OT: Home Repair Puzzle

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I thought some of the folks on this list might like to figure this one out. The solution will be published on the Car Talk website later today (8/24). I think I know the answer, which may have applications in real life some day.
The Kitchen Carpentry Cure
RAY: This puzzler was sent in by Jerry Galloway. He writes:
"My friend had purchased a piece of slate to put into the floor in the hearth in front of his fireplace. The slate was 3/4 of an inch thick, by 10 inches wide, by 48 inches long, and weighed on the order of 175 pounds. He had cut a hole in the oak floor that was the same size as the piece of slate."
TOM: He had to plunk it right there, and get his fingers out of the way as fast as possible!
RAY: "The depth of the hole was exactly 3/4 of an inch, the same as the slate. And, of course, there was the sub-floor underneath. When he put one end of the slate into the hole in the floor, he realized that he would have to drop the other end to get the slate into the hole. He realized that if he dropped the brittle slate, even half an inch, it would break.
Not only that, but it wouldn't go in the hole, anyway. There was so little clearance that he couldn't even use that thin fishing line to lower the end of the slate. So he sat there for the longest time, drinking beers and pondering this dilemma.
After his 5th or 6th trip to the kitchen he returned with something that solved the problem in elegant fashion."
What did he find there that allowed him to lower the slate into the hole without risk of breaking it?
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Pavel314 wrote:

Ice cubes
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He found the doorway to the basement so he could get at the slate from underneath.
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A sheet of ice, or even ice cubes, *might* work, assuming the ice could be caused to melt perfectly evenly. If it doesn't melt evenly, then one end/side is going to settle in first, tilting the slab and the opposite side won't slip in - regardless of what Click and Clack may tell us.
Construct a frame to hang the slab from and support it from the top with suction cups, temporary adhesives, whatever, and lower it straight down into the hole.
Or do it right and cut the hole bigger, center the slab and back cut some hardwood for a border which will slip right in alongside the slab.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

I have a big suction cup for glass work and it will hold up quite a bit of weight but the item came from the kitchen and that's not where I keep my glass cup. Ice seem to be the most reasonable answer.
TDD
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wrote:

Ice is possible, but as I said earlier it would have to melt perfectly evenly or the slab will hang up one edge or another.
And then there's the issue of the subfloor swelling from the moisture and possibly lifting the slab.
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On Mon, 24 Aug 2009 11:43:06 -0700 (PDT), DerbyDad03

How about dry ice?
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joevan wrote: TDD- Hide quoted text -

I was just about to suggest that as well, but I figured the average beer drinker's fridg wouldn't have dry ice in it. Sure would eliminate the water related problems.
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joevan wrote:

Not many folks have a supply of dry ice in their kitchen but that's a terrific idea if preplanned. That would be on my list if I ever came across a job like that. We have a very good CO2/dry ice supplier right here in town.
TDD
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wrote:

The last time I checked, dry ice "melted" just as unevenly as the wet stuff.
Keep in mind that the main problem with the project is that the hole is the exact same size as the slab, so the slab has to be lowered down with the edges of the slab perfectly parallel to the sides of the hole.
If the ice, wet or dry, melts faster on one end (or side) than on the other, that end (or side) is going to go in at an angle and the slab will become wedged part way down into the hole.
One of 2 things would have to exist for ice (wet or dry) to work:
Either:
Your ice *and* your slab would have to be perfectly flat and of perfectly even density so that the ice melted perfectly evenly...
or
Any variation in the density of the slab that caused it to be heavier in some spots than in others would have to compensated for in the density/height of the ice. Since pressure creates heat, a heavier portion of the slab is going to cause the ice to melt faster in that area than in others.
Good luck in either of those situations.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

Imagine: * Four (or more) smallish holes in the floor. * Dowels inserted into the holes and rest on a same size hunk of thick plywood in the basement. * The plywood rests on a big honkin' hunk of dry ice or a pneumatic bottle jack. * The slab is carfully positioned on the dowels and the whole thing slowly lowered into place
Lest the purist says "Nobody has a bottle jack in their kitchen!" I say "How do you sweep under the fridge?"
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

If that were the case, it would be impossible for the slab to fit in the hole.
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

A shop vac and a heat lamp or even a fan could take care of that.
TDD
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Ice is possible, but as I said earlier it would have to melt perfectly evenly or the slab will hang up one edge or another.
And then there's the issue of the subfloor swelling from the moisture and possibly lifting the slab.
*************************************************
All of that is true, but this is a theoretical puzzle. In real life, he'd have some clearance for expansion/contraction also. And the 175# slab would not break if dropped 3/4" either.
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re: this is a theoretical puzzle...
...and therefore the answer should be theoretically viable.
If ice melting in a perfectly consistent manner so as to lower the slab perfectly straight down is theoretically possible, so then is 4 people holding the slab perfectly centered over the hole and dropping it at the perfectly same moment so that it lands perfectly flat in the hole, causing no more stress on any part of the slab than another - in other words...without cracking.
Good luck with either of those theoretically possible solutions.
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
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BTW...read last week's puzzler & answer and you'll find that sometimes the answers are questionable at best.
I guess the cop (as well as Click and Clack) have never heard of a tow truck.
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Lower slate into space using plastic wrap, then trim off the excess around edge with a razor blade or sharp kitchen/utility knife.
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Lower slate into space using plastic wrap, then trim off the excess around edge with a razor blade or sharp kitchen/utility knife.
A chunk of rock weighing 175 lbs. is going to be supported by several mills of saran wrap? I think that would not work too well.
--

Roger Shoaf

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Roger Shoaf wrote:

If it's the same stuff they use to bubble-wrap Christmas toys, it damn sure will.
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