2005-02-06: Welder-Wielding For Fun And Savings

Today is, of course, Sunday - which is not only grandmother duty day, but also the second day of the weekend. I woke up around 1000 hours, watched Dr. Stanley, and realized around 1200 that I'd had more than enough time to make it up to Oceanside for church.

Upon wandering outside, I worked on the water main a little and determined that there wasn't much hope of removing the leaking part of it. The only real option would be soldering it, considering that the joint in question is holding much tighter, even though it may leak, than the actual connection to the water main. And I don't mean that figuratively - I actually did pivot the water pipe a little, then decided that was better left alone.

As I wrote yesterday, grandmother duty does indeed take priority over plumbing issues. However, today I was able to combine the two by dropping my grandmother of to visit her sister, and then taking off to Lowe's for a tool and supply run, where as usual I bought about twice the tool I actually needed for the task at hand. The only thing missing from full manifestation of my Martin/Jones genetic heritage, was a donut run.

I did, however, find the plumbing supplies, soldering irons, and torches. After careful deliberation, I decided against spending $15 on a butane mini-torch, opting instead to spend $50 on a welding/cutting torch which uses mapp gas and oxygen. Nothing says "I'm a man" more than craving dangerous tools which might explode if I'm not careful with them. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I'll let the rig live in my toolshed, rather than the house.

The other thing I picked up was some lead-free plumbing solder. Upon getting back home, I discovered as I read the manual that I needed eye and hand protection in order to work with this torch. I went to Home Depot for that, then returned with a pair of welder's goggles and a pair of thick leather and insulation gloves which will probably see more service protecting me from Thor.

I also picked up a few cans of spray-on insulating sealant for filling gaps. The large air gap in the California room has irked me for some time now, and I used most of one of the cans to seal it tonight. Although it may be silly to do so just when the weather's finally getting warmer, at least the work of sealing it will have finally been finished. Tomorrow I'll need to go out with a knife or something and cut off the bits of foam that're sticking out, and then perhaps come back with paint later on to make it sort of match the color of the trailer. Nothing says "insulating foam" like a bright yellow-orange color.

So, I did try the welding torch in a soldering configuration tonight. The flame didn't seem to want to get as hot as the instructions seemed to think it should (mostly yellow, instead of blue and yellow). The only problem was that it seemed to melt the solder at an uneven rate and just basically break it off in pieces. While I was stopping to decide what I should do, Craig called up, and he happened to have a soldering iron to use. He brought it over, and now the pipe is welded. Truthfully, he did most of the work - my attempts at soldering were correct for dealing with electronic components, but for soldering actual pipes, a more reckless hand is necessary. Although I did figure out, belatedly, that I should've wrapped a coil or two of solder around the joint I needed to solder, before hitting it with the torch. That would've probably melted it right on beautifully. As it stands though, there is a nice thick collar of solder around the formerly leaking pipe, which has held for a few hours at least. Now I'm just hoping that it continues to hold.

The water leak underneath the house still has me concerned - I intend to see about taking down the shower wall tomorrow night.