captpackrat: (Farm)
The old gate to the barnyard here was in pretty sorry shape.  The wood was pretty much rotten, particularly around the hinges.  The outer screws holding the hinge had ripped through the wood and the heavy gauge metal had bent 90 degrees from the weight of the door.  It was just barely hanging on, and it was very difficult to open or close.  Any pretense of a latch had long rotted away.

I resolved to make a new gate.  A better gate.  A gate that would last forever.  Or at least, for as long as the property owner lives.

The original gate was made with a frame of four 2x6s of unknown wood, with a fifth 2x6 as a diagonal brace and 1x6 slats filling the center.  The whole thing was put together with nails and it had two hinges, held in place with fairly small lag screws. 

My initial plan was to build a gate with four vertical and five horizontal pieces of 2x6 pressure treated lumber, with 4 hinges, the whole thing held together with coated Torx-head deck screws 3-1/2 inches in length.  But when I got the initial frame assembled, I found it weighed a ton, and that was just 4 of the 9 boards.  A quick Google search and some calculations gave a finished weight of over 175 pounds!  Eliminating any of the horizontal boards would have left a large gap in the middle.

Then I noticed we had some wire frame panels.  I picked through them and found there was one that almost perfectly matched the size of the frame.  So I went with a frame of three vertical and three horizontal members, leaving four large holes.  I then placed the wire panel over the middle and attached with with screws and metal strapping.  I could have used staples like a normal person, but I prefer screws.  The wire panel stuck up over the top of the gate by about 4 inches. 

Some quick math and I came up with a finished weight of just 125 pounds, well within the 150 pound rating for each individual hinge.  Because the gate had only 3 horizontal members, I could only use 3 hinges, but that's still way more than enough, and half again as much as the old gate.

Old gate hanging precariously behind the finished new gate.

I intentionally made the new gate slightly longer than the opening, so it would close against the posts on either side, which is much stronger than a gate that can swing either way.  My initial plan was to have it open inwards, which would make it impossible for the animals to push it open, no matter how hard they hit it, but the ground was too uneven in the barnyard.  So I had to hang it so it swung outwards.  But this presented a new challenge, the hinges were now on the wrong side of the gate!  The solution was simple, I just flipped the gate over.  This placed the overhanging wire underneath the gate now, which led to my next problem.

I over-compensated for the wire and installed the hinges on the post too high, leaving a sizable gap underneath.  While none of our current goats could get under it, it would be simple for baby goats, and the gap might encourage the dogs to try digging underneath.  So I got some 1x4s and 1x2s from the garage and built another, lightweight frame underneath.  I'm not sure what the 1x4s were, but the 1x2s are cedar.  I held them in place with lots of screws.

Yes, the wire fence is distorted in one area, but it's cosmetic only and doesn't affect its structural integrity.  It was the only piece that was the perfect size, anything else would have been too small or required extensive cutting.

The finished gate has 3 heavy-duty hinges attached to the gate with 5/8" carriage bolts and washers, and I put metal straps on the edges of the wood to prevent it from ever ripping out, the larger plates held in place with massive lag screws.

I would have preferred the gate open inwards, which would have made it nearly infinitely strong to resist animals inside the barnyard, so since it had to open outwards, I installed a heavy-duty latch.  The loop goes through a 6x6 post and is secured with washers and nuts, while the hook end has 4 bolts, washers and nuts (I'm actually short one bolt at the moment, so it's only got a screw right now).  The latch is self-locking and should be nearly impossible for the animals to manipulate with their horns.  I may try getting a metal plate or something to reinforce the hook side.  For now, this is the weakest point on the gate.

My roommate took one look at it and said, "I think you overengineered this." 

Yeah, I do that.

10 inches

Feb. 11th, 2009 04:43 pm
captpackrat: (Cold Weather)
10 inches of snow, that's what the NWS is predicting for Friday.

And we're in the middle of getting a new roof installed.  Perfect timing.
captpackrat: (Argh!)
Ceilings caving in seem to be all the rage this season.

I was doing the dishes when my roommate came in and asked about the puddle in the living room.  I thought it was one of the dogs being naughty, but then I saw water dripping from the ceiling.  I stuck a bucket underneath to catch the drips.  The paint was sagging badly, so I grabbed a utility knife and cut a small hole.  Nasty brown water started gushing out into the bucket.  And it kept gushing.  And kept gushing.  It managed to fill about 1/3 of the bucket before it finally slowed.

