What snow plow paint should I use?

It’s inevitable, isn’t it?

A few harsh winters in Minnesota and your snow plow starts getting nicks and dings in it. And before you know it … rust.

The only way to prevent this is to regularly paint your plow and make sure it is protected from the elements.

I’ve owned a number of different brands of plows – Fisher, Boss, Meyer, Western – and I’ve figured out over time what paint works best with each one. I figured I’d share these with you to help take some of the guess work out of it for you.

If you plan on repainting, I would follow these steps for any type of plow you have:

  1. Remove all dirt, rust and loose paint/paint chips from the surface of the plow. I like to use a wire wheel similar to this one.
  2. Apply 1 coat of primer.  I typically use a grey automotive primer similar to this one.
  3. Finally, I apply a few coats of paint until I’m happy with how it looks.  I have the different paints you need for different brand plows below.

Fisher Snow Plow Paint

For Fisher snow plows I like the look of the Rust-oleum Gloss Sunburst Yellow paint.  You can barely tell the difference between it and the factory paint.

Boss Snow Plow Paint

You could buy the official Boss paint from a local dealer or from here.  But not everybody wants to spend half their paycheck for the month on paint.  One alternative is the Rust-oleum Gloss Sunrise Red and Gloss Black. Those 2 colors will be so close to the official Boss colors that you’ll hardly tell the difference.

Western Snow Plow Paint

You can actually use the same paint for Western snow plows as you can for Boss snow plows. The Rust-oleum Gloss Sunrise Red is a great match to the factory color.

There you have it.  That should be all you need to have your plow looking like new in no time.  Let me know below in the comments if you have any suggestions for paint or if you have any questions.

KitchenAid Blender Replacement Parts

This is a little off topic of my regular posts.  I usually focus on more outdoors stuff but I’ve been working on repairing some items in our kitchen so I thought I’d post a few things about the KitchenAid blender I’ve been trying to repair.

Blender Coupling Replacement

AKA, the rubber spinny thing on KitchenAid blender coupleryour blender that connects the two parts and allows it to spin.  KitchenAid  part number 9704230 is probably what you are looking for.  If you aren’t sure this is the part you need, click the link above and Amazon allows you to check to make sure it fits your model.

KitchenAid Blender Rubber Seal Replacement

KitchenAid rubber sealThis rubber seal can rip or just wear out.  It prevents the liquid you are blending from running all over the place.  You can find a replacement for it here.  This part number is 9704204.

 

 

Whirlpool Dome and Blade Assembly

If the actual blade in your blender broke, then this is the part you are probably looking for.  You can find the part here. It is Whirlpool part number 9704291 and it works with a number of different models.

KitchenAid Blender Jar

I once cracked the jar on my blender.  I tried to repair it with super glue but I didn’t have much luck with that.  It helped a little but it still had a massive leak that I couldn’t plug.  The good news is that you can get replacement jars from Amazon.  This jar fits the following models: KSB540, KSB550, KSB560, KSB580, KSB650, and KSB655.

KitchenAid Black Lid

The last blender part that seems to need frequent replacement is the lid.  Without the lid, a blender is practically useless because as soon as you start to blend anything, your kitchen will be a mess. This lid fits a number of KitchenAid blender models. I won’t list all the models but if you click to this page, it has the entire list.

Let me know if the comments if you are having trouble with any other parts.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to help but I might be able to point you in the right direction.

The Complete Guide to Lawn Mower Oil

Some people learn it from their dads.  Some from their shop class.  Others from reading the manual.

Me?  I learned it the hard way.

I figured it out on my own.  I should have known better because my car needed it.  But I never put 2 and 2 together.  It never clicked for me.

But maybe I should back up.

When I bought my first house I suddenly had all these extra responsibilities that I never when I lived in an apartment.  Things like shoveling snow off the side walk, raking leaves and mowing the lawn.

And with those responsibilities come other responsibilities.  Like buying gas for the lawn mower,.  Or bringing leaves to the dump.

But with my new home ownership and all the responsibilities it entails, I never once thought about regularly servicing my lawn mower.

