Thursday, July 16, 2015

Vintage Sign Base FINALLY Painted

I finally finished painting the vintage Sun Oil Company sign base turned umbrella base.  The blue color was easy but the yellow was so tedious and stressful to paint.  The slower I painted, to try and keep a straight edge, the more it became wavy.  I don't see me pin stripping anything in the near future.

We had a difficult time finding the right shade of yellow enamel for the lettering.  Model car paint was exactly the right amount of paint needed, so off to Michaels we went to look at their color selection.  At our age (don't ask me my age...LOL) I should have known better than to leave the house without my readers.  Small bottle=extra small label=teeny tiny print.  Seriously, I still cannot say for sure what the name of this paint color is but I did find the words Fl. Yellow.  Fl????

The lettering on the base is raised so there are two ways to paint the lettering.  I could paint the entire raised letter OR just the very top of the raised letter.  I started out painting the entire raised part on the letters OIL.  Right away I did not like the look that came from painting the entire raised portion.

But in an attempt to keep an open mind I painted the word SUN and just painted the very top of the raised.  I knew right away that that was the way to go.  It looked more dimensional and neater. Painting the entire raised portion was difficult because of the roughness of the cast iron.  The more I tried to get an even edge, the fatter the letter became.  So I resprayed the word OIL, with navy blue, and then repainted just the very top of the letter.  The letters required two coats of yellow or should I say Fl. Yellow.  Ahhhhhh....much better.  Someone should repaint that picnic table.
Here is a photo of the base with the newly painted umbrella.  I spray painted the pole and the top finial ball with Rustoleum black in a satin finish.
I love that we can now use and enjoy this vintage piece of history.
I'll post better photos tomorrow.  I took these last two late in the afternoon when the sun was behind the trees.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Review... Ryobi Backpack Leaf Blower BP42

We have had this backpack leaf blower for about a month.  I didn't want to review it until we had used it multiple times for a variety of blowable substances.  So here goes.......

First off, this is NOT a sponsored review and I am not getting compensated.

In the past we have had several leaf blowers.  We have an electric handheld blower by Black and Decker called the Leaf Hog.  Works great but our yard is very large and not only are you limited by the length of your extension cord but also the  ability to hold the blower and move it back and forth without your arm and shoulder screaming to stop after 15 minutes.  Works great but we needed more mobility and both of us have shoulder injuries that need surgery that we both refuse to have done.

We also have a handheld gas blower.  It's an old Craftsman that performed well, but like I said, it is old, heavy, and really it's on it's last go around.

So we started talking backpack blower for several reasons.  First off, we wanted to relieve the stress on our shoulders and we wanted a blower that was heavy duty to help with our fall and spring clean up.  We realized this past spring that our more intensive than normal fall clean up really helped to shorten our spring clean up.  We know that we will never eliminate a spring clean up all together but if we can speed it up.....yippee....we are all for that.

So I started our search online and we narrowed it down to two blowers, one of which was the Ryobi 185mph 510cc backpack blower.  Home Depot had them in stock so we went and checked them out in person.

We chose the Ryobi because....

*it's fairly lightweight at a little over 18 pounds.

*had very good reviews.

*185mph

*was reasonably priced.

So rather than buy it at the store, I ordered it online.  More about that later.

How has it performed????

We are more than pleased.  Assembly and start up were easy and straight forward.  Since this is a two stroke engine, you need to add oil to the gasoline.  Included in the box, was a small bottle of two stroke oil which is enough for 1 gallon of fuel.  We chose not to use it and instead used the two stoke oil that we use in our Stihl chainsaw, since it is rated for up to 10,000 rpm and most bearings etc have a shear rating of around 3500 rpm before wear begins.  Better safe than sorry.  Friction is the enemy of internal combustion engines.  Never go cheap when it comes to lubricants.

In the reviews, it was mentioned that the blower worked fine and then it was difficult to start. Remember that today's gasoline has a higher amount of ethanol than in the past.  Great for fuel cost but for lawn equipment it is a no no.  Always use premium gasoline.

