Holidaaaay!

It’s been more than 2 years since we went away on a camping holiday. The pandemic, obviously, and the associated closure of the state parks. And before that there were the climate change related wild fires. Our tent had languished — for a long time in our storage unit, then more recently in our emergency go kit.

That kit we finally got around to putting together as we approached the last election. Never mind the earthquake and wild fires potential, the threat of red hatted Nazis plus wild fires that actually started to threaten places not far from us is what finally got me to prioritize that enough, and my wife was patient enough to support that activity. I mean, obviously it was something we should have done before, but we finally got around to it then.

So after two years of rest we finally dragged it from its slumber. And thankfully, apart from smelling a bit like Olympia’s harbour front / downtown buildings (which do have a distinctive smell – the old ones at least)… Well, that and the delicious scent of meths* – it seems fine. It’s getting on for probably nearly 20 years old and has traveled all over Europe with us.

It’s kind of an old friend.

And here we sit. We’re camping just over an hour away from home in the Kanascat-Palmer state park, which was one of the few parks in which hit the combo of at least feeling rural, having lots of tree cover and being near plenty of nice walks that wasn’t also hours and hours away. Since we’re just here for a few days – getting our sea-legs back with not being at home and reminding ourselves that we do actually like camping.

It’s funny – I’ve done the odd day trip to see Nikki for work as we all got vaccinated, but this was the first time we’d really gone away from home. And I did actually feel a vague nameless anxiety about going out and staying away from the house.

===== Back home.

But I’m glad we did.

We hiked up Little Si, a 1500 ft climb, then – having claimed that we were going to ease ourselves back into walking, then the next day we swore we’d take it easy and added 5 miles and another climb on the Mount Sheppard trailhead. It felt really good to be out in nature, sleeping under canvas (well, nylon). And pleasingly the tent and our associated gubbins has all survived just fine.

It did act to remind us that we really, really do want to be out in the countryside. we both feel much better there…

Now it’s just how to we make that happen.

In at-home news, we’ve been clearing out our storage unit and preparing for an epic garage sale. Lord knows what will sell and what won’t. We’re leaving some stuff to the gods (like my oscilloscopes, which I kind of want to keep but also think I should get rid of, so we’ll see if someone makes a decent offer for them).

It’s actually not so much the getting rid of stuff that’s hard, but the unexpected pictures of my dad, the bits of my childhood, they’re harder. More emotionally draining.

Also, I still have no fricking idea where I’m going to put some things. Like, where does the reel-to-reel tape player live? Where do the tapes live? I have no clue.

We’ve also exceeded the capacity of both the CD and DVD DJ cases.

Augh.

*Which Kathryn printers our we may want to not shout –or maybe we should use its American name (Denatured Alcohol).

Plant problems…

We were really organized this year – made a spreadsheet that tells us what’s up for planting when. We got grow lights, because last year the plants went super stringy – probably because of insufficient light.

But last year we were pretty successful – despite getting plants into the ground late, things still grew well. In fact we gave away a ton of food last year. This year… things have not got gone so well. I’m now wondering if the grow lights were too close to the plants, apparently that can lead to bleaching. This round of plantings does seem to be doing better and we’ve just been turning the lights on briefly in the morning and evening.

But it’s been dispiriting, our plants going out having barely grown, then plunking them in the soil only for them to die. The weather also, has been somewhat weird – burningly summer hot one day, and ordinary spring cool with a ton of rain the next. I’m not sure the plants really know what to make of it.

Anyhow, all of that combined means that yesterday we headed out to the urban farm store – we needed to get some straw to go around our potatoes, but we also used the opportunity to get some plant starts. We had got some at the market the day before, but having already got out ‘extra’ money to pay for a chopping board (we have finally got ourselves a wooden chopping board to protect our knives. They have been being destroyed by our glass boards for a couple of decades), we felt we’d spent enough. Which obviously we hadn’t because we just spent a bunch more in the urban farm store. ;-)

So today is going to be spent prepping and getting these in the ground in the hopes that they’ll take better than the ones we grew. We’ve also had *something* eat the squash we planted, upsettingly. I don’t know what – maybe slugs? But they’ve taken some of them down to just nubs, which is also… dispiriting.

Anyhow, so the garden is not quite where we were hoping this year, but it’s all about learning.

In other news, I’ve realised we could get solar for probably around 1.5k, sufficient to maybe generate around 40% of our power. Indeed, it would probably meet the majority of our day-time use, and might make switching to time-of-use worthwhile (so we’d charge the cars at night most of the time). Anyhow, I was nudging at this problem (because I need more projects, totally); and came across a company that specializes in used solar panels. That would get us 2.8kW for about $1k plus a not super expensive inverter and mountings – we’re probably in for about 1.5k (less tax subsidy on the new components). That should put us at about 2-3 years for a ROI.

