Archive for category Home Ec

Kitchen Sink Faucet Deck Sealing

I had to replace the faucet on a kitchen sink (not our own, for reasons not relevant here) after the steel nuts & washers holding the base to the sink deck rotted completely away. Why faucet manufacturers used plain steel in that location remains a mystery; I’m sure it has something to do with cost reduction and damn the consequences after a few years.

Of course, the new faucet didn’t sit quite flat on the sink deck, due to the raised rim around the perimeter. Installing it like that would prevent the (hard plastic) gasket from sealing against the deck, with the inevitable water leak below the sink; we started this project by scrapping a water-soaked shelf under the sink due to the previous faucet’s wrecked seal. Sliding the oval base forward enough to clear the rim would expose the two holes on each side, with similar results.

You can see the problem if you squint hard enough:

Kitchen Sink Faucet - gasket mask

Kitchen Sink Faucet – gasket mask

I decided raising the back of the base by maybe two millimeters wouldn’t be particularly visible, particularly if I filled the space with silicone snot (almost) matching the gasket to provide a solid foundation.

The blue tape masks the sink surface around the gasket to prevent silicone mishaps and simplify cleanup. I held the gasket in place, traced around it with new Xacto knife blade, and peeled the inside out just like I knew what I was doing.

Generous beads of snot around all the holes and across the back will provide a firm base and a good seal:

Kitchen Sink Faucet - gasket in place

Kitchen Sink Faucet – gasket in place

With that in place, I aligned the faucet over the gasket, gently tightened the nuts holding the base to the deck, and waited a day for the silicone to start curing before completing the plumbing. It’ll take a while to finish, due to the limited area exposed around the edges.

The water lines now have shutoff ball valves, which the next person to work on it will surely appreciate.

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Kenmore Electric Clothes Dryer Rebuild

Our ancient Kenmore clothes dryer (Model 110.96282100 for maximal SEO goodness) developed symptoms suggesting the heater and overtemperature cutouts were in fine shape: it continued to turn and heat, but didn’t completely dry the clothes. In addition, it emitted a horrible whine that sounded like a bad bearing.

The wiring diagram pasted on the back panel shows how it works (clicky for more dots):

Kenmore clothes dryer 110.96282100 - wiring diagram

Kenmore clothes dryer 110.96282100 – wiring diagram

Obviously, it’s not a firmware problem…

The motor ran just fine, so Thermal Fuse 2 had never blown at 196 °F.

The Operating Thermostat (along the bottom edge of the diagram) switches the 240 VAC heater off when the clothes temperature (actually, the drum exhaust temperature) exceeds 155 °F. It’s in series with the non-resettable 350 °F thermal cutoff and the resettable 250 °F high limit thermostat, both of which were intact, as shown by the fact that the heater still worked.

We generally run the dryer in Auto mode, with the Temperature Selector in the middle position. The Selector varies the resistance in series with the Operating Thermostat heater (near the middle of the diagram), controlled by Timer Switch 1: increasing resistance reduces the heater current and requires hotter clothes before the Thermostat trips. For the first part of the cycle, the BK-BU contact closes to allow the Selector to affect the current. The BK-V contact also closes during the last part of the cycle, cutting out the Selector and letting the Thermostat hold the clothes at 155 °F by cycling the drum heater.

So I installed a new Operating Thermostat (plus the accompanying thermal fuse I didn’t need):

Kenmore clothes dryer - operating thermostat

Kenmore clothes dryer – operating thermostat

You can do that from the back of the dryer without dismantling it, by removing the rear cover.

For whatever it’s worth, the replacement Operating Thermostat heater has a 74 kΩ resistance, not the 5.6 to 8.4 kΩ range shown on the wiring diagram. Preliminary testing suggests it does what it’s supposed to, so maybe they’ve improved (and, surely, cheapnified) its guts to work with 1% of the original power. More likely, the Temperature Selector now doesn’t do anything, as its (minimum) 10 kΩ resistance on the High setting doesn’t amount to squat compared with the new thermostat heater, but we don’t have enough experience to say anything definite.

In an attempt to fix the whine, I took the whole thing apart to replace the idler wheels supporting the drum, the drum drive belt, and the belt tensioner pulley. The interior of the dryer is filled with sharp edges and hatred, so expect some bloodshed.

Removing and installing the triangular wheel retainers requires a small flat-blade screwdriver and considerable muttering. Here’s the old wheel to the left of the motor, before replacement:

Kenmore clothes dryer - tub support wheel

Kenmore clothes dryer – tub support wheel

After reassembling the dryer, the heater worked fine.

The whine also worked fine, much to my dismay.

So I took it all apart again, removed the plate covering the duct from the drum exhaust port to the blower wheel on the motor, removed a generous handful of lint from the middle of the blower wheel, extracted a pile of debris from the bottom of the duct below the wheel, vacuumed everything in sight, reassembled the dryer, and it now sounds great.

Along the way, a small square brass (?) rod fell out of the debris, sporting one shiny end, well-worn to a diagonal slope. I think the rod got trapped between the duct and the back of the blower wheel, where it would produce the whine only when the motor got up to speed (thus, sounding OK while hand-turning the motor). The accumulated debris & lint held it in place, so flipping the dryer on its face and rotating the motor in both directions had no effect: turning the dryer upright simply let it fall back into the same position.

No pictures, alas. We did the second teardown in a white-hot frenzy to Get It Done and swept the brass rod away with all the other debris.

