Watch Out! The Seiko 5 SNK 809 Review


Seiko is the premier Japanese watchmaker and has been in business since 1881. Their Seiko 5 series provides excellent value as they can usually be had for less than $150, and very often less than $100. For that price, you get a watch with an automatic movement, with day/date function.

The Seiko 5 series of watches come in many styles and provide a basic automatic movement in a stylish case. Introduced in the 1960s, the Seiko 5 series is the black horse of the mechanical watch market. The '5' represents the five functions: hour, minute, second, day, date.

The series uses the venerable Seiko 7S26C or 7S36 movements, running at 21,600BPH and having a 40 hour power reserve. Hacking and hand winding is not supported - though in my experience with the SNK 809, I could give a slight back pressure to the crown in the time set position, and cause the second hand to stop or even run backwards. So it CAN be done, if you want to set the time accurately.

From the factory, however, these watches tend to run -/+ 8 seconds per day, however, so it's not so critical. With some regulation, this can be brought down to about -/+ 2 seconds per day.

The SNK 809 that I had was very comfortable, and the 37mm case was not overly large on my wrist. I would not care to go any smaller, but I feel the 37-42 mm size is probably a good range for me. On beefier fellows, this watch may appear rather tiny. I'm very fond of the military style watches, and so went for the SNK series over some of the dressier Seiko 5's out there.

I found the watch to be quite rugged, especially as I tend to work outside quite a bit. The lume was bright and clear, and I overall felt the watch - and no doubt the entire Seiko 5 series - has a good overall fit and finish. The wrist band is a cloth style that is a bit irritating, but of course this can be easily replaced. This line of watches could definitely play a good role in introducing folks to mechanical watches, and would be a good start for any fledgling collector.

Sadly, after a couple of mishaps in the dryer (left it in my pocket!) the rotor simply wouldn't wind it anymore, so this Seiko has gone away. I would definitely have another at some point, though. Lesson well learned.

Everything Goes - Even the Kitchen Sink

This February marked the 5 year anniversary of purchasing the house. It has been an exciting journey in home ownership, one that I sincerely hope to continue.

In those five years, we’ve replaced basically everything: 

  • Hot Water Heater
  • Well Pump
  • Refrigerator
  • Kitchen Stove
  • Wood Stove
  • All electric outlets

The roof...well...that’s next month. Yes, we’ve contracted to have a new metal roof installed. Two recent windstorms have wreaked havoc on the aging shingles, and it was just time to do it. 

For her birthday in January, Sarah asked about having a new sink and faucet installed, and I said we definitely needed to. The hard water and age of the stainless steel sink really made it look poorly. The low spout of the faucet would frustrate us both with its poor clearance when trying to fill a pitcher, and there was a small leak in the left hand drain that was problematic. The leak had been there so long that the encrusted rings that tighten down the drain wouldn’t move! It was time for a new sink.


We went to Lowe’s and perused the offerings. Thankfully, our current sink is a standard size, so we had a broad selection to choose from. I really liked the look of the enameled sinks offered by Kohler, and Sarah did too. She selected a coordinating faucet with white handles. Neither seemed to be in stock at our local store, but I ordered online the next day and was able to pick up at the store in the next town.

Then I discovered my first slight error. This sink is heavy! The box indicated it was over 75 pounds! So be prepared if you’re inspired to follow my suit. This is a two person sink. That said, it’s also a beautiful  sink.

My sister-in-law’s husband came over Sunday to help me install the new sink. Before he came, I had already removed the old sink to give us a jump start. 


The key steps are to shut off the water, disconnect the drains, disconnect the water lines, and then remove the clips that hold the sink to the counter. The small clips on this sink were flat headed, which made working in the tight space difficult. 

Once everything is disconnected, slide a putty knife or something along the sink, between the sink and the countertop. This will loosen any caulk that was put down to create a seal.

Then, just lift the sink out! 


In theory, installing the new sink should have been a reverse process. But, the Kohler cast iron sink has a larger basin diameter - the cast iron is stronger than stainless steel, so the outer lip can be smaller. Result: IT DIDN’T FIT. 

After a conference without my wife, Sarah, we opted to press on. The front facade of the cabinet was inset, which caused the clearance issue. With a Dremel and tin snips, the facade, hinges, and cabinet doors all came out. I admit to feeling bad defacing the original Youngstown’s Kitchens cabinet, but at the same time we really wanted this new sink. 


My eventual plan is to build in a new facade, which will be painted to match the cabinets. It only needs to be a half inch further forward from where the original facade was.  We also had to get some new drain pipe, as the drains on this sink sit farther back and farther apart. Twisting the S-trap and installing the longer pipe did the trick!

Sarah, and I, are both very happy with how the sink turned out! There is so much space in there to work. The new faucet is a dream, the handles glide open and closed and the arched design of the faucet gives us lots of clearance. 

