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Replacing Tornado Foosball Men

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wood block used to add and remove foosball players
wood block used to add and remove foosball players

If you own a Tornado Foosball table long enough, eventually you’re going to crack or break one of your Foosball men.  Luckily it isn’t that hard to replace the men, provided you have the right tools to do it.

Removing the Broken Foosball Man

The men are held in place by roll pins on Tornado Tables.  Unfortunately these pins don’t screw or bolt in place, they’re hammered into place with a special tool.  That tool is available through my Amazon affiliate link below:

Tornado Foosball Roll Punch Pin

Without this tool, it will be much harder.  With this tool, you can punch out the old roll pin from the man.  When you do this, you have to make sure that you brace the rod under the man with a piece of wood so you don’t bend the rod when you’re doing it.  With the wood in place and the tool inserted in the pin, you can then gently hammer out the roll pin.

I made a video below to try and show how it’s done:

Replacing the Broken Foosball Man

Now is where you’re going to come to the realization that in order to replace one man, you have to remove all the men on the rod.  This is especially painful on the center rods that have 5 men to remove.  One thing also to note is that the foot on some of the newer players is slightly different than the older players.  I believe that when they came out with the new Tornado Classic, Sport, Elite, and T-3000 line they redesigned the foot slightly for better play.

If you’re replacing this man on a table that doesn’t have counter-balanced men, it might be a good idea to look into doing this since you have to remove all the men on that rod anyways.  Plus it’s not a very expensive upgrade.

Once you have all the men removed and all the new men slid on, it’s time to reinstall them with roll pins.  To do this, you’ll need the same wood block underneath the rod as before, along with the roll pin punch and a hammer.  Get the man aligned with the hole in the rod and hit the pin into the man gently until it is flush with the front.  Repeat this with all the other men.

I made a video to show how to do this:

If you have other questions about Tornado Foosball Tables, I would recommend checking out my Tornado Foosball Table Guide on my site.

How to clean your Foosball table

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Eventually, if you own your Foosball table long enough, you’re going to have to clean and maintain it.  The playfield gets dirty, the rods don’t spin as well, and the balls start to look dingy.

Cleaning the Foosball playfield

The first part to clean is the playfield.  Usually this is filled with dust and other specks of stuff.  I’d first recommend vacuuming the table to get all of the loose particles sucked up.  Once that’s complete, the next step is use a liquid cleaner.

There are a couple schools of thought on this one, but I recommend just using plain old Windex to clean the playfield.  It cleans pretty good and won’t harm the laminate in any way.  If you have dirt that is particularly ground in and won’t come off, I’d recommend some Novus 2 cleaner to get it out.

Cleaning the Rods

The next part to clean are the Foosball rods.  The rods over time get kind of grimy due to the silicon lube picking up dust and drying out.  The first thing to do is clean the rods with a dry rag or paper towels to get all the dirt off them.  Once that is done, the next part is to apply some silicon lube to the rods.  You can get the lube through my Amazon affiliate here:

Foosjuice Foosball Rod Lubricant

It will make a big difference to those rods if they haven’t been serviced in a while.  In fact I made a video here to show the difference:

Cleaning the Foosball Men

Cleaning the foosball men is pretty easy, just clean them in the same way you cleaned the playfield.  A clean rag plus some Windex will clean them right up.

Cleaning the Foosball Balls

Depending on what kind of balls you have, they may clean slightly differently.  The really hard plastic ones can be cleaned with Windex or Novus 2.  They pick up dirt pretty easily and might take a while to clean.

Official Tornado Balls which are pink or yellow usually clean in a slightly different way.  Most people suggest one of two methods:

  • Washing them in a sack in the washing machine
  • Covering the inside of a coffee can with sandpaper and shaking with the balls inside.

Seems like the first one would be the easiest.  I wouldn’t wash anything with the balls that could either stain the balls or clothes the balls might stain.  After you wash them, you’ll set them out to air dry.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article on how to clean your Foosball table has been helpful to you.  If you have any questions, please let me know.  I plan on making an additional video that shows more details in the coming weeks.

I also have a Tornado Foosball Buying Guide that might be useful.

Framed Jerseys Cheap and Easy

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Charles Barkley Framed Jersey
Charles Barkley Framed Jersey

If you’re into sports and have a basement to decorate, I’m sure one of the things you’ve thought about doing is putting up some framed jerseys of your favorite sports stars.  I’d been wanting to do this for a long time in my basement, and this week I finally got around to it by ordering a bunch of stuff off Amazon and Ebay.  I’d bought a couple jersey frames in past but the ones I bought now are far superior to those.

