Monday, March 20, 2017

Glacier Bay 18-inch Concealed Grab Bar Review

The Glacier Bay 18-inch Grab Bar with concealed mounting screws is ultimately a good product, once installed.  However, it is poorly designed for mounting.

As the instructions say, "Studs are usually 16 in apart." However, the grab bar is 18 inches long, which means that the only mounting holes that will align over a pair of 16 inch apart studs are the two underneath the bar, making it difficult to get a screwdriver in.

Worse, the instructions SAY to position the bar over the studs and mark the mounting holes, but the drawing shows pencils marking mounting holes at 18 inches, not 16. And the unlabeled ruler designed to  help you install the bar shows 18 tick marks between the marked mounting holes, not 16.

So I marked the actual stud locations for both ends of the grab bar and drilled 1/8-inch pilot holes as the instructions indicated. But when I used my drill-driver to put in the screws, the screw heads were chewed out when the going got a little bit tough. I tried sinking three screws, using lots of pressure on the drill to prevent cam out, but the screws just chewed up. I had to back out the screws (which were half to an inch left to screw in) with a pair of  slip joint pliers. After that, I used some two-inch drywall screws, and they went in easily. So why is this company including cheap screws?

And why doesn't Glacier Bay make a 16-inch grab bar instead  of an 18-inch?

The bar, once installed correctly, is sturdy, attractive, and handy. The 1.25 inch diameter of the bar makes a nice fit for the hands.

P.S. On the outside of the mounting ring, where there was no stud under the mounting holes, I inserted a 50-pound-load nylon wall anchor into the drywall and then put in a two-inch screw. So the installation is very solid.

Of the ten models listed on the installation instructions, exactly none of them are 16, or 32 inches, which would meet stud needs.

So, I think I will continue shopping for another brand.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Pfister Pasadena 8 inch Widespread Faucet Review and Installation Hints

The Pfister Pasadena 8 inch Widespread Faucet (in various finishes) provides an excellent upgrade to an older bathroom vanity (my upgrade was from a 1998 installation). The water turns on and off effortlessly in a quarter turn.

Installation is easy (taking out the old, rusty or otherwise corroded faucet is the hard part).

Here are some hints to make your experience more pleasant.

1. Instead of  trying to turn the water off at  each supply valve, just turn the water off at the entrance to the house. After a few years, the supply valves (some of which have plastic valve stems) become so corroded that (A) you can't turn them off all the way, (B) they will leak when you turn them back on or (C) both A and B will occur.

2. When installing each valve, you are instructed to make sure the arrow on the bottom of the valve points toward the sink. But as you tighten things up. the valve can rotate slightly. How can you tell without crawling under the sink again? Answer: Use a Sharpie to mark the valve body when it is lined up. See the photos here for clarification;

When the valve body is lined up (note the arrow shape in the red plastic pointing toward the sink), use a Sharpie to draw a line on the top of the valve pointing toward the sink. Now, if you accidentally turn the valve while tightening it, you can see and realign it.

3. When you install the sink stopper unit, it hand tightens underneath. Be sure to tighten it a few extra twists when it feels snug and then check for leaks as soon as everything is hooked up. I had to tighten the unit in both sinks when I thought they were tight enough.

4. I didn't find the included multi-tool to be of much use.

This is a nice set. I have used it only a month as of this posting.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Moen Single Handle Shower Facet Repair

This is the repair that really drove home the meaning of "retaining clip." This repair also fulfills my advice to "talk about your mistakes."

The shower hadn't been used in more than ten years, so I wasn't surprised to find the faucet knob frozen. I turned off the water, went to the shower, and pulled off the cap, unscrewed the screw holding the knob on, pulled up and out on the retaining clip, and grabbed the valve stem with a pair of pliers. (Actually, they are Channel Lock adjustable pliers, what used to be called water pump pliers.)

That was mistake #1. After some twisting and yanking, I pulled out what I thought was the valve core and headed off to Home Depot to find a match. Mistake #1 was remedied by the helpful HD guy, who told me the part I was going to buy was wrong because I  had removed only the central core of the valve stem. He gave me the right part and I  returned to the shower.

Key Item: In the package with the new valve stem is a nylon tool that fits in the notches of the outer valve core. Put it on and then use the pliers to rotate the entire valve core so that it loosens enough to pull out.

I installed the new valve core (or stem) into the valve after slathering it with silicone grease and replaced the retaining clip. But now the metal cylinder that is supposed to slide over the valve body wouldn't. The top of the retaining clip was sticking up too high. Examination of said clip revealed that it was kind of bent and wouldn't go all the way down. A search of the Home Depot and Lowe's web sites revealed that it was not a stock item. Mail order only.

Mistake #2. I was about to order, grumbling at the $4 to $5 shipping charge on top of a $4 to $8 charge for the clip, when my wife, who isn't much for tools, suggested I try a plumbing supply house. "OK Google" found one only a couple of miles from home.

It was a few days before I could return to the repair site with my nifty, new retaining clip, so of course I had turned the water on again in the meantime. (You can see where this is leading to Mistake #3, can't you?) So I step into the shower stall, grab my needle nose pliers, and yank out that bent old retaining clip. In a quite surprising demonstration of the retaining clip's name and purpose, the entire valve core instantly shot out of the valve body, followed by a fire-hose-like stream of water, aimed directly at my chest. For an old guy of 66, I'm not kidding that I dashed out of the shower, down the hall, through the entry way, out the front door and to the shut off valve for the house.

Cut to the chase. The valve core went back in, the new retaining clip slid all the way down, water turned back on, and all is right with the world.

