Q&A / 

September 30, 2014 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

Last week, I worked as a conductor on the scenic train. I had two different afternoon dinner train trips.

One of the trips was with a group of professionals who study or work with people with eating disorders. The attendees were from all over the USA. They were attending a two-day conference just down the street from the train station.

They all seemed to enjoy the rolls and butter, cranberry sauce, hot fresh-carved turkey with real mashed potatoes, dressing, butternut squash and delicious gravy. Oh, they had ice cream for dessert.

I didn't have time to tell them about my slight disorder - that I eat a little too much food. I think that's what's causing my bald spot. I wish I would have asked one or two about the possible connection, however I was busy in the caboose. But I digress.

Margaret came back to the caboose while I was doing a shove or push back. She got a treat of a view looking out over the track as we went north back to the station. A shove is when the locomotive pushes, instead of pulls, the train back to the station.

In that situation, a trained and certified individual, like me, has to be in the caboose to be the eyes of the train. It's my job to blow the horn at all crossings and ring the bell. I also can stop the train by pulling the emergency brake if there's a serious situation. If I need a slow stop, I just radio to the engineer for that.

Few people get to see the view from the back of the caboose when it's the front of a train. You're down lower than if you're in the locomotive and you're right there as if you could reach out and touch the track. When you're up in the locomotive, you can be back five, ten or more feet from the track.

If you ever have the chance to do this, don't even hesitate. It's best when the weather is nice and you can stand on the caboose vestibule with the fresh lake air flowing all around you. It's great to wave to all the folks and blow the screecher whistle that sounds just like Thomas the Tank engine.

Ah, the life of a scenic train conductor!


Tip of the Week - Spraying Paint and Using an Impact Driver

In the past few days, I've had to use a high volume low pressure paint sprayer and an impact driver. Mind you, not for the same project!

As for spraying paint, the two sprayers I used, the Wagner Flexio 890 and the Rockler HVLP Sprayer, both performed beyond my expectations.

Rockler HVLP Paint Sprayer


The KEY to a great finish and performance when spray painting is thinning the paint to the right consistency. This is done by trial and error because each paint has DIFFERENT ingredients that may or may not be spray friendly.

Not all paints spray the same way. You'll only uncover this when you attempt to spray them.

The Rockler sprayer came with a paint viscosity measuring tool, but I discovered it's easier to just practice to get perfect results. CLICK HERE to watch the in-depth video review of the Rockler HVLP paint sprayer.

When the paint is too thick, it spits and splatters out of the spray gun. When it's perfect, it comes out like hair spray - a fine mist that does a remarkable job of covering.

You get this result by just putting some paint in the gun canister and start to thin it little by little. Realize that the tube attached to the gun and sucks paint up from the canister is FILLED with the previous thicker paint you just tested.

This means you need to get rid of the thicker paint in the tube - NOT EASY, or just spray until you think the next batch of thinner paint has made it to the tip. Believe me, when the paint is the right consistency, you'll know it!

I was using my impact driver to remove some long exterior screws that were driven to attach deck railings to the deck posts.

Most people would just put the driver into reverse and pull the trigger to FULL POWER. That's a huge mistake. Do that and more often than not you'll STRIP the head of the screw or snap it off. You can also strip the bit in the impact driver.

Most decent impact drivers are variable speed. You want to use a SLOW speed at first to just tweak the screw from the wood. Push hard on the driver so the tip doesn't jump from the screw head while you pull the trigger.

As the tool slowly rat a tat tats the screw - and you'll see it rotate one small notch each time, gently pull harder on the driver trigger increasing the power until the screw is about 1/2 inch out. Once you're this far, then you can go full power.


Color My Door Contest a Week Away!

Next Tuesday, October 7th, you'll see a big game here in the newsletter. It's being sponsored by Therma-Tru doors.

They want me to help show you how magnificent their entry fiberglass doors look when painted. Yes, you can paint fiberglass!


I have a stained fiberglass door on my own home, but that's because Kathy wants the stained look. But fiberglass can be painted and the paint will last for years and years without peeling if you pick the right paint.

Fiberglass is not hygroscopic like wood. Hygroscopic is a fancy word that means wood shrinks and swells as water enters it. This causes paint to peel over time on wood that's outdoors like an exterior entry door.

Here's the scoop. There are five cash prizes totaling $2,000. Three of the prizes, including the grand prize, are available to folks that just send in a photo of their front door. That's EASY to do! All the details will be announced next Tuesday.

The grand prize is $1,000.

You may be the winner!!!! But to get it you have to PLAY the GAME.

You'll see the fun game and sweepstakes next week only here at AsktheBuilder.com!



Terry, a subscriber to the newsletter, sent me this short email last week.

"Tim, what is your PayPal address? I want to send you a little money - a tip - because your newsletters help me each week. It's not much, but if others do the same, it can add up.

May I suggest you put in a Donate button in each issue of the newsletter? Many probably want to tip you, but you're making it impossible to repay you for all you do each week for us. Put your pride aside. Just do it."

Well, I have to tell you it feels odd to put out the empty toolbox on the sidewalk, but here's a Donate button. If you're an LSU fan, you're going to love it that's for sure! My mom would love the purple, her favorite color.

Clicking the button just below will take you to page at my website where you can then click to a SECURE page at PayPal

Thanks in advance and I'll keep producing money-saving tips for you in return!



EcoDrain Challenge

Are you an engineer? Or, do you like to solve math problems? If so, I've got a challenge for you.

The EcoDrain company sent me a unique heat exchanger product to review. I'm a master plumber and I like to save energy, so I was intrigued.

The warm water from your shower flows through this device and heats up the cold water that flows to your water heater. This means your water heater has to work less to raise the temperature of the water as some heat is being harvested by the exchanger instead of going into the sewer or your septic tank.

Often companies market products like this with wording that you'll save money. Well, that's depends on the definition of *save*.

My advice for years to people about energy-saving products like this has been:

You don't start to really SAVE money - or get ahead - until such time as you've recaptured (in fuel costs) the money you spent to save the energy.

This is where you come in if you like to solve math problems.

Do you want to see if you can figure out how long it takes to break even if you purchased an EcoDrain product and had it installed? Some people love to solve problems like this and I want to give you the chance.

If you take the time to run the calculations and show them all to me, I'm going to give you some Stain Solver in return!

CLICK HERE to see if you're up to the challenge.


You Poked my Heart

Kathy sent me an email a few days ago. It brought back great memories of our kids and their friends when they came over. The video made me laugh and it brought a happy tear to my eye.


I hope it does the same for you.

The link below has three different videos all about poking or popping hearts, so you're in for some enjoyment.

CLICK HERE to watch three great videos that will put a smile on your face.

GUARANTEED! If you're not happy after watching them, I want to know about it.

That's it for this week.

More tips and a new video on Friday.

P.S. Remember, the Color My Door Game / Contest / Sweepstakes by Therma-Tru next Tuesday!


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