That was about half an hour ago and its still dripping.  I think the roof has been leaking for quite some time, so I bet the attic is a horrible mess.

Fortunately, I'm not going to have to pay for it and fortunately it's in the living room, which has a wooden floor, and not a carpeted bedroom.  Unfortunately, access to the attic is through my closet, so I'm going to have to move all my clothes and stuff so the repair guys can get up there.  I have no idea where I'm going to put my things in the mean time.
captpackrat: (Thumper's Butt)
captpackrat: (Google Earth)
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

When life gives you an SUV, you haul crap to the dump!

I decided to make use of this rental Ford Exploder and hauled an old, broken recliner and an ancient dishwasher to the Escondido trash transfer station. They charged me $30 to dump it all. If I'd had them pick it up from the house, they'd have charged me $150.

The recliner had been sitting in the garage for several months. When I shoved it into the SUV, a mummified mouse fell out of the bottom of the chair. Eeew.

Now I need to clean the spot on the floor where the portable dishwasher used it sit. It had been sitting there since my grandfather had a new floor installed about 10 years ago, so it's kinda nasty there. Gonna need lots of mopping. Eeew.

Stuck? Oh.

Feb. 3rd, 2006 07:25 pm
captpackrat: (South Park)
Got an estimate today for restuccoing the house. If I could have signed up for it today, it would have cost about $10,000 to do the entire house, since this is their off-season. Once spring hits, the cost will shoot up to $14,000.

The salesman offered a 10 year financing plan that would have cost about $120 a month. The house REALLY needs restuccoing, and I can afford $120 a month, so I started filling out the paperwork. Then the salesman remembered that it requires 25% down, and I CAN'T afford $2500 right now, so that pretty much killed the deal then.

However, I mentioned that I worked for a general contractor, and he said we might be able to work something out. That would be nice.

In the mean time, I need to try and figure out if I can patch the spots where the stucco is falling off. It's probably going to be a while until I can have the whole thing redone.
captpackrat: (Argh!)
Climbed up on the roof today to get a look at the remains of the antenna and mast. As I suspected, the point of failure was the roof attachment point for the guy wires; it had rusted completely through. (Who the hell uses non-galvanized, non-stainless steel components on a roof?)

The antenna was totally destroyed, with half the elements broken or irreparably bent. I was surprised just how fragile those things are; I was able to pull the elements off as easy as plucking a chicken. Several of the elements had pierced into the asphalt roof material, a couple of them several inches. I cut the remaining guy wires and the antenna and rotor wires, and lowered the antenna to the ground.

I headed over to the nearest Lowes and bought a tube of polyurethane asphalt sealant, then climbed back up onto the roof and squeezed the oozy stuff into the holes. The sealant has an odd smell, almost like chocolate, and it was thick and dark like frosting. I wonder how many kids have tried to eat this stuff.

Now I had to prepare the remains of the antenna for disposal. The mast itself was made of steel, and was in relatively good condition. The center section had a generous coating of rust, but it was still quite solid. The other segments appear to have been galvanized, and had only minimal corrosion. It could have easily stood for another 30 years if it hadn't been for the guy wires. The wires themselves were in fair shape, quite rusty, but still reasonably strong. All the connectors on the mast had rusted solid, but were still strong enough that it took quite a bit of work with a hacksaw to cut through them. I cut through the bolts holding the rotor onto the mast, and that also separated the antenna. I then plucked the remaining elements off the antenna, then sawed through the relatively soft aluminium until I had pieces small enough for the trash.

I haven't done anything with the mast yet. If I dispose of it, I'll have to try to saw through the thick steel several times to cut it into pieces small enough for the garbage can. The connector points are too badly rusted to unscrew, but the shaft itself seems in fairly good shape.

At least the wind instruments that were attached to the mast were completely unharmed, though they are now homeless. I need to come up with some way to mount them at least 10 feet above the peak of the roof. I can either salvage the old mast, perhaps shortening it a bit, or try to built a new mast, perhaps of light but strong PVC sewer pipe. Or I can purchase a new tripod mast specifically designed for this weather station, with platforms and connection points so that all the instruments can be mounted in one place. The biggest problem is I'm not sure how to mount something to a hot-mopped asphalt roof without potentially compromising its waterproofness.

After getting everything cleaned up I almost broke my ankle stepping into a damn gopher hole. If I ever see one of those things, I'm soooo going to blow it's head off with a shotgun.
captpackrat: (South Park)
Rehung 76 piece of artwork today.

