Thursday, July 1, 2021

Successfully transplanting wheels from one car to another (2011 Ford Flex wheels to 4th Gen RX350)

Skip to the middle to get to the things that you don't find everywhere else.

Yes, there are a zillion posts about this.  None of them were actually complete, IMHO, so here we go.

 For this example I will use:

•  Donor:  2011 Ford Flex

•  Recepient:  2016-2021 (4th Gen) Lexus RX350

Why?  The used Ford wheels were 1/4 the cost of new Lexus wheels.

Bolt pattern:  Should be obvious.  Both cars use 5x114.3.


Bore / centerbore:  Ford is 63.4mm,  Lexus is 60.1mm.  As the Lexus shaft is smaller than the Ford wheel hole size, I need hubcentric rings / centering rings that convert 63.4mm to 60.1mm.

Note that these rings are entirely intended to center the wheel during the mounting process, and do not bear any load once the wheels are torqued down.  So they can be plastic or a lightweight metal such as aluminum, no problem.

Diameter:  Both cars use 20" wheels.  Important since too-small wheels will not clear the brake calipers, especially in the front.  If you are unsure, the only way to check is to test-fit the wheels.


Width:  Important since wider wheels may hit suspension components at the back side and/or fenders on the front side.  

A test-fit is the best option.  However, you can also use Tire Rack or other resources to determine the allowable width of a wheel on a car.

Here, both cars use 20x8 wheels, so no problem.  The Lexus is also rated to accept 18x8.0 to 20x8.5 wheels, so anything in that range should also work.


Offset: The Ford wheels are 39mm.  The Lexus stock wheels are 30mm, and the car can handle 27mm to 42mm.

Still, the Ford wheels will be 9mm further in.  There is a slight risk of hitting the front or rear suspension components.

To confirm, I ran a hockey puck (25mm high) all around the back of both the front and rear wheels.  There is at least 25mm of space there, meaning moving the wheels 9mm further in is no issue.

Note running wheels with an offset radically different than stock could lead to long-term suspension issues, even if the wheels "fit".

The above you find everywhere.


What you DON'T find everywhere:

Lug nuts:  The donor wheels / car may take different lug nuts than your recipient car.

To ensure they fit properly, you need nuts that do the following:

•  Seat:  The nuts must have the proper seat type for the donor wheels.  

The Lexus RX uses flat seat nuts, the Ford uses 60° conical nuts.  So, in this case, nuts must be 60° conical, and I cannot use the Lexus OEM nuts on the Ford wheels.

Note: in marketing-speak, "cone" means "conical".

•  Thread:  The nuts must have the proper thread for the recipient car.

The Ford uses 1/2"-20 threads, the Lexus uses M12-1.5 threads.  The nuts must be M12-1.5.

•  Length:  The nuts must be long enough for adequate engagement on the wheel studs without bottoming out. 

Regrettably, the only way to be absolutely sure is to measure the donor wheel when fitted to the recipient car.  

Bottoming out is rarely an issue provided you aren't running extended-length wheel studs.  But you must have a depth of engagement at least equal to the size of the wheel stud (i.e. M12 stud = 12mm minimum engagement).

[Note: some people say 1.5x.  As far as I can tell, they're usually talking about open lug nuts on racing wheels, which is a totally different application.  Such setups must pass racing safety rules, which are different than OEM specs.]

Note that cone nuts will fit into a matching cone recess in the wheel, giving you another 2-3mm of engagement.  If necessary, you can count turns to determine the actual engagement.

If you can't test / must guess, you can compare McGard or Gorilla offerings for both the donor and recipient cars.  Chances are that both cars use lug nuts that are between 1.45" and 1.5" long.  If the lengths are about equal, chances are the new nuts will have plenty of engagement.

There is also the fact that car makers can't be sure what wheels will be fitted, wheel makers don't know what cars they'll be fitted to, and lug nut makers don't know either.  So everyone plays nice to ensure that most wheel/car combos have more than sufficient engagement - meaning you're more than likely safe regardless of the wheel you stick on the car.

The Flex wheels allow 12mm of engagement plus another 2-3mm for the cone, for 14-15mm overall.  That's close to the fitment of the OEM wheels and beats the minimum by a significant margin.

Do note that even 1 additional thread after 12 threads adds 8%, two add 16% and 3 is 25% over minimum.  Those are non-negligible margins of safety, especially considering that the minimum engagement will include a significant safety factor.

•  Hex drive:  OEM nuts will probably be 13/16" or 3/4".  If you want to use the OEM lug nut wrench, you want the new nuts to match.  If you don't care, you can pick either, or go with a special drive type such as a spline drive or locking type.

•  Style:  You may have a choice between "cone" and "bulge cone".  

Both types seem to offer equal functionality - except for the hex socket size - but some wheels might have smaller indents for lug nuts than others, in which thinner "cone" nuts may fit better.  Otherwise the differences are purely cosmetic. 

