Gas station without pumps

2018 June 22

Repairs: kitchen sink and lawnmower

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:48
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Now that my grading is done for the year and all my grades are filed, I finally have time to take care of some chores around the house.

One of the first chores was to fix a slow leak under the kitchen sink.  It has been there for a year, and I believed that the leak was coming from the adapter between the faucet (which had ⅛” female pipe thread) and the sprayer hose (which had ¼” female pipe thread).

The first thing I did was to try to shut off the water to the faucet (not that I really needed to, since the faucet valves were still working). The quarter-turn shutoff valve seemed a little stubborn, and when I pulled hard on the lever, the whole pipe broke, spraying water all over the kitchen.  I ran out to the whole-house shutoff and managed to shut the water down with only about 2 gallons (8 liters) of water to mop up.

The pipe snapped right next to the body of the shutoff valve.

Some idiot (most likely me) had attached the brass shutoff valve directly to the steel pipe, with no intervening galvanic break, so there was a lot of corrosion due to galvanic currents.

Inside the valve and the pipe the corrosion was rather extreme.

So I went down to the hardware store and got a new shutoff valve, a CPVC nipple to replace the steel one (thus getting the necessary galvanic break), and a replacement for the adapter.  The hardware store did not have ⅛” MPT to ¼” MPT, so I ended up getting ⅛” MPT to ¼” FPT and  ¼” MPT to  ¼” MPT.

I put in the new shutoff valve and reassembled the faucet-to-sprayer connection.  The new shutoff worked fine, but the sprayer hose connection leaked worse than before.  It was now clear, however, that the leak was coming from the ¼” MPT-to-hose connection, and not earlier in the system.

I went to the hardware store again to get a new washer for the hose.  I was sold a 00 faucet washer, though I was bit dubious that it would work.  Sure enough, when I assembled hose connection it just squeezed the washer into the pipe, and the connection leaked as badly as before.

So I went back to the hardware store again and bought a whole new sprayer with hose.  I would have replaced just the hose, but the sprayer I had did not have a detachable hose—or rather, the hose was detachable, but neither end of it would pass through the sprayer hose guide, so I needed to replace the hose and the hose guide, at which point it was cheaper to replace the whole thing.

I replaced the hose guide and the sprayer, tightened up all the connections that I had just made, and the leak seems to have stopped.  One chore down!

My next chore was to fix the lawnmower again (see Electric lawnmower repair and Electric lawnmower repaired again).  There were two problems this time: the extension cord was not making good contact with the plug for the mower and the lawnmower blade was very dull.

Sharpening the lawnmower blade was pretty easy: I took the blade off with a crescent wrench, and brought it inside to grind on my wet wheel.  I could not get the curved parts of the blade that way, so I clamped the blade in a vise and used a half-round file to do those parts of the blade.  The mower blade is a fairly soft steel, to keep from chipping or shattering when it hits stones or other hard objects, so it sharpens quickly but doesn’t take a very sharp edge. I did manage to make it sharper than the rather rounded, dented edge it had before.

I determined that the problem with connection to the extension cord was with the cord, not the lawnmower, by the simple expedient of trying a different (shorter) extension cord, so I went to the hardware store (again!) to get a 15A replacement socket for the end of the extension cord.  I cut off the old socket, stripped the wires, and attached the new socket.  After verifying that I had connected everything correctly (using a standard 3-neon bulb socket tester), I checked out that the lawnmower worked with the fixed cord—it seems to be fine.

Another two chores done!

Tomorrow, when electricity is cheaper, I’ll try mowing the front lawn, which has gotten a little shaggy.  The back lawn is probably not mowable (the grass is over 3 feet high), and will need chopping down with a weed whacker before I can mow.

In between the faucet repair and the mower repair, I tried replacing the wheels on my son’s rolling luggage.  The wheels appear to be 76mm diameter wheels with standard skateboard bearings.  I went over to Skateworks on Soquel Ave, but they said that the wheels were too narrow for skateboard wheels, and recommended trying the wheels for inline skates (which they do not sell).  Rather than wander all over town looking for rollerblade wheels, I ordered a pair of cheap ones from Amazon (hard ones for outdoor use—durometer 89A), which should arrive on Monday.  With any luck, I’ll be able to cross another chore off my list then.

