Four Seasons… you sneaky bastards

Since Napa generally sells better quality than AutoZone and Advance Auto Parts, I bought my new compressor from them. I opened up the literature and realized that it looked awfully familiar. A quick Googling generated my answer: Four Seasons is a division of Standard Motor Products… the parent company of Factory Air. Oh you asses.

I’ve got a Delphi on order. It will be here today.

Screw You, Factory Air

Oh Factory Air, how doth thee suck? Let me count the ways.

What a shit company. Did I say that already? I was trying to replace my A/C clutch. It’s not that easy, but it’s not rocket surgery. Here’s how it is supposed to work:

Step 1: Remove captive nut
Step 2: Remove retaining ring
Step 3: Remove clutch engagement mechanism
Step 4: Remove another retaining ring
Step 5: Remove other half of clutch
etc…

Here’s what happened:
Step 1: Remove captive nut
Step 2: What? There’s no retaining ring? Where… how… why… uh? huh? How is that attached? What do I………. oh… THEY WELDED THE DAMN CLUTCH TO THE AIR COMPRESSOR.

Guess what? I got off half of the clutch, so I’m to the original Step 5, believe it or not. But here’s a funny story: I checked the charge on my A/C system and saw that it was low. It shouldn’t be low, since I charged it 12 months ago, but it is. I have looked for the damn leak for months and could not find it… until today. After I got the damn clutch off, I noticed there was a nice ring of almost glowing goo inside the clutch compartment. The front seal of the air compressor has apparantly blown (this compresor is only 15 months old!!!) and the clutch dust and bright green glowing PAG oil has mixed with the clutch dust and hidden the leak from sight, until today. Maybe the thermal shock of welding a clutch to an impeller shaft created a warped shaft right at the front main seal? Maybe the additional weight of a non-perfect weld job moved the center of gravity off the axis of the impeller shaft, thus creating a small vibration that opened the seal from the shaft. Or maybe the act of using hundreds of amps of electricity to melt two metals together was enough to melt the fragile plastic seal.

So here’s my delema: I’ve got a $114 clutch that I can install tomorrow, or I can return the clutch and chuck that piece of shit in the trash and get a $300 compressor from Delphi. I’m leading Delphi. Not that anyone comments here, but if you’ve got two pennies worth of a thought, I’d like to read it.

So Screw You, Factory Air. You have ruined my day. It’s 9:20, I’m dirty, I have a headache, I’m tired, I’ve run around town looking for solutions to your crappy design, and I am not getting much accomplished in my kitchen today, because of you. And I went to the dentist today.

Better a Diamond with a Flaw than a Pebble Without One

I got an email from Diamond verifying that a maple tree has been felled, sawn into lumber, kiln dried, and is now being squared, formed, planed, dadoed, grooved, ripped, sawn, routed, sanded, stained, and  assembled into our new cabinets. They dont know exactly when the the cabinets will be done, but they expect that delivery will occur some time between June 4 and June 11. Wow wow we wow. That’s 8 days from now at the earliest!

We ‘gonna hafta figure out what kind of countertop we want to install, ’cause right now it’s looking a lot like plywood and cardboard.

Did someone call about empty pipes?

I hate plumbing. I do. It just pisses me off.

I don’t mind starting a project from scratch, but what I do mind is fixing someone else’s work. When you plumb for the first time, you can set everything up very nicely. Lay out your work, cut all your pieces to size, glue, thread, or solder everything together and boom: you’re done.

When you’re adding a line to existing plumbing, you have limited options unless you want to drain all of your pipes. You’ve got compression fittings, adapters, reducers, couplers, and a thousand other little things that you have to crimp, thread, re-thread, glue, curse, re-buy, hit with a hammer, and finally encase in epoxy.

So, whenever the previous owners bought their newfangled ice-box with an ice maker, some $8-an-hour “contractor” drilled a hole directly through the floor, uncoiled about 25 feet of copper pipe, ran the piping through the floor and used a quick-tap to tap the line into the water mains, screwed that up and re-did the job with new epoxy adhesive, and just smashed about 10 feet of pipe behind the fridge. Not willing to drill a hole right in the middle of the new floor I will be laying, I put in a refridgerator water tap, and it looks a lot like the picture I posted above.

