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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!

I wanted to set up my sprinklers on some sort of timer so they would automatically turn on for a little while every day. I went to Home Depot, and they had some fancy looking timers for $40. But there was a more simple looking timer for $25. That was the Melnow Electronic Aqua Timer (3015). It was good for 3 cycles a day, but one cycle would be fine. I read the box, and it looked like programming it would be similar to programming a VCR. Pretty easy for me, but other people might have some difficult. You just turn a little dial, and press a single button. When I got it home, I found it needed a 9 volt battery. I looked through the house, but was able to find one. I kept fogetting to buy a battery, but I finally remembered tonight. I had to remove three phillips head screws to remove the metal back so I could insert the battery. The battery just slides. It didn’t look real secure, but when I put the back on, it didn’t seem to be moving around at all.
I followed the programming instructions to set the current time, the time for the sprinler to turn on, the duration and the frequency. I thought I set it to have the current time approximately 7pm, to have it turn on a 6am, and have it turn on once a day for about 20 minutes. I figured I would see if it worked when I got tomorrow morning. Interestingly, the sprinlkers turned on about 7:30 pm. Hmmm. Maybe I did something wrong. I waited to see if it shut off, but after 30 minutes, I decided something wasn’t right. So I went down, and turned the dial to “off” and it shut off. I set about programming it again. We’ll see what it does.
Okay, the thing turned on around 6am, ran for about 20 minutes, and shut off. Just like I programmed it to do. What I think the problem was, was that after I programmed it the first time, I turned the dial to “ON”. It didn’t turn on right away though maybe because I didn’t have it hooked up to the faucet yet. But did turn on a little while after I hooked it up tot he faucet, and I think was going to stay on. When I programmed it the second time, I left the dial in the final position. This seemed to work.

The other day, the ants showed up in droves! One day there weren’t any. The next I saw dozens. Ahh! Life in in the woods! :)
I put out a couple ant bait stations that I got from a professional exterminatore at work. I left these stations out for a couple days, but saw no activity around then at all.
Then I decided to put out a couple of the Terro Liquid Ant Bait stations. I had them in my garage and I knew they worked. I put one in one corner of the kitchen and one in the other corner. Less than a day later, they were storming over the one station, but hadn’t found the other. I ended up moving the 2nd station next to the first.
Now I just let the ants come and eat up, and let them take the bait back to the nest. I think the logic is that they feed it to the other ants, and the whole nest dies.
In the past when I have used these, the ants are all over the stations for a couple days, then slowly the number of ants declines. They start moving slower and slower, until there are no more ants.
Here is a picture of the ants feeding at the two liquid ant bait stations.
Liquid Ant Bait
This ant bait from Terro is the only ant bait that I have tried that actually seems to work.

I have had my MTD Yardman snowblower (snowthrower) for a few years now. I grew up in the Seattle area, and generally we didn’t get enough snow to merit a snow shovel, much less a snow blower. When I moved back to Rochester, NY, I had heard of snowblowers, but I didn’t know what one looked like. I thought maybe it was like a leaf blower, except maybe stronger. I couldn’t figure out how it would work. And even when we moved to Rochester, we lived in an appartment, and never needed to clear snow.
But then 5 years ago we bought our house. We have a circular drive probably close to 100 feet long total. The first year, the snow was light. I got out there and shovelled. I remember thinking, this is great exercise. We didn’t need a snowblower! Just get out there for about an hour, and get the driveway cleared, no problem. My wife would help a little, but she we end up complaining about being sore. Me, I am in good shape. I am tough! I was having fun!
The next year, we got our first good snow. We were out there for over an hour, and only got enough of the driveway cleared to get our cars out. My back was aching! At this point, shovelling snow wasn’t fun anymore.
I started watching store ads, classifieds, and eBay for snowblowers. Our driveway is on a hill, so it had to be self propelled. The I finally got a great deal on a used MTD Yardman Snowblower off of eBay. It only cost me $315. The guy said it had only been used about 8 times. When I saw it, it didn’t look like it had been used at all. Apparently the guy had back problems, and got a plow for his truck or something like that. So I got a practically new snowblower for $315. A friend of mine with a truck and trailer, helped me get it home. It’s self-propelled, two-stage, and is 22 inches wide. It has a 5hp Tecumseh engine.
My Yardman snowblower always stars on the first pull. I just move the lever to the top, crank the choke all the way clockwise, pump the primer bulb 3 quick times, and pull the cord. It starts immediately. Then I turn the choke two clicks counter-clockwise, and start throwing snow.
I love this thing. It really chews through the snow! I can usually clear the whole driveway in 15 minutes or less. Maybe 20 minutes if the snow is pretty heavy. I consider the purchase of my MTD Yardman snowblower to have been a very good one, and I am thankful everytime I am out using it!

I bought a couple cans of Great Stuff at Home Depot using the gift card my wife got me for Valentines day! I want to run a bead under the bottom edge of our house’s siding, but was worried about weather it is too cold outside. I read the can, and it only said that Great Stuff may not work as well in extreme cold. How cold is extreme cold? I went the Great Stuff website, and read the FAQ, but it only said to have the cans at room temperature. Okay… Still not satisfied, I called the Great Stuff hot line (1-800-800-FOAM). I talked to a lady named Kathy who told me that it needs to be 40 degrees outside for a couple hours before I can reliably use the Great Stuff. I guess I will have to wait as it is only about 27 degrees outside right now which is near the expected high for the day. And there is no 40 degree weather anywhere in the extended forecast either.

Great Stuff is awesome, and easy to use. Just spray the stuff into a space, and the foam expands to fill the space. When it cures, it turns into almost a styrofoam type substance. It is great for filling holes around cables or pipes, to block air infiltration/exfiltration. I have already gone through about 5 cans of the stuff sealing my house. I love it!

I was considering buying a Great Stuff Pro foam gun. I saw a 13 inch model online for about $25. The Great Stuff Pro foam comes in 24 ounce cans instead of 16 ounce cans that you buy at the local hardware strore which also seem to need to be ordered online and costs about $11. So the gun and the foam would be about $40. For $40 I can buy about 8 16oz cans of the Great Stuff locally. I don’t think I will need that much, so I will probably not buy the gun. The gun is pretty cool looking though. I think it would make application easier. It also supposedly will keep the foam usuable for up to 30 days, as opposed to the regular cans which are a one time use thing.

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