It took me many years to discover the wonders of thermoses. These simple and oh-so-effective devices protect all that energy from my kettle or stovetop, delivering the soothing comfort of a hot beverage when I need it.
My first thermos, I bought in Chinatown, Montreal. I had been introduced to thermoses by my ladyfriend and chose to buy a slightly-sleek, handle-less model to get started. It’s thermal properties actually really impressed me, but at 250 mL, the volume of liquid it could hold just wasn’t quite enough for those long sits on the couch with a book, or for watching a movie, having a conversation, or typing away at work.
On a trip to NYC, walking through Chinatown on our way to an underground pulque bar, we walked by a Chinese grocery store that was still open. It’s lights less harsh than the neons of most commerces, and all of its doors open to the warm night air, it seemed to beckon me. I jaunted in; it seemed like the right thing to do. In the thermos isle, I found what I was looking for, headed to the cash, and was out the door in less time than it takes to say, “Are you really gonna carry that into the bar?”
Get a thermos if you don’t have one. These things are the bomb. I can put boiling water in mine and pour steaming drink over 12 hours later.
Over the coming months, me thermos took some beatings. The first, inflicted by yours truly, was an honest mistake. I was cleaning it and didn’t quite understand how to go about it. The top part of the cap assembly (where the valve buttons are) felt loose, as though it was clipped in and designed to be popped off for a more thorough cleaning.
I quickly discovered, to my chagrin and slight frustration, that you could actually unscrew the ‘button’ section to separate it from the lower section of the lid that contains the valve. Unfortunately the damage was already done. I had destroyed the interior mechanism connecting the open/close buttons to the valve.
Quite concious of the embodied energy of my thermos, I didn’t want to throw it out. I still worked. I just had to unscrew the cap each time I poured, a process that took a bit of time, but that felt rather satisfying in a meditative sort of way. So I held onto the damaged thermos.
Then, some many months later, the thermos started leaning. Odd… Ah! The bottom section had somehow received a blow, causing it to be reamed by the thermos body. The bases edges had split, and as a result, the thermos body could now sit a bit deeper in the base, but often unevenly, causing the whole to tilt on flat ground.
Time to fix some things.
For the base
I sanded the interior sides of the base, and the outside of the thermos along the bottom. After a good wipe, I mixed up some J-B weld and globbed it up nicely between the base and the thermos’ outside bottom edge. After squeezing the two together and making sure the thermos would now be level, I set it aside upside down to set for 24 hrs.
For the broken ‘buttons’
I figured that the shards of plastic from the original mechanism would no longer be of use to me, so I proceeded to pull them out with a pair of needle nose pliers. Once done, I realised that I might be able to extend the button down by using a bolt. In this way, when the button was pressed down, the bolt would also descend, pushing into the remaining section of pin and opening the valve. This simple solution seemed agreeable to me.
A quick drilling, an old hex-headed bolt, and I was back in business. I expected to need a nut on the inside of the button, but the bolt actually threaded tightly into the plastic of the button. Before breakfast was over I had a functional thermos again!
A few weeks later, I’ve realized that the bolt now makes the button stand too proud, so that when the cup/lid is screwed on to the thermos, it actually pushes on the bolt, opening the valve a little bit and causing a slow but non-negligible leak.
I need to find a new bolt with a shallower head.