2013 October 1

Crosscountry is faster than across town

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:13
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I recently had to order a new part for my gas dryer, which was shipped via UPS from Illinois, about 2000 miles away. I’m too cheap to pay for 2nd day air and other expensive options, so it went the cheapest way: UPS ground. It was interesting (though a bit frustrating) to track the progress of the package:

Santa Cruz, CA, United States 09/30/2013 5:44 P.M. Delivered
09/30/2013 5:57 A.M. Out For Delivery
Santa Cruz, CA, United States 09/28/2013 4:47 A.M. Arrival Scan
South San Francisco, CA, United States 09/28/2013 3:14 A.M. Departure Scan
South San Francisco, CA, United States 09/27/2013 3:50 P.M. Arrival Scan
San Pablo, CA, United States 09/27/2013 2:40 P.M. Departure Scan
09/27/2013 11:17 A.M. Arrival Scan
Hodgkins, IL, United States 09/24/2013 9:35 A.M. Departure Scan
Hodgkins, IL, United States 09/23/2013 11:52 P.M. Arrival Scan
Addison, IL, United States 09/23/2013 11:16 P.M. Departure Scan
09/23/2013 7:56 P.M. Origin Scan
United States 09/23/2013 6:39 P.M. Order Processed: Ready for UPS

I found it interesting that the largest delays were in the last 85 miles. From the entry into the system to being put on a long-distance truck took about 15 hours—not too bad considering that the company doing the shipping didn’t enter the package into the system until 6:39 p.m. Then the long, 2100-mile drive across country took about 74 hours, an average speed of 28 miles per hour. That seems a little slow for two drivers on the interstate, driving a combined 16 hours a day, and too fast for one driver driving 8 hours a day.

Once it got to San Pablo, though, it took another 78 hours to do the final 85 miles.  It took under 5 hours to get out of San Pablo and to South San Francisco (26 miles), 11 hours to get from South San Francisco to Santa Cruz (65 miles), then 60  hours for the last 2 miles.  Note that all these times are slower than bicycle delivery—the last leg is slower than a baby crawling.  It is about the speed of a garden snail, which is substantially faster than a banana slug (so I suppose I shouldn’t complain).

I was buying a part for a Maytag Epic Z dryer.  This is the second time the dryer has failed in the 2.5 years I’ve owned it.  The first time it failed, I tried to get Western Appliance to honor the extended service contract I bought from them with the dryer in March 2010, but they claimed it had expired, and gave me the name of a local repair person who worked fairly cheaply.  He repaired the dryer for about $200.  I recently got a renewal notice from the company that back the warranty, Assurant Solutions, claiming that the service protection agreement ends 2013 Nov 7—I don’t know what good an extended warranty is, if the company that sells it doesn’t honor it.  I probably won’t be buying any more appliances from Western Appliance (though they’ve sold me most of the appliances I have in the house), and I certainly won’t be renewing the Assurant Solutions extended service contract—I’m rather angry with them for selling me a worthless piece of paper.

Since I was under the mistaken impression that I had no warranty for the dryer (rather than just one that the seller wouldn’t honor), when the dryer failed the second time, I figured I would see if I could fix it myself.  The first failure was not one I would have wanted to deal with (loud squeaking), as it could have come from any of several different mechanical parts, some of which are quite hard to access and replace.  The second failure was an electronic one, which seemed more likely to be within my capabilities—when the start button was pressed, the dryer waited for a few seconds then displayed the message “F-01”, which I found on the Internet means “primary control failure. Replace the machine control electronics.”

I found a repair manual online and saw that the “machine control electronics” were pretty easy to access (unlike most of the mechanical components).  I tried disconnecting and reconnecting all the cables and blowing all the lint off the board (the manual warns that corroded contacts can be at fault), but nothing helped and I saw no signs of corrosion.

So I looked on-line for a replacement board.  The same motor control board is used in many “different” brands of dryer—so there are several places to get the replacement.  Almost all of them were about $200–$250, which seemed a bit much when a new dryer is only about $600–800.  I finally found a company which sold “reconditioned” control boards with a 6-month guarantee for only $109.50, so I decided to risk buying one.  If I’d had to deal with the company directly I might not have (they had rather mixed reviews on the one review site I could find that mentioned them), but I could order from them through Amazon, where their ratings were fairly good, giving me a bit more confidence.

When the board finally came last night, I replaced the old motor controller with the new, and it worked right away. The next time the dryer fails, I’ll probably have to replace it—it doesn’t seem like Maytag makes long-lived appliances any more.

Whirlpool W10111606 Electronic Control Board for gas dryers.  Several brands of dryers use this control board.

Whirlpool W10111606 Electronic Control Board for gas dryers. Several brands of dryers use this control board. This is the dead one that I removed from the dryer—I wonder if there is anywhere that will “recondition” it by replacing whatever has failed. It seems a shame just to add to the e-waste stream.

2013 February 24

Santa Cruz is having an appliance fix-it clinic

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:22
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According to the San Jose Mercury News (Bay Area fix-it clinics repair what usually gets trashed), Santa Cruz is having a “fix-it” clinic:

10 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday, May 4, California Grey Bears, 2710 Chanticleer Ave. Details: email or call 831- 479-1055.

The idea is simple: you bring in a small (hand-carryable) appliance that is broken, and they’ll help you try to fix it. You have to pay for any parts that are needed, but nothing for labor. We have a few broken appliances out in the garage (intended for tear-down sessions with my son that we never got around to doing), but I don’t think any of them are worth fixing—I fixed the ones that were feasible, and the remaining ones are generally to the point where part salvage is about all they’re good for.

Still, it’s a nice idea and I hope they get a lot of participation.

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