Which, if we stay here (in this house) after we adopt for a bit (current plan)…makes sense. Irritatingly, we could have put these in right at the beginning… anyhow.

I need to replace the duff breaker in the panel (never buy a second hand breaker, even if it’s warrantied, if you work as slowly as we do. Because the only second hand breaker in the panel trips all the time when it’s wet, but I only discovered it after it was well out of warranty — and I know it’s the breaker, not the wiring, because if I switch it for the 40A breaker (used on the other EV charger) it still trips, but the swapped breaker works fine. So I have to open the panel up at some point…

It bears thinking about.

Do builders dream of electric tiles?

I’ve been dreaming about the shower again. Not nice, peaceful relaxing water splashing luxuriantly over me as I relax. No, the tiling dream.

As the due date for another inspection approaches, and with Kathryn now vaccinated, there’s a potential small window of opportunity for us to coat the bathroom walls in the vile gunk that will waterproof it. That will mean I can finally get to tile the bathroom (and that will mean I get a shelf back in the garage which is currently filled with tiles).

It’s quite exciting, but it means I get the recurring dream about how to tile the bathroom, how to install the drain, plumbing it in… It’s all very useless – my brain’s trying to solve problems that I don’t know the answer to until I lay out the tiles. It’s trying to work out how I should space them out, how I should cut around the shelf…

It’s all pointless and irritating and means I wake up not feeling rested.

It’s fine for my brain to do this stuff when progress is quicker* and I’ve actually worked out stuff in the half-sleep/wake state which has been useful. At least, that’s happened at least once.

But for the most part it just means I wake up tired and feeling slightly grumpy.

Today, the plan is to measure out more trim and cut it – if it stays dry. If it seems like it’s going to not be that kind of day I might try and finish the last 4 feet of rock moving; it would be really nice to get that job done. I don’t want to push myself too hard today, though, because I’m going to be at work tomorrow. And work has, of late, been quite tiring.

In an NHSy way, all the local hospitals have been pretty full, meaning that we’re also busy. This normally happens for us in the summer when everyone gets out – and we fill up with people who’ve done something foolish outdoors. But at the moment we seem to be being hit with wave after wave of people who didn’t get X checked because COVID and now are very sick, or are just very sick anyway, or are having mental health challenges either because of the fall-out from a year and a half of limited option to be away from the people they live with.

…or because they’re (understandably) very stressed about the return to ‘normal’ when ‘normal’ involves a big chunk of the population walking around sans-mask-unvaccinated. And also it involves lots of social interaction – which many of us haven’t had much of.

And that makes work pretty exhausting, mentally and physically.

It really makes me more want to go live in the middle of nowhere – on a nice bit of land. Of course, the challenge with that is that money. And this year our growing… well, it’s not gone terribly well. I mean, some things seem to be doing okay, but as usual I’m feeling like I’m quite behind on planting. And the plants that we have – some of them really haven’t thrived, and I’m not sure why.

So, that’s that really. The world otherwise continues as is.

Which does worry. I mean, I’m pleased that there’s some progress from the new administration – but again a large chunk of the Dems seem to be trying to play nice and by the rules, and ignoring the fact the GOP don’t. It really feels like they’re trying to get bipartisanship from a group who’s only aim is to deliberately obstruct.

And in the mean time, while the Dems are playing nicely, the republicans are making it impossible for anyone but them to win. Voter suppression, gerrymandering, police overreach. I’m really concerned about what’s going to happen in the mid-term elections here. Because if the dems lose that slim majority then what?

*sigh*

And the endless attacks on trans people here, and back in the UK? It’s just wearing and tiring.

Definitely think a house far away from others would be nice.

*it’s not.

*crickets*

So, I’ve not really been in the mood to write for a while. I’m not sure why. Life has continued to trundle along. We’re trying to adopt, so that takes some significant chunk of my brain power. I’m also working for Transport Evolved for actual money these days which means that I’m worrying about my friend not wasting money paying me. Which means I work on stuff…some more than perhaps I should.

I read somewhere an unhealthy team building tip – saying only employ people with massive imposter syndrome, and they’ll always work way too hard.

I feel seen.

The main thing we’ve been sort of working on is the garden. We’ve done some maintenance and planted asparagus! I love Asparagus! Apparently, they’re super picky. And I wish we’d planted them right at the beginning – because we could be eating them now. They take about 3 years to mature to being pickable, if you didn’t know. Also, we’re meant to keep their area weed free :-/

For future reference, in our next house, as soon as we get it we’re planting fruit trees and bushes, rhubarb and asparagus before we do anything else.