As I said, I should have known better.  I take my car into the shop every couple thousand miles after all.  Cars need their oil changed.  And filters changed.  And tires checked.  So why wouldn’t lawn mowers need the same thing?  Like I said … it never “clicked.”

So my mower worked fine for a while but after a number of years I started having problems.  Some times the mower wouldn’t start well.  Or there would be puffs of smoke where I was pretty sure they shouldn’t be.

And the the mower stopped running completely.  After yeas of neglect, it breathed its last breath.

Since that time I’ve become almost religious in how I upkeep my lawn mower.   And the results are obvious.  Regular maintenance and servicing have allowed me to keep the same lawn mower for about 15 years and it is still running strong.  To be honest I sometimes wish I had a nice, new lawn mower like my neighbors.  But the fact that I haven’t had to drop $1000 or more into a new riding lawn mower makes up for that.

A lot of you are probably like me 20 years ago – with no clue what to do about lawnmower maintenance.

And because of that, I wanted to write a tutorial on lawn mower oil.  Oil is one of the most important parts of your lawn mower and one of the things that needs regular maintenance in order to keep functioning properly.  Changing your oil regularly is THE number one thing you need to do to keep your lawnmower running well for a long time.

Below you’ll find answers to most of your questions about lawn mower oil, including what it does, why it’s needed and how to change it.

Why does my lawnmower need oil?

Your lawn mower engine is basically a hunk of metal with smaller moving metal parts inside it.  When metal moves past metal, it needs some sort of lubricant to prevent it from over-heating and to allow the engine to run smoothly.

Oil actually does a number of different things.  It keeps your engine cool.  It prevents build up of gunk inside the motor.

When should I change my lawnmower oil?

This varies based on the type of lawn mower you have but most manufacturers recommend changing the oil between 25 and 50 hours of use.

If you only use your lawnmower for mowing during the spring, summer and fall, this means you can usually get by changing your oil once a year.  This is what I do.  I typically change the oil right away in the spring after I take the mower out to be used for the first time that year.

If you mow a lot, then you may need to change the oil more often.  Then I would just change it every 25 hours.

How do I change the oil in my lawnmower?

  1. Make sure your mower is on a flat surface.
  2. Run your mower for 5 minutes or so.  This will warm the oil up and allow it to drain easier.
  3. Remove the dip stick.  You’ll want to take a rag and clean up around the dip stick so that no debris falls in.
  4. Drain the oil.  Different lawnmowers have different ways to drain the oil.  A lot of push mowers are designed to have the oil drained through the hole you pulled the dip stick out of.  You just tip the mower on its side and drain the oil into your oil pan.  A lot of push mowers will have a drain plug under the mower as well.  It is located under the mower by the blade and you will need a wrench to remove it.  For riding lawn mowers, there is usually a similar drain plug on the side of the mower.  Just  use your wrench to remove the plug and drain the oil into the oil pan.
  5. If you removed an oil plug, put it back in.  If you tipped your mower over, tip it back up on its wheels.
  6. Using a funnel, fill the mower back up with oil.  You don’t need a funnel but it can make things less messy. The amount of oil you need varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and based on the size of your mower.  Check your user’s manual if you have one.
  7. Dispose of your oil.  Most areas don’t allow you to just throw oil in the trash.  You can often just bring it to a local auto repair shop and they will take it free of charge.  I like to poor the used oil back into the oil cans that I just used to fill up my mower.

Tools I use for oil changes

You don’t need a lot of tools to change oil but a few basics will make the job a lot easier.

  • Oil pan – You need something to drain the oil into. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t have an oil pan already, you can get one for under $10. There are fancier ones, of course, but the simple one I linked to here is all you really need.
  • Funnel – As I said above, you don’t need a funnel but it can make things a lot less messy.   You can get a set of 4 different sizes for about $5 dollars.
  • Shop Towels – I use these Scott shop towels all the time when I’m working in the garage.  They are very heavy duty and rarely rip. Seriously, I couldn’t live without these.
  • Wrenches – You probably have a wrench already.  If you don’t, you can buy a nice set of wrenches for around $25.   The sizes you’ll get in that set will cover you fro 99% of the projects you would need them for.

That’s it.  You can get set up with all of these for less than $50, which is way cheaper than bringing your mower into somebody to change the oil for you.

