Monday, August 27, 2007

Fort Morgan Beach

Here are some pictures I took at Fort Morgan beach. Not a lot of people around but it was pretty hot outside at the time. Sea birds were following a school of fish that was being driven onto the beach by another school of larger fish. I took a lot of pictures but not all of them were in focus of the birds flying around.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Restoring the Headlight Lens on a Toyota Camry

Our Toyota Camry has had a clouded headlight lens for several years now and it bothered me every time I would be either washing or working on the car's engine. It could be compared to someone having cataracts in their eyes. So after the success I had with the Internet fixing the sticking accelerator I looked for a solution for this. I found that a number of people were wet sanding their lens with different grades of sand paper used with water and/or rubbing compound. The pictures they showed of the before and after looked impressive but it was taking them hours to repair the lens based on what I read.

So I went to Autozone to look for ultra fine sandpaper (1000-2000 grit) to see if removing some layers of the plastic lens would in fact fix the cars problem. I found the sand paper but in the same section of the store I found a product from CCP called 5 Minute Headlight Restorer for about $12. Well, 5 minutes sounds a lot better than hours sanding so I bought it.

What the kit consists of is a circular plastic plate with a metal shaft, a number of sponge pads with rubbing compound on them and some instructions. You will need a drill, a clean rag, window cleaner, paper towels, and spray bottle with water. First, you need to clean the lens with the window cleaner and paper towels getting the surface clean and smooth. Next, put the bit in the drill and remove the paper from one the circular sponge pads to reveal its adhesive side. Stick the adhesive side to the plate. Mist the pad to get it damp but not too wet. I used a cordless drill to do this work. Next light press the pad to the lens and let the drill spin the sponge on the lens. I worked the sponge back and forth across the lens until I had covered the surface of the lens. I did this several times stopping every so often to make sure the sponge was still damp and if not misting it some more. A white film developed on the areas I had treated and I after finishing with the drill, I took the spray bottle and rinsed the lens. I then took the dry rag and cleaned off the lens.

It was quite a difference. The lens looked a lot more clear. See the pictures. I did the other lens with the same sponge and it cleaned the film off it as well.

The directions said if the film was inside the lens then it would need to be replaced. Luckily, the lens I was treating had the film on the outside.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Visit to Fort Morgan, Alabama

Recently, we took a vacation to Fort Morgan, Alabama with family and enjoyed the beach, food and sites of this Gulf of Mexico city. I was amazed at all the drilling platforms in the Gulf we could see from the beach, especially at night.

I was able to make some drawings for my young nephews with the paper and crayons on hand. Our first image is a wake up picture with a sun rising over the ocean which has a sea serpent, shark (complements of my nephew), and fish swimming in it.

This next picture entitled "Fun At the Beach" which shows a picture of the house we rented which was called "Beach Escape". The image of the house is pretty accurate but the surroundings were created with artistic license. The beach house was on a street that was in sight of the beach and the ocean was about 200 meters from the house.

I had brought a bottle of sparkling grape juice and used it to encourage my nephew to eat his vegetables during meals. So I told him he could have some "magic" grape juice in a glass. This image shows how the grape juice made to when it gets to the glass.

Here is an image to encourage my nephews to go to bed. It is a caterpillar sleeping with the moon and some flowers around.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Solar Panels

I bought some surplus solar panels years ago but only used a small number of them in a test to run an attic cooling fan for a year or so. The test worked pretty well but one panel broke in two probably after it got hit by a piece of hail.

The panels are about 8 inches by 8 inches and consist of a glass panel with a aluminum foil back with some sort of coating. The directions that came with the panel said scrap the coating off the foil side to expose the metal on the edges and the attach a U shaped metal piece on either side of the panel. One goes to the positive side and the other to the negative. Next solder the wires to the these metal pieces to get the power.

I looked for a better method and tried to find a conductive epoxy that would allow the wires to attach to the plate. I never found one that was cheap.

I came up with another method for attaching the conductors. Use copper foil tape from 3M that sticks to the aluminum and then solder the wires to that. See the picture for a better explanation.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Toyota Camry Sticking Accelerator

We have a Toyota Camry that sometimes after running for while on the highway and then the car is stopped at light will not want to accelerate. If the pedal is pressed it seems to resist going down until it is pressed on harder. At first we thought it was a problem with the metal cable going to the pedal after consulting with a mechanic. We cleaned that and it did not help.