Obviously, I have to fix the drywall holes, but Lord knows I’ve done that a time or two in this house. So, there it is. A freakin’ fridge tap that only took 4 hours to do correctly. I struggled with one stupid adapter I bought that absolutely would not stop leaking. I put some plumber’s dope on it, teflon tape, screwed it together so tight that I had to put it in a vice to get it loose, and nothing worked. So, like any good engineer would do after messing with a job too long, I resorted to a 3500 degree propane torch, a quick brushing of flux, and a dab of solder. Guess what fitting doesn’t leak anymore?

I am leaving the holes open now to verify that the leaks have all been addressed, but once it’s good, I’ll cover it up.

To compare, the other job you see pictured only took an hour (and no, it wasn’t installing the stove).

Can’t be more than 114!

Oh man was it hot today. I spent about 4 hours in my car today, and serendipitously my air conditioner decided to completely crap out… again. I have a thermometer in my car’s air vent to tell me the temperature of the air, so I can keep tabs on my A/C system that I rebuilt. It was consistently over 100 degrees all day. Anyway, today’s A/C failure is the A/C clutch on my 4-month-out-of-warranty A/C compressor. A note to anyone out there who might be working on their air conditioner any time now or ever: I have learned the hard way many times over, unfortunately, that Factory Air is an absolute shit company. Everything they make is shit: their customer service is shit, their products are shit, their build quality is shit, their warranty is shit, their service life is shit, and their return policy is shit. Highly recommended. So…. It was really nice to work inside today!

I have started ripping out the old kitchen, and it was surprisingly easy. I just grabbed the countertop and pulled it up, and it came right off. This cabinet was installed with only two nails, so I pulled those out and just lifted the box right out of it’s space. I know that this was the easiest cabinet by far, but taking this thing out was probably only 20 minutes, and that includes vacuuming up afterwards.

These humongoids I did first, however, and they took significantly longer than 20 minutes. I had my dolly all ready, I had a makeshift ramp in place, and I was awkwardly maneuvering them to go down the stairs, and nothing was really working right. So, I just picked one up and put one of the sides on my shoulder, and that worked way better than I had anticipated. Maybe lifting 2 tons of concrete helped make these things more mobile than I was used to. Or maybe the idea of having two giant cabinets sitting in my doorway was the motivation I needed to get these things downstairs.

Most importantly, I found out the scale of the task of ripping out the old kitchen, and I don’t think it will be too bad. It’s certainly not going to be as rough as moving all that concrete! However, I do have to add another job to my crazy honey-do list, and that’s cleaning the den and the garage. Ouch.

I’m definitely going to need help moving the fridge, so whoever comes over can help me clean all the beer out of it first.

All My Friends Know the Low Rider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what the Blazer looks like with 3/4 of a ton of crap in the back. My car took it like a champ, but I certainly wasn’t the first off the line when the light turned green.

That concrete didn’t stay in my car long, as you can see. I put another ton of concrete in a hole , completing two of the new foundation pillars.

Because the worst part of the sag happens in the middle of the beam, and now that the two middle pillars are poured, pretty soon I can install the floor jacks and start re-leveling the house. On this type of concrete, it will be a few days still before I can put the weight of a house on it, but the hard part is done for these two supports.

For those keeping track (me), this slab was over a ton of concrete (2060 pounds), 150 pounds of rock, 2 rebars, all completed by my lonesome. My live-in brother in law came in at 7 this morning and slept until 6:00, just as soon as I was done washing all my tools. I’m sure it was just a coincidence.

New Tool Review: Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville Margarita Mixer – Block Party Edition

Well, you know it’s a party when you bring out a Margarita mixer that measures capacity in cubic feet. With a 30 gallon capacity, you know you can get the whole neighborhood drunk and have enough blackmail material to retire in no time!

Wasting away again...I am very pleased with my mixer. At first, I was cruising Craigslist for a gas-powered, mega capacity, tow-behind model, but it was very convenient to be able to run this thing under the house. Plus, it’s really not that loud, even when tumbling 160 pounds of… margarita mix. What’s better is that I bought the floor model, and Lowes gave me 10% off and it came completely assembled! Although I did hear from 5 employees “Wow! You’re buying that thing? I’ve never seen anybody buy one of those.” Made me feel good, you know, like the whole world knows a secret that you’ll find out when it’s too late. But the real reason no one bought one before is that the rest of Chamblee is just too lame to need a 4 cubic foot margarita mixer. Yep, that must be it.

