Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Toyota Prius “Check Hybrid System”

Posted in cars, Uncategorized with tags , on July 13, 2018 by marksun

Late June 2018, the Check Hybrid System light came on on my 2010 Prius while I was away in Portland, and the Prius went into a safe mode.  D used the Rav until she joined me then 6/28,  we got back from Portland. I drove it down to the shop (car starts, drives but has no power and only low gears) –  had my mechanic Suhn check it out … “hybrid – no can handle Pete.  It’s a hybrid.  What do you expect and this kind of shit is going to happen. I hope you’re not completely screwed.”  Old school mechanic.  He’s right that a battery will need to be replaced.   This is not a battery,  but it’s a hybrid system component and more importantly, these things are fucking crazy expensive.   Mainland retail an IPM transistor kit is $1400.  Servco Hawaii – $2400!  Just for the part!  Suhn hopes it’s not a battery and hopes that I’m not in for $10,000 in repairs.  Look of concern, “Is it worth it?”

I told you so taste’s a lot like shit.

But you know, the internal combustion engine unit, now the ICU, as we knew it is already gone. Fuel injection, computers, turbo, Sterling cycle engines, multiple cooling systems,  Suhn will know it’s time to retire when every car comes in with a 400V battery pack,  or stuffed with computers, sensors, servos, actuators and no driver.

The golden age of transportation is over.  Getting around is going to cost you.

I look on Internet, known problem with transistor kit, IPM and recall.  Meanwhile,  Allstate Auto Club phone #, call in the tow to dealer – an operation that took three hours.  After hour check in.  6/29 the bad news – it would be at least two weeks before Dealer Service could even look at the car.  I talk with Customer support dude Kris – and he helps me devise a strategy – namely try other dealers while he keeps his guys away so they don’t run diagnostics on my car and charge me $120.  Phone calls, Windward Toyota can  give me an appointment for July 5, only 6 days away!  Servco Mapunapuna doesn’t have an appointment available until August!  I call in a  tow to Windward Toyota 6/30.  At least Servco to Servco I don’t have to be in Mapunapuna.  The Tow drops the car before I get there, which turns out to be just fine.  Is the car under a recall for the Intelligent Power Module (IPM)?  – Spencer, the service guy checks records – negatory.  I leave empty handed but with a 5 July appointment. Timeline a bit suspect here for this weekend…  Spencer is a good guy and makes a loaner car available to me on Friday 6/31 – we pick it up on Saturday.  Phone call, they had run diagnostics – the bad news, it’s gonna cost $3000 to repair.  Holy shit!

July 5, nothing.

July 6 call from Spencer … “uh the  mechanic is backlogged, maybe by July 10?

July 10 nothing.

July 11 late – OK it’s ready.  Great!   Can I pick up to morrow.  No problemo.

July 12.  I return the loaner at around 1100.  I get the bill and pay $2660 with MasterCard.  I drive home.  Same old Prius, nothing special ain’t it.

July 12: Home.  Lets find the books.   I find an undated doc clipped in:


And here’s the link now that I know the magic word: ZE3

The shop repair record shows  diagnostic  P0A94.  I find the smoking gun.

Why didn’t I find it earlier? Go Fish.  So like I fully expected the dealer to have this record tied to each vehicle they sell in their database.  This of course, turns out to be totally wrong.  Reading carefully, this wasn’t a recall, but a Warranty Enhancement Notification ZE3 and it’s on the customer, me, to keep track of, not the dealer.  I email this to Spencer.  Spencer is all over it, calls me back.  Good news : this repair will not cost me any money.

I will get my $2660 back!

But first, they have to put in the “right” parts.  Servco needs the car back to fix things up.  Sigh.  The saga continues.  But I have the car back,  I have spent no money since my autoclub covered the tows, and the dealer will not charge me for the defect!

It should go without saying that everyone I dealt with really wants to help.  Insurance ( Allstate ), Servco Toyota …  They are super busy and get a lot of crap from the public so it pays to be respectful and nice.  It doesn’t always go according to plan – stay calm, let the process work, and present actionable facts.

Lessons learned…
1) know your warranty.  You may have to produce documentation because the dealer will not have it.
2) for the warranty, you are stuck with the dealer!  There may be a hybrid repair shop but they cannot do warranty work.  They may be faster and cheaper however.
3) negotiate a loaner vehicle immediately!  Only a dealer will have them.  No small shop can do it.  You may have to wait.  There are several dealers in town.


the coconut wireless

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2018 by marksun

The wife asked me “what era is the coconut wireless?”  As in the case of many such questions I get from this person, I find I don’t know.  But this doesn’t stop me from guessing.

Around here, Hawaii, it means the local gossip network.

I first heard those words “coconut wireless”  on the Aku Head Pupule radio show in the  fifties.  There was a short radio jingle (minor key refrain “on the coconut wireless” twice, ending with a comical rising note from a kettle drum.  Aku was on every morning and our radio was on every morning, so I probably heard the show and the refrain a few hundred times before I was four years old.

Protected: flood from overflowing washing machine Kenmore top loader

Posted in Uncategorized on November 20, 2017 by marksun

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washing machine supply valves advice from Wayne

Posted in plumbing, Uncategorized, washing machine with tags on November 20, 2017 by marksun

20171120_135410.jpgHad a close call with the washing machine supply valve – stuck open, turned it to off, but it leaked from the stem.  Was able to tighten the nut and shut down the leak.