R mixed the premium fuel with the Stihl two stroke oil and then filled the gas tank.  The blower started on the second pull. Since then it has always started on the first pull when properly primed (R forgot to prime once).

Controls are easy to use and their location can be slightly adjusted for comfort.

The unit is not as loud as some of the blowers but all blowers are loud enough that you should use ear protection AND always use eye protection.

The backpack has several straps that you can adjust for comfort and fit.  Do this before you actually start the unit.  We have adjusted it twice before we actually found the best adjustment of the straps for R's needs.

The actual performance of the blower is more than we expected.  R was able to blow the dirt along our curb into a pile in about 5 minutes.  This is normally a chore that takes us an hour or more to sweep and shovel the dirt and debris into a cart.  We have to do this twice a year and it is really a chore in the spring after the snow melts.

One piece of debris was a metal nut (1 inch in diameter 1/2 inch thick) that R said he was able to easily blow along the curb along with a couple chunks of asphalt.

We have a very long circle driveway.  Sweeping the driveway can take hours.  We used the blower to blow leaves, seed pods, twigs, and small walnuts into piles.  Then we picked up the piles of driveway debris and was done in less than an hour.

Next, we used the blower to blow out leaves caught in and among the large lilac bushes and the fence. No problem getting the leaves out of the center of the bushes. Our lilacs have never looked as tidy as they do now.

Does the unit get hot on your back?  It is a little warm after you use it for awhile but since it makes fast work of most jobs, that time is minimal.  The only time you will be using it for long periods is in the fall when the weather is cooler and you will have a jacket on.

Have we both used it?  Yes, but generally R uses it and I sweep or rake up.  This is because I have asthma.  Gasoline engine exhaust is a trigger for me.  But it's no big deal because R enjoys using the leafblower.......LOL

Price?  $199.00 at Home Depot

So why did you order online?  Home Depot is one of the online stores offered on Ebates and I received a rebate of 1%.  We used store pick up, so there was no shipping charge.  We picked it up the next day.

You can sign up for Ebates using this link and I get credit and you get gift card for $10 once you have purchased $25 worth of merchandise from qualified stores. There are currently over 1800 online stores available for rebates on Ebates.  Etsy just joined Ebates last month and currently eBay is 3% and but I have seen it as high as 6%.

Sometimes Home Depot has a coupon for 10% off so you can use that at checkout to get additional $$$ off the price.

Cons?

The straps need to be wider for more comfort.  The location of the straps fall right across the bust area on me (female 5'2").  We tried and tried to adjust it to fall differently but when we loosened the straps it felt like it was falling off my back. This location isn't as important for my husband but I would prefer a wider strap located lower across the upper abdomen rather than the narrower straps that were located higher.  Possibly an additional strap closer to the waist might be a good idea, too.

Other than that we are both pleased with this purchase.

We hope to configure an attachment to blow out our eave troughs.  I'll let you know what we come up with and how it works.

BTW I have read that some people use their leaf blowers to blow light dustings of snow.  I know it's a little too early to talk snow but we are going to give it a try.  I'll let you know how it performs in the snow department.  Actually, I hope it doesn't snow but that is wishful thinking.

Speaking of snow.....I read that Boston still has piles of snow that haven't melted yet.  EGADS!!!!


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Our Wild Black Raspberry Patch

Nine years ago when we purchased this house, there was a tiny tiny patch of wild black raspberries. We were thrilled, but the berries were tiny tiny tiny and there were very very few of them.  Over the years we have babied this patch along and this year we have reaped the benefits of our hard work and patience.

The berries are huge for wild raspberries AND there are a lot of them. I picked half a bowl of raspberries without even moving from my original position.  I would have picked more but the berries were not the only things that are bigger than normal.  The mosquitoes were biting and swarming and I didn't have enough hands to hold the bowl, pick the berries, and swat the skeeters off my arms, legs, and face.  So score one for the mosquitoes.

