Gas station without pumps

2022 January 25

January tomatoes

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:00
Tags: ,

I posted about my tomato plants in November and again in December, surprised about them hanging on so long. The volunteer plant on the patio finally died, but the cherry tomatoes on the driveway are still (barely) alive:

January-tomato-1

I don’t know whether the small amount of fruit on the plants will ripen before the plant dies.

January-tomato-2

There are still flowers, so we might get more fruit.

Our “winter” has been very mild so far, with only a few light frosts. If that continues, the plants may survive into the spring. The warm weather also has meant that the lawn has gotten quite long—I had to mow the lawn yesterday. At this time of year the “lawn” is almost all oxalis, which is very wet and clumps up in the mower—I had to keep bumping the mower on the sidewalk to dislodge the buildup.

2021 June 19

Electric lawnmower finally failed totally

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:30
Tags: ,

In Electric lawnmower repaired again and again, I reported on the latest fix to the electric lawnmower,  which was the replacement of the on-off switch in the handle.  It turns out that the fix was not worth the money and time, as the lawnmower has now failed in a major way—the ceramic permanent magnet in the motor has crumbled and is jamming the motor.

I think that the problem may have been caused by overheating, as the fan that is supposed to circulate air through the motor had only 2 of its original 8 blades, and many of the vent holes in the deck were plugged with solidly packed  grass residue.

In any case, I am now declaring this lawnmower to be trash (though I may salvage the switch and the bridge rectifier).  I’ll have to start looking at reviews of electric lawn mowers, to figure out what one to buy.

2021 April 24

Electric lawnmower repaired again and again

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:47
Tags: , ,

In Electric lawnmower repaired yet again I reported

After I reassembled the motor I tested the mower without replacing the cover—it seemed to work ok.  I replaced the cover, and lawn mower worked just fine.  I was too tired to mow the lawn (very little sleep last night, and the trip back from Berkeley had taken 6 hours, rather than 3 hours, because of BART delays, the BART train we were on going out of service, and missed connections), but I should be able to mow the lawn sometime in the next week.

I did mow the lawn the next week, but about halfway through I started having trouble with the mower.  The motor ran fine, but if I squeezed the handle all the way it turned off again, making the mower rather difficult to control.  I finished mowing the lawn, but decided to investigate the problem.  At first, I thought that there might be a mechanical problem, with the handle releasing the switch when pulled too far, but I saw no evidence of that when I disassembled the handle and looked at the action of the cam on the handle.

Using my multimeter, I determined that the switch operated normally when the button was pressed part way, but not when the button was pressed in all the way.  I suspected that this meant that the switch was damaged (perhaps by corrosion), so I ordered a new switch.  Unfortunately, the part is quite expensive (about $15 on eBay), because it is a custom-made switch for Black and Decker.

I ordered the switch, and ebay said it had been shipped. I thought that the Post Office had reported it delivered, but I never saw it.  I even asked the mailman about it two days after the claimed delivery, but he could not remember.  He thought he had stuffed a thick envelope in the mail slot, but wasn’t sure.  So either the post office did not deliver, or porch pirates had taken the package. [See update below.] Both outcomes seem to be likely here, based on reports on Nextdoor.

I ordered another switch which was shipped on 4/20 and arrived on 4/22.  Today, I installed the switch.

switch-connections

The old switch, showing how the wires were connected. I took this picture before disconnecting any wires, in case I needed a reference for where they went.

new-switch

The new switch, showing the part number. I transferred one wire at a time from the old switch to the new, so I didn’t need the reference photo that I took.

new-switch-in-handle

The new switch in place in the handle.

old-switch-insides

I disassembled the old switch to see if the contact damage was visible. The problem was not corrosion but burned material on the contacts—probably from the short circuits from the earlier rectifier failures.

I’ll try out the mower again this afternoon, to see whether this latest fix does the job. So far I have bought two bridge rectifiers, one set of brushes, and two switches to lengthen the life of this mower. At some point (perhaps at the next failure) it may be worth getting a new mower.

Update (still 2021 April 24): I mowed the lawn with the repaired lawnmower, and it worked fine. While I was mowing, the mailman came, with the package that had the first switch I had ordered. I went back to the USPS site to find out what had happened.  It turned out that the ebay package that had been delivered was one for my wife, not the lawnmower switch.  The switch had not arrived at the post office for ten days after the company (Parts Sales) had said they had shipped it.  So the missing switch was neither the post office’s fault nor was it porch pirates—it was due to lies by the company claiming they had shipped when they hadn’t and confusion on my part about what package had been reported as delivered.

