Monday, November 17, 2014

Home Improvement Projects

We are rapidly crossing off items on our to-do list.  We hope to have them all finished by the time we leave for the Galapagos, but if you've ever lived on a boat, it seems that every time one thing gets completed, there are a few more that have been added.

For once, we had a really fun project to do, not like cleaning the hoses for the head, or changing the oil in the engine, or repairing a sail cover by hand.  This one had me gleefully rubbing my hands together with visions of happy hours dancing around in my head.

A few years ago, I happened to notice that when reaching for a can of club soda, or a coke, or anything that was fizzy and in an aluminum can, I had a 50/50 chance of actually pulling out a can that had something in it.  The combination of salty air, and an ever decreasing thickness of aluminum in making the cans, caused pinholes to develop, allowing the liquid inside to seep out.  Not so bad with club soda, but anything that might have a syrup base was a royal mess, as I had to clean up the goozing remnants.  The cleaning pissed me off, but even more so was the thought of the money wasted, and all the squandered effort it took to get cans of tonic, sprite, and soda onto the boat.  "There has to be a solution...", I said to Ron.  "I hate cleaning to begin with, but combining it with a reduction in my fun during happy hour.....NOT GONNA HAPPEN."

I began researching Soda Streams, but the proprietary gas bottles and fittings made them an option not worth considering, due to us not being in the states.  I needed something that I could use around the world and that could be adapted to wherever we happened to find ourselves.  A bit of googling came up with this link.... and we were away.

Now it is a bit technical, but if you are relatively savvy, you can decipher what you need and adapt.  I wasn't too interested in some of the more homemade aspects of this build, and as long as we were going to do it, we'd do it right.  Nothing worse than going to all the effort and then not having it last (seems this happens constantly on a boat, tho).

The regulator, on/off switch and carbonater cap fittings were purchased from Amazon months ago and I brought them back with me during a parts run to the states.  A couple bottles of tonic and lemon/lime syrup also found their way into my suitcase.  The tank, being so heavy and bulky, we thought we'd just buy in Panama while we were there.  Think again!  Heading to Ecuador months later, didn't fill us with hope either.  In the end, we solved it when another cruising friend had to go to the states for a bit of business, and offered to bring a new 5 pound tank back with him.  The critical factor in getting it back here, was to convince TSA that it was empty, and this was only possible with the valve not being attached.  After 2 weeks of fighting, I finally got a great company to provide me with the valve separate from the tank, and a month later, I was cradling my shiny new aluminum tank like a baby.  The process was about as difficult as childbirth, and it did in fact last for 9 months from conception to fruition.   

The location we chose to store the tank was in a cupboard used by the trashcan.  Ron was able to fashion a cutout from the existing shelf, which he then fiberglassed onto the hull, making for a level stand.  The strap will always be in place, due to heeling or swells.  

The process:

The "Ingredients"
Mmm, looking a bit rough
White paint fixes EVERYTHIING
Ready to roll - cocktails anyone?
With tank in hand we walked to the local fire department, told them what we needed, and $25 later, we had it filled with CO2.

Who wants a white wine spritzer?  

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