Saturday, December 27, 2014

Material Is Where You Find It

You can find very useful workshop material in some unlikely places at times, like in this comforter packaging.

That package has a steel wire 'frame' to it. The steel wire just needs to be liberated from the plastic.

Slice through the vinyl at the perimeter of the frame.

And you end up with about twelve linear feet of 0.086" diameter mild steel wire.

The package is still useable without its frame, or it can be easily rolled up now to be put in the garbage.

0.086" is not a common wire diameter for which a use springs readily to mind, but I now have twelve feet of the stuff, and a use for it may arise. It's better off in my inventory of steel wire than it is in the landfill.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pushnut Removal

Pushnuts can be an aggravation to remove. They can sometimes be coaxed off non-destructively, but they often have to be cut or broken for removal.

I encountered an awkwardly configured pushnut recently on a string trimmer's recoil starter, and I tried using a small diamond burr to cut through it radially to break it. That worked fairly well. Here's a view of the work in progress.

The diamond burr was not a terribly effective grinder, but it was adequate to wear away enough metal that I was able to pry under the pushnut and snap it apart, like so.

Success. And I didn't make a great mess of the adjacent hub.

So there's a reasonably effective way to deal with some pushnuts.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

What Have We Here?

Some sort of marketing gizmo.

When you pull out the black tab, the thing's window lights up so you can read the number, which you can read anyway.

It seems that this thing is a CodeKaseTM, a promotional product of Wilkin Marketing.

Let's see what's inside, shall we?

About what one would expect -- button cells, an LED and switch contacts.


One is left in slack-jawed awe at the cornucopia of wondrous goods that our free-market economy showers upon us. The citizens of Cuba and North Korea can only dream of such things.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Patio Heater Model HSS-A-Various Won't Light

I acquired this old patio heater from the roadside store.

The heater needed some work; the story of its repair is here.

The heater wouldn't light at first -- there seemed to be no gas flow from the pilot jet. Some dismantling and investigation revealed a clogged pilot jet orifice. Clearing the orifice fixed it. The pilot jet's orifice is extremely tiny, and I imagine that clogging is a fairly common failure on these heaters as they accumulate time spent outdoors. So, if you have a patio heater like the pictured one that can't be lit, odds are good that all you need to do to repair it is to clear the pilot jet's orifice. Here's how to go about it.


You'll have to get the heater's burner head off its post in order to work on it. Deal with the following items:

  • Remove the heat reflector from on top.
  • Disconnect the fuel supply hose from the regulator. (5/8" and 3/4" open-end wrenches.) If you choose to leave the regulator attached to the propane tank, make certain that the tank's valve is closed. The safest way to go is to take the regulator off the tank before disconnecting the hose.
  • Remove four M6 screws from around the top of the post, (10mm wrench.)
  • Lift the heater's head off the post, and withdraw the fuel supply hose from the post.
  • Optional -- remove the perforated shroud from the head. It's not essential to do this, but it makes the head easier to work with, and you're less likely to harm the shroud.
With all that done, you can get the head onto a workbench where you can more easily proceed.


Remove four truss head screws to get the lower flange/ring off the control's perforated shroud, then remove four more truss head screws to free the shroud. You'll expose the gas valve works, like so.

At the centre of the photograph you can see a curved 3mm diameter copper tube. That's the affected part that you're after. Note how the vertical end of the tube sits in the larger pilot light tube. Loosen off one screw, and undo one 8mm hex gland nut to extract the tube. Here's the tube off the control valve.


The orifice at issue is incredibly small. A compressed air blast from the gland nut end cleared the orifice on my unit.

And that's about it. Reassemble the heater, and you should be good to go. From what I've seen of gas valve components, they're beautifully made, and can last just about forever. But they do rely on tiny orifices here and there that are prone to blockages. A little investigation and TLC can keep a gas appliance working reliably at little to no cost.

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