Russ' Do It Yourself Home Workshop

Finding Fixes to Just About Anything and Everything

Installing a Trailer Hitch on a 2018 Honda Clarity

Posted by Russell Wright on December 25, 2018

I’ve owned a 2002 Prius, a 2005 Prius, a 2010 Prius and my wife now has a 2017 Prius Prime.  They have all had trailer hitches installed for carrying bikes and towing my little 5’ x 8’ trailer for those Home Depot runs.  But now since we’ve joined the PHEV ranks, I recently expanded our PHEV fleet with the addition of a Honda Clarity.  Unlike the Prius Prime, there is only one manufacturer of a trailer hitch for this car (at least at this point in time).  Torklift has an Ecohitch (Part numbers: x7377 (2”), x7378 (1¼”)) that is on the pricey end of what I would normally pay for a hitch, but it seems to be well made and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, so I bought one.  It took a couple of weeks to get it since it was around the Christmas holidays and their site said they were experiencing a “high order volume.”  Good for them!

The hitch comes with a set of printed color instructions that are pretty good, but no one ever seems to get enough pictures for me.  I like pictures, so here’s my contribution to this project, should you choose to accept it.

As an overview, you need to remove the two tailights so you can remove the bumper facsia (bumper cover) to gain access to the bumper crash bar.  The hitch mounts underneath the bumper crash bar with new longer bolts that are supplied.

From tool standpoint, you’ll need:

  • Phillips screwdriver (misc screws)
  • Torx screwdriver (bumper cover screws)
  • 8mm socket (for taillights)
  • Flat screwdriver (for loosening pop rivets and trim panel fasteners)
  • Needlenosed pliers (for squeezing wire stay to remove it)

Begin by opening the trunk and removing six fasteners (three on each side) that hold the fabric trunk panels.  This should take about five minutes.

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After these fasteners are removed you need to remove the wear molding that extends across the trunk.  Begin by removing the trunk latch cover.  It unsnaps pretty easily, so don’t overdo it.

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Here’s a blurry closeup of the trunk latch cover.

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Here’s a view of the fasteners that hold the wear molding in place so you can get an idea of where to pull up.  If you aren’t familiar with these, sometimes it can feel like you’re going to break something when you pull up.  That shouldn’t happen on new plastic parts.  When you reinstall, you just rap them with your hand to pop them back in place.

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Just another pic of the wear molding.

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After peeling back the fabric panels, you should be able to get to the back of the taillights.  Here you will need to remove four 8mm nuts, disconnect the connector and then simultaneously press both clips to remove the taillight.  The taillight should slide out directly towards the back.  You’ll notice in the pictures there is a fastener on the forward part of the taillight that fits over a clip.  It should slide off from this connector.

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Here’s a back view of the forward part of the taillight showing the sliding connector.  I actually popped the connector out because I didn’t know it should slide on and off.

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Here’s a removed taillight.

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Here’s a pic of the empty taillight socket.

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Here are a couple of pics of the back of the taillight locations.  You can see the connector and the holes where the taillight studs and clips go.  This is on the driver’s side.

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This is on the passenger’s side.

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The next couple of steps are pretty straightforward.  There are two big black torx screws that need to be removed from bumper fascia.  So, that means you’ll need a torx screwdriver to remove them!

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Now its time to remove the phillips screws from each wheel well.  If you don’t have splash guards (mud flaps) you’ll probably have two on each side.  If you have splash guards there will be an extra three screws holding the splash guards in place and a panel fastener on the bottom of the splash guard.  Remove all these screws.  I don’t have a picture of this.

Next, under the bottom of the bumper cover are six (or eight) panel fasteners.  If you removed spash guards you already removed two.  You’ll have to lay down on your back and use your screwdriver to pry the heads up so the “pop rivet” panel fasteners will come out.  This picture shows them after they’ve been removed (along with the crash bar).

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Now comes the scary part.  From the wheel well area grasp the bumper fascia at one corner and pull firmly up and away from the vehicle.  The fasteners should pop loose as shown in the following pictures.

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You have to put your hand in the crevise and pull!  Pop, pop, pop it goes!

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Keep going…you’ll get to the fasteners you can see that were beneath the taillights.

