Sunday, April 24, 2011

H20 Mop Take 2: The Rebellion

Ok, so I had to deal with this mop once before and showed it who is its master. But this time, when it all happened I decided that I could not let it go and take care of it once and for all. Yes, Melanie's "trusty" steam mop decided to throw another wrench in my plans to keep it around for a few more years.

I was working downstairs in the office when she called me upstairs saying that the steam mop had broken and I should bring the epoxy glue along with me. So I went upstairs and what I saw wasn't pretty.

How it works:
Essentially, the head of the steam mop is attached to the main part by a pivot, much like a u-joint on a car: an x-axis pivot and a y-axis pivot in the form of two plastic pieces held together by two screws.

Since I was not going to let this mop go to waste and give up on it, I decided to take it out in the shop, take Nathaniel along and make it stronger than ever before.

Unfortunately, because how cheaply these things are made, they don't withstand the onslaught of a fierce cleaning lady like Melanie for longer than a year or two and this day was meant to be its last. But, it did not count on my own persistence (or stubbornness as Melanie calls it).

The first thing I had to do was taking the bottom part of the steamer apart to retrieve the little piece of plastic that fell off. Then, I used my trusty 5-minute (dollar store) 2-component epoxy glue and a dental pick (they are awesome to get into little crevasses) to glue it back into place. However, since the entire (actually, half) of the mop's weight hinged on this one little knob that broke off I knew that the glue would not be strong enough to hold it in for longer than maybe one or two cleanings.
Here's a "birds-eye" view. Visible is where the piece was broken off (1), the pivot mechanism (2) and the actual piece that broke off (3)

Here's the inner workings of the mop where the piece that broke off (1) and the pivot part of the steam mop (2)

Originally I thought of putting a strip of sheet metal across the part that was broken off and screw some screws right into the plastic, but because the pivoting "ball" had such a small clearance that was not an option. Then I remembered that I had bought some fiberglass mesh a while back that people usually use for repairing boats or hot tubs or other items made with fiber glass.
Here's how little clearance between the pivot and the mop part that did not allow for a strip of metal

Here's one half of the pivot part with the broken off piece (5) glued back into place

To prepare the plastic part, I used a good old dremel to roughen up the surface so the epoxy would stick, put a layer of epoxy glue across the whole surface (including the little piece that broke off) and stuck the cut-to-size fiber glass mesh on the epoxy. After a few minutes it was hard enough not to slide/move so I whipped up another batch of epoxy and covered the entire fiber glass mesh with a good 1/16th of an inch.
The fiber glass mesh/cloth I cut up and used to reinforce the plastic pivot

Here's how I custom fit the fiber glass cloth before glue it

After the first coat of epoxy glue

After the second coat of epoxy glue

Another view of the bottom half of the reinforced pivot

A magnification of the crack through the fiber glass cloth and epoxy glue. The size of the little piece of plastic that broke off was approximately 1/2" by 5/8"

After about 10 minutes (during which Nathaniel managed to crushed his ankle by three 8' pieces of MDF that he pushed over and onto himself, but that's another story) it was all cured and ready for the final step before reassembling it again. Using an air die grinder, I smoothed/shaped the bumps in the epoxy and fiber glass layer down to a consistent 1mm layer, shaved off a bit of the plastic of the bottom part to make it fit and screwed it all back together.

The final piece. It looks dirty in this picture but I think that's because of the lighting. It is actually barely noticeable when using the mop.

Screw driver, dental pick, scissors, dremel, air die grinder


Epoxy glue, fiber glass mesh/cloth




$100.57 (again)

Rebellion is all over. Not acceptable in my household! :)


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