Anyhow, this year we tried to be really together. We made a spreadsheet with when we needed to plant stuff. We got it in to pots pretty much on time. We got LED growlamps to try and overcome the problem we had last year with our plants getting super leggy. We used a suggestion from an old homesteading book about using egg-cartons to put plants in.

…and it’s gone pretty terribly.

While nearly all of them have come up, the beans and peas got wildly out of control and we ended up putting them out without really hardening them out – because the weather was so hot that putting them out to harden out they wilted… and they were so tall they kept breaking so they couldn’t come in-and-out to harden…

The other stuff – some of it’s just been really slow to grow. Really slow. The tomatoes – they’re still only 6cm tall or so, and mostly still on their first leaves despite having been in more than a month. Quite a few of the other things have just died.

I think part of it is the cartons – I suspect they work fine if you use them in a greenhouse, or if you live in a coldish homestead in the early 1970s. But in a warm, modern, fairly dry house and filling them with modern potting compost they swing wildly between arid and sodden, which is not ideal for plant-growth.

This is somewhat disappointing after last year’s successes. Anyhow, this weekend we’re going to plant out a bunch more seeds and hopefully we can get a bit more success with those. We were hoping to use the chicken coop products for fertilizing the beds, but I suspect that isn’t going to happen – because we need a trailer to fetch them fresh bedding.

Anyhow, in other news – we picked up a trailer! We got it second hand and it’s very nice. Can’t use it, obvs.

Washington’s “ownership in doubt” title process involves you waiting – three years – which is fine. I mean, it’s not ideal. But it’s tolerable. But that clock starts, I think, when you submit the magic form – which would be all very well – but I have to wait for them to get back to me with a list of previous owners and send them a letter that says “please indicate you no longer have interest in this trailer”.

The previous owner did sign a bill of sale… but with no title or registration, and no licence plate, and no serial number. It’s kinda tricky.

One thing – back to the garden – that is really interesting and astonishing is the difference the chickens have made to our lawn. And presumably to some extent the garden beds.

They’ve been roaming through the winter eating and pooing their way around the back garden and it is astonishing the change in just a year. It’s most noticeable in our grass – because we do nothing to treat our grass. But the grass in the chicken-wandering-zone is lush, thick and green. The grass where they’ve not been is thin and a bit yellow. Now, you might say ‘ah, yes, but you also threw down a ton of compost in the beds and maybe it’s leached into the soil’. And I had wondered that – except that I was out mowing the grass, and the the line is pretty absolute.

At the chicken-zone boundary, cut off by the fence, you can see the grass change.

So, well done to our chickens. They rock :)

We’ve also been progressing, slowly, on the trim. We’re down to a couple of windows needing top/bottom trim, the bathroom window (which is special and weird) and four door frames. That is a huge amount of progress… but I’m hoping that we can get the trailer so I can get all the remaining bits of wood in one trip. I mean, if they have it in stock. I’d also like to get the wood for the kitchen shelves so we can get those up, too.

What would make that easier would be a trailer…

Ah well, we’ll see what happens.

The lawn destruction continues apace.

When we bought our house it had what people would, probably, call a lawn. I mean, it was a crappy lawn – and we have since discovered that part of the reason it was so crappy is that a bunch of it had grown on top of what was, I would assume, plastic intended to stop things growing over a plant bed.

This had (again, I assume) become covered in enough rotted down leaf debris that the grass could take hold and bury the plastic where it slowly degraded under the soil into an irritating layer of nastiness that we keep finding bits of. But anyway, there was a lawn.

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Now, lawns are bollocks anyway. They’re just waste-of-space markers of wealth. Oh look, I can pretend to be lord of the manor, and instead of having a useful garden I can instead have this patch of useless monoculture that does nothing but suck up nutrients. And if you actually want it to look ‘good’ it’ll need constant attention with weeding, or worse with weed killer, and it’ll also need you to water it through the summer, and blah, and blah, and bleh.

I am not a fan of lawns.

If you love lawns, you do you (so long as you’re not spraying roundup on it, or pouring gallons of fertilizer on it).

There’s actually a creepily perfect lawn just down the street from us and I find it deeply unnatural.

Anyhow, we quickly set about ruining it – partially for practical purposes (having a soak-away), partly for having garden… and today we annexed yet another section, extending the bed that we grew stuff in last year outside the back door. We were doing some edging to make maintenance a bit easier… Last year, because of the somewhat rapid way that we did gardening (rotavate, throw in compost, rotavate, plant) the beds didn’t really have any edging. And that meant that it was harder to decide when the grass was invading.

So this year, we took the metal that was originally planned to go around the house (which we decided we didn’t like in that role) and used it to edge one of the veg beds.

