Rob Ainbinder - Digital Dad - Page 10 of 79 - Chronicling my adventures in Home Improvement, Barbeque and Fatherhood

Rob Ainbinder – Digital Dad

Chronicling my adventures in Home Improvement, Barbeque and Fatherhood

Washing and Cleaning a Car Like a Pro (sort of).

April 23rd, 2012

We recently added a new to us (aka used) Nissan to our garage. And since we took delivery I’ve been itching to get out some tools to fix some of the issues I saw. These were some “picky” things that I wasn’t willing to let the lowest paid employee at the dealership (the car “detailer”) try and correct. Turns out the dealer wasn’t willing to try to fix the issue any way.

Look at the photo below. Starting at the reflection of the light fixture and working down you will see lots of finer scratches going from right to left (actually from the front of the car to the rear of the car).

The problems in the paint… “tunnel scratches”

These are what I call “tunnel scratches”. Why? It’s what happens when you repeatedly go through those auto car washes. The scratches could be anything from overhead brushes to drying cloths that hang vertically to dry your car or, even recycled water that was improperly filtered.

I have been a Meguiar’s fan for few years. Participating in the forums I have learned a lot from the many skilled professionals and car crazy auto appearance fanatics on techniques to enhance and protect the finish of your car. If you want to learn a little about ways to protect and enhance your car’s finish follow along with me. You’ll also see some pictures of our newer car and what I did to improve the appearance.

Step 1: Washing is Not Cleaning and Cleaning is Not Washing

Maybe you are asking yourself if Rob has lost his mind but, the first thing that the Meguiar’s gang would love for you to know is that when you wash your car it’s only the beginning of getting your car/paint clean. And how you wash it will very much determine if you will remove dirt and not add additional scratches to your car’s paint. So, what do you do to prevent additional scratches to your paint? Wash your car with two buckets! Two buckets? Yes, two buckets. Preferably a 5 Gallon Wash Bucket with Grit Guard
Here’s a video with some highlights on washing

Step 2: To Clay or Not to Clay, That Is the Question

After you have washed and dried your car it’s time to find out if you need to clean it with a Clay Bar Kit. This is the real cleaning and what determines if you will get the car really ready (if needed) for polishing (correcting) and waxing (protecting)

I “clayed” the Nissan… this is one picture of some of the bonded contaminates that I removed. There’s a longer (video) explanation here.

This is stuff off the paint after washing.

Step 3: Polish Away, Polish Away Those Defects

So, we have washed, dried and clayed the car. Now, we will work on the defects in the paint. Now, if your car is parked in the driveway or, you don’t want an absolute show car shine this step might be one where you spend a little less effort. But, what is absolutely essential is that you match the correct polish to the type of paint and problem you are trying to correct. Don’t just assume that the one clearcoat safe polish you have will do the trick… especially if you have more than one car.  In fact, for this Nissan I tried a total of three products before deciding to use…

After polishing with the compound I waxed it with Meguiar’s NXT Generation Tech Wax 2.0
and we were done.

Our (Almost) Square Foot Garden

April 1st, 2012

Yesterday marked our start into the world of squarefoot gardening (aka raised bed gardening). For a number of years we hemmed and hawed around the thought of having a vegetable garden and this year was the year.  The increasing price of fuel, seemed to make the idea a little more palpable. Applying some knowledge gained from reading various copies of All New Square Foot Gardening
.. we’ve gone headlong into establishing our garden.

Read along as we plan, build and plant in just a few hours.

Our squarefoot garden planTo see all the details of the plan click the picture above. Thanks to vegetable-gardening-online for the worksheet.

Our plan was not an exact squarefoot garden in the purest sense but, we did follow squarefoot gardening principles. In a true square foot garden it’s most often square (duh!). However, we did plant for efficiency and space optimization.

So, with plan in hand, plants/seeds purchased we headed out

Our family fitted with footwear and ready for gardening action.


Our raised bed garden is a kit from Sam’s Club was an 8″ Double Raised Bed from Greenland Gardener
which makes a 42″ x 84″ garden ($39) and made in the USA ;-) . The great things about this kit from Sam’s Club is it’s heavier, uses no hardware and is less expensive than the kit from Big Blue which is a Frameitall/Bonnie Plant branded raised garden kit ($49) that uses corner hardware and screws.

Greenland Gardener squarefoot raised bed garden

 So, the first step was to locate a North facing site for the garden which gets 6+ hours of sun. This is no small order in our tree filled yard. My loving Wife scoped out several sites and with that research complete it would be on the perimeter of our backyard. We laid out the pieces to see what it would look like.

The next step I decided on was to remove the grass in the area so we could level the area. This is not mandatory if you have a level location. If you can avoid this step.. do it! We almost did. Removing this grass was the most labor intensive part of the project!

Lily approves of the layout. You can also see the corner blocks which accept the side panels for hardware free assembly (genius!).

Removing the sod for our square foot garden

See that tool with the green handle? … it’s a gem… removes weeds without backbreaking contortions and I used it to help remove the sod from the area. It’s an Ames True Temper Gardener Two Pronged Weeder.
If it’s possible to love a tool.. my Wife and I both do! Removes weeds from landscaping beds with ease! But, sod was another thing entirely… this “little” area took some muscle. But, when it was done…

Raised bed garden with sod removed

garden goodness with landscaping fabric installed.

The gardening gods smiled down on us. Because when we went to return the raised garden bed to Big Blue the Miracle Gro Garden Soil was $2.50/1 cu. ft bag. Sweet! We also picked up a bag of Black Kow Compost Cow Manure
… can’t have too much organic material in your soil.