Whew!

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Credit Union Email: Phishing or Not?

The Credit Union recommends we practice “Safe Computing” with this helpful advice (clicky for more dots):

HVFCU - Safe Computing - sketchy URL

HVFCU – Safe Computing – sketchy URL

The link leading to that page was on their website, but the page is on trabian.com, whoever they are. Should I trust the links on that page to return me to the credit union site or not?

Here’s their definition of “phishing”:

HVFCU - Phishing description

HVFCU – Phishing description

Having just switched to “paperless statements” at the Credit Union, a recent email prompted me to look at my statement. Let’s start by seeing where the email came from:

HVFCU - Statement email - From address

HVFCU – Statement email – From address

Huh.

It claims to be from the credit union, but does its actual address (insofar as anything concerning email can be actual) of statement2web.com sound a little phishy to you, too?

Well, let’s look at the full headers, which I can do because, yo, 1337 H4X0R. Here’s a snippet from the bottom of the stack:

HVFCU - Email detail header

HVFCU – Email detail header

Huh.

So the email started from statement2web.com and bankshotted off kbmla.com. Further up, the headers show it rattled through pobox.com and eventually arrived in my inbox. As far as I can tell, it never touched its alleged starting point of hvfcu.org at any point in its journey.

Quick: phish or no phish?

Of course, it’s a perfectly innocent message from the credit union, but it contains every single warning sign we’re supposed to notice in spam or phishing emails, complete with a clicky link!

[heavy sigh]

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Monthly Science: Minimal-Woo Cast Iron Pan Seasoning

After trying several variations on a theme, our daily-use pan now looks like this:

Cast Iron Pan - after weekly seasoning

Cast Iron Pan – after weekly seasoning

Those obvious wiping marks come from an oily rag in a hot pan. What could go wrong?

The reflected light bar comes from the under-cabinet LED strip.

The surface withstands stainless utensils, cooks omelets with aplomb, and requires no fussy KP:

Omelet in cast-iron pan

Omelet in cast-iron pan

The low-woo seasoning recipe, done maybe once a week when the bottom has more gunk than usual:

  • Clean the pan as usual, wipe dry
  • Begin heating on medium burner set to High
  • Add 0.2 ml = 10 drops = 1 squirt of flaxseed oil
  • Wipe around pan interior with small cotton cloth
  • Continue heating to 500 °F, about four minutes
  • Carefully wipe oily cloth around pan again
  • Let cool

Works for us and doesn’t involve any magic.

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Kenmore Progressive Vacuum Cleaner Carpet Brush Disassembly

The beater bar found and ingested a remarkably long strip of carpet yarn, resulting in a sudden stop and an acute need for disassembly. In the unlikely event that happens again:

  • Remove hose
  • Release latch to lay hose fitting flat
  • Remove two obvious screws
  • Pry rear latches adjacent to hose fitting to release rear of top cover
  • Pry side latches to release middle of top cover
  • Pull rear of top cover away from base
  • Disengage latches along front of beater bar

Those places, neatly marked for future reference, with the top cover against the floor:

Kenmore Progressive vacuum - carpet brush - disassembly latches

Kenmore Progressive vacuum – carpet brush – disassembly latches

With the cover off, the beater bar lifts out and you can easily unwind the mess.

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Forester: TPMS FTW, Redux

Now I know the Forester’s TPMS icon blinks on 1000 feet from a cold start with 12 psi in the offending tire. I returned home and pulled this from a sipe in the left rear tire:

Road debris - blade fragment

Road debris – blade fragment

It’s atop a 0.1 inch grid.

The flat side on the right rode tangent to the tire surface, recessed slightly below the tread, and pretty much invisible inside the sipe. Of course, the point punched through the tire’s steel belt and let the wind out, ever so slowly.

I initially thought it was a utility knife blade fragment, but under the microscope it looks more like a saw blade tooth. It’s obviously been kicking around on the road for quite a while; back in the day, they occasionally swept the roads, but that was then and this is now.

Makes me glad I didn’t buy four new tires after the last flat. I suppose installing two plugs in the same tire counts as a net loss, but they’re small, widely separated injuries and that’s how it’ll roll.

For the record: with 14 k miles on the tires, tread wear = 2/32 inch of the original 6/32 inch depth.

Those tires should last another 30 k miles at our current pace, although I expect more random debris will kill one stone cold dead before that.

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X10 TM751 RF Transciever: End of Life

X10 control from the two HR12A remotes got much worse over the last few months and eventually failed completely, which meant I had to actually walk over to the lights and click the switches. Not to be tolerated, sez I, so I would walk to the bedroom and poke the appropriate buttons on the wired controller (long since obsolete) by the bed. That worked perfectly, which eventually convinced me to dismantle the TM 751 transceiver.

It’s not good when soot plates the case:

X10 TM751 - Smoked case

X10 TM751 – Smoked case

I like how they capacitively coupled RF from the antenna for complete line-voltage isolation.

The PCB looked like it got rather hot over there on the left side:

X10 TM751 - Overheated PCB

X10 TM751 – Overheated PCB

A Zener diode on the component side of the PCB looked a bit toasty, so I decided this gadget had passed its best-used-by-date and dropped it in the electronics recycling box (after harvesting the antenna, just in case).

A new-in-box TM 751 from eBay arrived a few days ago and works just fine.

Done!

 

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