Saturday, 15 October 2016

plumbing in the pump

We went this morning to support a friend's fund raising event for her village hall.  A group of volunteers has been revamping the garden outside, and now they need to raise the funds to pay somebody for some of the work, so locally produced food, crafts and breakfast cooked from locally sourced products were on offer.  We aren't up to a full English nowadays, but managed the bacon rolls, and dutifully bought some jam, some shortbread, some coffee (roasted in Suffolk but not grown there) and two slices of cake for later (we've eaten them now and they were delicious).  We didn't buy any crafts, though, and I heard one of the organisers telling somebody that they needed more people to buy things as well as food.

I'm afraid part of the trouble with local crafts is that lots of people have so many things already. We have a lifetime's accumulation of gifts and purchases, less what's been smashed by various cats over the years and augmented by the things garnered from the Systems Administrator's late mother's house.  We bumped into a couple of beekeeping friends who were there for the same reason as us, and they said the same, they couldn't buy anything without something having to go to the charity shop to make room.  And we drove past a huge car boot sale getting to the hall.  There is a vast reservoir of objects in circulation, accumulated over decades of post war comparative prosperity, depleted only by whatever the nation's pets and butter fingered owners or their rampaging children have managed to break.  Modern day craftspeople face an uphill task persuading anyone to part with hard cash to add to the existing stock.

It was a beautiful sunny morning as we trundled around the village hall and down to Screwfix so that the SA could buy some new welding gloves (not for welding in but for cutting brambles.  New ones are near to thorn proof).  By early afternoon just as we'd both got out into the garden it began to rain.  I thought that was my cue to fit my new pump for the trough in the conservatory, since I now had all the parts and the SA had finished the other half of the job and installed the new waterproof trailing socket for the lights and the heater.

I was pleased with my initial progress, since I managed to thread the cable of the new pump through the hole in the back of the trough without dipping the end in the water, and to wire up the plug.  Only then did I test the pump in a bowl of clean water, because I couldn't be bothered to wire up the plug and then unwire it and fit it all over again.  I remembered to immerse the pump before switching it on, and it whirred into life and water came out of the tube at the top where it was supposed to.  I had even remembered to fetch an engineering brick to put in the trough for the pump to stand on, so that it would not be right down at the bottom sucking up any silt.  So far, so good.  Then I discovered that the outlet tube of the pump was exactly the same diameter as the hose in the trough leading up to the spout.  I could not squash the hose enough to fit it inside the outlet pipe, or stretch it enough to fit outside, and the only fitting supplied with the pump didn't seem to help at all.  Alas, my self reliance in DIY plumbing ground to a halt and I had to ask the SA what sort of tape I should use to butt the two together.

The SA said there was no tape that would hold under water, but found a little bit of old hose from a defunct washing machine that fitted snugly over both and made an adequate join.  After all, the trough isn't going to move about.  It's not like plumbing in a washing machine or a boat.  The pump was duly lowered into the trough and switched on, and nothing came out of the spout at all.  The SA asked whether I had tested the hose.  I hadn't.  The SA blew down it experimentally and hard as possible and said it was blocked.  This was a nuisance, since in order to poke anything through the hose or even see it we were going to have to pull the trough out from against the wall, which meant I had to empty it.  I think the SA entertained a vague idea that we might be able to tip it over given there is a drain in the middle of the conservatory, but on the basis that it weighed a tonne and the first one I ordered got stoved in during delivery through being tipped over, I said firmly that I would bail it out.  The water proved to be so filthy once seen in a white plastic bucket that I'm very glad I did.  I wouldn't want my new pump sucking that up.

As soon as we were able to shuffle the trough six inches out from the wall the problem with the hose was obvious.  It had kinked just behind the spout where it was required to go through a ninety degree turn.  The SA chopped off the last three inches and refitted it.  We moved the trough back, trying to leave a little more room for the hose this time, I refilled it, stood the pump on the brick, plugged it in and voila, I had a working water spout.  I fiddled with the pump's flow rate until it tinkled pleasantly  rather than sounding like a horse peeing, and arranged a convenient fern on top of an upturned flower pot to hide the hose and cable, now suddenly visible since the water got so much cleaner.

We ate our cake down there to celebrate.  I am very fond of the conservatory.  I daresay whoever has the house after us will just put a dining table and armchairs in there and use it as a garden room, but I get enormous fun out of messing about with the tender plants and the fountain. Conservatories used for actually growing plants in, so popular in Victorian and Edwardian times, are now massively out of fashion: there wasn't one in any of the gardens featured in Tim Richardson's book about significant modern English gardens.  Ours is a relict of our City days and we could never afford to build it now, but I'm delighted that we did while we could.

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