Thursday, December 27, 2012

Only 3 Years from Receipt to Installation

Listening to my CD jukebox or news radio is important to me when I’m working with my hands.  To make sure nothing is missed, there are speakers in the kitchen, in the soffits near the patio, and in my shop which can all be set to provide a continuous trail of sound while I move around from one activity to another.

Three Christmases ago, I noticed a dead zone between the patio and my shop.  So Santa was asked for a set of 6X9 coaxial automobile speakers to install in the shop soffit closest to the area.  In what was poor planning on my part, I had the shop’s attic blown full of insulation before the speakers were installed.  Having no desire to tromp around in the insulation running wires, the speakers languished on the wood vise bench until a way of running the wiring without getting in the attic dawned on me the other day.

Cutting the holes in the soffit was supposed to be the easy part.  Thinking the soffit’s plywood seams all ended on rafter tails, after referencing off of a seam, I got halfway through the left-hand speaker’s hole before finding a rafter tail in my way.  Oops.  But after scabbing the wood back in & slathering the boo-boo with wood filler, the outcome of round two was matching oval holes.

Part of the plan had always been to cut a hole in the inside wall above the existing receiver connection to access the new wires.

If this was a home improvement show, the host would tell you to simply fish the wires from the oval holes to the square hole with an electrician’s wire snake.  Through the magic of TV wires would then appear where needed in mere seconds.

But this is real life, and it is not that easy when a soffit is involved.  Fortunately, in my case, there was a soffit vent located halfway between the speakers almost in front of the hole in the inside wall.  Removing it allowed for really easy wire access.

The next hurdle was how to fasten down the installed speakers & grilles.  Since the plan had always been for the speaker to rest on top of the soffit’s plywood, nuts & washers were hot-glued on before the speakers were set in place.

Since the garish grills that came with the speakers obviously provided no protection against mud daubers, Santa also brought me a more suitable set.

But in dry-fitting everything together, the hole patterns were found to not line up.  Fortunately, my toy box had a set of used, bland grills whose hole patterns were more accommodating.

Painting was the next step.  Normally I spray paint outside of the shop.  But a new water heater installed a day or two earlier came wrapped in a phenomenal amount of cardboard which made a great spray booth for the four items needing paint.

The speaker project itself turned out looking & sounding good.

The downside was the new paint covering up the boo-boo reminded me the shop’s original paint is now over 13 years old.  I think I know what one of next spring’s blog posts is going to be about.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make a 40,000 Btu Burner

After purchasing a huge pressure fryer many years ago, I looked long & hard for a reasonably priced, natural gas standalone burner to hook up to the patio grill’s gas connection since none of the kitchen cooktop outlets were sized big enough to heat the pot effectively.  Surprisingly, there really wasn’t a selection available, and the fryer ended up being heated by an LPG-fueled turkey cooker burner from the home improvement store.

The Internet did have a few tales of people using the burner out of an old water heater for outdoor cooking but no one had posted any pictures.  Since the whole idea sounded like a great way to re-purpose parts I hoped to one day try it out.

I got my wish the week before Christmas when Kim called mid-morning to tell me our gas water heater was leaking water from the top.

With 17 years use on an eight-year warrantee I couldn’t complain.  But I did start complaining about how slow the 40 gallons of water was draining until compressed air was hooked up to the opened relief valve to speed the operation.

After that, though, it was smooth sailing.  I even had time to replace the leaky shut-off gate valve with a new quarter-turn ball valve before the Boyz got home from school.

The old water heater’s next stop was my shop where the burner assembly came out with very little effort.

The burner itself was in great shape as was the tank bottom which contacts flame.  Although it makes sense, it surprised me to find the metal was better than 3/16” thick.

A box of spare parts provided a gas hose from an old grill for the effort.  After borrowing the charcoal rack from the Weber grill, my latest cooking accessory was one step closer to being realized.

Sadly, though, it is not to be.  Or, at least, it was not to be for this particular pot.  The burner’s flame pattern is too diametrically dispersed – most of the heat swirled out along the sides of the post instead of heating the bottom and looked like it was going to toast the handles.

If the flame’s pattern been more suitable, a needle valve would have been procured for heat control.

The burner would probably be perfect for heating a cast iron wash tub from the days of old.  Hmm, I should probably hold onto the burner for a while; ya never know.

On the bright side, now the Internet has pictures of an old water heater burner being used to heat a pot.