Sunday, December 2, 2007

Kitchen Design, and the Spinning Auger of Death

If all goes as planned, we'll be able to order our new kitchen cabinets either in late December or early January. New countertops will be done as well (look at the following pictures and see if you can tell why...).

We're still arguing about granite tile or solid surface. We both like the look of granite more than solid surface, but I'm the one who has to do the installation work and I'm the cook and I really like how solid surface compares when it comes to cleaning, staining, and durability. It's just damn hard to get past how much we like the look of granite.

To make it an even tougher decision, the company Mrs. Muskego Jeff and I work for manufactures solid surface countertops so I can probably get a killer deal compared to what all of you looky-loo's out there can get. Decisions, decisions.

Here's what I've got to start with: a pretty much original 1960's kitchen. No dishwasher, no disposal, but plenty of storage and a metric boatload of ugly. Take special notice of the aquarium in the picture. Notice the nasty looking water? I changed it yesterday - that's the rust in our water. Before starting the kitchen remodel I really need to get an iron filter installed, otherwise all our new appliances are going to look like crap in a matter of months.

We like the layout of this side of the kitchen, so we'll only tweak it a bit. The counter along the wall will be longer by about a foot and the portion which branches off at 90 degrees will be smaller, opening up the path through the kitchen a bit. It'll also house the dishwasher, unless we decide to put that to the left of the sink. I'm still working out the layout in my head and on paper. To the left of the sink would probably be best since it wouldn't block access to the sink, but having it to the left of the sink really limits the stock cabinet sizes available to make it all fit properly.

This side of the kitchen really makes me scratch my head (I'm pretty sure it's not lice this time). It looks like the installer was drunk when this was done. Notice the range hood in relation to the stove. It's not an optical illusion or perspective issue - the hood is about 4" shifted to the right of the stove. Not only that, but just to the left of the microwave is the fridge. The fridge should line up with the upper cabinet, but I have 6" of space there instead. Either the upper cabinets on either side of the range hood were too narrow or the lower cabinets on either side of the stove were too big. Either way, they all match, so I'm guessing that somewhere along the line the previous owners decided they needed more room and installed the same style lower cabinets, but in a slightly wider size. This pushed the fridge over 6" to the left.

Yes, that's bacon in the pan and Mountain Dew on the counter top. The crescent rolls are in the oven and I hadn't started the eggs yet. I cook, clean, renovate, help the kids with their homework, and hold down a good job. Wow my wife got lucky. I'd be all over me if I weren't straight.

Speaking of the Mrs., she read my last post and asked what the hell I was talking about with reference to the snowblower being "single stage". Since you bastards in warm climates probably don't know either, allow me to educate you in the ways of your stupid cousins to the north.

A "single stage" snowblower has what I like to call a "spinning auger of death" on the front (see picture). This sucker spins at a high speed, and the slope of the blades pulls snow into the middle where it is then thrown out the discharge chute (that sounds dirty) at a high rate of speed.

When it's spinning at full speed it's completely freakin' deadly. Picture a 250 pound food processor with no safety protection powered by a gas engine. A neighbor at our previous house lost 1-1/2 fingers trying to clear stuck snow out of his snowblower. He forgot about this little tip: "turn the fvcker off before sticking your hand anywhere near the auger."

There is another type of snowblower which is a lot more common now: a 2-stage snowblower. The main auger runs at a much slower speed, and is designed to pull the snow into a second auger which is running at a high rate of speed. This second auger is located inside and out of the way, so it's "safer". I've never used one, and based on how this tank runs I may never get a chance to.

I noticed that this snowblower has never been too far from home. It was made in Racine (just south of Milwaukee) by Jacobsen. It started it's life around Janesville (south-west of Milwaukee ), and then moved to Whitewater (west of Milwaukee) and then to Milwaukee County. Now it's just west of Milwaukee again. Always less than 100 miles from where it was born.

I couldn't decipher the year the snowblower itself was made from the serial number, but. . .

. . .the ID plate on the engine leads me to believe that the engine was made in either 1972 or 1975. This sucker is almost as old as me, and probably older than most of the people who actually made it this far through the post.

The engine was also made in Wisconsin. Just like me this snowblower is probably stuck here for life.

According to Tecumseh, "lubrication" is important. Words to live by, kids.