10/05/2014

1 Million Views - All Time on Blogger


Well apparently my humble little blog has reached 1,000,000 total page views. 
1 million blogger stats, views


I've written about some milestones before:

Half a Million Views
300th Blog Post

Not much has changed since writing those.  Some things that have changed along the way are that i've slowed down a bit.  For a while i was writing, taking pictures, and publishing a new blog post every 2 days.  Now i'm lucky if i post something every 2 weeks.  The viewers to the blog really took off around 2011- 2012 when i started getting interested in SEO.  That's back when i had lots of time to devote to learning about how the Google search engine work, how to increase viewers, how to get your pages higher up on the search results, and how to make a little bit of money from ads. 

Another thing that's changed is that i've focused more on Youtube and the video aspect.  Before when i worked on a project i would take lots of pictures and only very rarely record a video.  However when i wanted to upload a video of something i built, i didn't have anything.  I tried making a hybrid video using transitioning photos, but it wasn't very good.  Everything seemed to change when i built my third storage shelf.  Since i had already built 2 previous shelf's i figured that it wouldn't be very helpful to anyone if i just took the same pictures for a third time.  So i tried recording a video and explaining all the steps it took to build the shelf.  It was very weird at first having to stand in my basement and talk to a camera about how i was going to cut a board, or why i built something a certain way.  It took me several attempts to record just a simple 20 second clip. 

Storage Shelf - Cheap and Easy Build Plans
http://youtu.be/ZKmtQiKgyFI

But after i recorded everything, edited it together and uploaded it to Youtube, it became my most popular video.  And it still is today.  Not only in terms of views, but also in the amount of money i make from it.  At the time of this post it is up to 78,000 views.

That's when i realized the potential of Youtube and started devoting more time to recording video's of projects i built.  Since then i've done several more of those types of video's.  I still think it's kind of corny and weird recording myself while i'm fixing a clothes dryer or cleaning out air ducts.  But it seems like the more corny you act and talk in a video, the more popular it is.

But as far as the blog is concerned, my favorite posts have stayed pretty much the same.  I still think that 2,600 Miles on a Honda is my favorite post(s).  Also i haven't changed my mind about what the favorite pictures i've taken along the way.
the bean, chicago

sleeping bear dunes, michigan

homemade nd filter

trevi fountain, rome, italy


I'm still doing lots of projects at home that i plan to upload to the blog.  The only problem is time and motivation.  I don't have the time or motivation after a project is done.  It takes me about an hour to go through all the pictures and sort out my favorites, several hours to write everything down and what i did, 2+ hours going through all the recording and editing them into one concise video, then upload everything to Youtube and the blog.  Then after that if i want to get lots of viewers i still have to create a project, links, articles and run them for weeks in an SEO program.

But pretty soon i'll have to come up with a new streamlined system.  Just take a couple pictures, write a couple of quick sentences and press publish. 

Rotate Tires and Alignment


A quick summary of some of the things i've fixed on the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP in the past couple years:

I left off last time talking about my car, saying that i got a flat and when changing it, noticed that it was from the steel wearing through the rubber. 

dent aluminum rim, fix

It was on the tire that got dented from a pothole in February.  Several years ago i hit a pothole with the same tire.  Both potholes that i hit were less than 1 mile from our house.  The first time i just had to replace tire, the sidewall blew out, and the sway bar link, the bolt busing broke.  But the time in February, although the rim was dented everything else was fine. 

The car rode fine, although i did have to fill the tire up with air about every month or so.  I asked a couple of places and read online about anything i could do to fix the dent but there was no solution.  Steel rims can be reshaped into place, but aluminum cannot be rebent, it would crack and be no good.

It must have been a combination between a slightly flat tire and the dented rim which caused the uneven tire wear.  I was worried that it might also be a tire alignment issue.  Most things that i read online about uneven tire wear is from bad alignment.  But all the pictures of those tires are 1/2 of the tire worn and 1/2 of the tire in good condition.  My tire tread was completely fine, only the "corner" of the tire was worn.  It wasn't a common problem.

