Anyone old enough to have played with an original Nintendo NES knows the problem: You plug in the cartridge, turn on the system, and get a blank screen and the power light blinks at you. The schoolyard fix is to take out the cartridge, blow into it, then put it back into the system. Then, with a little luck, you can play your game. The trouble is, that’s just a short-term fix. In the long run, it makes the problem worse and eventually the system can’t play games at all. The solution is to clean them. Here’s a process for cleaning NES games.
Sometimes you need to disable a light switch, such as when a light switch turns an outlet on or off and you want to plug something other than a lamp into that outlet. Here’s how to disable a light switch.
The good news is you can do this in such a way that it is completely reversible. If you want to replace the light switch at any point in the future, you will be able to.
The Lionel KW transformer was the second largest transformer Lionel made in the postwar era. It delivered 190 watts of power and provided two handles to control two trains. Internally, the design is very similar to the ZW. If the ZW was Lionel’s Cadillac transformer, the KW was the Buick. I always thought Lionels were overrated until I ran a 675 locomotive with a KW.
There was a time when nobody made modern transformers the size of a KW or ZW. Now that they do, the ZW and especially the KW cost a lot less. I remember when a reconditioned KW cost $200. Today you can get one for under $100. An as-is KW with minor issues will cost half that. These days, the KW is a bargain.
If you don’t do electrical work very often, it can be confusing and can lead to questions. Is the black wire hot? Which wire is hot, black or white?
By convention, the white wire is neutral, the black wire is hot, and a green or bare wire is ground. But the first rule is there are no rules. So if you see lots of different colors in an electrical box, you probably need to call an electrician. But if you see three or four colors, you can probably figure it out.
If you’re hooking up a gas dryer, or stove, or another appliance that uses natural gas, here’s a valid question: Can Teflon tape be used on gas fittings?
The answer is yes, with a big caveat.
If your lamp stops working but the bulb is good, or your lamp cord gets damaged, it’s time to replace it. The cord, that is. Not the whole lamp. Here’s how to fix a lamp cord.
Even if you have to take the lamp completely apart, the project should take less than an hour. The easy fixes only take a few minutes.
The other day we went to unplug a lamp so we could plug a vacuum cleaner in. But something didn’t quite feel right. When we looked at the plug, we could see why. One of the prongs was missing. When we looked at the outlet, the prong was still there. There’s some bad, or at least time-wasting, advice out there on how to fix a prong stuck in an outlet or socket. Here’s how we fixed it.
Cleaning N64 games is a controversial topic. It doesn’t have to be. There are some techniques floating around that can be harmful. But I also bristle when I see people say there’s one and only one right way. Here are some techniques for cleaning N64 games, based on my decades of experience fixing computers and game systems.
Marx made several variants of its Girard station. One was just a tin building. The better one had lights. The best one had lights and a train whistle. Here’s how to wire a Marx Girard station with both lights and the whistle. This works on the Oak Park station too.
I wire it a little bit differently than Marx did in its instructions. Marx’s way works, but can cause the light to dim when you push the whistle button. My way doesn’t dim the lights.
If you’re changing out a light fixture and find there’s no ground wire in the box, you’re not out of luck. Here’s how to connect a 2-wire light fixture without ground.
If you’re having trouble locating the ground wire, the ground wire is either a bare wire or green.