Restoring lithographed train cars

If you have vintage tin lithographed train cars made by American Flyer, Bing, Dorfan, Ives, Lionel, Marx, or another make I’m forgetting and some of them are worse for wear, there are a few things you can do to improve their appearance.

Keep in mind these won’t make them new, and they won’t fool anyone. One reason collectors like lithography is because they can easily recognize a touchup. But you can make beat-up cars look better, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

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Spray painting tips to paint like a pro

I’ve gathered a lot of spray painting tips over the years but I’ve never seen more than 10 collected in one place. Spray paint is a tool, and using it is a skill you can learn. With a bit of practice, you can get enviable results and make the object you’re painting look better than new.

Whether you’re painting something for your house or for your hobby, here are more than 20 spray painting tips to help you paint with the best of them–in the order you’re likely to need to use them in your projects.

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Setting boundaries with difficult tenants

As a landlord, I’ve dealt with some difficult tenants, and I’ve noticed they all tend to use very similar tactics. Setting boundaries is a necessity to keep things under control, and in the end keep all of your tenants happy while keeping yourself sane.

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Vinyl tiles won’t stick? What to do.

As I write, I’m installing self-stick vinyl tiles in an old basement as part of a project to modernize a ’70s man cave. It’s possible to run into a few problems when installing vinyl, so I thought I’d run through them, along with the solutions. When vinyl tiles won’t stick, there are ways to prevent and fix the problem.

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Using a computer power cord on a garbage disposal

When I replace garbage disposals, I prefer to use a power cord rather than hardwire them straight into the wall. The thing is, I don’t like paying $12 for the official power cord, which is chintzy looking and, frankly, looks under spec’ed. Instead, I prefer to use a computer power cord on a garbage disposal.

The label on a 1/3 HP Insinkerator Badger says it’s rated for 5.8 amps at 125 volts. I found a computer power cord in my stash that was rated for 10 amps at 125 volts. It’s overkill, but when it comes to electricity, overkill is good. Best of all, it let me repurpose something I’d already paid for and was probably never going to use.

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Fixing a sink that quit working

My mother in law bought a foreclosed condo, and I helped her get the water turned back on, but one sink just wouldn’t work no matter what I did. I finally found an answer, and since there wasn’t much information online, I thought I’d share what I learned about fixing a sink that quit working suddenly, to save someone else some hassle.

The problem occurred in one of the bathrooms. The shutoff valves under the sink were extremely sticky and didn’t want to turn on. Eventually I got them to turn on, and then I ran the sink, and it worked. Then I turned the valves off and back on a couple of times to loosen them, in case she ever had to turn off the water. They loosened up to the point where they were usable again, but then the sink, which had been working fine a minute before, didn’t work anymore. If I turned the sink all the way up, the best I got was a slow drip. If someone else hadn’t been there with me and seen it, I would have thought I’d gone crazy.

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SSDs, data loss, electricity, and hype

I’m not particularly worried about this, but under the very worst case scenario, certain solid-state disks can theoretically lose data in a week or two if they’re left without power. But that doesn’t instill panic and get clicks when you say it like that.

But you knew I was going to write about it. Let me tell you why I’m not worried.

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How to paint outlet covers

If you need to know how to paint outlet covers, there are right and wrong ways to do it.

Many years ago, I was helping to renovate a soup kitchen in Belle Glade, Florida. One of the things I did was paint it. I’ve never been a great painter, but I took pains to stay away from the outlet covers so the room would look neat.

“David!” the leader, a guy named John, barked. I looked up.

“Paint that cover plate.”

He was in charge, so I did what I was told. I slapped a thick coat of latex paint onto that cover plate to blend it into the wall. I’m sure John thought it looked spectacular. But I guarantee you, by the end of the summer, it looked terrible.

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Why accordion-style flexible drain pipe is against code

flexible drain pipe
An example of a flexible coupling

From time to time I see accordion-style flexible drain pipe (also sometimes called flexible waste pipe) in use, much like the one on the right. St. Louis County inspectors take an exceptionally dim view of these, and I always wondered what the big deal was, since literally every hardware and home-improvement store in St. Louis County sells them. Why would they sell something if it isn’t okay to use it? Read more