Roast, beast

The uniform of the day will include pants.

Nice to see devolution picking up the pace.

As literature loses ground to memes and emoji we’re inching back into nomadic life, killing each other with knives and bows.

Well done indeed. Can’t be much longer before we’re all living in caves, pulling the rope ladder up come evening and dropping rocks on the neighbors’ heads if they pop round to borrow a cup of fire.

Speaking of fire, our journey to the Dark Side is complete. Both furnaces snapped on this morning. Happily, I’d already plugged the sprinkler system into the wall to keep it from exploding like a baked potato in a microwave or we might have a skating pond in the back yard.

Our ovens are baked.

The joys of home ownership. Lately they include the decline and fall of our wall-mounted Whirlpool ovens, which date to 1990, if I read the serial-number code correctly.

The top unit has a bum element and runs 50° below proper temperature, while the bottom can be as much as 20° off the mark. The thermostat may have gone to its reward, too. And of course parts are hard to come by for ovens with this much white hair in their ears.

I suppose we could always roast a haunch of whatever in the fireplace. But in the meantime we’re going to roll the dice, replace the element, see if that’s all it takes to get off the bench and back in the game.

If not, well, then we’ll start shopping, see what the 21st century has to help a fella melt the cheese on his enchiladas. But a quick peek at the Lowe’s and Best Buy websites made my wallet pocket slam shut faster than a banker’s door on a homeless dude hunting a loan for the used van of his dreams and a river to park it by.

A cave and a rope ladder might be cheaper.

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35 Responses to “Roast, beast”

  1. Shawn Says:

    Yep. Replace the element. They are normally inexpensive enough to justify. The thermostats are high enough that if you can live with knowing that the oven runs cool and can simply correct for that using a higher temp, then do that. Run those appliances into the ground. Unless of course the govment comes through and picks a a few more dollars for us off the tree and sends them to us. Increased debt you say? What’s debt? We can always just not pay and devastate the global economy.

    It’s a darn shame to hear (see) about your temps. Although it could be much hotter (fires), or wetter (flooding).

  2. Kate Parankema Says:

    Twenty bucks, 1/4” nut driver, stable flashlight for seeing into dark places, needle nose pliers, wire stripper, a set of ceramic wire nuts (you may have to cut off the no longer useable connector for the install) and you will have, at least, saved yourself cost of service visit. Yippee, I love YouTube’s postings too. ‘Siempre adelante’

  3. khal spencer Says:

    Yep. Intelligent discourse has been replaced by tweets, memes, antisocial media, and just plain crap. I’m waiting for the shooting to begin as we increasingly, as you say, treat each other with suspicion.

    We cleared out the watering system with compressed air as the big frost the other day destroyed pretty much all the raised beds. We had one tomato plant near the house that is only half destroyed and the arugula bed seems OK. All the other tomato, eggplant,squash, and pepper plants were killed. Its always hard for me to pull up their little dead bodies at the end of the growing season. It feels like a mass killing.

    I’ve replaced many a stove element, including the ones in the Hawaii Kai house that the previous owners bait-and-switched on us after the final inspection. Have not replaced the thermocouples or whatever it is that tells the oven whether it is at the right temperature. I finally put a baking thermometer in the Bombtown oven we bought at Sears and simply adjusted the faulty oven controller accordingly.

    We have a Frigidaire gas range/oven down here in the Democratic People’s Republic. Its spot on and a joy to cook with. And if Martin Heinrich wants to get into that “Hell yes, we’re gonna take your gas range, your gas oven”, he can pry it from my cold, dead hands.

    Molon saute, or whatever….

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Those first few 30-something mornings are an eye-opener, hey? I have been compelled to wear pants. O, the agony.

      We have a KitchenAid gas cooktop and the Whirlpool electric ovens. The cooktop has been OK, but not stellar; the ovens have been reliable until recently, but I do more with the cooktop than the ovens. Like you, I’ve been using a thermometer in the ovens to ballpark the actual temp.

      Hal has an induction cooktop that he absolutely hates … so much so that he bought a wood stove for his kitchen. Don’t tell Martin Heinrich.

      • khal spencer Says:

        We had an electric induction range in Los Alamos. That led me to buy the Sears gas range and oven. Like Hal, I found the induction thing as useful as a broken wrist.

        I think you have to have the right composition pans for the induction to work and not sure we did.

      • khal spencer Says:

        That Fridgidaire has a lot of miles on the odometer but its bought, paid for, and its industrial costs are paid off.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      We grew tomatoes, Patio Hybrid and Cherry, and basil in large pots on the patio. The basil was used mostly for pesto sauce. We enjoyed them so much that the stock tank garden, left for the buyers at the old house, will be re-created at this joint. We will start with two, maybe three, tanks and see what happens. Basil, tomatoes, and Japanese eggplant to start with.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      We’ve been growing our basil indoors, near a big sunny window. So far, so good. Won’t work with tomatoes, though. Happily, the neighbors are serious gardeners and award us tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and other goodies from time to time.