So if you’re reading this now, that means that you’re too sober. Come on over and we’ll fire this thing up. I’m always ready to party.

A ton of work!

On Saturday, Jamie came up and we did a ton of work. Literally! And here’s what a ton of work looks like:

meh. I guess it was heavy...

That’s 150 pounds of rock, 21 80 pound bags of concrete, 6 pounds of water per bag, and a couple rebars, and we’re up to 1962 pounds. Add in all the dirt we moved to backfill the form, the tools we moved in and out, and the giant Five Guys burger I had for lunch, and we’re easily over the 2000# mark.

So it turns out that I may have to reorganize my project progress a little bit. At first, I was going to buy this quick setting concrete that would be load bearing in only 12 hours. When I priced out the difference, regular concrete was about $3.50 for a bag and the quick setting concrete was close to $5. That difference was a little tough to take, being that I probably need about 100 bags to finish the job. But then when I went to buy the stuff, I found out that the $5 bag was only for 40# of concrete, and the $3.50 bag was for 80#. So now it’s $10 vs. $3.50, almost triple the price. No sanx.

So, I’m using the cheap stuff, but that’s not all bad. It will be nice to break up the days of schlepping concrete, but that means I have to start the kitchen demo a little earlier than I thought. I guess my main goal is to keep the dishwasher and kitchen sink functional for as long as possible.

It rubs the lotion on its skin

 No animals were harmed in the making of this photograph

There’s a very good chance that I’m going to have to explain my project to a police officer before I finish. There are piles of dirt in a trench in my yard that only grow under moonlight and nobody has seen my wife in over a week. I’m sure this photograph won’t help my case any, but what can I say. He jumped in there (and out… it’s only a foot and a half) all by himself. Don’t judge me.

Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. Good news is that I was done today by 9:30. More good news is that I get some new tools tomorrow! But the bad news is that due to the spacing of current columns, I will only be able to do one pillar at a time. Bummer.

Sorry about the crotch shot. A main vent from the HVAC system is right behind me. 

What you can see in this picture is the first part of Hole #2, and the “support” of the old column. Being very generous, that’s about 4 square feet of concrete on a 5 inch thick slab. The concrete was poorly mixed, as it crumbles pretty easily. If you look at the banks of the hole, you will see an obvious change in coloration about 5 inches down from the surface. This discoloration marks the frost line, where any foundation support should start about a foot under. This current slab, obviously, is not under the frost line, and you will notice that the discoloration under the old slab extends about half way down the hole, or about 9 inches. This discoloration indicates a degredation of the soil under the support, giving clues as to why my kitchen was sinking into the ground.

Obviously, I left all the dirt under the column in tact. Before I dug out the hole, however, I placed a jack behind the column to help support the load of the beam and take some of the weight off of that newly exposed column of dirt. The jack was probably not needed, but it’s my damn foundation, so I’m not taking any chances. I will need to finish this column ASAP, so this might be the first column to be completed this weekend. We’ll see.

New Tool Review – Digmaster 9000

Well, here it is y’all. The Digmaster 9000.

What you see here is simply the greatest feat of engineering that the world has ever seen. The Digmaster 9000 is 1.21 Gigawatts of pure digging prowess.

I love this new tool, and so do a lot of people. I am a little upset that current vernacular would allude to the Digmaster as a “shovel”, which clearly is unfortunate, but I will have to excuse my language–no, my species–for not having evolved enough to be able to adequately describe this masterpiece. Here are a couple of reviews I read before I decided on the Digmaster 9000.

The Digmaster 9000 is the greatest thing since I sliced bread. -Jesus
The Digmaster 9000 is 1000 more than the 8000.-Tim Allen
Cocaine is a helluva drug.-Rick James

Simply put, I have never in my life had a tool as great as this one. But don’t take my word for it. Come over and try it out for yourself. Maybe remove a cubic yard or two. I promise you won’t be dissapointed. Tomorrow would be good.