Picking up Nickels

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

DIY Mosquito Magnet Cleaning/Repair

We have wetlands on our property and have been using a Mosquito Magnet for thirteen years to help keep the mosquito population under control and make our yard usable. While Mosquito Magnets do work pretty well in my experience, they can be very temperamental pieces of equipment that can be expensive and inconvenient to get repaired.

We originally started out with a Mosquito Magnet Liberty Plus (MM3100) model and ended up replacing it after seven years with a ~$200 refurbished swap from themosquitostore.com when its brick and mortar presence was within driving distance in Narragansett, RI. That refurb proved to be a bit flaky, so I broke down the following year and bought a brand-new Executive (MM3300) model. After a rough start due to a bad thermistor, our newer Mosquito Magnet worked quite well for five seasons, until I tried to start it up a few weeks ago and got the dreaded “Gas is empty/Insufficient gas flow” flashing red light. After many futile attempts at trying to resolve the issue (change propane tanks, OPD valve reset, Quick Clear Valve cleanout, check for bad connections/leaks with soapy water, etc.), I decided to see if I could get our old Liberty Plus model running. Unfortunately, I was greeted by the same “Gas is empty/Insufficient gas flow” flashing red light on my older Mosquito Magnet.

After doing some online research, I found that others had experienced the same issue and offered some ideas for how to resolve it. I came across this Youtube video and decided to try that approach to see if I had a clogged fuel nozzle:

According to the comments in that video it appears that replacement nozzles are currently in short supply, so I removed the nozzle from the unit and used a 12 mm wrench to remove the filter from the nozzle. I took both parts and soaked them in an old tuna can with a small amount of Walmart’s Super Tech carburetor cleaner for about three hours, using an old toothbrush to scrub them a few times. After that, I dried them off, reassembled the unit, and ran one more Quick Clear cartridge through it for good measure. I set the unit back up in my yard and it restarted successfully on the second try, and has been running for ten straight days now. Feeling empowered, I decided to try the same procedure on my newer Mosquito Magnet.

I cracked open my Executive model and tried soaking the fuel nozzle in carburetor cleaner followed up by a blast from a Quick Clear cartridge and was greeted by the familiar blinking red light of pain when I attempted to start it. Digging in a bit deeper, I took a closer look at the Executive’s fuel nozzle and based on the markings I identified it as a Delavan 17545A oil burner nozzle:

As luck would have it, this item is apparently not readily available to consumers so I decided to go all-in and soaked both parts of the nozzle in a can of Berryman Chem-Dip Carburetor and Parts Cleaner for six hours. After a nice bath and a little work with that old toothbrush, this nozzle was looking like a new part. And since I had already waded in up to my elbows, I decided to see what else I could clean up while I was at it.

My next move was obvious, so I used my wet/dry vacuum to cleanup all of the spider webs and debris that had collected inside the unit over the years. Then I skipped ahead to about the 6:10 mark in this Youtube video and removed what I’ll call the “plume assembly” from the exhaust side of the catalytic converter with a T20 Torx bit:

Unfortunately, the green gasket between these two parts (seen at the 6:25 mark) crumbled into several pieces, which meant another issue I had to deal with. Anyway, I found quite a bit of black granular material plugging up the screen from the catalytic converter exhaust and cleaned that up. I did not take the additional step of taking apart the plume assembly as shown in the video, so I picked up some Permatex Ultra Copper High Temp Gasket Maker at a local auto parts store and put all the internals back together. I used another Quick Clear cartridge before I had completely assembled the unit and I could feel the compressed air shooting out of the plume assembly, which I hoped was a good sign. I then re-assembled the entire unit and nearly fainted when it started right up. My Mosquito Magnet Executive model has been running for three days now, and I’m hoping that will continue for both units when they are due for their next propane tank change.

In the future, I think at the end of every season I will remove the fuel nozzle and soak it in Chem-Dip for a few hours before storing them until they are needed again in the spring. I’m also going to see about getting spare nozzles for each of these units just in case their performance degrades over time. Hopefully I can keep both of these units running for a while without having to spend beaucoup bucks fixing them. :)

* 8/10/17 Update: Patriot Supply is currently selling Delavan 17545A nozzles on ebay for $3.99 + $2.67 s/h (link).

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June 2017 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on June 12th, 2017:

Asset May
Checking 1,226 2,606 1,380
Money Market 66,564 63,105 -3,459
Savings Bonds 135,590 135,847 257
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 41,100 41,215 115
Brokerage 143,934 143,285 -649
401k 148,323 150,536 2,213
Roth IRA 130,547 132,389 1,842
SEP IRA 630,848 645,805 14,957
529 Savings 155,797 158,384 2,587

Total Assets $1,453,929 $1,473,172 $19,243

The S&P 500 has continued to rise since the last update, up 1.24% during that time:

(chart courtesy of google.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for May fell to 4.3%, matching the low near the beginning of the post tech-bubble recession in May 2001. Oil prices have dropped a bit to the $46 level, which could signal continuing low gas prices for the summer driving season. It's amazing to me that the S&P 500 is up ~13.5% since the 2016 Presidential election on November 8th despite the many stumbles of President Trump. Despite the political turmoil, it has certainly been a nice time to be an investor!

On the financial front, my asset levels have reached an all-time high for the SEVENTH month in a row, breaking the previous high from May 2017. After a busy May, I anticipate all things financial will be pretty quiet for the foreseeable future. Then again, Penfed may come out with surprise CD deal any time now (then again, maybe not :p).

As for the non-financial, we're working on our second heat wave of the year and we finally have a non-green pool to swim in.The young Frugalsons will be done with school for the year next week, so we'll have a couple of tired and hungry teens to deal with over the next couple of months. Good times...