Archive for category Home Ec

Mini-Lathe, Maxi-OD

This came about while tinkering up a shade for a repurposed LED downlight:

PVC fitting - boring setup
PVC fitting – boring setup

It’s a 4 inch DWV pipe coupling I bored out to fit the LED housing, which was ever so slightly larger than the pipe OD.

Cutting it off required as much workspace as the poor little lathe had:

PVC fitting - cutoff setup
PVC fitting – cutoff setup

Ignore the toolpost handle across the top. What’s important: the cutoff blade poking out of the QCTP, above the orange carriage stop lock lever, extending just far enough to cut through the coupling’s wall before the compound hits the coupling. The compound slide is all the way out against the cross-slide DRO, rotated at the only angle putting the tool where it needs to be and clearing the end of the coupling.

It ended reasonably well:

PVC fitting - LED floor lamp
PVC fitting – LED floor lamp

But, in retrospect, was hideously bad practice. Next time, I’ll make a fixture to hold the fitting on a faceplate.

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American Standard Elite Kitchen Faucet: Spout Bearing Improvement

Removing the failed hot limit stop ring from the kitchen faucet reminded me of a fix I’d done a few months ago. The faucet spout eats the O-rings sealing it to the column rising out of the sink, as evidence by the far-too-many replacements I’ve installed over the years.

The O-ring replacement kit includes a pair of nylon (?) split rings which should provide bearing surfaces for the spout, but the upper ring sits in a groove putting its OD almost flush with the column:

Faucet column
Faucet column

This may be tolerance creep or just a design screwup, but the spout squashes the O-ring much more than (IMO) it should and wears it out entirely too soon.

This time around, I cut a strip of 0.4 mm thick polypropylene (from the Big Box o’ Clamshell Packages) long enough to wrap around the column and narrow enough to fit inside the groove, with the split ring holding it in place. The strip expands the ring’s OD to just barely fit inside the spout, so the spout now bears mostly on the ring, not the O-ring.

Despite measuring the groove OD and the spout ID, I had to cut-and-try several strips to find the proper thickness. Your mileage will certainly differ.

The spout now turns smoothly and freely, without leakage. We’ll see whether the new O-rings last longer than before.


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American Standard Elite Kitchen Faucet: Hot Limit Safety Stop FAIL

During an evening KP session, the kitchen faucet handle jammed at the clockwise (hottest) end of its travel and refused to turn; it continued to move vertically and I turned off the water. This had happened before, so I knew roughly what to expect:

Am Std Elite Faucet - misaligned hot limit stop

The pointer on the red hot limit safety stop ring should be aimed just right of the front screw, at the 0 position producing maximum hotness. The scale reads backwards, perhaps in units of increasing safety.

In that position, the ring prevents the valve core from turning counterclockwise, which explains the symptoms. With the water turned off (at the ball valves in the basement) and the valve stub tilted vertically, the ring popped loose (it shouldn’t move on its own) and exposed the problem:

Am Std Elite Faucet - wrecked hot limit splines - as found
Am Std Elite Faucet – wrecked hot limit splines – as found

Neither Mary nor I recall applying that much force to the handle, but ya never know.

The flanges protruding from the stem prevent you from removing the ring, but a pair of small diagonal cutters will chop right through the plastic. If you’re one of the six people depending on the limit stop to keep the water temperature under control, you probably don’t want to cut the ring out; I have no suggestions on how to repair it.

It’s obvious the splines won’t ever be the same again:

Am Std Elite Faucet - wrecked hot limit splines - detail 1
Am Std Elite Faucet – wrecked hot limit splines – detail 1

The ring has two sets of splines and they’re both wrecked:

Am Std Elite Faucet - wrecked hot limit splines - detail 2
Am Std Elite Faucet – wrecked hot limit splines – detail 2

With the ring out of the way, it’s easy to see the trunnion shaft has moved leftward:

Am Std Elite Faucet - misaligned pivot shaft
Am Std Elite Faucet – misaligned pivot shaft

There’s essentially no clearance between the shaft and the ring, so it was rubbing against the ring, as evidenced by the red debris left behind when I tapped it to the far end of its travel:

Reassemble in reverse order and it works fine again.