  4. Jon Paulos Says:

    I’m with Shawn and Kate. Fix it. You can find the parts and schematics on the intertubes if you need to, and most ovens just aren’t terribly complicated. And replacing a built-in oven? Holy mackerel, that’s expensive.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Think about replacing two built-in ovens. Assume the position, is what. Owie.

      Parts are a bitch for these old hawgs. I checked a couple online depots and “No longer available” pops up a lot. Shit, it’s worser than hunting bits for an old RockShox Judy SL. I finally said to hell with it and sprung for one of these bad boys.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        That’ll work! When those elastomer plugs harden with age, those Judy forks might as well be ridged.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        This Soma fork is for my old DBR Axis TT. It’ll be the third fork, I think, maybe the fourth. For sure it came with a Manitou 4. I may have replaced that with something else, but if I did, it eludes me. Then I went with the RockShox, a rebuild by HippieTech, a great outfit, but alas, it is no longer with us.

        Now The Fleet will be entirely rigid, not unlike its commodore. Rough seas ahead, matey! Batten down the hatches!

  5. Herb from Michigan Says:

    Last week friends regifted me an Air Fryer oven which I don’t think they wanted to bother to use/learn. We cook a LOT and it finally dawned on us that burning fossil fuel inside the house isn’t a good idea for a number or reasons despite having a ceiling exhaust fan nearby, and there is the mining/fracking nightmares to further add to things.
    At some point I’ll go full on solar power and thought WTH, might as well try the little electric driven convection oven which is all these air fryers really are. I’ll report back POG in case you can’t repair your oven. Generally I’m quite opposed to kitchen gadgetry but maybe this will be simple, functional and useful? Or get re-regifted..it did do a superb job of cooking moist and succulent salmon last night. Baking a loaf of bread looks iffy or whole chickens or multiple dishes all at once. But 95% of what we cook might work.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      Gas shines when using an old school carbon steel wok for sir frying at high temperatures. A short stint in a rental house in KY made me hate electric. When in trouble, and in doubt, run in circles scream and shout! My temporary conscience grease is to live in a small house and use less of everything. That new plug in hybrid Prius looks real interesting. Have you ever tried to figure out the birth to death carbon footprint of a vehicle. That shit will gives me analysis paralysis every time I try to do it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      We cook a lot, too. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, though lunch is often leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. I console myself for the gas cooktop by remembering that we did not reproduce and thus have left the future unburdened by O’Grady-Pigeon hybrids. Also, I drive maybe 20 percent of the mileage that the average American logs in the old family tank.

      I hadn’t considered an air fryer or convection tabletop. The Wirecutter folks have some thoughts on these devices. The Cuisinart they recommend is cheap enough for experimentation, but I think I’ll wait to see if this new heating element solves my problem.

    • khal spencer Says:

      We have a little electric Cuisinart Brick Oven that we do a lot of our small baking in rather than firing up the heavy artillery. Figure its smaller so more efficient for the job. Thing is in New Mexico last I looked about 85% of our electricity is generated using gas and coal, so you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

      A while ago I wondered about the birth to death deal of a car. Making a hybrid is more energy intensive but you eventually get it back if you drive it enough. Of course that means you have to drive it enough. I think the best solution is one of those pure electric jobs like the Tesla, coupled with renewable electricity or a small neighborhood nuclear power plant. I’ll even volunteer to run it…

  6. John A Levy Says:

    Good luck with the parts i.e. elements and thermostats. Had a rail break on a G.E. refrigerator. The repair guy had to take the door off of the freezer to diagnose the problem. Two to three months for the parts and 300 bucks to install the parts. Will check out Freds, Lowes, and Best buy to price a new french door refrigerator. So hang in there with the parts and good luck. I replaced a double oven about 12 years ago. it was a real bitcch, I did it by myself and was sore for a couple of days. But don’t regret the decision especially now with winter approaching in the northern climes. Got down to 13e degrees last week and the furnace kicked on. Hauled two tons of wood pellets the next day.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’m not optimistic about these ovens. Happily, I don’t do a lot of oven cookery, even in winter, and I can use different techniques to cook a few recipes I use the oven for out of sheer laziness.

      Also, the bottom oven still works, more or less — 20° off is something I can live with, as long as I have a working thermometer — so it’s not like our refrigerator croaked on us or anything. We bought an LG French-door deal in 2017 and so far so good.

  7. Shawn Says:

    Last Friday I drove about 150 miles over to pickup a new gas fireplace insert that a guy was selling on craigsjunk. It’s a 30K BTUh unit and is still wrapped in the original carton. I paid 200 bucks for it. A new one of course sells for about 10 times that. I think though that I’ll need to find refractory line panels that will fit into it. Like old appliances, I suspect unit specific panels are no longer available. I might try my hand at making my own refractory panels.

    I picked up the gas fireplace to replace a wood fireplace with a cast iron heatilator. It’ll be great fun removing all the current rock that surrounds the fireplace and hearth to get the heatilator out. I might have it done sometime next spring. But at least then we’ll be able to actually use the hole in the wall.

    Oh yeah. I need to round up a new gas furnace as well.

