Sunday, June 22, 2014

How To Install Slip-on Grips, Harley Davidson

This article is not for those riders who think everything worth buying comes from (and is installed by) a Harley Davidson dealership. This is directed at those old school cropper, choppers & bobbers like me who do whatever they want to their bikes, whenever and however they want to.

That being said... *ahem*

Today I'm venturing even further off of the path that we've beaten at Focalpoint Renovations (if that's even possible at this point).
On a one night get-away trek to Laconia, New Hampshire's Bike Week event this year, I picked up a pair of chrome slip-on grip covers. I later discovered that the installation requires a minute of attention that, surprisingly, I couldn't find readily available via search engines.

So...I decided to post one.

 How To Install Slip-on Grips, Harley Davidson

FYI: There are two types of grip replacements... The more expensive requires you to open the throttle assembly and reconnect the throttle linkage into the new grips. Not particularly difficult but, what we're covering here is the more cost effective versions that in this case require you to cut the stock rubber grip away from the throttle for installation.

I found an aftermarket pair  that closely resembles the Drag Specialites Razor grip (which run about $110.00) up here in Laconia for $25.00/pair but only if you’re willing to take a razor knife to your stock rubber grips. If reading that scares you, you should probably stick with what you have or pay a dealer to swap your grips.

First things first... KNOW YOUR HANDLEBAR WIDTH. Most stock Harleys tend to run either 1" or 1 1/4". Mine is a '93 XLH 1200 which has a set non-original set of 1" bars (Thank you Chop Shop!). You obviously want to buy a set of grips that will fit over your existing handlebar size. Also, there are two sides to a set of bars, one being the stagnant (non-operational) on the left side and the throttle (operational) grip on the right.

The left is the easiest. 

Depending on the grip adhesive used, you can most likely twist off your existing grip with little effort. The factory adhesive isn't designed to weld the grip on, only hold it there securely. Using a steady force, it can be twisted off by working it back and forth while pulling outward. Installing the new grip requires little more brain power than doing the opposite. I cleaned my bars of residue and used a small amount of 100% clear silicone sealant to adhere the new grip. There are lots of grip adhesives so this is a bit of 'pick your poison'.

The throttle grip, on the other hand, is a little more of a pain-in-the-butt. Start by closing the petcock from your gas tank, twisting the throttle even when the bike is off can allow fuel into a carburetor. I have to admit that I should have taken more pictures during the removal process but all I did was to slice the original rubber grip 5 or 6 times lengthwise and pull it back towards the farthest point of the handlebar using vise grips. A utility knife helped cut away the rubber from the inner, harder plastic throttle core. Think of it like peeling the toughest banana you've ever encountered.
I removed the original rubber grip and then carefully scraped most of the excess with a sharp utility blade. Once I had most of the rubber grip off, it was pretty easy. 
It will look like this:

Before you start scraping, another important note is that there are ridges along the length of the inner throttle that allow the grip to maintain adhesion when you twist on it (accelerate). Below is the same image with one of the ridges circled in red. If you use a blade to clean the throttle like I did, try not to scrape those ridges off so that the new grip has something to grab onto.

Does that picture still look a little yucky to you?

Same here, but I also tried not to let my O.C.D. kick in too much while removing the original excess rubber and glue because I figured those lumps would actually help hold the new grip in place (which it did).
I just wanted to make sure the new grip slid on securely so, I used a 50/50 mix of dish soap and water to lubricate the new grip and slid it on a few times along the way for a test fit.
That's fairly important as well. You don't want to adhere a new slip-on grip without making sure it fits the way you want it to. Once I had it where I wanted it... I cleaned and dried both surfaces of throttle and grip and applied a small amount of 100% silicone sealant along the surface of the throttle, slowly twisting the new grip up into position and carefully making sure that no extra oozed its way out.

I let it set up overnight without touching it and....viola.

So, there you have it. A cost effective alternative to some of the more expensive Harley Davidson grips on the market.
Feel free to add any of your own personal experiences in the comments section below and try to remember to keep the rubber side down!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Can I Tile Over Hardwood Flooring?

We ran into this situation on a recent project and it seemed like a good time to talk about it.

Even though personally I would rather listen to Miley Cyrus talk about politics than to allow anyone tile over hardwood, the long and short of the answer is yes, you can.
The real question is; Why would you want to?
You have to remember that the same rules apply for tiling over hardwood as do for tiling over any suitable substrate.
Let me illustrate:

 Ceramic tile over hardwood flooring

This is a picture from one of our jobs where ceramic tile had been installed over 2 1/4" oak flooring. We discovered it when removing the tile to install an updated tile.

ceramic tile over hardwood flooringAs you can see, the tiles came up with little of the thinset mortar still attached to the floor. This is a perfect example of a poor bond. When we look at the tiles themselves, you can see that the thinset had no problem staying attached to the back of the tile.

After the tile had been completely removed from the area, this is what the floor looked like with no major scraping.

hardwood flooring under ceramic tile

Barely any real adhesion had occurred.

So let's talk about these "rules" for tile installation. There are three very important things you always want to be aware of when you are installing a tile floor.

Rule #1: Motion is your enemy. 

Anytime you install a tile floor, you want the surface you are tiling over to have minimal motion. If a floor moves, tiles can loose their bond and/or crack along with the grout lines.

