Not Beyond Repair

Yeah!  A five-dollar fix for something I thought I'd have to toss out!  A bit ago I was given an aluminum steamer juicer.  They are fantastic when you want to juice a lot of fruit without a lot of effort -see my prickly pear jelly tutorial here. There are three sections to this kind of juicer-the top section holds the fruit (or vegetable).  It has holes like a seive which allow the juices to drip down into the second section.  The lowest section holds water that rises up through the fruit to steam it and release juice. The trick to using these juicers is to never let the water in the boiler run out.  It is easy to do though, since you fill it up and leave it on the stove for hours to collect all the juice.  (I've heard that if you put a few glass marbles in the water, they'll start to make a racket when the water gets low.  Definitely going to be testing that one the next time I juice!)
This particular juicer had been boiled dry, and some pinholes had formed on the base...making the whole thing useless.  I thought I would just order a replacement part-which is usually fairly easy.  Unluckily, it appears this company went out of business quite some time ago, and the pot from another brand was slightly too small.  I stuck the thing on a shelf hoping I could come up with something...and a while later I read you could repair it with J-B weld epoxy (I'll post the link if I can find it).  There may be other brands that would work, but this is the only brand carried by the stores I tried.  J-B Universal Epoxy stick was what the original source said to use, when I couldn't find it, I bought J-B Steel Stick Epoxy had all the same characteristics, so I used that.  As far as I can tell the only difference was the color.  You just need to make sure the epoxy adheres to Aluminum, and double check to make sure it is drinking water safe (though as far as I can tell, all J-B welds are non-toxic and bond with aluminum). 
The putty comes rolled in plastic, which is held in a plastic tube.  Slip it out of the tube and unwrap enough of the stick to cut off a section.  I found a half inch of putty was overkill for my repair-I used it all anyway, figuring I might not be able to see smaller holes that haven't quite broken through all the way.  The putty has two parts to it-there is a darker core that you need to mix together with the outer layer.  This only took a few minutes of mixing by hand.  The package says to mix until you get a uniform color.  It also suggests you do this with damp hands so it doesn't stick-very true.  I ended up moving the whole project near the sink so I could keep my hands damp-it gets pretty sticky otherwise, and prefers to stick to you over the metal unless your hands are damp.  It was a bit smelly while it was being mixed-you may want to open a window.
Once the two parts are mixed together, press it into the holes and spread it around.  It is a bit thicker than chewing gum, so it doesn't spread too easily, it might be easier to put small dots down and smooth them together by pressing them.  I got part of the pot a bit wet, and it took some pressure to get it to stick to that spot, but it did stick. You have about five minutes to play with it.  I found I had plenty of time to get it the way I wanted before it started to harden.  If you have a bigger project though, you may want to mix it in small batches to be sure you have time to apply it.  Once you have it where you'd like, you can smooth it down using your fingers, or maybe a plastic spoon.  Once it hardens you can drill or sand it if you need to.  It should become pretty inflexible after about 30 minutes, and is supposed to cure after an hour.  I'm going to give it a few days to set before I try heating it just to be sure. (The product's web site says it can withstand temperatures up to 500 °F.)
It's not a pretty patch, but I'm just happy to have a working juicer.   The alternative is recycling the juicer, so I figure I'll come out ahead if it works, not much is lost if it doesn't.  I'll post an update once I've tested it...I was just too excited to share this to wait.

If you try this, let me know how it turns out.

I even have enough left over to try and patch the leaky garbage disposal!

Is it safe?
The product's web site claims it is non-toxic, (though they suggest you don't eat it...duh).  Other information I was able to find suggests that most epoxy resins are non-toxic when hardened, though sanding or filing it can release bits that may be swallowed or inhaled.  Most health concerns seem to be with the chemicals in the pre-mixed state-most epoxies contain two chemicals that mix to form a strong, non-toxic polymer.  Wash your hands after using the putty, avoid inhaling it too deeply while mixing, and you'll probably be fine.  If you are concerned about metals and chemicals, you may want to skip an aluminum juicer altogether and go with an enameled one.  (In the 1960's and 70's there was some suspicion that aluminum could be linked to Alzheimer's, but no study since has been able to link the two, and everyday use of aluminum is considered safe.  See the Alzheimer's Association page).  Enameled juicers are nice but more expensive.  I figured I'm not going to be using it for food I'll eat in large enough amounts or frequently enough to bother me.  My drinking water probably has more stuff in it based on what is left behind when it evaporates.

Here is the company's website if you have other questions.

Update: I used some more of this stuff to patch two cracks in our garbage disposal that would spray every time we turned it on, and dripped when the dishwasher was run.  When I looked up repair options most websites said I'd need a new one, which is not an option for us at the moment.  I cleaned the cracks and let the disposal dry for a day without using the sink, then patched up the cracks.   I now have a disposal that doesn't leak a bit!  Yeah!  I'm hoping it will last us for a while-but we'd be happy with any time it buys us before we have to replace it.  I still have over half a stick...what to fix next?

Update again: I just used this juicer to process ten quarts of cactus juice and the patch worked perfectly.  I also tried the trick of putting a few marbles in the bottom, the idea was that they would start to jitter when the water level got low and I'd hear it.  That myth was busted for me-I don't know if the rings on the bottom of the pan kept the marbles from bouncing but they didn't make any noise.  Luckily I checked the water level hourly, and avoided disaster. 

Oh, and the garbage disposal?  It's been six months without a drip! 

1 comment:

  1. Great! Thank you so much for this post - i have a ton of grapes in my kitchen and my plain juicers don't work as good as the steam juicer, but i knew it had pinholes. I had a minute to check online and so glad i saw your blog! Gonna give this a try :)