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Of course we’ve done our super-lazy lasagne mulching (which is one layer of card then a ton of compost/soil). This does mean we have to weed afterwards, because the grass, unsurprisingly, survives this onslaught. But it generally only requires *some* weeding. And it means we don’t have to get an enormous amount of card. Which is handy – because that’s all the card we had left. In fact, we had to unpack our (mail order) toilet paper to get enough to do that…

Anyhow, it’s looking pretty good. We also unloaded the bed that was full of the worst soil. The stuff that turned out to effectively actually be gravel with some mud on it… That’s been piled up back around the edge of the soak-away which is meant to have a pond on top of it. There was once soil piled there, but the chickens… helped… with that.

The other quick ‘n dirty bit of garden fixing we did was to create some shelter for the chickens. A couple of weeks back we corralled them up at one end of the garden (so that we can actually grow things in the rest of the garden through the summer). They broadly seemed pretty happy with the high-quality deck we’d created to replace the our one at the back of the house (which they spent a lot of time on):

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The one problem was when it was hacking with rain they used to come and shelter under the eaves of the house. That no longer being an option and them seemingly almost unwilling to enter the run during the day (except to eat), we decided to create them some shelter on their deck.

This was constructed to an extremely high standard from the finest building materials (and not at all left over random crapity bits of cedar from other projects). We definitely spent more than about 2 minutes, total, on measuring. And we certainly didn’t just throw the whole thing together.

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It should give them some protection from the worst of the weather, if they choose to use it (which they obviously won’t, because they’re chickens).

In other news, the mixer doesn’t quite work as well as I’d hoped.

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There are three small problems. One is that the stop-button sticks. So I’m going to have to take the front panel off, remove the “stop” button, sand the edge of the panel I cut to give it a smiiidge more clearance, and then put it back together.

Not a huge thing, but slightly bothersome.

The other thing – which may be related, is it doesn’t always seem to want to latch into ‘run’. So you have to hold the start/run button in.

And finally, the belt seems to slip sometimes.

Now, new belts are available (as are new all the bits, really). But I don’t really want to spend $45 on it until I know that the rest of it is working properly. Since it is currently behaving like too much slippage causes it to switch off I may end up replacing it anyway before I’m totally convinced it’s all working.

But first we’ll fix the ‘stop’ switch.

Of course, now there’s a much cheaper – functional – one on ebay. Buuuut, I resurrected this beastie, and I will say the tealy blue looks damn cool.

So that’s…some of the stuff :)

There are things that are borked, and things which are less borked.

Life continues. At least for us. COVID continues to kill at a pace that is distressing, but the news media seems to be done with talking about it. Probably because there’s only so many ways you can say “because Donald Trump thinks you’re all worthless and mismanaged this whole thing, now hundreds of thousands have died and many are still dying and it’s going to be very difficult to clear it up”. Also, it’s much less interesting when the administration is actually trying to tackle things. Apparently, today Biden’s dog injured someone at the Whitehouse. So, err, that was big news.

So, yeah anyway.

I have been noodling at projects, and noodling at the house. I can’t say I’ve been very rapid about anything very much (in a pandemic), but I have been making progress.

The garage is now heatable – sorta. If you throw a radiator and leave it, by the afternoon it’s adequately warm. This allowed me to oil some freshly obtained trim, and also to oil the ends of the trim that we already had that was cut to size. For the first time in weeks (months?) I put some trim up a few days ago, and a second lot today. Not loads. But it’s progress (in a pandemic).

I spent some time today measuring up for the pieces that I’ve oiled – so a bunch of them can be cut down and I’ll get them installed.

I’ve also put the mixer back together! (Whaaaaat?!)

I know, the last I posted it was in a lot of bits.

So – a quick recap of the repair:

The lasercut front panel came out AWESOMELY:

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I am so pleased with how it looked (foreshadowing there).

I also replaced the two very sickly capacitors with ones that are hopefully less inclined to go bang. At least, not for maybe another thirty years:

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These Rifa polystyrene capacitors are notorious for their ‘splody tendencies as they get older; so if you’ve got anything of the 20-30 year ilk with them in I’d recommend digging in and changing them. They’re pretty cheap and changing them is usually not too much hassle. Less hassle than waiting for them to let the magic smoke out, anyway.

That done, I sanded the outside of the machine. Now I wasn’t trying to get an as-new look. Otherwise I’d’ve stripped the whole thing right down, stripped the paint off, and started from scratch. Which might have been a wiser choice, but I’m not really that bothered about it looking perfect. I really want it to work and look fairly tidy, so I declared that a clean, a light sand, and a new coat of paint would do. I took it into my high-tech filtered-air spray-booth, and gave it some high-build primer and a coat of…errr, some blue paint that we had left over from doing the lights because we felt it was too bright a colour for the lights.