I looked online and a new/used rim for a Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Comp-G car was between $195 and $300, plus shipping.  It has to be a used rim because the car is from 2005 and Pontiac isn't even in business anymore.  So i wrote down the phone numbers of a bunch of tire places in the area that sold new and used rims.  Karrie ended up calling some of the numbers one day and she finally found a place that had the rim.  For $138 we got the rim and tire.

I didn't want to put the new rim on the front, so i decided that it was a good time to rotate the tires.

Here's a video of the whole rotating tires process.  But continue reading for all the pictures and descriptions of why i did what i did.

How to Rotate Tires the Right Way

http://youtu.be/KMhonCoJ_vA

I checked the owners manual for the Grand Prix and it showed the correct rotation pattern.
how to rotate tires

The front tires went straight to the back, the back tires crossed sides to the front.  This was one of those times that i was glad i have 4 jack stands.  I started by jacking up the car at each wheel and putting it on a stand.  Then i just went about rotating the tires as shown. 
how to change a tire, rotate tires

I was surprised when i removed the other front tire and saw some of the similar tire wear as the other front tire.
typical tire wear

The back tires were perfectly fine.  In fact they had basically the same amount of tread on them as when they were new. 
unusual side wall tire wear

Here you can see the hole in the tire.
wear on sidewall of tires, hole, puncture

It must be that because the car is front wheel drive it puts more force and more strain on the front.  That combined with the fact that the front tires are doing the turning as well.  So i moved the rear tires to the front and vice-versa. 
rotate car tires, how to

The car rode fine but i felt a slight vibration.  I wasn't sure if it was an unbalanced wheel, alignment issues, or just because i put newer tires on the front.  I didn't want the same thing happen to the new tires i put on the front, so i took it into the shop to get an alignment.  I did see a few video's on Youtube about how you can do an alignment yourself.  It involved very precise measurements using a string pulled tightly parallel to the tires.  After watching some of them i didn't feel confident in doing it correctly.  There was lots of measuring to arbitrary points on the rims. 

I'm glad i took it into the shop.  Beyond balancing the tire, they had a machine that used lasers to check the tires alignment, camber, and caster.  And everyone knows that anything that uses lasers is way better then something using a string.  For $80 they adjusted the rotation and twisting points of the tire until they were in their correct specifications. 
print out for camber alignment car tires

I was surprised to see that the front tires were fine, totally within the range of acceptable values.  But it was the rear tires that were out of alignment.  Then i remembered that i had changed the struts twice in the rear and changed one of the hubs.  I don't think it was hub, because i have also changed the hubs/wheel bearing in the front too.  So it must have been the minor change in the rear strut location when i changed them that caused the tires to be slightly misaligned.

After everything was fixed the car seems to ride better.  The vibration was gone, but that was probably the result of the unbalanced tire.  Mainly it's just peace of mind knowing it's all good and the new tires on the front shouldn't wear out like the other ones did.

9/09/2014

Car Rear Hub Install - How To

A quick summary of some of the things i've fixed on the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP in the past couple years:
The reason i needed to replace one of the rear hubs on my Pontiac Grand Prix was because of a mistake i made weeks before.  While replacing my rear struts for the second time i accidentally hit the plastic ABS sensor with the 3lb hammer.


fix abs sensor, strut, shock, brake, wheel bearing, hub

Here's the entire process of installing the new hub.  But continue reading for more in depth description and pictures.

Install Rear Hub - GM - Pontiac Grand Prix
 
http://youtu.be/Vw8moyoUSb4

The struts are held onto the car with a couple of big bolts.  And in order to set them in place i needed to use the big hammer.  On one of the swings i missed and hit the back of the hub.  For some cars it wouldn't be a big deal.  But on my car i have a plastic ABS sensor which measures the rotation of the wheel. 

So even though i didn't mess up the ABS break itself, just one of the 4 sensors, it still caused an ABS warning light to appear on the dashboard.  It's annoying that if just 1 part of the whole process is broken, the whole thing doesn't work.  That's like saying if the 'Q' button on the keyboard is stuck, the entire computer won't work.

