Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Some Success

When we left the home improvement story about the bathroom faucets, I had not finished the last sink in the master bathroom, nor had I figured out how to fix the broken shaft for the diverter valve. That was on Saturday. I know the post says Friday, but that's cuz it logs the time you start to write the post, not the time you actually post it. I had started the End of Fat Camp story on Friday.

I have two great pieces of news to report. First, I finished replacing the faucet in the master bathroom. No, it did not go smoothly. As with all things, the fewer things you have to do, the harder they make themselves.

I figured that after having done an identical setup the day before, I'd be all set to breeze through this one. Got up Sunday morning before church, and The Mrs. suggests I do the faucet change then. I had about 2 hours. I predicted I'd be able to do the demolition in that time, and then finish the rest when we got back home. We had our realtor coming over at 3:00 just for a little chat. You know, catch up, reminisce about old times. That kinda stuff.

I start in on the removal of the old fixture. As I noted in the previous article, taking out the sink made the job a breeze, so I started out taking out the sink. HannieC helped me remove the caulk. I scraped it free with the razor scraper, and she pulled it out. Great. Then I go underneath to remove the p-trap and loosen up the screws that hold in the clips. It's a bottom-mount sink.

The P-trap comes out without incident. I get three of the four clips loose, but the fourth won't budge. I spray WD-40 and get a giant screwdriver and put a wrench on the handle - the whole nine yards. Nothing. Then, after a lot of cursing, I realize that I'm an idiot. I bet I can get the sink out with just three of the four clips off. Sure'nuff, comes right out.

The faucet comes out next, then I go for the cold water valve. The knob and base come off, but the valve is stuck in the countertop. There is a nut on top and on the bottom, and the one on top is so corroded that the edges crumble if you try to put a wrench on it. You can't get the valve out by loosening the bottom one cuz the bottom won't fit through the hole in the counter. Argh. After much struggling and more cursing, I manage to get the bottom one loose. This lets me unscrew the bottom one enough to lift up the valve and cut through the nut on top without cutting through the countertop. To cut through the nut, I used my handy-dandy Dremel tool with the little cutting wheel. Beautiful. Now I start on the hot.

Same problem, only worse. On this one, I can't even get the stupid bottom but loose. Both are severely corroded and frozen in place. I try to cut the bottom nut off with the Dremel, but I can't cuz the valve stem is in the way of the cutting wheel.

I decide to spray it down with WD-40 go eat breakfast. Then I go to church. After church, the realtor calls and says he's coming at 12:30, not 3:00. Fine fine. Sink isn't going to be done.

In the meantime, I had been ruminating. What to do about that stupid broken diverter shaft? I didn't want to hire a plumber. There has to be some way to fix it myself. Then, Eureka, God spoke to me again. He said, "Remember that episode of Muscle Car on Spike TV. That was My gift to you."

So I'm thinking, "alright, God, it goes without saying that Muscle Car, and really the whole Horsepower TV block, is Your gift to mankind. Now what in the hell does that have to do with fixing the stupid diverter valve in the tub?"

God said something about always having to lower His expectations, and then He wandered off shaking His head and muttering to Himself.

Someday we're going to have to put Him in a nice home.

Then it hit me. Of course. They were repairing a rusted out body panel, and they were noting how you no longer needed to have a welder in order to replace sections of body panels. No, instead many places were using metal-bonding epoxys to "weld" in new sheetmetal. It's as strong or stronger and doesn't require any particular skill.

Now, why God would be pointing me to a method that requires no specific skill is beyond me. I guess some things are meant to remain a mystery. It's like Moses asking, "Why a burning bush? Why not a flowering bush? Why a bush at all? Why not a burning Brazilian?"

But who is to argue with God? After church, while HannieC is in children's choir rehearsal, MaxieC and I head over to the nearby Home Depot to pick up some of this fancy, new, hi-tech metal epoxy. Last time I was at my Home Depot, they had about 30 different epoxies. Well, not this one. They had 5. And only 2 were appropriate for metal: J-B Weld, and J-B Kwik. Now hang on a second there. These aren't fancy new metal epoxies. J-B Weld is older than I am, for goodness sakes.

But which to choose, which to choose? I got with the J-B Weld cuz it makes all kinds of claims about big, heavy-duty metal things that it can fix, whereas the claims on the package of J-B Kwik are kinda indistinguishable from the claims on the Super Glue Plastic Fusion epoxy I love, yet which had failed me miserably on this repair already.

So now we're home from church, and we have just enough time to wolf down some lunch and start cleaning up the house before the realtor gets there. He arrives, and we sit and chat in the summer house for a while about how the housing market is doing and what perhaps our house might be worth, and how it has an extra digit compared to when we bought it. Same old, same old. Then he wants to go inside to see what we've done with the place. It was a real wreck when we bought it, you see, and he'd like to get a feel for how it has been fixed up.

He made a lot of funny comments about how he could tell right away that "this is [The Mrs.'s] house" from the sheer number of toys everywhere. We have more toys in the house than most K-B Toy stores ever did.

Then we got into the master bedroom, and he says, "Ahh...here is our one bedroom condo within a house." See, our master bedroom is sinfully large given the San Jose market. This house was a real score. Then he sees a hole in the counter where the sink is supposed to be, tools lying all over the place, and the sink sitting on the floor of the water closet. I start to explain how if he had arrived at 3:00 like we had expected, this would all have been put back together. He looks it over and say, "Uh. OK. You're probably going to want to make sure that gets done."

After he goes, I get right on it again. The WD-40 has done nothing to loosen up anything, so I decide it's time to pull out the big guns. I get out the Sawzall. Now, my Sawzall is a very large, serious model. You've seen it. Now, the problem with a sawzall is that I can't really cut through the nut cuz the nut is relatively flush to the counter, and you can't really cut perpendicular to a countertop without cutting the countertop as well. So I decide to cut the valve clean through flush with the bottom nut. Took a surprisingly long time to do it (maybe a full minute), but it worked like a charm. Then I could cut the bottom nut off with the Dremel tool and lift the valve out (since I had cut off the fat part that didn't fit through the hole already). The rest went uneventfully.

Here is a picture of the first of the two sinks I did in the mater bath. This is the "peninsula" sink that is situated against a small wall on a peninsula of counter. It's a stupid layout, and we hardly ever use the sink. But it looks a lot nicer now than it did before.

On Sunday night I also decided to try out the old J-B Weld on the shower diverter. I mixed it up and slathered it on and held it. I waited a couple minutes, then stopped holding it, and it fell right off. Damn. Package says it takes 4 hours to set. Does that mean I have to hold it for 4 hours? I figured it meant in about 5 minutes it'd be dry enough to walk away, and then after 4 hours it would never move again. The Mrs. is observing. We discuss. I am frustrated as I can't figure out a way to hold this thing in place for 4 hours. Did God steer me wrong?

But The Mrs. now steps up to the plate. "Why don't you tape it to the wall?"

Damn! That's brilliant. She runs off to the garage to get the duct tape. After a couple tries, I get the thing more-or-less centered and taped securely to the wall. Next day, it's stuck hard. I back-fill the joint, as there was some shrinkage overnight. Here's a photo of the repair.

That knurled section at the tip is what broke off, and the gray goop right at the base of the grooves is the excess J-B Weld. I stuck the knob on there, and it worked perfectly. Only thing is I can't quite get the knob on all the way cuz of the ridge made by the excess goop. I'll put a grinding wheel on the Dremel maybe tomorrow and grind it flush, and it'll be as good as new.

Sometimes having a direct line to God is very useful.

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