Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best Inventions of 2013

I am not talking about the best invention in the world, I'm talking about MY best invention in MY world. There are too damn many lists where people claim some intimate knowledge of everybody else's opinion, like this total bullshit list of "older men with whom we would go to bed." (However I will award that one with the 2013 award for best example of the truth emerging in the comments because the original content is drastically misguided.)


My best invention of 2013 was a piece of thin closed cell foam with two strong magnets sealed into the corners. It goes on the back of my cast iron bathtub so when I lean back it isn't cold.
Beachton Best Invention of 2013 is this piece of closed cell foam in the back of my bathtub
I ordered a bunch of different thicknesses of foam to see what would work best to fix the vents in the Spartan. I used a thicker Volara foam on the vents so I had this left over. Plumbers Goop is the kind of glue you need to make a little pocket in the bottom corner to hold the magnets. Balls work best because they pinch through the foam better. I had just one that I used without sealing it in a pocket and it worked well. But I was worried it would chip the enamel if I just left it loose in there so when I got some medium size disc magnets from my dad I covered them with another little piece of foam and glued it. They float up when the water comes up over the bottom of the foam. But it's not a big deal. I only need the foam above the water level anyway.

To make your own here's where to get materials:  
  1. -- Volara foam, 1/8" or 3 mm
  2. -- 1/2" ball magnets  or a strong 1/2" disc type magnet would be ideal
  3. Home Depot for Goop for plumbing -- my brother clued me in to this based on his boat building research. A vinyl adhesive I tried did not work at all.

Runner-Up Invention

I am pleased with several other inventions and problem solutions in 2013. I made little covers for the roof vents in the Spartan that turned out nice.
I made them with styrofoam, polyester batting, and reflective insulation.
I covered them with fabric I cut off the bottom of the curtains.

I was also pleased with myself for figuring out how to finish the curved front of the Spartan.
This technique is called slip tongue.
It was actually my dad who thought of this and helped me cut
these grooves and plane and rip the wood for the tongues.
Besides my dad's shop the most important thing I needed to create this wall were these self-drilling finish head screws. I just happened to have them. They were in a little bin of drawers my boat-building uncle gave me in about 1997. He had conveniently filled each drawer with a different kind of fastener. This remains one of the best presents I have ever gotten. I pre-drilled the wood, then the self drilling screws went right into the aluminum framing like it was butter. Ok, I exaggerate, maybe hard cheese.

The next invention is related to the same project. How to cover up the screw heads? I bought some faux manila rope that is really polypropylene so it doesn't have that gross rope smell. (Get some at Knot and Rope Supply.) I looked up how to whip the end of a rope so it doesn't unravel.

I also had to invent a way to cut this stuff. I used a piece of aluminum scrap held in vice grips, heated over my butane stove.
Nailed it on with the air nailer. Worked great. Can't see the nails at all, or the screw holes,
or the expansion gap between the wall and the flooring.
So maybe the real runner-up invention of 2013 is the entire front of the Spartan.

Honorable mention invention:

Rolled ridge roofing bird house. Solid invention.
Made with scraps from the Spartan floor.

Notable Problem Solutions

Unsightly screw heads on black door hardware.
The beauty supply store has this special nail
enamel for making stripes.
It has a very fine brush
I invented rice cooker sous-vide chicken this year. I enjoy this invention a lot.

Cranberry sauce is an important part of this sandwich. I invented that two years ago so I can't count it. But this year I added a new component — plastic-backed paper dropcloth to protect the floor from the vigorous splattering during cooking.
Dropcloth when cooking. Cut one 9'x12' dropcloth into 4 pieces.
Use when processing splattery fruitstuffs.
(I made cranberry sauce last week while watching
a space walk on my iPad)
Which is a good lead in to another problem solution. How does that table not fall right off that wonderful new porch? Because I am the kind of girl who has a piece of 1/4-20 all-thread rod in her shed and an angle grinder to cut it.
The legs of that table are threaded to take little adjustable plastic feet. I took the feet off the outside legs, cut some all-thread rod to a useful length and screwed that on instead, drilled through the overhang of the last deck board, and put washers on the rod until the table was perfectly level. Then I put nuts underneath.

My last two inventions were more crafty and accessible. 3D glasses.
Custom 3D glasses out of prescription spectacles
Shirt Repurposing

Well that about sums up my year. I did a good job keeping it small, but only geographically and financially. I think I managed to stay creative and innovative. So I've got that going for me.


  1. Your inventions are great. I need to think outside the box more.

  2. "Spasms of Accommodation" has been included in the A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that I hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.