Nice little DIY project


A nice little project :sunglasses::sunglasses: I just need to get a Toyota Mirai to go with it :wink::grin:

Yeah. Did that when I was 14. Blew 3 windows out of my bedroom. My hearing hasn’t been the same since :boom::boom::boom:

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Pardon :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

I was luckier than you.

I was fascinated by chemistry, and aged around 14 acquired conc HCl (spirits of salts) and zinc granules to generate hydrogen. These went into a conical flask that had previously been a vinegar bottle and had nice thick walls. The neck was plugged with a rubber bung and about 12 inches of glass tube. I left it to fizz for a bit and popped out for a wee, and while absent my younger brother (now molecular virologist, retired) lit the gas coming out of the tube.

While in the loo I heard a ‘BOMP’ sound, rushed back in to find it had fired the bung and tube out, which hit the ceiling - the hydrogen was still mixed with air from the bottle, and had flashed back down the tube. The thought of my brother covered in glass and conc acid was not a pleasant one, but all’s well that ends well.

The following year another chemistry fan and school friend gassed himself with chlorine, and spent time (months IIRC) in hospital. He went on to become a proper chemist.

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Experts and DIY do not necessarily make good bedfellows. This story has been around a few years but no less funny for that:

A friend of mine once built a canoe. He spent a long time on it and it was a work of art.

Almost the final phase was to fill both ends with polyurethane expanding foam.

He duly ordered the bits from Mr Glasplies (an excellent purveyor of all things fibreglass) and it arrived in two packs covered with appropriately dire warnings about expansion ratios and some very good notes on how to use it.

Unfortunately he had a degree, worse still two of them.

One was in Chemistry, so the instructions got thrown away and the other in something mathematical because in a few minutes he was merrily calculating the volume of his craft to many decimal places and the guidelines got binned as well.

He propped the canoe up on one end, got a huge tin, carefully measured the calculated amounts of glop, mixed them and quickly poured the mixture in the end of the canoe (The two pack expands very rapidly).

I arrived as he was completing this and I looked in to see the end chamber over half full of something Cawdors Witches would have been proud of. Two thing occurred to me, one was the label which said in big letters: “Caution - expansion ratio 50:1” (or something similar) and the other that the now empty tins said “approximately enough for 20 small craft”

Any comment was drowned out by a sea of yellow brown foam suddenly pouring out of the middle of the canoe and the end of the canoe bursting open. My friend screamed and leapt at his pride and joy which was knocked to the ground as he started trying to bale handfuls of this stuff out with his hands.

Knocking the craft over allowed the still liquid and not yet fully expanded foam to flow to the other end of the canoe where it expanded and shattered that end as well.

A few seconds later and we had a canoe with two exploded ends, a mountain of solid foam about 4ft high growing out of the middle, and a chemist firmly embedded up to his armpits in it.

At this stage he discovered the reaction was exothermic and his hands and arms were getting very hot indeed. Running about in small circles in a confined space while glued to the remains of a fairly large canoe proved ineffective so he resorted to screaming a bit instead.

Fortunately a Kukri was to hand so I attacked the foam around his hands with some enthusiasm. The process was hindered by the noise he was making and the fact he was trying to escape while still attached to the canoe.

Eventually I managed to hack out a lump of foam still including most of his arms and hands. Unfortunately my tears of laughter were not helping as they accelerated the foam setting.

Seeking medical help was obviously out of the question, the embarrassment of having to explain his occupation (Chief Research Chemist at a major petrochemical organisation) would simply never have been lived down.

Several hours and much acrimony later we had removed sufficient foam (and much hair) to allow him to move again. However he still looked something like a failed audition for Quasimodo with red burns on his arms and expanded blobs of foam sticking everywhere. My comment that the scalding simply made the hairs the foam was sticking to come out easier was not met with the enthusiasm I felt it deserved.

I forgot to add that in retrospect rather unwisely he had set out to do this deed in the hallway of his house (the only place he later explained with sufficient headroom for the canoe - achieved by poking it up the stairwell.

Having extricated him we now were faced with the problem of a canoe construction kit embedded in a still gurgling block of foam which was now irrevocably bonded to the hall and stairs carpet as well as several banister rails and quite a lot of wallpaper.

At this point his wife and her mother came back from shopping…

Oh yes - he had been wearing the pullover Mum-in-law had knitted him for his birthday the week before.


Qualifications are no substitute for experience. :wink:

After forty years in art schools, I’ve seen many seemingly good ideas go wrong, but this was one of the best:-

I once had an Afrikaner Fine Art Masters student, with the challenging forename of Hercules, who was very big, butch and, gay, and who despite his First from the University of Cape Town, was absolutely useless at actually fabricating his own sculpture. Nevertheless, despite his practical ineptitude, he was technically ambitious and wanted to make a mould of his own head in black leather.

The first stage of the process should be to make a cast of the head, which is normally very straightforward, you begin by covering the skin in Vaseline and then building up a mask with small lengths of plaster bandage., with a straw in each nostril so that the subject can continue breathing; this then becomes the mould into which the plaster can be poured.

However, Hercules, had forgotten or not quite ingested all that, though fortunately he had remembered the bit about the straws when he tried to short- circuit the rest of the process, He was found blundering around the Sculpture building’s plaster workshop (on a Saturday morning!) with a plywood box of rapidly setting and increasingly warm plaster on his head.and two straws protruding from his nose.

Being a fairly hard-nosed HoD, I afterwards reprimanded the lectiurer who found him in this state that she should have taken some photographs, if not for future Health & Safety advice, then at least for the staff’s amusement, :wink: