DIY and the humble cork

15 01 2012

I admit it. I do like my wine. As I type this I have a nearly finished glass of a nice heavy cabernet-shiraz by my elbow. I’ve also found a nice sauvignon blanc and I’ve bought a box (6 bottles of it) which is nice during the day – drunk very cold. I don’t have and expensive lifestyle so I think I can justify this indulgence and I am certainly not a wino. I think that must be an Australian term; they like to add an “o” to words. Wino, smoko, hobo, drongo. Dingo. Anyway, I like to keep the corks that come out of the bottle though these days there seem to be a lot of screw tops which sort of degrades the romanticism of pulling a cork. And of course it does not help the Portuguese cork-oak industry. Who am I to care about any of that? I inevitably drink the wine by myself. I do like to keep the corks. It’s not evidence of my drinking prowess and I am not a fisherman of any distinction (I prefer fly-fishing) so I guess it must be a squirrel syndrome thing for which Zimbabweans are famous. Years ago I came across an old car shock absorber whilst cleaning out the garage before a move. It was a car that had long since changed hands and it was obviously a used item but who knows it might have been useful for – something! Behind me on the dining room table is the not so old computer that was struck by lightning whilst I was away over Christmas. It has wires, fans and heatsinks that must be useful for something. And I am sure I can find a use for the case.

The shower attached to my bedroom has been malfunctioning for some months now. The cold is at best a trickle when the water pressure is high and frequently just a dribble. I really enjoy my showers. Yes, a bath is a good thing once in a while when I am cold or tired but a shower – it’s invigorating in a way that a bath can never be. Now the hot water for the shower goes through a pressurized heater that holds little water but is adequate for a shower. The thermostat doesn’t work that well. In Zim dollar days it stopped working altogether and rather than fork out a small fortune for a new one I had a go at fixing it. Now the water varies between scalding and tepid; mostly scalding. Trying to have a shower with a dribble of cold water and plenty of scalding hot is no fun or satisfaction at all. (I must refill the wine glass).

I pondered the piping system – both hot and cold come off the same pipe just near the water heater but why the cold supply was so poor was a mystery. Obviously it was blocked but with what I couldn’t think. I took the cold tap apart in the shower and poked a piece of heavy nylon line back into the pipe but there was a bend and the line would not go around it. Then earlier this week I had a brilliant idea – compressed air! But I could see that the air gun on my compressor would not fit into the pipe in the back of the tap which was much too large. The the REALLY good idea occurred – I would use a cork! Carefully selecting 2 corks out of my horde of 44, I drilled a 10mm hole down the centre of each. Then this morning I enlisted the help of the gardener to get the compressor into my bedroom. I ensured that all taps were closed in the house, unscrewed the problem cold tap in the shower and opened the cold tap in the nearby basin. Pushing the nozzle of the air gun into one side of the hole in the cork I then pushed the cork onto the end of the pipe in the shower and squeezed the trigger of the air gun. Water sprayed from the basin tap all over the bathroom floor.  I removed the cork and airgun and filthy water dribbled onto the shower floor (I hope that whatever was causing the blockage was inorganic) and repeated the process. Success! I now have a fully functioning shower!

Now the admission of guilt. The best cork for the purpose was not cork at all. It was one of those compressed spongy plastic things.

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7 responses

15 01 2012
Frazer

Ingenious! And while those words do indeed sound better with an Australian twang, the word hobo is often used in circles by us juvenile Brits (it was even in the predictive text of my phone as I typed this, which could also point to it being American, seeing as this operating system is Google’s).

16 01 2012
La Canadienne

Well, you know I used to call Terry a ‘wino’, and you too when you savoured the fruit of the vine, with us of an evening. In North America (Canada too, alas), a wino is an old boy, who drinks to excess, and ends up snoring under bridges somewhere…though not in this minus 20 C weather!

Love the story about the shower tap though.

16 01 2012
Gillian

I’ve been telling you for years to put a cork in it – not entirely what I meant but glad it finally paid off.

16 01 2012
Sybille

Starting by the holy drink, going through the shower and the bedroom and to finish by a cork.
How many glasses that night?

17 01 2012
gonexc

Just 2, I think. Well, to be honest, I don’t really remember!

20 01 2012
Sybille

That’s the point..

23 01 2012
Big Blister

So by extension is “Zimbo” therefore an Aussie word also?
I think you should make a video of this plumbing fix and post it on You tube!

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