Mosquitos 1 Berry Picker 0 
I'll be back to even the score because I see at least 3 weeks more of good berry picking.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Kitties Hard at Work

Sasha sitting in the top of a pine tree and making the Blue Jays angry.  
 Patches is sitting in the Mulberry tree watching the birds (orioles, robins, and jays) eat mulberries.
Patches says the view is just as good from down here.
 Morrie thinks there is a toad behind this downspout.
Elvis sitting on the wood pile looking for mice.  He just looks.  When it comes to mousing.....he'd rather take a nap.
No birds were hurt or killed.  Two days ago a Blue Jay chased Morrie down the driveway.  Morrie was just walking by when a Blue Jay decided to take it's frustration out on Morrie.  The birds actually are the dominate ones when it comes to our yard.  The cats do a lot of bird watching and napping.

This year has been a stellar bird year so far.  Lots and lots of Baltimore Orioles.  They have been very very active in the mulberry trees and the wild black raspberry patches.

Lots of woodpeckers and flickers.  I read last year that the woodpeckers had discovered the emerald ash borer......yippee.

And while we are talking about flying critters, we can't forget about the skeeters.  OH MY GOSH they are huge and they are everywhere.  We normally do not have mosquitoes because they spray in our township BUT due to the near constant rain we have experienced lately the skeeters have hatched and they are hungry.  I might be a pint low because of mosquito bites.

We have been busy mowing and finally got caught up but not before we had to do a little maintenance on my riding mower.  We needed to R&R a fuel filter, clean the air filter, and sand blast the electrode on the spark plug.  It's back to running like a top.

We are so happy with the zero turn mower purchase.  If I use the regular riding mower and R uses the zero turn mower and we mow at the same time, we can mow all the lawn in a little under 3 hours.  It used to take us about 5 hours and lately we have to mow twice a week just to keep up.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Rocking Body

I bet you thought it was a photo of Sofia Vergara.  Nope, it is my metal flamingo with a rock for it's body.  I guess I should start from the beginning and explain.

It was probably 8 years ago that I purchased a metal pink flamingo with a gazing globe for a body.  I immediately spray painted the flamingo in oil rubbed bronze spray paint because my house was trimmed in dark brown.  Then we moved and the flamingo was spray painted satin black.

The very first year we had a storm and a branch fell on the flamingo.  The flamingo survived but the globe did not.  Since that time she has been empty.  I decided to give her a new coat of paint while I was on a spray painting spree.

Then I had an idea.  A friend of mine finds those Christmas decorations that are metal deer with lights on them.  She removes the lights and spray paints them brown,  Next she fills the body, legs, neck, and head with rocks.  Because of the weight she needs to hammer long rods into the ground to hold the deer upright.  She currently has 4 deer behind her up north cottage.  It looks really cute,

So that gave me the idea to use a large round stone for the body.  I didn't find a round stone in the rock pile but I did find a pink granite stone which I thought would be perfect for a flamingo.  The rock doesn't photograph pink but it is pink.

I put the rock in place and pushed the flamingo into the dirt.  In the time it took me to go get my camera, my flamingo did a beak dive into my zinnia plants.  I had just weeded and the dirt was kind of loose so I repositioned Ms. Flamingo and took her photo.

We'll see if she is still standing tomorrow.  If not....then I'll have to remove her rocking body.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cast Iron Umbrella Stand Part 2 and the Next Project

Today I was able to spray two coats of the navy blue paint on the top of the cast iron base AND we love it.

If the weather cooperates on Saturday I might just spray one more coat on the top.  The weather forecast is for rain but who knows what it will do.

I still need to buy the bright yellow for the lettering and also spray the umbrella pole and the finial on the top of the umbrella.  Black in a satin finish will match the umbrella and not clash with the cast iron base.

In between mowing the front and back yards today we started the next project.

A 1890's cast iron garden chair.  The details are really starting to show but the blasting is going slow because the paint is thick and hard, especially those first original coats of paint.  It looks like the original color was emerald green and then it was coat after coat after coat of white.

This chair will not need any repair work.  We are going to try and salvage the original fasteners. Fingers crossed that they do not snap off.  Once R gets the paint off the fasteners we will apply a lubricant that helps dissolve the rust on the threads and this might allow us to remove them without snapping them off.