My bedroom now looks like a room in the Louvre... if the Louvre had furry porn....

I need to borrow a camera from work, then I'll post some photos.
captpackrat: (South Park)
I don't know how I did it, but I actually managed to move the massive solid oak roll top desk out of my old bedroom and into the master bedroom. And my calculations were perfect; the desk fits exactly in the spot I allocated for it with less than 2 inches to spare.

I hope I never have to move this thing alone ever again. I ended up snapping off the piece that unlocks the drawers (I should have closed the tambour, which retracts the plunger and locks the drawers). Fortunately it wasn't really broken; I was able to unscrew a panel on the underside of the desk and reattach the plunger piece.

Only thing left now is to hang all the artwork and stuff in the master bedroom, and the room will truly be mine.
captpackrat: (South Park)
Went to Lowes today and bought some blinds for the master bedroom. I started out looking at the drapes, which is what I really wanted. Only $30! Yeah! Wait, that's per panel, and I'd need a half dozen panels or so. Nevermind!

I ended up getting a cheap set of blinds for about $16. It was a bit of a waste, as the blinds were 64 inches high, and I only needed about 48 inches. But at least I was able to get exactly the right width, so they didn't have to do any cutting.

It was a pain in the ass to install. The screws that were included were very small, and the heads stripped if you even looked at them wrong. And the instructions left out quite a few things and were sometimes just plain wrong, like the fact that you had to attach the valence clips before hanging the blinds (the instructions tell you to do it afterwards, which is impossible)

Still, it looks a lot better than newspapers taped over the glass....
captpackrat: (Argh!)
The master bedroom is now totally empty, so I started in on vacuuming. Then I sprinkled some baking soda over the carpet, let it sit for a while, then vacuumed again.

Then I popped the end off the hose, and started sucking up spiders from the closet ceiling. I sent at least a dozen creepy crawlers off to a whirring, vacuous death.

Then I sprayed half a can of Raid into the closet. The bedroom is pretty much uninhabitable now, at least until the fumes clear.

Now I just need some drapes or blinds or something, then I can move in. Then I get the start the whole thing over again with another bedroom.
captpackrat: (South Park)
Finished painting the master bedroom today. Just need to get the carpet cleaned and buy new drapes, and I'll be able to move in.

Oh, and I need to spray for spiders. Good God there's a ton of spiders in there.


Oct. 9th, 2005 03:51 pm
captpackrat: (Smug)
Finally got around to doing some more painting in the master bedroom. Got all the main portions of the walls done, just need to do the edges, corners, and the trim. I'll probably finish those sometime later this week. I need more paint, and a bigger brush.

One the walls are painted, then I need to clean the carpets, then I can finally move my stuff in there. Once my old bedroom is empty, I can paint it and clean the carpet, then I can see about trying to rent out the room. Hopefully I'll be able to find someone sane and with stable employment. That'll really help in trying to make house payments. My time is running out on this.
captpackrat: (Nuke)
Garbage man hauled away the bookcases that I nearly amputated my foot to destroy, so I set about breaking down the exercise equipment. I'd left the stuff out in the driveway since Saturday with big FREE signs all over, but there were no takers.

The rowing machine was easy to break down, it was just bolted together to begin with, so disassembly was just a matter of loosening the bolts. That took about 15 minutes.

The hard part was the treadmill. Several of the pieces were extremely long (4-5 feet) or welded together, and many of the screws had rusted. I'd brought a portable bandsaw home from work to cut through some of the pieces, but discovered there wasn't a blade for it! So I had to do it the old fashioned way, with a hacksaw. Fortunately the material the treadmill was made of was very soft, so the hacksaw made quick work of it. Still, it was quite exhausting. I was able to break down most of the machine, but the heaviest piece of all, the particleboard platform, still needs to be broken up. Since the garbage can was getting full and quite heavy, and I'd already spent an hour working on the treadmill, I'll have to wait until next week to do anything with the last piece.
captpackrat: (Weasels Ripped My Flesh)
Well, I left all the stuff out overnight, and it was still all there this afternoon, so I moved the fridge and recliner back into the garage, then I took an axe to one of the wooden bookshelves, chopping it to flinders. Then I used the back of the axe to smash up a metal bookcase, and tossed all the pieces in the trash. Unfortunately, we're only allowed one 96 gallon garbage can, so I can't get rid of anything else until after Wednesday. I left the exercize equipment in the driveway. I hope someone will take them eventually.

