Russ' Do It Yourself Home Workshop

Finding Fixes to Just About Anything and Everything

Archive for the ‘Misc Repair’ Category

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.


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


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.


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


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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


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.



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.


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.


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


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.


Posted in Misc Repair | 14 Comments »

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!


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


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.


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


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


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.


You can lower it all the way.


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


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


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


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


Covering it back up.


Watering the sod back down.


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!"


Posted in Home Repair, Misc Repair | Leave a Comment »

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


An underside look at the top.


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.


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.


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. 


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!


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!

Posted in Misc Repair | 2 Comments »

First Alert 9120B Smoke Detector Keeps Chirping/Beeping

Posted by Russell Wright on April 4, 2014

I had a smoke detector that kept chirping.  Thinking it was a battery problem, I replaced the battery even though the battery that was in it tested out okay.  Now, this is a smoke detector located at the top of the stairs, so I had to get my folding ladder out to get to it.  You know…two ladder feet on a stair and the other two feet of the ladder on the top of the stair landing with 6′-1", 210 lb. me standing on the ladder, reaching for the ceiling.  Not a pretty sight.  And, to make matters worse, the dang thing kept on beeping after I replaced the battery.


So, standing on the ladder (I didn’t put it away because I thought this might happen), I removed the smoke detector by rotating it CCW to detach it from its base so I could get to the plug on the back.  After unplugging it (and not falling off the ladder) I took it downstairs and removed the cover.  There are three plastic tabs/clips that can be released, one-at-a-time, to allow you to remove the cover.  I took the naked smoke detector out to the garage and fired up the air compressor (what…you don’t have one?) and blew the sensor clean.  I reassembled the detector (snapped it together) and put the original battery back in it and voila, no more chirping!

This detector is located near our attic fan, so I’m thinking it gets a lot of dust and particulate matter blown by it when the fan runs.  However, it looked very clean on the inside, but blowing it out appears to have done the trick.

Posted in Home Repair, Misc Repair | 10 Comments »

Fix Your Logitech H760 Wireless Headphones Before They Become Worthless

Posted by Russell Wright on January 28, 2014

If you’re like me and have a pair of these fairly expensive ($60-$80) Logitech headphones, model H760, you might find their weakness is in the plastic that is part of the headband that connects the headphones together.  Many people have issues with the plastic breaking, rendering them useless.  If you contact Logitech and have a receipt, they’ll probably replace them for you because they’ve had so many complaints. 

I couldn’t find my receipt so I "fixed" them using some tie wraps as shown.  There was enough left of the plastic this seems to be holding.  If you don’t have one of these tie wrap guns,  67076 Adjustable Cable Tie GunI’d suggest you get one for all the "rigging" you do around your home.




Posted in Misc Repair | 1 Comment »

Improving the Usability of a Cuisinart Food Processor

Posted by Russell Wright on September 23, 2012

Warning:  Do not do this if you believe the nanny government is smarter than you and needs to protect you from all the hazards of life.  And please, don’t give me any grief because of what I’ve done here.  You don’t have to do it and I’m perfectly capable of making my own decisions about how much government “protection” I need in my life.  Come to think of it, I probably need more protection from the government…but I digress.

Here is the subject Cuisinart food processor.  It’s DLC-10.  A good device, but too many safety mechanisms have been incorporated over the years which make it impossible to easily clean. 


The pusher tube is the the main culprit.  It is captive to the safety assembly collar that must be clipped and unclipped each time you want to put something in the tube.  So basically, to shred cheese, you have to unclip the whole pusher tube, stick a piece of cheese in the tube and re-clip the safety tube mechanism in place.  Many people would not consider this a big deal, but I was always asking myself, “what’s wrong with doing it the way I always did it as a kid?”  In other words, pull out the pusher tube, drop in the cheese, and push.  I understand what they are trying to do…prevent people from putting their hands down the tube.  But the main thing is that it is almost impossible to clean.  I was reading a review by a person on Amazon that stated she wouldn’t use the device for any meat products because she didn’t think she could get it clean enough to prevent some type of bacterial growth that would ultimately make someone sick.  I no longer have that problem with this food processor.  By the way, I would rather have to pass an IQ test and purchase a product that was labeled as “dangerous.”  But don’t get me started…


So, what did I do?  The “Tim the tool-man Taylor” thing…I modified it!  On the bottom of the assembly I simply used a Dremmel tool to grind out a little bit of plastic that allows the tube to be captive in the safety interlock collar assembly.  You could easily use a drill bit, but the Dremmel was the tool of choice for me.  


After this bit of plastic was removed the pusher easily comes out of the assembly for cleaning.  I used a file to clean up the slot a little, but other than that, I got the exact results I desired.  The pusher slides perfectly over the tabs on the sides of the safety interlock collar.  No more captive pusher!



Now the little locking mechanism on the assembly has a real purpose.  It keeps the two pieces together for storage and, when you unlock them, it comes apart.  What a concept!


Now, if we could only purchase a normal gas can with a normal spout…

Posted in Cooking, Misc Repair | Leave a Comment »

Re-engineering the Frame for the Litter Maid Cover

Posted by Russell Wright on February 27, 2011

My wife purchased one of these Litter Maid covers (i.e. Cat Privacy Tent…ha, ha) because one of our newly acquired cats has some messy restroom habits.  These habits cause my wife to have to clean all around the electronic litter box, which she despises.  So, she purchased one of these and began to put it together.  Well, needless to say, it’s not engineered very well or very sturdy. 


