Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

A Ssssssssssssssssssss So Slight

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

You don’t remember that thing I wrote about DIY’ing a loooong-leaking hose faucet last January, do you? Of course you don’t. Imention it because after being proving myself to be so slow to put off what in essence turned out to be such an easy and water- and money-saving fix, one would think that if any other H2O-No! pops up around our 106-year-old domecile, my conservational self would hippity hop to getting it repaired, yes?

Not so much.

Case in point: the fill valve inside the toilet in the bathroom off the study. It literally has been running for about nine months. Not pouring, mind you. In fact, the flow was slight enough as to be almost imperceptible. But it was continuous nonetheless — 24/7/365. And I’ve been aware of it aaaaall thiiiiiiis time.

Suffice it to say it was ever on my to-do list, but always getting bumped to the bottom.

Not that I did nada. As best I figured it, the valve was not shutting completely after flushing. As the water would refill in the tank, it would almost-but-nooooooot-quiiiite close off. So hell yeah: I tinkered with it on a whole bunch of occasions — twisting a screw there, repositioning the floatball here… I even went so far as to buy a replacement assembly at the local hardware store about six months ago. But it was 15 inches tall, whereas the tank won’t accommodate anything more than a foot high.

So the fill valve went on incessantly overfilling. Draining water with juuuuuuust-so-slight a ssssssssssssssss and the occasional very quiet “gloip” noise that sounded as if the world’s smallest cottonmouth snake with a burping problem was living in there.

But of course, I wouldn’t be writing about this if there wasn’t a happy ending, right?


It came in the form of the Fluidmaster 400LS Fill Valve With Leak Sentry Technology, that I found in the back end of my closest Home Depot yesterday. Ten bucks.

Not only reasonably priced, but miracle of miracles, I dropped it in and it went to work without me having to do the slighest bit of adjusting.

And that makes me nervous. So whenever I’m at my desk I keep an ear toward the bathroom, to hear if the tiny burping snake has snuck back.

Sssssssso far, sssssssssso good.


Thanksgiving DAY, Thanksgiving DIY

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Yesterday I followed rules 1 and 3 of the Fixer’s Manifesto and repaired our patio table umbrella, of all things. After almost eight years of exposure,  a foot-long section of the bottom part of the wooden pole, just above where it sits in the stand snapped clean through.

I figured this out yesterday morning after noticing the umbrella was listing to port exceptionally hard.

My first thought was just to remove the broken section and reseat the remaining pole in the stand, but that would have left the umbrella at basically my neck level, which would force me basically to either duck/cover and or limbo down first if I wanted to sit at the table beneath it. Doable, but inconveeeeeenient.

So my second thought was to write the entire umbrella’s obit, but then I was all: “Dang, new patio umbrellas run like upwards of a hunnert bucks!”

Realizing that spending money unnecessarily was stinkin’ thinkin’ I got busy working the solution instead of the problem. See, the pole is a top and bottom section joined in the middle by a metal sleeve, so I pulled the umbrella up and away from the table and undid the sleeve. At first I figured I’d just hunt around the house for a suitably sized dowel (or go buy one at the hardware store), saw it to an equal length and use that as a replacement for the bottom part of the pole. But that wasn’t going to work out because the part of the broken section that goes into the sleeve was threaded and I am inconveniently without the skills or machinery required to thread a piece of round wood.

So I started to write the umbrella’s obit again, but then I stopped abruptly because I remembered something. Wouldn’t you know there was this hollow metal pole that for years and years has been sitting under the steps on the south side of the house. I can’t recall where it came from or what its purpose is/was, or why I kept it all this time, but there it was.

And wouldn’t you know it was literally the same diameter as the pole. Sat perfectly in the stand. Problem was though, the diameter of the hollowed inside part of the pole was about a third-inch smaller than its wooden counterpart, which required me to get a rather large buck knife and risk amputating some finger bits while I whittled the end of the top part of the pole (the one with the umbrella attached) until the two pieces fit together pretty much perfectamundoly (as seen at right).

As you can see below, the umbrella now sits waaaay high above the tabletop, the result of the metal pole being about a foot too long (and me without the machinery too cut it down to a better size). I suppose I could saw the length off the top part and rewhittle, but for now having too much room to get beneath it is a far, far better thing than not having enough, not having it at all — or spending upwards of a hunnert bucks for a new one.


Final Backyard Pumpkin Patch Report

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

There’s actually a couple other gourds out in the backyard still growing — one barely a pound in weight and the other probably about six or seven (and shaped awesome/ominously like a skull) — but they’re still mostly green and probably still will be by Halloween so I left them alone to continue to do their thing, and instead harvested the three that have orange’d up the most:

The most consistent thing is that we went five for five. We planted five seeds back on July 4 and each one ultimately produced one pumpkin — along with an hellacious amount of flowering vines. The least consistent thing was their size. I’m not knocking that… hell, I’m thrilled that we got something for our trouble. It’s just curious the differences.

Above (click it for the bigger picture), from the left: 3 pounds 11.25 ounces, 11 pounds even, and 1 pound 10.75 ounces

Special note: We call the smallest one on the right our “special needs” pumpkin because she leans over no matter which way you set her down (a product of growing up somewhat strangled between competing vines from the other two pumpkins.

Real Men Sew Up Their Own Uniform Armpit Seams

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

And listen to ambient electronica while they do. So there.

Another Smoothie

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

After cranking out a lemon/lime/orange/strawberry concoction for Susan, I then went to work liquifying a banana/pear/strawberry smoothie for myself, as seen in the after and before shots below:

Don’t worry, this is the last time I’ll blog about how much I’m loving the manual machine and its results:



Second Verse Better Than The First

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Behold! Below is the result from putting two bananas and a pear through the Japanese-made manual juicer I found kicked to the curb Wednesday morning (and had so much trouble not only identifying but then juicing a solitary pear the first time around). I decided to give it another try this morning and I’m pleased to report the process went much better this second time around. Instead of more than five minutes to crush one piece of fruit I had the trio reformatted in less than 120 seconds.

While my first hand-cranked pearnana smoothie might lack visual appeal, trust me on this: it was 非常においしい*.

There so will be lemonade.

* “very delicious” (at least according to Google Translate).

Timelapse: The Pros & Cons Of Bicycle Maintenance

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Well here’s a blast from the past that I found in the dusty archives of a back-up hard drive. This is a forgotten-about video I made in the summer of 2009 of me putting my then-singlespeed bike “Le Noir” up on the stand and doing a pretty thorough frontyard strip to update some of its wornout componentry (including the bottom bracket, pedals, seat, tires, and chain). Sadly, all this work was for naught as little more than a month later the frame started exhibiting some disturbing flex and was replaced.