Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Mud room sink fix

It should have been only a two hour fix.  But between my skills and this old house, the fix took five days.  I should have expected this.  My uncles Curt and Larry understand as years ago they helped me with most of my bathroom remodel and that remodel metastasized into a monster.

Recently the faucet in the mud room sink started to drip.   The faucet is very old and one I didn't like. I didn't like its shape; I didn't like the shape of its handles; the handles were hard to turn; replacing the faucet's washer looked to be a pain; etc.  Years ago I had picked up a new faucet.  It wasn't used in the bathroom remodel as the faucet's trim color was gold and Tammy (correctly) wanted burnished silver finishes on the bathroom faucets.

Gold colored faucet in the mud room... fine.  The room needs a remodel and is drab/ugly so the faucet color wouldn't be the worst.

The two hour job expanded when I realized I would have to take the cabinet holding the sink completely out.  This was not a pleasant task as there is not a lot of room in the mud room to move large objects around.  I could move the cabinet just enough to squeeze by the wash machine to get behind the cabinet.

Daisy helped me initially. Once she checked everything out around the cabinet she let me do the rest of the work.

The plumbing was done between 50 and 78 years ago.  Back before flexible steel hoses were invented for water lines.  My water lines were copper all the way to the faucet.  Each line did have a union (thankfully) so I was able to disconnect them.  But to disconnect the pipes connected to the sink I had to get in back of the cabinet.  The hole cut in the cabinet was by whoever connected the pipes long ago.

The other two odd looking holes are to allow me to pull the cabinet away from the wall and the pipes that go into the floor.  This is how the pipes come into the cabinet.  The reason for the odd shaped holes and not simple round holes is that whoever connected the pipes long ago soldered the upright portions of the pipe inside the cabinet to the unions.  I was not about to cut the pipes.

After I put the new sink faucet in place, and before I put the cabinet back, I noticed the floor's hole around the drainpipe was larger than the drainpipe.  This is how the mice get into the house from the crawlspace.  As you can see below I think I fixed that problem.  I stuffed more insulation around the pipe and cut a section of screen door screen and placed it on the floor.  Then I nailed to the floor a section of wire from an old unused live animal trap.  If that doesn't stop the mice at least it will make it difficult for them to get through.

I put the cabinet back.  I reconnected the drainpipe, the hot water link, then the cold water line.  When I got to the cold water line I was two inches short.   What?!!!   Where did it go?!  I checked the line in the crawl space but it seemed to be fixed and would not move.  I looked in the tool shed at stuff dad had for plumbing. I found a short flexible steel water line.  It would fit the faucet connection but not the union.  I found a four inch piece of copper pipe whose male and females ends would work with the union and then found a valve that would connect to the flexible hose.  It was getting late and I decided stop and call it a night after I put the valve on.  I needed the valve on as even though I had put new shutoff valves in the hot and cold water lines that went to the mud room, the cold water valve only stopped 99.8% of the water.  I would have a slow drip - even if I also closed the main shutoff valve to the house.

But as my luck would have it.. even with the extra shutoff valve just added, a very slow drip was where the shutoff valve connected to the pipe.  I put rags down and called it a night.  Obviously I was not meant to finish this project this day.

Two inch gap

Day number 2.  I went into the crawl space and turned all the water valves off, unconnected everything, took out the cabinet drawers again and took out the cabinet.  I took off the cold water pipe extension and installed the steel flexible pipe to the faucet.  I then got sidetracked with my wash machine.  For some months now the cold water flow into the machine had slowed down considerably.  So much that it took a long time to fill the machine for the rinse cycle.  With the cabinet out it was much easier to get to the back of the wash machine.

I checked the hot and cold hoses and their screen.  I found some rust/gunk in the cold water screen but not as much as I expected.  I cleaned it anyway.   The next time I wash clothes I will see if this makes a difference.  Otherwise the water inlet valve's solenoid unit is bad.  This wouldn't be surprising as dad bought this Kenmore wash machine new in the mid 1970s.

I put the cabinet back and reconnected everything. It was getting late again.  The new valve was still dripping slowly.  I quit for the night with plans to get a new valve the next day.

Day number 3.  I woke up in the morning with the realization of why the cold water pipe was two inches short.  In the crawl space I had confused the cold and hot water pipes.  The hot water pipe was fixed, but the cold water pipe would move.  I got my two inches back.  This meant I could use the union and could get rid of the extension, valve and steel flexible pipe.

Which meant... I had to turned the valves off in the crawl space, disconnect everything, take the cabinet drawers out, and then take the cabinet back out.  I put the original pipe back on the faucet and connected the pipes using the unions.

I put the cabinet back, reconnected everything and turned the water on.

The faucet handles didn't want to turn.

I hadn't tested the handles before installing the faucet, but the faucet is new and the handles should work.  I suspected I had tightened the faucet to the sink too hard and this was why the handles wouldn't turn.  Instead of using the plastic nuts to hold the faucet to the sink I had used the old faucet's steel nuts.  To keep the faucet from moving I had tightened the nuts tight.

It was getting late and I had to feed the cattle.  And I didn't want to disconnect everything and move the cabinet again so I called it a day.

Day number 4.  I disconnected everything, took out the drawers and moved the cabinet - yet again!