The original frame is constructed of flimsy 1/2” outside diameter plastic tubing.  There are numerous connectors that allow you to connect all the pieces like Tinker Toys.  Bad part is, after putting it together, it is almost impossible to zip the top and bottom halves of the cover together.  It appears to be 1/2” – 3/4” too tall.  Seems like it was made to be more like a convertible top, where you have to really stretch the material (plastic) to join it.  This ain’t something that most mere mortals will be able to do without a heat gun or something to really soften the cover material so it will stretch easily.  Plus, while attempting to zip it together, my wife busted one of the 3-way connectors.  That makes it pretty worthless.

The original frame size is about 28” x 19” x 19”.  The new design uses 1/2” schedule 40 PVC and is resized as 27-3/4” L x 18-3/4” W x 18-1/4” H.  You can see my notations on the original instructions.  A typical PVC connector has a 3/4” receptacle and increases the overall length by 1” when the pipe is buried into the receptacle its full 3/4” depth.  Since I couldn’t find 3-way connectors with all slip connections, I had to use 3-way connectors with 2 slip and 1 threaded connection.  This meant that I used adapters for the vertical sections, which took another 1” (x 2) off the length pipe needed.  That’s where the 18-1/4” – 2 – 2 = 14-1/4” calculation comes from (subtracting 2” from each side to allow for the connectors).

If you’ve never worked with PVC before, all I can tell you is to make sure you have things lined up because the PVC cement sets fast.  I built the long top and bottom pieces first, then screwed the adapters into the corners and finally joined the top and bottom together.  Not hard, but if you screw up, you might be starting over!


Putting it together ends up looking like this.


After installing the bottom part of the cover.


Here’s the top and bottom covers placed on the new frame.  Testing out the operation of the Velcro tabs.


Here’s what it looks like closed.


Placing the Litter Maid in the frame with the lower cover installed.


And finally, the top cover in place and the whole thing put back in its place.  Fits purrrrrrr-fectly!


Posted in Misc Repair | Leave a Comment »

Disassembly and Assembly of a LifeFitness x5i Elliptical

Posted by Russell Wright on July 4, 2010

Here are some pics and procedures for taking apart your x5i and reassembling it.  It’s not comprehensive, but it will give you the main idea if you need to take it apart for any reason.

The bottom shroud that wraps around the back end of the machine can be removed without taking anything else off.  It is held in place with six machine screws and, once they are removed, you simply pull it back to remove it.  The power jack is attached to the metal frame, so it doesn’t get in the way of the removal of the shroud.


If you want to remove the long “arms” on the elliptical you need to remove the bolts (9/16”) at the front and back of the arms by first removing the covers.  Each cover half is held in place with a single machine screw.  You can take either side out first, as the order doesn’t matter.  This will expose a bolt with a self-locking nut that can easily be removed.  Here are some pictures, but they are not very good.  Hopefully you get the idea.





Once you have these bolts removed, you need to remove the bolt holding the stride length adjustment mechanism on the crank.  This bolt is accessed by removing a plug that covers it.


Now you can remove the 9/16” bolt, lock washer and flat washer that hold the mechanism on the crank.  I found that using a magnet to retrieve the hardware from the hole was very handy. 


After removing the stride length adjustment mechanism, you can remove four machine screws that hold on a plastic cover.


Once the cover is out of the way, you can remove the two screws that hold the metal plate on the crank and then remove the bolt that clamps the crank on to the flywheel.  To pull the crank off the flywheel, you may need some kind of puller.  I used a sliding hammer/puller that is used for doing bodywork.  These things have a knack for being wedged on so this may be the hardest part of the disassembly unless you have a puller to help you remove it.


Now you can finally remove all the screws that hold one half of the shroud in place.  These are a mixture of machine screws that attach the shroud to the frame and plastic/wood screws that screw into the other half of the plastic shroud.  Once you remove all the screws on a given side (this is the left side we’re working on) you should be able to remove half the shroud and expose the innards. 

To expose the other side simply repeat the process.  It’s a lot of screws, but nothing very difficult.

Posted in Instructions, Misc Repair | 4 Comments »

Opening a Sentry Safe with a Rubber Mallet, some WD-40 and a Screwdriver

Posted by Russell Wright on May 7, 2010

I have a Sentry Safe that I purchased from Sam’s a year or two ago (too lazy to look it up).  My wife recently tried to open it and, even though it agreed with the combination that was entered, the electronic opener refused to release the lock.  Since this safe can only be opened with an electronic code, this is a BAD situation!

I first tested all four batteries with my handy-dandy battery tester and they all passed with flying colors.  I could hear the actuator trying to work each time I entered the code.  I even tried the “master” code.  No go.  Being somewhat mechanically inclined, I decided to whack on the front of the safe with my fist (didn’t think I would hurt it) after entering the code.  Viola!  The actuator fired up and it opened.

I then started looking on the web and found this post by lighthouse.  Exactly my problem!  All you need is a Rubber Mallet (or a hard fist), some WD-40 and a screwdriver. 

Needless to say, I’ll be taking it back to Sam’s and getting my money back, regardless of whether it’s in or out of warranty.  I think Sentry Safe has sold many of us a bill of goods…what do you think?  POS!

2010-07-10 Update

So my son purchased a Sentry safe today and I warned him about the sticking problem.  Since I never did anything about my safe since I opened it last, I decided to pry the plastic cover off so I could see the innards and determine what to lube.  Looks like the actuator in the upper left is the source of the problem.  So, if you need to whack your safe, you can see that the upper right (as you’re facing it) would be the place to smack.

When I pried the back off, there was all kinds of plastic slag and crap sitting at the bottom on the ledge.  Such quality…

One of the comments to lighthouse’s post was by a guy who used his “saws-all” to cut through the pins.  As you can see, these are all just cast parts, which means they are probably very soft metal.  I guess if this safe is ever involved in a fire it will open automatically as all the parts melt!



Can’t open Sentry safe

Sentry safe won’t open

Sentry safe stuck closed

Posted in Misc Repair | 150 Comments »