Monday, July 09, 2007

Appliance Fun

Saturday was "Stop Lounging Around Doing Nothing and Fix the Sodding Dryer Already1" day.

As I said in my previous post, I had tentatively assigned the blame for the tendancy for the dryer to tumble cold, wet clothes to lint to the so-called "operating thermostat"2, so locating a store that sold these was job one.

For this sort of thing the internet is usually a dead loss, and it proved so in this case. It was back to the trusty yellow pages which we store in the hall closet, on a shelf some seven feet high, spines in3.

Of course, this novel storage technique poses certain unique challenges, the primary one being that since one can't read the spines of the books, one must pull them out one-by-one from the middle of the stack4 in the hopes of getting the one one wants. (Pauses to refit teeth). Mrs Stevie has arranged for a frission of excitement to be lent to the whole affair by the simple technique of stacking heavy and/or breakable crap on top of the topmost phone book.

Thus it was that I managed to retrieve the Nassau County Yellow Pages, The Suffolk County BTB Yellow Pages, The Suffolk County Yellowbook and finally The Suffolk County Yellow Pages to the accompaniment of a rain of gloves, small folding umberellas, light bulbs, a collapsable two-wheeled luggage cart, a rats-nest of bungee cords for the collapsable two-wheeled luggage cart, one 5lb bag of rock-salt (ice for the melting of), two left-foot ice-skates and a Victorian birdcage. Of course, since I wear progressive bifocals, in order to assess the relative danger of each item that fell on me I was obliged to tilt my head far back exposing Mr Face to the onslaught.

Staunching my wounds with pages torn from the BTB Yellow pages, which turned out to be from 1994 and had all the wrong area codes in as a result, I seached the Yellow pages for a parts stockist within reach, and finally found one. I made a quick phone call to Sid's Obscure Appliance Parts, Taxidermy and Ammo Shoppe and confirmed where they were located, then raced over in the fabulous Steviemobile to purchase a match for the thermostat.

Sid turned out to be very knowledgable on the subject of dryers. He ran a few tests on my thermostat and opined that it looked good. Then he made some enquiries as to what the dryer was doing wrong. Then he suggested that the part that might be at fault was a pair of coils in the burner assembly, and I should check those out by observing the burner. I asked how, since I couldn't figure out how to get to the burner for all the ducts, bulkheads and so on in the back of the machine. He suggested I go in through the front. I was dubious, explaining that Mrs Stevie would take a dim view if I cut a hole in the front of the machine. Sid did a little dance of frustration, jokingly called me a couple of vile names and said I should remove the top of the machine, then undo the front panel. It would, in his view, pose little challenge to a mentally retarded chimpanzee after drinking a bottle of scotch. I asked for a demonstration on one of his rebuilt machines in the showroom. He leapt over the counter, making one or two hurtful remarks on the quality of my genetic makeup, and showed me how to undo the lid of one of the machines by "simply" pulling it forward, then giving it a manly heave upwards. Then he allowed as how it might be a good idea to undo the two little screws hiding inside the lint filter before giving that manly heave, and went to find a hammer and a screwdriver.

I considered as Sid bent his machine's top back to an approximation of its original shape and made an adjustment of some thrity dollars to the price sticker on it with a felt-tip pen, then said that I thought these tests might be a tad on the long side and when did he close? Sid said he closed at three o'clock, then muttered "usually" under his breath. I surmised that although his store was empty at the moment he had had an unusually busy day and was contemplating closing early. I insisted that he sell me the thermostat, since it was only twenty bux and I would surely need one anyway. Sid begged me to buy the coils instead. They were "only" forty-two bux, after all. I told Sid I was sorry, but I wasn't going to shell out forty-two bux on unneeded coils when the problem certainly involved the thermostat, which I now had in my hand. Sid sold me the thermostat, jokingly called me various kinds of fool and with that parting kindness I left the store.

Although it was a complete waste of time, I thought I should run the tests that Sid suggested so that I could tell him how wrong he had been. Mysteriously though, the thermostat problem had cleared up and the tests, which involved me lying on the floor breathing carbon monoxide from the burner while I peeked through a tiny spy hole set at just the wrong height for either of my eyes, now revealed the very symptoms of Sid's Coil Rot. Cursing at the fates and anti-handyman demons that have infested my domicile for lo, several weeks I took off the dryer top and the dryer front, whereupon the drum fell out onto my feet.

"That's the ticket!" I cried, or words to that effect.

I whipped off the coils by the simple expedient of dismantling the burner assembly (remembering to turn off the gas supply first was a win vs Mr Brain here) and in about two hours had replaced the dryer with a pile of unidentifiable parts I had no idea how to reassemble. It goes without saying that this was when Mrs Stevie re-entered the theater of operations and gave me the benefit of one of her motivational speeches, visiting such topics as the marital state of my parents when I was born, my fitness for use in a medical testing laboratory, the position of my IQ with respect to the national median and so forth. I was in no position to debate the coffee-crazed woman; Sid's would be closing in half an hour, so I simply said "Watch out, there are spiders in here" and she remembered an urgent appointment at Starbux to have her stomach recoated with oil of caffein.

When I returned to Sid's the place was being run by his partner, Syd. "Where's Sid?" I asked, to which he said "I'm Syd". There then followed ten minutes or so of confused give-and-take along the lines of Gilbert and Sullivan which I will spare you, and we got down to the nitty gritty. Syd asked me to go over the symptoms. I told him I just wanted the two little coils. Syd was insistent, I told him what I'd seen. He asked about thermostat testing. I told him Sid had done it earlier. More confusion over the homonymic qualities of "Sid" and "Syd" followed. Finally, Syd said that in his opinion the little coils had developed a fault and needed replacing. I said that was fine, please could he sell me some. That was when he told me Sid had sold the last set just before I came in.

I goggled and said a few words of power, then said that I supposed they could order a set for me and I would come back for them next week. At that, there was a strangled curse from somewhere behind the counter and Sid's head popped up. He had been working under the counter and hadn't heard me come in it seems. He flew into the back of the store, from which there came the sounds of crashing and cursing, and a few minutes later he returned with a set of the coils in a baggie. We exchanged a few joking slurs at each other's expense as he rang me up, and I returned home to install the coils in my dryer, which now runs great.

It's good to be handy with tools.

  1. Project title kindly suggested by Mrs Stevie. All rights reserved. And the lefts, and the headbutts too for that matter
  2. There is another one. The operating thermostat sits in the exhaust and flips on and off to control the heat based on exhaust temperature and the temperature setting selected on the front panel. The second sits in the inlet and is designed to trigger just above the flashpoint of most common man-made textiles, guarding Whirlpool from ruinous lawsuits in the event of a catastrophic in-dryer heat excursion incident
  3. I don't know why we do this. I just live at Chateau; Stevie, I don't make the decisions there.
  4. The top book of the stack is way out of reach, even if you stand on the bottom tread of the staicase and lean over at 30 degrees5
  5. Which, by the way, opens you up to the threat of having the front door slammed open on your head

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