Thursday, 11 December 2014

11th December 2014 - Sleeping in the Wet Patch

Thought for the day : "I was going to do another joke about native Americans but I hear they have reservations..."

The very first water bed we tried, many years ago, was more like a water filled li-lo, and certainly resembled the normal jokes about water beds, getting seasick when you try to roll over. My sister had it in her flat in London, and quite sensibly it was placed upon the floor of the basement flat - it had nowhere to drop or fall.
Water beds are filled with water... A lot of it!! and that means a lot of weight.

I tried to work our how much water, and therefore how much weight was in our current waterbed. I imagined a 4 pint carton of milk, which is about the height of the mattress, and decided I could probably get about 12 in a line accross the width of the bed. With two cartons to a gallon, that meant that there would be about 6 gallons in one row of bottles.. With a six foot bed, and each carton about 4 inches long, that would mean about 18 rows of bottles, at 6 gallons to each row, which is 108 gallons. Which is a lot of water!!

Apparently if we are anywhere other than in America who have their own gallons and cannot count, a pint weighs a pound so a gallon weighs 8 pounds. (Americans reckon it is 8.25 pounds but since they use dollars I do not trust them!) So by my ready reckoning, the bed will weigh 108 x 8lbs of water - or 864lbs, which is 36 stone exactly, the weight of a good friend before he started losing weight.  Now, a quick search shows me that the British ton is now termed the "long ton" to avoid confusion with the metric tonne which would be 1000 kilograms. So going back to school I recall 2240 pounds, which is 160 stones (which I do not remember), thought about hundred weights and remembered 20 cwt to a ton. And bingo - a cwt was 112 pounds !!  So the stone to ton calculation was probably not one that I ever used....

In terms that I could understand, the water weighed just under 8 cwt, a third of a ton...

Of course, estimating by sight for a possible amount of milk bottles, was less accurate than thinking about the bed being 6 ft long, 5 ft wide and 6 inches deep, which worked out to be 23,920 cu inches which translates as 93.4325323 Gallons (Imperial) which weighs  936.4 Pounds a bit more than my estimate - but still about 8 hundredweight...

Let's just face it. When it sprung a leak in the middle of the night it was not going to be something I could just lift up and take into the garden to fix. It was not a big leak. Water beds tend not to have big leaks despite Steptoe and Son  ....
 The Water Bed - Full Episode

In fact the last time we sprung a leak we bought a replacement mattress, but like fixing a giant bicycle puncture, Susie managed to find the offending seam at a corner and glue it back together with a waterbed repair outfit. It lasted for another 5 years I am glad to say...  But the pin prick style leak that normally comes with a water bed is deceptively hard to find - mainly because you cannot just flip the thing over to find where the water is coming from! "Why??"  you would have asked.. But now you won't as I have explained the 8 cwt, or third of a ton that is sitting in a foam surround (which is also very wet now), a damp carpet and two pieces of wood that miraculously hold the whole thing of the floor, and the concern about the electric heating pad that goes under the whole mattress keeping it warm....

In fairness, Susie identified that there was a damp patch on her side of the bed last night. The mattress was still full though so we could not be  losing much water. We thought we would sleep on it! Literally. ( I think that is the correct use of the word - if not we will discuss the misuse of literally on another occasion).

The morning greeted me with no problems. Not so for my dear wife who found that the tide had come in overnight, and nothing to do with weather bombs and full moons... And so, we started the epic journey that is emptying a water bed. Because you cannot just take it away! (see above re weight). A long hosepipe from the bedroom, down the stairs and out to the front of the house is the first step. Sadly, we do not have any syphoning equipment. Something we are remiss in at 41 !!  So having got it ready, a few sucks on the pipe - do not really seem to be helping. Images of slugs sitting in the garden hose, the quality of water, either from the pipe or from the bed did not make the prospect at all appealing. But Susie was up to the job... But it failed. Too much air in the pipe. Too long a stretch of hose.

Attempt 2 - fill the hose from the bathroom tap - fill it up with water and put the thumb on the end when running freely. Holding onto the end and squeezing it into the top of the water bed (it has a cap that looks a little like a lilo)  and off the water starts...  it is not very fast ...

Half an hour later..  trying to pull the mattress into smaller shape, increasing the depth of water by the hose, we lose the flow and air gets in...   Repeat of the procedure and we are off again, me now holding part of the vinyl in the air - holding it against the full weight of (probably 400 pounds now as it was half empty). It was still heavy, and I had to relax the hands every few minutes as I kept the pressure up..

Now, those who do not know modern water beds, you may be imagining that they are filled with water. Well, yes they are, but they also have flotation chambers and reinforced foam to stop the whole thing slopping about and giving you that seasickness that we were talking about earlier... So a point comes when the hose is pushing against foam and not water - and the bed is still very heavy !!  But the flow stops!!!

