It's the "dog days" of Summer, I've broken the washing machine, and I've found a new use for some of those C-Stands floating around the office....

It's getting nasty hot this week and it looks like the sizzling weather is here to stay for the next ten days or so. I guess it's not so bad. Everything from the dog house to the tool shed is air conditioned, we've got a constant 70 degree, spring-fed pool to swim laps in, and the brutal heat seems to slow down the migration of wealthy Californians and New Yorkers to Austin, Texas. 

I wouldn't mind the heat so much if we still got to have that season northerners call, Winter. But, alas, our new take on Austin winter is that it might be wise to take along a sweater if we're going to be out for a long time. Gloves? Only required if you're trying to make some sort of fashion statement...

Since the weather has heated up swim towels tend to pick up odors and that mildewy smell more quickly; especially if you leave them in your car for too long. So I've tried to stay ahead of swim towel maintenance by getting stuff into the washing machine on a regular and frequent basis. Sometimes I try to put too many towels in the machine but usually there are not bad consequences resulting from my overpacking of the appliance. 

Today was an outlier. I packed the Kenmore 90 Series, heavy duty washer with too many towels. I didn't space them accurately and, at some point in the spin cycle, everything became unruly, the washer bounced around a bit and then I hear a "SNAP!" or a "CRACK!" and the washer stopped spinning. Now it won't spin at all. And it is important to note that the initial drying stages of heavily sodden towels depends almost entirely on centripetal force and spinning motors. 

I've already called, Mike, my cherished appliance repair person. He's really good, really reasonable and not too judgmental. I learned that as he explained to me that gas powered clothes dryers should have their internal filters (no, not the one you see when you open the door; I know that much...) cleaned out more frequently that once every twenty or so years....

After the call to Mike I pondered the pile of soggy but clean towels I had created. I figured that mass would be a taxing load for the dryer, what without the spin dry treatment, so I looked for some alternative method to achieve drying that might also be carbon neutral. Finally it came to me. The old fashion clothesline! Something I've never seen behind any house anywhere in my zip code in at least the last two decades. I surmise that people have forgotten that they can harness the power of the sun to dry their garments. But I was equally remiss because I don't have a clothesline either (although I do have bags and bags of clothespins which we use to mount filters to lights and diffusion sheets to soft boxes, etc.). 

Then it dawned on me that I do have a collection of C-Stands (Century Stands) which also have "arms" and could be easily pressed into service as portable drying racks. So I pulled a few C-stands, and a couple of conventional light stands, out into the blazing afternoon sun and hung towels over every horizontal surface. We are now in the mid-process. Each time I check the fabric of my swim towels it feels just a bit less wet. We are making progress!

Since work tends to slow down in the middle of Summer I was excited to find new ways to press my gear into service, even if it is just domestic service. But then, all work is noble; right?

Photographed with brand new camera gear; which I will discuss in the next post. 

The walk way between house and office offers a wonderfully reflective surface for towel drying while sheltering the down market application of sunday's from street view. 
Another task undertaken. 

Need to dry off some fabric or buy a Hasselblad H1Dii?
Try buying through this link to make me richer than Midas. 


Romano Gtti said...

Uy, that's dangerous. You can become addict to the smell of sun-dried clothes and towels... ;-)
Romano / (Madrid, Spain here)

Anonymous said...

Entertaining post Kirk but I must ask (and please don't be offended) but why do Americans use dryers? There's a rather large object in the heavens called the Sun, plus some breezy stuff called wind that dries wet things efficiently and freely.

As for the iPhone XR, it's a cool little beast for snapshots, especially the portrait mode where you can simulate an F1.4 lens for shallow DOF.


Max from Down Under

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

We don't trust the sun or nature as is evidenced by our fascination with oil and coal. A coal fired clothes dryer is such a status symbol here....

ajcarr said...

You should consider buying washing machines, spin dryers, and dishwashers made by Miele: German engineering by a Mittelstand company, designed to be repaired. Yes, they're a bit more expensive, but think of them as Rolleiflexes when the rest of the world is making Yashica 124Gs, Seagulls 4As, or Lubitel 166s.

Edward Richards said...

Go for a front loader. They are much more efficient and overloading them does not hurt them. They will do a ton of towels and spin them nearly dry so they do not take as much time and energy to dry, however you dry them. LG and a Geek Squad contract.

Henk said...

When you dry clothes in the sun remember to hang them inside out to avoid the colors fading from the bright sunlight.

Craig Yuill said...

Another trick to drying a bunch of very soggy towels - put 1/2 or 1/3 of the load into the dryer at a time.

I have had my own experiences with buying washers and dryers and then trying to get them fixed. Fourteen years ago my wife and I purchased a premium European front loader/dryer set. Eventually the washer needed to be repaired, and finding competent repair people to service it was a challenge. Three years ago we replaced the washer/dryer set with a mid-range LG washer and dryer that should be much easier to get serviced.

ajcarr recommended buying Miele front loaders. Although Miele is a well regarded brand (the Leica of washing machines) it might not be well supported in your area. There will likely come a time when your old Kenmore will no longer be repairable. When that happens ask Mike the repairman what brands he can repair and go with one of those. But if you like traditional top loaders, there are not too many of those to choose from. Your best bet is to either keep getting your current machine serviced, or get a front loader. Most traditional top loaders nowadays are crap (save for maybe Speed Queen), and high-efficiency top loaders are downright weird (the Sigma Quattros of washing machines). Also, your online friend, Mike Johnston, had to buy a new washer a few years ago. You might want to ask him about his experiences.

Happy washing and drying.

Kirk, Photographer/Writer said...

While we do have several Miele suppliers in Austin Consumer Reports has not been completely kind about the brand. Our Kenmore Series 90 Heavy duty machine is now 23 years old and generally only needs service when I break it. Our last repair was two years ago. It was a switch that I broke by letting the lid slam shut one too many times. The repair charge, on site, was $115. That was the second repair in 23 years.

My repair person (someone in my generation) suggested I keep the current machine as long as humanly possible. All metal parts, built like a fuji X-H1 and easy to fix. Widely available parts, etc.

If it dies a permanent death I'll put Belinda on product research. She is more thorough than any other consumer I've ever met. She'll make sure we get the right one.

As to Mike....how much laundry can one lone man generate? Enough to be a data point? We'll see. I'll call and ask.

Craig S said...

Our house came with a of mechanical Maytag washer and dryer, white goods purchased from a defunct retailer in what I'd conservatively guess the early 90's. I had a dryer baffle come loose, and unbolted the side panel to obtain the necessary access to tighten the wayward bolt.

My parents purchased a new house in 2005 that came equipped with modern, high efficiency front-loading units with computerized controls. Dead and replaced within a decade, but not before puking out soapy water all over their floor.

I'm tempted to start stocking up on belts and small parts while they are still available online to keep ours going as long as possible.

We've had the rainiest summer in two decades, so sun-drying isn't really on the agenda (though we do have drying racks in the basement)

By the way, wouldn't the spin cycle exert centrifugal force, since the water is pulled *outwards* through the perforations in the drum?

Ravi Bindra said...

New American word for me - clothespins. We call them pegs in UK english.

I have not used a dryer for 10 years. I hang up all the clothes, either inside or out - the realization of using electricity generated inefficiently from the solar panels was a second rate idea to using the original energy.