Miracle Gro Garden Soil for our squarefoot garden

Miracle Gro Garden Soil ready to go in our square foot garden

So, the next step was to mark off the squares for our (almost) square foot garden. There are lots of ways to mark off the squares (wood, old blinds, vinyl) We used what we had… Painter’s tape…

Marking off the squares of our almost squarefoot garden

Planting the plants in our square foot garden

Close up of the back (Northern) row of tomato plants. We planted three varieties of tomatoes (German Johnson, Roma, and Grape) all plants from Bonnie plants.

I decided to use the corner connectors of our raised garden bed kit to hold the plant markers from the Bonnie plants we planted. We’ll see how this works as the plants mature.

Here’s a look at the planted plan…

square foot garden laid out and planted

We decided to reuse the soaker hose and timer from another landscape project to keep the garden watered. This way we ensured the garden would get watered no matter what happened.

Raised bed garden with soaker hose installed

Want to see an update on our garden? Check here

Congrats to Robert Goddard, “Father of Modern Rocketry”

March 16th, 2012

This being a blog from a Dad, I though it fitting to write about another “Father” who had another milestone today (as my amazing Wife reminds me). So, how do I know about this   “father” (Robert Goddard) and what do I know about him?

In the second grade at Central Elementary School in Methuen, MA we had a Science Fair. Central Elementary was the former district High School and I recall details of my two years there with some vividness.

Central Elementary School

Central Elementary School (Via Google Maps)

The Science Fair in those days had no restrictions (unlike the rules we experienced with our little one which included: no water,animal or human subject unless supervised by a Scientist). So, what was my experiment/project?
A model replica of Robert Goddard’s liquid propelled rocket.

Robert H. Goddard on March 16, 1926

Besides, how bad could a guy be whose name was Robert? I remember my science fair model’s details with some foggy precision: constructed of plastic straws and a pencil then, taped to a piece of carboard. Simple and to the point.
At this science fair I didn’t win any prize (the same fate befell our kid recently). But, due in large part to my Mom we have remembered his successfull development and launch of a liquid fuel rocket on March 16, 1926 in Auburn, Mass. every year since that second grade science fair. That’s a gift far greater than a ribbon or certificate. If you want to read more about Dr. Goddard check out NASA’s info here.

Installing IKEA Framsta Above Hoppen Dressers

March 13th, 2012


ikea framsta & hoppen

IKEA Framsta & Hoppen


We made a trip to our nearest IKEA recently… that means, more projects! We left IKEA with three new HOPPEN chests and FRAMSTA wall panel system. My Wife and I spent a few hours assembling the HOPPEN chests. Here’s what they look like.

Hoppen chests, assembled.

But…we weren’t done. No sir, there was still a Framsta wall unit to assemble and TV to hang. And another surprise my faithful readers… my first on camera appearance.

Video of the floppy Framsta “panels”

We never put this system together but, undeterred we pursued. The end result was motivation enough. But, what could you learn from us?

1.) The base unit is the TOP and the BOTTOM of one vertical run of panels. This wasn’t terribly clear in the pictograph instructions but, we muddied through it.

2.) Keep the “A” side of the frame facing up… we had to un-assemble and re-assemble several panels because we overlooked this in the instructions.

3.) The entire vertical run of panels is hung on the wall by two fastening points. See those two brackets in the picture below? Those are the only anchor point for a vertical run of Framsta. It was a little freaky….

Framsta anchor points

So what do you do?

Measure carefully, find the wall stud locations and mark them… we also marked the top of each panel location so we could get a visual for the height of the four panels. We used painter’s tape to mark everything.

Framsta layout

What do you anchor to the wall with? Well, I really, really like SPAX screws . And why? No pre-drilling  and very good shear strength (350 lbs for our application would be plenty.

SPAX screws


350lbs. of load… the wall system was going nowhere once anchored to the 16″ on center wall studs. And my loving Wife was there with me every step of the way. Here she is attaching the mounting clips to the Framsta frame.

This is a picture of the Framsta panels hung and the cables run. It was a little awkward getting the system fastened to the wall but, we got it done with a little muscle.

Tip: The cables must be run BEFORE you mount the TV and BEFORE you install the side caps.

Framsta detail. Side chases

Actually there is a small notch cut out of the end of each rail. And when you stack several panels togther a chase forms  running down the side of each panel end that has room for cables. But, getting the cables around the vertical posts connecting the panels together was a bit trickier. The directions actually show cables being run in a small space between the end of the vertical post and rail of the next panel. No way would a TV power cable fit under there!

Framsta cables run

I cut a hole for our cables for TV. All I had was a power cable and coax TV cable. The panel material cut pretty easily with a hand saw. I just cut a small upside down V shaped notch at the bottom of the panel. One tip I’ll pass along. Remember that the panel slips into a channel to hold it so you might need your hole a 1/8″ – 1/4″ taller.

Another Tip: When installing the side panel caps you are very close to wall. So, I used a scrap piece of cardboard to slip just behind the panel to give me an area to use my rubber mallet to coax the side caps on without leaving a mark on the wall.

The next step was to mount the TV. This was the moment of truth… would the wall system hold our modest 20″ LCD TV?

Why, yes it did!

Framsta TV bracket with TV mounted


And here’s a picture of the finished project? What do you think?

Framsta over Hoppen complete

Rob Ainbinder – Digital Dad

Chronicling my adventures in Home Improvement, Barbeque and Fatherhood