Exterior Finish Restoration – This Took How Long?

This Took How Long?

September ’15, a guy knocked on the door and asked if I wanted to get an estimate for painting the outside of my house. He said he was a retired schoolteacher, and lived summers in the Northwest, but spent winters here in Arizona. To supplement his income, he said that he paints a few houses while he’s here. Together with his helper, they walked all around the property, looking at everything and pointing and mumbling about a few of the more challenging areas.

Finally, he concluded his inspection and said, “Well, it needs a lot of work, and some places need the drip rail moulding replaced. It’s rotted away in places.” I agreed, and asked how much he would charge to do a really thorough job. He continued, “There’s some places that need lots of scraping too, and some caulk. It needs a lot to make it look nice.” “OK,” I said, “How much?” He paused and thought, and then said, “Well, it’s gonna take us a day to power wash the whole thing, and start the prep. The next day, we will finish the prep, and caulk. Then a day to spray it. I think we can knock it out in 3 days, maybe 4, if we run into any problems.

“I see,” I replied, “How much do you think it will cost?” “We use good paint, you know, not the cheap stuff. Probably need 15 gallons,” he offered. So, by this time, I figured I’d just let him talk, and he’d get around to cost eventually. He continued to describe how they would mask the windows, put down drop cloths, clean up after themselves, and do a great job. Then, finally, the part I was waiting for. “$5500 to do it all. It will look beautiful. And, we can start this week if you like and be done by Saturday!”

Dressed for Work

“I’ll have to think about it. Thanks for taking your time to give me an estimate. Give me your card, and I’ll call you if I decide to have you do it.” “Alright,” he replied, “but if we get busy, I may not be able to fit you in this year!” “Thanks, I’ll call ya.”

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The BIG “O” (ring) and Many $$

Folks, there’s a lot you need to know about marketing, markup, and money when it comes to maintaining numerous household products found in the typical modern home and yard. Primarily, it’s all about saving money, your money!

If you have a pool or spa, this will be of particular interest to you, but can apply to maintenance of many other household devices and systems. This will give you some insight into a system designed to pry money out of your wallet that you just don’t need to spend.

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Oh Deere!


The John Deere has found a new home in the garage of an old time farmer, who used all John Deere equipment on his farm for 50+ years. He recently retired, and needed a good reliable mower that would double as a fun activity for the grand kids (smart old man, eh?). So, since we had almost all of the grass that was left in the yard covered over with beautiful rustic pavers, the John Deere went on Craigslist, and sold in 20 minutes to the first person who called.

That made me have to bring the 43 year old Toro Whirlwind mower out of mothballs and restore it so I could mow that last remaining 16′ X 16′ patch of grass in the back yard. I bought that mower for my parents’ house back in New Jersey, when I was just a kid, and it came with them when they moved here in 1989 and has been in the shed ever since.

I tore it apart, ordered all of the rubber and fuel system parts from Briggs & Stratton directly, (one of the “O” rings was listed on their site for FIVE CENTS) and had it start on the second pull of the “Easy Spin” starter. It didn’t even need a blade sharpening as my dad used to keep it finely tuned all those years ago.

Toro Whirlwind
Toro Whirlwind


When I moved into this house 20+ years ago, the entire front yard was grass. About 6000 sq. ft. of deep thick Bermuda grass that, in the peak of the summer, needed mowing twice a week.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that my old push mower was going to need a major upgrade. I started looking in the local paper for a riding mower, and soon spotted an ad for a 1983 John Deere Model 111 Hydrostatic Garden Tractor with a twin blade mower deck. Just the ticket!

It was in very nice condition, well used, but pretty clean and it started right up and ran smoothly. When I asked the owner why he was selling it, he explained that for his rather large back yard, this little single cylinder, 11 horsepower engine just didn’t have enough power to deal with the tall grass and weeds. He intended for the money from the sale of the Deere to go to a twin cylinder Craftsman. Who was I to argue? I loaded it up and brought it home.

John Deere 111H
A Recent Picture of the 111H

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Perfection Improved

OK, I’m a real geek when it comes to having stuff work right. People who know me also know that I will pay extra money to get an item that does a job perfectly, something that is the epitome of its designed function. Like many of you, I hate stuff that just barely works, is the minimum that some designer or manufacturer could get away with, or is built so that it just lasts until the warranty runs out. The frustration of spending money for an item you “have to put up with,” is just too much for me.

So, although I promised myself that I wouldn’t start posting articles that make me look like I’m selling a particular item or brand, or that I am perceived as a shill for a particular company, I have found one line of products that I feel so positive about that I just have to detail it here. Let me tell you what happened…

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I Was So Bright, They Called Me Sonny

I just updated this post with the details of the new Radio-Controlled remote that I added to this shed lighting project at the end of the post.

A long while ago, I had a shed built to house the usual collection of gardening tools, mower, and general yard and pool “stuff.” It sits about 30 or 40 feet from my electrical box, and a local electrician quoted me $1000 to run power out to it so I could have light in there at night. I solved the problem a different way, and for WAY less money.Solar Cell ClosUp1 Continue reading “I Was So Bright, They Called Me Sonny”