How Did People Fix Things Before The Internet?

Tailgate latch

The latch on my truck’s tailgate failed last week (the plastic bar that pushes the rods which pull the pins from the side broke). I ordered a new part from eBay for $27 with free shipping. I was going to ask my repair shop to swap it out but I watched a video on YouTube that made me feel confident about replacing the part myself.

The latch itself has an opening for the back-up camera. My truck did not originally have a back-up camera but after the second theft of my stereo I opted to add it to the replacement unit. It appears the geniuses at CarToys decided to use the existing screws from the old latch to secure the camera to the latch and did not replace the original screws that held the latch to the tailgate — which explains why the latch was always loose and rattling around. I visited Ace and picked up a couple extra screws and washers for about a buck and secured everything in the tailgate.

I wonder if I had not seen the video on YouTube would I have even considered doing this myself… probably not. I’m sure my repair shop would have charged me $50 or more to do the same. Not counting the travel time to Ace and back the entire replacement took about ten minutes.

Completed tailgate latch

The New Basement Window — Finally

New Basement Window

After what seemed to be months and months of waiting the new window was delivered and installed today. It’s nothing fancy, just functional. The drier vent is built into the window itself so there is no longer an ugly wood plate through which the vent hose escapes.

Thanks to Denver Discount Windows And Siding for only charging me $230 for this custom-built window versus the $1977 that Champion wanted for the same project.

On to the next project — the radon mitigation system.

Jefferson Lake

The girls and I made another trip to Jefferson Lake. The lake formed in the caldera of an ancient (hopefully dormant) volcano about 70 miles from my house. July and August are about the only time one can visit and hike up there as the elevation is high enough that there is typically snow the rest of the year.

We hiked around the lake’s four-mile shoreline. On the side closest to the parking area and boat launch there is a trail of sorts worn into the side of the hill by anglers. Once you reach the far end of the lake the trail is less used and it disappears into the vegetation. The far side of the lake shore is a mix of gravel and boulders and is fairly difficult to navigate on two legs. The dogs’ low center-of-granity and four legs definitely had the advantage in this realm.

Since we were in the area I drove up to the top of Georgia pass and hiked around with the dogs there, too. They even met a couple other dogs up there before it started raining and we headed back to Denver.

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Gas Line Re-Route

For reasons unknown to me a previous owner of my house routed the gas line for the dryer in the basement through a window instead of running a branch off the main line already in the house for the other appliances (furnace, stove, hot water tank). As a result the window was not replaced when the others in the house were upgraded recently — window technology was not advanced in 1939 when the house was built. To add to the misery the dryer vent also exits through the window in a “Uncle Joe” type of wood box outfitted with a dryer vent opening. The gas line was only an inch in diameter but the hole was over twice that size, necessitating a towel be stuffed around it to prevent insects and air entering the house.

As part of my overall project to add a radon mitigation system to the house I needed to replace the window and re-route the gas line. I have already ordered a replacement window with a dryer vent built-in so today’s exercise prepared for the installation of said new window.

The Gas Connection sent out two trucks for what I originally thought was just an estimate. Since I had been dealing with other contractors that were so busy that simply getting an estimate required a three-week wait I was surprised when I was told they could do the work immediately. I agreed and less than two hours later I had the line re-routed through the wall instead of the window.

I didn’t take a photo of how it looked before the work but I can say it already looks a lot better. And yes, I did stuff the towel back in the corner of the opening to close off the hole where the gas line previously entered the house. This will have to do until the window company finishes building the replacement.

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Reestablishing My Geek Cred

My new house has a sprinkler system. Normally one would use the standard controller units to water the yard on a schedule but it seemed to me that a schedule doesn’t take actual weather conditions into account and might water too much or too little despite rainfall and temperatures.

I bought a smart controller for my sprinklers and couldn’t be happier about that decision. I purchased a 16-zone Iro from Rach.io. Rach.io is a Colorado company so I had no issues spending the money for this item.

The controller itself replaced two Rainbird timer controllers that were wired with three multi-strand cables. As far as I can tell there are ten active zones in the yard (with two buried under the driveway, apparently, as I discovered when the fence was being installed)

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The controller attaches to a wall and the cabling couldn’t be easier. Just attach the common wire to the white terminal and then each of the other wires to an open terminal. The outer/top part of the case plugs into the base and provides the power jack and the wi-fi circuitry. There is also an optical sensor on the outer part of the case that is used for setting up the controller on your wi-fi network: instead of incorporating Bluetooth components or some other hokey method of entering your wi-fi network setup, the accompanying Android or iOS app on your phone will accept all of your network setup information and will then fire off a (potentially seisure-enducing) pattern of light which will be read by the optical sensor. A single LED status light on the controller will flash to indicate if it is able to access the wi-fi network.

Once the controller is on your network the app can be used to setup the zones in the yard with a descriptive name, soil and vegetation types and the amount of slope and shade the zone receives. All of this info is factored into the calculation of how much water the zone will receive during your watering schedule. There is also a feature called “Weather Intelligence” that will skip irrigating your yard when rain is predicted for your ZIP code.

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There is also the ability to connect a rain sensor to the Iro as well to provide hyper-local control of the system (for example, “don’t run a watering schedule if 0.25 inches of rain are received”). If you look closely at the photo below I do have an extra pair of wires that I plan to connect to a rain sensor in the near future.

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Why yes, I am a cranky old man

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