Monday, September 29, 2014

Finish Line Teflon Dry Lubricant: Lubrication Without the Gritty Aftertaste

Finish Line Teflon Plus Spray

Cycling enthusiasts are eternally happy to inform you that bicycles are the most efficient form of transportation, whether or not it's true (it probably is).  A modern bicycle maximizes the mechanical advantages inherent to simple machines, things like levers and pulleys, by reducing overall weight and keeping tolerances tight. Because of those tolerances, regular periodic maintenance and lubrication are some of the essentials to keeping your bicycle in top condition. A proper lubrication regimen means paying careful attention to all moving parts.

Over the years I've used dry lube on almost everything that moves on my bicycle, especially the moving parts of the front and rear derailleurs and the shifters. I also regularly lube shift and brake cables and brake cantilevers with a few drops dripped from a bottle of my favorite, Finish Line Dry Lube. More recently, I've expanded my lubricant arsenal to include aerosol cans of Finish Line Teflon Plus Spray. Except for added propellants, this formula is identical to what's in the original drip bottle.

I picked up on this stuff after the household’s aging Lemond road bike developed shifter problems and the mechanic at the local bike shop chided me for not lubing the shifter housings, those integral shifter/brake levers that are the standard on road bikes. Finish Line's aerosol can comes with a skinny red straw familiar to fans of WD-40. That straw gives me pinpoint precision needed to squirt lifesaving lube deep within the shifter housings before a ride. I also use the aerosol sans straw for a wide-angle shot at the cogset after washing the bikes. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Frost-Proof Faucets

A Lot Cheaper than a Frozen Pipe!

One of water's most important physical properties is surprisingly unusual: unlike most other substances, when water freezes it expands instead of contracts. Life scientists tell us that this unusual property is absolutely essential to life as we know it; without this difference Earth's oceans would be little more than somewhat salty frozen treats. Your plumber may not admit it, but this property is also essential to the payments on his yacht. If a pipe around your house has ever frozen and burst, you know what the guy with the plumber's crack means. It ain't a pretty sight (you decide which "it" I mean).

Frozen Faucets are a Hassle

An outdoor faucet, also known as a hose bib or sillcock, is likely to be the weakest link in your plumbing when the temperature drops too far below freezing. It’s not just exposed to frigid air, it's also close to the ground where the temperature is lowest. Houses that don’t have hose shutoffs with drains for the outdoor faucets (very common for houses on slabs) are often in danger of freezing along that run of pipe. A wise preemptive step for a homeowner is to install a frost-proof hydrant. With their long valves, even a faucet that must be left operating for outdoor water supply during the coldest days of winter remains protected from freezing. That’s because, when the faucet is turned off, all the water stays within the house instead of in a pipe that's out and exposed to the cold.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pipe Heaters

Prevent Frozen Waterfalls on Those Cold Winter Nights with a Wrap-On Pipe Heating Cable

Houstonians, where I grew up folks pretty much rejoiced if a January overnight low only dropped to 20° Fahrenheit, so your "nasty cold snaps" seem laughably warm to me. I kid you not, in seven years I've never worn my second-warmest coat here, much less my warmest - and the best gloves are still somewhere in storage, too. However, I realize that not only are the human beings around here unable to endure sub-freezing temperature, local houses haven't been designed for such temperatures either. So we are prepared: for example, we bought some of those 99¢ foam covers for our outdoor faucets and picked up some foam pipe wraps.

The Problem: Exposed Pipes

One inexplicable local plumbing practice - don't me why, given Houston has a hard freeze every few years - is to pipe to near the edge of the slab with PVC, then finish bringing water to the house through an exposed copper supply pipe. Yep, naked metal pipe outside the house; a veritable full-employment plan for local plumbers if there ever was one. I've outsmarted them, though, because I own a Wrap-On Pipe Heating Cable I'd bought several years ago for our Great (formerly) White Elephant on the Edge of the Prairie. No problems: even after several nights of low-twenties temperatures, we'll be fine -- though our plants probably won't.