atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2381: Why does everything I do have to be a major fricking project?

I just wanted to replace a single light fixture. It's nothing fancy; it's a junction box-mounted single bulb screw-in fixture, as seen in basements and garages everywhere.

The garage light got flaky. I first noticed it the night I wanted to try out the fog machine; it was flickering on and off at random. Wiring? Switch? I didn't know.

Today I decided I'd fix it, because it had finally quit for good and I didn't want to be trying to fix the goddamned thing when it's -40° and six feet of snow on the ground. So I went out to the garage and had a look at the fixture.

The terminals were AFU. That meant a new fixture; so after I ate lunch and posted my last blog entry, I hied myself off to Ace for a fixture. $7 later, I was on my way home.

Oh: on the way to Ace I had to wait for a train. I was behind this guy in a Ford Ranger Splash (vintage ca 1997) and the damn thing was running like crap. I had the windows closed and I could hear it chugging away; and when the train passed and the guy moved, it emitted this miasma of black smoke.

There was never a diesel offered in that truck. This wasn't a diesel engine. It was gas.

It was gas and it was running rich. Forget "pig rich"; this was the entire herd rich. And it stank: rotten eggs and sulfur and kitchen matches, all making a wonderful stench-cloud which had no trouble penetrating the cabin of the Escort.


...came out of Ace, got into my car, and it still smelled. I had to drive home with the windows open to get the stink out.

The guy had a little K&N sticker in his rear window. Hey, guy, you have to clean and re-oil that filter every so often....

(No, I don't know the actual reason his truck was running so badly. Having a low-restriction air filter, though, was the least of his worries with that thing.)

Got home, immediately got to work on the fixture. The old fixture had a total of four terminals in it, two for hot and two for neutral; the new fixture had one screw for each. I had three neutral wires and one hot; there was no way I was going to get three solid wires onto one terminal. I had to improvise.

I soldered the three neutral wires together (scorching the insulation on the hot wire in the process) and stripped a bare spot in the main one to attach to the fixture. The hot wire got attached where it went, and presto! The light works again!

The new fixture even has a plug socket in it so I can plug in the flourescent fixture without using an adaptor. Win-win. (I paid extra for that. All of $1, I think.)

Had my first experience with touching a live 110v wire when not grounded, too; I thought the power was off, and was prodding the neutral terminal, and didn't get shocked. But there was current flowing there; when I loosened the screw there were sparks when the wires moved. But I wasn't grounded (rubber soles on wood) so no current flowed through me. Heh.

But man, what a pain in the ass. I needed the following tools and materials:

flat screwdriver
philips screwdriver
wire stripper
electrical tape
propane torch

...for what should have been a 10-minute job requiring one screwdriver. It took me all that shit, and half an hour. Not counting the time it took me to go get the damn part. Argh.

* * *

"Propane torch" you ask? Well, there wasn't any good way for me to solder the wires using an iron. I would have had to run an extension cord into the house. I do have one of those small butane torches but I have never managed to make the damn thing work the way it's supposed to. The propane torch was handy, it worked, I'm happy. F it.

* * *

So today I took Mom for Yet Another Diagnostic Procedure; voted; and fixed the light in the garage.

Good enough.

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