Home » hardware store » Page 5

hardware store

Another (unwanted) lawnmower adventure

So the Toro died Sunday, with maybe 100-150 square feet of unmowed lawn left. I coaxed it into running again by adding oil–it looked low–and that was enough to mow what was left. The gray smoke bellowing out the side, the horrible noise, and the vibrating as if it would fall apart just added character. Yeah, character.

Against my better judgment, I finished cutting the lawn, then killed the engine and dragged the beast back into the garage. Then I got on the Internet to weigh my options.

Read More »Another (unwanted) lawnmower adventure

How I fixed a lamp

Soon after my wife and I got married, she used some of our wedding gift money to buy some lamps. We like them quite a bit. But one of them developed a big problem with flickering. I fixed it, temporarily, by bending the tab underneath the light bulb, but last week it deteriorated rapidly, ultimately reaching the point where any time we turned the lamp on, it blew the breaker immediately. Here’s how I fixed a lamp–for good.

After trying a few things, the solution ended up being replacing the lamp socket. A lamp socket is a $3.50 part similar to this one. I purchased mine locally, of course.

Read More »How I fixed a lamp

How to disassemble a Lionel 2026 or 2037 locomotive

Years ago, I tried to take apart my dad’s Lionel 2026 to fix it, and I gave up trying to figure it out. Today I scored a similar 2037 locomotive at an estate sale in fixer-upper condition. To my knowledge, no book has ever gone into detail on how to disassemble this model, so I’ll explain it here. This time I was able to drop the motor out to get at what I needed to repair it.

There are also five additional Lionel postwar-era locomotives, the 637, 2016, 2029, and 2036, that come apart the same way.

Read More »How to disassemble a Lionel 2026 or 2037 locomotive

Installing trucks on junker train cars

Sometimes a train car breaks, and sometimes you get a good deal on a train car that’s missing its running gear. Whatever the reason, sooner or later most hobbyists find themselves needing to attach trucks to the underside of their train cars, and if they’re like me, they soon find that using a regular nut and bolt doesn’t cut it–the nut works itself loose after a few times around the track, which leads to wobbly running, which leads to derailments.

There’s a solution other than expensive riveting tools, if you’re just interested in making cars run well, rather than restorations that are as historically accurate as possible. For about 15 bucks, you can get enough parts to do 50 cars.

Read More »Installing trucks on junker train cars

Glue for plastic models and buildings

I saw a question for the millionth time on a forum about what glues to use on plastic models and buildings. So I’ll cover the topic here, where it won’t get purged after 8 months.

Ask the question at a hobby shop, and the answer comes down roughly 50/50 whether to use some type of super glue (cyanoacrylate, often abbreviated CyA or CA), or some type of MEK-based plastic weld, such as Tenax 7R. Every once in a while, someone pipes up about the tube cement I used as a kid. You don’t want to use that stuff. If you’ve ever tried, you know why–it’s messy, dries slowly, and the bond isn’t as strong as it could be. Read on and I’ll give you the advantages and disadvantages of both alternatives, plus some secrets.

Read More »Glue for plastic models and buildings

Apple and its controversial pentalobular screws

I see the ‘net is overrun today with complaints about Apple switching to oddball Pentalobular screws (sometimes called “pentagram” screws–is that an accident, or people being snarky?) and the occasional person claiming to know where to get a Pentalobular driver for a few dollars, but few people actually being, you know, helpful.

So here’s where you can get one for $2.35, plus shipping. http://www.sw-box.com/Professional-Screw-Driver-Opening-Tool-For-Iphone-4.html
Read More »Apple and its controversial pentalobular screws

Just say no to black boxes

When the PS3 was released, one of its advertised features was that you could install Linux on it and use it as a Linux computer. I doubt many people did it, but it was a useful feature for those who did.

Sony later took that ability away in a firmware update. You could choose not to install that later firmware, but then you gave up other capabilities.

Now, some enthusiasts have figured out various ways to get that capability back, and Sony is so thrilled about that, they’re suing.

Sony is in the wrong.
Read More »Just say no to black boxes

Why total freedom of expression is a reader’s worst nightmare

A longtime reader asked me about news writing, and writing in general, after complaining about the sorry state of writing these days. I think a lot of things are in a sorry state, and the writing is a reflection of that. But maybe if we can fix the writing a little, it’ll help everything else, right?

Kurt Vonnegut once said writers should pity the readers, who have to identify thousands of little marks on paper and make sense of them immediately, an art so difficult that most people don’t really master it even after studying it for 12 long years.

He says to simplify and clarify.

As writers, we’d rather live by Zeuxis’ mantra that criticism is easier than craftsmanship. But one way to avoid criticism is to make sure the readers understand what we’re writing in the first place.
Read More »Why total freedom of expression is a reader’s worst nightmare

Cleaning and storing Lionel track

Cleaning and storing Lionel track is another common question when the subject of trains comes up. Now that you’re getting the electric train track out for Christmas duty, there are some things you need to do to get it ready. And when the time comes to put it away until next year, a little preparation then will leave it in better shape for next year.

First, a note: Since writing this piece, I discovered a miracle. I treated my track with a conductivity enhancer, and the difference is unbelievable. I haven’t needed to clean my track in two years.

Read More »Cleaning and storing Lionel track