Here's a semi-Nunley-ism that might make you thankful.... at least thankful you didn't have the mess I did tonight.
I'm finishing the wraps on a 7' 2/2 rod and hope to be varnishing by the weekend. In preparation for varnishing, I always remove the clear plastic dip tube from its larger 12" PVC housing and bring it in house for a few days, turning it over about 4 times a day to mix it up a little.
Last night when I reached for the tube, I noticed that the varnish looked low. Way too low. In fact, it was 6" lower than it should have been. Uh oh. I did a little thinking. Last time I dipped a few weeks ago I made a new tube with the plastic fluorescent tube cover and a coupla PVC end caps. I was in a hurry, so I super glued the bottom cap on rather than using PVC cement or 2-ton epoxy. Then poured it full of nearly two quarts of brand new Epiphanes spar. Bad idea. Do NOT do as I did, instead do as I say.
Seems the solvents in the varnish ate away the super glue. A flashlight revealed that about 6" of varnish had drained out at the very bottom of the dip tube and filled the hole I drilled in the concrete floor of the shop. Then the varnish set. Hard. So hard I could not pull the clear plastic tube with a good 46" of varnish left in it out of the hole in the floor.
Now what? I can't just bend the tube over and pour out most of the remaining varnish because I can't get to it inside the 12" PVC. How am I gonna get that varnish outta there without pouring it all over the shop, and wasting $70 worth of varnish? I know, ask SWMBO.
Tami suggests I syphon the varnish out. Great idea. Went to the auto parts store today and bought a high-tech Arkansas credit card (syphon hose) with a little accordion pump on it. Worked like a charm, but kinda slow. Took about 4 hours to syphon out all but about 12"-14" of varnish. While I was yanking and grunting and pulling on the now only 1/4 full tube, our new miniature dachshund came out to visit me in the shop. Yep, you guessed it. The tube came loose and I varnished myself and the dog. She did NOT enjoy her mineral spirits bath. Neither did I.
Two morals to this story. First, don't use super glue on your dip tube caps. Second.... make doggone sure you attempt projects like this ONLY when no one else is around. Wife and daughter are away with family for Thanksgiving. I'll join them tomorrow. And they need never know that I gave my daughter's new dog two baths. (Harry Boyd)
I think your moral #2 is the most appropriate. What SWMBO doesn't know about, you can't be reminded of.........(usually when you least want the reminder, too). The dog bath probably has some medicinal benefits....Call it a late-season tick bath.....You ARE in the south, after all... (Greg Kuntz)
The only thing that would have made it better is if power tools were involved too! (Rich Jezioro)
When the laws of gravity would no longer let the syphon remove any more varnish from the tube, I decided to try to force it. I remembered my pre-ministerial days when 'borrowing' gas from a friend's gas tank. Sometimes we would use a rag to seal the opening of the gas tank around the syphon hose, and blow -- really hard -- into the tank. The air pressure would force the gas up the tube and help us avoid getting a mouthful of petrol.
I decided to give a similar method a try. My plan was to drill two holes in a PVC end cap -- one for the syphon hose, and one for adding a little air pressure. In drilling the first hole in the end cap, the drill bit hung on its exit. I grabbed the cap and kept drilling. Lesson here -- always make sure your hand isn't in the way of the drill bit. A 3/8" drill bit will make a nice gash in the palm of your hand.
After bandaging my hand and drilling the second hole, I threaded the syphon hose through and capped the tube. Since I'm grown-up now and have nice power tools, I chose to use the blower from my air compressor rather than trying to get my lips over that PVC cap. Do you see what's coming? Hindsight really is 20/20.
Yep, when the pressurized air went in, the cap came off..... forcefully. Bringing the syphon hose dripping with varnish with it. Thank goodness it only bounced around inside the 12" PVC housing and made a mess in there and on one arm. I cleaned up, and used the syphon hose like a soda straw to withdraw varnish for another hour or so, then decided it was 'close enough." (Harry Boyd)
This keeps getting better and better... I have to ask - anything else to add? I'd say you've gone from apprentice to journeyman! This is too funny. Sometimes we get just a little too clever for our own good, don't we? Been there, done that, got the hat and the T-shirt. (Mark Wendt)
You had to ask, didn't you? <g> Yes, there actually is a Chapter Dos. My final chore after cleaning up the mess on Wednesday night was to make a new dip tube. No super glue this time!!! I glued the PVC cap to the clear plastic tube with PVC cement, and let it dry a full 24 hours. That'll hold, for sure!
