risk to buying used containers
Wednesday, September 24 2014
I did a great job of keeping the jackhammer clean as I lubed up the main cylinder and then put a tablespoon of oil inside the hammer (which is shaped like a large steel shot glass and it is agitated up and down by a motor-driven piston acting through the cushion of air trapped inside it). It was only when I went to put it all together that a little debris managed to fall off the jackhammer (which, being a tool that has been heavily used in a dirty environment, is difficult to clean). I picked the dirt that I could see off the grease, but then I wasn't sure that the piston had gone correctly into the hollow of the hammer, and I kept taking it apart to see, giving dirt more opportunities to get in there. Eventually I just gave up and put the jackhammer back together. To satisfy myself that the piston was in the correct place and wouldn't immediately shatter, I manually spun the jackhammer's motor with my fingers through a whole cycle, feeling the springlike pressure of the air cushion through various parts of that cycle. Next I powered it up briefly and it seemed to work as expected. The final test was down in the greenhouse, where it seemed to break up rock exactly as it had before. Yesterday UPS had delivered a rusty DeWalt chisel point that fits my jackhammer perfectly, though its rusty shank results in more friction and jackhammer can more easily get stuck at the top of its cycle (analogous to a hammer hovering in the air, unable to strike). Hopefully that rust will eventually wear off.
By the end of today, I'd managed to remove six five-gallon containers of rock from excavation (as well as numerous pieces that were too large to put in a bucket). There are now parts of the excavation beneath the floor-support girder where I can stand without hitting my head on it. This means that, when flooding (as the excavation often does), the water will be "over my head" by several inches. By the way, after digging down through about eight inches of shale, I've hit bluestone again, this time a seam about four-inches thick. But unlike other recently-encountered layers of bluestone, this layer is nearly as easy to break up as shale. It also has the benefit of producing large (but not too large) pieces that are easy to lift out of the excavation.
I use a Zojirushi hot water pot to provide me hot water on demand. I use the hot water mostly for making tea, though I've also used it to make hot salt water for treating infections such as the one currently on my right arm. For years after getting the hot water pot, I used a modified plastic gallon jug as a pitcher to fill it as needed. I didn't realize it at the time, but that modified gallon jug was a near-perfect method for filling the pot. I could let it fill in the bathroom sink unattended, carry and pour it one handed, and it had just enough extra water in it after filling the pot to contribute to a five gallon water bucket that I keep in the laboratory for the dogs and cats. Since my makeshift plastic jug failed, I've been looking for a replacement, but I haven't found anything that works quite right. Recently I've been using a gallon-size galvanized bucket, but it can't be poured one-handed and, unless I'm very careful, tends to spill when I pour it into the pot.
So today I took delivery of a two gallon vintage Graniteware "cowboy coffee pot" that I bought on eBay for $40. Finally I had something big enough and with sufficient handles to be poured one-handed. It turned out to be a bit big for the upstairs bathroom sink, but was still possible to fill unattended. The big problem with the new pot, though, was its smell. I couldn't decide whether the fragrance was vintage perfume or insecticide. In any case, something about the water poured from it seemed to completely screw up my Zojirushi hot water pot. The pot continued heating the water past its boiling point, causing it to shoot out of the steam release and water delivery spigot. When I dumped it out in the sink, the water seemed to have stripped the black no-stick coating from the inside of the pot (though it's possible that had come off gradually in the two years since I last looked in there). In an effort to clear the suspicious water out of the Zojirushi, I accidentally got water into its electronics, and it refused to start when I plugged it in. So then I had to take it all apart and dry it out (like that time two years ago when foul black-eyed-pea-tempeh juice leaked into it). I don't know what I'm going to do about that two gallon cowboy pot now. What the hell could it have been used for? There's definitely a risk to buying used containers for things like food, beverages, or potable water.
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