Friday, September 24, 2021

Another project rolls to completion

I have a lot of small projects, ones that have nothing to do with the garage or the gardens or anything other than things I want or need to do. This week I completed another one of those. It's unimportant, in the overall scheme of things, but it’s an accomplishment all the same.

Several years ago I sold the large corner desk I had at the time and replaced it with a more modern table-like desk with powder-coated steel legs and white top. Then I bought the matching mobile unit with two stationery drawers and a filing drawer (the old desk and mobile unit were both that fake light coloured wood sort of plastic veneer). I really liked the new desk, and so did Nigel, so I got him one, too.

We moved the desks to our last house, and I had them moved here, too, but gave them to family: At 1.8 metres long, they were simply too long for my office in my new house. I bought a new desk before I even moved in, so I was ready to go. It turns out that at 1.4 metres wide, it’s a bit too small, but this isn’t about the desk (that’s a future project). Instead, this project involved that mobile filing unit.

That unit and I have history, and it’s not been altogether amicable. A few years ago I noticed that stuff kept falling out of the stationery drawers and getting stuck behind the filing drawer, sometimes preventing me from closing the filing drawer. This was annoying, not the least because the drawers weren’t easily removed.

The disagreement between that unit and me over where those stationery items should stay came to violence one day: Stuff was stuck behind the filing drawer, I couldn’t get it to come out of the unit, not for the first time, and that particular day I could take it no longer. When I couldn’t get the drawer out, I yanked on the handle as hard as I could and, of course, broke it. Specifically, I destroyed the drawer runners, and heavily greased ball bearings flew everywhere—or, they would have except that being heavily greased they couldn’t fly more than a centimetre or two.

At this point, I could’ve given up and brought a new drawer unit, throwing the now-broken one into a landfill somewhere. But, of course, that’s not what I do. Instead, I bought new drawer runners, ones that mounted underneath the drawers, not on the sides as the old ones did, and ones that were designed to make it very easy to remove the drawer whenever I wanted to. It was an upgrade, and a nearly perfect one, except my skills weren’t perfect and the drawer doesn’t sit completely flush anymore. Still it’s “good enough”, and, I might add, not bad for a first-ever attempt at installing drawer glides.

A couple years later, more or less, I was moving to Hamilton and, apparently the movers thought it wold be a really good idea to pile lots of stuff on top of that mobile unit. They apparently also thought that weight couldn’t possibly be an issue, and even that using the unit as a sort of trolly to move stuff into the garage was an even better idea. The result is in the photo above: One wheel was snapped off—though I didn’t know that for awhile.

After I moved in and the movers had left, I found the wheel laying on the floor in the garage, but I didn’t know where it came from: I had three of the drawer things: The newest one, along with my old mobile unit, and also one that had been Nigel’s (his was two-drawer, and my old one had no bottom for the filing drawer, and an additional flaw for both of them was that fake light coloured wood sort of plastic veneer). I didn’t realise the wheel was from the white one’s until I moved it into my office and noticed that it was slumping down in one corner. At the time, I just assumed I could put the wheel back on my pushing it into place.

all five old wheels after removal.
Once I finally flipped the unit over, I realised that the missing wheel had been snapped off, and that some of the other wheels had been bent, both presumably because of too much weight on them (it had to be the movers because it was under my desk for years, with no weight on top of it). Such wheels were never designed to be repaired, so, again, I either had to replace the broken parts or chuck the mobile unit into the rubbish. However, that’s still not what I do. So, I decided to get new wheels, and I did: Three times.

The first wheels I got were much more robust than the old ones and two of them included foot brakes to keep the unit from rolling around. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the lip of the sides into consideration (the sides end nearly 2 centimetres below the actual bottom of the unit), and there’d be no way to be able to access the breaks.

So, I decided to replace the wheels with the same sort that were broken, and without bakes (it sits on carpet; it’s not rolling anywhere all that easily, anyway, even with me pushing/pulling it). I’ll use the first set of wheels for storage under my workbenches in the garage when I get to that point, so they’ll be useful.

However, the wheels I bought were 50mm, and the originals were 40mm. This meant that if I used the same screw holes, the wheels would hit and rub against that lip below the base. I returned those wheels and bought 40mm ones, instead. I was able to put those in without any problem.

Because of all this, I noticed something odd: The wheel under the filing drawer was set about 10mm below the bottom of the unit, where the other four wheels were mounted (photo below, after the new wheel’s first installation). I kept one of the 50mm wheels to go in that position so it can actually support the filing drawer, apparently for the first time ever.

One final twist: I noticed the new wheel under the filing drawer was slightly touching the front of the drawer when in the position for the drawer being pulled open (the wheels are mounted off centre). This isn’t an issue when the drawer it closed. I decided to move the wheel further back, so I removed it and when to get my drill bits—and quickly found out that I couldn’t find any that were small enough (most of them are, apparently, “somewhere safe”, as so many things I need tend to be; I refused to go buy yet more drill bits). I ended up putting the wheel back on (and, yes, the second time I made sure that one screw was in straight). I figure if it’s really a problem, I can fix it later, once I (again) find the rest of my drill bits

And, what about the other two drawer units? Nigel’s old one is in my office wardrobe and I’m using it for storage and to, er, um, put stuff on top of—not heavy stuff, though! The other one is still in the garage, and I’ll probably use it there to store stuff for ongoing projects all together in one place. I always try to reuse things until they can no longer be reused, or I find a new home for them (as I did with the desks)

And, that’s it: I fixed a set of office drawers for the second time. I don’t plan on there being a third. Instead, I’m just going to roll on to my next project.


Roger Owen Green said...

Very good.
And WAY too much work for me. I'd have come up with an inadequate workaround.

Arthur Schenck said...

The truth is, before my heroic repair efforts, I first propped the corner without the wheel on the skirting (floor moulding). That worked at the time, and kept it more or less level, but I wanted to put the unit back under my desk, so it became repair or replace. And an adventure was born!