Ordering the Frames

The first thing I did was order 5 frames off Amazon.  I ordered these (Amazon affiliate link below):

LOCKABLE 98% UV Protection – Baseball / Football / Basketball / Soccer / Hockey Jersey Display Case Shadow box, (Black Finish)

There are some similar options are that a little deeper or have slightly different dimensions, but these were the ones I thought had the best bang for the buck.  They arrived in two different bundles, one of three frames and the other with two.  The frames are fairly heavy so it’s a good thing they were split up, if all 5 were together it would have been pretty heavy to lift.

Installing the Jerseys

Once I got them separated, it was time to start putting some jerseys in them.  I had 5 different jerseys I had gotten off Ebay, two basketball, one football, one hockey, and one baseball.  The basketball ones were really easy to do.  The case comes with a black hangar to do basketball jerseys with, so it was as simple as putting the jersey on the hangar and then putting it on the hook inside the frame.  After hanging you’ll probably have to tuck in the jersey a little bit (depending on the size and sport).  For the basketball one I just had to fold the jersey a little behind.

The football one though was a little trickier but still pretty easy.  The frame comes with a white cardboard insert that you put the football jersey around.  Once you have it over the cardboard, you can pin it to tighten it up if you want (pins are included) or you can just put it in the case and squeeze the fabric in.  The hardest part it just keeping all the fabric out of sides of the case when you’re trying to close it, if any fabric isn’t inside the case the case will have a hard time closing.

Hanging the Jersey Frame

Once the jerseys were installed inside the cases, it was now time to hang them on the wall.  Luckily, the cases come with three hangers preinstalled on the back to make it easy.  No screws are included though for putting it on the wall, you’ll have to provide those yourself.  I would recommend hanging these on a stud when possible, the heavy weight will make the nail/screw sag after a while if you don’t.

Fit and Finish of the Frame

The frame itself is really nice, it’s not an el cheapo product that you sometimes get with frames.  Evidently the front is real glass, or at least the box says it is.  Most of these frames usually come with Plexiglas, so glass is a step up.  I couldn’t really tell from touching it, all the edges that would give it away are hidden in the frame.

The back of the frame is a nice black velvety fabric that absorbs light very well, giving the jersey good contrast in the frame.  Whether you get this frame or some other frame, having a background that is light absorbent helps a lot.

Conclusion

Basically, the whole point of this article was that you can save yourself a ton of money by buying this frame or one like it from Amazon or another retailer.  Then just get a jersey off Ebay of your favorite star.  If you go to a local sports store, they’ll probably charge you double, triple, or quadruple what doing this would cost.  Save some money, do it yourself.  Then if you want to change out the jersey at some later point it’ll be 10 times easier as well.

Samsung Surround Home Speakers SWA-8500S/ZA Review

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Samsung 8500 rear speakers
Samsung 8500 rear speakers

One of the problems of the modern soundbars is that they don’t provide very good rear sound.  They do a good job with the front sound stage and ok with the bass usually through the small subwoofer, but rear sound is usually non-existent.  Samsung has come up with an economical solution for that issue, the Samsung SWA-8500S/ZA rear speaker set.

The set is a combination of wired and wireless.  The system is wireless from the soundbar to the rear station, but wired from the rear station to the left and right rear speakers.  This may or may not work out very well depending on your setup.  If you have a living room and want to hang the speakers on the wall, it may be a little hard to hide the wires.  On the other hand, if you have a bunch of shelving and other items on the back wall, hiding the wires should be easy.

Samsung 8500 rear speakers right back speaker
Samsung 8500 rear speakers right back speaker

The wireless communication between the soundbar and the rear station is pretty strong, I keep mine in a storage closet and it works great still.  I didn’t test how far it would work, mine is about 15 feet away and works fine.  Hooking them up though, they didn’t connect very well at all.  Initially, I had to have them right next to each other in order to get the soundbar and the rear station to connect.  I’m not sure why there was an initial communication problem when trying to pair the items but there was.

How do the experience do they add?  A ton, they’re great.  When you initially plug them in, you might find them slightly underwhelming.  One of the problems you may have, depending on your room, is that they might be too soft.  Luckily, you can adjust them pretty easily to be louder through an option on the soundbar.

