Project 𝑛+1 ≆ heat

The wood-burning stove is, itself, fine, but its installation appears to have been cobbled together by a drunken installer then bashed into the house — no doubt without those annoying or inconvenient permits or building codes. We have it sorted, for now.

But, next on the task list is getting the 50 year old electric furnace sorted out. We’re entering fall and overnight outdoor temps are dropping to about -5℃. When we enter the depths of winter, we’ll see daytime temps as low as -25℃. Sure, a fireplace is “cozy”, but we won’t want to rely solely on the fireplace all winter.

I’d like to get the ancient electric furnace working. I don’t want the indoors to be a tropical 28℃ in the winter. But I’d be happy if we could have a safety-limit of 15℃.

A couple of things can be readily determined — well, apart from its extraordinarily-obvious “It doesn’t work” condition.

It hasn’t a thermostat. Not a big deal, one can just jumper the two wires on a simplistic furnace. And, while this particular, er, domicile absolutely cannot justify a smart-thermostat, just any thermostat will work. I think I’ve still the old Honeywell thermostat that I’d replaced in the Moses Lake house with a Nest. That’ll solve the thermostat problem.

Are its breakers tripped? Nope — they’re fine. At the service panel and the on-appliance breakers.

There’s not a chance in hell that anything in here would be quick to repair. Dig in and make a list of every potential at plausible fault points:

Visual appearance of the exterior:

The low-voltage thermostat wiring (24VAC) needs a jumper wire between two terminals. On an older style HVAC, wires for the thermostat were typically connected to terminals L and 2. Terminal 2 would then be shunted to terminal C.

Shown here: quickly extended term 2 to C

Just looking at it, one could see that the jumper wire was simply folded back out of the way. Why in the world would they have disconnected that? Were they gnawing on the wires to strip off a few inches of insulation then attaching them and hoping for the best? Eh, easy enough to correct. But that’s not all, with certainty.

Is it in “winter” mode? Yep. That’s a switch to turn off, or switch between enabling heat or blower only.

Knowing that previous occupant fancied himself an electrician, I’ll have to look at the innards of wiring… he no doubt “fixed” it thinking he was going to make it work or work better (or work more better?). Ah, yep… he fixed it so well that the power wires for the blower itself have been cut…

…then spliced together… others disconnected and ends removed entirely.

Quite fortuitously, manufacturers back in the day, Coleman in this case, included a complete wiring diagram inside the service panel.

That’s a win right there.

There’s but one of me to do the work, and I’ve a limited amount of time available during the week to work on prioritized corrections to make this, uh, habitation livable. Sure, there are other extremely important issues to be sorted as well, but during the time I have available, I need to address one problem at a time.

  1. Identify everything non-standard.
  2. Remove all of the fixes.
  3. Restore it to its original condition.

So, it doesn’t work yet.

But it will.

Sometimes the Project Picks You

I had quickly pulled all of the receptacles to tackle later, but stumbled into this little gem just before I left for the week.

<sarcasm> Gosh, I have no idea why electrical at this end of the house is wonky. </sarcasm>

Count the number electrical issues this single modern receptacle:

  • That corroded (1) wire is meant to be the ground wire for the 14/2 cable.
  • It’s connected to the push-in neutral (2) side of the receptacle.
  • It’s aluminum, into a modern copper-receptacle (3).
  • There’s a neutral wire not connected (4).
  • There’s a hot (black) wire that’s connected to the grounding bus (5) for the receptacle.

At least the wires that I can see are routed the correct way round the terminals.

I think I have my Friday project selected.

AMT – The Program So Far

I’ve found that, apart from lectures which include the entire class and comprise two to three hours per day, that all lab-time is effectively self-guided. Well, it’s not self-guided, per se, but guided by you and your lab partner, which is critical to learning. You can’t do it alone, you can’t do anything alone in life, but I digress.

Back to lab partners for a moment — it would be nice if we had more than just a single lab partner, but in the present scenario we find ourselves in, it’s not possible to have learning groups of three or four students sharing knowledge and learnings.

Right, so self-directed labs: Yes, there are certain things that you’ll need to do and demonstrate understanding of concepts, and the instructors do have a general roadmap for learning, but I’ve found that it seems very much self-guided.

No, you won’t be mucking about on airframes or in engines or turbines* until you obtain the exposure to basic concepts. As your experience grows, additional opportunities for learning will present themselves.

So, no, there aren’t any collective labs that need to be accomplished by the class as a whole, but individually, you’ll be exploring each of the labs.

I have found that after I’d spent what must have been a few hours trying to interpret a particular chart — to which we didn’t have any exposure or understanding of (the concept seems to have been to challenge the learner to see how they may interpret it, not knowing how it’s used, nor what it’s called), things rather clicked into place when I realized that I was horribly over-interpreting its enormous amount of information, but that we only needed one tiny bit of its figures.

Also, in another diagram, the question presented was, “How many miles per gallon will the plane get at 7500′, an RPM of 2600, and a ground speed of 172 MPH?” It seemed a non sequitur — asking for miles per gallon? And ground speed? For an airplane? Obviously I was painfully over-analyzing it.

Look at the basics! I have a lifetime of knowledge and experience that seems to be something of an impediment. But they haven’t described in lectures for learners new to the concept of aviation that we use airspeed for aircraft, not ground speed. What do new students know? Ground speed. MPH and KPH.

* I’m rather looking forward to getting some hands-on with both radials and turbines to run them, tear them down and rebuild them, and run them some more.