Weed Killing - Taking a flame thrower to this place!

You may have seen how Arizona has gotten blasted with heavy monsoon rains this summer. While we didn't get any flooding in our neighborhood, our desert landscape back yard has absolutely erupted with weeds and scrub grass almost overnight. I need to nip it in the bud before it gets out of control. Some of these weeds will make horrible, painful sticky-burrs, while others make only mildly-painful, micro-burrs that get stuck in your socks as you walk by.
Now that we're headed for fall and winter, most of the country will be preparing for hibernation against the cold and snow. We desert dwellers will emerge blinking in the sun, from our air-conditioned structures to the absolute paradise of a winter in Phoenix. It's time to get this yard in shape so we can enjoy some outdoors time.

I've historically used a chemical weed killer in a pump garden sprayer, but this year we're overrun with little, bug-eating lizards, sweet families of quail, and cute little bunnies (which my daughter is absolutely in love with).  I don't want to poison them.

"No Poison",... not "No Detroit Red Wings"
I've also used a long handle weeding tool like this one, but it's a beast to do the entire yard in this stifling heat and rock hard soil. Plus, it only stops the stuff that's already sprouted. More will sprout up in a few days. 


I happened across a new tool at the home center that I thought I'd try. I took home the Inferno, a big daddy of propane torch. Showing my math, the calculation for this transaction is: 

New Tool + Fire (x 500,000 BTU's) = Ohhh yeahhh!


I also had to pick up a tank of propane too, since I'm a charcoal grill kinda guy. 

I never knew this, but the propane cylinders actually have threads inside the valve stem as well as outside. I thought I'd need an adapter, but it was an easy connection to snug up tight with the small torch connector. I also learned that a 20 lb tank of propane now contains 15 lbs. of propane, for about the same price. What a deal!!! Shrinking content without shrinking the price, just like a "gallon" of ice cream.

I can't wear this floppy hat in the front yard. It's just too damn sexy for 
the neighborhood to handle.
If you pick up a torch like this, please be sure to read the instructions. It's a freaking flame thrower after all. Every time I spark it to life, I jump out of my skin. It's fairly loud and it, well,... hot.

If I were the man I was five years ago, I'd take a FLAMETHROWER to this place!
- Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Al Pacino)


No, the hat didn't offer as much sun protection as I hoped.
In the sunny day, its hard to see the flame, but trust me it's there. I could feel the heat on my legs, even at a low flame setting. It was curling weeds and setting little twigs on fire more than a foot away from the tip.

500,000 BTU's of flame-throwing weed death!
The idea is to hit the weed for just a second or two, enough to boil the moisture within, splintering the organic structure so it can no longer survive. The larger stuff wilted quickly when I hit the stalks; I gave the upper parts of the plants a good toasting too, to kill seeds. With the small scrub grass, I pretty much vaporized the whole plant in a second or two.

In a couple minutes, I had cleared a large area of the small stuff.

Oh yeah. The fire extinguisher. Just in case.
After a few minutes more, a large area was clear. I let the torch linger for a moment even on the bare areas, I'm hoping to roast any seeds still lingering beneath the rocks to prevent future sprouting. 

The smell of the smoke was nasty sometimes, or reminded me of BBQ (Mmmmmm,... BBQ). Other times, it reminded me of scents I recall whiffing at rock concerts when I was in high school. I don't think we were growing any wacky-tobacky in the yard, but maybe it's cousin. Weird, technically, I guess it can be said I smoked some weed this weekend. Dude.

I avoided the center section of the yard entirely. It has sprinklers and could support a lawn if we choose to put a patch in at some point in the future. We probably won't, for water conservation, but it's nice to have the option.


It wasn't long before the afternoon sun got the best of me and I retreated indoors for some rest, cool refreshment and a shower. Trust me, when you stroll into the house smelling like burnt weeds, your better half is going to demand an expedient shower. The clothes need to go right into the wash too.

