Secret Project Number One

(Don’t tell my wife I did this: I like to see how long it takes before she notices such changes.)

Okay so ever since we moved in to this place 13 years ago we’ve had to put up with this:

If we want to do laundry …

… we have to pull the dryer out several inches. Why? Because whatever lazy, incompetent idiot installed the set in the first place thought that cutting one hole in the floor and running all the pipes through it was the way to go. Viz:

So little space, so many pipes.

Which put the washer drain directly behind the dryer vent. Basically that means a couple of inches for the washer drain and four more for the dryer vent before you get to the back of the dryer. If you push the dryer back the vent is throttled and won’t flow full capacity. That’s not good.

As you all know I’m “Mr. Lazy” and so I just left the dryer pulled out all this time. Really. I did. Moving it back and forth is a pain (literally) and also increases the risk of damaging the (cheap) vent hose. Well I finally spent a few days and a few dollars to sort it out. (In fact I had most of the materials around already, but there’s always some expense unforeseen.) Viz:

Not as simple a job as the results would indicate.

One thing I was dealing with is the fact that the washer drain goes back to the ‘uphill’ side of the gray plastic (not used anymore material that predates ABS and PVC) main drain line, and then goes 90 degrees down into the top. Okay that’s not how it should be done, but to fix it completely … I’d end up tearing out all the drain lines right to the septic tank and starting over. Even the vent stack is in the wrong place!

Anyway I added a union so I could swivel the lateral towards the new location and then added 3″ more to that section so the vertical would come up in the right spot. Also secured it better. It was not as easy at it should have been because frankly my bad vision was causing trouble with seeing in low light in the crawl space and reading the tape measure, et cetera. I more or less did it by feel and by guess and hoped for enough tolerances that it would work out. It did.

Now the dryer vent was a different kind of fun as I had to cut back into the wall to get another 4″ of room so the tube can bend gradually down into the crawl space and not be crushed by the dryer pushed back inside the closet. I also changed it to the metalic style tubing which should last longer than the white vinyl. We’ll see. And of course I cleaned all the lint out of the 14′ of metal ducting that takes it to the outside. Believe me, the best way to vent a dryer is as short and straight as possible; any bends significantly reduce the flow and the longer the duct the more time lint has to settle out inside the pipe – creating a potential fire hazard. This one still has too many bends in it, but there’s nothing that can be done about it in any practical sense. Just have to keep it cleaned out.

Anyway the laundry pair now looks like this:

Washer and dryer working side by side.

And when not in use you can do this:

Yes it says “Nota Bene” on my whiteboard.

It’s frustrating knowing how to do things like this but being in a physical state that makes any such task more difficult and painful. That’s why I’ve put this off so long. There’s another top secret project planned but that one will have to go even slower because it has greater disaster potential. Also I don’t have most of the pieces for it just laying around.


Chaos? Yeah, we got that.

Work in progress.

Well my work crew showed up Thursday night and Friday we got right into it. This mostly involves moving messes from one place to another in hopes they will somehow magically become smaller messes. So far, no.

The good thing about having young and strong people to help is that they can do in two hours what it would take me two weeks to do. The bad thing about having young and strong people to help is that they can do in two hours what it would take me two weeks to do. In other words staying ahead of them is difficult. I’m about 3X the age of one of them and 4X the other, and it shows.

So while they wait for grandpa to shift things into slots they get to go trail riding and fishing and cutting up trees and getting a truck wedged in the woods … That last part was wrong, wasn’t it? If someone had asked I could have told him it wouldn’t fit; that trail wasn’t made wide enough for full-size vehicles, just ATVs.

Anyway, over-all the plan is working.

Extent of the damage, so far.

As you can see from that photo the road out here is still rough. But only one reinforcing plate broke off, and I should be able to grind & weld it back in place. Trailer certainly tows better now. Although my visitors report that the road is getting worse because yes indeed it looks like logging is starting on the hill up behind here, and that means heavy trucks pounding the gravel into potholes.

