Today at lunch I went outside my office once again and made yet another attempt to find a geocache that I do not doubt is hidden there. Only I can’t find it.

I did find that my Tomtom will let me see my lat/long in gory detail, so I don’t really need the Offroad Navigator I installed on it yesterday. It has the added benefit of showing me how many satellites it’s receiving, how strong the signals from it are, and where each thinks I am. It takes an average of these (perhaps a weighted average, giving more weight to the ones with stronger signals) to decide where to tell me I am.

And even with that, when I get close to the cache, it just quits updating. But I haven’t given up yet.

After work I went to Sears and returned the timer I bought for the washing machine. Ka-ching! Got that money back, and I am ever-so-delighted about it. I still had to pay for shipping it here though, but that’s an order of magnitude less than the timer, so I’ll not complain. It was my own incompetence that led me down that path anyhow.

Tonight was much more pleasant here at the house than last night was. Two of my kids were getting a bit sassy with me yesterday. David raised his voice at me to the point where Penny climbed up on the couch with Beth (which she only does when she is scared). He was having trouble solving a math problem, and I told him how to solve it – but he didn’t believe me. Once he calmed down, he recognized that I am indeed a mathematical genius and he should never doubt my assertions. He had just never thought about the solution to his problem in the (much simpler) terms with which I phrased it.

Then it was time for Beth to practice the piano. She kept insisting she “needed my help” when I know that all she really wanted was to delay practice. Whine, whine, whine. I told her to quit whining. She whined some more. I took away TV privileges. She responded by whining. I told her to quit whining or I would keep taking away privileges. She whined. No computer. Whine. No TV tomorrow. Whine. No chocolate milk at bedtime. Whine. Bedtime now (it was only 6:00pm). That was the end of the whining. She was asleep before 7:00.

Tonight was a stark contrast to that sorry scene. Everyone was all smiles. No angry voices. No whining (even during piano practice). So maybe they learned a lesson yesterday. I hope they don’t forget it too soon.

As it turns out (and it comes as no surprise), hose clamps are not optional equipment on a washing machine.

I got a call from Va today while I was at work. The washing machine made a strange sound, and then sprayed water all over the floor. I suspected I knew what it was, and when I got home, I found that I was correct: I had neglected to put the hose clamps back in their proper position, so when the washer was turned on for the nth time, the fill hose came loose.

The thing that really gets me is that I remember double checking the hoses before I zipped the cabinet back together. I guess my double-check wasn’t close enough though. Not one of those four hose clamps had been put where it belonged.

It was a small matter to reattach the one that came off, and even a smaller matter to move the clamps into their proper positions. Sigh. The good thing to come from this is that I am now reminded to return the timer to Sears for a refund. I’ll try to remember to do that tomorrow.

In other news…
Today during lunch I went searching for a third geocache (I looked for two and found one on Saturday). I didn’t find it, so I’m one for three now. When I got back to the office, I read some of the comments that people who have found it left. And now I know where to look. I’ll try again tomorrow.

The valve assembly for the washing machine came in today. As soon as I finished eating supper I went down and took the old one out. The plan was to see if I could fix the old one once I had a new one there as an emergency back-up. But I failed. I managed to get the non-moving parts of the solenoid off, but I just can’t get into the sealed part. Also, I’m not positive I can get the solenoid back on there, as the metal bracket was sorta pressed in place. I worked on it for half an hour I guess, and then decided it was time to put the new on in and put this sad story behind me.

So I did. Then I gingerly removed the new timer that I didn’t need. As it turns out, instructions for removing the timer knob were stamped into the timer’s housing. Duh. It’s not hard to get the knob off at all if you follow the instructions! I put the old timer back in, and zipped everything back together. Then I ran a load of sheets that had been abandoned in the laundry room who-knows-when. I was delighted when the fill valve closed at the very beginning of the cycle (it’s supposed to do that while the detergent valve is open). So – yay!

Then I watched carefully to be sure the old timer would advance. It did sustain some damage when I removed it, and I wasn’t sure that I had not ruined it in the process. But I guess not. It ran through the whole cycle with nary a complaint. I’m going to hang onto the new one for a week just to be sure though. Sears said they’d take the new one back if it were still in good condition, and it is, so I anticipate no problems there.

Glad that’s over!

Now I’ve got five working solenoids to play with, plus one broken one. I wonder what I can do with that? Lawn sprinkler? As if! Solar water heater? (We’re getting warmer). Occupier of shelf-space in my shop? Now we’re talking!

