Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Lefty Loosey

Normally, all nuts, bolts and damn near everything else that must be twisted to be tightened follows a rule: Righty tighty, lefty loosey – meaning that twisting to the right (or clockwise) tightens, and twisting to the left (or counterclockwise) loosens.

This rule is so all-encompassing that it’s never even occurred to me that anything could ever be any other way, so today when I had to replace the flush lever on my toilet (the interior lever broke because it’s a cheap plastic bit of crap, but the nice metal ones don’t fit my toilet), I expected this repair to take approximately three minutes (unscrew, replace, rescrew, flush). Except that for some reason I couldn’t loosen the damn thing. I tried and tried and tried and kept getting nowhere.

Eventually I figured it was cross threaded, so I tried to tighten it in order to hopefully get the thing working again, and – it loosened.

It was threaded backwards. Both the old one and the new one.

Nothing has ever broken the ‘righty tighty lefty loosey’ rule before, and it couldn’t be a fluke since both of them were like that, so I nervously stuck my head out the window and scanned the sky for horsemen.

Finding none, I finished installing my flush lever (constantly reminding myself to turn the screw the wrong way) and proceeded to flush with impunity.

In other apocalyptic news, it’s raining in Los Angeles – while this is a good thing since we’re currently suffering from a drought and desperately need any water we can get, it does dramatically increase the traffic accidents throughout the city as Southern California drivers can’t seem to get the hang of slowing down and leaving more time to stop.

No, I didn’t get hit, but it will be the lead story on the local news tonight.

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, , , ,

15 Responses

  1. Nathan says:

    Ah, I remember rain from my three years of exile in L.A. I lived on Olympic near La Cienega and every time it “rained” (meaning enough for everyone to PANIC), the manhole covers would all blow on La Cienega from the water coming down from the hills. The garages under those Apts. on stilts would all flood, too.

    During the 70’s (before switching to fluorescent bulbs), the NYC Subway system had bulbs and fixtures specially made that threaded backwards so people would stop stealing them. (Just another unrequested, useless ‘lefty-loosey’ factoid for you.)

  2. opus says:

    If I had to make a guess I’d say it’s threaded that way so every time you push the lever down it doesn’t unscrew a little bit.

  3. Craig says:

    Opus beat me to the explanation. Very rarely you’ll find
    things threaded in reverse and it’s always because if it
    was threaded righty tighty, normal usage of the object
    would cause it to come loose.

  4. Brad says:

    Natural gas lines are also threaded backwards. I think its so whoever services them knows that its something unusual, and to be cautious.

  5. Sean says:

    You’ll also find that many flammable gas fittings are intentionally reverse threaded so that you can’t attach other types of pipes, hoses, regulators, etc. to it. The reason they do that is because most gas fittings have to have to be manufactured to higher tolerances for seals as well as be made of materials that won’t corrode from the gas. Apparently they even go as far as to have different size fittings for different types of gas.

    Usually there’s a pretty good reason.

  6. Craig and Opus are right. The propeller-blade of my oscillating window fan is kept in place by a reverse-threaded nut (yet another plastic piece of crap…) — a fact I discovered when trying to take the thing apart to clean off three year’s accumulation of urban grime. It makes sense, but at this point I’m hard-wired to the righty-tighty routine. Lefty-tighty just feels so wrong…

  7. Marci says:

    Yes, that happened to me too (w/the toilet flusher), and it completely freaked me out!
    And, of course, Craig and Opus are right!

  8. jsnark says:

    It’s funny to see the commute from West LA to downtown go from 12 minutes to 20 minutes every time there’s a little sprinkle.

    Wait, no it’s not funny at all actually, it’s frustrating as hell.

  9. Ben says:

    bike pedals are also threaded backwards so that should the bearings on the pedals lock up, the act of pedaling doesn’t unthread them

  10. Jim says:

    Actually, it’s oxygen lines that are reverse threaded. Flammable gases are right hand threads (e.g. the bottle on your propane torch). But for the reason mentioned, so they don’t get swapped.

    So are half the axle nuts on your car. (on the left side)
    And on bicycles.

  11. geekhiker says:

    I had a friend from BC, Canada visiting me once, and she happened to be lucky enough to be here during the rain. Turning on the 11:00 news, she stared incredulously at the television with its lead story of “Storm Watch” and how they rolled out the “Mega Doppler 7000 HD”. Eyes wide, she simply said to the TV “It’s just rain!”

  12. doom says:

    wow… so few of the old skool bloggers are still about.

    fabulous to see you still up and running.


  13. Charli says:

    The rain is cooler here than in Texas, no thunder or lighting, it’s just rain, that’s it. Like quiet. Rain. No horrendous downpour like in Santa Cruz, no gail-force winds, just rain.

    I’m sorry, but I like it. I once lived through hail storms in Texas, nothing like the sky turning a really deep purple marshmallow and you knew you were in tornado weather.

  14. boskolives says:

    My first car was a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere, and I broke off three lug nuts before I found out that on one side of the car (don’t remember which) they are reverse threaded.

    Not nearly as amusing as when I pushed in the wrong button on the gear shifter (in a little pod of buttons on the left side of the dashboard) thinking it was neutral and the car went from reverse to drive while still rolling backwards. Close, but not as amusing, except to my friends in the car with me.

  15. nmrk says:

    I bought an extension pole which extended to 16 feet. Never could figure it out–could not return it at 16 feet long–called the company and found that it was reverse of the lefty righty thing. It was from China. Do the Chinese reverse thread because they are on the other side of the globe?

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