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Having left it a few days to dry I did a test assembly – and checked it was working, then I put it back together. Now my original (and better) plan was to screw the new lasercut panel to the original backplate/knob mounting plate (the original piece of metal was thinner and glued to it) – but I was concerned about alignment, so rather than do that I opted (foolishly it turns out) to glue the lasercut frontplate to the knob mounting plate. Now, if it breaks again then what I’ll do instead is just lasercut a larger mounting plate, etch the edges of it to make it thin enough to fit the slot, and it *should* fit straight into the case in place of the original knob mounting plate – and I can make it look pretty. It will have to have some screw holes for mounting, but that’s fine. I can break out some nice stainless steel jobbies for that.

Aaaanyway, back to the tale. So, I have a few adhesives around – car body plastic component adhesive (which is a contact adhesive); jb-weld and hotmelt glue are the main plastic friendly ones though.

I was a bit worried that both the JB Weld and the Car body plastic component adhesive might react with the paint. So I broke out the hotmelt glue gun. Which…didn’t work. Because it’s quite a big piece of plastic, by the time I’d applied a bead of glue around the whole thing, the start of it had dried.

After a couple of goes I gave up on that and gave in, trying the car body adhesive. This tempted me because it’s clear…

Unfortunately, it did indeed react with the paint which… went rather crinkledy.

But it still looks a damn sight better than it did on arrival:

IMG_20210218_133518 Anksarum Assistent / Electrolux n8

Unfortunately, it seems some other things are excited by the prospect of spending some time in pieces in the garage. My much loved Technics SL-6 record deck has decided that either only playing a minute or two of any record is enough. That appeared to be a transient fault, because it then after a few days rest seemed to be working fine…

…until it decided to drag the stylus across a chunk of my copy of Sgt Pepper having played most of the way through. So that… needs to go out to be investigated.

And despite my optimism of ‘just ignoring it and hoping it would fix itself’, our dishwasher remains stubbornly broken (it must be about a year since it broke). It reports an intake/drain problem which is usually a stuck impeller (per Miele), but in this case is not. The impeller moves just fine, and weirdly it will do a rinse/drain cycle, but not a wash cycle. I’m not hugely looking forward to tackling that repair; but after nearly a year without I’m starting to feel somewhat peeved about it, so I guess that’s an up-and-coming activity. Also, once it’s working I might be more inclined to put the kick plates on the kitchen cabinets, which is another job just lurking there.

Bleh.

Many bits of mixer

So the mixer is now in even more bits. I’ve ordered some pre-paint wipes to see if I can get a better finish on this than I usually get, since it would be nice if it actually looks good after this process (in addition to, ideally, actually functioning). I’m not quite sure what the history of this mixer is because the more I take it to bits the more it seems to have been attacked with a spade, beaten into a thousand bits and put back together from more than one machine.

Having found a manual – and some pictures of other Assistent N8s (I think it’s an N8), it appears the knobs should actually be the same colour – our sports one black and one white knob.

And having dismantled it, someone’s clearly changed out the motor (I’m suspecting for an earlier one, actually, because the insulation on the motor looks older than what I suspect is PVC on the switches). Anyway, I pulled one of the chocolate blocks out that was doing duty connecting one side of the motor and soldered that section of cable together. Mainly that’s because I was putting heatshrink over a section of cable where the insulation had worn through so I had to pop that chocolate block out anyway:

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I cleaned up the inside of the mixer’s base which was filthy and is now much more acceptable:

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And I worked out where the loose bits of plastic came from:

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I’ve stuck them back in place (not because they’re important, just for the sake of completeness) – so they’re drying overnight. As is the front panel which is all clamped together but beforehand looked like this:

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It’s actually got a multitude of small cracks in it – I wonder if it got dropped on its front? But I don’t know how you’d do that because the back of it is the (much) heavier end. Unless maybe it fell of a shelf onto work surface? But to do the amount of damage it’s had it seems like it would need a fair smack.

Anyhow, while I was just looking it over before stopping for the day I discovered that the insulation on one of the wires from the power connector had worn through. So I then disconnected it – at which point I finally twigged that someone has soldered the replacement wires to the power inlet – but the power inlet has actually got threaded screw holes…! So, err, not sure what happened to the screws. Anyhow, I soldered the cable back on since I’m not sure I have a tap or an appropriate size screw. I kind of wish I had some suitably beefy cable kicking around to replace the whole lot, but I don’t. Most of the stuff I’ve got is low voltage.

Maybe I’ll do that at some point.

Anyhow – for the moment I’m concentrating on functional, clean and a bit prettier.