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Once you get all this loose, the bumper cover should come off and reveal the crash bar, which is held in place with six bolts.

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Disconnect the wire stay from its mount point by squeezing the backside of it with a pair of needlenose pliers.  This has to be moved aside as there is not enough clearance behind the trailer hitch for it to remain in its original location.  I wrapped a little extra tape around it just to prevent any future chafing.

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Here’s another pic of the wire stay removed from its original mount point.

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Now you can mount the hitch behind the crash bar and install the six bolts.  Torque to 85 ft-lbs.

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To allow room for the bumper cover to be reinstalled, you need to trim a section out of it that is located around the receiver.  The section to be removed is approximately 4-1/2” wide and 4” deep.

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Here are the recommended dimensions for material removal.

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Another view of the bumper cover after the material has been removed.

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Some pictures showing the fit after the trim job.

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I also pulled a power wire through the grommet and tied it off under the car for any future power requirements for the trunk area (e.g. for a trailer wiring harness).

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Now with the assistance of your helper, you can place the bumper cover back over everything a button it up.  As they say, put everything back in the reverse order of how you took it apart!

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It should look something like this when you are done.

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Posted in Auto Repair | Leave a Comment »

Solved! – Outlook 2016 will not Display Images in Emails: Red X

Posted by Russell Wright on September 10, 2018

If you’re looking at this post you’ve probably been trying to solve the problem of Outlook 2016 suddenly not displaying images in email.  This problem was on my daily driver Windows 7 Dell E6530 (I have others).  Others have had it on every other Windows OS.  You’ve probably tried all kinds of things and are mad at Microsoft.  Same here.

1. Internet explorer advanced options:  Do not save encrypted files to disk.

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2. Outlook options in the Trust Center:  Don’t download pictures automatically in standard HTML email messages or RSS items.

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3. Send Pictures with Document in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\Options\Mail missing from the registry.

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4. Removing some Windows updates (should never have to do this, but we all know we’ve done it).

…and probably some others.

However, I found that resetting IE fixed the issue for me.

In IE Advanced Settings, click the reset button and reboot.  Yeah, sucky solution, but it’s the only one that worked for me.

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References:

[SOLVED] Outlook 2010 not displaying images

Inline images may display as a Red X in Outlook – Microsoft Support

Pictures cannot be displayed and are shown as red X in Outlook

Fixing Outlook’s pictures show as red X problem – Spiceworks

Red X’s in Email Messages – Slipstick Systems

Microsoft Outlook 2016 Red X instead of Pictures – Windows 10 Forums

Posted in Computer Software | Leave a Comment »

pfSense SMTP Office 365 Email Settings on Netgate SG-3100

Posted by Russell Wright on August 17, 2018

It’s always a challenge to get the SMTP settings correct for sending through Office 365 SMTP email.  Here’s what I did for my new Netgate SG-3100.

You can start at System | Advanced | Notifications.

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The important thing is to point to the email server than ends in mail.protection.outlook.com which is actually in your DNS MX record.

Port:  25

DO NOT CHECK:  Enable SMTP over SSL/TLS

Notification E-mail Auth Mechanism:  LOGIN

What I normally do in Office 365 is create a single “service account” email and assign multiple aliases to it.  Then I use the alias in the particular application, e.g. netgatedevice@mydomain.com.  This alias also serves as the Notification E-mail Auth Username, which you can leave blank since you have it in the FROM address.

SG-3100 pfSense SMTP Email Configuration

Posted in Computer Software, Networking | Leave a Comment »

Turn off Clutter in OWA Office 365

Posted by Russell Wright on June 26, 2017

Turn off clutter in Outlook Web Access in Office 365.  Thanks to Micael AC for the real solution!

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/msoffice/forum/msoffice_outlook-mso_win10/clutter-options-missing/46298cc6-b21f-45ac-9462-ffb20ae5bf05?rtAction=1498485082753

Your clutter settings are probably missing, so you must first change the Display settings.

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Replacing the Batteries in an APC UPS Battery Tray

Posted by Russell Wright on January 11, 2017

There comes a time when you need to replace the batteries in your UPS and, like most consumables, sometimes they can cost more than the acquisition cost of the UPS…if you don’t know what you are paying for.  Here’s what I did for an APC UPS 1400.

