Mrs. Fetched’s mom was given a small double-wide with water damage, which she plans to set up as a vacation rental. For now, though, it’s a major remodeling project — she’s ripping out sheetrock and cabinetry, neither of which were that great even before the water damage, and gathering materials for the rebuild. As it turns out, our friends who helped us with the floor have a bunch of construction material they need to get rid of… so Sunday was another someone-else’s-agenda day.
But once again, a silver lining appeared in the dark cloud of non-relaxation. During the afternoon, they would hold up some prize and ask “does she need this?” every few minutes. Now that I have a refrigerator for the outbuilding, and it’s starting to get cool on Planet Georgia, I’m also thinking about improving the heating situation. I’ve used an electric space heater in winters past, which has been almost adequate, and really want a propane wall-mount heater in there. I have the heater, but need some installation work (and a tank). So I grabbed the flexible gas lines when they came up.
And then a kerosene heater appeared. I said, “I might be able to use that until I get gas installed.” So into the truck it went, little knowing that I was about to get a crash education in the care and maintenance of kerosene heaters.
Getting the thing home, I got to work. There was a humonguous mouse nest above one side of the tank, and dirt dauber nests, as usual with anything not stored in a house, filled every hole and caked several surfaces (the dirt dauber is a wasp, but a docile one, more annoying than scary). Between chipping off wasp-caked mud with a screwdriver, and blowing out general dirt with a compressor, I probably lightened the thing by a pound or so. The adjustment knob turned only a couple of clicks, and the ignitor lever moved maybe 1/4 of the way across, even after the cleaning. I’d never dealt with a kerosene heater before, so I really had little clue. My first confirmation that all was not right came from reading the instructions on the side: it told me if the ignitor batteries were dead, I could lift the chimney and light the wick with a match. I couldn’t lift the chimney.
Like any good geek faced with such a problem, I turned to my trusty iBook and typed "Everglow P-E12" (the make & model) into Google — and was rewarded with a link to a manual and all sorts of other info. Yee-haa! The chimney (or rather, the catalytic converter) was supposed to come off, so I applied a little force. As it turns out, you’re not supposed to store these heaters with kerosene in them, and this one had over 3/4 tank — it must have been sitting for a few years, because the kerosene had gunked up and glued everything together. I would have figured they would have known better. Following the instructions, I got to the wick (varnish-glued into place, which is why the adjustment knob wasn’t turning much) and got it loose. I scraped and wet-sanded off most of the gunk and some of the rust, and put everything back together. Now everything was acting like it should, but it was too late to do much of anything with it. I sent the website owner a thank-you email and went to bed.
This morning, I found an reply with some further advice about getting it going (drain the old kerosene and put a little wood alcohol in the fresh fuel), with some encouragement: “Even rusty, it is worth rebuilding. Nothing modern comes close to the quality put into that old heater.” He also confirmed my suspicions, which I’d guessed by reading his website, that it will likely need a new wick and it’s probably going to cook me out of the outbuilding if I use it in there. It will be good for winter nights in the garage, though, and as a backup in the house when the electricity goes out.
Oh, and the friends have a friend who’s an HVAC guy; he’s more or less lined up to install the gas heater in the outbuilding as soon as I can find a tank.
It’s nice to luck into useful stuff, but frankly I’d like a break for the next couple of weekends instead.