On the garden front, we have harvested our first two banana peppers.  Looks like the mulberries and wild black raspberries will be ripe in the next week or two.  Jamming!!!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Cast Iron Sign Base turned Umbrella Stand

We are still sand blasting away and I have sand in places I shouldn't have sand ......don't ask me where.....just know it is uncomfortable.  We have 4 additional projects in the wings.

Here is the back story on the cast iron base. Waaaaaaaaaay back when R raced motorcycles he bought a cast iron sign base at an auction.  He wanted the base to make a light stand so we could have light in the pits.  Plus, he liked the cast iron base.  Well, so did someone else.  R and this elderly man went back and forth with R finally winning the base with a bid of $35.00.  The other bidder stormed off.

R brought it home and fashioned it into a light stand.  Like racing on a motorcycle at 130 mph with just a helmet and a leather suit to protect you wasn't dangerous enough,,,,,we also tried to electrocute ourselves in between races.  Look at that cord......egads.  We survived and the light base moved on to a few car races until R and later G upgraded to a real light set up.

In the meantime, it was stored away with all our other stuff until a couple of weeks ago when my mother gave us her back canvas umbrella because she was getting one of those crank out awnings for her deck.  The only problem with a free umbrella was that all of our patio tables have glass and no hole for umbrellas.  Bummer.

Then I saw it, the cast iron base, waaaaaaaaaaaaay in the corner of the barn. The idea to turn it into an umbrella stand hit me.  R was not happy when I told him about my plan.  He doesn't do change very good and that light set up was a reminder of his go fast days.  His only go 'fast' days now a days are days when he has blood work or a colonoscopy.

He hauled the base out into the light of day and I explained it again and he was not impressed.  I started taking the light pole out of the base and marveled at the fact that we didn't at least get a little tingle when we used the light.

R spent a day and a half sandblasting.  In the meantime, I went to the store.  My plan was to paint the base in it's original colors.  What colors, you ask?  Blue and bright yellow.  You see, this base is so old it pre dates SUNOCO.  The base says Property of Sun Oil Company.  I bought a spray can of bright blue and a spray can of bright yellow.

During the last little bit of sand blasting on Wednesday, R found some original blue and today he found some original yellow.  I had bought the wrong colors, so back to ACE Hardware I went to exchange them.  No problem,  I bought a spray can of navy and a can of spray primer.  I decided spray yellow wasn't going to work so I will buy a small bottle of bright yellow at Michael's and use an artist brush to highlight the lettering.

The base was originally painted navy blue, then industrial gray, then dark beige, and finally white. You can see some of the remaining navy paint around the word 'PROPERTY'.

Today after the sandblasting was finished, we hauled out the umbrella and went hmmmmmmmm. what now.  First, we unscrewed the pipe because we figured we would just buy the correct size but SURPRISE!!!! there was another smaller pipe underneath.  Geeeesh.

R then thought the umbrella would slide over the top of the pipe but the bottom of the umbrella had a plastic plug in it.  I walked away because I was starting to bum out so I went and watered some plants.  When I came back I found this.


R said when he removed the plug from the umbrella it was a perfect fit and slid right over the pipe.  It was meant to be.  The base is very heavy and not tippy at all.

I sprayed two light coats of primer on the bottom.  Once the primer was dried, I sprayed two light coats of gloss Navy Blue by Rust-oleum.  You can tell when the primer is dried by the matte finish. Once the finish is matte it is dry.  When it is shiny, it's wet.

The navy spray paint has a primer already added but as a precaution for both current rust and future possible rust, due to the fact that it will be out in the elements, I decided to use primer plus the paint with primer added.  I think it also helped to even out the paint coverage.  I was afraid that too many top coats would start to obscure the details that we just spent two days uncovering.

I used a 5 gallon bucket to support the base as I painted.  It worked great because it raised it up and I could get under the edge of the base.  I'm letting the bottom cure completely overnight and tomorrow I will paint the top of the base.  



R's reaction?  He said he had "no idea" what I was talking about and thought for sure "it wouldn't work."  Ye of little faith.

Can't wait to see it finished.