Today started out with a trip to the gym and a nice six and a half mile run.
Now I really hadn't planned on doing six and a half miles, but when I flipped on the TV by the treadmill, I saw that one of the greatest war movies of all time, The Longest Day, was playing.
Of course I couldn't quit while that was playing, so I had to keep running for the next hour and a quarter. But it was worth it to watch John Wayne, Dean Martin, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Eddie Albert, Paul Anka, Robert Mitchum, George Stewart, Rod Steiger and a young (and uncredited) Richard Dawson defeat the Germans and take that first costly but crucial step towards freeing Europe.
This movie was an epic in it's day, with over 42 big name stars from four countries, including many people who were actually part of the real battle for Normandy. It was worth the long run and it's worth you renting it. They really don't make them like this one any more.
After the run and a few errands, I came home to...a cold house. Was ist los, I asked Lagniappe. I know that it was well below freezing today, but I also knew that I'd left the pellet stove on. A quick look revealed that it was not on, however. It was cold and dark. And during the worst cold snap of the winter. Joy.
So using an operator's manual that I found on line, I began to trouble shoot the stove.
When I tried to power it up, I could hear one of the two auger motors trying to turn. Obviously one of the augers was jammed. The remedy, per the manual, is to remove the auger and clear the blockage. OK. Sounds simple enough. (HA!)
First I emptied the pellet bin, scooping out nearly forty pounds of pellets by hand. Then I pulled the first auger's motor (there are two). I hooked up the power to that motor and it ran fine. But the auger that it powered was definitely jammed. Worse, the other motor for the other auger--the one that feeds the fire box--was the one that wasn't turning. So it turned out that both augers were clogged. Not exactly rocket science here. The bottom one obviously jammed first, and with no outlet for the pellets that the upper auger was trying to feed to the lower one, the upper one jammed too. That meant that they both had to come out.
Oh--and did I mention that the stove is in a corner? There's not much room to work back there, and what room there is is full of ash and soot and pellets.
Then it got really fun when I discovered that in order to remove the bottom auger motor, I had to loosen one set screw so that I could detach the motor from the shaft. Of course the auger had frozen in place with that set screw blocked by other pieces of the stove, so I couldn't get a damned tool on it. That meant that I had to take the whole auger housing out--a more involved job by far. And as luck would have it--the bolts securing that housing were blocked by...the motor!
I won't go into the details or the drama that followed, but by the time I got the whole damned thing apart nearly an hour later, I'd lost count of the number of times that I'd smashed or cut my hands on other pieces of the stove, and Lagniappe had learned several new words and phrases, most of which referred to the ham-fisted alcoholic crotch monkeys at the stove factory who's assembled this nightmare and torqued all of the essential bolts down to about eight hundred foot/pounds, clearly savoring the thought of someone like me trying to reach those bolts with a box wrench (because socket tools won't fit in there) and get enough leverage to enable me to turn each bolt about 1/32 of a turn at a time. To say the least, I was way beyond angry by the time I got it apart. And thanks to all of the soot and ash, I don't think that I've gotten so dirty in recent memory.
But I finally got it all cleaned out, then I carefully re-aligned the augers as I put them back in, and re-assembled the whole mess. In fairness, it went back together quickly and easily. And when I turned it back on...it worked! It even worked better than before, as apparently my re-alignment of the augers eliminated a persistent and annoying squeaking noise that the stove's made since day #1. Still...two hours blown on that stove today...and for what?
Without the nice warm stove, Lagniappe and his little buddy would have to lie on a cold rug all day.
Can't have that now, can we?