So I’m planning to make a new front panel to replace the mangled original – so far I’ve come up with this:

Which I’m planning to cut out of perspex on the laser cutter. I’ll actually flip it to print it so it can etch the text in the back – then I’ll (hopefully) spray it to fill that text in – before cleaning the back off and spraying it a different colour. I originally thought about recreating the 1950s Electrolux font / logo, but I decided that actually a pseudo-replica of the modern one will do just fine.

However, there’s a couple of important tweaks that I’m going to make – it’s going to have a few screw holes in it so that I can use the perspex to brace the poor, battered old original mounting plate. There’s only so much that JB Weld can do – and while I think it’s going to be better than it *was* (not a hard challenge), it’d be more likely to survive with some bracing.

In other news – I’ve put up a bunch of shelves in the garage now, which has helped with organization in there :)

Mixing it up

So, I heard about this type of mixer. It’s like a standmixer, but instead of the motor being on top, it’s on the bottom and, on top, instead, is this incredibly solid arm onto which you put the mixer mechanism which is rotated by the bowl. It’s weird, I know. I heard of it when I was looking at reviews of mixers – because when we left the UK we sold our rather nice John Lewis stand mixer (although it wasn’t a hundred percent happy – bread making had upset it slightly); and we’d been talking – on and off – about getting a mixer.

Being in the US the standard is, of course, the Kitchen Aid. But a lot of recent reviews said that the newer ones struggle with bigger mixes, and that they don’t last nearly as long because the plastic gears in modern ones strip under heavy loads. Which is true of many a modern replacement that looks much the same as the original.

But I kept coming across the Ankarsrum Assistent as a recommendation. Particularly for people who do lots of cakes and doughs. And that is more our thing. So I looked at them and – as I expected – they were waaaaay outside our pricerange*. Well, okay, we could have afforded one but they were not something that it seemed reasonable to spend that much on at this point.

So, as is often the case, I left a search running on ebay and one day I noticed this very foxed looking one priced at $300. It apparently ‘turned on’ but was listed as spares only.

$300? That was far too much.

And it sat.

And it sat.

And I bid on a different one that was going for about $200 – in the end that went for about $400.

And still it sat.

And then I made a lowball offer.

And the person responded that the cost of shipping would likely be $50 by itself.

And I thought about it – and it came with the mincer (which you can get accessories so it can also be a pasta maker…)

So I decided to up my offer – and ISTR it ended up costing about $150 with shipping included.

And now it’s arrived and boy is it beaten up. It looks like someone tried to run a hammer through the front panel:

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Seriously – the front panel looks like it’s the morning after a particularly heavy night of drinking, after which it decided to insult the biggest guy in the bar:

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But true to the seller’s word – it does sort of work. I mean, it runs. It smells of hot electronics (bad), but it does work. So, today, since we had plans to go do some (socially distant and safe) stuff this afternoon and I had an hour before I wanted to get cleaned up I started stripping it down to see what needed fixing.

Before even getting to the mixer – the cable is… not great.

It’s not earthed – so this:

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Well, let’s say neither of those is ideal.

Inside the case things didn’t exactly improve.

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I’m not sure what they’re from – I’ll have a bit more of a hunt when the capacitors arrive (I’ll get to that); but those chunks of plastic presumably should not be rattling around loose in the case.

Inside, there’s also a surprising number of chocolate block connectors – not sure what that’s about. I’m wondering if this, at some point, got a new motor? At some point the insulation clearly wore through the cable where it runs to the motor through a channel in the case.

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Unfortunately, the front panel has also had ‘a bit of an incident’. I’m not sure how it got so thoroughly cracked. I’m frankly surprised that it didn’t damage more stuff inside.

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Anyhow – the main problem (beyond the cracked case, the random bits of plastic, and the front panel fouling all the knobs because it’s so bent) is the capacitors which are, as my good friend John calls them, Rifa PME271m delayed-action smoke generators.

These are, indeed, somewhere after their last legs.

If you’ve made the unfortunate error of finding this post because you – like me – have a sickly mixer and want to know what the specs are so you can order them ahead of time:

0.047 uF, 250V x2 rated PME capacitor
0.15 uF, 250V ish (presumably x2 rated) PME capacitor.

The board also sports a TYAL 510BV1 (presumably a transistor) and a D1303 (I’m guessing a diode) – neither of these I can find any data sheets for. And I’ve not bothered drawing out the circuit because I’m guessing that the hot electronics smell is courtesy of the two sickly capacitors.

Following along with it’s “dragged out the back of the club, beaten and thrown in a bush” aesthetic, the knobs on the front have also taken a beating:

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And of course, one of them broke as I tried to remove it – so me and JB Weld and the mixer are already friends.

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It will need more than that, I’m sure, to stop it disintegrating again – but for the moment it will have to do.

