Friday, December 17, 2010

Huh. That's weird.

Normally when I've got a whole bunch of things to do in a day, I succeed with one or maybe two of them. Today, pretty much everything went right. And only one extra thing went wrong.

Gulchendiggensmoothen went for a personal best 2.5 miles without springing any major new engine or transmission leaks. He did, unfortunately, compensate for this by springing a fairly major hydraulic leak at one of the front bucket hoses, but that fitting is clearly loose and should respond to wrench therapy. That fuel leak turns out to be bad threads in an aluminum fuel system gizmo whose exact purpose is unknown but that appears to be an emission-control device for drawing fumes into the intake manifold - in which case I'm just gonna bypass it with a longer length of flexible fuel line. This tractor? Pollute the environment? That's crazy talk! In terms of its actual performance, the tractor itself is working great. I stacked what had been becoming a veritable field of horse manure into a single stack, six or seven feet high, without any trouble at all. Except for the new hydraulic leak, the tractor behaved itself perfectly. A little hard to start on a cold morning, but that's perfectly natural for an old diesel. It's just all these niggling little leaks that are getting on my nerves.

Then with death in my heart I went into the powerhouse to fix the major water leak I built into the new pressure pump plumbing last weekend. I wasn't able to test it because of the missing drain plug on the pump, but the minute I plugged in the pump yesterday I got a big leak from a compression fitting I'd worried about because I'd lined up the PVC pipes so badly. I knew I was going to have to cut a bunch of pipes off and try to rebuild the whole thing straighter, but when I took the fitting apart I found out the only problem was an out-of-place gasket. I put it back together, pressured up the pump ... and it didn't leak! I wanted to ask it if it knew who I was - pipes I install are always supposed to leak. But I guess it got that out of its system.

I went around the property to make sure all the faucets were off, and at Landlady's Meadow House I checked for pressure and then fired up her water heater. Everything works! We have both hot AND cold running water! Aren't you jealous? 8^)

I put off washing clothes, because I need the juice to run the well pump and get some water in the cistern, and also because the Automatic Solar-Powered Clothes Dryer is out of order today anyway. But at least my fears of having to return to hand-washing permanently are put aside for now.

And now, for that hot chocolate. Y'all have a nice evening.


Adventures in Self Reliance said...

Good for you. Hot water is awesome!!

Plug Nickel Outfit said...

We have both hot AND cold running water! Aren't you jealous?

Envious even. I've been crippling along with an RV water heater for quite some time now. When the AC side of it quit - I changed out the thermocouple and ran it on gas. A week ago the gas side quit - probably a failed gas valve. Replacement cost on the gas valve for the 20+ y/o heater is around $170. Decided to get the AC side of it back up which means changing out the failed element.

I imagine the folks who make water heater elements are sadistic SOBs who intentionally made the 'nut' of the element only 1/8" deep - and then they rounded off the corners of the hex and ground them down to about 1/16". There's a 'tool' for heater element r&r - if you could call it that. And I've a 1.5" socket with a 1/2" drive - but to make contact for any decent leverage on the nut one has to be dead-on perpendicular to the nut.

Did I mention this is all taking place in situ - in what's euphemistically called the 'basement' of a 5th wheel? I've spent a considerable amount of the last 2 days pretzeled into that space - head resting on the humming inverter - ribs dented by the rise in an 'access' hatch - working around the a/c lines, plumbing traps, and water lines.

I've got a great collection of scratches and cuts from wrench slips - and a blood blister from the same. I'm finally down to trying to hammer it loose with a chisel and repeated applications of penetrating oil within the few degrees of arc that's available. Naturally - too - the sheet metal box the heater is couched in means the actual 'nut' for the element is recessed a couple inches - so direct in-line force is out of the question.

I'm tempted to drill out the center of the element with a 1/2" bit and get a big ole' EZ Out and twist that bugger out that way - but I'm not even sure I could get the EZ Out set as it's so tough to apply enough force that direction.

All this because I really don't want to have to disconnect the whole darned heater and pull it out to work with it on the ground. Though - if I did - that nut wouldn't stand a chance - it'd probably be out within 15 minutes!

I'm reminded of a mechanic buddy of mine who's last resort is the 'heat wrench' - but with all the penetrating oil and insulation for wicking - that probably wouldn't be such a great idea!

Since I at least like the idea of warmish water - I'm doing all this with the tank still full and pressurised - a dowel rod strategically placed on the pilot actuator so that the pilot flame can take the chill off the water. I figure once I see that nut start to move on the element - then I'll crawl back out the the hatch and shut down the water and drain the tank - 'cause I don't feel like draining out a full tank of warmish water just to find at the end of the day I'm no closer to getting that element out of there.

Starting to feel like one of those dwarves woking in the mines of Moria with all the tap - tap - tapping of the ball peen and the chisel down in that hole!

So yes - I'm jealous!