primer in the deep end.  That will have to wear off.

What about my Cheap Nylon Brush?

I start cleaning the blasted thing with 130F water and some rubbing alcohol that was under the sink.

Cue a 6’4″ fully grown man screaming like a little girl when the alcohol hits some cuts on the right hand.

The alcohol reacted with the cuts and created pain.  Searing pain.  Luckily the fumes distracted me from that and I was able to get the brush somewhat clean.   I’m just glad I used the Cheap Nylon Brush.

What happens is that the Primer Paint now forms weird coagulated globs that stick everywhere.   The sink is running full tilt to wash the globs down to where ever weird coagulated globs go here in South Florida.

I hope the alligators that live in the sewers enjoy that.

The brush?  Most of it came off, but only a little more than half.  That brush will be fun to use later when I try to put another coat of Eggshell White Primer on it and not on myself.

Or my shoes.   Never my shoes.  I rather like them.  Nothing better than an old pair of sneakers to be comfy when you’re out walking around town … oh DAMN, there’s a splat the dried on the right sneaker.  I guess I’ll just tell people it’s an art statement and see if I get a reaction.

Meanwhile, does anyone have any ammonia handy?  I want to try cleaning that Cheap Nylon Brush again.  When the brush dried and I batted it against my hands, thin clouds of dried paint dust flew into the air so very gently.

And by the way, can you tell how much I like painting?

Dad’s 8-Track, My First Big Fix

Being That Kid, the one who gets into things, can cause problems. 

Some kids were destructive.  They grew up to do things like be demolition experts or construction engineers.  You know the kind, they’d love to break things just to see how it worked.

In my case, I used to break things to fix them.  Sure, I loved to see how they worked, but I’d get things people would stop using because there was a minor problem and then repair them and say “There, better than new because it has a history”.

Ok, maybe I wasn’t THAT well thought out as a wee brat, but you get the picture.

I would fix my things, things around the house, and neighbors stuff.   Kept me busy and kept me from being bored.  I was the kid who rebuilt a switch on a radio that popped open once when I went to New York City to visit my Aunt Betty and Uncle Sal.  Those old “Double Pole, Double Throw slide switches” didn’t always hold together as well as they should.

My sister has a strong memory of my bedroom being crammed full of electronic “projects” in various states of repair and disrepair stacked chock-a-block in every cranny I could make.   Add to it the potted plants in the windows and the big fish tank, and that bedroom was a very full room over the garage.  If I had the storage for the stuff, it would have made this hobby a lot more manageable, but it wasn’t to be.

One day a new project appeared.   Dad brought in his 8-track player.  He had it in his big Buick Limited that eventually became my car once he passed on.   The player was his pride and joy, and when we’d go down to Glassboro for a Saturday Night Out with Ann-Ann and Uncle Frank, he would slap in some of His Music and we’d go down The 295 to Delsea Drive in style. 

This was where I got my love of Glenn Miller, The Dorseys, and The Andrews Sisters to this day.

We stopped listening to His Music after a while and I never really put it together why.  We’d find something else, Middle of the Road music, most likely and glide down on our visits.

That 8-track player appeared in the house with a warning to me:  Don’t Touch That Player!

Being the curious pre-teen that I was, we all knew that wouldn’t work.

The player sat there in its yellow/beige plastic housing with Buick on the faceplate staring at me.  For a while it taunted me until I took the time to find the dreaded Phillips Screwdriver.   It was going to be looked at.  Time to take it apart.

I got the plastic housing apart, then the metal case came off in short order.  Metal Case?  Remember those?

Looking inside of the unit it was very obvious what was wrong.  The unit had thrown its belt and it was no longer attached to the motor.  That belt would move the tape around inside the cartridge and make everything work.  I tightened the screws on the motor so that things sat where they should, then stretched the belt taught.  Sealing things up I put it all back together.

Dad came in shortly thereafter.

“Bill… what.. are you doing?”
“It’s your 8-track, I fixed it!  It was simple!”
“I told you not to!  Umm…”

The conversation went back and forth and eventually he calmed down and we took it out to the beast of a car sitting in the driveway.  Plugging it back into the weird connectors that the car had for this purpose, the 8-Track was now plugged in.

Success.  The Time-Life Swing Era Collection for 1936 came to life with the Toy Trumpet song joyfully playing on the South Jersey Prairies. 

I got a strange look that I now know as “Kid, back off, this is my toy, you could have broken it once and for all”. 

“Thanks, Bill, we’ll have music now!”

Feeling proud, I handed him the little piles of sheet metal screws and the #2 Phillips screwdriver and we replaced the unit in the car.

To the day that we finally got rid of the car, that 8-track sat there with Pride of Place.  Every time I would get in the car and knock my right shin on it, I’d remember the day we put it back in the car.