According to my plumber Wayne, don’t open the valve all the way.  From the shutoff position, turn 2 turns max.  If the valve is all the way open it will stick open.

When you crack the stuck valve, it will/may leak.  Turn all the way off, then on two turns and tighten the nut.

Other advice from Wayne – go to City Mill and buy the armored hoses, that one can be left on all the time.

He thought initially that maybe the problem was that we were turning the valve on and off…

12v tire inflator from Sears

Posted in cars, Uncategorized with tags , on October 1, 2017 by marksun


Price:  ~ $60.

Got one of these from Sears to boost chronic low tire pressures.  So far so good after one use to boost pressure on four tires on a Prius from 25 to 35 psi.  This took about two minutes on each tire.  The hose connector screws on easily and securely with minimal leakage.  I liked the screw in design better than those with flimsy clip on levers or even standard gas station inflators.  The pressure gauge is quite accurate.  I checked tire pressure with a standard tire gauge to check on it.

Does not have automatic pressure cutoff feature – personally I wouldn’t want one as it adds breakable complexity to an already obviously low cost tool.

The spec on the box states 30 PSI.   I had concerns about this as most tires need more pressure than this.  An inspection of the pressure gauge shows pressures well above 30 PSI.  Obviously, the 30 PSI spec is meaningless to me.

I didn’t find much by way of reviews before I bought it.  Later I find  a number of reviews which point to possible durability problems with the hose connector, 12V  plug, fuse, and motor with damage reports after a couple of uses.

At this point – sorry – this article won’t help with only one usage.  I’m thinking that the design seems to be reasonably solid …  but QA issues are possible for sure;  maybe inspect the parts carefully for defects at the store, before buying it ?  And put in enough usage within the in-store return warranty period.

If it works for 10 inflations, it will be a break even value for me as I really dislike filling tire pressure at gas stations after the tire pressure light goes on.  I would pay a kid $6 to pump up my tires rather than drive down to Kamehameha Highway  which is now one 10 mile-long pothole as Honolulu build’s its rail system.

Some Reviews can be found here:

Canon TS6020 Printer, 271 Cartridges

Posted in printers, Uncategorized with tags , on August 14, 2017 by marksun

In March 2017 I bought a Canon TS6020 printer (Amazon $100) which came with a full set of ink cartridges.  At the same time I bought $100 worth of replacement cartridges since two kinds of inventory are required;  black 270 and  cyan, yellow, magenta and black 271 cartridges.

The first ink cartridge to go was the big black 270 ink cartridges ~ May/June.
August 2017, I’ve replaced two cartridges, cyan last week, Magenta today, and tomorrow or soon, Yellow.

To restock:  Canon CLI-271 Value Ink Pack  ~~ $52 Amazon – with four CLI-271 (yellow, cyan, magenta, black), obviously to back up the ink inventory.  At $13 per cart, this is no bargain but one can do worse.

So guesstimate the cost :  If we’ve spent about $100 in ink and printed 1.5 reams of paper (750 sheets) , the cost is about $.13 per sheet just for ink and $.014 for paper or about $.15 per sheet or $72 per ream.

I suppose we need to add the depreciation of the printer over an expected life of 7 years, and add the cost of obsolete cartridge inventory at end of life.  <SIGH>



dremel care – cutting guide

Posted in note to self, tools, Uncategorized with tags on January 27, 2017 by marksun

Note to self – I use a dremel all the time but have done a not so good job of taking care of it.  I mostly use a variable chuck – very convenient –  fits 1/32 all the way up to 1/8″ – I recommend it but there’s a downside.  The collets are forgotten and the plastic nut that goes over the tool nose is long lost.   Today I  used the dremel cutting guide to cut a recess into a wood panel.   The guide requires using a collet and the chuck had to come off.   Which brings me to care of the tool.

This is a note to self for the dremel on stuff I don’t know or had forgotten.   The dremel shaft is hollow, the collet should drop or be easily pushed in all the way to the chuck.  It should come out easily.  If the collet doesn’t drop in easily, there is probably dirt, grime, or rust, all of which you want to get rid of immediately.  As you know rust will ruin the tool – useless once the collet is rusted in and will not come out.  #1 son has a couple of dremels like that.  So that dremel chuck shaft needs to be kept clean, and protected with a light machine oil or corrosion block.

The collet shaft is inserted into the dremel shaft and drops all the way down to the chuck with its four thin slots which provide the clearance to allow it to be tightened down.  The collet nut fits over it.  The bit can be inserted with the nut on or off.  The collet should remove easily and be maintained.

The collet nut fit over the collet and shaft and screws in.  It too must slide easily without binding.  Better to grease it than to have rust.  I used corrosion block to clean up and protect collets, nut and dremel shaft.

There are four collet sizes.  We use 1/8 the most for biggest bits.  Although I use the chuck most of the time, the collet system is nice and we’ll be using it periodically to keep everything in good order.

Found the manual in my drill tool box.  It shows how to use the cutting guide.  The cutting guide is easy to use but I had to see a you tube video for a picture of how its used.  Typical,  I thought I know everything I needed to know about the dremel but I don’t. Anyway, that guide allows fairly precise cutting to an exact depth.   The manual give enough information – would have saved me some time .