Here, old Lexus 13/16" "bulge cone" lug nuts from a 2005 RX330 fit with over 12mm of engagement, with no issues fitting into the Ford lug nut recesses.  Given this, 13/16" McGard or Gorilla cone or bulge cone nuts would also obviously fit; 3/4" nuts would also probably fit.


Load rating: Not normally a problem, but if you're moving wheels from a lighter vehicle to a heavier one, it may be.

The Flex GVWR is 6150 lbs; the RX350 is only 5666 lbs.  So the Ford wheels should be OK. 

More specifically, the Flex wheels are rated for 2000-2200 lbs per wheel (depending on who you talk to), for 4000-4400 lbs per axle or 8000-8800 GVWR against:

•  The Lexus GVWR of 5666 lbs;

•  Assuming 60/40 front-back weight distribution (which is very conservative), that's 3400 lbs on the front Lexus axle; and

•  Assuming 65/35 distribution, that's 1700 lbs per corner, maximum.

So the Flex wheels are fine.

Also know that GVWR is the absolute maximum for a fully loaded vehicle, and wheels have a significant margin of safety built in.  Few people will ever load their cars to maximum, and the margin of safety will range from around 1.5x to over 2.0x.

Still, due to modern conveniences, many modern trucks and SUVs are considerably heavier than their older counterparts.

TPMS:  All newer cars have tire pressure monitoring sensors (TPMS).  The Ford sensors obviously do not work on a Lexus.

Of course, aftermarket wheels will also need new TPMS sensors.  Just don't forget them.

Generally, sensor makers will try to make one model of TPMS that works in most wheels and with most cars.  So - generally speaking - they're all physically compatible with all wheels.

In my case, I verified that ITM makes a Uni-Sensor Duo for both the Flex and the RX350.  That means the sensor with the Lexus interface is physically identical to the sensor used in the Ford wheels, so they must fit.

Center caps:  Purely cosmetic, so if you don't mind running Ford caps on a Lexus, no prob.

If you want replacements, you have to determine the center cap size of the donor wheels.  Sometimes the internet knows, sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes you just have to measure them.

If you get all of the above, your donor wheels should be a good match to your recipient car.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Cost to upgrade underground electrical to 200A service

I was badly misled by online information on this one.  I don't know if that's because a lot of people have overhead service or not, but whatever.

Per Enmax, in the Calgary (non-downtown) area, the cost to update underground service to 200A is about as follows:

•  Transformer on your property:  $4,000 to $8,000

•  Transformer is 1 lot away:  $8,000 to $15,000

•  Transformer is 2 lots away:  $20,000 to $40,000

•  More than 2 lots away, or 2 lots away and across the road: $50,000 to $80,000

Most of this is the cost of underground horizontal drilling and Hydrovac, which obviously increase (steeply) by distance.  Given this I expect the costs would be similar throughout Western Canada.

About the only "good" news is that because they drill, there is no surface disturbance to roads or neighboring property.  But that's not any kind of consolation given the massive cost.

This is for a single detached home in the 'burbs.  Heavily urbanized or rural areas will probably be different.

Note this is just to install a new underground conduit.  Actually pulling a 200A (#1 aluminum) line, hooking it up, permits, new electrical panel or subpanel, etc. are all additional.

As a homeowner, they were not able to tell me the actual size of the existing line - not because they didn't want to, but they (seemingly) just didn't have the information.  But an electrician offered to find out, and it seems that when such requests are made from electricians, Enmax will go out and look at the transformer to see what size is currently installed at no cost.  I don't know how long that takes.

Regardless, if I can't stick with my existing service, any financial rationale for buying EVs just went out the window.  Even with fuel savings, there is no way an upgrade could possibly pay for itself in my lifetime.  

Still, as this article points out, all is not necessarily lost even if  you are stuck with 100A service.  240V 20A is usually enough to replenish daily driving needs overnight.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Moving away from Teamviewer on older Windows systems

Problem:  You have an old XP (!) or Windows 7 box.  Teamviewer no longer supports your OS, and/or is endlessly bugging you with "Commercial Use Detected!" nag-boxes.

Solution:  Try AnyDesk.


•  It's free.

•   It has a portable version - you can try it without installing a thing.

•  It works on old operating systems (including XP (!))

•  It's pretty nice.

Some features are pay-only, any the subscriptions ain't cheap.  But, so far, I've not found anything the free version lacks that I need.

This saved a very old PC of mine after Teamviewer stopped supporting old boxen.  I need this ancient PC to run a prehistoric printer, with neither being supported by newer software.  AnyDesk saved it when Teamviewer stopped connecting in v15.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Kodi randomly leaves full-screen mode to smaller window at top-left-hand side of screen (especially on Intel NUC), leaving it locked up under Windows 10

Problem: Per title.  Affected was Kodi Leia, but can happen to any Kodi.  May also happen to other media players.


Explanation:  This is a manifestation of the EDID issue (also known as the "quarter screen issue") where:

•  Windows is losing the EDID for the display device (TV, projector) when the display is shut off or disconnected.