Installation secret #1: Be sure to push the valve core all the way in so that the retaining clip can slide down. Twist the core to line it up so the clip slides in the grooves on the core

Installation secret #2: To be sure that twisting the knob left makes the water hotter and right colder, make sure the little tab on the knob stem part of the valve is facing up. If not, rotate it up.

Maybe the best idea is to get the whole kit at one time:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kwikset Smart Key Rekeying Set

If you have a Kwikset Smart Key lock, this is the perfect solution for rekeying it. The kit comes with everything you need: the Smart Key tool, four new keys, plus two alternate keys, and easy and clear instructions. Rekeying took me about 30 seconds.

The only downside to the kit is getting it open. It's packaged in what seems like bullet-proof plastic. Be careful if you use a box knife to open it. It's tough. Opening the package took me at least five minutes, maybe ten.

A clearer way to describe the included keys is to say the kit includes one set of four keys and another set of two keys, allowing you to rekey your Smart Key lock twice (or change it back and forth). One suggestion is that you can  use the two-key set (the "alternate" keys) to temporarily rekey the lock  so that a repairman can have access to the house. After the repair or whatever is finished, you can rekey back to the other key set.

Finally, considering the cost of having keys made, buying a new lock cylinder, or hiring a locksmith, the price of this set is a bargain.

Highly recommended.

Caveat: You must have a Kwikset Smart Key lock to use this kit.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Epica 4 in 1 Immersion Hand Blender

Having seen and heard about hand blenders, I did some research on them and ended up with this midrange item. The Epica 4-in-1 Immersion Hand Blender sells for in the $40-$50 range. Hand blenders go as low as about $29 and as high as $100+.

The Epica is a nifty tool for whipping up smoothies and blended drinks in a flash. The stainless steel blade unit detaches from the motor and can be cleaned with a short stream of warm water. The unit comes with the blade attachment, a whisk attachment, and a small food processor attachment. I use the blade attachment with the plastic cup.

My drink of choice includes a banana, some blueberries, some pomegranate juice, yogurt, apple juice, sometimes a few prunes, some water soluble fiber, and five or six ice cubes. The blender liquefies this in about ten seconds.

Highly recommended. Excellent quality and performance.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium 3 Error Message System Not Fully Protected

Well, I've been around the block a few times on this one. I wanted my PCs to be fully protected, so I upgraded them from the free version of Malwarebytes to the premium version 3. Soon thereafter, my PCs began slowing down, not responding, and showing a Malwarebytes error message saying that Web protection had been turned off. I tried to turn it on, but it would either not respond or just say, "starting," and wander off into bitspace.

I contacted Malwarebytes technical support and they gave different suggestions on three occasions. I reinstalled, tried changing settings, rebooted, and so forth, to no avail.

To the chase: Finally, after a lot of research on the Web, I discovered that this issue has been known since at least 2014. It's this: Malwarebytes and Kaspersky antivirus/ Internet protection simply do not like each other. The solution was to uninstall Malwarebytes.

Question #1. Since this is a years' old issue, why doesn't Malwarebytes technical support know about it?

Question #2. Since this is a years' old issue, why haven't Malwarebytes and Kaspersky gotten together and fixed their incompatibility?

Bottom line: If you use Kaspersky antivirus, don't upgrade your Malwarebytes to the premium edition. If you already did and are getting these error messages and pulling out your hair, uninstall Malwarebytes 3 and ask for a refund.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pamase Kaiser Series Collapsible Trekking Poles Review

Before I saw these Pamase Trekking poles on Amazon, I looked at some dozens of poles. The main features I liked about these poles that made me choose them were the extended EVA foam handles, the advertised 7075 T6 aluminum, and the reasonable price for a first-time buyer.

Other features, or PROs:
+ Each pole comes collapsed in a plastic carry bag, netted on one side.
+ The wrist wraps are slightly padded for  comfort. They adjust easily.
+ Rubber tips are included that press over the metal points. The rubber tips do not screw on, but they appear to be tight enough not to fall off.
+ Screw-on snow baskets are also included. They require some effort to screw on, so they will never come off by themselves.
+Assembly is easy, with the three parts sliding together and held by two spring-loaded locking pins.
+Adjustment is made by loosening the adjustable shaft by rotating it counter clockwise and then sliding the shaft up or down. Adjustment marks on each pole make it easy to match lengths.
+Advertised length adjustment is 38cm to 130cm or 15 inches to 51 inches. When adjusted to the desired length, the shaft is tightened by rotating it clockwise until tight. The adjustment is very tight and there is no slipping even under a reasonable amount of force.

- When assembled, the poles have a small amount of looseness at the two joints, which creates the impression of fragility. Held suspended, they jiggle. However, as soon as any amount of weight is placed on the poles, they firm up and exhibit only the expected amount of flexing produced by aluminum tubing. Confidence in the poles is therefore quickly restored.
- On city walks (asphalt, concrete, stone) the poles are noisy when the rubber tip plunks down on the hard surface.
- The poles are advertised as having "anti-shock." On some poles I looked at, this meant the presence of a spring in the shaft, to absorb the impact of planting the pole. These poles do not have such a spring.

In Use:
These poles are functional and perform well. Once you adjust to the jiggle, they are fine.

If you need portability (such as a luggage fit), these will work. Would I buy these again? Well, if I wanted a second set of poles, there are so many available I'd probably find something different just to have something different. And since right now I don't need disassembling poles, I'd get a pair that don't come apart.

Bottom Line:
These are a quality product at a great price. Recommended.