Bunch of stuff…

I’m supposed to be painting right now. I’m working on the porch, starting from the bottom and this morning is/was scheduled for removing [what passes for] the gingerbread and painstakingly painting the middle section.


…right now the weather isn’t cooperating. The day dawned cloudy and blustery, and Tobie and I got home just in time to avoid a rain shower so we’ll have to see how it goes. In the meantime I’m taking this moment to update on some access to tools issues…

A friend of the blog donated 2 250-round boxes of practice 9mm to the Joel’s New Pistol fund, and I also squirreled away a few hundred rounds as money allowed. That ammo now having been largely expended, I stopped at the only shop in town that sells ammo and got a nasty surprise…

Nothing but Blazer available, at over sixty cents a round. That’s headed back into slightly-post-Covid territory. I did not drop $60+ on a couple of boxes of practice ammo – got me thinking maybe I was overhasty about not wanting to set up for reloading 9mm. We’ll see what the prices are like at the biggish town about 35 miles away, next time I go to the Palace of Food. Should be about two weeks.

I got some new toys. First, a forlorn hope of fixing the bedroom heater…

When the heater gave up the ghost last winter somebody suggested that I replace the thermopile. That didn’t make sense to me because in my experience if the thermocouple/thermopile fails the pilot flame will go out. That’s what it’s for: to turn off the gas in case of a pilot failure. It defaults to “no pilot for you.” And that’s the opposite of what’s wrong with the heater: The pilot works fine but nothing else does. So replacing the thermopile shouldn’t fix anything.

Still, in addition to being a generically clueless boomer I have buried myself away from – well, pretty much everything – for going on 20 years now and frequently find myself behind the times in the way logic works. Plus thermopiles for Empire heaters turned out to be cheap, easily acquired and easy to replace so the opportunity costs involved in scratching that off the list of possible culprits were pretty low. So I got a new one, stuck it on the heater, lit the pilot and fired up the thermostat to give the heater a try, and…

Nada. Like the thermostat and the thermostat wiring, there was nothing wrong with the old one. So now I’m stuck: I can’t think of anything else to test, and I very much doubt I’m going to find a local repair tech willing to come out here and tell me what’s wrong with my beautiful bedroom heater. May have to go back to piling on the blankets, as hilarious as that sounds on this rather hot June.

New Topic: A little over ten years ago, a Generous Reader gave me this…

An electric tire inflator, which greatly simplified that part of Jeep and bicycle maintenance. And as you can see it has been used quite often since then. But I was airing up the Jeep’s front tires a couple of weeks ago when it became clear that the cheap little compressor was pretty much done. So I used my new status to just casually send away for a replacement.

In fact I deliberately left the rear tires go until it arrived, so I could give it a test. This new inflator has certain apparent advantages over the old one: I can set it and forget it till it reads a particular pressure, and it has a battery so I don’t have to [modify the inflator wiring with battery clamps and then] open the hood and connect the inflator to the Jeep’s battery every time I want to use it. So yesterday I charged the new inflator’s battery and connected it to the right rear tire. The inflator filled the tire nicely. I moved it to the left rear, and the inflator shut off with the job half-done. Um…not great. The display indicated dead battery. Really not great. So I brought the battery back indoors and put it back on the charger, and this time it took a really long time to recharge – like it was still charging when I went to bed at ten. So apparently the battery just didn’t take a full charge the first time, which is something I’ve seen before with new Lithium batteries. I took the inflator back out to the tire this morning and it finished the inflation with no apparent problems so we’ll see. The inflator also comes with a 12-volt attachment that lets the vehicle power it, so I guess I’ll go ahead and solder some new battery clamps to it as a Plan B.


No secret that Uncle Joel’s various misadventures as a young man are coming back to haunt Old Joel in the form of lots of joint pain. Something over a year ago my right knee – which is supposed to be the good one – started paining me terribly, especially when walking downhill which I do about fifty percent of the time. I rather dubiously bought a cheap knee brace and to my surprise that fixed the problem – at the cost of the discomfort of wearing a knee brace all the time but whatever. That seemed to resolve the matter until last week when the cheap plastic hinge on one side of the brace broke in half and tried to dig a furrow in the skin next to the joint. So again I exercised the awesome power of somebody with a few bucks in the bank, and got a better knee brace. Which I’m currently wearing, and which will hopefully prove more durable.

That’s about all that’s going on here at the Gulch just lately*. We’ve been going through a hot spell, and now it has started to rain which probably means Monsoon is arriving. We’ll see what new excitement that brings – it’s usually just some afternoon thunderboomers, but can get a lot more dramatic than that when it wants to.

*With the exception of some neighborhood drama, including two recent deaths but that gets into other people’s personal business which isn’t really my business and which I don’t choose to discuss here.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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8 Responses to Bunch of stuff…

  1. Mike says:

    $30.97 for a box of 9MM? Crap, where I buy ammo* it’s $20.99Cdn ($14.99USD) per box of CCI Blazer 9mm 115Gr FMJ. I guess it must be election time again and people, fearing the end of the world, are hording.

    Being the same age as you are, I understand the issue with joints. Getting older sure isn’t for the faint of heart.

    * https://www.gotenda.com/product/cci-blazer-9mm-ammunition-115-grains-fmj-box-of-50/

  2. Ben says:

    You did exactly the correct first step in fixing your heater. But since that didn’t work, you need to go shopping for some forum ( which inevitably exists somewhere) where people talk about gas heaters. Ask a clear question, and you are liable to get good answers. A Utube search might also bear fruit.

    I believe that your furnace has an electric valve (separate from the pilot flame valve) that runs the main burner. The valve is bad, the source of power is bad, or something is wrong with the (dead simple) electric circuit.

    Don’t give up! Now is the time to be dealing with it.

  3. SP RN says:

    Dunno if this’ll help:
    Our living-room gas fireplace has an electric wall switch to turn it on. It became unreliable. Using a continuity checker, it turned out to be not the switch but rather the push-on connectors in the wiring. Over the decades they’d developed resistance (corrosion, I guess).
    Solution: cut them out, twist wires together, solder, tape.
    Runs like it was new.

  4. The Neon Madman says:

    I’m surprised that the thermopile didn’t fix things.
    The thermocouple controls the pilot flame. Since the pilot flame is working, the thermocouple is fine.
    The thermopile provides the power to operate the gas valve. Usually, somewhere around 500 mV if I remember correctly. You can actually measure it at the gas valve with a voltmeter.
    If this is an externally vented heater with a power duct, there is usually a switch that turns on once the exhaust airflow is established and then allows the gas valve to turn on. No exhaust airflow means the valve will not fire (this is how RV furnaces operate).
    If this is indeed an externally vented heater with a power duct fan, that’s where I would look next.

  5. Joel says:

    TNM: Thanks for the information – I never researched whether there was a difference between a thermocouple and a thermopile. They seemed to me to do the same thing.

    This is a vented furnace but there’s no fan.

  6. KurtP says:

    These new propane heaters have an O2 sensor that’s …. finicky on the outlet right before the ceramics.
    If it gets dirty or thinks somethings wrong, it’ll shut the flow off.

    Do a search for cleaning that O2 sensor, or buy another one.
    Dyna-Glo (and it’s subsidiary companies) don’t like to carry replacements for the 18K one I had and you can’t -just- take it off and expect it to work.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What is your heater’s model number? Manuals are here: https://empirezoneheat.com/support/manuals/

  8. Anonymous says:

    Schrödinger’s dishes.

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