Z-Car

Moen shower faucet provides no cold water, only hot

hot-girl-cold-broken-shower

A common issue with older Moen shower faucets is only cold, or only hot water coming out of the faucet or shower head.  This often happens with showers that are not used very often, or where the water supply is particularly hard or has high levels of contaminants.  If you search the web for help, the most often suggest is to replace the main cartridge (part number Moen 1225 or 1200).  However, this is most likely not the source of the issue.

If you remove the shower faucet knob, and remove the cover behind it, you should see something like the image below.  This is a Moentrol 3570 valve, there are other similar model numbers.

moenvalve

Within the valve is what is called a balancing spool.  This balancing spool valve contains a piston which moves back and forth maintaining a given temperature even if the pressure on the cold side is reduced, for example someone flushes a toilet when the shower is in use.  It prevents a sudden blast of hot water which can lead to burns.  When you suddenly experience only the cold or hot water flowing regardless of where you set the flow handle, this valve is almost always the culprit.

The piston which is inside the balancing spool will get stuck in one position or the other.  When this happens, it essentially shuts off flow to either the hot or cold side.  Poor water quality and age will eventually cause the piston to get stuck in its bore.   The balancing spool (part number Moen 1423) can be seen clearly in the photo below.

moentrol valve

The first step in repairing the balancing spool valve is to remove it.  You will need to use a VERY large screw driver to unscrew the valve (number 2 above).  Make sure you shut off your water first!  You can also use a straight-edge piece of metal clamped in vice grips if you do not have a large enough screw driver.  Spray the outside of the screw with Liquid Wrench or other penetrating oil in advance of your attempt, it can be difficult to loosen.  If you are lucky, the valve will come out with the screw.  But, most likely the top of the spool will separate, like in the photo below.

IMG_5753

If this happens, you will need to retrieve the stuck piece.  The way that I accomplished this was to soak it in Liquid Wrench for an hour before my attempt.  I inserted a screw driver down into the piston and tried to lever it out, tapping with a hammer at the same time.  I then bent a piece of metal rod into a hook shape and fished it inside and caught it against one of the holes in the body of the spool.  Using a pair of vice grips I pulled until it came loose.  This may take some work, so be patient.

Once removed you have two options, replace with a new one, which is not cheap, retail price is between $55-95.00.  Or, you can usually successfully clean the spool.  To do this, remove the round piece of metal at the back of the valve (seen above).  Just slip a small screw driver into the gap and twist it out.  Then tap the piston out of the bore.  I used a socket to support the back of the spool, and used a hammer and screw driver to tap it out.

Next, you want to use fine sandpaper to clean off the piston journals, and the inside of the bore of the valve.  Get aggressive, you want the bore and journals to be polished clean.  Work the piston back and forth in the bore until there is absolutely no sticking or binding.  Then apply plumbers grease and reassemble.  Turn the water back on and test the faucet, you should now have hot and cold water, and just saved yourself a couple hundred dollar repair bill.


Miata Padded Leather Armrest How-to

One of the more annoying aspects of my 1994 Mazda Miata was the center console armrest’s hard plastic cover.  Whenever my elbow touched that cover, it just plain hurt.  So, I decided to fix the problem.  I bought some supplies from Amazon, and got started.

The first item on the shipping list was a package of NU-Foam.  This poly-fil is really great, it is compressive, however even when compressed down, it still has a lot of give.  Perfect for providing a firm arm support that still has cushion.   

The other product was a sheet of genuine leather, plenty to cover the arm rest.  The piece I bought was 1 foot by 2 foot.

 

We will attach the leather to the plastic cover using a staple gun.  Make sure you have a good quality staple gun and staples.  I don’t think size is very critical, however the gun needs to be strong enough to pierce the plastic.  I suggest practicing with a few staples before you try and attach the leather.

The installation process is actually super simple.  First remove your console cover, it comes off with a couple of phillips head screws.  After removing, clean it up and test fit your material.  Cut a piece of foam to fit the top of the lid.  Don’t skimp, it is easier to start with too much and trim it back if you get too much.

Now is the only tricky part, cut the leather to overlap the top of the cover.  Starting at one side, firmly staple the entire side.  Then carefully stretch the leather across and fasten the other side.  My suggestion is to stretch tight enough that the top of the cover is firm, however still has noticeable give, this is what will make it comfortable for your elbow to rest on.

The final two sides will be a little more challenging.  You have to stretch and tuck the leather so that you do not have any large creases on the top of the armrest.  Don’t be surprised if you have to pull some staples and reposition, just be patient and take your time.  When you are done, it should look like the picture below.  Now, go and enjoy your new arm rest!

miata padded armrest


Noisy Mazda Miata Speedometer Cable – Eliminate the wobble.

girl on speedometer gauge

 

Miatas are known for speedometer cable noise and associated needle wobble.  The obvious symptom is a loud clicking sound that varies with speed, and a bouncing or wobble of the speedometer needle when driving.  You may find it is worse when hot, or when cold.