    Projects…. Grrr. They never stop!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I kinda miss the Lopi wood-stove fireplace insert we had in Weirdcliffe. It was pleasant to burn wood for more than ornamental purposes. With the bark beetles we didn’t lack for standing dead in the vicinity, and Adamic’s down in Cañon City kept a big lot full of all manner of disco wood, including piñon, which smells so good.

      And as the fella says, when you heat with wood, you warm yourself twice: once while cutting it, and again while burning it.

    • DownhillBill Says:

      For panel stock, or bloody nearly anything in the way of general tools or stock that might be considered industrial, I highly recommend Grainger or MacMaster Carr (my fave). Used them all the time at work. The print catalog was about 3K pages of onion skin paper 20 years ago. Impeccable service – they had everything I ever ordered in stock and if I phoned an order in by about 2PM, it arrived the next morning from a couple of states over for ground UPS rates.

      • Shawn Says:

        A late reply: Bill I didn’t think about Mac-Carr. I’ll have to pull my old print copy off of the bookshelf and see what they “used” to have – My copy is probably from ’97 or ’98. Then after enjoying the feel of paper and all the fascinating doodads pictured in the catalog, I’ll check out the online site.

  8. B Lester Says:

    I had a Vermont Castings woodstove installed in a different house some years ago. The place was equipped with a sheet metal cone that was supposed to be a fireplace, so the flue was already in place. The VC was pretty trick in that it had a little honeycomb catalyst that would re-burn the smoke once you got the temp up high enough. You could walk outside and smell nothing, and the little thing would idle along all night on a single load of oak.

    These days, I regret replacing my gas furnace a few years ago. I think I should have gone with a geothermal heat pump. Anyone have any experience with them?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ours didn’t have a reburner, but it did have a thermostatically controlled blower, so once the stove reached a certain temp the fan would kick on and help distribute the heat. Pretty cool, and worlds apart from the Monkey Wards tin shitbox I used to heat the place in Oregon. Good Gawd Awmighty.

      I don’t have any experience with a heat pump. We have a Trane gas furnace, so I popped round their place to get a comparison between the two systems. Interesting stuff.

    • carl duellman Says:

      saw this the other day.
      https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2021/10/05/diy-heat-pump/

    • Shawn Says:

      Air-to-air Heat pumps are great for milder climates. But when the temps get down into the 20’s F and below, a heat pump by itself has to work constantly to keep a home warm. Geothermal heat pumps are quite a bit better because the temperature they are starting to heat from is higher – (ground temperature vs. cool outside winter air). Their install cost can be quite a bit more. In a new construction, and if ground space were available or the design was well planned for under a house, then I would go with the geothermal heat pump system. But radiant slab heating sure is nice.

      Regarding oven elements: I think as long as the ends connect to your oven properly, and the element fits into, and sets properly in your oven, then a brand specific one may not be necessary. I suspect that most of them are rated in the same watt range.

    • B Lester Says:

      This is great stuff, guys, thanks. I was thinking specifically of a Geothermal heat pump, not an air pump. I live in Wisconsin where we have winters that make the air heat pumps unusable. That said, Patrick, the idea of the “dual fuel” heat pump you found is intriguing.

      The reasoning on the Geo version is that you pump heat to/from the 53 degree earth so it IS useable year-round, and consumes only electricity. Nothing at all burns.

      I was just wondering if any of the dog-haus-ers had ever seen or used one.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        There are some smart folks hanging around here. Not the proprietor, of course. We all know about that guy. But the other folks mostly know what time it is.

        • B Lester Says:

          Yeah, well not me either. I didn’t refresh the screen before I replied so Professor Shawn posted before I wrote. Ain’t splitting the atom anytime soon here.

          • JD Says:

            Yo, B Lester and Mad Dog: Yes, but this discourse could trigger another blog called Mad Dog Mechanical Mayhem Machinations. Sort of a watering hole for experienced, but often rebuffed “do it your-selfers” to share blue collar wisdom and pragmatic, inexpensive solutions to everyday “Everyman” frustrations.
            Sinks, decks, ovens, cars, bikes, washing machines, etc. — the potential is limitless.
            It could even take on a Dilbert-like following that provides so many real life contributions as to become self-sustaining.
            Does anyone know someone who can draw cartoons? 🙂

      • Libby Says:

        Acquaintances have a geo thermal heating system. They love it. Sorry I have no specifics and they aren’t dog-hausers. Dog lovers, though!

  9. Shawn Says:

    So how has the element changing been. I hope that your silence is not the result of holding the oven element leads with your bare fingers when the oven is plugged in and set at 450F, and is more the result of enjoying the beautiful Fall mountain weather in your area while a loaf of jalapeno cheddar bread baking away in the oven.

    Have any of you out there had the opportunity to purchase a very nice Pinarello track bike lately? It seems that a truck load full of them was driven off by someone at the world championships who was not on the Italian track team. I always wondered why big trade teams don’t contract with a specialized security company that would keep an eye on team vehicles / bikes when the mechanics and others are resting. Even hiring a couple of locals with a watchdog would work quite well.

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