Things that may cause your wood-frame floor to move:

  1. Undersized framing: Older homes may have been built smaller framing than code currently requires. It bounces and flexes more than the beefier framing of today.                                                                                           
  2. Wider framing layout:  Another situation we often find in older homes is that the framing is wider than 16" on center. This forces the subfloor to span a longer distance and allows it to flex more than in a newer home.                                                                                                                                               
  3. Unsuitable subfloor sheathing: In older homes you may find wide plank floor boards, newer homes usually require 3/4" plywood as their subfloor. When it comes to installing tile, the rule of thumb is to have at LEAST 1 1/4" of subfloor sheathing underneath to provide the necessary strength. That means that if you have 3/4" plywood, you need to add another 1/2" layer of substrate over it to create a thick enough subfloor (always run additional plywood layers in the opposite direction of the previous for added strength). I like to fasten additional layers with 1 1/4" galvanized screws at 6" on center, 2 1/2" screws along the framing lines. This gives the entire floor frame every opportunity to lock itself together tightly.                                                                                                 
  4. Improper fastening: Sometimes the subfloor is not properly anchored to the framing and can move which can result in tile bond failure. Don't be afraid to dance around on your subfloor before you tile. Spreading your legs apart and leaning side to side like your trying to tip a boat over is an easy way to spot creaks and squeaks which can often be cured with additional fasteners.
Plank (hardwood) flooring is more susceptible to motion because there are many more individual pieces which can (and will) expand and contract at different rates. The only way to minimize this is to make sure the hardwood flooring is fastened as securely to the subfloor as possible. This means you'll need to nail through the face of the flooring to make sure it has the best chance of staying in place.

Rule #2: Surface must be clean for a strong bond.

Hardwood flooring is usually finished with some form of polyurethane. The nature of this finish will tend to reject things that are trying to bond to it (including your tile adhesive). To tile over hardwood, you'd need to clean it first, preferably with mineral spirits to remove any build up you may have on the surface. Any waxes or soap that have been used to maintain the floor over the years will leave a build-up that is awful for adhesion.
Sanding the floor with a low grit sand paper (30 grit or lower) would create a better bonding surface. Rough wood makes for a much better adhesion. Also, the less porous a substrate is, the harder it will be for thinset to bond to. Another reason a finished hardwood floor isn't the best candidate for tile installation.

The natural surface of cdx plywood provides a rougher more porous surface to allow thinset to adhere to.

Rule #3: Use a premium modified Thinset mortar 

This is extremely important.  All your other steps will be for nothing if you don't use a high grade latex/polymer modified thinset mortar. These modifier additives help improve the bonding and flex characteristics of the mortar. You can purchase liquid additives though I've found the high end, pre-mixed powders have excellent bonding strength when properly applied. Make sure you don't mix your thinset too dry. A drier mix can have poor adhesion. You're looking for a consistency somewhere between pudding and peanut butter.

In conclusion: Why we don't recommend tiling over hardwood

Having read the steps it would take to even consider hardwood flooring as a suitable surface, it's usually just easier to remove and replace it with a decent cdx plywood or cementitious backerboard substrate. The grain of cdx plywood is perfect for creating a long lasting floor tile bond. There are those that would say using a tile backer board is preferable but when it comes to floors, I still prefer to put down a material with the ability to carry more weight. Although backer board has excellent moisture resistant qualities, I can snap most backer boards without a lot of effort. Backer board is much better suited for non-traffic tile installation in moisture heavy areas such as shower stall walls or counter tops in my opinion.

So in conclusion; Follow the three steps for any tile installation, don't tile over your hardwood because it's just silly and always remember to floss! (That has nothing to do with flooring but my 8 year old son can't seem to remember to do it so, I find myself constantly saying it.)

Do you have a flooring nightmare project on your plate? Drop us a line in the comments below and we'll see if we can help! 

Home-Improvement blog

Saturday, January 18, 2014

How To Make Restaurant Style Hot Wings At Home

Those of you who follow our blog know we occasionally stray from the usual remodeling tips & tricks and get a little crazy. Today is no different.

This weekend there is only one thing on my mind: Football, Hot Wings & Beer. 

I've got the football and beer parts taken care of but when it comes to wings, I'm pretty finicky. So finicky, in fact, that I started experimenting with making my own wings at home over the last couple of years. I've tried boiling, baking, broiling, frying.... but no matter what I did, they never came out as good as restaurant wings. Mine were always limp and lifeless, not crispy and delicious like the ones I got when I ordered out.

I had almost given up on trying to make my own wings until I discovered the "Double-Fry" method. It's pretty simple really but the results are spectacular! The trick is to fry the wings once at a lower temperature to cook them, let them cool in the refrigerator and then fry them again at a higher temperature to get them crispy.

Instead of babbling on about the process, I figured I'd just give the recipe & instructions and post a video of a batch I recently made. So, without further adieu....

Restaurant Style Hot Wings

  • 1 bag Frozen chicken wing pieces
  • 1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce (I prefer Sweet Baby Ray's, great taste and comes in a lot of flavors)
  • 4 Tablespoons Horseradish Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Hot Sauce (Cholula is my personal favorite)
  • 2 Tablespoons Crushed Red Peppers
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic 

(For traditional "Buffalo Style" wings, mix 3 parts Frank's RedHot sauce with 1 part melted butter)

The "Double Fry" Method
  1. Fry for 18-20 minutes at 275° F
  2. Let cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes
  3. Fry again for 8 minutes at 400° F

Mix all ingredients together well, toss with wings in closed Tupperware container and serve. Enjoy with your favorite frosty beverage.