9/17/2007

say hello to my little friend


This week I learned that fume hoods are not invincible. The way the ones in my lab are made, there are little steel cables in the sides. If one of those cables should happen to snap...the sash will do one of two things. When this bit of misfortune befell one of my labmates, he found that his sash would move (with some effort) and then stick in whatever position he left it in if he tilted it to the side a little. Mine...well, I can pull it up (kinda heavy!) but then it goes right back down.[1]
As you might imagine, this is kinda annoying. At right is my solution: the giant 2by4 of science![2] Note the little rubber footies--these rest on the metal lip of the hood and prevent it from slipping and allowing the sash to slam down on my hands. You can't see it, but there's also a little notch in the other end to hold the sash in place.
Yay! Now I can actually reach to the back to adjust clamps without fear of being beheaded.
[1] Apparently it takes a while to get these things fixed here--unlike at other universities that actually treat their chemists like they want them there...
[2] Much thanks to Daddy for the use of his table saw.

13 comments:

squirmy said...

i was surprised at how delicate the counterbalance is on some (most?) hoods. i switched out a few windows on one a few years back. when i took a couple, it made a huge difference on the movement.

Kyle Finchsigmate said...

Getting things fixed at any University is never an awesome feat of competence.

John said...

When you get a "real job" in corporate America, you'll learn that you can call the safety committee and they'll insist that it gets fixed. It won't get fixed any quicker than at the University, but it will make you feel good - you'll get a warm fuzzy feeling - that somebody cares.

mercury said...

i guess you could have put in a work order with the school...

...but if yours is anything like mine was, a few weeks would pass before a burly man came to give your fume hood a puzzled look, then he would rig up a very similar contraption to your 2x4 of science to use "until we get someone from the fume hood company out to take a look"...which would invariably never happen.

bravo!

kiwi said...

don't neglect other uses of the 2x4 of science: useful for loosening stuck quickfit gear (seems to have just the right amount of compressibility - at least pinus radiata 2x4 does), also one of the key ingredients in improvised lab cricket, as well as a useful negotiation tool. why every lab doesn't have one i'll never know

German Joe said...

I once witnessed the snapping of a sash cable. The force with which the sash came down was frightening and I think that it could easily break a bone or two. One should always bear that in mind before sticking the head into the hood to fix something.

Ψ*Ψ said...

It'd maybe be nice if they'd keep in mind that not everyone has 4-foot-long arms. Why oh why are the monkeybars so far back? I'll never understand.
Somewhat-related complaint: Most chem/physics stockrooms I've had to deal with don't carry x-small gloves. Bio stockrooms usually do. AARGH! Are they trying to tell me my hands are too small to be a chemist?

ZAL said...

The same happened to me a couple of months ago, but the sash just tilted alittle bit on the side, and got stuck in that position, avoiding to crash my forearm bones (and god knows I did not try to touch it until it got fixed!)...but here's the surprise: the mantainance guys came and fixed it within 48 hours! It's not that in Europe we are always so efficient, I just guess that was plain luck.

Uncle Al said...

(If you worked there you know) at the corner of Main and MacArthur installed dozens of new fume hoods. Vertical sashes' lead counterweights attached by vinyl-covered steel cable (good, re corrosion) with crimps crunched on vinyl rather than naked steel (bad, re progressive tensile deformation then catastrophic failure).

Six-inch lengths of pine 2x4 horizontally stacked then both glued and nailed. Put the chock hard by one sash track. If the thing goes guillotine you can be hit but not severed, and the window will be ruined. Share the happiness.

Lunch is Served! said...

The fume hoods in my PhD supervisor's lab was built in the 70's. The extraction efficiency was crap and everyone was working on stinky stuff. I used a clamp attached to a retort stand to prop up my sash. Alittle dicey, but it worked well...

Tom B said...

Ever seen a sash cord break? Madame Guillotine! I used to keep a chunk of 4X4 in the groove to protect myself from shattered forearms

Tom B said...

Apologies-- someone already had a snapped sash cord story.

Ψ*Ψ said...

Hey, half the fun of chemistry is that we get to collect more stories than people working elsewhere. Desk jobs afford little opportunity for accidents...