I expect the shaft will resume moving leftward and eventually jam in the notch, probably after abrading the white plastic, but I don’t see how to lock it in place.


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Monthly Science: Vegetable Ice Crystals

Mary made a batch of veggies in tomato sauce and froze meal-size portions as winter treats. The moist air inside the containers froze into delicate ice blades on the zucchini slices:

Veggie ice crystals - overview
Veggie ice crystals – overview

A closer look:

Veggie ice crystals - detail
Veggie ice crystals – detail

The blade cross-sections might be oblong hexagons, but it’s hard to tell with crystals melting almost instantly after the lid comes off. Some of the smaller hair-like blades reminded me of tin whiskers.


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LED Floor Lamp UI Improvement

A new floor lamp arrived with the usual dark-gray-on-black annotations on an absolutely non-tactile pair of capacitive controls. For a device intended for use in a dim room, this makes little sense, unless you’re both trendy and concerned about manufacturing costs.

A strip of 1/4 inch Kapton tape added just enough tactility to find the damn buttons without looking at the lamp head:

Teckin floor lamp - tactile switch tape
Teckin floor lamp – tactile switch tape

The pole’s non-adjustable length put the lamp head well above eye level, so I removed one pole segment. This required cutting the 12 V zipcord and crimping a pair of connectors:

Teckin floor lamp - spliced wire
Teckin floor lamp – spliced wire

I briefly considered conjuring a skinny connector, but came to my senses: there’s plenty of zipcord if I must chop out the connectors, particularly seeing as how shortening the pole added a foot.

The setscrew at the bottom of the gooseneck crunched the zipcord against the metal shell. A polypropylene snippet made me feel better, even if it makes no difference:

Teckin floor lamp - wire clamp pad
Teckin floor lamp – wire clamp pad

After all that, It Just Worked™:

Teckin floor lamp - installed
Teckin floor lamp – installed


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Wood Board Cheese Slicer Rebolting

Long ago, a wood-base countertop cheese slicer arrived with a tenuous connection between its screw-on knob / handle and the bolt securing the cutting wire. The problem seemed to be boogered bolt threads:

Cheese slicer - original bolt
Cheese slicer – original bolt

The knob screwed firmly onto a known-good 10-24 screw, not the M5 bolt I expected, so the slicer may be old enough to be Made In America. Ya never know around here.

However, the hex head is essential, because you must hold it while tightening the nut capturing the slicing wire. Not having a 10-24 or even 10-32 bolt in hand, I went full-frontal metric with an M5 bolt.

Even with a full face shield, I don’t like standing in the plane of an abrasive cutting tool, even a piddly Dremel disk, so the slot through the head isn’t the best work I’ve ever presented:

Cheese slicer - slotted bolt head
Cheese slicer – slotted bolt head


Cheese slicer - skewed slot
Cheese slicer – skewed slot

But it’s hereby defined to be Good Enough™ for the purpose.

As you might expect, I ran an M5×0.8 tap into the existing 10-24 knob thread, hand-turning the lathe chuck and lining up the tap wrench with the tailstock.

Drill out the slicer’s frame hole to clear the bolt, re-string wire through slot, tighten jam nut, add a locking nut on the other side, screw on the knob, and it’s All Good:

Cheese slicer - repaired
Cheese slicer – repaired

Ugly, but good.

I expect the re-wrapped wire will break in short order, because you just can’t re-bend steel wire with impunity. So far, so good.



Always Bring Duct Tape

My pre-trip checklist now includes “Duct Tape”, so, when the tiny screw holding my sunglasses together went spung and dropped the lens on the parking lot gravel, I was prepared:

Sunglasses - duct tape FTW
Sunglasses – duct tape FTW

I continued the mission in full-frontal Harry Potter mode.

Fortunately, it’s a captive screw and returned home with us. Back in the Basement Laboratory, with a Philips 00 screwdriver and threadlocker at hand, the repair was no big deal:

Sunglasses - loose lens screw
Sunglasses – loose lens screw

You’re looking at the screw head, believe it or not.

And, no, I’m not packing a Philips 00 screwdriver on our next trip.

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