how to fix broken plastic
Thursday, August 14 2014
This morning I had the idea that I'd tear the stock 80 watt stereo out of the Subaru's dashboard, open it up, and figure out how to attach auxillary inputs to its amplifier. This would allow me to hook up the newly Rockboxified Sansa Clip without resorting to one of those goofy fake cassettes (which makes a noisy inductive connection to the tape heads in the stereo's tape deck; evidently Subaru was still shipping those as late as 1998). While I was in there, I was reminded of the Subaru's broken cup holder, which I've been meaning to fix with some sort of plastic weld for several years now. Since having that idea, though, I've learned that the only way to fix broken plastic is by incorporating pieces of metal that span the break. In this case, I thought I could glue the gap together with superglue to have it positioned correctly, then I could heat a small finishing nail red-hot with a torch and drop it sideways across the break, where it would melt into the plastic and form a permanent fix. I thought I might have to dump a glass of water onto the nail when it sank to a proper depth, but even when dropped red-hot, the nail didn't sink quite far enough into the plastic. I tried heating it further with a magnifying glass, but the sun was unreliable (and metal is too reflective to heat that way), so then I used a hefty 180 watt soldering gun, which worked well. Once properly sanded, the resulting "weld" made the cup holder work almost as well as it used to back before it broke. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to get the stereo out of the dashboard, so I decided, fuck it, I'll just use that stupid fake cassette tape, which actually works fairly well.
On various occasions today, I worked on weatherizing the wooden tower I finished building yesterday. Though it's made of pressure-treated lumber, such wood tends to warp when it gets exposed to varying amounts of moisture and sun. Consequently, these days I always paint my pressure-treated structures with roofing tar, particularly in places where the wood has been sawn cross-grain. Those grains contain tiny tubes that suck water like straws well into the interior of the board. If I plug them all with tar, the wood warps less and weathers much more slowly (particularly in places where the cross-cut grains come into contact with the ground). Of course, once I get going with the painting of tar, it's hard to stop, and so by the end of the day I had the entire outside of the tower painted black with tar (in addition to all the joints, screw holes, and even most of the knots). Lacking granular pigment, tar doesn't hold up as well as paint to ultraviolet light, so I often paint over the tar after it has lost its volatiles. In the meantime, though, its water repelling properties are impressive. There was a little rain tonight, and the drops of water sprinkled across the tarred surfaces of the tower were bigger than lima beans.
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