Dripworks Micro-Flow Valves: QC FAIL

We recently installed a Dripworks drip irrigation system for Mary’s garden and, of course, pre-assembled the emitter / dripline tubing, fittings, and supply / filter / plumbing for each of the beds in the Basement Shop. A few days after burying the main lines, plumbing the filter + pressure regulator, and plugging in half a dozen bed assemblies, Mary noticed some emitter tubes weren’t delivering any water and other beds seemed too dry.

N.B.: We bought everything directly from Dripworks. This is not counterfeit crap from a sketchy Amazon seller.

I cut the dripline just downstream of the Micro-Flow valve on a completely dry bed, whereupon no water emerged. Cutting the supply tube just upstream of the valve produced a jet squirting halfway along the bed. I tried and failed to blow air through the valve: it was completely blocked despite being in the “open” position. I installed another valve and the emitter tube started working properly.

I sat down at the kitchen table with a bag of unused valves and peered through them (the pix are through the microscope):

Dripworks valve - mostly open lumen
Dripworks valve – mostly open lumen

That’s one of the better-looking valves, with only a little mold flash in the lumen.

Partially occluded lumens were more typical:

Dripworks valve - partially occluded lumen
Dripworks valve – partially occluded lumen

Quite a few were almost completely obstructed:

Dripworks valve - mostly occluded lumen
Dripworks valve – mostly occluded lumen

For lack of better instrumentation, I blew through the valves and sorted them by effort:

Dripworks valve - sorted by blockage
Dripworks valve – sorted by blockage

Two of the valves in the group on the left are completely blocked, with the others mostly blocked.

The middle group has enough mold flash to produce noticeable resistance to the air flow. I think water would have more trouble getting through, but the emitters would at least look like they’re delivering water.

The group on the right has mostly unblocked valves, with visible mold flash but little restriction.

I have no way to measure the actual water flow, so it’s entirely possible the QC spec allows considerable blockage while still delivering enough water to the emitters. More likely, the spec assumes a clear lumen and the mold flash is a total QC faceplant; it’s obviously not a controlled quantity.

Well, I can fix that:

Dripworks valve - drilling
Dripworks valve – drilling

That’s a 2.3 mm drill going straight through the valve body. I drilled the valves from both ends and blew out the swarf:

Dripworks valve - drill swarf
Dripworks valve – drill swarf

That produced twenty valves with clear lumens. Of course, the drill leaves a slightly rough interior surface, but it’s now much easier to blow air through them.

We hadn’t installed the driplines in two beds with three emitter tubes per bed. I cut out those six unused valves and sorted them by resistance:

Dripworks valve - six samples
Dripworks valve – six samples

Both of the valves on the left are blocked, the three on the right are mostly OK, and the one in the middle is partially blocked.

With two dozen repaired valves in hand, we returned to the garden, I cut 22 valves out of the installed driplines and replaced them under field conditions. Returning to the Basement Laboratory, I blew the water out (*), sorted them by resistance, and produced a similar distribution, albeit with no pictorial evidence. Although we have no immediate need for the used valves, they’re drilled out and ready for use.

In very round numbers, you should expect:

  • A third of Dripworks valves will pass (close to) the expected flow
  • A third will have a minor flow restriction
  • A quarter will have a severe flow restriction
  • One valve in ten will be completely blocked

Plan to drill out all the Micro-Flow valves before you assemble your driplines.

AFAICT, none of the other ¼ inch fittings we used have any interior flash, so it’s only a problem with the valves.

We are, as the saying goes, not amused.

(*) If you will eat a peck of dirt before you die, I’m well on my way.

NYS DOT Motivation: Death

We have just started rolling from Overocker Road and the traffic signal on Burnett Blvd at Rt 55 (on the far left) has just turned green for the single car on the sensor loop:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 0 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 0 s

Much to our surprise, 17 s later the signal is still green:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 17 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 17 s

As usual, the unmarked sensor loop doesn’t detect bicycles and the control doesn’t take our clearing time into account, so the signal turns yellow 5 s later (after 22 s from turning green) while we’re still in the intersection:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 22 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 22 sBurnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 22 s

After another 6 s, though, we’re through the intersection and lined up on the right side of Rt 55, just as the Rt 55 signal turns green:

Burnett Blvd Rt 55 - 2021-05-23 - 28 s
Burnett Blvd Rt 55 – 2021-05-23 – 28 s

Note that the Burnett Blvd signal remained green for 22 s, much longer than in bygone years, and the green-to-green time is now 28 s. We got through the intersection without any difficulty, although the green-to-red clearance time remains scanty.