What do the numbers on an oil bottle mean?

Oil manufacturers make all different types of oil.  The numbers on the can of oil tell you what type it is.  The numbers usually look like 10W-40 or SAE 30 or something similar.

These numbers refer to the viscosity of the oil.  Viscosity has to do with how thick a liquid is.  So water is less viscous than honey.  And chocolate syrup is less viscous than peanut butter.

So if you see oil that says SAE 30 or SAE 40 on the side of the can, that is just a number referring to the oil’s thickness.  SAE stands for Society of Automobile Engineers.  They’ve come up with standards for how to rate oil viscosity so that you can compare one brand of oil to another.

So what does the “W” mean?  It has to do with temperature.  You may have noticed that if you heat up chocolate syrup or spaghetti sauce that they get a lot thinner.  Heat tends to make liquids less viscous (thinner) and cold tends to make liquids more viscous (thicker).

So when you see oil that says “10W-30”, its telling you something about how the oil acts in hot and cold temperatures.  “W” actually stands for “winter.”  A 10W-30 or a 5W-30 will act like a SAE 30 at warm temperatures.  But at cold temperatures a 10W-30 will act like an SAE 10 and a 5W-30 will act like an SAE 5 oil.

What kind of oil should I use in my lawn mower?

This is a complicated question and depends on a lot of factors.  If you have your users manual for your mower, you should always use what they recommend.  But it will also depend on where you live and what the climate is like when you use your mower.

For example, if you use your mower with a snow blower attachment in the winter, you will probably want to use a winter grade oil.  But if you only use the mower during the spring, summer and fall to mow the lawn, then you might get buy with a non-winter grade.

SAE 30 is usually a safe bet if you don’t have a manual and you only use the mower during warmer whether.  If you use your lawnmower all year round, then 10W-30 is usually what you want to go with.

2 cycle engines vs 4 cycle engines

One last thing I should talk about before I end this post.  Not all lawn mower engines require oil changes.  A lot of smaller engines require you to mix the oil in with the gas every time you fill your gas tank up.

The type of engine I’ve been talking about throughout this post was the 4 cycle engine.  The gas and oil are separate and shouldn’t be mixed.

On the other hand, 2 cycle engines will require a mixture of oil and gas to be put in the gas tank.  The mix ratio for these motors is usually something like 50:1 or 30:1.  It varies by type of engine and should be found in your user’s manual.

For 2 cycle engines, you should make sure you buy a 2 cycle oil.  This type of oil is specially made for 2 cycle engines.

This ratio is the gas to oil ratio that your engine needs.  So 50:1 requires 50 parts gas and 1 part oil.  Most 2 cycle engine oils will tell you how to mix different ratios on the oil can.

 

Conclusion

That’s it for my tutorial on lawnmower oil.  The main thing to remember is that oil changes are a very important maintenance item that everybody should perform regularly.  If you’ve never changed oil before, I hope the steps above will help you out.

Also, let me know in the comments if you found it useful or if you have any questions.

 

 

The Ultimate Robot Lawn Mower Review

I’ve been planning on buying a robotic lawn mower this spring and I’ve been researching various mowers furiously.  Besides the coolness factor of these things, who wouldn’t want to buy something that mows the lawn while you do something else?

Because I’ve put so much time into this, I thought I’d make the ultimate robotic lawn mower review so that anybody else looking at these things wouldn’t have to repeat all the research I did.

So, here we go…

How Do Robot Lawn Mowers Work?

Robot lawn mowers don’t mow the lawn in the same way that you or I would.  If you didn’t know any better you would almost think they were mowing randomly.

However, there is a method to their madness.

When you first get a robotic lawn mower, you need to set up the perimeter of your lawn.  This means pegging a perimeter wire around the outside of your lawn and around any major obstacles in your lawn mower’s way.  Many robotic lawn mowers also allow you to set up different “zones” in your yard, which basically breaks your yard up in to different chunks.

Once the perimeter is set up, the mower takes care of everything itself.  It goes out by itself and mows until it needs to recharge.  It uses the wire around the perimeter to determine its location.

What Features Should I Look for?

There are a number of different features that different robot lawn mowers have.  In order to pick the best mower for you, it’s important to know what these features are.