So the jobs list for this are:

  1. Clean everything
  2. Replace the capacitors
  3. Fix the knob…more better ;)
  4. Work out where those bits of plastic came from – and if they’re important
  5. Replace the failing insulation tape with heatshrink and a nice join
  6. Make a new front panel
  7. Spray the whole thing
  8. Make a new cable

So that should be no bother at all :)

Sadly, one of the problems is that as far as I can tell the available spares list is – basically – the belt drive. Originally an independent company, Ankarsrum bought back production from Electrolux and so these earlier mixers are, well, somewhat left out in the cold. They do still sell all the accessories, though, which is very cool and could lead to expensiveness. People sell new motors for the newer versions, and similarly digital controllers for the newer ones. But this one sports a mechanical timer and a couple of chunky microswitches, and the variable resistor / speed controller… so none of that is available; nor is the front panel.

So, uh. I’ve ordered the capacitors, and I’m going to work on making a replacement front panel next week. And the other jobs too, but for the moment, that’s where I’m at.

* Interestingly I found a bunch of cheap ones in Europe – but it is a Swedish brand. The US ones though – they were all well upwards of $350 even for the decades old variant missing lots of parts or markedly damaged ones.

Perseverance, Predisposition and Productivity

Today was just one of those days. Not actually a bad day, but I just felt a bit grouchy all day. It didn’t help that my tea ended up on the floor early in proceedings; although at least it landed next to the box of potatoes, not in the box of potatoes.

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But that wasn’t the ideal start to the day. Then I realised that my plan of action – to just empty the first of the two shelves, swap it to the other side, and then fill it again; and then rinse and repeat with the second shelf – would not, in fact, work. It couldn’t work because the drywall was behind it. Which needed to be on the other side of the garage.

Indeed, really, the thing that made the most sense to do was to actually insulate and drywall that section… only; part way through that process I realised that because of the way the building’s framed I had to finish the window wall first – then do the last side wall. That meant that both shelves had to be cleared and moved.

I did manage to get them moved to a position where, with some difficulty I could negotiate both myself and the relevant chunks of drywall (in the case of the south wall – two full sheets, in the case of the other wall about 1.6m of drywall twice) into the space. And with my usual trick (attaching a small block to the wall) I could hoick the drywall up on to the wall, rest it on the block and – using some shims – I then get it fairly snug against the ceiling and screw it in place. And Bob’s your uncle. Or my uncle. Or at least someone’s uncle.

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But the whole process is hideously unwieldy and awkward. Made extra super fun by the fact that a couple of the earthquake bolts had been installed with their plates overhanging the soleplate and sticking out well past where the plasterboard would sit. So I needed to rectify that.

But really the vast majority of the day has just been loading and unloading shelves. Dragging shelves around. Swearing at stuff. And some of it is my own fault. Selling things is hassle; and so I procrastinate and eventually it falls off my list of things to do. There’s stuff there that I should have sold years ago. There’s stuff that needs to be sold now.

There’s also stuff which was expensive to buy and so we don’t hugely want to just get rid of it – but it’s also not… stuff we need. Like, we have an extra box of the bird spikes (got to stop them trying to get into our roof vents, and also because the woodpecker had decided to try and work its way through our roof from the underside). We have no use for them, but they seem like something that we could sell at a garage sale. Only… COVID.

There’s also a ton of tools which while useful are not required at the moment because they’re mainly useful for – say – building a house. I mean, I don’t need the framing gun in an easily accessible location. But I also don’t really want to get rid of our framing gun. It was expensive. And it’s handy for framing.

And there’s the tiles. The bathroom tiles have now been moved countless f’kin times. Not just from the garage at our apartment to here – but I think they went into the house first, then out to the garage. Then they’ve been in various locations as the shelving’s been in various locations. Good lord am I sick of moving those bloody tiles. But until COVID’s done and dealt with (ha. Ha ha ha) then there’s little hope of us finishing the second bathroom.

Ah well.

Thankfully, as I was starting to consider spiraling into being thoroughly moody – and grouching about the fact that I’d misidentified our shelving as 4′ units when they’re actually 5′ units* – Kathryn came in and offered her after work help.

Which meant that we could talk about where to put things a bit and she could reassure me that it did – in fact – look much better than it has. She also, handily reminded me that the bedframe that’s currently occupying the garage could, in fact, go down to the storage unit we have at the moment. And while there’s still a ton to do to organise the stuff that is currently just kinda heaped at the east end of the garage… there’s an end in sight. And it’s an end where the garage should be a lot more functional.

