posts tagged with 'fixing'

buddy can you spare a door?

On Saturday Zion was having a delightful time presenting a play for his family in the living room. In the wildness of his performance he ran up against the door and put his hand right through the glass. That put a stop to things! Fortunately, he wasn't hurt at all—he smashed a clean hole with the heel of his hand and his wrist managed to miss all the sharp parts. So since we didn't have to go to the hospital we were free to get mad.

Not too mad, of course, because what can you do? These things happen. Even to 110-year-old doors. Leah's thought was to replace the whole thing, but I was having none of it—I love that door! I was determined that we could repair it, that the oval window was actually a rectangle of glass in a wood frame. Leah did her part and sourced a replacement pane of glass, and I went to work taking apart the door. I soon discovered that I wouldn't be able to just pull the broken glass out of the window panel, so Saturday afternoon I got started making a replacement. It's not done yet. We're glad that the weather was warm over the weekend, and a little concerned that the temperature is now trending distinctly downward. I hung a blanket over the open space (we do have a storm door too, but it's none to snug in its frame) and, having just finished rereading The Long Winter, I've been telling the family that Laura and Mary had it much worse in 1881. But it's safe to say that I'll be working hard on the project tomorrow!

if I can do it, why couldn't they?!

So the two older boys have new bikes, and they're great! They're already delightfully dirty from many rides. But I still wanted to fix the other one—the one that the folks at the bike shop said was too old to do anything with. They wouldn't be able to get the part. We figure it'll be nice to have a spare, and we already have someone lined up who might want to borrow it. So after waiting a week to see if the shop would contact us, I ordered what I needed to make the most essential repairs: the shifter cables and housing from Amazon, and the derailleur hanger from Amazon is Amazon—I wish I didn't have to use it, but it's nice to be able to actually shop for different brands of cable rather than just take whatever the shop has. is amazing: I placed the order at 7:30 in the morning on Friday, it was in the mail by 12:30, and it got here yesterday (Monday) mid-day. So yesterday evening saw me down in the basement taking the broken parts of the bike off and and putting the new ones on, with nothing but a tiny bit of youtubing to instruct me. And I'll tell you, dear reader, it worked! The bike is now, if not as good as new, at least as good as it was before Harvey broke two parts of it within a couple weeks. It can now shift into all the gears.

It's kind of empowering. I mean, I've always been able to replace a tube or brake pads, and in later life I've moved on to changing worn out brake cables and cassettes, but I've never taken the time to figure out how derailleurs are supposed to go, or how brake or shift levers do their thing. Yesterday's work definitely felt like a step up. And now that we've got new bikes, I guess I should be learning how to keep them in good shape! I'm not saying I want a cable to fail on one of the other bikes soon, but if it does I now have the thirty-dollar cable cutters/crimpers to get everything back the way it should be! (speaking of which, crimping the little metal dealy on the end of the shift cable yesterday was about the most satisfying thing I've experienced all month). I'm already inviting folks to bring their bikes over for tune-ups! All I need now is one of those clampy work stands...


hose tragedy is comedy

I don't like hoses. They always get tangled. They're expensive, and they don't last as long as I think they should, and when they break down they're hard to repurpose or throw away. So I was dismayed the other day when I knocked over a short length of two-by-ten with a couple of nails in it, and one of the nails punched right through the long hose that I use to water all over the yard and garden. Or probably did, I wasn't sure. Maybe it missed, right? I was watering at the time and didn't notice any loss of pressure. So I put down the sprayer end of the hose, and pulled up the board. As soon as the nail—which of course had gone through the hose—came out a powerful jet of water came streaming out directly into my face. Just like in a cartoon! I had to laugh, and then I had to go inside and change my clothes. At least it was a hot day.

Because it's been so hot and dry, though, I knew I couldn't be hose-less for long. At the hardware store I looked at new hoses (nope) and "hose repair kits" (couldn't see how they were supposed to go), before settling on a couple of hose clamps for $1.20 each. Along with some duct tape—green, to match the hose!—they did the trick perfectly, and we're back to watering again. My only fear now is that a sharp edge of a one of the clamps will make another hole, somewhere else in the hose. Well, if it does I know how to fix it—and to not look too closely!


wood and metal

Today was a wonderfully sunny early spring day, and the boys and I spent all afternoon working and playing outside. My main occupation was fixing the wheelbarrows; there were three, and none of them functional. Now there are two working wheelbarrows and some trash, and I'm very proud of myself. As I worked and got dirty in the clear March sunshine I found myself appreciating the beauty of the wood and metal around me. So I took some pictures.

a tree stump with a rusty metal rod stuck in it

tools for wheelbarrow repair

That's the stump where we split our firewood; it's black because Harvey and Zion were using it to chop their own charcoal the other day. I drilled a hole in the middle so I could use it to mount the wheelbarrow tire on the rim. It was much harder than putting on a bicycle tire!

Plastic is a fine material. I was glad to have a piece of thick PVC pipe on hand: I cut lengths of it to center one of the wheels on its shaft. I would have had a much harder time cutting metal parts, even assuming I could have found pipe with the right diameter (I have lots of PVC pipe, since I grab it out of the trash whenever I see it). But as I cut it I regretted the bright white plastic bits falling around my otherwise brown and gray workbench stump. When I finished up my hands were about the same color as that wood and rusty metal, which felt about right.

bolts and hardware on the bench in the shed

leftover parts


take it apart

Leah gets up before me these days, and lately I've been acutely aware of when she's making her coffee because the kitchen sink hasn't been working quite perfectly: turning it on or off produces a noticeable "thunk" that pretty much shakes the whole house. Which is livable, but after it started dripping both from the end and the base of the faucet stem I figured I should do something about it (like, a week after... you know how it is). Happily, all I had to do to fix it was take the faucet apart and put it back together again, which I did the other day. Not only did the dripping stop, but now the faucet is a smoothly-function joy to use. I should have done that last month!

I wouldn't mention it here except just a couple days earlier I fixed the furnace the same way. The first really cold day this winter we were out all day, and when we came back the house just wouldn't warm up; when I went down to look at the furnace I knew why. Well, I sort of knew why: the proximate cause was the furnace's failure to light, but I had no idea of the reason for that. But I didn't let lack of knowledge stop me, and with headlamp and screwdriver got to work taking apart the little panel with the igniter and flame sensor. Not very much apart, since it was late, but enough to notice that maybe the connection between the igniter and its wire was a little loose. Who knows if that was the problem, but when I put everything back together it lit right up.

Our lives today are filled with things we don't understand, and it can be a little paralyzing. That's what attracts me to "sustainability" as a goal—not that I'm afraid society will collapse and I'll need to be able to grow my own food and maintain my own primitive machinery, just that I appreciate a little bit of comprehension about the workings around me. For me at least, it makes life less stressful.

Of course, I'm nowhere near complete independence in those terms, nor do I really hope to be. But at least now I have a first step for dealing with broken things that I'm not really sure how to fix: take em apart and take a look! It's kind of liberating.