  • Power – All robot lawn mowers are powered by batteries.  Some are charged up at a charging station that is connected to your home’s power outlet.  Others can be solar powered.  The type of battery can vary depending on the motor
  • Lawn Size – every mower is made for a maximum lawn size.  Popular lawn sizes are half acre, 3/4 acres and 1 acre.
  • Type of cut – most robotic lawnmowers are mulching, which means the grass is cut so that the clippings are very short and can be left on the lawn.  The main difference here will be the type of blade used.
  • Direction of travel – some mowers move around the lawn clockwise, others move around counter-clockwise
  • Pattern – some mowers mow randomly while others mow in a pattern
  • Zones – mowers have different number of zones that can be programmed into the robot.
  • Safety – most robot lawn mowers have sensors to tell it if it bumps into things.  Most of them also have tilt sensors that turn the mower off if it flips over.  I recommend not buying a mower if it doesn’t have safety features like this

Who Makes Robotic Lawn Mowers?

There are a number of companies that make robotic lawn mowers.  Some of the major brands are Lawnbott, Robomow, LV Robot, and Wolf Garten.

Lawnbott LB1500 SpyderEVO Review

lawnbott-LB1500The Lawnbott LB1500 SpyderEVO is a great mower to use for smaller yards.  It uses wire and pegs around the perimeter of your lawn.  It comes with 300 ft of wire and 200 pegs.  This is generally sufficient for yards that are 10,000 sq. ft or less.  It weighs about 25 lbs.The LB1500 is very easy to use.  Once the perimeter wire is installed, all you have to do is press start and it will start mowing automatically.

There is no display on the LB1500.  Instead, the mower uses beeps to communicate what mode it is in.   Safety features on the mower include touch sensors on the handles that automatically stoop the blade or the wheels.

The LB1500 is very quiet, especially compared to traditional internal combustion engine lawn mowers.  The manufacturer claims the mower can run at night without disturbing neighbors.

The LB1500 uses a lithium ion battery, which makes it very light compared to a lead acid battery.

One downside to the Lawnbott LB1500 is that it only has one mowing zone.  This means that if you have more than one section of lawn you will probably have to manually move the mower from section to section.  More advanced mowers can do this automatically.

Lawnbott-LB1500-button

 

Lawnbott LB3510 Review

lawnbott lb3510The Lawnbott LB3510 is the perfect mower if you’ve got a larger yard.  This mower is made for yards with a maximum size of 1.5 acres.  It comes with 660 ft of wire and 200 pegs to allow you to stack out the entire outside of your yard.  Like the other robotic mowers in this post, the LB3510 is meant to keep the grass looking like it was just mowed.

This mower is powerful enough to work on slopes that have an incline of up to 25 degrees.   The manufacturer recommends not mowing grass that is any longer than 4 inches long, but I’ve heard of people have had no issues mowing much longer grass.

It uses a back lit, 2-line LCD screen to display information and to allow you to easily program the mower.  The LB3510 can handle up to 4 zones or areas of the yard.  The mower will follow the perimeter wire until it reaches the zone it needs to mow and then mow that area.  If it finishes before the batteries are low, it will move on to the next zone.

One of the great things about robot lawn mowers like the LB3510 is that because your lawn is mowed from all different directions, the quality of the cut is very good.

The safety features of the LB3510 are similar to the safety features found on the LB1500.  There is a sensor on the handle that sense when it is touched and automatically shuts off the mower blade.  There is also a “tilt” sensor that will shut off the blade if the mower flips over.

Lawnbott-LB3510-button

 

I plan to keep adding mowers as I research them.  I have plans to review lawn mowers for LV-Robot,  Robomow and Wolf Garten.  If you are interested in any of these, click the links below and they will take you to the Amazon page for each of those companies.

wolf garten button LV robot button robowmow button

Garden Weasel – Cultivate and Till your Soil

garden weasel, soil, cultivateI remember when I was younger there would be Garden Weasel advertisements on TV. They were cheap “As Seen on TV” type of commercials that were on all the time and easy to make fun of. The only commercial that played more, it seemed, was the Ronco rotisserie (“Set it and forget it”).

