Monday, March 12, 2012

Reuse: Cute Kitchenette

A Small Year Reuse Project: The Cute Kitchenette

This Dwyer Products Sink/Stove/Refrigerator unit was in one of the Spartan trailers I bought. It wasn't original -- there was another sink, stove, and refrigerator in there already. It had "FSU" and an inventory number written in Magic Marker on the cover for the refrigerator compressor. I assume it was in graduate student housing or something and got liquidated during a renovation. I think it was maybe made in the 1960s or 70s. It was a Freon 12 refrigerator and Freon 12 was phased out by the early 1990s. Dwyer still makes industrial furnishings. Most stuff like this sells for over $1300 new, but with stainless steel tops instead of this neat old enameled steel.

My friend Steve helped me pry the kitchenette out of the door of the Spartan and lift it into the farm truck. It was 25 1/2" wide and the door is 24" wide. Whoever put it in there had already cut the frame and bent back the aluminum to get an extra inch. To get the knobs and handles through required a Superbar.

We took it out of the truck in my shed and I commenced trying to clean it. First I took the top off and wheelbarrowed it over to my outdoor shower near the hose and scrubbed it with Bon Ami. The trick to this kind of work is you have to scrub HARD for a LONG TIME. There are not naturally spots in enameled products. If you can't feel a nick in the finish keep scrubbing and every spot will go away.

After I got the top clean I went back to the shed and scrubbed the gray left side. That came clean nicely too.

Then I opened the refrigerator and my heart sank. The entire bottom of it was brown and crunchy looking. I thought it was completely rusted through. I poked at it with a putty knife and a big piece flaked off. I decided it was probably just a spilled Pepsi, based on the empty can under the sink. I allowed as how I better suck it up and see how much damage was under the filth. The top cleaned up so nice! I couldn't stand to waste that cute sink and drainboard. The cabinet itself seemed very high quality.

So I went looking for the sponge that has a Scotchbrite pad on one side and filled up my bucket with warm water and got to work on the covering of roach egg cases, mildew, and ancient pool of Pepsi. Pepsi is a very corrosive material so I was pretty worried. This was really a high quality item though. It scrubbed up great! I couldn't get to the all the roach eggs between the freezer thing and the top though.

I decided to test the refrigerator the next day and if it didn't work then I could take that part out and finish cleaning it. Sure enough, it didn't work. I messed around bypassing all the switches and thermostats and it just wouldn't do anything. The battery was dead in my multimeter so my troubleshooting was not that great, but I pretty much wanted it not to work. With the shelf brackets ruined by rust I couldn't really see how I could make it a passable refrigerator again anyway. I took the compressor and freezer out and finished cleaning up all the rest of the disgusting animal refuse.

After I finished dismantling it as much as I could I went to Home Depot and got an 8' piece of 1" aluminum angle stock for $13. The stainless steel acorn nuts that held the shelf brackets in place were nice. I used them again to hold the aluminum after I cut it and drilled it using the old brackets for a template. I used scraps of tongue and groove pine paneling from my house to make wood shelves. It's very fat pine so it should release resinous vapors and completely mask that old refrigerator smell.

When I finished working on it I took pictures and put it on Craigslist. Then Steve came and got it in his larger-than-mine car so I could try to sell it at his yard sale Saturday. I marked it down every half hour, starting a $100 and ending at $50. Nobody bought it. At the end of the day we carried it onto Steve's front porch. I decided I could put it back in the shed and save it for my laundry room that I might build one day. But then somebody emailed me Sunday night from the Craigslist ad and said they wanted it. Steve sold it for me this morning for $50 cash!

Moral of the story: Good quality stuff is usually worth scrubbing with Bon Ami. Don't be dissuaded by filth. You might not get rich off it, but it beats paying a junkyard to take it.

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