Friday, August 17, 2012

Got Gas?

La Cocina, 2006. Not all that much has changed in 6 years.
The symptoms first made their appearance within 48 hours of the big Popeye's Chicken Tenders feed. I went to turn on the gas range, but it wouldn't light. I went around to the back of the house where the gas cylinders reside and checked both tanks. One was definitely empty but the other had plenty of gas.

After I turned the selector switch of  the regulator back and forth a couple of times, I was able to light the stove. But it didn't last.

Later that day, the Gas Express guy sold me a full cylinder. I thought it was good to go.

They rarely look this good.

More like this, but not as nice
Estufa muerta.
Next morning, I got no response from either cylinder. I realized with a wrench that mi estufa se ha muerta. That wouldn't have been so bad in the short run, but I had two braided challah breads rising and needing to be baked before very long.

A call for help.
I called Global Gas from my phone and they said that they'd send some technicians out. Meanwhile, I made a couple of spaces in our chest freezer and put the slowly rising challahs into icy sleep.

Nipples, hosiery, and a bivalve regulator.
I got in the Windstar and drove to Pátzcuaro. There were several errands to do, but my main destination was Vidrioelétrica, Pátzcuaro's largest and most fully stocked ferretería. It wasn't too busy, and I quickly got what I'd come for: a new "bivalve" regulator of the mini type, and two flexible, reinforced hoses with easy to turn knobs. The modern kind, which doesn't require a wrench. Goodbye to stubborn copper tubing that breaks all too easily.

Snazzy American version of the same thing

A fast course in assembly.
Back home at the Rancho, I returned to the ailing old regulator and quickly gave myself an intensive refresher course in how to assemble this rig. It's actually quite easy when you know how. So of course, it took me a while. I had it all connected and working well in an hour or so, after several trips back and forth to the porch. The oven lit.

I removed the semi frozen breads from the freezer and let them come back to life on a table out on the porch. The day was pleasantly warm and the breads responsive.

The bread was almost ready to go into the now heated oven, when the Global Gas techs showed up. The looked over my work at the new regulator, disconnected everything, rewrapped it more securely with Teflon tape, but were unable to reconnect the main gas hose. The screws were stripped. I was told that the entire hose should be replaced, but there was no way I was going back into Pátzcuaro that day.

They suggested taking the working hose from the separate hot water boiler in the front, and it would serve to let the baking and cooking continue. But of course, we would then have no hot water from the boiler.

I told them to do so, as I needed to bake those two loaves that had undergone so much waiting. There was no charge for their services, but I gave them a propina para unos refrescos.

The oven quickly recovered its heat and the loaves went in. I took advantage of the gas supply to make lunch: rice, sautéed fish filets, etc.

The bread came out acceptably good.

archive photo

After lunch, I put a big kettle of water on to heat up for dishwashing.

Suddenly, I was exhausted. I lay down for a siesta, and when I arose an hour or so later, I decided to try the old hose on the hot water boiler. I was able to make a tenuous connection, one of dubious safety, yet enough for us to shower. Afterwards, I turned off the cylinder as there was a distinct smell of gas hanging about the porch.

I hope to conclude this project today by buying and connecting a new, replacement hose. Then all will be right in our little corner of the world.

Back at Vidrioeléctrica the next day
The store was even less busy than the day before. At the counter I asked the salesgirl for a gas connector hose. She rejoined with, "How long do you need?"
 I told her that 3 meters should do the job.
"¿Económica o reforzado?"
" Reforzado."
She brought out a pre-measured length of Coflex Conector Flexible para Gas. VG-B300. It is shiny and beautiful. It was fabricated in Monterrey. This is their website. Coflex.

The Gold Standard in Gas Connectors*

Look over the packaging. It has illustrations of the parts, with the names in Spanish, so that you can learn the difference between trenzado, manguera, férula y tuerca.

Back home again, I could hardly wait to connect it. In fact, it took all of two minutes. Once again, we have gas for cooking, washing dishes and bathing.

* Except that Coflex also makes a stainless steel reinforced flexible connector. Ours is vinyl reinforced.

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