When I was 19 or 20, I paid a visit to my old grade school to do some computer repair. My fifth-grade teacher dropped in, saw me cleaning up the contacts on a circuit board, and asked why I wasn’t using Everclear. Cleaning electrical contacts with Everclear is, at least, a practice people talk about a lot.
Well, I couldn’t legally buy Everclear yet, for one thing. But let’s talk about why Everclear is good for cleaning electrical contacts but there are other things that can be better.
Continue reading Cleaning electrical contacts with Everclear
When it comes to Marx repairs, the reverse unit is the end of the innocence. Motor repairs are rather easy; reverse unit repair can be as hard as you want it to be.
I’ll share some things I do that seem to make it go easier.
Continue reading Repair a Marx reverse unit
I was working in a vacant house the other day and noticed the previous tenants never changed light bulbs. When I went to change them myself, I saw why. Everywhere I saw a dead bulb, it was in a ceiling fan. Stuck hard.
Here’s the cause, and here’s how I fixed it.
Continue reading Fixing a light bulb stuck in a ceiling fan
I scored a Weller 8200 soldering gun at an estate sale one street over from me for a few dollars. They didn’t know what they had. I got it home and it didn’t work–it wouldn’t heat up–so maybe they knew exactly what they had. Lucky for me, it’s easy to learn how to repair a Weller soldering gun yourself.
It turns out the most common problem with these guns is very easy to fix and doesn’t cost anything. But if you’re like me and got a gun alone, without the case or instructions or the tool they give you, you’d never know.
Continue reading Repair a Weller soldering gun
In spite of what a certain O gauge magazine tells you, vintage toy train transformers aren’t inherently unsafe to use. Age can take their toll on them, so you want to give them a good safety inspection, but as long as they pass the safety inspection, they can give you a long, productive service life. Here’s how to check a train transformer for safety.
All of my train transformers are at least 50 years old, and I expect my sons to inherit them in workable condition. Continue reading How to check a train transformer for safety
My check engine light came on this morning. I’ve been driving this Honda Civic since May 2003, and this is only the third time that’s happened. But the other two times were nuisance lights. The car ran fine, so I bought a new gas cap, replaced the cap, and the light went off.
This time was different. I confirmed it when I turned the corner and tried to accelerate to 25 miles per hour. The car acted like I was asking it to go a hundred and twenty-five.
After 10-plus years and 194,000-plus miles, I had my first mechanical problem. For the first time, I was going to the mechanic for something other than arbitrary, mileage-based maintenance. Continue reading The hall of famer lets me down
Last week I had to get an air conditioner serviced. The air conditioner was cooling fairly well, but struggling to keep up on hot days when it had kept up just fine last year. So I bit the bullet and paid $79 for a cleaning and health check. In the process I learned it’s possible to clean your own air conditioner.
I also learned is that a cleaning can make the difference between running all day and being able to maintain a comfortable temperature while cycling. So cleaning the air conditioner makes it more comfortable and more efficient, saving you money. I also learned that the most important part of the cleaning is something you can do yourself, very easily. If your air conditioner isn’t under warranty anymore, you can save the $79, which adds up.
Continue reading Clean your own air conditioner and save a bundle
A query appeared on one of the train forums and has slowly spread through several discussion groups I’m aware of, regarding a 2-rail O scale train layout, built by a hobbyist in the 1950s and 1960s, who died in 1967. The layout sat for 45 years, and now someone has approached a couple of hobbyists about possibly liquidating it.
Of course, lots of armchair pundits have their own ideas about what should have happened to that layout in 1967, when the builder died.
Continue reading I don’t think this basement layout abandoned since 1967 is necessarily a tragedy
If one person uses a password, another will. That’s a popular hacking theory. If that’s true, then chances are if one person asks a question, another will. So here are three short questions (one completely unrelated to the others) I found in my logs over the weekend, and their answers.
Continue reading Questions from the logs