Gas station without pumps

2019 September 17

Spacers for electric outlet box

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 12:34
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Yesterday I printed some functional (rather than decorative) parts. The problem I was addressing was one that had been bothering me in a low-key way for several years—an electrical outlet in the living room that was wobbly. The problem started when I had the front wall insulated. Because the wall is self-formed concrete, sheets of foam insulation were added on the inside of the wall, sheet rock put over the insulation, and then a skim coat of plaster added to match the original texturing of the walls. The outlet box for the electrical outlet was now rather deeply recessed in the wall, and the carpenters move the outlet forward by using longer screws.

Unfortunately the spacers they used to hold the outlet in the new position were not real spacers, but plastic wall anchors, which did not hold the outlet firmly in the right place—they were relying on the strength of the plastic wall plate to hold the outlet forward. This was never very secure, and this summer the wall plate broke while plugging in an extension cord, so I decided to print some properly sized spacers to hold the outlet securely in place.

I turned off the power and measured the spacing needed with the depth gauge of my calipers, as well as measuring the room available for the spacer. I printed two spacers that were 13mm long and replaced the outlet, only to find out that outlet was still too deep in the wall for the new cover plate to be screwed to the outlet. I tried measuring how much further out the outlet needed to be (estimated at 9mm) and printed a pair of 22mm long spacers.

These are the 13mm and 22mm spacers that ended up being extra. The ears on the spacer are not necessary—I put them on to match the outlet, to make alignment easer, as the hole was initially not centered vertically. I later changed the design so that the hole was centered, so the orientation is now irrelevant and a simple rectangular spacer would suffice. The parts are printed with 0.14mm layers in Hatchbox Gold PLA, with 25% infill.

On the first attempt to print a pair of 22mm spacers, one printed fine, but the other ended up with a long trail of tangled spaghetti after printing halfway just fine. Reprinting just one 22mm spacer failed again, this time with a blobby mess. The problem, however, was clear—the print had gotten detached from the baseplate and was moved around by the printhead. Using some hairspray on the bed increased the adhesion enough that it printed fine, without needing to add a brim.

These two prints were supposed to be 22mm spacers. The one on the right was printed at the same time as one of the successful prints, and the one on the left was an attempt to reprint just one spacer. For both, the failure was insufficient adhesion to the glass bed—I fixed the problem by using hairspray to increase the adhesion.

When I put the 22mm spacers in place, the outlet stuck out too far (my measuring skills clearly need some improvement). The outlet stuck out much more on the bottom than on the top, so I put on the cover plate and measured the clearance from the wall on both the top and the bottom. I decided that I could use the smaller 13mm spacer on top, but I would need an 18mm spacer on the bottom. After printing an 18mm spacer, I assembled the outlet once more, and everything fit perfectly, with the cover plate flush against the wall as desired.

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.

2017 August 25

Door locks replaced

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:19
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Today was my day for repairing things.  Not only did I fix the oven (see Oven repair headache), but I replaced the deadbolts on the front and back doors, plus the lever set for the back door.

A week or two ago, the deadbolt on the back door started feeling funny—it still functioned, but the key and the thumbturn seemed loose.  I opened it up and noticed that a metal spring had broken—this spring normally sits against flat spots in the shaft, giving the lock its bistable characteristic.  Without the spring the lock easily slid from one end to the other, without clicking into the “open” and “locked” positions.

The brand of deadbolt that we had no longer seems to exist (at least, the only example I found on the web was a used one on eBay), so I decided to upgrade to new Schlage locks.  Because the front and back deadbolts are keyed the same, I needed to replace the front deadbolt at the same time.  My wife also requested that the door knob on the back door be replaced to be the same finish as the new deadbolt on the door.  She wanted satin nickel for the back door and antique brass for the front door.

I ordered the locks from handlesets.com, who had decent pricing.  When the order arrived, I realized that I had made a mistake in the entry of the order, and ordered a satin chrome deadbolt instead of a satin nickel one.  The lever set for the door was satin nickel, and did look better.

So I had to call their customer support to find out how to rectify the mistake.  They needed to know the number stamped on the key, so that they could send me a properly keyed replacement lock, and they sent me email to print a UPS return label, promising to credit my credit card when they got the lock back.  A few days later the replacement lock arrived, properly keyed and in the right finish.

Putting the deadbolts into the doors was fairly straightforward, as the backset and drill sizes he been fairly standardized for a while (the doors on the house are at least 30 years old, and probably more like 50 years old).  The holes in the edge of the door were just a tiny bit tight, so I used a round file to open them up just enough to squeeze in the new deadbolts.

The lever set was a bit more of a problem—putting it into the door was no problem, easier even than the deadbolts, but the strike plate was smaller than the old strike plate on the door jamb.  The bottom screw needed to be in the same place as for the old strike plate, but the top screw would have gone into empty space where the larger old strike plate had had an opening.

To fix the problem I used a razor saw to cut a tiny piece of pine (1″×½”×⅝”) and glued it into the hole with Gorilla wood glue.  I’ll have to wait a day for the glue to dry, then shave a little off the block to make the strike plate fit perfectly.  I’ll probably also prime and paint the bit of wood so that it doesn’t stand out, though the whole door and jamb really need painting.

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