I need to run the excess insulation and drywall back to Home Depot if it’s dry tomorrow…. Assuming I can extract the board without damaging it. It’s currently stacked behind what I’m intending to be the desk surface and the material for the raised floor… and the table saw….and the chop saw… and the surface that’s holding everything that was on my temporary workbench in the garage… and, and, and…. :-/ But after that there’s a bit over a meter (but full height) of wall to drywall – and it needs one section insulating. And that job will be done.

Anyway. Despite me being super grouchy, we are much further forward. I still need to mud / tape / insulate the ceiling. But. I’m going to take today as a win.

* Which totally screwed up my planned arrangement for hanging the bikes (thankfully I’d not built it yet – although I’d thought about putting up the hooks quite a few times)

More drywall (again)

So I’ve been plodding through doing the garage drywall; it’s about 2/3rds done – and I’ve reached the oh so exciting point of unloading all the shelving so I can move it.

Once the shelving’s out of the way the actual drywalling shouldn’t take too long. But it’s going to be a bit of a faff to get it out of the way. Once that’s done we can rent the insulation blower, insulate the roof void and that will be a heatable space. At some point in the future I’ll come back and do some tape and mudding – but for the moment we’re just going for walls and ceiling up.

Then we can arrange things in there so it’s a more functional actual garage:

I’m hoping this will work – at the moment the sit/stand bench is in our office in the house – but the plan is once the tablesaw is gone it can go out there. The tablesaw is being kept around for the minute because – mainly – COVID. Our lovely friends have a much nicer tablesaw in a proper woodshop that we were using but when we were doing a bunch of stuff and would have had to lug a lot of wood around it was handy having one here. Now COVID – so even small jobs that need stuff ripping down I can’t go over and be all ‘Oh hey, I’ve come with wood (and viral death)’. So yeah.

It’s not terribly exciting; insulating and drywalling is tedious to do and pretty tedious to write about, but it’s nice to get this off the project list and means that I can get back to oiling trim which will be good. I can also do a couple of other projects – one is the prototype Mycroft build. I want to switch away from our ‘smart devices’ being google – after quite so many awful things that google have done.

And while the google home is a neat piece of tech, I’m not a big fan of having it around. So… yeah, I’d like to build a Mycroft. I’ve printed some of the bits, and Nikki has kindly printed some of the other bits. I’ve got one left to do (which I hope to do once the garage is done) – it’s a bit of an irritating ‘whiny’ noise to have going in a house with no doors.

So there’s that. I’ve accumulated all the other parts required (I think they’ve all arrived now); so there’s a bunch of soldering and putting together to do.

Then there’s this:

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It’s an Electrolux N10 – better known as an Anksurum Assistent mixer. These are apparently the bee’s knees when it comes to mixers – particularly for bread making. People seem to rave about them and the mechanical design seems to have remained pretty much the same since they were designed back in 1947, which is pretty cool.

I’ve been trying to find one for quite a while, but they always were suuuper expensive. This one, though, has taken quite a beating (no pun intended, or maybe it was).

Beyond the sad chipped paint and general slight grubbiness, the front panel appears to have been beaten with a hammer until it was hideously deformed, the knobs are somewhat loose and it seems to only really have one speed option. Oh, also, the mains connector on the end of the power cable is cracked, and the plug on the other end is just fucking terrifying.

Hopefully a bit of a service should do for most of it – all the functions more-or-less work. It does seem to only really have one and a bit speeds (similar to how Molly was when I first got her…)

1930s BSA 3 Speed Stepthrough Cycle

I’m somewhat suspect of the Rifa capactitors which allegedly lurk inside the case – but finding information on them has proven to be difficult. Possibly this is a good sign – I’d actually not seen any broken ones go by on e-bay until this one.

Initially I thought that not knowing the model number – which I now think might be N10 – was the challenge I was having in finding information. Buuuuut even with that I’ve not found much. I’m now beginning to suspect that, in fact, the problem is that they don’t break much.

People just seem to have them and use them and love them (and possibly cuddle them and pet them). This is both good and slightly awkward.

I mean, it isn’t a complex device. It’s just a motor driving a massive thick belt drive that runs a worm gear that turns the bowl around. The roller is turned by the bowl itself (and pleasingly, you can still get both accessories and at least some spares for it). It’s old enough that the controller is a mechanical timer (that could probably do with a blow through with some compressed air given the environment most mixers live in), a variable resistor and a couple of switches.

So hopefully me’n the laser cutter will make a new front panel and me’n the workspace in the garage will give it a clean and a paint and it’ll be right as rain.

So yes. Once the drywalling is done, there is space opened up for ‘projects’ and that I’m quite looking forward to.

The rest of the drywalling not-so-much.

I have also – at long last – spent the money to get Rebecca’s new motor. That is winging its way here from wherever it is – ripped from a crashed iMiEV. 47kW should be more than enough for li’l Rebecca Mog.

Anyway. Many things to get on with.