When I was a wrench, people wore digital watches…

…and were stuck with analog thermometers.

Now it’s the future. I’m an old burnout who hasn’t turned a wrench for money in 30 years. The twelve people on the continent who still wear wristwatches use analog, but the humblest kitchen has at least one digital thermometer I’d have killed for when I was repairing auto air conditioners.

Does that seem right to you?

This evening we’re testing a genuine custom-built Redneck AC Unit, made of a Styrofoam cooler, a cheap desk fan and a couple of plumbing elbows. The actual cooling element is a one-gallon jug of water, frozen solid.

Unfortunately the ambient temperature really isn’t very hot, so the most important question – will it make an unbearable room livable – is beyond us today. But we can at least get an accurate read of the output temperature, using this cheap roasting thermometer which was beyond the power of consumer technology when I was a strong young stud.

The procedure as shown in the AC repair manual was very simple. Turn the cooling fan to Low. Stick the probe of your (mechanical, analog) thermometer into a blower outlet and wait five minutes. The manual probably specifies less time these days.

And the verdict is…

If this were an AC system on a car I was responsible for fixing, I’d have sworn a vile oath and gone back to fix it more somehow. 67o wouldn’t have been considered “fixed.”

Of course an auto interior is a tightly closed space surrounded by glass and exposed to really vicious sunlight. When you think about it, it requires one hell of an AC system to literally remain survivable with the windows rolled up. So maybe this isn’t so bad.

Right now it’s blowing on my back from about 8 feet away, and to tell the truth it feels kind of nice. Also the room temperature has dropped slightly in half an hour, with most of the windows open.

I’d love a chance to test it during a real June heatwave, but I don’t have one of those handy. But for this short test, the stars read…


About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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6 Responses to When I was a wrench, people wore digital watches…

  1. MamaLiberty says:

    I still wear an analog watch, though it is now battery powered. I have not seen a new wind up watch in a lot of years. But all of my kitchen thermometers are also analog. I have several, for different purposes. Got one of the whiz-bang digitals once… unfortunately, it didn’t survive the first use. :) And I didn’t even drop it!

  2. Ben says:

    I remember the first digital watches: They were big, expensive, had short battery life, and (because of the power hungry LED display) you actually had to press a button to find out what time it was!

    I never owned a digital watch until they became cheap and had LCD displays. I’m still not convinced that a digital clock display beats analog for quick readability and comprehension.

  3. Kentucky says:

    At least with the LEDs you could actually tell what time it was. So many of the LCDs are difficult if not impossible to read under certain circumstances.

    Doesn’t matter to me, though. When I retired I took off my watch and haven’t worn one since.

  4. Phssthpok says:

    Try turning it into a swamp cooler to improve it’s efficiency.

    Add some water to the cooler and pin a piece of cloth* across the path of the air in such a manner as to wick** the (chilled) water up for the air to blow through. Pin the cloth top, bottom, and sides to force the air THROUGH the cloth. The evaporating water will cool the passing air even more.

    *Some thinned out ratty old flannel would work, but a small section of poly-fill batting would be perfect.

    **or if you can spare $2 : http://tinyurl.com/y99ttjma

  5. Joel says:

    When I retired I took off my watch and haven’t worn one since.


  6. DT says:

    If I wear a watch, I prefer one that has two hands rather than one that requires two hands to operate. I have 3 watches, two beaters and a nice one. I can’t remember the last time I wore any of them.

    Phssthpok’s idea seems workable. I have a big ass swamp cooler in my warehouse and anything downrange of it is substantially more comfortable.

To the stake with the heretic!