Replacing the sink and faucet is a project that can transform a kitchen, and it’s within the reach of any handy person to do! I recommend having some donuts as you go along.  


Today In History - May 7 - Lusitania Sunk

On May 1, 1915, the RMS Lusitania departed from Pier 54 in New York City on it's final voyage, amid concern by crew and passengers about sailing into a war zone.

During World War I, submarine warfare had developed to a dangerous level. German U-Boats would often raid commerce - either attacking from underwater without warning, or surfacing to sink their victim with their deck gun. The submarine was now a game-changing weapon in naval warfare. Life in these cramped, primitive sea-going submarines was very dangerous.

The luxurious Lusitania, on the other hand, was a 31,550 ton passenger liner capable of steaming at up to 28 knots (~32 MPH). Capable of carrying just over 3,000 passengers and crew, she had made over 200 transatlantic voyages. Before the final voyage, some precautions against attack were taken such as painting the funnels dark gray to help disguise the ship against the night sky. The ship was so well known, however, that no attempt was made to disguise her name or profile. Regrettably, during wartime, the Cunard company that owned the ship shut down one of the boilers, reducing speed to about 22 knots.

 Lusitania arriving in New York on her maiden voyage

Lusitania arriving in New York on her maiden voyage

Shortly before setting sail on May 1st, the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. published a warning in several American newspapers warning against booking passage on the trip. In retrospect this seems particularly prescient, and even at the time it produced some consternation. The warning was intended to minimize any international incident that would certainly result if Lusitania was attacked.

On May 7th, 1915, as the Lusitania approached the southern tip of Ireland, she passed within the sights of U-20, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Walther Schwieger.

As the Lusitania changed course toward the U-20, Schweiger launched a single torpedo set to a depth of 9.8 feet. The torpedo, likely a pre-WWI design - either a G6 or G7 model, could travel between 27 and 37 knots. It would close the distance in up to 50 seconds.

The torpedo struck the Lusitania on the starboard side of this ship, just aft of the bridge. The explosion was powerful enough to knock one of the lifeboats off its davits. Moments later, a second explosion followed - fueling beliefs that a second torpedo was fired.

The second explosion caused even more damage, and resulted in the ship heeling over to starboard and filling with water rapidly.


The second explosion was likely caused by a boiler explosion; exposure of a running boiler to cold North Atlantic water will result in an implosion of the boiler, which can be quite severe. Unlike modern oil powered vessels, there was not a lot of volatile material to explode on a coal fueled ship in the early 1900s.

The unlikely involvement of a second torpedo has been considered over the many intervening years. Given that U-20 was on the verge of returning to port, being low on supplies, it would have been very wasteful to fire more than one torpedo. With only three torpedoes left, it is unlikely Kapitänleutnant Schwieger would have expended two thirds of his armament on an unarmed merchant vessel, especially a passenger liner.

Two minutes after the torpedo was fired, Lusitania Captain Thomas Turner ordered the ship turned toward land, which was ten miles away. She massive ship refused to answer her helm. Captain Turner ordered full reverse to halt the ship, and possibly help her stay afloat longer (she was down by the starboard bow), but there what little steam pressure remained was rapidly dissipating. The ship was finished.

The wireless operator sent out the SOS and location in order to get rescue organized shortly before electrical power went out throughout the ship. The wireless continued on batteries while the evacuation of the ship began. Much panic and disorder marked the abandoning of the Lusitania, and only 764 people survived of the 1,959 passengers and crew. Many perished in the chilly North Atlantic. The ship itself sank by the bow, the stern and propellers being exposed for a short time, in about 18 minutes.

After the sinking, an international outcry against Germany's submarine warfare was brought out, and Germany defended their attack claiming that war material was aboard the ship, while also contending that the Lusitania was armed with mounted guns to defend herself against attack. All this was vehemently disputed, with officials noting that the ship was carrying only standard ammunition in cargo for small arms, and had done so for years. They also objected strongly to the claim the ship was sailing with mounted guns.

Actually, some merchant vessels were arming themselves against the submarine threat. Very often the submarine would surface in order to check the manifests on the ship to determine if the ship was a valid target. The crew would be allowed to leave before the ship would be sunk, usually by the submarine's deck gun. The British Admiralty encouraged the practice by merchant ships of fighting back, and even ramming the submarine if possible. A ramming attack was only once made, successfully, by the RMS Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic. The propeller of the Olympic sliced through the pressure hull of the U-boat, which was evacuated and then sank.

The aftermath of the sinking was shrouded in a shifty business, with questionable testimony from crew that indicated there were definitely two torpedoes, etc. To this day no firm account of the cargo exists. Could there have been an explosive cargo that helped doom the ship? Could the Captain and others have done anything better to assure the survival of the passengers, or even of the ship itself? Difficult to say.