Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's the little things.

Regular TUAK readers are aware that the Secret Lair, in addition to instant communication with world leaders (for the purpose of issuing vile insidious ultimatums), retractable camouflaged roof for launching and retrieving flying vehicles from its location within an extinct volcano, and a giant pool of voracious man-eating sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads, is also equipped with:

A Real Flush Toilet!

Yes! This was very exciting last summer, when after struggling with my home-made septic system all bleeping spring, it finally worked. Hey, you try living without one for five years.

Now, pause for a moment and savor the irony with me. I spent all spring basically re-inventing the septic tank system. I sifted frickin' pebbles out of the frickin' wash for the leech field. I improvised, I revised, I devised, I extemporized, I stole lines from Harry Harrison without attribution. I imprecisely copied things from the internet. Did you really think this was going to work?

It works perfectly. What I've had trouble with, again and again, is the toilet. Which was made in a factory.

Last night I did my business before retiring for the night. I pushed down on the little chrome lever, an action I'm pretty sure will never get old. Everything was fine until the lever reached the bottom of its throw, when there was a slight noise inside the tank and the lever's movement suddenly became much more free than we like things to be - you know, when it's a mechanical device chained to another mechanical device.

Yup - chain pulled out of the flapper valve, or whatever you call it.

So what? Happens all the time, right? Yeah, except that this ain't suburbia. The only (joke of a) hardware store within fifty miles closed last summer for lack of - I dunno, plausible deniability or something. It might take weeks to find a replacement! Aargh!

Then I remembered ... When M installed his first "free from CraigsList" toilet in M's Dome, the tank turned out to be cracked. We never got around to hauling it to the dump. Did it still have its plumbing bits? Was there a valve I could salvage?

Yes! Once again Joel's mastery of the Art of Scrounge comes to the rescue. That sound you don't hear in the background is my Real Flush Toilet, once again flushing properly.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go feed the sharks. Good day, Mr. Maher! Right this way!


LJH said...

If you'd routed your plumbing more creatively those moat sharks could be auto-fed.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could carve one out of wood ? Okay, just trying to be funny, that situation does sound pretty serious when you are waaay the hell off the sidewalks.

MamaLiberty said...

Glad you had the spare, Joel. I've lived out that far many times. :(

The ones I hate are those showing no obvious signs of malfunction... My water use went from 2,000 gallons up to 12,000 and I was in a panic because I couldn't figure out where the water was going. The guy at the hardware store said that was usually a very small leak in the toilet somewhere.. so I replaced all the guts in it and water use is back to normal. Never could detect any leak, but it was there.

Anonymous said...

Joel I feel your pain since I live out in the sticks. One thing I am able to do is whenever I order a part for something that I know is special order and critical I get a spair. I know that may not be an option for you but if the part is critical enough you will find a way to do that. Things that make evacuating your lower tract easy are critical in my book.

BTW... back around Y2K we were building our home and I ordered a set of taps for our claw foot tub and of course they were special order... After a month the taps arrived and were not what was ordered. So we sent them back and looked elsewhere and found a replacement tap and took it home only to find there were no pickup tubes in the package. Back I go to the store (30 miles each way) only to be told that the pickup tubes for the in stock taps were special order and will take 4 to 6 weeks. Yep I feel your pain!


Bustednuckles said...

That's what I like about you, you are resourceful.
I can be too, been good at it for years.
One time when I was broke and the only transportation I had was a motorcycle that I had recently wrecked yet again, I cast around and found an alternator bracket from an old chevy and spent several hours turning it into a clutch handle.
It worked great.

Sometimes "pound it to fit and paint it to match" is your only option.