Yup.  I had tightened the nuts too tight.  The new faucet's shell is tin.  The old faucet was all steel.  The pressure caused the handles - mostly the right handle - to be pulled into the shell.  I spent some time to remove the indent.  This is much easier said than done.  When I tightened the nuts again I tried to not over tighten them.  If I tightened the nuts so the faucet couldn't be moved on the sink it would indent the shell.  So I had to redo everything.  In the end the faucet won't move unless a lot of force is put on it.  I think I can live with that.

Slight indent around the right handle.

Now that I can run water I next discovered the old metal drain was shot.  On the J trap, the connection to the pipe going down - wasn't.  By that I mean there were no threads.  I don't know if there never were threads or they rusted away over the years.  That part of the J trap was puttied together.  Of course my disconnection broke the old putty apart.  I was not about to putty/patch it back together.

I went to Home Depot and bought a new J trap. At home I then discovered the other side - the ring - was also bad.  I had to put the pipe in a vise and used a pipe wrench to turn the ring - and it wasn't screwed onto anything.  I tried to remove the ring from the pipe - which should be easy to do - but it wouldn't come off.  The ring was coming off or I would break the pipe doing so.  I broke the pipe and never got the ring off.

Day number 5.  I went back to Home Depot in the morning after feeding the cattle.  I returned the J trap and bought a S trap.  Everything is plastic now-a-days but it works.

After 5 days I replaced my faucet.    No wonder I don't do more home repairs!

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

2018 bicycle mileage total

2018 was for the record book for me with bicycle miles.  I rode 8,500 miles.   This is well above the previous record of 7,100 miles set way back in 1996. And much above my average annual mileage of  3,379 miles.

I could have ridden more miles as my total at the six month mark was 4,700 miles.  I usually ride more miles in the second half of the year but this year with my hay and cattle problems in July, and my push to get stuff done before Winter started, my mileage in the second half of the year fell off.

  • 8,500 annual miles,
  • 708.3 miles each month,
  • 163.5 miles each week,
  • 23.3 miles each day.

I set record miles in three months:
  • January - 550 miles,
  • March - 1025 miles, and
  • December - 620 miles.
I was surprised to set a record in December.  My previous average in December was 146.6 miles.  I only exceeded 300 miles in a December four times over the many years of riding.  The previous record mileage of 582 miles (well above the next highest of 440 miles) was set back in 1988 when I was riding on a bicycle tour in Australia and Hawaii that December.  I figured I would never exceed this 582 total unless I spent a December in a warm area again.  But our past December was warmer than average and I made the most of it.  If this is because of global warming... then bring it on.  I can get used to this!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 pocket gopher count

The year is almost over and I won't be trapping any more pocket gophers for the year.  Actually I had cleared the hayfield and pastures of pocket gophers many months ago and none have moved in since then.

Earlier this year I thought the pocket gophers may reach a tipping point and get out of control.  I was distracted from trapping them and then the hayfield grew tall and thick hiding their dirt mounds.  Also with the river low this Summer the cattle had access to both the middle and south pastures and I didn't want them messing with my traps possibly breaking them.  So I had to work around the cattle and only trap in those pastures when I had the cattle in the north pasture.

The pocket gophers seemed to be moving in like gangbusters.  Add in a newly planted alfalfa field (which the roots of the pocket gophers love to eat) and I was worried I wouldn't trap them all.   But I did.

In the end the annual count was less than I expected.  I trapped 46 pocket gophers this year, down from the 52 I had trapped last year.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Body slam

The cattle love second cutting alfalfa hay.  They really love it.  They are going through a large hay bale in 1 2/3 days.  They don't need to be eating that much hay.  And I need my hay to last all Winter.  So I am back to feeding the cattle twice a day with what I can fill in my pickup's bed. The second cutting is relatively short so I can break a large hay bale apart by hand.  That's not to say it is without some effort.

After a day of feeding the cattle like this they have caught on to the new feeding routine.  Tonight they all came rather quickly to the metal hay feeder where I toss most of the hay.  Because not all of the cattle can eat from the feeder at the same time I put a half dozen small piles of hay in the area of the feeder so the bullied cattle can go to eat some hay before it is gone.  I found I have to put this hay on the ground after I put hay in the feeder.  Otherwise the bullies monopolize the hay piles, and once that is gone take over the feeder.

Again, the cattle catch on quick.  I had just tossed the first pile on the ground when two cows came running around the pickup.  I hadn't seen the cows and had turned and started back to the pickup when Mama and I collided.  She didn't realize I was turning and moving and I didn't see her. With the snowy slippery ground she couldn't turn quick enough or stop in time.  We hit each other pretty hard knocking each other off course.  Mama got up and spun around and headed to the hay.  Her intent wasn't to run into me.  My ankle is a touch sore and I feel like I ran into a 1000+ pound animal.  But I'm alright.  That's not to say I wasn't upset. I ended up yelling at Mama to be more careful.

Another side effect of getting hay into the pickup is that I can't back completely into the hayshed and close the gate.  The four heifers in pasture are fascinated with my loading hay into the pickup and I have to close the gates against the pickup so they don't slip into the hayshed.  The heifers have hay in their feeder but now that hay is not the newest hay.