If they’re still not loud enough for you, there’s a louder and slightly more expensive option that Samsung offers:

Samsung Electronics Surround Sound bar Home Speaker Set of 2 Black (SWA-9000S/ZA)

I thought about going that direction but when the 8500S was on sale that made my decision pretty easy.  Now that I’ve heard the 8500S, I’m glad I went that route, they’re plenty loud enough for my particular area.  If you have an area where you want louder rear speakers though, you might want to consider going with the 9000S pair.

Conclusion

The Samsung SWA-8500S/ZA is an excellent rear speaker solution for those looking to expand your soundbar sound to a higher level.  I know that after I installed it the appreciation level for the sound system went up a notch from the people using my workout area.  The video games I play on it are definitely a lot better sounding with the rear speaker addition.

Samsung HW-M450/ZA 2.1 Soundbar Review

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Samsung M450 Soundbar
Samsung M450 Soundbar

If you’ve bought a new TV lately, you’ve probably realized that the sound coming out of these new TV’s is usually pretty sub-par.  This issue pretty much exists for almost all TV’s currently made, the physics of producing great sound from a tiny space just don’t work out.  Luckily, new sound bars solve these problems and take sound to heights that used to cost a ton of money.  I bought this Samsung HW-M450/ZA Soundbar to go with my LG 65UJ6200 TV.

This Samsung Soundbar via Amazon affiliate below.

Samsung HW-M450/ZA 2.1 Channel Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer, Black

Out of the Box

Once you get the sound bar out of the box, it’s pretty easy to setup.  You can either use an HDMI cable (ARC) or an optical cable to send the sound from your TV to your sound bar.  Either one works really well, I tried them both out.  I would say that HDMI is the preferred method if your TV supports ARC (audio return channel) because generally things work better via that method (the TV and sound bar will communicate better).  The optical output is a one way deal which can make it more difficult to keep working.  I didn’t have any issues with either method for the most part but I did have a couple times where the optical connection didn’t respond right away.

Samsung M450 Soundbar ARC connection
Samsung M450 Soundbar ARC connection

Once you have it connected, you can either leave it on a shelf or mount it to the wall.  I’m currently on a shelf but have been thinking about mounting it to a wall.  It comes with the two brackets necessary to hang it on the wall, which is nice.  However, the brackets don’t stick out from the wall much, so if your TV wall mount isn’t super slim your TV will stick out in front of the sound bar quite a bit.

Controlling the Soundbar

The first thing I did was turn off my TV’s internal speakers.  That way all sound would come from the sound bar instead of from the TV.  On the LG TV I hooked the Samsung Soundbar to, the volume from the TV remote would control the volume to the Soundbar.  That makes it extra nice because then you only need one remote to control everything.

The Samsung remote is pretty basic.  It allows you to control the sound modes, the subwoofer volume, and volume should you choose.  The only feedback you get is through an LED display that comes on when you adjust the volume and settings.

It works out pretty well once you figure it out, but it isn’t the easiest thing.

Sound Quality

Of course everyone wants to know, how does it sound?  It sounds pretty good for the most part.  Everything I’ve tried with it sounds pretty good.  I have had a couple issues with some Xbox One games and character speech, for some reason a couple games have the dialog very soft in relation to other sounds which makes it a little hard to hear sometimes.  That isn’t the soundbar’s fault though, just a game mixing issue.  AC: Origins was one of the games in particular I had problems hearing the dialog.  NBA 2k18 on the other hand was phenomenal with the sound bar, clearly the best sounding game on it.

One of the drawback to just having a soundbar is that you don’t have any rear speakers for surround sound.  Samsung though has come up with a solution for that, the Samsung SWA-8500S/ZA rear speaker set.  This set connects wirelessly to the sound bar and produces the rear speaker sounds from a 5.1 system.  I added this option on and it’s fantastic.  I know some of the reviews have mentioned that they think it’s too soft, that’s easily fixed by upping the volume in one of the menus (albeit, it’s very hard to find).  You can check out my full review of those speakers here:

Samsung SWA-8500S/ZA rear speaker review 

You can also see them through Amazon affiliate here:

Samsung Rear Speakers for Soundbar (SWA-8500S/ZA)

Conclusion

I’ve been very happy with the Samsung HW-M450/ZA soundbar so far.  I put it in my workout room, and I’ve had people comment that it feels like a movie theater in there now with the TV and surround sound.  I’ve really enjoyed the sound + TV when playing games while working out on my elliptical machine, makes the time go by pretty fast.  The ability to add the rear speakers takes the soundbar to a different level in performance for not a whole lot more money.