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Website owner: 
Dave Harnish
CEO: Gracie (RIP 3-16)
Dave's Repair Service
1911 Heath Hill Rd
New Albany, PA 18833
Email:
drs@sosbbs.com


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The DRSNews
January 2009

A Very Happy New Year to you!

Published by Dave's Repair Service
(c)2009 All Rights Reserved

WHO ELSE WOULD LIKE THIS NEWSLETTER?
If you enjoy this issue, you're welcome to forward its link
to any friends or associates who might find it useful.

***************************************

In this issue:

1) How to Calibrate Your Oven's Temperature 
2) Faster and More Convenient Computer Shutdown

"There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt." - John Adams ($21 trillion and counting...)

1) I always find myself calibrating a lot of ovens in the Fall with Thanksgiving and Christmas closing in, and tried to get this to you long before the holidays, but...

Anyway, that oven that's been a little too hot or that you've had to set 50 degrees higher needs to be *right* for all the baking this time of year (or for pies any time!), so let's talk about a couple of oven temperature basics. 

First, even though electronic controls can be adjusted up or down a bit, they rarely need it, so I'll focus mainly on 'analog', or 'hydraulic' thermostats here. If it has a simple rotary knob and no digital display, this most likely describes yours. 

If the temperature's 'off' in your electronic control oven , I'd contact your local pro, as there are so many different adjustment procedures for these, depending on brand, there's not space here to get into them. Check your owner's manual first, though; the procedure is often mentioned there.

We talked a bit about the various error 'F' codes in the electronic range controls in other issues, so I won't go over those here. It'd probably be a good idea to discuss them again in the near future, though, as some of them have changed.

Contrary to what you might think, when you set your oven temp to 350F, it doesn't heat to 350F and *stay* there. (In a perfect world, it would, but in this old fallen one, things are just never that simple <grin>). 

An oven 'ramps up' in preheat - usually 5 to 10 minutes - to a temp that's usually well above the 'set' temp. At 350, for example, you'll see the average electric oven heat to around 400F before cycling off the first time. 

After preheat, once the metal's hot, the average 'differential', or range of temp's between on and off, will vary from one oven to another. I consider a 50 degree F differential very accurate, and even electronic controls don't get much better than that in the real world. 

So what we want at the 350 setting is an *average* of around 350 or a little less. Ideally, this is an 'on' temp of around 325F and back 'off' at around 375F, yielding an average of 350. Setting this a bit lower than 350F isn't a bad idea, though. I usually aim for an average of 340F or 345F, because it's easier to put your food back into the oven for a few minutes if under - done than it is opening the door to find a 'burnt offering'. 

OK, so now we know what to 'shoot for'. How do we measure the actual oven temperature? Well, let me answer that by telling you how *not* to try it. Don't rely on those $2.99 dial - type thermometers from the local grocery or hardware store. They're never very accurate, and it's pretty much impossible to get a good idea what's going on inside the oven using one. 

One note that I'll insert here, before you start: check the position of the thermostat's sensing bulb inside the oven. Make sure it's fastened securely in its mounting, usually with two small steel clips, and is *not touching the oven wall*. This is very important. 

The t'stat senses air temperature, and if its sensing bulb's touching metal, the accuracy will be severely 'off' - usually averaging very low (electronic sensors are mounted more securely, but it pays to take a quick look at one of those before you start, too, just to be sure).

The best way to read this accurately is with a remote - reading thermometer. These days, digital ones are very inexpensive (way less than a pro's service call!), and one will last you a *long* time. I had my first digital unit for nearly 20 years (!), and used it several  times per week, at least. Upgraded a few years ago, and the price was about half of the old one.

Way back when I bought my first digital, it cost around $70, but these days you'll often see temperature capability built into inexpensive digital volt-ohm meters, and that' s really handy combination.

Radio Shack sells them at very reasonable cost, as do other retailers, and they work very well. Usually accurate to within one degree or so F, which is way more than enough accuracy for our purposes here. (to give you an idea just how old I am, the first one I used was an analog meter style, like the Simpson 260's (and if you remember those, you must be an old guy, too!)

When testing, place the end of the meter's thermocouple in the center of the oven - I usually twist it around the center of a rack - and then watch the temp change up and down with the door closed. 

Allow the oven 30-45 minutes or so to preheat and run at least 3 on/off cycles up and down, then adjust, and run 2 or 3 more to verify that it's right. 

Write down the 'on' and 'off' temps for several cycles, and divide the difference between them to get the average, or total them and divide by two (remember doing averages in elementary math class? Do yours on a slate? <grin>).

Adjustment procedures vary widely between brands and models, but on many newer ones,  you'll see a pair of screws on the back of the tstat  knob, and by loosening these the indicator can be rotated to the correct setting, matching the average you've measured. 

If your tstat knob has no screws, you'll commonly see a tiny screw inside the hollow tstat shaft, and this is turned a bit to change setting. 

On most of these, turning that little screw CW lowers temp, CCW raises it. The 'trick' is finding (or grinding down) a screwdriver small enough to fit. We used to buy them from our parts distributors, but I've had trouble finding them the last decade or so, so have had to carefully grind small 'pocket' screwdrivers down to fit. 

If you can't get enough adjustment to bring your oven temp into line using the available range on the knob or with that little screw (or if the screw's 'frozen' - not uncommon), you'll have to 'bite the bullet' and replace either the tstat or the range, I'm afraid. 

If it should come to that, drop me an email with your model number and I'll be happy to research one for you. I have some pretty awesome parts sources, and can get parts to you pretty fast. I get a real kick out of helping handy folks, especially when they realize that they actually *can* do way more with their own appliances than they ever thought.

Anyhow, that's about it! Have fun (and feel free to send me a pie; I'll, um, use it to evaluate your oven's performance! <grin>)

 

Finally! Computer help in plain English!
Check out Joe Robson's 'Newbie Club'!
www.newbieclub.com/?drs

Hey, and swing on by and check out my new Appliance Terms Glossary Project if you haven't yet - it's still a work in progress, but here's what I have so far: Glossary


KNOW what you want to GET what you want!
Jack Zufelt's 'DNA of Success'

 

3) I've been using Palm PDA's every day for years, and one of the things I love about them is their instant on/off, with nearly zero boot-up time (Please, Mr. Gates, could we someday have a PC that does this?!)

Being spoiled by the Palm operating system, I'm always frustrated by how long my PCs take to boot up and shut down every day, and recently found an easy little trick, to streamline at least the shutdown side of things. I know this is way off-topic, but thought you might find it handy, too: 

Right-click your desktop, then click 'new', and 'shortcut'. A window will come up, asking 'type the location of the item'. Enter 'shutdown -s' in the space provided (without the quotes) and hit 'continue'. Name the shortcut 'Shutdown', and click 'finish'.

Now you have a shutdown icon on your desktop that you can just click and walk away to quickly shut your computer down. Your computer will wait 30 seconds, then shut down. I still have to turn off my monitors and UPS, but it saves a few clicks and a few seconds every time.

Now if Bill can just come up with fast PC boot-ups...

***

Thanks again for allowing me into your inbox! I don't take that privilege lightly.

May God richly bless you and yours in 2009,

Dave Harnish
Dave's Repair Service
New Albany, PA
drs@sosbbs.com
www.DavesRepair.com

 

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Psalm 109:8

 

 

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