Don got me thinking about fixing or tossing stuff (we call it “repair or replace” now, because that’s how we roll). I grabbed a long-favorite 10-year old shirt this morning and noticed the cuffs are fraying. I suppose racer tape will keep that from being too too noticeable but I need to find my roll with the pale red, blue, green and white stripes to keep peeps from remarking on the tape.
Anyway, I never bought a netbook but I do have a Palm Tungsten T and a pellet stove.
Even if I hadn’t lived in Vermont (motto: Bet ya can’t name two of our towns) for more years than anywhere else in my life, so far, I come from an old Quaker family that never threw anything away. My loft is living proof. When we moved here, I brought 30,000 pounds in two moving vans and still had to tow the race car behind my truck. When my parents and grandfather moved out of the family home, I got the rest of the family history.
New Vermont motto: If Harper can’t find it in the attic, you don’t need it.
When I “upgraded” to Windows 7, it immediately orphaned my Palm PDA. The Palm still works perfectly well but the Palm HotSync app won’t load and my calendar and address book sync doesn’t.
Real Vermonters, tinkerers all, really really used to believe in fixing things.
I have tried to “fix” the Palm. I still have some hope but it is on the shelf for now. Meanwhile, it got cold in here.
The pellet stove has been difficult all this heating season. It all started when Anne noticed the fire was “doming” in the firepot. The dome threatened to pus fire back into the pellet poop chute. Not a good thing. Pellet stoves put out very little ash and what ash this one did make seemed to form a dome instead of flying out of the firepot like good ash should. I was down to South Puffin at the time and couldn’t tell if our new pellet supplier caused the problem or that the forced combustion air system wasn’t forcing enough (or any) air. The combustion fan ran but Anne couldn’t detect any air going through the firebox. Trouble was, we had no way of knowing if that meant there wasn’t any air going through the firebox or just that Anne couldn’t detect any air moving.
I have tinkered with it, cleaned it, and even invented new parts for it for most of the past couple of months. The fire kept doming. On Friday, the automatic pellet feeder stopped feeding pellets. And I’ve washed my hands entirely too many times, although not of the stove.
Wood ash gets into everything. I should have remembered that.
I thought I was doing a good job cleaning the stove but I took it apart this weekend. Something was blocking the air flow and by golly I was going to find it. I found hideyholes I didn’t even know existed. And to find them, I disassembled things I wasn’t sure actually came apart. I even had to RTM.
That’s why I had to keep washing my hands. Wood ash and soot gets into everything.
The right “brick” — it’s actually cast iron — in the firebox hides a passage to the flue. The brick should come out by pulling it up and then towards the front of the stove. The peeps who designed this thing and wrote the manual obviously never worked on a stove after it had been in operation.
Got the brick out. Lots of dust and soot and ash buildup clogging everything. Lots.
I took a bucket load of the dust and soot and ash out of the stove, learned a bit more about how it works, and discovered that it goes back together a whole lot better when clean than it came apart when clogged.
On to the feed auger which was what started this entire exercise.
I cleaned out the feeder tube and the auger still didn’t turn. When I say “cleaned out the feeder tube” I ain’t whistling Dixie. Our vacuum cleaner apparently has an Express Mode on the hose operation which sucked a magnet off the refrigerator at 50 paces. It made short work of the pellets in the tube. Pretty simple operation that. Suck, let some fall past the screw, suck more. A quick look with a mirror showed shiny metal everywhere so I pushed the start button. Ignition and combustion air but no pellet feed. I could hear and feel the feed motor running.
Turns out I looked too quickly.
A better look with a mirror showed some pellets still hiding up in the northeast corner, sort of jammed between the screw and the square corner (square corner???) of the tube. Wiggling the screw didn’t move them and the gear motor made it impossible to turn the screw. I couldn’t even bend a tool up to them, including the ubiquitous coat hanger.
Real Vermonters, tinkerers all, are ingenious about finding solutions. I called Anne.
Anne fixed it.
I had given her bad instructions for disassembling the auger assembly back when we were trying to clear jams over the phone but she made ’em work anyway. I asked her to show me what she had done to clear the feed tube jams. She wasn’t able to pull the motor-and-brackets-and-auger out of the tube but she unbolted it and could turn it through almost a full rotation and that cleared it.
We have fire thanks to our own ingenuity.
But I AM ashamed to admit I replaced the Palm with an iPod Touch.