Nothing noteworthy happened today. I took Beth to school. David came along because he left his netbook charger at the church yesterday, and he needs it for his school work. He stayed at the church and (hopefully) did school work there. I went to the office where nothing noteworthy happened.

Then I came home. I went out with Penny and kicked the ball around for her a bit as I went looking for mushrooms. I found a few, and even had some idea of what some of them were. Maybe.

Then I ate dinner. Showed Beth a new secret alphabet that my Dad taught me when I was her age. Hmmm, maybe that’s noteworthy.

This code starts with a tic-tac-toe board. Each space in the grid gets a letter, and since there are nine spaces, that gives us nine letters. The shape of each letter’s space is the code, so C (in the upper right) is shaped like the capital L. E is a box because it’s in the center. But we need more than 9 letters. So I put a dot in the space for the next 9, and an X in the space for the last eight letters. Then we passed notes. My note said “ITS ALMOST BEDTIME.” Shortly after that, I put her to bed.

Then I washed a load of laundry. Still not part, so I had to manually cut off the water again. This time I brought my laptop down with me and read some online comics while I waited for the machine to fill. Seemed to go quicker that way.

Maybe tomorrow the new valve assembly will come in.

I’m taking a break from appliance repair today. I did swing by Sears and order a new valve assembly. I also confirmed that I could return the timer I bought (and which didn’t fix the problem). Maybe I’ll swap out the timer tomorrow, or maybe it’ll wait until next week.

Beth has been enjoying the dishwasher box. I cut a door and a window in it, and she has decorated the inside. I completely understand how enthralled she is to play in a box, because I felt that joy myself many times as a kid.

Tonight I stopped by and visited with the kid I had to suspend from Pathfinders last month. He’s the same kid who got run over by the wagon on the hay ride a couple of weeks ago. He’s healing up nicely. I especially wanted to be sure that he and his parents both heard the story of the drunk guy who invaded one of the camp sites during our Camporee last month. It just stresses how important it is for him to not run off when he’s upset. While I was there I also went over some of the things he has missed at our meetings so that he can do the work at home and not be too far behind when he can return. Hopefully he’ll learn from this. At least… I sure hope he does.

I think I know what’s wrong with the washer now. Also, I’m a moron, because I feel I shoulda figured this out long before now, but didn’t. One of the first things I considered was that the fill valve was stuck open. The test for that (as I read on the Innerwebs) is to start the machine and wait until it is filling. Then while it is doing that, pull the plug. If it stops filling, the valve closes and is therefore not the culprit.

Unless there are more valves involved.

My washer has a set of inlet valves for hot and cold, and four sets of outlet valves (one of which is the fill valve). When I pulled the plug, the inlet valves closed and the water stopped. The inlet valves are working perfectly. However, the fill valve is stuck open. As it turns out, this machine leaves the inlet valves open a lot, so it can do things like add bleach or fabric softener. It relies on the fill valve to keep the tub from overfilling.

I ran two loads of laundry tonight, manually cutting off the water when the voltmeter told me the fill valve was supposed to be off. In a little while, I might go back down there and remove the valve assembly and see if I can get the fill valve unstuck. If I can, problem solved (until it gets stuck again). If I can’t, I will look into swapping the fill valve and the bleach valve, but then the bleach valve will be stuck open. But if I can clog the bleach line, that will not be a problem. A new valve assembly is just over $100. Prolly what I should do is buy one anyhow.

The 36V thing I wrote about before turned out to be a fluke. I was just about standing on my head when I read that, and it was kinda dark in that corner. That’s my excuse! It may have been reading 36mV (millivolts, or 36 thousandths of a volt). The “m” on my meter is very small. Anyhow, that led me down a false path. I’m just glad I turned around before spending more money!

Sorry for boring everyone with these details, but I have been eating, breathing, and dreaming broken washing machine for several days now. And whatever I do… that’s what I write (or nothing at all!)

Today after work I went to Lowes to pick up an elbow for the dishwasher. The only ones they had (and indeed, the only ones they can get) come with a dishwasher hose. So instead of getting a fitting for $4.50, you get a fitting with a hose you don’t need for $9.98. Grrr. Thieves!

I bought it anyhow. But I may check around some other hardware stores, and if I can find another one, maybe I’ll get it and return the hose to Lowes. On principal. The real killer here is that I know I had that exact fitting on the dishwasher they hauled off yesterday. If only I had known/remembered. The other thing I wish I had scavenged off it was the sound-absorbing insulation around the outside. The old one (which was a lot more expensive than the one we replaced it with) had an inch-thick blanket around it. If that were a quilt, the insulation on the new one is a linen sheet.

It didn’t take very long to get the dishwasher installed. As soon as I got it in, I loaded it up and turned it on. Seems to work pretty OK.