It wasn’t until years later that I acquired a Garden Weasel and realized it was actually a pretty useful tool. I use the mine all summer long in both my garden and my flower beds.  It has pretty much replaced my need for a hoe.  It makes breaking up soil much easier that using either a spade or a hoe. I especially love it because 99% of the time I don’t have to bend over to pull weeds anymore. The Garden Weasel just digs the weeds up and brings them to the surface of the soil

I’ve had mine for over 5 years and I’ve never had an issue with rust or corrosion. So it seems to be made of high quality steel.  I’ve also never had any issues keeping it clean.  Dirt tends to fall right off the tines.  And if it doesn’t, the tines are removable, making them easy to clean.

garden weasel

Gorilla Cart Replacement Parts

I recently wrote about the Gorilla dump cart and how it made my life easier with some landscaping I needed done that summer.  Another great thing about it that I didn’t mention before is that no matter how much abuse you put your Gorilla cart through you can always be sure that there are replacement parts for your wagon.  From wheels to handles to tires to side rails, you should be able to find a replacement.  Below is a list of a few common parts that can be replaced on Gorilla dump carts.

Gorilla Cart Replacement Handle

gorilla cart handle This 2 in 1 handle works great as a replacement part or if you want to upgrade from a standard Gorilla handle.  This D-shaped handle can be configured so you can pull your Gorilla dump cart by hand.  But you can easily convert it into a trailer hitch so that you can attach it to your lawnmower or ATV.    This is the type of handle I have on my Gorilla cart  and it is very sturdy.

 Gorilla Cart Replacement Wheels and Tires

gorilla cart tiresFor those of you who work hard and push your tools to the max, you run this risk of popping a tire.  Whether you use your dump cart on a construction site where there are nails all around or whether you fill it to the brim with rocks, your tires are eventually going to get a hole in them or wear out. There are a number of different tires that are available.  In order to make sure you get the right one, you need to know 3 things: 1) the diameter of your wheel, 2) the bore size, and 3) the capacity.

Common diameters are 10 inch, 13 inch, and 16 inch.

The most common bore size is 5/16″.

The most common capacity is 300 lbs.

If you need to buy a replacement wheel or tire, I would click here to see all the options that Tricam Industries offers.

Wheels/tires and handles are probably the 2 parts that get replaced the most.  You can find other replacement parts on the Tricam Industries website, if you find yourself in need of things like a new axle or new hardware or new struts.

Can I Shovel Snow While Pregnant?

A woman asked me the other day what my opinion was about whether she could shovel snow while pregnant.  Now, I’m not a doctor and I’m not a woman but my wife has been pregnant a couple times and I live in Minnesota, so I guess that makes me an expert.

The first thing to be careful about is making sure you don’t overwork.  If you are in good shape and are used to exercising during your pregnancy, shoveling snow shouldn’t be too strenuous for you as long as you take plenty of breaks.  And take even more breaks if the snow is wet and heavy.  After a couple pregnancies, I learned that my wife knew her body and she if she was pushing it too far.  Ultimately you will need to decide for yourself whether shoveling snow is too strenuous for you.

Another issue to be aware of is that if you do decide to shovel the snow while pregnant, you will probably be walking on ice and slippery snow.  Your risk of falling increases greatly while shoveling snow.  This would be my main concern.  Falling on the concrete or ice while you are pregnant wouldn’t be good.  This is probably the greatest risk you will face.

You should also take into account how far along you are.  A woman who is 10 weeks pregnant is going to perform more strenuous activities than a woman who is 36 weeks pregnant.  Also keep in mind that some snow shovels are more ergonomic than others, so try to choose a snow shovel that doesn’t put more strain and stress on your body than necessary.

Ultimately you need to listen to your body and try not to push yourself too hard.  If your pregnancy has had any complications or you want some extra piece of mind, contact your doctor.

Ice Dam Removal and Prevention – How to remove ice from your roof and gutters

If you don’t know icicles on the roof, ice damwhat an ice dam is, keep reading. I’m going to tell you what they are, give you some easy steps to help you with ice dam removal and also give you some tips on how to prevent them from coming back.

A lot of people love the look of icicles on their homes. And it is very common to see icicles on house after house as you drive down the street. But what many people don’t realize is that underneath those icicles could lie a problem that is destroying your roof.

