Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How It Starts is Not Always How It Ends

I kind of took this weird old cabinet that a friend gave to me and decided I was going to strip it down, flip it on it's back and make a storage chest out of it complete with a padded cloth interior. However, the project sat around for about 3 years never really seeing any progress. I was just a bit too wrapped up in my Phonograph restoration.
Finally, after moving to my new house, I was determined to do something with it. I got it out of storage and started making a lid for it out of old pine slats I had left over from an old Futon I had stripped down a few years ago.

At the same time, I had a plastic tote full of wood scraps and other odd pieces of left over furniture remnants that I would keep around for our fireplace we had in our old house. Nothing painted or treated of course, just plain scraps. Our new house doesn't have an indoor wood burning fireplace, so the wood pieces were basically just in my way.

We decided to buy one of those little outdoor fire pits for our patio and could use the scraps in there. I wanted to put the tote outside but the wood would get wet and the tote would just hold water. I decided that the storage cabinet project I started would make an excellent outdoor wood storage box. I realized that I just didn't need that cabinet for anything else.

I slapped some outdoor paint on it and some fancy wood feet from an old Ikea-like cabinet we had decided not to use those feet on. Works much better now. And it keeps the wood mostly dry without sealing up any moisture.

The Condo Birdhouse

I whipped together a two story birdhouse for our garden out of scrap pine I had left over from a cabinet project I started and never finished. Before we moved to our new house about 6 months ago, we had a successful birdhouse on the back of our old house that my youngest son had made me for Father's Day a few years back.

He was sad that we had to leave it behind, but I explained to him that the birds would return again next year and their house would be gone. So, we left it behind in the hopes that the new owners would also leave it up there.

My son missed having the birds to watch so I made a new unit for our new house. But this time, I wanted to make two small houses out of one. We haven't had anything take up residence yet, but then, it took about a year for the last one to work out either. So, here's hoping.

The Phonograph Was Completed.

I just wanted to update that I finished that phonograph project. I apologize that after all the hard work I put into it, I neglected to take a final photo. However, I will report that the owner was so very happy to get his device back in near original condition (except for a few parts I had to replace) and said he used it for almost a week straight trying out his boxes of old 78's he had lying in storage.

A job well done.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Updates on the Antique Phonograph Project

Hello All,

It's been a while since I have posted anything new on here. Just wanted to add some updated photos to show my progress with that Antique Phonograph I have been working on over the past few years. I finally made some serious headway this summer, which is very exciting.

For those that are new to this, I was given an old Crank Phonograph from a friend that had suffered some serious moisture damage to it's cabinet. Mice had also taken residence in this thing at some point as well. He wanted to see if I could salvage any of it or if it was just a write-off. He was willing to pay for a restoration if one was even possible.

As you can see from the photo to the right, it was in very rough shape. Two legs had fallen off and the side panels were completely rotten and falling apart in thin sheets. The cabinet doors on the front were also completely rotted. The good news was that the chamber that held the actual phonograph parts and the surrounding surfaces were still in excellent shape. The gear system for the turntable was also still intact only because it was completely covered in grease. In the above photo, all of the chrome and hardware is being stored in the blue container to the left of the cabinet.

It's been almost 3 years since I started this project and I am very proud of how far I have come with it. It took a lot of work to determine what was still usable and what would have to be replicated. Then to strip down what was still good and refinish the entire cabinet to as close an approximation as I could. It was also lucky that the mechanical parts are still working almost as good as they did in the day. Just a little bit stickier than they used to be.

The photo beside was taken before I put the new front doors on it. All I have left to do now is put the bottom back on and insert the record storage assembly. Then it will be complete.

The unit works really well and is very loud, especially on the high notes. Being that many of the records from it day are either Opera or Orchestral in nature, high notes are in abundance.

The funny coincidence is that I found a Christmas themed record stuck inside the frame itself. I will have it done before this holiday so that will probably be the first record I play on it for it's proud owner.

I would definitely tackle another project like this down the road if one was presented to me. I really enjoyed working on this.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Defrosting My Food (Part Three)

Okay, so I realized that using an old power supply unit was a good idea (see Part Two). However, it is also loud because the fan echoes around pretty badly inside this empty metal box.

The second problem I discovered was that not all plastic storage containers are created equal. I tried to defrost some frozen spaghetti on top of this unit, but the bottom of the plastic container does not have a flat surface where the frozen part will not make full contact with the top of this box. The solution was to put another aluminum heat-sink between the inner bottom surface of the container and rest the other half on the top of the PS warmer.

This seemed like too much fuss and making the defroster device was just too dangerous if I was forced to make more (for family or friends). My odds might be really good that I would eventually get hurt gutting the dangerous components out of the inside of the power supply. This also leaves a lot of waste still.

So, I decided to make the whole unit smaller by eliminating the PS box completely.

Why not just use the heat-sink and fan by itself ? Small enough to still fit under a plastic container, even with an indented bottom. And much quieter.

The unit in the photo above was made by a friend of mine from a concept drawing I gave him. We hadn't quite worked all the bugs out of the idea yet but this was much less complicated. He rigged his to work on a 9 volt battery and power switch. We found this design much quieter, more portable and more efficient overall.

Knowing that the look of the above prototype wouldn't win points with my wife (I don't want that thing in my kitchen!), I knew it needed to be refined again. Plus, the battery would probably not last long enough to actually do the job required.

So, one more design refinement and we had a nice looking unit that runs on a power supply through AC.
So, does it work? You bet.

I put two regular ice cubes in a small plastic container and set it on top of the new unit. The ice cubes completely melted in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Then, I took that same container and placed two identical ice cubes in it and set it on my desk. It took 3 hours and 20 minutes to do the same thing. And in case anyone is wondering, the room was at 23 degrees Celsius throughout the experiment.

I think it looks like a NASA Lunar Lander.