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Archive for category Home Ec

Summer Downshift

We have several high-intensity / long-attention-span home projects scheduled this summer, all of which will keep me away from the Basement Laboratory.

We’re OK, all is right with our world, but painting rooms and yard maintenance always take way more time than they should, while having close to zero intellectual content.

Like, for example, the result of a strenuous morning devoted to removing a severely overgrown holly bush:

Mother of All Holly Bush Stumps

Mother of All Holly Bush Stumps

I’ll post odd & ends a few times a week until maybe mid-August, whereupon I should get back to more usual pursuits.

Enjoy your downtime …

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Subaru Forester Relamping

Prompted by RCP’s battery misadventure, I replaced a handful of the Forester’s incandescent bulbs:

Subaru Forester 2015 - replaced bulbs

Subaru Forester 2015 – replaced bulbs

Despite what look like “squeeze here” markings, you must push the license plate bulb holders toward the center of the car:

Subaru Forester 2015 - license plate bulb holders

Subaru Forester 2015 – license plate bulb holders

They were both stuck firmly to the trim plate, so I braced a screwdriver against the outboard edge of the trim panel, after which it becomes obvious how pressing inward compresses the (plastic) spring clip so you can pull the outward side of the holder away from the hatch.

Casual searching turned up a bunch of exceedingly helpful advice for anyone DIY-ing through a Forester.

The bulbs with conical ends, known as “festoon” lamps, (unsurprisingly) come in  several lengths. The Forester bulbs are about 25 mm long, (unsurprisingly) much shorter than the 31 mm LEDs that seem to be the smallest available replacements, but (surprisingly) the socket tabs have barely enough compliance for the extra half dozen millimeters:

Subaru Forester 2015 - dome with 31 mm festoon LED bulb

Subaru Forester 2015 – dome with 31 mm festoon LED bulb

The LEDs are much much much brighter than the incandescents, although I’d prefer warm white to cool white. The cargo compartment lamp in the back is still way too dim; I don’t understand how Subaru decided on a plastic cover tinted tinted dark smoke gray.

All in all, a worthwhile upgrade!

I wonder how long they’ll last? I have one spare of each type …

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Mint Extract: The Beginning

Mary harvested a great bunch of spearmint from a place where it wouldn’t be missed and, after rinsing, plucking, and chopping, we now have a liter of Mint Extract in the making:

Mint Extract - start - 2018-05-29

Mint Extract – start – 2018-05-29

The big jars got 3 oz of coarse-chopped leaves apiece, the smaller jar 1 oz, and the (removed) stems added up to 3.5 oz, so call it 1/3 waste. Not that this is an exact science, but I’d say 3/4 pound of just-picked mint, packed slightly tighter than those jars, would produce a liter of extract.

Because we started with fresh-picked leaves, a liter of 190 proof = 95% ethanol Everclear (*) will extract the oil better than the 80 proof = 40% ethanol vodka I used for dried vanilla beans.

A day later, the leaves definitely look dehydrated:

Mint Extract - browning leaves - 2018-05-30

Mint Extract – browning leaves – 2018-05-30

Those bottles are lying on their sides with the camera above, looking through the air bubble to the leaves. Unlike commercial mint extract, this stuff is green!

It’ll be finished after a month of daily agitation, but surely it’s an exponential process: a few hundred μl already pep up a mug o’ cocoa just fine.

In very round numbers, I get 10 drops / 0.1 ml, so 1 drop = 10 μl.

Bonus: the cutting board smells wonderful.

(*) It may be Olde White Guy Privilege, but clerks don’t even blink when I stagger up to the counter clutching a bottle of high-octane hooch; they don’t even card my age!

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Mower Blade Standardization, Lack Thereof

The blade from our current Craftsman mower is on the right:

Sears Craftsman mower blades

Sears Craftsman mower blades

The other two came from our previous Craftsman mowers.

Stipulated: Sears sources their mowers from various suppliers, but it’d be great if everybody could agree on a single blade mount and be done with it.

Obligatory XKCD.

For the record, a 5/8 inch socket works fine. One could surely use a 16 mm socket in a pinch.

Wear leather gloves to prevent a nasty gash from the stamped-steel muffler shroud as you pull the sparkle plug cap to avoid an absolutely impossible engine startup while you’re wrenching under the deck.

Replace the air cleaner while you’re at it.

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Kenmore 158: First Needle LED Failure

The first white LED fixture built to illuminate one of Mary’s Kenmore 158 sewing machines has been in regular use for the last four years:

Kenmore 158 Sewing Machine - mixed LED lighting

Kenmore 158 Sewing Machine – mixed LED lighting

We never found a good time to rip-and-replace the “prototype” with brighter SMD LEDs and one of the LEDs finally gave up.

