Recycling is a lot like going fishing.  You are never sure what you’re going to land, but it’s always fun.  Besides, why send perfectly good parts to the land fill?

One of our heaters died recently.  (You saw the rap of winter and small electric space heaters, I hope.)  The san thing to do would be toss it in the back of the old farm pick-em-up truck and tote them off to the land fill.  Should have been the end of story.

But, while lots of people  talk the new way of living (carbon lite and such) we have actually been doing it since 2007 when the first part of our grid-tied solar came up.

To be sure, the recycling and project-orientation does take up room – lots of it.  But, there’s a reason that “good ol’ boys” have countless old appliances around is because they are a never-ending source of parts.

Even an old fridge can be a source of stainless wire racks that would set you back a fortune.  And if one of your friends has an a/c kit, you might be able to safely get a compressor motor and…well, you get the idea.

So this week’s quickie is two-fold.  First, I disassemble the broken heater and do a post-mortem on it.  Second step is to strip off anything that’s useful.

Upon opening, there were two problems found:  the power switch was broken (no control over high, medium, and low).  In addition, one of the elements was broken and I’m not wanting to buy either a new switch or new nichrome wire to fix it.

THAT said, if times were already into the coming Depression, then the utility value of a working heater would have been higher so a switch and maybe ordering (and winding) a new set of nichrome (resistance heating wire) elements would be worthwhile.

I started by disassembling the basic box, collecting the parts as I went.  On top was a stamped metal (but padded) handle. No telling where that will end up.  On a new wood tool box, a one-off door handle where things don’t have to match….things like that.  there were two “tip-over guards” as well and these could be light duty handles or whatever strikes one’s fancy.

Also, there was almost 6-feet of good electrical connection to the wall.  That kind of this always comes in handy.

The most interesting (and still working) part was the small 110V fan and housing:

I wanted to show you this part because if you’re under 40, or so, you may not be familiar with cutting old rivets out in order to save some assembly (or sheet metal) you may have use for down the road.

The way to get most of these out is to put in a 1/4 drill bit – something a good bit larger than the small rivet.  Begin drilling at an angle (which reduces the tendency of the rivet to spin, instead have having its “shoulder” cut off by the drill bit.  When it gets loose, go vertical but not with too much force.  What you’re trying to do is cut through the rivet and only enough of the other sheet metal to clear the rivet.

And angle about like so…

Notice at the top of this picture, you can see the fan box rivet cleared in a previous drilling operation.  (Don’t forget to wear eye protection when you’re doing this kind of thing!)

A few more minutes (nail-pulling nippers make short work of wiring and tie-wraps) and we have a pretty good collection of goods to deploy in new projects.

Oh boy…what a haul…and we haven’t even gotten to the fun part yet.

  • A dozen small (short) sheet metal screws
  • Four rubber feet with sheet metal screws (which will work on wood just fine, too)
  • Two heat guards (metal, above)
  • One handle with padding (off camera)
  • Lower right is a thermostat with anti-tip over weight
  • And the dial for that
  • Plus the power cord
  • And of course, the fan box assembly with fan

Wow!  All for 5-minutes with a drill and a power impact driver. Not a bad haul.

What’s This Crappe For?

For me, this is really the fun part.  I love creativity probably more than  anthing else (except Elaine and cocktail hour!) around.

As I was working on this my mind was already considering what to be done with the fan.  Wanna listen-in on my “slef-talk?”  OK, but don’t laugh…

“…hmmm.  Fan, fan.  Where can I use a fan like this?  Not real tight tolerances, so no high pressure uses like air cooling for a high power linear amplifier project…wouldn’t put out enough air to make any Eimac tube socket happy, let alone something with SK_406 chimneyss….

Wait!  What about the new time sink for winter, the 3-D print project?  Sure, we’ll be running mostly PLA to begin with, BUT when we start rolling into thicker builds and using ABS, that’s going to give off styrene smells…and nothing that smells like that can be good for you…yeah, that’s an ideal use.  Enough air to push through a buiild enclosure, shove it outside with a $10-dryer vent and some 4″ tubing…and I think I can use 4″ PVC though the wall no problem…OK, that’s decided… fume plume for printing doom…oh yeah…”

Sick, huh?  But that left the brain with more creations to come up with…

” You know, that thermostat doesn’t look like it will handle a lot of power, but it would sure power a couple of box fans to take the hot air ouf the top roof vents of the shop and that would turn the swamp cooler airflow into a push in and pull out affair.  Yeah, remember to look for a couple of cheapy 20-24″ fans on sale in the off-cooling season.  No one’s going to be buying a lot of fans come January…”

At at, there was only one thing left to do: multipurpose on more thing…

“…you know, I bet most people don’t take their broken stuff apart like I do.  We still have the microwave to turn into a spot welder like that guy in Poland did on Youtube, right?”  (I’m totally in awe of this fellow’s work and my own stuff pales in comparison….gotta study his stuff more…)

I resolved to snap a couple of quick pix and share.  Since even though we could afford to buy thousands of brand new whatevers, only fools waste money and don’t engage their creative Higher Self.  Feel sorry for people that don’t.  Maybe this’ll help, yah think?

Write when you get rich