settling on propane and better welds
Monday, October 20 2014
Maybe the pseudoephedrine I'd taken recreationally as well as all the alcohol I'd drunk (those Little Sumpin Extra are good but they're also strong) did something bad to me because I woke up last night with what felt like bloating and acid indigestion. This made it hard to get back to sleep, and then I spent the whole day feeling kind of miserable in my guts. It manifested as occasional waves of mild nausea, acid indigestion, and sometimes real pain. Another possible explanation was that I had whatever illness Gretchen had contracted. It's made her weak and uncomfortable, but she was able to power through another workday today with the miracle of pseudoephedrine (which she takes only in doses of 30 or 60 milligrams, as opposed to my 120 milligram recreational doses). In any case, the problems in my basement didn't have much impact on what I was able to do today. This morning after walking the dogs, I cranked through some fairly complex web work, and then I drove out to the Wall Street house and worked on the cold water plumbing prerequisites for the new half bathroom. I've been using the same tank of MAPP gas for many years (I want to say at least five) but wouldn't you know it, it ran out today while I was finishing up the soldering of the new cold water tap for the washing machine. If I'd had just one more minute's worth of gas I could have finished my work, but when it runs out, it runs out fast. I couldn't leave the house that way; the water system was open and couldn't be pressurized, so there was no running water and though Eric had just finished painting the house, he hadn't finished washing the brushes. So I had to make an unscheduled trip to Herzog's to buy a tank of gas. They were out of MAPP gas, so I had to settle for propane (which doesn't burn as hot, and so is harder to work with). But it did the job, and when I repressurized the system, I was amazed to see that even the solder joints that hadn't seem to pop (or whatever you would call the sudden uptake of liquid solder) held. You have to be pretty damn incompetent to make a failed solder joint using standard fittings, though I've done it a few times. (I suspect that some of my solder joints had been contaminated with hair that had been picked up by an open container of flux.)
This evening I fabricated a latching system for the Wall Street house's attic hatch. The folding attic ladder had come with a latching system, but it didn't fit the 2.25 inch thickness of the door I'd made (and also Ramona had chewed up one of the plastic pieces as a way of dealing with the oppressive boredom she faces when she is there). So I made a longer version of a plastic hatch rod using a half inch steel bolt. To make it so it could be easily rotated (thus moving a piece of metal attached to it into a slot), I welded a big screw eye onto the head of the bolt. Though I don't do all that much welding, I'm finding that the welds I make are getting better and better both in terms of their neatness and their strength. The weld I made this evening, for example, was so neat that it barely required any grinding afterwards. The key to a good weld, I've discovered, is a correct match of power to the metals being welded. In this case, the metal was thick, so the power had to be at the high range of what my 220 volt/30 amp rig can deliver. The spark produced by six kilowatts of energy can be startling.
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