Mechanical Thumbs

    One of the visceral memories of Summer to me is the garden hose. Maybe I loved it so much because normally inside you had to be so careful with water, “Don’t spill it!” is what I always heard from my Mom. But with the garden hose you could spray water everywhere, On the car, on the house, even at your big sister, it was great. All you had to do was put your thumb over the end of the hose and block off part of the flow. Adjusting your thumb allowed you to produce any thing from a fine mist to a sharp deluge. These days though, I usually use a hose nozzle.

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   There are several type of hose nozzles to choose from here at the store. The old kind, like my Dad had when I was a kid, (Mom still has it) is a brass nozzle that adjusts by turning. All the way counterclockwise shuts it off, then as you turn it clockwise, you get a fine mist, then heavier and narrower until you’ve got a sharp stream you can get up on the roof.

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   The newer version of this nozzle is the pistol-grip type. These operate the same way, but instead of having to turn it all the way every time that you want to turn it off, you leave it set the way you want it and just squeeze the grip to turn it on and off. This type works well, but aren’t quite as sturdy as the nozzle type. These are usually made of cast zinc. They also come in zinc covered with insulating plastic. This kind is great both for the better grip, and especially if you are using very hot or cold water, which can be very hard on your hands. Both this design and the nozzle type are also available made of plain plastic, but we don’t sell them, even though they are cheaper, because although they work OK, they usually break the first time that you drop them.

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   Nozzles are also available with changeable spray patterns. They have a ring on the end that turns with a choice of several patterns such as gentle shower, sharp spray, flat spray, etc. These are good for applications like watering plants or specialty washing tasks. They are made in a pistol-grip or torch style. One thing I have learned about this type is to make sure that you use a special washer with a screen in it to seal it on the hose. Any little debris that gets through to the nozzle will clog up the finer spray holes leaving your special spray pattens looking a little “funny”. You can disassemble most nozzles to clean them, but it’s usually not easy.

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   The last kind of nozzle that we have is a plain one piece brass nozzle that looks like a miniature fireman’s hose nozzle. These really direct the water to produce a sharp, strong stream. This stream is good for cleaning off driveways and such, as it has the force to really move things. They have no moving parts and are very sturdy, and the good ones are made of brass. The only thing that they don’t provide is a shutoff for the water when you aren’t using them. Come to think of it my thumb had the same problem in the old days, I’d just throw the hose down and let it run on the ground until my Dad noticed, then I’d hear “Shut that hose off, water isn’t free you know!”