•  Windows then resizes the screen resolution to the "default" display device, which forces Kodi to resize as well.  This usually makes the Kodi display lower resolution (i.e. smaller).

•  When the display is turned back on / reconnected, Windows re-acquires the EDID and changes back to the original resolution.  

Kodi does not handle this gracefully.  

The result is that Kodi gets "stuck" in the lower resolution, which manifests itself as a smaller (i.e. lower-resolution) window at the top-left corner of the screen.  

Some people find that although Kodi is resized, it is still responsive, and so can be restored to full-screen mode via keystrokes.  In my case, it also locks up, forcing me to kill and restart it each time.


This may or may not affect a HTPC directly connected to a TV.  It may also seem to occur randomly, not every time.

The problem does appear to be exacerbated when:

•  The HTPC is an Intel NUC; and/or

•  There is a receiver between the HTPC and the display device; and/or

•  The receiver is relatively old.

Keeping the receiver on full-time might not help since older receivers might interfere with EDID acquisition even when active.

This does not seem to occur on Android since Android doesn't handle EDID the same way.   So if I had kept my Shield instead of getting a NUC, I probably wouldn't have this issue.(*)

Solution: Buy a "EDID emulator" device (like this one or this one).  I tried the second one and it seems to have fixed the issue.

You can also get a "Dr. HDMI".  This is the same thing but more expensive.

These devices lock the EDID to >one< resolution only.  So be sure the purchase the one that matches the intended resolution of your TV, projector or monitor.

(*) I exchanged the Shield for the NUC because the Shield didn't correctly support analog 7.1 audio.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

VPN kill switch for single machine or IP address range on pfsense

There are obviously LOTS of ways to do this in pfsense.  This is just the way that I found, which seems to work.

This rule should prevent an individual machine from "talking" using the default non-VPN WAN connection.  This will prevent it from sending any traffic if the VPN goes down.

 Go to Firewall/Rules/Floating

  • Action: Block
  • Quick: Checked
  • Interface: WAN
  • Direction: any
  • Address family: IPv4
  • Protocol: Any
  • Source: Single host or alias / [set local IP address of host here i.e.]
  • Destination: any
  • Description: enter any description here [i.e. "Block this IP from using non-VPN WAN"] 
  • Click "Save"

Obvious notes:

-  This only really works if the machine in question uses a static IP address.

-  You can define multiple rules for different devices.

-  You can set the rule to block a range of IP addresses by using "Network" instead of "Single host".

This approach does not use policy-based routing and does not decide which machines use the VPN and which don't.  It just forces all traffic from a machine through the VPN, else the traffic gets blocked.

Speed change between Netgear R7000 / DD-WRT and Core I7-7500U / pfsense routers using PIA AES-256

This was a quick test only, using a popular torrent client.  

The Netgear is a recent (faster) example running the latest DD-WRT.  The pfsense box is an eBay i7-7500U special with the latest pfsense.

Speeds are peak speeds through Private Internet Acccess (PIA) using AES-256 / SHA256 on their "Next Gen" network.  There were no changes to the rest of the setup between the two trials.


  • Netgear: 4 MiB/s 
  • i7-7500U: 38 MiB/s

That's almost a 10x improvement.

Note I couldn't get these speeds using all torrents, as some of the sources are limited. 

However, I know that the Netgear can't exceed 5 MiB/s no matter what, while the i7 definitely can do 38 MiB/s.  It's possible the i7 might be able to go even faster.

From this, it does appear obvious that the Netgear is quite limited with respect to VPN crypto. 

Obviously the i7 is vast overkill.  I got it since the price difference between the i3 and i5 was nominal and I really only feel like doing this once.  See here for tips on buying such a box.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

My experience with Montana Mailbox / DYK Post

First parcel, no issues.  Took a little while to get the incoming ticket, but didn't think anything of it - I figured the delivery had been slow, and I didn't care.  Picked it up at DYK without any issues.

Second parcel was Amazon, so I had a delivery date.  It took Montana Mailbox 7 working days (12 calendar days) to issue the incoming ticket. 

I wanted the parcel earlier, so I sent an email 4 working days after delivery, to see if Montana could expedite it.  I never got a reply.  I was hoping to get at least a "Sorry, we can't help with that", but nada.

MM is undoubtedly big, but I can't see them having a 7-day incoming queue.  So they obviously prioritize commercial traffic over individual parcels, meaning one-off packages will take however long they take.

It then took another 9 days for DYK to just pick it up, plus an additional 2 days to get it to the correct office.  So about 15 working days, or 23 days total, until it arrived.

Again, DYK is not likely to have a 9-day queue, especially when they pick up every day.  It may be the package got held up in Customs, which can happen to any package.

So, while the Montana Mailbox / DYK Post teamup seems a good service, do NOT use it for anything time-sensitive.  Or, if you do, allow at least 10 working days after delivery for Montana Mailbox to issue your incoming ticket, and another 10 working days for DYK to have it ready to pick up.