metal stitches in plastic
Thursday, March 17 2022
This morning Gretchen caught a bus into New York City from the New Paltz park & ride, one of the very few trips she's made to the City since the beginning of the pandemic (which is experiencing, for now, something of a trough). Normally I take advantage of Gretchen's absence by taking lots of drugs and drinking too much. But I was fairly restrained today. In the afternoon I drank some kratom tea, but not very much. And then at some point I drank a cocktail. Work-wise, it's March tax season, and I'm back working with my old colleague Jon. We still work for the same parent company, and I'm essentially just on loan to help out with the Taxinator. I was trying to add some features today to allow it to run multi-instance, but Jon kept interrupting me with problems related to a largish municipality in the Finger Lakes region of New York.
This evening at a premature end of the workday, I took the dogs on a walk up the Farm Road, and they actually along. It was foggy and rather warm at the time, and I took advantage of the lack of snow to pre-position some nice pieces of bluestone for me to come back later in the Prius and pick up (to be transferred into the Forester and taken to the cabin).
While waiting for some frozen pizza to cook, I fixed a pair of door bins from the refrigerator. These bins had started cracking maybe a year ago, and last night the cracking had become so bad in the top bin that it began to collapse. Starting with the most broken bin, I snapped the pieces back together and applied pressure to keep it that way by running a bungee cord around the "equator" of the long, skinny piece. Then I cut inch-long pieces of 1.2 mm steel wire, which I bent into S and omega shapes, heated them until they glowed in a gas burner on the kitchen stove top, and then dropped them into the plastic of the bin so that they melted to form little steel "stitches" across the cracks. (This is a successful technique I'd first developed for fixing the oft-breaking KitchenAid food processor bowl.) The reason for bending them was so tension on a wire would not cause it to pull out of the slot it had melted for itself. Creating such stitches was easy across cracks in a flat surface, but some of the cracks followed edges between planes, and it was difficult to melt a 90-degree-bent stitch across such cracks. But I did manage to install one of those. After that, I took the bin out into the garage and used my "plastic welder" (which superheats air from a compressor and blows it from a nozzle) to weld the cracks in places where the stitches couldn't be installed. The problem with a plastic welder is that it tends to badly deform the plastic near the weld, often opening up new voids in the process. Ideally I would've used some filler material, but I didn't have any clear ABS (which these bins were clearly made of, given how the melted plastic smelled). None of this matters very much, given that these fixes are just temporary. I also ordered replacement bins, despite how expensive these are (a cheap new one was $90, and the only used one I could find on eBay was $70). But it would be hard to have a functional refrigerator without both of those bins, so fixing them temporarily was also important.
Powerful had been sleeping when I asked if he wanted any frozen pizza. But when I came in from the garage with one of the just-fixed bins, he was up and awake. It turned out that he only wanted a quarter of a frozen pizza (they're pretty small), and that was perfect because I didn't have the appetite to eat a whole one.
Later while I was in the bathtub, my brother Don kept calling over and over again, thinking he would eventually get me. That's not the kind of stress one wants when one is bathing, so I eventually got up, walked into the bedroom dripping wet, picked up the phone and said, "Don... Don... Listen! I don't want to talk to you now! If you keep doing this I'm going to not pay for your phone!" And then I hung up. I appreciate that he's obsessed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and that he's made himself into an expert on the subject by watching endless videos about it on his phone. But just because I'm the only one with enough knowledge of the subject to be a suitable Donsplaination target doesn't mean I want to hear him tell me about it every night, particularly when I am doing something to actively get away from the demands of others (particularly cats).
A close-up of the metal "stitches" I used to fix the plastic bins in the refrigerator door.
A wider view.
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