Monday, November 5, 2007
Tinkering and Tweaking
Here is the final version of my new steamer reservoir. I sized up all of the tubing and got a PVC bulkhead that seals the bottom of the jar. A length of rubber hose and and it's done. I found that the larger hose allows air to move more freely and do a proper job of keeping the kettle full at the optimum level. The most interesting and unexpected attribute is that the steam percolates up the tube and preheats the jar so well. The system works great.
This little foray into problem solving is one of my favorite types of activities. I love looking at a problem and thinking in terms of similar systems and then searching out the means to adapt them. Left to my own (no bills to pay), I would probably tinker in my shop all day. Many times, my ideas and efforts amount to little but the new found understanding of why they don't work! But when I'm on the hunt for a solution, I am having the time of my life.
The way that my process normally works is to begin with a quick and dirty version of whatever I am testing. Usually it is enough to let me know if I am on the right track. Sometimes, the first version works so well that I keep using it for years, taking a bit of pride in the fact that ugly things can work beautifully.
After my idea is confirmed, I usually head to the junk shop or the hardware store, seeking out materials and ideas to more gracefully realize the concept. On occasion, my poor wife has gotten caught up in my quest, a great show of patience on her part. This time we got lucky, I found a qualified clerk who let me to the right components.
I enjoy investigating old technologies as well as visiting others shops and seeing the innovations and ideas that spring to life as they meet the challenges of creating. Sometimes it is easy to default to the wisdom of the past, but I think that the much admired craftsmen of old would expect us to find our own way, in our own time, to the most appropriate solutions.