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Our loo, Part 2: Readers respond

I'm tempted to put them on the mantelpiece, these artifacts from the Iraqi National Museum. (No, no, I've been watching too much TV about disembedded journalists caught with liberated souvenirs.) I mean these two ancient and probably irreplaceable "Made in USA" mechanisms with the pitted patina and imagined glow.

You see, I was wrong when I wrote "You may not be sympathetic to other people's toilets." ("Still looking for a loo part," April 18 Monitor, page 22.) Some readers have been very sympathetic to my search for a rare linkage to fix our 1926 "Standard."

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One reader is trying to find her father's old book of plumbing parts. Another's feeling extended to her asking the name of the big company that didn't have our part to see if it had something she needed.

And Carol Keith of Millington, Tenn., phoned the Monitor's "Reader Comment Line" to say she thought her husband had what I was looking for. I phoned back, and the rest is bathroom history.

I could hear the sweet sounds of rummaging as Philip Keith told me on his cellphone that he never throws anything away, just in case.

Was this the case?

What he described seemed so like the missing link I described: a small metal piece with an eyelet and thumbscrew that adjusts the angle of the float arm for optimal flushing and shutoff. He spied it as part of a complete fixture of the correct brand. He offered to send the whole unit.

I'm writing now just after the mail delivery from Millington. Philip had found a second unit of the same kind, and both were packed, along with a float and extra float arms.

"Hopefully the part you need is included in this group of plumbing treasures," wrote Carol.

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Is there such a thing as the kindness of strangers or what?

The reason that these handsome mechanisms are available for the mantel or something is that they don't quite fit our loo after all. Our eyelets and thumbscrew are bigger than theirs.

And I'm afraid I didn't mention our water comes in from the top of this elderly tank rather than from the bottom, as anyone would naturally assume.

Our gratitude to the Keiths is surely no less. And I'm going see if their largess has a second life awaiting the desperate in an antique plumbing store that appreciates the finer things.


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