Can you suggest a way to display my growing collection of toy cars, and how can I neatly store away the crucial original boxes?
Tania Cha Chu-chow replies: Glass cabinets maximise the visual pleasure gained from collectors' items, but having too many can turn your living room into a museum.
One solution is to store your collection in a plan chest, perfect for displaying all manner of items, whether toy cars, soldiers or snuff bottles. Designed for architectural plans, the drawers are wide and deep but have shallow headroom.
You can pick them up from office suppliers or, if you're lucky, from second-hand shops, or you can even commission a carpenter to make a plan chest for you. Either way, you can replace the front side of the drawers with glass to give a hint of the wonders within.
If you have structural beams running across the ceiling you could make them into a feature by storing the empty boxes along them. Cut plywood to the length of the beam, sand down, paint, and then mount them on to the side of the beams using brackets.
The old faded colours and imagery will create an interesting collection in itself.
Water drains extremely slowly from my bath and also my kitchen sink. I've tried a plunger but to no avail. What can I do?
Won Yiu-kwan replies: Sounds like you've got a build-up of hair, grease and gunk in the trap and waste pipe. One possible remedy is a mild chemical drain cleaner available from good hardware shops. Make sure it doesn't contain acid as it can damage pipes. Smear petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around the rim of the plug hole and pour the contents down the drain. Leave overnight and the sink should be clear by morning. (This works well on clogged WCs as well.)
Should the problem persist, the clogging may be deeper down the waste line. In this case, put a bucket under the sink and remove the trap (the U-shaped section of pipe under the sink). Let the contents drain out then clean it out.
If you can't see the obstruction, try using a piece of wire to probe the pipe and dislodge the blockage. Run some hot water through to rinse away any remaining grime.
If all this fails you should seek the professional help of a plumber or drainage-cleaning company. Ask around for recommendations (hardware shops often know of good ones) or look in the Yellow Pages.
We play a lot of mahjong in the dining area of the living room and I desperately want to create a sliding door to isolate the noise. What kind of soundproofing material can I use and where can I buy it? From my experience, solid wood simply doesn't work.
Gary Chang replies: In terms of ease of use, sliding doors are a good way of separating spaces, but in respect to acoustic insulation, they are not usually as effective as a hinged door within a solid frame.
However, if you're willing to pay, you can opt for specialist sound-insulated doors normally used in restaurants and hotel ballrooms. Generally, they comprise an aluminium or steel frame and double-panel doors with welded-steel skins and wool-fibre insulation sandwiched between the layers.
A rubber gasket drop-seal is then used to conceal the gap between the door and the ceiling and floor. The door can then be finished in timber or fabric - fabric will provide further sound absorption. A set of double-width sliding doors shouldn't cost more than $20,000.
I recommend you contact Architectural Acoustics (tel: 2367 3232) or Eurasia (tel: 2793 9966) for further information.