Placing our first vending machine

Jennifer and I put our first vending machine into the wild this past Sunday. I say first, not as an indicator of future plans, but as a way of indicating it was brand new to us.

I bought the machine used for a pretty decent price, $200 if I remember correctly. It has around 20-24 vending heads that serve candy, chips, gum, etc. It cost about $100 to fill the first time. We put a fairly wide assortment of items inside, mainly to gauge interest, but also just to have things you wouldn’t typically find.

My brother was able to score the location from his apartment management gig and it seems like a pretty decent spot so far. It’s in one of the laundry facilities in the apartment complex. It has 2 coin-op washers, 2 coin-op dryers, and soda vending machine. The soda machine is owned by the local bottler and we’ve considered attempting to displace it if the candy machine gets any traffic.

I felt a little bit guilty placing the machine in such a situation. It felt sort of like I was preying on folks who have poor impulse control or planning ability. I completely understand having vending in an environment like a cafeteria or workplace where it serves as a useful option, but it seems different when I am practically placing it in their homes.

Those predatory feelings have all but evaporated now. There were two people that came up to us in the short time we were installing it and expressed enthusiasm for having it there. Give people what they want, I suppose.

The final nail in the pity party came the next day, when Kristopher said that it looked like someone had been shaking the piss outta the machine to dislodge product. Someone will always be seeking the upper hand in any arrangement, it might as well be me.

Apparently, vending is an adversarial relationship.

I am not a mechanic

Time has proven this to be true over and over again. I spent the better part of three days last week working on my panel truck. The oil pan gasket was leaking pretty badly, enough that I was pulled over on the freeway by a Sheriff’s Deputy. Apparently the oil had been blowing against the exhaust pipes and smoking off.

I had thought I saw a tinge of blue behind me as I was driving but it was very difficult to tell. Apparently it was not so difficult to tell from behind. He was really cool about the issue and let me motor on but said I needed to get it fixed, which brings me to my current state.

The pan gasket was clearly leaking and after removing it I could see that there were some cracks in the gasket around the arcs for the front and rear seals. After some ludicrous drama in figuring out which gasket to get (I had to pull casting numbers from the engine) I reinstalled the oil pan and gasket. I should mention that I do not have a service manual for this vehicle, I have been having difficulty finding one, and I can find very little information beyond that online.

I reinstalled the gasket, performed a full oil change including filter, and was rewarded with a gigantic oil leak from the rear of the engine. I thought perhaps I had not seated the gasket properly so pulled it down and reseated it. Kristopher and I went for a test drive, I swear we looked like Cheech and Chong blazing down the road. Every stop sign allowed the cab to fill with smoke from the fountaining oil leak as it sprayed against the exhaust.

At this point I could not fathom what I had done to get such a negative result. The only thing “different” was that I was absolutely sure about the quantity of oil in the engine for the first time since I bought it. We tried vainly to find the source of the leak but since it was blowing out the back of the motor and dripping from the shroud that covers the flywheel it seemed that it could only be the rear main seal. That’s the seal that allows the crankshaft to pass outside of the engine proper and engage the flywheel and transmission.

I was stumped and generally peeved that I had spent so much productive time being UNproductive. I took it to the shop this past Monday and while I don’t yet have it back (I’m having other things done as well) I do know the source of the leak finally. The shop manager called me yesterday afternoon and matter-of-factly said:

“The oil pan gasket was improperly installed and missing some sealant by the rear main seal.”

…of course it is.

Laying Hardwood Flooring

Is way harder than I thought. I’m not sure if it’s extra hard because the flooring is recycled, used gym flooring or what exactly. I am really enjoying the look of it but what a beast to install. I am about four feet from completion but just couldn’t lay one more piece tonight.

I did manage to remember to take pictures this time around.

Reclaimed Gymnasium Flooring

That shot is from the side door facing the bathroom. Just barely off the right side of the frame is the wall/finish line. So close, but so three hours of work away.

Recycled Gymnasium Flooring

That’s a view from the french doors facing the main entrance, the bathroom is immediately to the right.

Used Gym Flooring

And that picture should tie the whole thing together visually. Check out how you can see no fewer than 3 hammers in that last picture. This building business is crazy stuff.

The Final Countdown

It appears the fated day has finally arrived. Final inspection on the building is scheduled for 27 March (and hopefully in the morning). There’s almost nothing left to do before then so it’s just a waiting game now. The siding is fully on and weatherproofed the roof is on, gutter and downspout are nailed off, and foundation, framing and shearwall are already approved.

It will be a whirlwind to get everything else ready to move in but since I have this upcoming week off it can’t come at a better time. I’m trying very hard to stay positive about the whole thing because we need this so badly.

I have giant boxes of supplies and materials for framing stuffed in every available corner of our downstairs. I have boxes of frames loaded on the guest room bed, huge slabs of cardboard occupying the hall, you name it, it’s cluttered beyond all rational belief.

Crossing my fingers…