Pictures and mumblings that may be of interest to family members.

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Location: California

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Scott's 20" Classic Reel Mower Handle Replacement

The Scott's 20" Classic Reel Mower is a great little energy saving machine. (And you get free exercise using it!) The weak link seems to be the handle, though. I bought mine in May of 2006, and I really like using it, but several years ago the handle started giving out.

I could not find any place online to buy a replacement handle, so I kept it working in a wobbly sort of way by reinforcing it with lots of hose clamps. The problem seems to be that the handle is made of a lot of small parts so they can fit into a relatively small shipping carton. These are all bolted together, and the joints weaken and get progressively looser over time as you use the mower.

Last May, the handle became completely unusable, as no amount of hose clamps could keep it together.

After searching in vain again on the Internet, I decided to make my own replacement handle.

A 10-foot piece of 3/4" EMT  from Home Depot for about $3.70 provided the raw material.

 I used a conduit bender and a tubing cutter to bend and cut the EMT to length. Even if you have to buy the bender, it's still a lot cheaper than buying a new mower

To flatten the ends and drill the holes you need a few more tools. I also used a bench-vise (not pictured) to help smooth out the flattened ends.

A grinder is handy to round the flattened ends of the EMT, but you could get by with a hack saw and a file.

I thought that by leaving the ends a few inches too wide, the spring-tension would be all that was needed to hold the ends of the handle securely in place once it was fitted over the retaining studs.

The spring-tension from the extra-wide fit helped to make the handle fit nicely and not rattle, but after a little use, I found that the E-clip retainers were still needed. The ends could still pop off if the mower bumped into some obstruction or was turned too quickly.

At the time of this posting, I've been using the new handle for 3 months, and it is working fine.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cybex 500C Upright Stationary Bike Repair

Our Stationary bike stopped working suddenly. One day it just failed to light up when it was pedaled. I let it sit for several weeks before doing anything about it - I wasn't sure where to start.

Finally, I started searching for posts like this one, but I found no accounts of owners' experiences in troubleshooting and repairing Cybex 500C upright bikes. I did find sites that sold repair parts, though. All of these sites offered a replacement sealed lead acid battery. This seemed like a likely candidate for an electrical failure, especially since one site indicated that you could expect an 8-year useful life from these batteries, and my bike was 11 years old.

I didn't think my bike had a battery, though. It started generating electricity when you pedaled, and it shut down when you stopped pedaling, so why would it need a battery?(I guess it must help to smooth out the variable flow of electricity that comes from pedaling). Anyway, I removed the side cover from my bike and did in fact see a battery such as the one pictured on the parts sites.

I found the battery available for about $26 -$66 dollars plus shipping at various sites, but I wasn't sure if these replacement batteries were the same quality as the original. After removing my battery, I found a manufacturer's name and model number: Hawker Energy 0819-0012.

When I searched for that, I found the battery available from an Amazon affiliate for $21 ($27.65 with shipping). I ordered it on a Sunday night and received it the following Friday.

It took less than an hour to remove and replace the battery, and the bike worked fine afterward. The shop where I bought the bike wanted $150 plus parts to come out to my house and repair the bike, so I figure I saved $150 plus whatever markup they would have charged on the battery itself.

Removing the right side panel:

1. Insert a small screwdriver and pry up under both sides of seat-post boot to release the 2 small clips that connect it to the side panels.

2. Remove 9 Philips-head screws from right side panel.

3. Align right pedal with seat-post and gently work the panel to slide it upward in the direction of the seat-post until it clears the pedal. (This may take a few tries).

Removing the Battery:

4. Remove the wires from the battery terminals. (Be careful when replacing these wires on the new battery as the terminals seem to bend easily).

5. Remove the 2 nuts and screws that hold the battery to the frame. You will need to find a Phillips-head screwdriver that you can fit in to the limited space, as the screw will turn when you try to loosen the nut. Be careful not to damage the circuit board while turning the back nut.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Desk Chair

It seems like a good time to acquire a good used desk chair, as the economy slows down and the demand for them dwindles. I got this Steelcase "Leap"at ABE in El Monte, CA for $200. It was made in 2001, but it looks and feels as good as new. 

I love this thing. My old desk chair was also a Steelcase, which I bought used in the mid 1990s. It was still in great shape, but it had no arm rests, and not very many adjustments. I had trouble working at my computer for very long because I would start getting a lot of old-man aches in a very short time. Now, I hope I'll be able to stick to more of the desk tasks I'd like to get accomplished at home in the evenings.

I looked at a very simple Herman Miller chair at Costco earlier this week for $300. I'm sure it was well made, but comparatively, it seemed like a box-kite next to my new (slightly-used) Blackhawk helicopter.

I'm thinking that if you spend a lot of time in your desk chair, the money you spend to buy a good one is one of the best investments you can make, and it's a buyer's market for used desk chairs right now.

It has lots of adjustments to make it fit the owner, and even a mini user-guide beneath the arm-rests, so you don't have try several different controls to find the one you want.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Smoky Skies over Beautiful Southern California

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Empty Doorway

A few weeks ago while we were on vacation, Socks stepped out and never came home.

Although neither Sandy nor I are really enthusiastic pet owners, we both missed him and kept thinking we heard or saw him, and both of us dreamed several times that he came home. Aside from our efforts to provide acceptable provisions, and to aid in his quest for the right side of every door, there were several regularly ocurring ritual events that were part of the normal week, and the loss of each of them struck me several times. Here are a few that stand out now.

He had the particularly annoying habit of walking out to greet us when we were pulling up in the driveway, and then casually sauntering into, and around in, the path of the car so we would have to sit and wait for him to get good and ready to move his hairy butt out of the way so we could park the car and get out.

On trash day, each time I returned from wheeling one of the containers out to the street, he would walk directly into my path so I could bend over and pay his road toll of a few strokes long his back.

When I went out to mow the lawn, he loved to assist me by sleeping where I had not yet mowed, and if promped to move, he would begrudgingly relocate - but only to another un-mowed spot.

Socks wasn't very playful in his old age, but he seemed to enjoy our company. He liked to be with us, but of course he maintained an air of indifference. I remember how he followed Ellen around when she came to visit, but always seemed to be looking at something else, and if Sandy and I took a blanket or some chairs out on the lawn under the tree, he would inevitably end up close by, and then turn his back to us. We never were sure if this was to clarify our status, or to do his part to provide for the common good - facing out from the center of the group to keep watch for any neighborhood threats that might approach from his side .

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Gateway Monitor Trouble

Grandma Charlotte's 14-month old Gateway FPD2185W monitor stopped working a couple of weeks ago. A helpful fellow on the Internet said that we might get results by replacing these 8 green capacitors, so I gave it a try, and it worked! He's a genius!
The new capacitors:
Radio Shack Part number 272-1030. ( I had to drive to 3 different Radio Shacks to find 8).
Banished capacitors:
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring in the back yard.

Guarding Her Eggs

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