They’re 10 mm white LEDs with five chips wired in parallel, which is obvious when you look into the remaining LED running at 1 mA:

10 mm white LED - chips

10 mm white LED – chips

The center chip is just dimmer than the others, which means their QC doesn’t tightly control the forward voltage spec.

The wire bonds on the anode terminal of the failed LED look a bit sketchy:

10 mm white LED - wire bonds

10 mm white LED – wire bonds

Fortunately, I hadn’t removed the 120 VAC wiring for the original bulb and I have two OEM bulbs from other machines, so I just removed my LED gimcrackery, installed a good old incandescent bulb, and she’s back to sewing with a pleasantly warm machine.

The fixture holding the LEDs broke apart as I extracted it, but it’ll never be used again:

10 mm white LED - fixture

10 mm white LED – fixture

The LEDs are rated at 3.5 V and 200 mA (!), but were reasonably bright in series from a 6 V unregulated supply. Perhaps a power glitch killed the poor thing? We’ll never know.

LEDs are reputed to have lifetimes in the multiple tens of thousands of hours, but I’ve seen plenty of failed automotive LEDs and fancy new LED streetlights out there, not to mention many dead and dying traffic signals. Seeing as how they’re in (presumably) well-engineered fixtures with good power supplies and are at most only a few years old, there shouldn’t be any failures yet.

 

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Multicolored Chicken Eggs

This cheerful assortment came from a friend with an assortment of happy chickens:

Multicolored chicken eggs

Multicolored chicken eggs

The lonely Medium white egg, obviously strictly from commercial, serves as a size and color reference. Most of the others weighed in the Large to Extra-Large range.

Even though none of the chickens had the digital upgrade, the morning omelet tasted just fine!

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End of the Sienna

Although I knew the Sienna showed signs of a leaky head gasket, the exhaust system needed some attention, and a sporty used car recently put it in the shade, this still came as a surprise:

I’m trying to get a crew … together and live the demolition derby dream

By the time I arrived, the dashboard trim had vanished and the air bags were safely out:

Demolition Derby - Sienna dashboad prep

Demolition Derby – Sienna dashboad prep

Diligent application of a Harbor Freight “Professional Windshield Removal Kit” cut through the side window seals, but the rear window rested on four impossible-to-cut locating studs:

Sienna - rear window locating stud

Sienna – rear window locating stud

I managed to pry the glass off using a Gasket Scraper and considerable muttering.

With all the exterior trim, lights, and mirrors gone, the Sienna was in fine race trim:

Sienna - Demo derby race trim

Sienna – Demo derby race trim

But, being no longer street-legal, it required trailering. For the record, not all huge pickup trucks have bulky guys with pot bellies behind the wheel:

Demolition Derby - Tow Vehicle Rental

Demolition Derby – Tow Vehicle Rental

A few hours later, it was in the Short Track Full Size pack at the Upperco Volunteer Fire Company’s Demolition Derby:

Sienna at Upperco VFC Demolition Derby - start

Sienna at Upperco VFC Demolition Derby – start

The driver required a few laps to shake off years of safe-driving indoctrination:

Sienna - Demolition Derby - running alone - 2018-04-28

Sienna – Demolition Derby – running alone – 2018-04-28

But eventually the spirit of the thing took over:

Sienna - Demolition Derby - right crunch - 2018-04-28

Sienna – Demolition Derby – right crunch – 2018-04-28

We now know the transmission oil cooler sat just ahead of the left front wheel, where it was exposed to damage by a glancing collision:

Sienna - Demolition Derby - left crunch - 2018-04-28

Sienna – Demolition Derby – left crunch – 2018-04-28

The Sienna finished the race and made it almost all the way to the trailer before bleeding out through the ATF cooler.

The driver emerged in fine shape, although the door didn’t work nearly as well as it had fifteen minutes earlier:

Sienna - Driver exiting Van - 2018-04-28

Sienna – Driver exiting Van – 2018-04-28

A race staffer in a Bobcat aimed the carcass in the right general direction and shoved it onto the trailer for the return to base:

Sienna - Final Trailer Tiedown - 2018-04-28

Sienna – Final Trailer Tiedown – 2018-04-28

You can find shaky low-res camera action documenting the event, because video-or-it-didn’t-happen.

We piled the windows / parts / detritus into the back, a scrapper hauled it away the next morning, and that’s the end of our Sienna’s story.

Toyota sold a lot of Siennas, which means the Hot Topics list over on the right will show a need for Sienna ABS trouble codes long into the future.

In fact, the adjacent motel slot had a disconcerting sight:

Yet Another Sienna

Yet Another Sienna

I think it was a 2001 model, but …

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