Jan
12

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Little Giant condensate pump microswitch repair

It’s never a good thing to walk down into the basement and discover that your socks are suddenly wet.  That happened to me a week ago… now there are typically a few options – water infiltration around the basement foundation or over the sill due to a heavy rain (nope it’s -30C so anything that is falling is solid and staying that way), it’s water coming up (nope – no risk of water rising here), it’s the sewer ( fortunately no), the water tank bursting… nope or… the condensate pump on the furnace malfunctioning.  A quick check of the probable suspects showed it the condensate pump overflowing, and a quick diagnostic examination narrowed down the problem to a dead microswitch.

Condensate pump switch mount – old and new

Now a replacement pump costs about $60… but a microswitch is just pennies (however I couldn’t find a replacement for this one – the suggestion just buy a new pump).  I happen to have a bunch on hand for projects – but low and behold they aren’t a replacement.  But fear not,  a bit of scrap metal to extend the arm of the microswitch and a 3D printed mounting plate for the replacement switch sees the pump back up and operational with less than a hour of time invested.

I’m a big fan of acquiring capacity and then leveraging it – not only to make it pay for itself but also to ensure that you as its owner are competent employing it to solve problems.  This was a very simple fix, but it saved about $60 – which goes a long way to paying off a 3D printer.

The STL files are now uploaded the thingverse https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2754456

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Homemade Penetrating Oil

I often work on rusty kit -so I always ensure my tetanus vaccination is always up to date, and I have penetrating oil on hand to help free rusted parts.

Homemade penetrating oil alongside commercial products and a can of white gas.

Homemade penetrating oil alongside commercial products and a can of white gas.

If the requirement is small or time sensitive I will generally use a commercial product.  The ones I make sure to keep on hand are lanolin (wool grease) based – because they are not only good penetrating oils, but because the lanolin is an excellent way to protect metal against rust without establishing a gummy surface that would require a lot of clean-up before the tool can be used.

But when I have bigger projects that require a lot of penetrating oil – such as the corn binder that I am rebuilding for sweet sorghum harvesting – I turn to homemade penetrating oil which costs a fraction of the commercial products, and while it may not work quite as quickly that price advantage is considerable.

Quite simply you want to use a light oil – that can be diesel – which I’ve used very successfully to free up stuck engines or a mix of a heavier oil – such as an engine or transmission oil – and a light solvent such as acetone, paint thinner or my favorite naphtha – also known as white gas or Coleman fuel.   All will work just fine but I keep naphtha on hand for my camping stoves and find that it doesn’t have the odor that acetone does.  Generally I add between 10 and 20 percent solvent to the oil depending upon the starting weight of the oil and how much I slop in (accuracy isn’t very important here in my experience).  Mix the two in a container and then use a regular oil can to dispense them.   Easy as can be and priced right.