After looking on the internet, a number of entries were found about cleaning the throttle plate. The description of what to do seemed pretty straight forward so it was done. What you need is:

  • an adjustable wrench
  • pliers
  • old toothbrush
  • clean rags
  • can of carburetor cleaner
Trace the large air hose from the air filter compartment to the metal assembly that brings air to the engine. A smaller hose is above it, so it might be a good idea to take the pliers and move the fastening clamp off so the hose can be removed and set aside. See picture.

Next, take the adjustable wrench and loosen the O-ring from around the large air hose. Once it is loose enough, work the hose away from the pipe it is attached to. Move the hose to the side so clear access is provided to the throttle body plate.
Here is a picture of dirty plate. It is hard to get the camera angled for a good picture. There was a lot of black carbon build up in the pipe past the plate. The carburetor cleaner I used had a plastic tube that attached to the spray nozzle allow concentrated spray on to the plate. Once it was sprayed, quite a bit of black liquid came off which was wiped up with the rags. The tooth brush was then used to brush the inside of the pipe and throttle plate. Use your hand to turn the wheel that holds the cable that move the throttle plate to gain access to the back of the plate.

Once the brushing is done, spray more cleaner on plate and wipe away the carbon and liquid. Keep cleaning until black liquid quits appearing after spraying. Keep wiping the liquid up till dry.
Here is a picture after the cleaning.

Once all the hoses were put back in place, the engine was started and run for several minutes to get the cleaner through the exhaust system. One issue I had was the accelerator cable came off the wheel and when I started the engine the RPM went up to over 3000. After stopping the engine and placing the cable back its proper position, the RPM was around 1000-1500 at idle.
This fixed the problem and it made the car much nicer to drive.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fossil Imprint

While digging the area for the new patio, I find a large number of rocks the builder left not to far under the ground. These rocks end up in a pile until it grows large enough to be hauled off to fill in washed out area made by erosion. When I unloaded the rocks I noticed an imprint on the one that looked like some sort of fossil. After consulting my cousin, who is quite the fossil hunter, we came to the conclusion it is a trilobite. He wants to make a casting of it so we can get a better idea about its size and what it looked like.

Here is the image of the rock.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Fancy Farm Kentucky Picnic

The Fancy Farm, Kentucky Picnic was held on August 4, 2007 and I was there. It is known in Kentucky as the unofficial start of campaign season and this year there is a governor's race. I did not attend the political speeches but reading about them in the paper, it appears the crowd was quite boisterous and confrontational. What I go for is the barbecue which is prepared in large pits. They told me 18,000 lbs were prepared this year.

This is picture of some of the pits they prepare barbecue in.

Here is the pavilion that the speeches are given in. Behind it is were a lot of the news crews set up to send their reports back to newscasts around the state. Off to the side, a large number of RVs and travel trailers are set up where VIPs and others can stay in the air conditioning and away from sometimes annoying crowds.
It was very hot this picnic and a lot of bottled water was being sold.

Sunday morning I got up and helped clean up the grounds. As a child I use to help clean after the picnic and it was quite a mess. The garbage seemed more concentrated on the paved areas where the booths and stands were. I ended up cleaning the ball field and the area around the school. Even though it was early morning, I got soaked from just working about 90 minutes.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Laser Printers... Are they harmful? Are they spies?

Well, I found these two different items of interest since I use to work a lot with laser printers.

The first is about toner that laser printers can emit as very fine particles. Unfortunately for me, some of the printers that put out these particles are ones I worked with. It seems that a researcher in Australia was working on a study to determine if laser printers emitted fine dust that might have bad effects on the lungs. Here is the link to the study and the table of printers they tested is near the bottom of the paper.

Hewlett Packard responded saying the findings need more study. Here is a link to their response:

The second item is something I had seen in the past about color laser printer sometimes place color patterns on the pages they print so they can be traced back to the printer. I think this was to help catch counterfeiters. Here is a link to a page that has a list of printers that do that:

Thursday, August 02, 2007

First Grapes

I ate my first Concord grape yesterday and it reminded me of ones I ate as child growing up in a small farming town.

Here is a picture of another grape plant further back in the field.