I ought to go down to the basement later and see if I can figure anything else out about the washing machine. But man… I just don’t feel like it. At a minimum, I may go down there and babysit another load of laundry.

Yesterday was busy, and I was so tired when I got home that I didn’t feel like writing anything. So I’ll try to catch up this morning.

I started the day by taking the washing machine apart. I found the water level sensor. It is an interesting part. There’s a little chamber to the side of the tub that fills with water as the tub does. That compressed a column of air in a tube that goes to the water level switch which has a diaphragm in it. To test it, I disconnected the tub from the tub and blew into it to pressurize it. It went “click!” which is good. Next I hooked it to an ohm meter and repeated the experiment. It all checked out. So it must not be the water level sensor at all, which is bad, because now I’m all out of theories. Next thing I tried was blowing into to the tube with the washer filling to see if that would make it quit, and found that it does not. Huh.

I started probing solenoids and found that somehow, the fill solenoid is getting power even though the level sensor says it should not. The meter reads 120V when the sensors says go, but it reads 36V when the sensor says “quit!” Methinks 36V is probably plenty to activate the solenoid. There is a circuit board containing (among other things) a relay between the switch and the solenoid, so I buzzed that out. The board is conformally coated, but I was able to poke the probe through the varnish. One leg of the relay was open, and the other closed, which is as it should be. But where does the 36V come from? I have no idea. I hate to replace the circuit board, but that’s the only place I can think of that would have any chance of fixing it now.

While I was down there, I decided to wash the towels that have been in the tub for a week now (as I waited for the timer to come in). I bay sat the washer by cutting off the water faucet at critical times, and by doing so was able to get that load done and into the dryer. It fills the tub three times, and I had to cut it off manually all three times. After that I went upstairs and announced that we could probably get a second load done, and for everyone to bring their critical laundry. Va suggested that jeans were critical for everyone. I tossed in two pairs of wool socks. Then I went down for another baby-sitting operation.

As it was filling, the new dishwasher arrived. Jonathan took over the babysitting while I supervised the crew from Lowes. As I suspected, they do not install – they only deliver. But they do haul away the old one which I had already taken out and moved onto the deck. Of course I was not able to do that without spilling half a gallon of putrid dishwater on the floor. That’s why I hauled it to the deck anyhow.

As soon as they were done, I went back to the basement to finish baby-sitting. There was still one more fill cycle to watch. As I waited I decided to assemble a shelving unit we had bought when we moved here. Yeah – five years ago. I had that half assembled when the washer finished. I chucked it into the dryer and then went upstairs to install the dishwasher.

I didn’t get too far into that before it was time to have lunch. We went to Chilis, and that was around 2:30pm. Late lunch. I had to hustle outta there through because we had a 4:00pm Pathfinder meeting. I got there at 4:00pm, which was later than I wanted.

When I got home I started into the dishwasher again. That’s when I found that I needed to buy an elbow in order to hook it into the water supply. Sigh. By then the stores were closed, so I washed one more (hopefully) load by hand and went to bed.

Today Va went to Shelburne, NH for an Adventurer’s leadership conference. She left the house at about 6:30. Because she wasn’t going to be able to cook our traditional Saturday morning breakfast this morning, she did that last night. She makes some killer biscuits.

I got up at 7:30, took a shower, got the kids up, and then we went to church. Then we came home, had some lunch, and I took a nap. I should have gone for a walk, but I was really tired. I’m still tired now, so I guess I needed whatever sleep I could get.

I woke up in time to take Beth to a friend’s birthday party. Va had the GPS, so I had to find their place the old fashioned way – Google maps. OK, that’s not very old fashioned at all, is it?

We made it there on time. The kids had fun. I came home, and Va was back by then. Yay!

Tomorrow the new dishwasher should arrive. I plan to spend the morning investigating the water level sensor on the washing machine. With any luck, I will be able to fix it without buying a new part. Otherwise… we will go to a laundromat. Boo!

The timer for the washing machine came in today. It took an eternity to figure out how the get the timer knob off without breaking it. But once I had the new one in… it made no difference. I have misdiagnosed. It was a $150 bet that I lost.


I did more reading on the subject afterwards. Apparently, the water level (or water pressure) switch diverts power from the fill valves to the timer once the tub gets sufficiently full. It HAS to be that. All I have to do now is figure out where it is.

The real bummer about this (other than that the washer is still broken) is that the old timer was probably OK until I wrecked it trying to get it out. I’m going to try putting it back in there and returning the new one, but that will only work if I can get the new one out without damaging it.