2021 March 28

Electric lawnmower repaired yet again

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:55
Tags: , , , , , , ,

In Vaccine vested! I reported

I also took apart the lawn mower to see it if is fixable.  As always, it took me a long time to clear out the grass packed into the recessed screw holes to get the cover off, and a long time to vacuum all the grass out of the interior of the mower.  When I did finally get access to the motor and electronics, I determined that the bridge rectifier had failed again—this time with a short circuit instead of an open circuit.  I’ll buy another GBPC5010-G‎ 50-Amp bridge rectifier, and see if this one lasts a little longer.

There is one mistake in the quoted section—the first failure of the lawnmower (back in 2017) was also a short circuit.  The new behavior was identical to the old.

When I got back from Berkeley today (where my wife and I were visiting our son), I found the rectifier and a couple of other packages that had been delivered on Friday sitting on our porch.  I took apart the lawnmower and replaced the bridge rectifier.  I verified that the old rectifier really had shorted out two of its diodes, so I was pretty confident that I had fixed the problem and I put the mower back together.

It still didn’t work.

There was no longer a short circuit that blew fuses, but the mower just ran for a few seconds and died, as if the blade were blocked.  With the mower unplugged, I could turn the blade by hand, but took the opportunity to chip some of the dried-on grass from the bottom of the mower anyway.

After removing the cover again, I inspected the motor more closely, and I decided to take off the top plate of the motor (which holds the brushes), to see if there was anything wrong with the rotor or commutator.  The commutator looked very dirty, and it looked like the carbon from the brushes (or perhaps some carbonized grass) had gotten stuck between adjacent plates of the commutator, so I scrubbed the commutator with an old toothbrush.

After I reassembled the motor I tested the mower without replacing the cover—it seemed to work ok.  I replaced the cover, and lawn mower worked just fine.  I was too tired to mow the lawn (very little sleep last night, and the trip back from Berkeley had taken 6 hours, rather than 3 hours, because of BART delays, the BART train we were on going out of service, and missed connections), but I should be able to mow the lawn sometime in the next week.

Incidentally there was another error in Vaccine vested!: the 500 is a “Rapid bus”, not light rail.  It does provide a pretty quick connection between Diridon station and the new end of the BART line at Berryessa. It was also free, because VTA is not charging for transit until April 1.  I could have ridden the Highway 17 Express for free also (because I’m old), but I just took their half-price offer for regular passengers.  I did use my new senior Clipper Card on BART for the first time, though only on one leg of the trip, as I had some money on my old regular Clipper Card to use up.  The whole round-trip to Berkeley cost only about $17, which is about what it would cost me with all the senior discounts.  I don’t plan to take senior discounts on the local buses (SCMTD really needs the money), but I will take them on BART and VTA, which have a much bigger and wealthier tax base.

2021 March 23

Vaccine vested!

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:41
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last Friday marked two weeks since I got my second shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, so I’m now as immunized as I’m going to get against the SARS-COV-2 virus. My wife got her second shot of the Pfizer vaccine, so we are both fully immunized.

We can now go wild! We’re planning to take public transit! to Berkeley! Our current plan is to take the Highway 17 Express (currently half price), then the 500 Express light rail to Berryessa, then BART to Berkeley. I was just getting used to Warm Springs as the bus connection, instead of Hayward BART, and now Berryessa is the transfer point. Who knows—before I die BART may get all the way to Diridon station!

If we somehow miss the 500 express, we can take the Amtrak Capitol Corridor to Berkeley instead, but Amtrak does not take the Clipper Cards (though the supposedly sell them on the Capitol Corridor).  The scenery along the Amtrak tracks is a bit more interesting than along the BART tracks, though.

I got my grading for Winter quarter done last night (two days before the grading deadline), so I finally get a “weekend” after 10 weeks of working 7 days a week.  I do have to put together my syllabus and set up Canvas for my two classes that start on Monday, though, so I can’t get a full week of break.

For my “weekend” I started by putting a new bike computer on my bike.  The old Cateye Enduro 8 finally failed (replacing the battery didn’t fix it), and I bought a new Cateye Velo 7 to replace it, as the closest current equivalent.  The cables and brackets seem cheaper and flimsier than the old ones, so I don’t expect this bicycle computer to last as long.  Most of the bicycle computers on the market seem to be wireless ones, but I really don’t like the idea of having twice as many batteries to replace, shorter battery lifetimes, and lower reliability of wireless units.  I considered getting a cheap Chinese bicycle computer that had a fancier display than the Velo 7, but decided to stick with a name brand that I know has been pretty reliable.

I also took apart the lawn mower to see it if is fixable.  As always, it took me a long time to clear out the grass packed into the recessed screw holes to get the cover off, and a long time to vacuum all the grass out of the interior of the mower.  When I did finally get access to the motor and electronics, I determined that the bridge rectifier had failed again—this time with a short circuit instead of an open circuit.  I’ll buy another GBPC5010-G‎ 50-Amp bridge rectifier, and see if this one lasts a little longer.

Next Page »

%d bloggers like this: