Emergency Bathroom plumbing repairs

Glacier bay Model N2316 Toilet installation

I’ve often said, a Chemical Engineer is nothing more then a glorified plumber.  Having designed and built numerous industrial and laboratory chemical reactor set ups I find it to be true in some regards.  Last saturday I spent a great day shopping for micro four thirds cameras, and test driving Porsches with my friends.  I returned home in the early evening to find the first floor ceiling on the floor and water coming out of it.  With some reluctance and a good bit of colorful language I ripped open the access panels to determine exactly what was going on.   Turns out it was the shower valve inside the wall.  The toilet had died several weeks before and I had simply been procrastinating the repairs.  Since I was now forced to deal with the plumbing by the new issues I decided it was time to take action.

Machined acetal shower opening adapter flange     New Moen shower fixtures installed tub side


At some point in the past a less then adequate plumbing repair was made to the shower.  This made things fun for me.  In addition, it turns out the old panel mount shower fixtures used much larger openings, causing a real problem.   I decided to machine a new adapter ring. I went to Plastic Supply in Manchester, NH (it’s in the industrial park dr area) and Derek let me look through their drops bin for some cheap plastic to machine.  I picked some Acetal sheet up, along with some delrin and acrylic pieces I need for laser cutting stepstruder heads on the Reprap 3D printer project.   Other then machining the adapter (the white flange in the left pic above) the install of the shower was basic straight forward plumbing 101.

Closet Flange Repair adapter installed         High Efficiency Elongated Dual Flush All-in-One Toilet

The toilet project was not as simple as the shower.  While unlike the last toilet replacement 6 months ago, there was no damage to the subfloor on this toilet, the closet flange was 100% corroded away underneath this toilet.   Why people would use a painted steel flange I will never understand.  I generally prefer the all PVC flanges for residential and recently replaced a cast iron one in a friends flat in the city.  Both are much better alternatives to the painted steel ring flanges at Home Depot and Lowes.   I bought a repair flange, realizing it will likely only last so long.  I plan to redo the flooring in this bathroom next year sometime so I will replace the entire flange at that time.   The toilet I selected is the same model I used in another bathroom I recently renovated completely.  It’s a Glacier Bay Model N2316 High Efficiency Elongated Dual Flush All-in-One Toilet that works well and is a large improvement over the early 1970’s model that was in her before.   My month of touring Europe introduced me to the dual flush toilets.  I think it’s great, and at the same time will conserve water and reduce pumping costs.  Very happy with the new install.

A  Tip about successful wax ring sealing on a toilet install.  The trick to a successful toilet install is to have everything good and warm.  With electric heat in the bathroom I just turned it up to 85 F and came back 4 hrs later.  Everything in the room was toasty warm and equilibrated to 85F.   I know all wax rings say have the ring at least 70, but warmer is better.  I’ve done 6 wax ring installs this way and every time it’s worked perfectly with a 100% success rate.  So use electric heaters,  run hair driers, whatever you have to do to get the bathroom hot.  Preheating  the entire room, including the closet flange, the toilet and ring to 80+ will work wonders and insure a successful wax ring seal around the bottom of the toilet.

A second tip, that a reader suggested I should mention and I overlooked, is to use a nut and washer on the bolts on top of the closet flange.  This helps to keep the T bolts from shifting and moving around when you need to drop the toilet onto the wax ring.

Shaker inspired dining table – finished

Cherry Shaker inspired dining table

Here are some pictures of the stained and polyurethane finished table.  The stain is an old masters rich mahogany. I could say a lot about the old masters stain but I’ll just say this, I won’t be using it again.   The table came out well and I’m quite proud of it.  It took considerably more coats of urethane on the top to seal all of the wood grain then I expected resulting in a bit of a delay in being able to deliver this table to it’s  happy new home.  I’ll be delivering it tomorrow and it should provide many years of lasting service as the family dining table.

Cherry Shaker inspired dining table     Cherry Shaker inspired dining table

The top finish is a satin non gloss, but the depth of the 8 coats of urethane goes a long way to have that deep reflection in spite of the lack of gloss.  I’m pretty happy with the final product and I know my customer will be happy when she sees her new table.

CX500 Cafe Racer Build – chopping the rear frame

Honda CX500 rear frame mods


Having a vision for a project, and making that vision reality are often two different things.  Originally I was thinking I’d leave more of the rear frame for the seat.  Then I came across this bike (see below) made by the wrench monkeys.

Seeing their rear frame mods, I decided I needed to do something similar.  I’m not sold on their seat design but I like how they smoothed out the ugly factory stampings and rounded it.  This will allow the seat to more closely follow the frame and sit about 1/2″ lower at the rear.

Honda CX500 rear frame mods      Honda CX500 rear frame mods

    I did the initial cut with my trusty Milwaukee  Sawzall.  I used a large 1″ washer to scratch the final profile centered off the shock mount studs.  I then did some closer to the line rough cuts with a 5″ cutting wheel on a right angle grinder.  Followed that up with a some careful grinding and finally some hand filing to match up with the scratched line from the washer.   I hammered out some 16 gauge steel and welded it in place.  They came out pretty good. I’ll likely spray it with something after a light wire wheel buff.  When I pull the frame apart for the final painting I’ll metal finish/fill weld so that it’s nice and smooth and shiny.

Honda CX500 rear frame mods

I have also cut off the rear muffler mounts and some other frame brackets at this point.  The electronics will all fit up under the seat with some new brackets welded in place.

Ferrari 308 stainless steel exhaust build

Finished Ferrari 308 exhaust in place


A friend came to me asking about building a custom exhaust for his Ferrari 308.  Of course I said we could do it and that it’d be a fun project.  I put together a rough price list/cost estimate for him and he decided to go ahead with the project.   We were not reinventing the wheel here but instead just copying one of the commercially available units with some minor changes like original style dual exhaust tips and keeping it 100% stainless steel throughout.


Stainless Steel Exhaust Flange for a Ferrari 308 GTS     Stainless Steel Ferrari 308 GTS exhaust Tips

Before we got started we took careful measurements of the exhaust tubing size and did some tracing of the exhaust mounting flanges.  We did look extensively online to buy the flanges but nothing was available in mild steel, forget about in stainless steel. Being a Ferrari they are of course very much not a standard part.  I drew them up in CAD, generated the G-Code for my CNC milling machine and banged them out.  I say that like it was trivial but the piece of stainless steel stock was nasty.  It had some internal work hardened spots from shearing which ate up a few carbide end mills.   I then fabbed up some exhaust tips, polishing the tubing on my metal lathe prior to welding them up.  I hammer formed the 2 to 1 sections and they came out reasonably well. I did use a tubing expansion die at the end to form the perfectly circular opening for the tubing by stretching it out the last little bit.

Ferrari 308 GTS Quatrovalve

The Ferrari 308 in question was also undergoing a complete suspension overhaul at the same time. You can see my buddy in the back doing some cutting.

Ferrari 308 Stainless Steel exhaust build    Ferrari 308 Stainless Steel exhaust build

I’m beveling the tubing edges prior to tack welding.  I find that beveling the edges of tubing results in a much cleaner final weld that can be metal finished easier.  My buddy claims he will metal finish all of the welds and polish this thing up someday.  The pic on the right is me welding up the exhaust bits we are satisfied with off the car.  Only after checking multiple times that everything is in the correct spot and fits well did I do any final welding.  There are spots on the exhaust I wouldn’t be able to weld up fully if I waited till the entire unit was tack welded together so we built it in stages.

Ferrari 308 Stainless Steel exhaust build

With any sort of custom exhaust fabrication process, it’s important to tack weld and check everything often and repeatedly.  I bet we took the exhaust on and off the car over 50 times during this build.  Carefully measuring, checking level, angles, and fitment each time we made a change.  Here you see one side all tack welded in place during the build process.

When the car is back down on the ground I’ll take a video clip of it running and taking off so you can all hear the glorious sounds this thing makes.  Ferrari  engines have a beautiful sound and this exhaust brings out the best of that.  This project is continued and completed in this second post titled,  finishing up a Ferrari 308 custom stainless steel exhaust.