funny fittings, escaping fittings, and new cameras
Sunday, October 14 2007
My new hot water solar panel is going to require the installation of some additional structural supports on the solar deck as well as the attachment of some plumbing before it can make its contribution to the household hydronic system. I took a few measurements this morning before heading to the store and was alarmed to find that none of my plumbing fittings (and I have an enormous stockpile of them, both in brass and in copper) would fit the panel's four connection stubs. These stubs were all copper pipe, superficially one inch outside diameter (OD), but in actuality they are somewhat less, measuring exactly 25 mm OD. This is larger than the outside diameter of a copper fitting designed to fit around the outside of a 3/4 inch copper pipe (and I've happily soldered to the outside of fittings in the past), and it's somewhat smaller than the inside of a piece 1 inch pipe. In some cases small size variances can be made up with molten solder, but any possible gap with these stubs would be too big for that fix. I would either need to find metric-to-imperial adapter plumbing fittings or I would need to machine some of my existing fittings to size. I did an internet search to see if such adapter fittings exist, but could find no evidence of their actual existence. I'm guessing my new panel was engineered for the European market (which has a higher demand for solar products than exists in America), and that there is essentially no market for adapter fittings to connect European-style metric plumbing to the kind found here in the the land of the terrified and the home of the wiretapped.
The Kingston-area Lowes has been doing some remodeling lately, and with every visit (such as the one I made today) I've been noting the progress. The biggest of changes is the ongoing installation of a large new roof over the roadway outside the doors leading from the large-item/lumber checkout registers. This will bring Lowes to parity with the Kingston Home Depot, which already has a roofed outdoor loading area. Where Lowes continues to lag behind is in automatic checkout (it has none, whereas the Home Depot has four robot cashiers) and in theft-deterrent camera globes. There are only two aisles in the entire Home Depot that are not under camera surveillance (back where the sink garbage disposal units and refrigerator attachments are displayed), whereas in Lowes the cameras are mostly restricted to the front cash registers and Tool World (where the tools are stocked). Recently, though, Lowes added a sprinkling of cameras to the large aisle that goes down the center, as well as at least one camera above the northmost aisle, positioned at the end of an intersecting aisle where the copper fittings are displayed. It seems that with the climb in copper prices, many fittings are somehow escaping the store without ever being paid for.
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