After getting this batch sorted there’s a couple of piles of debris from the reno waiting to be shifted into different piles in another location. It sounds ridiculous but it’s how it has to be done: pile up, sort through, shift to different places, and slowly whittle down the heaps into useful material and trash for the dump.

We’ll get there. Eventually.

Bucky says: “Oh my goodness! What next?”

The past week’s project

The utility trailer needed suspension repair, thanks to the extreme roughness of the road it travels on. To be fair, the shackles were original and I’ve had that trailer for … oh, twenty years? I don’t know how many thousands of miles it’s travelled; up and down the canyon, back and forth to the cabin, usually loaded if not overloaded. Anyway the suspension was pretty well worn:

Holes are supposed to be round, not oblong.

It looked worse when I got it apart:

Oh boy!
Oh boy oh boy!

It took me two hours to take the two sides apart. That was fast. I should have known that boded ill, as it took over a week to scrounge and in some cases modify all the necessary bits to get it back together.

New shackle and bolt above, old below (that bolt wouldn’t even come out it was so distorted).

Now ordinarily what you’d do with the old mounts is cut them off and weld new ones on in the right place. However I don’t have the necessary tools to do that, and don’t fancy spending a few hundred dollars just to complete one job. So I saved the new mounts out of the hanger kit, and fixed the old ones.

New parts saved for ‘Plan D’ just in case.
Welded up the old mounts, adding some ‘backing’ plates.

The tiny wire-feed welder I have got is not up to even this job, really. I didn’t like the way it worked when I used it to fix the side bars last year. So I modified it. I won’t say how as I’m sure what I did was unsafe, illegal, immoral, unethical, and all-around bad and absolutely no one should ever do it under any circumstance. But hell, I’m just an engineer not a tow truck driver or mechanic or any other Internet celebrity type who knows everything based on a limited amount of education and experience. After the modification I found the welder worked better, but still it’s a pain.

Side note: welding with bad eyesight is really, really hard. But since the welds are going to be bad anyway, what does it matter? The important thing is that it works – and holds together. We’ll see about that last bit soon enough.

If only something was the right size.

This was one of the other problems: the spring bushings. The one on the right is new and full-size. Unfortunately that size was too large outside diameter to fit the spring eye, so I had to grind it down to the size on the left. Buy the right size? Why yes, that would have been nice. But I wanted the project done this year, not in whatever century the item in question gets restocked. That has been a major issue for all sorts of things I’ve been trying to get done.

Bushings re-sized and installed.

I had to modify the bolts that came with the hanger kit too, as the locking shoulders were not necessary to the design and interfered with the fit. As I said, I should have known I was in trouble when it came apart so easily!

New parts in place.

But there it is back together, and after a brief bounce down the road and around the yard and some expected re-tightening it seems to be okay. At worst it is better than it was before. It may even last through this year’s wood harvest. Or it may fall apart when I take it out to the cabin tomorrow. That’s why there’s a ‘Plan D’.

You may notice I didn’t paint it. Why bother when it’s just going to get ‘sandblasted’ with every trip down the gravel road?

How things are going

Head towards the light.

A little update.

First of all, this is the first post done with the new computer. I’ve got it up and running Linux Mint Cinnamon Una. I tried MATE but couldn’t see any functional advantage to it, and had been using Cinnamon before so it’s familiar. There is a noticeable improvement over the old machine, and not just that the hardware doesn’t throw random faults. For one thing, all web sites can be accessed via Chromium instead of having to use two different browsers depending on what I’m trying to look at. For another, the video editing program doesn’t crash as much. “As much”: it still freezes occasionally, and I’ve only tried one video experiment so far – just to test it. Another positive is that the screen is visually superior and so a little tweaking and I have a better chance at seeing what I’m looking at.

The biggest downside is that this laptop does not have an SD card reader built in, so I have to use the accessory reader. This is a pain when you consider my #1 usage is image editing and posting. C’est la vie.