A few years ago i replaced the front hubs/wheel bearings on the car, with the help of my friend Mike.  I bought the hubs from Rock Auto via Ebay.  This time i compared a few other sellers.  The first thing i did is use my favorite trick for auto parts, checked Advanced Auto Parts.  They are usually more expensive but online there are always coupon codes that you can use to get $10 or $20 off when you spend at least $50.  Next i checked Rock Auto for their price.  And the last place i checked was Ebay.  It turned out that the best deal i got, on a part that looked to be well made was from Detroit Axle via Ebay.  The part looked good, had the ABS sensor attached, was less expensive then the others, and it was from nearby Detroit. 
detroit axle, how to replace rear hub, wheel bearing, grand prix

It arrived in the mail a couple days later and i went about putting it on the car.  This was one of the first jobs that i also got to use my new tool cabinet.  It was nice not having to run up and down the stairs after tools i needed in the garage.  Here was everything set out that i thought i needed.
garage tools, shop, car fix, repair, brakes, replace, hub, wheel

The first step was to remove the tire, break caliper and disc.  Then i had to remove the 4 bolts which held the hub in place.  I sprayed WD-40 and Liquid Wrench over the 4 bolts and gave it time to try and soak into the threads.  Also i tried a trick that i learned from working on the motorcycle, tapping on the top of the bolt head.  Just adding small taps will help to try and loosen threads that had been fused together for almost a decade.
replace wheel bearing, rear hub, pontiac grand prix

To access the bolts there are 2 holes drilled into the hub.  This allows you to insert a socket wrench with an extension.  So i tried loosening the bolts with a socket wrench.  I had to put a metal pipe over the handle to give me a bit more leverage.  But i eventually got all 4 bolts loosened and removed.  However that did not mean that the hub could be removed.  It is still set firmly in place because the round hub was rusted/fused/corroded in place inside of the fitting.  I'm not exactly sure what the name of that part is, the swing arm or the knuckle. 
how to remove hub, rear hub, car, bolt, rusted

It took me about 20 minutes of hammering with a large hammer to remove the hub.  I hit it from every angle, hit it with a wood block, hit it while pulling on the front.  I eventually saw some movement from the swing arm, and a few minutes after that the hub was removed.  I could actually see the broken ABS sensor.
abs sensor, damaged sensor, hub, wheel bearing, gm

Before i put the new hub in, i decided that i should test to see if it will fix the problem.  So i connected the wire to the back of the new ABS sensor.  When i started the car the warning light went away and i knew that it would fix the problem.  To fit the new hub back in place i first needed to remove the corrosion.  So i used sandpaper and a wire brush.  Lots of white powder came down
replace hub, pontiac, rear end, install, fix, replace

while i was scraping.  Even after the sanding and scraping the hub didn't seat easily.  To get it to fully set in place i had to gradually tighten the 4 bolts down, sort of in the same way as you would tighten down lug nuts.  My goal was to get the hub to tighten flush with the swing arm socket.  If it wasn't straight, the wheel would be out of alignment.  But after i felt that the hub was tight, i reinstalled the disc and caliper.  Then rebolted on the wheel.  Everything seemed to be working fine.

Then a couple of things happened.  The first unrelated thing was that my front tire popped, not the tire on the rim i just replaced.  I had hit a pothole back in February and my tire rim was bent.  Because it was an aluminum rim there wasn't anything that anyone could do.  If it were a steel rim it could be bent back into place.  But the car still rode fine, for 6 months at least.

This is a picture of that same rim, when i hit a pot hole a couple of years ago.  Apparently in Michigan your right front tire (closest to the curb) takes a lot of abuse from pot holes.
dented aluminum rim, fix aluminum rim, flat tire, pothole

When i took the flat tire off i was surprised to see that it wasn't a puncture, but rather the top-inside edge of the wheel was worn completely down to the steel.  It was probably a combination of riding with a slightly flat tire and because of the dent in the rim.

I'll have to publish another post about finding a new rim and tire and rotating the tires.  But also i have to mention that i did need to take the car to get an alignment.  I looked into doing it myself but it was too complicated.  The fronts were ok but the rear tires needed some minor adjustment, probably from the two times i replaced my rear struts.  For now though, it's riding fine and will hopefully go last a while before something else going wrong.

