Tivoli Audio Model Three and Pal Power Fix

We own several Tivoli Audio products. One of our Pals and our Model Three both suffered from power problems. In both cases the cause was cracked solder joints. Moving around the Pal (which is portable!) or the nightstand Model Three must have put pressure on the power jack, wiggling the solder joint until it cracked.

In both cases, I added a drop of solder on the failing joints and the radios were good as new. The following photos show where I spotted the cracked joints:

Model Three Repair

I removed all screws from the back. I did not need to remove anything from the front. However there are several cables that go from back to front that have to be disconnected to get access to the board with the power jack, so I took reference photos like this. This is the top of the unit looking down (although the radio is sideways.)


This photo is from the other side (the bottom) where I could see the cracked solder joint spark as I plugged it in and removed it. I had to remove this board in order to get to the solder joints with a soldering iron.


Continue reading

KitchenAid Dishwasher Leak (inlet hose)

Black inlet tube damageKathy spotted a leak under the dishwasher. (KitchenAid KUDL02FRSS0.)  I shut off the fuse, disconnected the power (because the electrical cable is too short to pull the washer all the way out) and removed the white sound blanket. There was water under the washer, but I could not see the source. There was a silver metal jacket inlet hose from the sink and a yellowish plastic drain hose, but neither were wet. The tub itself did not seem to have any leaks. It was a mystery.

Continue reading

Deck Stain


This gallery contains 12 photos.

Kathy, Kelly, and I pressure washed, soap washed, and stained the deck. Nice weather for it. It ended up taking 3 gallons to get all up-facing surfaces, rails and posts stained. We’ll get another gallon and paint some of the … Continue reading

First Household LED Bulb

Update 6/4/2012: Don’t buy this product. See comments.


I bought my first household LED bulb today. I have tried a series of bulbs for the back basement patio light which I leave on 24 hours because days can go by without us going into the basement. I want to keep mischief makers away from our basement.

I’ve had 25 watt and 15 watt incandescents that will last 6 months or so. I most recently tried a 5 watt (25 watt equivalent) micro-spiral made by Sylvania (picture to right.) This is the smallest compact fluorescent (CFL) I’ve ever bought. Really small. It should have lasted a year, but it only lasted 3 months. Short lived. I think it was not happy being ballast-side up inside an outdoor glass globe.

At Wal-Mart I found a small LED frosted bulb that is a 2W / 25W equivalent generating 150 lumens made by FEIT Electric. It was $6.97 and promised to last 18 years with 3 hours per day use. I’m not sure we’ll be in the house more than two years. But, since I leave the bulb on 24 x 7, I did the math and translated the 20,000 hours into 2.2 years.The LED bulb says it is soft white at 3000 Kelvin, but it is a bit whiter than the incandescents and the micro compact fluorescent (2700 Kelvin) but not harsh white. The prices of LEDs are coming down and the color and brightness are getting better.

Thus the LED experiment begins. I may move this one up to the back screen porch, which gets turned off by day. There is a same size / price model that is 1W / 13W equivalent for 75 lumens, so half the brightness and power that I could put in the lower back patio. Hope to not have to comment for 2.2 years…

Note: We all need to become accustom to talking lumens because the 5 watt / 25 watt equivalent will make less and less sense over time.

Porch pollen

Our screen porch always gets a good dusting of pollen, and then spring showers do not wash it away. So we have to hose everything down.


The dogwoods and azaleas are all in bloom, and the zoysia in the back greened up enough this past week that we’re getting that Masters golf course look. The fescue we had prior always looked great this time of year, but it didn’t hold up through the hot summer. Zoysia loves heat.

Comcast Mess

Comcast sent us a letter saying our TVs will stop working unless we have a Comcast box or get a free DTA (Digital Transport Adapter.) They are going all digital and all customers will need digital controls that allow for things like on-demand movies and even more and more channels.

We don’t want either, but our basic TV package would quit working unless we at least order the DTA. The first three are free, so I ordered one for each TV.

