Sunday, November 11, 2012

Woodstove update

So I need to back up.  After living here for several months, I look on the side of the wood stove.  There's this knob bottom right.  "Lo," "High."  I turn it.  Nothing.  I take the bolts off to remove the vent to which the knob was attached.  Wires go to the face of the interior and then lead to the back of stove.  I can't make sense of the few mechanisms, so I enlist my boy.  Funny kid.  If something interests him, he'll redesign the Apollo capsule.  If not, well, it's like talking to my dog - she'll look at me but won't give good advice.

"It's dead," is all I got.

Through several weeks of researching I learn that the the blower in this particular model has had failure issues.  Further, the blower cannot be replaced.  Great.  Onto to Plan B.

I took off the vent cover and measure the distances.  Pretty tight.  But if I get a small fan that can fit at least alongside the vent opening, it would push air into the back cavity.  I've got four vents - only one of which I was re-purposing - so the air's gotta go somewhere.

I went to some store or two the other day, last week, I think.  No fan that met my concept.  Had to be small and metal.  So today I went to Home Depot.  Nothing.  Ah, Radio Shack!  I know, in the last post I shared my concerns with Not-So-Much-Anymore-Geek Central.  Regardless ...

"Hi!  My name's Brian!  Can I help you find something?"

"Naw.  Appreciate it.  But half the fun's in the search," I rejoin.

I wander through a few sections then find an arrangement of fans.  Plastic plastic, metal!  Too big.  Metal!  Yes!  Right size.  Good heft.  It'll work.

"Hey, Brian.  C'mere!"  He dutifully arrives.  "I need to take this fan and power it off of a wall socket.  Can you do that?"

He leads me to another section.  Now, just remember that I know nothing about electricity except that it shocked the shit out of my left arm once and that it truly blows when the power company has shut me off during the Shattered Years.

"You can use this to connect the fan wires to this adapter, and then the adapter fits into this plug!  Then you just plug it into the wall!"

"That's great, Brian!" and off to the checkout counter we go.

As he's putting all sorts of information into the register, I took all the items out of their boxes.  "So this goes into here, that into there, and then I plug it in, right?"

"That's right!"  Brian is so helpful.

Then I went home.  My boy is on the patio.  

"I got the solution!" I share, still dwelling in Brian's glow.

"To what?" he asks, having no clue of my mission over the past few weeks.

"Check this out."  I saw him the fan and explain my quest.

"It'll work," he said.

Then I show him the thing that plugged into the wall.

"That won't work."  I cringe.


"It converts AC from the wall to DC."

"Um, ok.  And?"

"Well," he said, "if you want to introduce a car battery into the solution between the fan and the wall, then maybe we can make it work."

"Fucking Brian."


"Nothing.  Radio Shack still sucks."

"Check this out," he says.  We keep an outdoor extension on the patio threaded from the garage in case we need to recharge phones or computers.  He's got the power strip and is ready to stick the bare wires coming off the fan into the socket holes.

"Wait, let me get my beer out of the way."

He inserts the wires.  The fan whirls to life.  I put my hand in front.  "I think it kicks out enough, eh?"

"Yeah.  Should."

We enter the house with tools and fan.  After removing the vent plate, we identify the system used in the wood stove:  Two power wires go to the rear to the blower, one goes to something attached to the furnace wall - a thermostat, we surmise, and one ground.

We employ his earlier methodology.  We stick the two power wires going to the rear in a power strip.  A humming noise surfaces.  Hands to vent surfaces ... nothing.

"Let's power all three lines," he says.

"We can do that?" I ask with a touch of concern.

"Yeah.  It's grounded."

Remember, I know nothing about electricity, but I do know that being grounded is good.  We pair the two lines that go to the rear into one power strip side and stick the 3d wire in the other side.  Humming noise then fan!  It works!

After a trip to Home Depot, we wire it to override the thermostat.  That seemed to act as an on/off switch.  Once on, the only variable was fan speed.  But that's presumptuous.  If the thermostat, as the system was designed, sensed heat from a fire then the fan automatically turned on.  But what if I didn't want it on?  So now we have an on/off switch, after which the fan speed comes in.

So ... blower works.  Radio Shack still sucks.  And now I have an AC/DC converter but no extra car battery.  But maybe I'll figure out a use for it.

Bye for now.

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