What is an Ice Dam?

ice dam removal, roofAn ice dam is a formation of ice on your roof.  It usually forms near the edge the roof near the gutter.  Snow and water/ice can build up behind the ice wall on the roof.  See the picture on the left, where you can see what an ice dam is .

 

What Causes Ice Dams

Ice dams are formed due to differences in temperatures between the upper and lower portions of the roof.  It has to be warm enough at the higher part of the roof so that snow on the roof starts to melt.  But it has to be cool enough at the bottom of the roof so that none of the snow there melts.   This condition can occur when heat from the house escapes through the attic, causing the snow to melt.  As you can see from the picture above, many houses have an overhang with a gutter on it.  This overhang isn’t close enough to the the house to be warmed by the heat inside, so it remains frozen.  As the water from above melts, it trickles down and is stopped by the frozen ice and snow below, where it can freeze again.

This build-up of ice traps melted water and causes it to pool up on the shingles.  From there, water can seep between the cracks in the shingles and work its way down into the house.  There it can cause damage to ceilings, walls, and insulation.

Ice Dam Removal

One of the best ways to tell if you have an ice dam is to look for icicles hanging from your house.  Another clue that you might have an ice dam is if most of the snow on your roof has melted while other houses still have snow on their roofs.  This is a clue that you might be losing a lot of heat from your house.

The best way to deal with ice dams that have already formed is to make channels in in the ice dams so that water can flow through them.  The main thing you want to do is make sure water doesn’t sit on your roof.  This is only a temporary solution, however, because as water flows through the channels, it will tend to re-freeze and plug the channels up again.

Ice Dam Prevention

The first thing you can do to prevent ice dams is to put better insulation in your attic and seal up any leaks.  If you can prevent warm air from escaping from your house, the ice dams won’t form.  You should be able to find a contractor in your area that can help you out with this step if that is the way you choose to go.

The second thing you can do is remove the snow from your roof.  The key here is to get the snow off your roof before it has a chance to melt.  There is a tool out there called a roof rake that makes snow removal from your roof really easy.  My favorite version of the roof rake is the Avalanche Roof Rake. I use it every winter and it always does the job for me.

What I don’t suggest you do is get on the roof yourself and try to shovel the snow off.  That is just too dangerous.

Gorilla Cart – Up to 1200 lb Hauling Capacity

I bought a Gorilla cart a few summers agolawn and garden gorilla dump cart and I don’t know how I managed without it for so many years.  The reason I bought the Gorilla cart was because I had a lot of landscaping to do that summer and I needed something to haul a lot of landscaping rocks.

I really didn’t want to use a wheelbarrow.  When you fill wheelbarrows with heaving things like rocks, it takes a lot of work to keep them level.  With how many times I knew I needed to haul rocks back and forth, I knew I wanted needed something better.

After looking around at various lawn & garden dump carts, I came across the Gorilla cart.  It is really sturdy and so much better than a wheelbarrow.  My favorite feature of the Gorilla cart that I bought is the handle can flip around and convert into a hitch.  I can then hook the cart up to my lawn tractor and use that to haul things.

You can get both powder-coated steel and plastic version of the cart.  They also come in different sizes and different rated loads (600 lbs or 1200 lbs).  Click here to see all the different Gorilla carts.

Calories burned shoveling snow for 30 minutes

After my last post on using snow shoveling as a form of exercise, I had somebody ask me how to calculate how many calories are burned shoveling snow for 30 minutes.  The easiest way to do this is to go to a calorie calculator and enter in all your information: weight, height, age and sex.  I recommend this calorie calculator from Fitday.  Once you enter all your information, it gives you the calories burned shoveling snow for 1 hour.  To get the calories burned shoveling snow for 30 minutes, just divide that by 2.  For me, the calculator says I burn 442 calories in an hour of shoveling snow, so I would burn 221 calories in 30 minutes.

Use a Heart Rate Monitor

I recommend using this heart rate monitor to determine how many calories you burn. I’ve found that it gives me similar results as the online calorie counters give. To check the current price for this heart rate monitor, click the button below.

heart-rate-monitor-button