It was quite a process to get it switched over from Win10 – the second worst OS ever. I have wiped that entirely because it is so bloody awful. It’s inferior Android-ish spyware for those who don’t know any better. There just aren’t enough bad things that can be said about it. Take, for example, the fact this machine has only 128 GB of SSD. That’s pretty small, because these days they want you to store all your data on “the cloud”. As the saying goes, there is no cloud; it’s some else’s computer. Not being a fan of handing over my personal data and copyrighted material to companies so they can make money off me, I don’t do that. There was a time when my wife used a secure on-line back-up for her accounting business, but rest assured that was secure: no chance they were taking private info and handing it out to whoever had the price. Encrypted before it left the office, and we paid a fee for the service. Beware anything offered for “free” as there’s no such thing. Learn physics and understand this.

Anyway, Win10 reported my 128 GB was 115 GB and it was using 79 GB for its bloated intrusion into my life. Linux Mint is using 14 GB and reports I have 122 GB total. It does everything Windows does, except spy on you. It’s also not ugly, messy, badly organized, and dysfunctional – unlike Win10. Microsoft should be forced to pay every Win10/11 victim $1,000 for abusing them.

Rant over.

Male rufus hummingbird

I put this pic on as my wallpaper. Windows doesn’t even let you do that. Oh, rant over.

Time for a different rant.

Mosquitoes! They are out en force here now in just the past couple of days. Despite the fact the cabin is better sealed than it has been in 70 years they still manage to get in and interfere with everything from working to eating to sleeping. One tried to bite my nose this morning while I was still in bed – under the mosquito net. Yeah I’ve got some ideas about redesigning that as it’s flawed in function.

Well I’m told there’s people arriving at the end of this week. They’re supposed to be my work crew, but others have already assigned them different tasks which are not in line with my getting things done. (Thought I was the Project Manager. Guess not.) I don’t know how well they’ll like the mozzies. Oh and the big question: is the cabin ready? Well, sort of. It’s a lot better than it ever has been, but I haven’t quite got things done. Mostly due to shortages.

One of the things I’m really short on is energy. The last big project I did, renovating the entire rental house which needed quite a lot of work, took 6 months. That was what? Eight years ago? Now I’ve just spent six weeks doing one room. Yeah I’m not as fast as I used to be. Can’t see well anymore so a lot of it is more “artistic feel” than “artificer perfection”. Anyone who doesn’t like the result can redo it themselves in their own time at their own expense. I shouldn’t be doing any of this stuff anymore.

Anyway I’ve got to get back to work. Zapping mosquitoes.

Fluff – and nonsense.

A butterfly

One of many that come out on the rare days the sun shines.

Old computer having even more function fits: it’s time to finish setting up the new one.

Meanwhile much work is being done on the cabin, and I actually managed to complete one part of the big project. I think.

There is still much to do.

Cabin update (the dull stuff)

So I’m back out in the middle of nowhere less than a week after visiting the ER. Couple of new prescriptions including nitro – so I can blow this place up if it all goes wahoonie-shaped? Probably not.

The trip out was ‘fun’: they’ve been ‘fixing’ the road. This consists of running the grader over the smooth bits to roughen them up so the rough bits don’t seem so bad by comparison. The one stretch of 2kms where you could do 80 before is down to a 60 zone – and watch out for the potholes. Some of it is now sludgy mud because that’s what you get when it rains on hard surface which then gets ripped up by heavy machinery. I wonder if there’s anyone in that company who understands even the basic concept of “road maintenance”.

Anyway it’s time to get something done. Except that the first thing that happen was one of the kitchen lights failed. We had them in the old house for decades with incandescent lights heating away … and now out here being lightly used with cool LED bulbs they decide to fail. Okay, two new sockets to get next time I’m in town; I’ll rebuild both so there’s no more of that foolishness.

On with the ceiling! That means a lot of planning and careful triple-checking of measurements, followed by a lot of overhead work. Also got a tub surround to go in so I’d better finish prepping for that too. Meanwhile here’s a couple of pictures of what I got done last time:

Trench warfare: underground power line from the generator shed.
Now you don’t see it.

The rest was mostly disassembly and preparing things for rebuilding. That takes longer than putting things together, but is essential to the job going right.

I’ll post a series of pictures of the bathroom rehab when I get it done. If I get it done. In the meantime, enjoy the view:

Snow melt has been slow this year.

