Monday, June 25, 2012

Bosch MX25E Quick Review

I just replaced my Dremel 6300 Multi-Max oscillating saw, which failed horribly after about an hour of runtime over several small projects.  Home Depot was good enough to take it back (within the warranty period) and not make me deal with Dremel as directed on the warranty form.  I took the credit and traded up to the Bosch MX25E.  It's much heavier than the Dremel, which I take as a good sign.  The tool was made in Malaysia, the blades were made in Europe, and the storage bag was made in China.

It came with several blades (what you get will depend on exactly which specific kit you buy) and an adapter plate that's supposed to let you use accessories from other manufacturers.  The adapter plate just presents a bunch of hard, somewhat sharp points to a non-bosch blade, so you should be able to use it with anything that fits over the mounting screw regardless of the pattern of studs it was designed for. Unfortunately, you do have to completely remove the screw to change blades. Even the Dremel had a slightly faster option. It also came with a nice box to organize accessory blades in, and I prefer the heavy cloth storage bag over an inflexible plastic clamshell case.

I used it last weekend to cut the lath in the ceiling of our upstairs bathroom for a new ventilation fan.  So far, so good.  If you work with lath and plaster construction, these oscillating saws are great.  Score and chip off the plaster with a knife, and cut the exposed lath with the saw.  The high-speed oscillating action doesn't vibrate everything and damage the adjoining plaster like a sawzall or hand saw.  It's house surgery with one of these things.

Bosch Rotary Hammer Angle Head Review

This here is a little writeup of the Bosch 1618580000 Angle Head for their line of rotary hammers.  I bought one of these not too long ago, but had no luck even finding a decent photo of one on the web before I gave up and ordered it.  Bottom line: it's solid.  Made in Germany no screwing around solid piece of Bosch equipment.  The body is some sort of reinforced resin casting, and what I can see of the guts is crisply-machined metal.

Bosch Angle Head

After removing the front handle, it slips right over the head of your Bosch rotohammer and a shaft inside engages with the chuck like a bit, except that doesn't lock in.  You tighten a hex bolt to clamp it onto the body of the drill, and it can be rotated to any angle to help you reach in tight spots.

Angle Head Attached to My Rotary Hammer

There are some caveats, one huge and the others worth knowing about.  The big one is it doesn't fit all of their rotohammers.  I wound up having to go buy a whole new drill to get my job done!  The verbage is confusing, so either check your model number against the list of drills it says it fits, or measure the diameter of the collar behind the chuck.  The inside diameter of the angle head is 42mm.  My "Bulldog Xtreme" (model 11255VSR) is 50mm...  So now I have two rotohammers, which makes me a tool badass, but I think I'd rather just have the extra money I had to spend.

Another issue is runtime.  After ten minutes or so of continuous use, the head will get hot and you have to let it cool down.  It also reduces the impact action, so don't expect to go as fast as you can with the drill itself.  I think it took me about 30 minutes to drill a 5/8" diameter hole 13" deep in decent concrete, including breaks to let the head cool down.

So there you go.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Installing Euro Mudguards on a 2012 Prius

We finally got a new car.  A 2012 Prius 3.  Three tanks of gas in, and it's getting right about 51 mpg overall.  As long as gas stays above about $3.25 a gallon, my math says it will pay for itself vs. reasonable alternative cars.

I've always put mudflaps / guards on my cars.  They don't keep the dirt off, but they do reduce the amount of rock chips and tar that winds up on the side of the car.  There are two styles of guards available from Toyota.  The ones for the U.S. market are smallish, for some reason, but there are folks on the internet importing and selling the European version, which look much more like normal mudflaps to me.  I got a set from, mainly because I found a 10% off coupon code on a forum.  A lot of people seem to be concerned with how difficult it will be to install these mudflaps, and what they will look like, so here's my experience.  They were very easy to install, and... they look like mudflaps!

Here's a before shot of the front, with the existing fastener points indicated.  VERY easy.  I used a small flathead screwdriver, and a 10mm socket on a small 1/4" drive wrench.  The screwdriver is used to pop up the center of the little plastic connector, and the socket undoes a couple of screws, which are re-used to attach the mudguard.  The mudguards come with a new, longer plastic connector to fasten in the top hole, and that's it.

The rear is slightly more of a pain.  I did it without taking the rear tire off, by using a really stubby screwdriver bit holder.  If you jack up the car and pull off the tire, this job is trivially easy, and you can use regular screwdrivers and a drill to make your holes if you're more comfortable.  The tools shown are a couple of stubby #2 phillips screwdrivers and a homemade tool called a birdcage awl.   It's just a nail, set into a wooden handle and sharpened to a square point with a file.  I use it for scratching marks, and the corners on the square point will cut a quick pilot hole in wood or plastic if the tool is twisted.

Hold the mudflap up against the car and carefully make sure it's located properly.  Use the awl to reach through the lower mounting hole and scratch a horizontal line through the paint on the plastic fender / bumper.  Slide one of the little metal screw clip thingies onto the plastic fender at your mark, and make a pilot hole in the center with the awl or whatever you're using.

With a short awl and really stubby screwdriver, you don't need to take the rear wheel off.

Put the guard in place, drive a screw into the lower hole, and then locate and mark the upper hole in the same way.  I know this seems fiddly, and doing them both at the same time would be faster, but this way you know everything will line up.  Finally, drive the third screw in from the bottom of the guard, into the underside of the bumper.  Now go find a rally course and try to spit some gravel at a Subaru.