This is when you create the "thing".  A cross between Quatermass and a Slinky. The 6 x 5 matress is now half full of water - but you can manhandle it if done slowly and carefully. By pulling the mattress over the edge of the bed, and allowing a little water to flow from one half into the empty lower section, it starts moving like an overgrown slug, taking on a life of its own. Slowly, as more water flows into the lower section the foam innards retain a caterpillar like body shape and slowly, the creature crawls out of the bed to lie amoeboid upon the floor ...   Taking my life in my hands I grab one end and roll it over, and it slides and glides towards the stairs where it pauses for a second, as though judging eyelessly the drop, and then like a mud slide from a pit disaster it flowed down the stairs like a demented slinky made of blue "gloop".

On the front door step, it was easier to undo the cap and let the life blood flow from the creature until it lay panting in the slight drizzle of a Welsh morning....

And so, with the demise of our old bed, it made me wonder about water beds...

According to legend, the first water-filled beds were used in Persia more than 3,600 years ago and consisted of goatskins filled with water. No information is known as to why they did this; however some think that it was to comfort the sick and elderly, while others believe it was a bed designed for royalty.

The water bed mattress was introduced to the Western world in the 1800’s, when it was first used in aid of medicine. In 1873, Sir James Paget at St Bartholomew’s Hospital presented a waterbed designed by Neil Arnott as a treatment and prevention of pressure ulcers (bed sores); a condition that was quite common in this era. Paget found that waterbeds allowed mattress pressure to be evenly distributed over the body. Unfortunately, this invention lacked the ability to regulate the temperature of the water.
St Bartholomew's Hosptal
Dr. William Hooper of Portsmouth, England also saw medicinal benefits in waterbeds, specifically with patients suffering from arthritis and rheumatism, and patented his waterbed invention in 1883. Unfortunately, his invention was also a market failure, since he could not come up with a way to properly regulate the temperature or contain the water.

By 1895, a few waterbeds were sold via mail order by the British store, Harrod’s. They looked like (and were probably very similar to) very large hot water bottles. Unfortunately, production was halted due to the lack of suitable materials.

It wasn’t until the invention of vinyl in the 1960’s that waterbeds would once again gain popularity. In 1968, Charles Hall, a design student at San Francisco State University in California, tried to invent the perfect chair. After stuffing his chair design with everything from cornstarch to jello, his failed attempts lead to his developing a bed, which would be much easier to fill and reproduce.

His first waterbed mattress was called ‘the Pleasure Pit’ and it quickly gained popularity with the hippie culture of the 1960’s and 1970’s. By 1987, waterbeds had achieved full-fledged fad status, representing over 22 percent of all U.S. mattress sales.

Today, waterbeds have really come a long way. The variety of bed designs, improved thermal and wave motion controls, and other options like lumbar supports, make it the most versatile of all beds on the market. The hybrid or soft sided water mattress has also gained huge popularity, since it fits on a regular bed frame and looks like a regular mattress, with the difference being that it contains the added advantage of a water core, allowing you to regulate the temperature of your bed, with your choice of different motion or wave control levels, firmness, and lumbar back support.

In fairness, I have always preferred the water bed. It moulds to the body. It is warm (they solved the problem in the end by placing a heating mat below the water). It settles to a level, particularly when two people of different weight share a bed, leaving a comfortable night's sleep. It does not absorb all the detritis, scales of skin and hair that disappear into a normal mattress. It is as firm and comfortable after 5 years or ten years as it was on the first day unlike a standard mattress which starts deteriorating the day you first sleep on it ....  Yes I like my water bed...
But the foam surround is still damp and therefore it is standing up against the bedroom wall, next to the radiator trying to dry out fully. Foam has this habit of absorbing water you see. And we don't want to sleep in a damp patch !!!

So, the new water bed mattress will be installed tomorrow. I think that will involve the hose again!! Tonight I have brought a couple of old single mattresses down from the spare room. I do not think I will be able to sleep well on them, and Susie has a slipped disk so I am not expecting a good night's sleep for either of us...

Well, there are solutions.. Glass of 41 I think and a "largie" from the Whiskey Bottle ...

Pleasant dreams..

Picture of the day 

1 comment:

  1. Very amusing - to all except Americans! But, as they generally have no sense of humor (with or without a 'u'), who cares? Yes, a cubic foot of water weighs 63.336 pounds - no matter which country you are in. [That assumes the water is 60 degrees Fahrenheit - of course, in the UK it would have to be 15.6 degrees Celcius - else it may be a few grams lighter or heavier]. So, given that there are 7.48 of those American gallons in a cubic foot, THEIR gallon weighs 8.47 pounds. On the other hand, given that THEIR gallon only has 16 ounces in each of its 8 pints (YOURS has 20 ounces in each pint), there are 5.98 Imperial gallons in that cubic foot - and so each one weighs 10.59 pounds and so your 15 cubic feet bed did in fact weigh 950 pounds - about the same as 8 sacks of coal, 6 US gallons of Kentucky Bourbon and 3 pounds of Penclawdd cockles! Hope you slept well.