For a mere $230 you can order a new tray with batteries.

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Or for about $60, you can purchase four new batteries and reuse your tray.

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When you purchase these batteries, make sure you know whether you are getting F1 or F2 connectors on the batteries.  I ordered some with smaller (F1) tabs so I had to order some F1-to-F2 adapters.

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Here are the batteries exposed, after removing the label.  Nothing special about these sealed lead/acid batteries.

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First thing is to remove the batteries.  I had to think about this for a bit.  They are held in place with double-sided tape.  I ended up getting my heat gun out and heated up the metal side of the tray until I could pull them loose.

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You can see where I first attempted to pry the batteries loose.  Much easier to heat up the double-sided tape and pull them out!

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Just be sure to hook everything up as it was.  Basically, each battery pair is wired in series and then the pair are in parallel on the connector.  That would make the battery tray 24v output.  I found I could pull the fuses loose from their double-sided tape on the top of the batteries.

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Now all you have to do is “stick” them back in the tray.

Posted in Computer Repair, Instructions, Misc Repair | Leave a Comment »

Repairing the Eddy Current Brake on a LifeFitness x5i Elliptical

Posted by Russell Wright on April 19, 2016

Well, I’ve now done this twice and I never published the pictures I took the first time, so here goes. 

What you may notice is the resistance is always higher than what you want…or what you remember the least resistance to be.  In fact, at one point, you might have heard the "pop" or "snap" while using your elliptical and notice the resistance no longer adjusts as low as it should.  You’ve come to the right place, and I’ll show you how to repair this for $10 or so.

So what is an "Eddy Current Brake?"  Well, it’s the magnetic part that creates the adjustable resistance on your machine.  In particular, we’re talking about the FB1 manufactured by Chi Hua in Taiwan.  To break (brake…LOL) it down in simple terms, eddy currents are created from the magnetic flux (of magnets) passing through a coil of wire (conductor).  Basically, you have a generator that creates small currents in a conductor that are essentially short circuited and turned into heat.  You can read about it at the source of all knowledge…Wikipedia.  This is what makes the drag force on your elliptical…you know, the thing that makes your legs hurt and sweat pour from your body.  Check it out on their web site and use your web browser’s translate feature.

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Well, here’s what happens.  The blue actuator pulls and releases the cable based on the level setting.  This makes the white part in the green ECB (Eddy Current Brake) travel back and forth, which moves the magnets away from and closer to the flywheel, generating your resistance.

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Unfortunately, after some period of time, the cable wears and snaps in two.  This is shown after removing the green part (essentially the stator). 

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Getting the green part (stator) out (assuming yours is green, too) requires some mechanical work, but it’s not too hard…just takes some time.  You have to remove the flywheel.  Release the tension on the belt by loosening the nut on the tensioner.  Then you have to remove the flywheel nuts and the tensioner bracket.

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You also have to remove the stator locking bracket to get it out of the way.  The actuator cable is easier to remove from the blue actuator side first by pulling and unwrapping it from the nylon spool.

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What you are going to have to do is fashion a new cable to replace at least the one that broke.  Maybe two, if the other is worn and fraying.  I did this by purchasing a bicycle shifter cable ($5) and grinding down the barrel end with my Dremel tool to make it the correct diameter and length.  The ball end of the cable is not very critical.  It simply needs to NOT pass through the hole in the magnet.  You can pass the barrel end through the hole when threading it in place.  The replacement for the ball is a cable clamp that has been "swaged" in place using a crimping tool.  I used my ratcheting electrical crimpers, but you may want to opt for something more professional, like these hydraulic crimpers.

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Here are my notes I took with my calipers.  Notice the leftover Christmas notepad paper. 

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I didn’t get any pics of the stator taken apart, but it’s pretty easy to remove.  Two allen set screws hold it to the shaft.  Loosen these and pull it out…you’ll feel the magnets wanting to keep it in the flywheel.  Then there are some black phillip screws holding it together and the four silver screws that hold the thingamajiggy with the allen set screws.  Inside you’ll see the white plastic actuator that connects all the cables.

