three ways to loose antifreeze
Monday, September 7 2015
I would need to be using the Subaru today, and since it is not currently street-legal, I thought it prudent to silence an ongoing exhaust leak, which makes it sound exactly the way one would expect a non-street-legal car to sound. After determining the sound was coming from a gasket between the muffler and what might be called the "mid pipe," I rolled the car up on blocks and disassembled the junction around the gasket. As always (when disassembling exhaust systems), I had to end up cutting out one of the bolts, though in this case it was after stripping its head in with a poorly-angled screw gun. I didn't have a suitable gasket for the bad one (which appeared to have blown on one side), so I would have to make one from scratch. In the past, I've used furnace cement for such gaskets. But that material really isn't suitable; it's brittle, quickly develops cracks, and only lasts for a few weeks or months. So instead I used some rubbery material I'd bought for attaching fibreglass gaskets to the woodstove. The product is called "gasket maker," though I didn't trust it to form a quick gasket in an exhaust pipe. So I gooped it around a coil of hemp twine. It's possible hemp isn't sufficiently heat-tolerant for this application, but the worst that could happen is that it catches on fire, and even then, there wouldn't be enough of it to kindle a bigger fire (a nearby fuel tank not withstanding).
While Gretchen was off hiking with Maresa (of Mark and Maresa) at Vernooy Kill (one of her new favorite dog-walking places), I drove out to Lowes to get some more QuikWall. The only bags they had left were torn open and leaking white powder everywhere, and I managed to get one of these for half price. I only needed enough to cover about 35 square feet.
Back at the house, after coming back from a visit to the brownhouse, I heard a hissing sound overhead, and when I looked up I saw that a leak had sprung from one of the hoses carrying hydronic water between the panels. The leak had formed in the same place such a leak had happened last time. I'd been meaning to replace that hose with a copper pipe, but evidently I'd procrastinated too long. Because the leak had to be stopped immediately, I fixed the leak temporarily by doing what I had done back at the end of March: I snipped off the end of torn rubber hose, refitted the brass hose fitting, and connected it all back up. Then I went down to the basement to recharge the system, as it had lost a bunch of antifreeze. This involves forcing high-pressure hydronic fluid (a dilution of antifreeze) to circulate from the basement to the panel and back. When the fluid comes down from the panel, I eject it into the fluid reservoir, a five gallon bucket hanging from a spring attached to a switch. This allows the pump pressurizing the fluid to stop when the bucket runs out of fluid to pressurize. As I was doing these things, the bucket apparently got so heavy at one point that it pulled its spring loose from the frame it was attached to and fell to floor, dumping yet more precious antifreeze. I reattached the spring and the switch and included some stout wire to keep the spring from ever pulling loose again.
As soon as I'd solved that problem, I heard an unwanted leak from an unexpected place. The air release valve (or "air eliminator") above the hydronic loop's expansion tank had unexpectedly started ejecting hydronic fluid from the schræder valve where it is supposed to only eject air. It's designed to leak air, but now it was also leaking hydronic fluid. I was able to cap it temporarily to stop all leaks, but the system cannot work unless air is allowed to escape. So I had to make an emergency run into town. Unfortunately, Herzog's was sold out of air release valves, so I had to drive out to Home Depot.
Only after I had the solar panel crisis stabilized (and that's all I could consider it until the rubber hose is replaced with a copper pipe) could I finish the resurfacing on the south wall in the main basement guestroom.
Meanwhile, after getting back from her hike, Gretchen had been spent much of the afternoon preparing food for a little dinner party we'd be hosting. At 6:30pm, Susan and David showed up, joined somewhat later by Eva & Sandor (who had just moved into their new house about 2000 feet away from Susan & David's place on Chestnut Hill Road east of Woodstock). I was up in the laboratory showing David how my weather station client works, though of course it was being uncommonly cooperative, refusing to show temperature logs or graph anything on its beautiful display. It was, however, happily receiving keypress data via I2C from an Atmega8 operating as a crystal-free slave at 8MHz.
As always, dinner was out on the east deck. Gretchen had made a tangy Asian pasta salad with tempeh sticks, and Susan and David had brought an uncommonly oily salad. Dinner discussion ranged with the visible universe overhead (Sandor had an app for that of course) to Donald Trump and how statisfying his bull-in-the-china-shop-of-the-Republican-party has been. Eva was willing to eat the gluten-containing pasta even though Gretchen had also boiled up some gluten-free pasta. When asked about this, she said that she now suspected that the digestive problems she'd been blaming on gluten had probably been caused by "another issue" that was "recently solved." This was a vague reference to the round worm that had parasitzed her. Gretchen stuck her head out from the dining room at that point and said something to the effect that Susan & David can handle just about any conversation no matter how gross. But I quickly jumped in to add, "Maybe not while we're eating pasta, though."
Later, Mark & Maresa (whom I hadn't seen in forever) showed up for dessert. There was brief conversation about "furries" (people who like to have sex dressed up as big-headed plushy animals), but Mark, who has lots of experience selling satisfaction for fetishes, said he didn't actually know much about furries.
As always, everyone seemed to have a good time. Mark & Maresa, who were the last to leave, didn't go until 11:00pm.
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