Those of long memory may recall my writeup of the timing in early November last year. That was with many cars triggering the sensor loops, so the timings from a trip last July with a single truck-and-trailer tripping the sensor may be more relevant. Or take your pick from other timings done during the last six years; there’s plenty of data to show something’s new and different.

Mary recently discovered a reason why NYS DOT may have suddenly changed the signal timing at the Burnett intersection after all those years:

During the incident, a black Nissan Titan, driven by a 51-year-old male resident of Lagrangeville, collided with a bicycle, ridden by a 58-year-old male resident of Poughkeepsie, in the area of the crosswalk on the southeast portion of the intersection, said the Town of Poughkeepsie Police.

The bicyclist sustained serious injuries and was transported to MidHudson Regional Hospital.


The crosswalk mentioned in the article appears in the last picture.

The cyclist died of his injuries shortly after that article went live.

Mary knew him. He was one of the gardeners near her plot in the Vassar Community Garden who lived in the apartments a few hundred yards from that intersection, didn’t own a car, and, for years, rode through that intersection to the grocery store at the far end of Burnett Blvd (across another of DOT’s intersections). Everyone knew him as a nice, considerate guy.

When DOT tells you “Clearance times are determined based on speed, intersection dimensions, grade, and reaction time and cannot be adjusted” they don’t add “Because not enough people have died to get our attention.”

Death is the only thing that will convince NYS DOT’s engineers to change the signal timing at an intersection.

As far as I can tell, all of the other intersections along our usual routes still have the same inadequate clearance times. Evidently, the bicyclist death toll isn’t high enough to get their attention and evidence here doesn’t matter there, because motor vehicle traffic cannot be delayed, even for a few seconds, merely to protect the most vulnerable “users” of their facilities.

We’ve been bicycling all our adult lives and haven’t been killed yet, despite NYS DOT’s complete lack of attention. Our experiences justify my cynicism and bitterness.

I eventually figured out why no NYS DOT staffer will accompany me on bike trips along their “safe for all users” roads. If they did, they’d be unable to deny knowing how hazardous their engineering designs & maintenance practices are in real life, should the question come up in a court of law.

If you think that’s not the case, then let’s go riding together …

Road design, build quality, and attention to details matter, even though drivers and, yes, cyclists share some of the blame.

House Flipping

Sometimes I get text messages:

House Hunting Chat
House Hunting Chat

BzzzzclickNO CARRIER

I’m reasonably sure “Caroline” is really a property flipper, so we’re not in “her” target market.

Should you be interested in moving into the Hudson Valley, we can probably make a mutually beneficial deal. Protip: use email.

If only Android allowed whitelisting SMS message sources.

Another Nice Doggy

We’re riding southbound on the recently opened section of the Empire State Trail, just south of Hopewell Junction, and are approaching a dog walker totally face-sucked by her phone in the middle of the path:

Empire State Trail - Dog Lunge - 2021-05-12 - 0
Empire State Trail – Dog Lunge – 2021-05-12 – 0

Mary has been dinging her bike bell for the last few seconds and finally manages to break through:

Empire State Trail - Dog Lunge - 2021-05-12 - 1
Empire State Trail – Dog Lunge – 2021-05-12 – 1

The dog walker leans against the fence while pulling on the leash as hard as she can, as if she knows the dog poses a threat:

Empire State Trail - Dog Lunge - 2021-05-12 - 2
Empire State Trail – Dog Lunge – 2021-05-12 – 2

Which it does:

Empire State Trail - Dog Lunge - 2021-05-12 - 3
Empire State Trail – Dog Lunge – 2021-05-12 – 3

The leash is too long for close-quarters work:

Empire State Trail - Dog Lunge - 2021-05-12 - 4
Empire State Trail – Dog Lunge – 2021-05-12 – 4

Nice teeth, doggie:

Empire State Trail - Dog Lunge - 2021-05-12 - 5
Empire State Trail – Dog Lunge – 2021-05-12 – 5

Surely, the dog just wants to lick me to death:

Empire State Trail - Dog Lunge - 2021-05-12 - 6
Empire State Trail – Dog Lunge – 2021-05-12 – 6

Tell me again how well-trained this dog is:

Empire State Trail - Dog Lunge - 2021-05-12 - 7
Empire State Trail – Dog Lunge – 2021-05-12 – 7

Seven seconds after the first picture:

Empire State Trail - Dog Lunge - 2021-05-12 - 8
Empire State Trail – Dog Lunge – 2021-05-12 – 8

The dog also lunged at the pair of bicyclists following us, so perhaps this is how she makes sure it get its exercise during the walk.