When you are done you’ll have something that looks like this.  Not really pretty, but very functional.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

OneNote needs a password to sync this notebook. Click here to enter your password. Get Rid of KB3055034 and KB3054886!

Posted by Russell Wright on November 5, 2015

This has been driving me nuts.  I’ve searched for hours.  For me, I’ve finally tracked it down to two updates in October.  KB3055034 and KB3054886.  After removing both my OneNote 2010 seems to be syncing again.  I first wrote about this for KB3055034 in this post.  But I was still having problems.  Then I found this post.  I’m not using SmartVault Drive, but since they appear to be related I removed them both.  Success!  This pic is showing the uninstallation of KB3054886.  I uninstalled it from everything.  Same for KB3055034…you’ll see it installed multiple times.  After the uninstallation, reboot.

KB3054886 Uninstall

Now I can sync from OneDrive again!

Some other background.  I have a personal OneDrive (Live) account.  I also have two OneDrive for business accounts.  I expect them all to work, but I’m finding OneDrive for business has lots of sync issues.

Some other posts I’ve looked at.  There were others.

http://meyermed.com/2014/02/fixing-the-error-onenote-needs-a-password-to-sync-this-notebook-click-here-to-enter-your-password/

https://community.spiceworks.com/topic/1236093-kb3055034-breaks-opening-office-files-directly-from-sharepoint

https://support.smartvault.com/04Support/01Knowledge_Base/KB3055034_%2F%2F_KB3054886_-_Uninstall_update_for_Office_2010_causing_Word_or_Excel_to_crash_when_opening_Word_or_Excel_files_from_the_SmartVault_Drive

http://faq.mydocsonline.com/1009/ms-office-2010-update-kb3055034-causes-authentication-error-when-opening-office-files-from-web-folders/

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3099951

http://superuser.com/questions/986693/excel-2010-crashes-when-opening-files-from-sharepoint-office-365

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October 2015 Office Updates: KB3055034 Causes OneNote 2010 to Crash on Sync

Posted by Russell Wright on October 27, 2015

I can fully attest to this being a problem.  I noticed it when on site with a client and attempting to connect to our shared OneNote notebook on SharePoint 2010.  I was "catching up" with stuff that occurred over the last couple of weeks and OneNote would crash each time I tried to sync.  I even tried re-connecting to the OneNote notebook, but that also failed.

I opened Programs and Features and selected the View Installed Updates on the left and waited for Windows 7 to chunk through the multitude of updates.  When it finally settles down you can enter KB3055034 in the search box and, if you’re lucky, it will show you the multiple times it’s installed.  In my case it was four times:  Visio, Project, Office and something else I don’t’ remember.  I removed it four times and after it is gone syncing works again.

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See how syncing works again?

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Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Upgrading the Aerator on a Septic Systems

Posted by Russell Wright on August 8, 2015

I know!  Let’s design a septic aerator with an electric motor that sits down in a very caustic environment where the motor and bearings will only last 2-3 years so the homeowner has to constantly replace it.  And when it floods, it’s always good to have electrical power sitting under water!  NOT!

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This is the stupidest design in the world.  Poor idiots at Norweco.  They haven’t figured out that electricity and water don’t mix.

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No problem…let’s upgrade!  First you need to get an aeration stone like is used on a pond.  I found one on eBay.  It’s a 7" dome diffuser airstone.  It was about $50 or so.

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Next, put it on a long length of (properly measured) PVC.  I chose to use electrical conduit.

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Next, attach a PVC union for easy installation and removal.

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Now you’re getting the idea.  The assembly will be lowered into the chamber where aeration occurs.  Notice the notch taken out of the side of the concrete collar for the air supply line.

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You can lower it all the way.

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And make the final attachment with the PVC union.  This is where prior measuring and cutting is important!

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Now it’s all attached.  See the old electrical outlet?  It’s dead now.

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How did the air line get there?  A little digging!

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Just a shallow trench.  I think it took me about 45 minutes.  I’m pretty good with a spade.

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Covering it back up.

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Watering the sod back down.

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The final attachment to an aeration pump.  This is a very standard pump I got off eBay.  It’s a Hiblow HP-80 and was $248.00.  A little tubing and fittings and a bit of wiring (it runs all the time) and you’re done.  At this point in time it’s been running for over a year with no issues.  There’s a filter you have to clean and/or replace once or twice a year, but no big deal.  My effluent has never been cleaner!  That’s a nice way of saying, "My @#$% don’t stink!"

