Prison Pete

Wednesday, July 05, 2006
  Help, We Lost the Ice Cube Recipe!
When I left for work at noon on Friday I had checked to be sure that the ice machine was dropping a batch of cubes every 20 minutes or so, and it was.

When I returned from work at 2:15 a few of the inmates told me that the machine was not working and had not dropped a tray of cubes all afternoon and the ice box was empty. I knew that we were going to be running out of ice as it was quite warm and we had been using all the ice up and leaving the box empty a few times this week.

My first thought was just that someone had filled their five gallon buckets and managed to use all the ice. I could hear the water running over the tray so at this point my only thought was to unplug the machine and let it sit for a half hour and see if the rest did it any good.

I was on my way out to music practice and arranged with the officer and another inmate to plug the machine back in and see what happens. When I returned a 5:00 PM the inmate that was assisting me said that right after I left someone plugged the machine back in and took off the sign I had put up asking that the machine be left unplugged.

The machine had not dropped any ice and I could still hear the water being pumped over the ice tray and could feel a cool spot on the top of the machine on what should be the cold side.

It made no sense. Now you have to realize I can not see any of the interior of the machine and have no tools to remove the screws that fasten the top and front panels of the machine.

I asked the officer if he would allow me to attempt to remove the screws from the top of the machine and that if I could accomplish that I might be able to figure out why we were not getting ice. He gave his approval.

The only thing that I had that comes close to a tool is my toenail and fingernail clippers. It is against the rules to modify any personal property in any way. I was able to separate the handle parts from each of the clippers and using the handle from the fingernail clipper and the body of the toenail clipper I fashioned a crude t-wrench that allowed me to remove the four Phillips head screws. The front panel was not really screwed in and once the top was off, I was able to remove the front panel.

Now I am certainly not yet an expert on ice machine repair, but I let out a cry of delight and announced to the inmates watching me that we would have ice this weekend.

What I saw when the front cover was removed was a solid block of ice. What had somehow happened was that when the ice was at the proper thickness to be dumped, it did not get the signal, and so continued to run the water across the vertical tray. This now made clear why the machine felt cold on top, and I could hear the water circulating.

What we now had was a tray of 206 ice cubes attached to a two inch solid piece of ice. Once the machine missed the dump cycle, it just kept building the ice up till it was pushing on the framework and would never have dumped out. I knew that I was partially correct in my initial thought to try and leave the machine unplugged, but not sure if it would have melted in the half hour I wanted to let the machine rest. Those of you that remember (or still have) the single door refrigerators (non-self-defrosting), know what happens when the freezer compartment builds up all that ice.

I defrosted the machine by pouring hot water over the tray and then restarted the machine. In the process of babysitting the machine I discovered a way to force the machine to go into the dump mode, and so between the machine dropping the ice on its own and us catching it when it started to build up too much ice, I have managed to keep us in ice throughout the weekend.

First thing Monday morning I am going to bring up the spare machine we have in the shop and make sure I go over this machine with a knowledgeable expert to find out what parts need to be replaced to get the machine back in working again.

I freely admit that I had no idea what I was doing. As far as I can tell at this point I have done no permanent damage to the machine. Hopefully I have earned some valuable brownie points with some of the inmates. Others still want to say I did nothing special or was responsible for the machine breaking in the first place. Those are the ones that do not under any circumstances admit I might just be a little smarter than the average and willing to do extra for the benefit of others.

Meanwhile, I know I still have a good head on my shoulders and can figure out mechanical things without the benefit of any prior knowledge. I do know one important thing about sticking your hands and arms inside the working compressor area. Some of the copper tubing is very hot to the touch! And I have to admit that I have learned that the hard way quite a few times while reaching in to the box to make it dump a tray of cubes.

Time to go and check it again. Bye for now.
Comments: Post a Comment

View my profile
Contact Prison Pete
Contact the Editor
Blogroll Me!

December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009

December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008

December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007

December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006

December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005

December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004


Powered by Blogger


Emily Dickinson
Janet Evanovich
Ian Fleming
Jonathan Franzen
Robert Fulghum
Sue Grafton
Tami Hoag
Jean Shepherd

Johann Sebastian Bach
Virgil Fox
Benny Goodman
Vladimir Horowitz
Itzhak Perlman
David Russell
Lonnie Smith

Radio and TV Shows
All Things Considered
Capitol Steps
Fawlty Towers
Fresh Air
The Infinite Mind
Jazz After Hours
Jeeves and Wooster
Pipe Dreams

Media, Publishers, Networks
Augsberg Fortress Press
Hamilton Bookseller
NY Daily News
NY Newsday
NY Times
PC Magazine
WNED Buffalo, NY

Helpful Organizations

Federal Bureau of Prisons
NY State Court of Appeals
NY State Department of Corrections

Typing with a Dvorak keyboard
Fastback Book Binding System
Who links to me?