I have to start the generator again because it’s rainy again and probably light the fire again because it’s cool again. Another “year without a Summer”. So far. Let’s just hope it doesn’t suddenly turn dry and hot and light everything on fire. Again.

Somethings going on around here

Well hurrah! The travel trailer is out and away. Should have done a video of that getting snaked through the trees, but it took three of us to manage it so there was no forth to take the pictures. Jane agrees it’s because the trees got bigger in the past couple of years, making the passage narrower. (Okay, the angles are completely the other way ’round going out from coming in. I was not looking forward to doing that job by myself!)

Where the trailer was. Now to clean up all that remaining reno debris … and continue with the reno.

The next big projects are putting an underground power line right through that area so the generator can be in the generator shed instead of on the front porch, and completely redoing the bathroom. Why? Well …

Packrat next #1.
Packrat next #2. Numbers 3 & 4 are smaller and haven’t been exposed yet.

This was all supposed to have been done by the contractor, who instead just did a bad job of paneling over the destroyed plaster board with some T&G pine. It took me 30 minutes to remove that, and looks like a solid day to take out the board and nests. It all started that fateful day years ago when I was re-roofing the place (by myself) and the Mrs. fell in the woods and broke her wrist. Took her to the hospital and by the time we got back … Well a full month’s worth of rain fell and the rear of the roof was all exposed. So after I fix the ceiling I have to fix the walls too.

Isn’t this fun?

One of the jobs involves reaching up as high as I can, the other reaching down as far as I can. It’s like a workout, only it actually accomplishes something.

Meanwhile I had another visitor at dinner last night:

Is it the original Bucky, or just some cousin of his?

My list of things to get is pretty lengthy already, so in to town tomorrow to see if any of it can be got. Artificial product shortages and price gouging will be the undoing of us this year.

Road trip.

Drove into town today for supplies. Saw a few interesting things.

Someone got themselves a project (early ’50s GMC).
Someone else’s project (first gen Mustang).
One fine ’69.
Yeah I could use this!
Somebody completed their project. I don’t know what it is because I chased him all over town and he never parked anywhere before I lost sight of him.
The thrill of the chase!

Now it’s time to return to the cabin with supplies, and get back to work!

Just an update post

Work, work, work. Rain, rain, rain. Mosquitoes, mosquitoes, mosquitoes.

That about covers it.

Note the lack of “photographs, photographs, photographs”. It hasn’t been suitable in any way for that.

I am making progress on the cabin, but every step just reveals more that needs doing. It’s like painting a huge bridge – that just keeps getting longer the further you go. A Mobius project?

The livingroom is starting to look like a room instead of a warehouse.

Once again there is further evidence I’m too old to be doing this, as I seem to be breaking out in spontaneous bruising. Unexplained subdermal haemotomas. It seems effort alone is enough to burst the blood vessels. That’s not good. Especially not when moving large amounts of heavy furniture around.

At least the blood is still inside.

By the way, the last trip out here I managed the road at the breakneck speed of 34 KPH (21.5 MPH). Yeah, it just keeps getting better. Not. The additional rain we’ve had since then probably hasn’t done it any good either.

Dashcam view of the road crew on the one day this year they were there. They scraped 1/2 a KM that didn’t need any work, then went home.

It seems I have a deadline of this weekend to make the place habitable as the Mrs. wants to come out and stay – for the first time since 2018. I can’t say I don’t blame her. Unfortunately she’ll bring our zoo with her, and that means certain projects have to be done ahead of then as the animals will get in the way. It also means the wildlife will vanish for the most part.

What? Dogs are coming? Oh no!

Unfortunately mosquitoes are not one of the creatures that will leave when the pets arrive. Oh well. Back to work.

Ever on Sunday

I spent today (as many hours as I could stand) fixing up my utility trailer.

A couple of broken welds redone, a dash of paint to retard instant rusting, some new bolts and … it’s almost done! I still need to repack the wheel bearings, and frankly it needs new tires.

One thing I learn from this is that I don’t like wire-feed welders (I learned on stick welder more then 40 years ago). But it did the job.

Cheap, and bought on sale.