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Upgrading the Plumbing and Hardware on an SR Smith Slide

Posted by Russell Wright on August 8, 2015

Yes, we have a slide…and a diving board…on our pool.  OMG!  Now that we’ve established that and the fact that we are not going to remove them, here’s my latest upgrade.

The slide is about 15 years old and empties into our salt water pool.  The original plumbing on it is in the form of 1/4" tubing attached to recirculating water coming from the pool pump.  However, it’s never worked very well because of the pressure drop from the 3/4" PVC to the 1/4" flexible tubing with which the slide is plumbed.  In fact, at one time, I added a spigot from our irrigation system which worked pretty well, but the primary problem remained.

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The primary problem is the 1/4" tubing never seems to last more than one season.  We’re in Texas and it’s hot!  Between the heat and the (somewhat) cold (yes, it does freeze at times), the tubing becomes fragile and breaks, necessitating its replacement every season.  So, when the kids are over and it’s broken, a hose gets dragged to the slide and tied to and draped over a handle.  Not cool.  Plus, whether it’s the hose or the spigot, it’s up to me to turn off the fresh water supply, since no one ever seems to be able to do that when they are done.

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My goal was to reduce the pressure loss by using a larger main line up and down most of the length of the slide.  You can see my attachment of 1/2" PVC to the 3/4" PVC main line.  After the reduction fitting, I used a removable PVC union fitting so the entire extension can be easily detached and removed, if necessary.

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Under the slide I provided a cutoff valve so it can be easily turned on and off at the slide.  There is also a master Jandy valve located at the pool equipment.

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I was originally going to plumb it with 1/2" flexible PVC, but it seemed to be a bit difficult to get 11 feet of it without purchasing a 50 foot role.  Home Depot and Lowes don’t stock the small stuff.  So I finally decided to use rigid 1/2" PVC.  In order to make it contour to the slide, I used my heat gun and patiently heated it up until it was flexible enough to form into the correct arcs.

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Probably the neatest thing I did was take a PVC cap and drill and tap a hole that would accept one of those quick connect 1/4" tubing bulkhead connectors.  I used plenty of Teflon tape on the threads and screwed it into the end of the modified PVC cap.  This provides me with a quick way to make a short 1/4" tubing connection from the 1/2" PVC to the 1/4" slide fitting.

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I did this at both the bottom and top, leaving enough room so the 1/4" tubing has room to flex and bend.  On the bottom, I replaced the bulkhead connection on the slide (since it broke) with another 1/4" tubing quick connect, so replacing this short piece of tubing literally takes about 30 seconds.  The lower slide nozzle correctly screws on the end of this quick connect bulkhead fitting.

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Here’s the top.  The tubing is a bit longer, but still quick and easy to replace.

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An underside look at the top.

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Next, I replaced all the hardware with stainless steel hardware.  I ended up having to cut some of the bolts because the salt had corroded them so badly.  My hardware was ordered from Albany County Fasteners on the web.  Love these guys and their stainless hardware.  Shipping is free with a $25 order!  Or you can purchase stuff from them on eBay.  Here you can see the carriage bolts replaced with stainless.

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This is essentially a stainless lag screw replacement.  I had to go a bit bigger because the aluminum rail was stripped, probably during the initial installation.

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I had an issue with the aluminum handles being loose.  Problem was the aluminum attachment block in the handle appears to be held in place with epoxy of some kind that had lost its grip.  I re-engineered it with a through hole and stainless hardware. 

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I also had to drill and tap out the broken screw that comes up from the bottom of the slide.  When I attempted to remove these screws that hold the handles in place, they promptly broke.  In fact one was broken already which was the cause of one of the handles being loose (very unsafe).  Not surprising, they were completely rusted.  These screws fit into the bottom of the aluminum block that extends from the handles.  They are not going anywhere now!

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The complete project was probably around $50 in hardware and supplies and the results were great.  There is now plenty of water that recirculates through the pool and on to the slide with significantly less pressure drop.  It used to dribble…now it sprays!

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