Sunday, February 10, 2008

new thermostat

When installing a new Honeywell digital thermostat to replace an old Honeywell round thermostat, keep in mind that the wire labeled "H" on the old thermostat may, in fact, be the "R" wire. Especially if whatever machine printed the "H" on the thermostat just happened to miss ever so slightly and cut off the top of the letter. And you also have a "W" wire, and the instructions don't seem to account for having both a "W" and an "H."

OK, so pretty obvious. But if you don't figure it out, you can spend an hour puzzling over why the fan won't come on.

Trust me on this one.

worst painter evar

I am not a good painter. For some reason, no matter how hard I try, I end up with drips and runs. When it comes time to paint the airplane, my choices will likely boil down to sending it to a paint shop, paying the paint shop extra to teach me how to paint right, or giving up and going for the polished aluminum look.

Anyway, one of today's big jobs was to "do something" about the shower pan in the master bedroom. The shower pan was pretty beaten-up, with dark spots and a rough finish that was going to accumulate more dirt. I was able to clean it pretty well, using a concoction of household chemicals I'm not eager to face again, but the pan was past the point of looking good.

Since we intend to remodel that bathroom in a few years anyway, we opted to try one of those do-it-yourself refinishing kits, which is essentially a two-part epoxy paint, where you put on your goggles and respirator, play mad chemist mixing stuff from can A with stuff from can B, ventilate the hell out of whatever it is you're painting, and the paint fuses with the surface with chemical vice grips closely related to the glues Burt Rutan used to build Space Ship One.

Anyway, after attacking the shower pan with the barrage of household chemicals I mentioned earlier, I spent today sanding it with 400 grit sandpaper, vacuuming it, and then going over everything with a tack cloth. Shower pans, you see, are specifically made so stuff like dirt and soap scum won't stick to them. Which is why the paint has to use such fearsome chemistry. So you sand the pan to roughen up the surface, and then you make sure those little chemical vice grips end up grabbing onto the rough surface instead of bits of dust you accidentally left there.

Here's a picture of the work in progress:

Anyway, it came out looking a lot better than it had before I started, but there are still more drips and runs than I'd like. I'm debating whether I want to let it harden, sand them out, and put on another coat.

RV-7A meet Toyota Prius

One of today's tasks was transporting the horizontal stabilizer for the airplane that's under construction, a Van's RV-7A, to the new house. The horizontal stabilizer is the horizontal part of the tail. On an RV-7A, both sides of the tail form a single unit. A rather long single unit. And like most airplane parts, it's extremely strong, but only in the ways that it needs to be strong, which means I really wanted to move it myself rather than letting guys who are used to moving furniture do it.

Now, the last time we moved this thing, we put down the top on the convertible and tied the stabilizer across the seats, with one end on the dashboard and the other hanging over the back of the car. That worked OK for moving it less than a mile late enough at night so there'd be no traffic, but it wasn't going to cut it for moving the thing twenty miles at highway speeds.

After puzzling over it for a bit, I decided to try it in the Prius. Amazingly enough, it just fit:

With room to close the hatch, even! With the front seat reclined, and the back seat dropped, one tip of the stabilzer's about an inch from the dash, and the other comes right up against the tailgate. Mission accomplished!