The standard fix is to simply replace the cable.  The cable is relatively inexpensive ($80), and can be changed fairly easily.  If you check the regular Miata forums, you will hear that it is impossible to lubricate an existing cable.  I will admit that buying a new cable is a sure fire way to fix, and that most lubrication efforts fail.  However, if you want to give it a try, this is what I did that worked.

First, disconnect the speedometer cable connection from the transmission end.  Carefully unhook it from the two tie downs that hold the cable against the transmission tunnel.  Then gently pull the cable into the engine compartment.   Inside the connector is a round pin with a tang on it that spins.  This drives the cable that goes to the speedometer.  The pin is in a small little cup.  What I did is strap the cable vertically so that you can fill the cup with oil, and let it slowly drain into the cable sheathing.  I used a small amount of used synthetic motor oil.  I filled the cup up about fives times over 30 minutes.  Take your time, I think the longer you leave the cable end higher than the speedometer, the better your results.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!


Parts required to rebuild Mazda Miata Shifter Turret

girl mechanic working on mazda miata

After 140K miles,both of my Miata’s rubber shifter boots were rotten and ripped.  I decided while I was replacing them, I would also perform a full shifter turret rebuild.  There are many guides that document how to perform the actual rebuild, however there seems to be confusion on what parts are required.    I replaced all bushings, this consists of two bushing shells, the half-moon side bushing, and the tip of shifter bushing.   In addition, I replaced both wavy washers, and both rubber boots.  I used the NC style inner boot and it fit perfectly.

Some of the guides show a shim washer that can also be replaced.   My car contained neither shims, and I did not add them.  After rebuild, the shift feel was noticeably better, less slop and more feel.  This is a cheap, easy and well worth project on any Miata with a couple miles and years on it.

miata shifter bushings

Official Mazda Miata Parts list for Transmission Shifter Turret Rebuild

BOOT,DUST (R501-17-47Z) 
BUSH (M501-17-515) 
BUSHING, SHIFTER (0398-17-462A) 
INSULATOR (NA01-64-481B) 
INSULATOR,LEVER (M501-17-501) 2 required
WASHER,WAVE (M505-17-482) 2 required

 

miata turret rebuild parts


Verizon FIOS box keeps beeping and red battery light is on – Cheap Replacement

Battery-Girl-2

So you suddenly notice that your FIOS box, usually mounted in your basement or garage, is beeping. On closer inspection, the red replace battery light is on. If you call Verizon, you will also learn that they will not replace the battery, it is your responsibility. They will sell you a new one, but it is not cheap.

Save yourself time, frustration, and money!  There are DIY solutions that will help you solve this issue.  Don’t waste your time trying to contact Verizon, or paying someone to turn off the beep.  This will only leave you frustrated, and out a lot of money.  

Now that you know this, you have two options that will save you a lot of money.

The first is to simply reset the unit. It seems that the FIOS box will often erroneously report that you have a bad battery, when you actually do not. To do this, unplug the FIOS box. Then open the battery compartment. Inside will be the sealed battery with two wires coming from it. Remove either the black or red connector, it may be easier to do if you slightly remove the battery by pressing down on the two plastic clips holding it place. Then wait for a minute or two after unplugging the battery. Then reconnect, close up the panel, and plug the box back into AC. At this point, you most likely will notice that the red light goes out, and no more beeping.

If this does not work, it means your battery is bad. Replacing your battery is a very easy process, and a new battery is amazingly cheap.  Don’t pay an outrageous amount of money for an “official” battery.  A OEM quality battery can be had for less than $20. You can buy a replacement locally, or order from Amazon here.  To install, remove power, open box, and remove both connectors.  Remove the battery and replace with the new one.  Make sure you hook up the red lead to the positive battery terminal, and the black lead to the negative.  Close everything up, and turn back on.  Congratulate yourself on saving some bucks and eliminating the annoying beep.

 Verizon FIOS Battery Backup

fios battery backup


Simple DIY Lotus Elise Front License Plate Bracket

Lotus Elise License Plate Holder

Since buying my Lotus Elise in 2005, I have been pulled over three times for not having a license plate on the front of the car.  Fortunately, the friendly police officers always seemed to let me go with just a warning.  While I definitely don’t like the look of the license plate mounted up front, I really did not have one installed because there just is not a real  good bracket out there.

Recently I came across a company that utilized the stock tow-ring nut located within the grill to mount a license plate bracket.  It was a very sexy solution, and I got ready to plunk down my credit card.  However, when I saw the final shopping cart price of $100, I decided to take a different course.

I found that an 8MM x 60MM bolt with the appropriate nuts and washers did an excellent job of mounting a left over garage door bracket to the front end of the car.  I lined up the holes in the bracket with the license plate, and painlessly drilled a couple holes in the license plate to match up with the bracket holes.  A few sprays of black paint, and it was ready to bolt-up.  I think it turned out pretty well, and saved me a cool $100.

 

Lotus Elise License Plate HolderLotus Elise License Plate HolderLotus Elise License Plate Holder