Since I lost about a pint of Epiphanes, I'm now down to about 1.4 quarts. My tube requires about 1.6 or 1.7 quarts, so I decided to fill the new tube with a different varnish from a new gallon can. Ever tried to pour from a gallon can into a 1.25" tube? Not a good plan. So I poured a half-gallon plastic pitcher full of varnish, then strained it through one of the filters you sent me a coupla years ago as I poured it into the dip tube. Added about 15% thinner before filling the tube. So far so good.
Decided to pour the little varnish remaining in the pitcher back into the gallon can. I noticed the lid didn't fit the gallon can very well, but finally got it fairly tight. Place the dip tube back inside the large piece of PVC I use as a dipping cabinet, and went to work putting Tru-Oil on a few reel seat inserts I'd made. After an hour or so, for some strange reason, I decided to check on the varnish in the dip tube.... and wouldn't you know it --- this new dip tube was leaking at the bottom. Arrrggghhh! Thought about saying a few words a preacher shouldn't, but decided since it was Thanksgiving evening I should just be grateful that I caught it before there was any major damage. Thought, "I'll just pour the varnish back into the gallon can." Great idea, but forgot that I had added about 15% thinner. So now it will not all go back into the gallon can. Most of it will, but not all. And the gallon of varnish is now VERY full.
Remember I had a hard time getting a good seal on the can about an hour ago. Now the can is very full, and will not seal. What to do? If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer, right? Knocked the &*^% outta the lid. Crushed the top edge of the gallon can. Varnish running everywhere.
Here's the question... do any of you keep spare, clean, empty gallon cans lying around? Me neither. What I do have is half a dozen coffee cans I ran in the house and washed and dried those coffee cans and their plastic lids. Poured the varnish into four coffee cans and snapped on the plastic lids. Used another full roll of paper towels mopping up varnish.
Why did the second dip tube leak? My suspicion right now is that the clear plastic fluorescent tube protectors that I've been using for dip tubes for 6-7 years come in more than one size. The size difference isn't great, maybe 1/32". The caps still fit, but not tight enough to get a good seal. Guess I'll either have to locate some larger tubes or use some sort of glue for the caps that will fill a slight gap.
Off to the hardware store. I'll try to buy some empty cans, some new dip tube stuff, and a couple more rolls of paper towels.
Maybe I should give spraying varnish another try. (Harry Boyd)
THANKS......I thought that kind of stuff only happened to me. The guys at the local hardware store smile when they see me coming. (Dennis Higham)
I can't believe that I am reading this story. This story is coming from the guy that taught me so well how to mix the Last and Last from gallon cans into the smaller quart cans. Oh well, I have still managed to varnish my floor as well. You might try lining the end of the clear tube with a layer or 2 or 3 or whatever it takes of the blue painters masking tape and force the PVC caps on without glue. This has worked for me and I can take them off and reuse them when I get new tubes. Any leaks that do occur are slow and can be managed with paper towels. Most of my "leaks" occur because I use the drip method and I forget to watch the quart can fill and put a new empty in its place. (Bill Bixler)
Been thinking about Harry's adventure with varnish and wondered how many of you have some kind of heating element in close proximity to the varnish tube/container. A slight leak and you could get a real decent fire. Heating elements could include light bulbs, heat tapes or the like.
For that reason, my varnish container is made of pipe c/w screwed ends, caps and valves. No glue for me. I have a 100W bulb c/w non-explosion proof electrical fittings [which is essentially an open source of flame] in the cabinet holding the varnish tube assembly A leak and I gotta a good'un.
And from sad experience, make sure you leave expansion room between the varnish and the top closure. Adding heat causes thermal expansion and could possibly cause a failure of the varnish container. In my case, the varnish leaked through the top valve assembly rather than forcing the bottom cap off and causing a fire. (Don Anderson)
Good thoughts, Don....
One advantage of living down here in the Southern US is that it doesn't take much heat in the shop to keep the varnish nice and warm. I use a small space heater in the winter, but it's far enough from the varnish and solvents to prevent any problems without a major screw up. Anytime I'm using solvents, I run the exhaust fan in the shop.
I do have a fluorescent tube in the dip chamber, but I think that's pretty harmless.
The fire extinguisher is always right where it's supposed to be, in it's rack hanging on one wall and always at the ready. Oily rags (or varnish soaked paper towels) are doused with water and placed in a closed metal trash can. (Harry Boyd)