9/06/2014

Easy Baseboard Install - How To

I wanted to make a quick post about what I've learned from installing baseboard.  Over the past few years we've put a baseboard in a few rooms and for me it's gone from a pain to do, to something I really enjoy.   Putting new baseboard in the baby room remodel was the finishing touch that made the room look really nice.
baby room, remodel, how to, baseboard, paint

Here's a video i made of installing baseboard, from the baby room remodel.

Easy Baseboard Install - How To

http://youtu.be/UhKeSQPPl4M

Let me start by saying, having the right tools makes all the difference in the world.
dewalt miter saw, molding, baseboard

When I first installed base board years ago I had to use a hand to miter saw and hammer.   The cuts with that old miter saw weren't great and it was a slow process having to use a hammer and nails.  Also one miss with a hammer meant a dent in the baseboard which needed spackling.

Here's some previous posts i did where i talk about the tools i use:
In the past year i have now become the owner of Bostitch nail guns, an air compressor and a DeWalt miter saw.   Having a nice miter saw, which makes precise cut,s makes it so much easier to be accurate.  I can easily turn the blade of the saw to exactly 45° and in one second make a perfectly straight cut.  When it comes to attaching the boards to the wall, the nail gun takes just a few seconds and several nails are through the board.

Here's what that baby room looked like before the baseboard.  It still needed that finishing touch.  So i set up the compressor, the light weight air hose, and the 18 gauge nail gun with 1 1/4" nails.
air compressor, nail gun, bostitch, hose,

Getting ready to attach the baseboard.
tools for home improvement, baseboard, install, remodel

A month ago we decided to paint the wood door frame around our entryway.  Ever since we bought the house the entrance was unfinished wood and it never occurred to me that it would look better if it were all white.  I don't know why it took us so long to paint it.  It's one of those things that after you do it you ask yourself, why didn't I do that years ago.
easy paint, room upgrade, remodel, home, color

After painting the door frame and window frame it was time to install the baseboard.  Here's the half-inch round over baseboard which was installed already.  It didn't look really great and didn't match anything else in the hallway. 
cheap baseboard, cheapest, cost, money

Here's what the rest of the hallway looked like.  My dad and I installed this wood floor a few years ago and it still looks great. Back then I just put the same trim back on the wall.  I never really liked it but I didn't have time to put up new baseboard. 
hallway baseboard, easy upgrade

So the first step was to remove that old trim without damaging the floor. Like before when I removed the existing baseboard in the baby room
how to remove baseboard, damage, damaging, nail, pry

The tools i used were a hammer, 2 screwdrivers, and a crowbar.  It pulled off pretty easily since I wasn't too concerned about damaging the trim itself.  Here is what the wall and floor looked like after I got all of old trim removed.
easy base board, how to, cut, miter saw

I usually like to start measuring at an existing piece of vertical door frame.  That way I know I can measure to a flush surface and don't have to worry about two 45° angle cuts.  You can see from this picture below at the edge of the closet the left side is a 90° cut and the right side is 45°.
home baseboard, how to, install, nail, cut

The easiest way I've learned install baseboard is to measure and mark the inside of the angle.  By that I mean I measure the wall and the distance is where the back part of the board will line up.  For example that same corner, the face of the board will actually be longer because the board is angled out but the distance I measure the wall is the same distance at the back of the board.   Once you cut that angle at 45°, you then have to swing your saw to the other 45° angle to make the next cut.

Again like I've learned from the family room remodel and the baby room remodel,  none of the corners in our house are 90°.  You can see from the previous picture that there are some gaps in the corners.  That's where spackling comes in to fill that 1/8th inch or 16th inch gap.  Also you have to use spackle to fill in the depressions made from the nail heads.
baseboard, spackle, caulk, sealant, spackle, how to

 Then the final touch is to caulk the top seam.  Otherwise it looks crummy with that gap on the top. 
baseboard, spackle, caulk, sealant

Overall though the new white baseboard makes the hallway looked brighter and newer. Such a quick and easy upgrade makes the hallway looked totally different.