Three giant boxes came in the mail and one is pictured below. I think six Apple TV packages would have fit in one Comcast DTA package. Inside the box are:

Comcast DTA Shipping Package

  1. a little hockey puck, which is the DTA
  2. a small AC/DC power supply (oh good, another plug)
  3. a coax cable (oh good, more cables)
  4. an optional IR remote control wire in the event the remote cannot see the hockey puck
  5. a remote control for the hockey puck (oh good, another remote control)
  6. two AA batteries for remote (hey, batteries included)
  7. some 2-sided stickers for sticking the hockey puck on the side of something
  8. a giant, two-sided “simple” set up poster nightmare
  9. a smaller, many-worded instruction booklet
  10. a remote control instruction booklet with tons of secret codes that *might* let you turn your TV on/off and sound up/down with the new remote control.

And that’s just one set. Multiply the photo times three.

It took me hours to get all of this junk set up and activated. Our Sony TV went smoothly, but  the Philips with VCR was a mess because of cable complexities. And after much trial and error and Google research, the best we have with the kitchen Magnivox is the mute button on the remote will turn the power on/off and the volume down button will make the volume go up. If we want the volume to go down, we have to use the TV’s native remote. Ugh….

Apple TV with Remote

Apple TV much simpler.

Our TVs and VCR are all now “stupid” because all tuning and programming has been taken away from them and moved to the Comcast DTAs. I believe these “free” hockey pucks are Comcast’s attempt to grab the digital brains of our TVs before Apple comes in and takes over. I really hope Apple is successful at simplifying both the technology and pricing of TV and drives Comcast out of business. I’ll pay extra just to avoid all of this mess!

PS – We use our Apple TV (hockey puck) all the time. It was so simple to set up and uses our AT&T internet connection, so I hope some day we can just turn off Comcast.


Toilet Tips

After a ground-up rebuild of the master bath john (did the other two years ago), I thought I’d give myself a few notes in the event I have to tackle a rebuild again (in this house.)

There are only 3 screws holding the flange down to the floor. There should be 4, but by the time I got there, I didn’t have a screw, so there are still 3.

Because the flange was above the floor by about 3/4″, I did not need the funnel thing in the wax ring I had purchased. (Found this out via YouTube.) That is only needed if the flange is flush (so to speak) with the floor. So I bought another simple wax ring, and that seemed to work better.

The flange bolts were cut so that the cosmetic caps could fit over them. One of the cuts was rough, making it very hard to back the nut off. I had to also cut the new ones, but at least I cut them a bit higher to allow for a file-down if the problem persists with the new bolts. Tip: Buy taller caps?

Don’t use blue cleaner bricks in the tank. They are a mess and seeped into everything. Cleaning up blue gunk from many places.

Stuff some tissue down sewer pipe while working on flange / base to keep gases from coming up into the bathroom and knocking you out.

Kitchen Aid Dishwasher Spring Cable (Rope)

A while ago our dishwasher door quit going down smoothly when the spring on the right seemed to have broken. Then it got worse last week when the left spring seemed to have gone.

I backed out four screws and was able to slide / roll (back wheels) the dishwasher out half way. The electric cable prevented it from coming out any further, but that gave me enough access to see and get to the door springs.

The heavy-duty metal springs were fine. Instead, the “hinge cable” broke on the right and the “tension wheel” slipped on the left. The cable is no cable at all. It’s a small, thin braided rope clamped with plastic hook/loop things on the ends. I can’t believe they even last 10 pulls under tension.

In the attached photo, the rope slipped out of the hinge hook on the right. The tension wheel has a plastic peg (on back in this photo) that sits in a hole in the frame. The peg bent under pressure and will not stay in place.


I feel ridiculous ordering the replacement parts because they seem so poorly engineered. If I was a *real* engineer, I’d rebuild using galvanized cables and pulleys. But I’m not. $25.71 with shipping from RepairClinic.com.

Helpful video by Steve at PartSelect.

Our model is KitchenAid KUDL02FRSS0. Whirpool has the same model number.

Pond Pump #3


When we bought the house, there was a stagnant pod with a little stream of water streaming up in the middle. One of my early projects was to clean out the pond and clean the pump. It worked fine for several years until I had to replace it with Pump #2… which went out this winter after about three years. I’m amazed that these little pumps can run continuously under water for years.

Photo of pump #3 that is now installed and circulating the water. Just in time for spring. Note the little slica gell pack. Keeps moisture down. Wouldn’t want a pond pump getting moist.