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Home Repair and Maintenance


I have an old 1970’s Japanese pachinko machine. It’s sort of a cross between a pinball machine and a slot machine. I managed to get the lock off the machine and wanted to get a key made for it if possible. I tried to find a locksmith shop that I could take it into and see if they could even make a key for an old lock like this. I couldn’t find an actual brick and mortar locksmith shop.
So I called one of the mobile places. Apparently most places have gone mobile. I called Empire Lock & Key which I found on the internet. Their motto is “Quality Work At Affordable Prices”. Other stuff their web site says “No Job Too Big Or Too Small”, “Any Lock, Anywhere”. I explained that I had an old lock from a 1970’s Japanese pachinko machine. I needed a key and wasn’t even sure they could make a key for it. They said they would have a technician call me. The guy called later, and I told him where I was. He drove out in the afternoon. I showed him the lock and after messing with it for a five or ten minutes he explained that it was an old lock and he didn’t even have the machine to cut a key like that. This did not come as a surprise. What came as a surprise was that there was a $40 service call fee. WHAT? Nobody told me that on the phone. If I had been told that, I would have said forget it. I had told the guy on the phone that I wasn’t even sure they could make the key. And I was right. The tech ended up only charging me $30. Other than giving me the names of a couple other shops that might be able to help me, I got nothing. $30 to tell me he couldn’t do it. Great deal! He didn’t even get out of the frigging van! “Any Lock, Anywhere”???? Yeah, right! Unless you have an uncommon lock. And their website says “And, the price we quote you is the price you’ll pay – no “hidden” fees or extra charges. We accept cash, checks and most major credit cards, for your convenience.” They didn’t quote me a price. And I was also told by the tech in the van that they don’t take credit cards. WTF???? I originally thought I could maybe spend $25-30 or so and get a new key made. But I ended up paying $30 and have nothing!!! These guys suck! Screw you Empire Lock & Key!!!!!! I will never do business with you again!

After I mowed the ugly patch of land that we call a lawn, my wife pointed out a tiny Japanese Red Maple seedling under our Japanese Red Maple tree. It was in amongst the grass. Then I found another. And then another. I found at least a half dozen of them.
I decided I was going to transplant a couple of them. Or at least attempt it. I took out a shovel, and dug up the small patch of dirt each of a couple seedlings.
My wife and I went out, and found another spot along the edge of the lawn to plant one of them. I dug a small shallow hole and placed the dirt clump with the seedling into it. I stuck a tomato cage over it so I wouldn’t run over it with the lawn mower.
Then I decided to plant one over on a little hill we had. My wife thought it would take too much work. But I figured if it grew, great. If it didn’t, no big loss. I took my mini tiller out there, and chewed up the dirt. Then I planted another one of the Japanese Red Maple seedlings there too. I placed another of the tomato cages over it as well.
Then I watered both of the seedlings. I hope they grow. It would be nice to have a couple nice Japanese Red Maple trees in those spots.

I went out and mowed my lawn/weeds for the first time this season. OMG, it is so ugly! The lawn is surrounded by trees. I think it might be poor soil quality or something. It dries out easily. The lawn in one part has been taken over by clover. The lawn in the other part has been taken over by dandelions and moss.
I need to find something to kill the moss/clover/dandelions. Then I need to find some grass seed that will work in shade and low water requirements.
I have seen really nice grass growing in parks where it is obvious that they don’t do anything but mow it once in a while. There has got to be some sort of really hardy grass that will do well, that all I have to do is mow it.
I have read that raising my mower height might help. I have already raised my lawn mower height some. Maybe I should raise it a little more.
I also read that fertilizing might promote poor root growth, so to fertilize it less.
I have had a nice lawn at times. I would like to get it back.
Maybe I will run to Lowes.

A couple years ago I was doing some work around the house. Actually, I am always doing work around the house. But I was replacing the moldings around the windows. There was one spot where I needed to cut some nails that were hard to reach. I decided a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade would work the best. I usually try to buy high quality tools. I really like Dewalt. Or for a reciprocating saw, I could maybe buy a Milwaukee Sawzall. But I rarely have need for a reciprocating saw, so I didn’t want to spent a lot. I found that Harbor Freight had a Central Electric reciprocating saw on sale for $19. How can you beat $19. As long as the thing seemed reasonably made. Well it did seem solid. So I bought it. It worked great for the couple things I needed to cut. The blade that it came with seemed a little cheap, and it bent pretty much right away. No biggy though.
As I said, I rare have need for a reciprocating saw, but I have used it on occasion, and it continues to do what I need. For less than $20, it was a fantastic deal. I see on Harbor Freight’s website that it has gone up a few bucks, but it is still ridiculously cheap. I would recommend this tool to anybody looking for a reciprocating saw. I doubt it would hold up to commercial construction type usage. But for around the house, go for it. Be aware that a reciprocating saw it most useful for destroying things. It is not great for making precision cuts. For those, you might want a circular saw, or a jig saw. A reciprocating saw is good for taking things apart. It can also be useful for cutting things that a jig saw, or circular saw can’t easily reach. Still, a useful tool to own.

I replaced the toilet seat on our most used toilet less than two years ago. I can’t remember what was broken on it. I think it might have been the little things that the seat rests on. I replaced it was a Bemis toilet seat from Home Depot. But this last week, this toilet seat broke. It was the hinge part. So as you sat on it, it might slide around a little bit. I don’t mind replacing stuff, but two years seems like a pretty short life for a toilet seat.
I thought I might try gluing the broken hinge as a temporary solution. I thought I had some two-part epoxy in the garage. So I removed the broken hinge part, and got the epoxy out. I had used it before, but had the little cap on. I popped the plastic cap off, and tried to squeeze some epoxy stuff onto a paper bag so I could mix it together. Unfortunately, I could only get the one part to come out, and not the other. I finally gave up, and threw it out into the trash.
I headed to Home Depot to maybe buy some more epoxy. But while I was there, I decided to look at toilet seats. I didn’t particularly want to cough up $40 for a toilet seat. But I found they had some less expensive toilet seats. I didn’t need anything fancy. Just a reasonably solid toilet seat. There was a Bemis toilet seat similar to what we had, or maybe a little cheaper for $12. Hey, that’s as bad as I was expecting. And there was another one for $15. The one for $15 had a stronger looking hinge. Both seats had a new feature that allowed them to be easily removed from the toilet for cleaning, but releasing a couple latches. Great idea! I ended up buying the $15 seat. I wasn’t sure if the epoxy would even hold, and it might have been a cheesy fix anyway. $15 isn’t bad. I just hope to get more than a couple years out of it.

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