You may not be sympathetic to other people's toilets, but I'll pay top dollar if you solve my problem. The hardware store recommended a huge plumbing-supply company, where they were very courteous but unable to visualize what I clearly described. They wanted name and model number.
But our monumental survivor is plain white with no logo. Its chunky handle is irresistible to a visiting toddler who can just reach it. The unleashed torrent testifies to the lasting clout of the aged, even with the water-saving dams inserted during the Carter administration.
"Take the top off the tank and look under it," they instructed at the parts counter.
For all the times I had taken the top off to adjust the float arm, I had never looked at the underside. There was the graven name "Standard" above the word "TIFFIN" in small capitals near the number F4082 and the date 1926. Obviously made to last, which is more than I can say for some younger pups.
"It's a good number," they said when I called back in jubilation.
But they had to make a few calls. Yes, I could try the Web, too, if I wanted.
Do you know how many websites promise plumbing parts? The ones I tried were promoting new toilets for every taste or listing every bygone model but F4082.
That's why I'm offering good money for information leading to the capture of a small metal piece with an eyelet and thumbscrew that adjusts the angle of the float arm to turn off the water with no trickling between flushes. This is no mere jiggle-the-handle case.
The huge supplier never called back. I tried a smaller one, who once unearthed replacement knobs for a tub of a certain age. He said the number didn't mean much to him, because the vintage parts were jumbled in a big box. Could I bring in the defective item or take a picture? Sorry, he couldn't let me rummage through the box to know it when I saw it.
And I explained I couldn't bring in something so rusted it might break. Then where would Old Faithful be if nobody ever found the part?
What was keeping it working now?
"Well," I said sheepishly, "I fastened the end of the float arm with one of those little metal straps that tighten with a screw."
"Sounds right to me," said the expert, more comfortingly than my household repairs are used to.
"I just hoped it would hold out till I found the part."
"I'd leave it. You never know. It could last a long time."
Here was someone who knew how to treat a person. But I'm still offering a reward for F4082.