fancy zinc-plated faucet
Saturday, August 29 2020
Heavy rains passed through this morning, forcing our Saturday morning coffee ritual indoors. The New York Times Spelling Bee panagram was "tenacity," with "Y" in the middle. [We would go on to get all the available words except "catty," and "ninny."]
I've been using washing machine faucets on the new tub until I find something prettier. Simple, elegant individual faucets are surprisingly hard to find; I've been unable to track any down at the local hardware stores. So, as with everything else in my long-preferences, I am forced to shop online. On Ebay, I found a nice brass Brasstech 401X/03N faucet with a timeless cross-shaped handle for $40, but when it arrived, it was a gaudy Trumpian gold. The picture had been for the chrome-plated version, and I hadn't read the listing carefully enough to realize the version I would be getting would have a brass finish. No problem, I thought, I'll just extroplate it with some better metal. I've had reasonable success with electroplating objects in copper and zinc, using techniques I first learned about as a teenager. (It think my best electroplating results have been of tiny sculptures used to adorn the tops of wedding cakes.) I've never done much research about electroplating other than to remind myself which polarity of wire does which thing (negative is what you attach to the thing to be electroplated!) but today I really wanted to do it right, so I did some searching for zinc electroplating techniques and found a YouTube clip where someone uses vinegar with epson salt and sugar as the electrolyte. As for the zinc, it's always easiest just to get it by melting down pennies made after 1982 (which have a thin copper jacket around a core of zinc).
Epson salt is not the sort of thing people born after 1945 keep in their houses, though there was always a bag of it on hand in my childhood home. So I made a run to Kingston Plaza in Uptown, the place where the Herzogs and Hannaford are. At the Walgreens, I was able to buy more epson salt then I will ever use for about $5, along with a squirt bottle (since the household squirt bottles are all terrible). But I wasn't done; next I went to Hannaford to see if they sold other fun chemicals one should have in a laboratory, such as saltpetre (which I used to be able to buy for pyrotechnics experiments when I was a kid). I also needed more rubbing alcohol, but all I could find was the 70% kind, and that was at Walgreens. Hannaford had no alcohol on hand whatsoever. On its empty shelves hung a sign saying customers were limited to two items per purchase. Evidently the coronavirus is still screwing up supply chains.
Back at the house, I set up small electroplating station and proceeded to electroplate the cross-shaped handle of my Brasstech faucet. After only a half hour (at 12 volts), the electrolyte was decidedly warm and the handle had a solid coating of whitish-grey metal. Lightly abraided with steel wool, it looked just like brush nickel. I then electroplated the rest of the faucet (which is not one electrical entity due to its plastic handle stem).
Meanwhile Powerful went on his first solo drive today, driving himself to work in the Leaf at Rebecca's house, where he's gotten a fair amount of employment as a construction (or demolition) worker. I was a little nervous about such a brand-new driver driving our best car unsupervised, so later when he wanted to "cruise around," Gretchen had him take the Prius (which is partly held together with duct tape at this point).
Gretchen originally planned to go see Black Klansman at Hasbrouck House in Stone Ridge, but her date for that fell through, so she curled up on the couch and watched the first episode of Inspector Morse instead. Later she and I watched a Shark Tank together. It was the first time I'd sat on that couch to watch teevee in months.
some photos taken today
A warbler (or similar) high in a white pine northeast of the house.
A hairy woodpecker on a dead pine east of the house.
One of the two sunflowers that survived rabbit (or some other varmint) depredations earlier in the summer.
Various hymenopterans on the hydrangeas.
An aggressive burr cucumber is taking over the weedy patch west of where we park the Subaru. This plant has come back every year since in arrived in some soil I brought up from the Esopus floodplain. Usually I kill it before it gets to this stage, since everything about it is unpleasant.
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