I hate dogs.

Amazon Packaging: Grease Cartridge

I knew this would happen, so I made sure to not order anything that could possibly arrive at the same time:

Grease cartridge - casual packaging
Grease cartridge – casual packaging

I’ll apply the grease by hand, so the fact the cartridge cannot fit into a piston-fed gun doesn’t matter:

Grease cartridge - cap damage
Grease cartridge – cap damage

I recently placed one order for a BFW and another for four small bottles, all of which arrived in a single box with a thoroughly flattened air pillow strip. Fortunately, the bottles were plastic and survived unscathed, but I’m sure it got ugly in there.

Given that one order for multiple items has arrived in three different boxes on two different days, it’s exceedingly difficult to work around Amazon’s corporate-level indifference for safe packaging.

Miniblind Mounting Brackets: Version 4

Miniblinds don’t last forever:

Miniblind failure
Miniblind failure

The plastic frame failed at the pull cord opening, obviously a weak and, alas, non-repairable point.

A quick trip to Lowe’s produced a new miniblind with mounting hardware completely different from the old one. This came as no surprise, as every new miniblind differs from all previous ones; miniblind mounting hardware is not strongly conserved.

The broken frame fit into the plastic end caps mounted just beyond the scarred paint marking the bracket location required for the previous miniblind:

Miniblind bracket - V3
Miniblind bracket – V3

Note that the caps mount with a single screw in the homebrew bracket’s face, which has two holes to match the previous-previous cap.

Also note how the curved moulding strips around the 1955-era windows in this house do not fit any contemporary miniblind hardware, thus requiring Quality Shop Time with every installation.

Although the shiny new hardware had two slots, they neither lined up with the existing bracket holes nor extended quite far enough vertically. I lined things up, marked and drilled a single midline hole in both the new hardware and the old bracket, and reused the old screw and nut:

Miniblind bracket - V4 side
Miniblind bracket – V4 side

Moving the bracket back to its previous-previous location exposed the scarred paint under the previous position:

Miniblind bracket - V4 front
Miniblind bracket – V4 front

Fortunately, it’s hidden by the installed miniblind.

That was, all things considered, easy …

Defensive Driving Course

This year was my turn to take an online Defensive Driving Course to knock a few percent off our automobile insurance premium. It’s admittedly difficult to make traffic law interesting, but this was the worst-written, poorest-edited, and most factually incorrect course I have ever had the misfortune to waste eight hours of my life taking.

For example:

Emergency signals, also called emergency flashers or hazard warning devices, are flashing red lights found on the front and rear of the vehicle

No, they’re amber on both ends of the vehicle. Flashing red on the front is reserved for vehicles with police and firefighters inside.

… material used to block the sun from coming into a vehicle through the windshield and windows must have a luminous transmittance of less than 70%. That means the material must allow at least 30% of the light to pass through it

No, lower transmittance means less light passing through the glass.

I think the author and editors live in a part of the world once colonized by the British Empire:

Driving class - mirror-image roadway crossing
Driving class – mirror-image roadway crossing

Here in New York State, we drive on the right.

Update: scruss recalls the image in an old UK driving manual. It describes a type of pedestrian crossing unknown in the US.

The sign recognition lesson claimed this sign marks a section of road with two-lane traffic:

Driving class - 2-lane traffic
Driving class – 2-lane traffic

NYS DMV says it actually indicates two-way traffic on an undivided road.

The course says this sign marks the point where the two-lane section ends:

Driving class - lane reductIon
Driving class – lane reductIon

It really means a divided highway ends and two-way traffic begins.

The course definitely offered amusing incorrect answers:

Driving class - slippery area
Driving class – slippery area

The sign really means slippery when wet, but I suppose that’s in the nature of fine tuning.

The closing page of the course told me I could take a survey, but, somehow, the survey never appeared.