Water Softener goes AWOL

Lesson to be learned – protect your overflow pipes

We’ve had a few weeks in France and were worried to hear from our UK house sitters that our TapWorks water softener’s sump had filled with water and was leaking salty water from the kitchen cabinet onto the floor.

My immediate instructions were to isolate the softener using the bypass valves and turn the supply off.

On arrival home I drained the sump and tried a regeneration routine. This revealed water leaking from the pressure vessel. This clearly was the source of the excess water in the sump. What was not obvious was why the sump had filled when there was an overflow pipe to an external drain.

The overflow pipe would have been far more effective without the nest of insect life that had chosen the pipe as their new home.

Moral to the story is to make sure all external overflow pipes have a gauze mesh protecting them from new residents.

That aside the pressure vessel was acting like a mini volcano slowly weeping out the balls of the softener medium. Given it was installed in 2008 it has given a good run for its money.

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Creating a worm drive in Fusion 360

The hard way and the easy way

A colleague asked if I could model a worm drive in Fusion 360 such that the result could be used to 3D print the worm and the associated wheel.

My first attempt was to create the assembly from first principles. This was painful and took a number of versions before I got a process that I could repeat and appeared to work. I was not happy that the result correctly reflected the dynamic shape needed on the wheel teeth.

Somewhat appropriately I then went down an internet worm hole and discovered there is a scripting plug in for Fusion 360 that allows the creation of these components. Not only that but the author Shwivel has also created a number of similar script routines for other gear related constructions.

The routines are chargeable (USD20 each) but given the time I spent try to do it the hard way, this seemed like a good price for what looked like a better result.

The script once downloaded appears as an icon in the Fusion top menu bar under the Shwivel tab.

Once opened it needs various parameters entering and allows entry of centre holes in each component. Once you’ve entered the parameter the script goes off and crutches the result. This can take a few minutes so patience is needed. The Dimensions section gives you all the values you have entered and the resulting parameters created.

I had a weird initial experience whereby the script entry window kept giving me red error messages no matter what measurements I entered. This was resolved by doing a RESET in the software FILE menu.

Here is my resulting design for a 60 tooth wheel.

While the routine allows the bore hole dimensions to be entered, I have found it easier to keep these to a small reference diameter hole and then revert to normal extrusion routines once the two main component shapes have been created.

Unlike a normal model, once you have created a model you cannot ‘right click’ in the timeline to edit it. Instead you have to click once again on the Shwivel top menu item and this gives you the entry screen for editing.

All in all I have been impressed by the results achieved but as yet I have not run any 3D printed models.

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