The next morning, I got out just after sunrise, when it was a little cooler and the light was lower. I put together a little video for you. My blogging buddy Jeff  has been encouraging me to try it, so naturally, I thought a flame thrower in the backyard would be a good place to start my video career. It's my first real attempt at editing and the first time I melted a plastic army man (well,...as an adult anyway).



Seriously. How could I not melt a plastic army man? It had to be done,... for science.

I used the Inferno, by Lincoln Electric. I liked that there was a safety valve that turns it off if there is excess flow and a trigger that turns the flame down if you let go. From the packaging, it can also be used for rolled roofing, snow removal, and removing paint from pavement. Be careful my friends and happy flame-throwing!

I hope you liked the video. I have a new-found respect for people that make them. It's a lot of work, and I keep finding things I wish I had done differently. Should I make more from time to time?

Wall Repair II - Electric Boogaloo

Following my last post, I have a solid drywall patch installed. This particular piece has the honor of covering an electrical cable buried in the wall. I needed to get that rascal re-connected into a junction box and the outlets fired up again. It would be easier to completely finish the area: seal it up, texture it and paint it, but I didn't have the time to get that far; we'd need power there for the work week, so I planned to re-install the cut-in box that had been there before. 
Like most projects, this one started with a twenty-five foot-long coil of precision digit-ed sheet metal, the sweet measureyness of a tape measure. I matched the height and center location of the outlet on the opposite end of the counter. We don't use the other outlet because it's pretty much right over the sink, not cool or convenient for electrical hair care appliances. 

Fixing a Big Hole in the Wall - Two Times

Serious Business
I've been able to procrastinate this repair project for an impressive amount of time. Somehow, I found myself with a window of opportunity to contemplate the jagged hole left behind from the water leak, unable to put it off any longer. Luckily, I had most of the material sitting in my archive of leftover material to fix it. It should be a simple task to replace the insulation I'd torn out, install new drywall, and replace the electrical outlet.

As an added treat for you, dear reader friends, I have arranged for some stereo-scopic images to dazzle your senses, giving you a better range of view as the project goes down. Not every blogger has the raw courage to photograph against a vanity mirror giving dual viewing angles to the die-hard DIY action. I'm just a bad ass that way, I suppose.

I pulled a piece of drywall from the archive that was bigger than the existing hole. Remember, it's easier to cut the hole to fit the piece than it is to cut the piece to fit the hole. I traced the outline in pencil.

Why yes, that is a #2 Ticonderoga. Good eye!

Rather than use a sheet-rock saw or power tool, I opted for a utility knife.

The Magical World of Electrolysis - Salt Water Swimming Pool Cell Maintenance

I realize this isn't a project that most of my readers will undertake in their DIY career, but it's still interesting and there's acid!!! Now that we're one season into our new pool equipment, we noticed the pool taking on the old familiar greenish hue. I cleaned the filter, but then the control panel emotionlessly informed me it was time to inspect the salt cell. I'd never done it before, but for a handy, DIY type man-about-town like myself, I figured I was up to the task.

After a quick perusal of the instructions and a trip to the pool store, I was ready for action. First, I had to make safe. I shut the pump off, killed the circuit breaker, and opened the pressure valve on the filter tank.

Pump = off

Fix It! An Easy Trick to Fix a Flat Utility Tire (Tubeless)

In technical terms, this is what we call, "bad news"
Recently I lugged a massive, completely-full water heater out of place with my hand truck and managed to flatten the tire trying to turn. (here) A bazillion pounds of sloshing, hernia-inducing awkwardness, peeled the rubber right off the rim.

After an instantaneous blast of air, I lurched hard to the right . I don't know how I managed to hang on without dumping over. Somehow, I avoided a horrendous face plant, alongside the cylindrical leviathan.

Flat tire.

This particular type of utility tire is like a car tire. Unlike the bicycle type, there's no inner tube. In order to get the tire back on the rim and inflated