California king snakes—a good thing. These non-venomous constrictors are found throughout California and the west. They play an important role in the eco-system by controlling rodent and frog populations and killing rattlesnakes. They are popular pet reptiles because they are attractive, easy to care for and can be tamed.
Pump motors—also a good thing. They keep wells working, fountains flowing, irrigation systems sprinkling, and spa and pool water circulating.
Snake crawling into a pump motor—not a good thing. For either one.
Cause of this motor malfunction was obvious. Unfortunately, this 3-foot-long mountain king snake met its doom inside. We were able to fix the motor, but not the snake.
(Apologies to ophiophilists for the sad pics…)
Intact king snake photo by Mark Kenderdine.
Motor Haiku 19
curious king snake
pumps and reptiles do not mix
wish we could fix you
This was one of those eclectic but fun-to-do jobs that come in every once in a while—a revolving musical cake stand, circa 1964, a fixture of one family’s birthday celebrations for over 50 years!
The small motor wasn’t repairable, but, undaunted, Will managed to find one of a similar vintage on e-bay. Only issue was that it played Happy Birthday in a different key. Still undaunted, he was able to adapt the music box to put it in the old key with the “new” replacement motor. So future birthday cakes can keep turning to the old familiar tune.
Motor Haiku 24
fifty years of birthday fun
cake stand spins again
This one was a bit of a “franken-project.” Our customer brought us a craigslist find that consisted of a 300-gallon tank, compressor and motor. The pieces were bolted together, but none of them matched or really went together, and it didn’t run (which probably goes without saying if it was there in the shop). It was missing some key components, like a check valve and air lines. The mounting platform had been cut, welded and painted over. The challenge: to turn this collection of mismatched parts into a viable compressor.
It took a while. One of the first things we did was swap out the motor, exchanging the 1 horsepower that was on there with a rebuilt 4 horse we had at the shop, and drilling holes in the mounting platform to align it. We modified a check valve and brazed it in place. Probably the biggest challenge was the air lines. We couldn’t use rubber or plastic hose, and the teflon hose that could take the heat of the compressor wouldn’t bend enough to make the connections. So we wound up custom-bending some copper tubing.
Hmmm. Writing it up like that makes it sound a lot easier than it was. But after seven or eight failed attempts that all led to other adjustments, we finally got it running. Pumped it up and let it sit under pressure for 24 hours to make sure it would hold air. Success! Nothing like hearing a collection of mismatched parts purr to useful life. And our customer got a 300-gallon working compressor for less than 1/3 the price of a new one!
Pretty sweet deal all around.
Motor Haiku 41
big red compressor
we build up like Frankenstein
air flows—it’s alive!
This was one of the fun jobs that came in last fall—a wooden grape crusher from a local winery. Was working fine when it went into storage after last year’s harvest, but now the motor wasn’t working at all. But we had a clue: “When I went to move it from storage, a mouse ran out.”
Sure enough, the mouse had chewed through some of the wiring. Rewired the motor, and this neat old machine lived to crush another day.
In keeping with the harvest theme, that same week we repaired a cider press for Mountain Feed and Farm—one of finest farm, garden and homesteading stores you’ll find anywhere—just in time for their Preserve the Harvest Festival.
Motor Haiku 23
pick the ripe red orbs
wine making waits for no mouse
grape crusher restored