The neighbor suggested I call SDG&E to pick up the fridge, apparently they sometimes buy up old appliances. Otherwise the garbage company is going to want $75 to haul it away.

While chopping up the bookshelves, I took a bad swing with the axe and buried it in my foot. Fortunately I wear heavy safety work boots, so the axe dug over 3/8 of an inch through the thick leather but was stopped by the steel toe. The impact still left me with a bruise on my toe, but had I been wearing any other shoes, I'd have lost that toe.
captpackrat: (Sims Firestorm)
Several neighbors were having yard sales, so I dragged a bunch of items out into the driveway and marked them with FREE signs. A fridge, a couple book cases, a recliner, a wooden cabinet, 4 wheels and tires and some exercise equipment.

8 hours later, almost nothing has been taken. An old pot, my sister's old Hookd on Foniks set, and 2 wheels and tires.

I'm surprised nobody has taken the fridge. It's a really nice one, ice and water in the door and whatnot.
captpackrat: (Default)
Finally figured out the best way to hook up the rain gauge. It has to be installed high enough that the sprinkler system won't get into it; that means it has to go on the roof. But it also has to be perfectly level, which the roof isn't.

What I did was drill four holes in the aluminum patio roof, then run four long screws up through the roof and secured them with a nut. Then I used washers to try to level things out, then dropped the gauge down over the screws. Then I measured with a bubble level, removed the gauge, added/removed some washers, dropped the gauge back onto the screws, and measured again. Repeat until level. Then I used more nuts to secure the gauge in place.

Then it was just a matter of screwing the solar panels to the side of the patio and aligning it to get the best reception.

I've now got a full set of weather instruments on the roof, just waiting for the next big storm. Too bad this is the dry season in San Diego and it probably won't rain for another 4 months. :P


Jun. 25th, 2005 01:11 pm
captpackrat: (Argh!)
I was lying in bed last night, when it suddenly dawned on me that I'd installed the wind vane/anemometer unit upside down. I did some mental calculations, and figured if it was upside down, the north and south readings would be correct, but east and west readings would be reversed.

So I went out this morning and checked it visually. The wind was out of the south-west. Checked the screen. South-east. D'OH!

So it was BACK up onto the roof, drag the ladder up there again, balance myself on it while reaching up above my head to loosen the nuts, turn the unit over so the vane is on top instead of the anemometer, and reattach it to the antenna mast.

I also took the opportunity to adjust the angle of the solar panels to a more efficient position. I should also probably reposition the solar panels for the themo-hygrometer. The current location is fine for the summer, but the sun is further into the southern sky in the winter, so the panels should be moved to the other side of the patio.

I found some 2x4's on the back porch. I need to see if I can use them to build a base for the rain gauge. I'm probably going to bolt it to the patio roof, since I really don't want to screw anything into the roof of the house.
captpackrat: (Bubbles)
For many, many years, I've wanted a weather station. (I took 9 credits worth of meteorology courses in college, and would have majored in it, had any colleges in Southern California offered it, at the time) But weather stations are insanely expensive, and require all kinds of crazy wiring.

Then, I found the Oregon Scientific CableFree Weather Station at MSRP for this kit is about $500. Costco sells them for $225. BUT, last week only, they had a $30 coupon for is! $195! HUZZAH!

The kit arrived today, so as soon as I got home, I tore into the box. There's a base unit with an RS-232 serial interface to connect it to my computer. It's got an indoor thermo/hydro/barometer unit, a rain gauge, an outdoor therm/hygrometer, and a wind vane/anemometer, all 433 MHz wireless and all solar powered.

It was getting about 6:00 in the evening, but I couldn't wait. I dug out my multi-function folding ladder, gathered some tools, and climbed up onto the roof to hook up the wind instruments. Unfortunately, I found that the base segment of my antenna mast is too thick for the mounting bracket, so I pulled the ladder up, refolded it into a step ladder, and climbed up about 6 feet above the roof, stretched out as far as I could, and mounted it to the thinner middle segment of the mast.

Then I had to figure out how to mount the solar panel. The mast was too thick at the base, and I wasn't about to climb up the ladder again to attach it higher up, so I had to unfold the ladder, drop it back to the ground, climb down, find some screws, then climb back up onto the roof and screw the solar panel onto the wooden base for the mast. Scraped up my knuckles pretty good trying to drive a heavy screw inches above the rough roofing material. Unit 1 installed.

I screwed the temperature probe to the back of one of the supports for the patio roof where it will be in the shade all day, then hooked up the solar panel to the north side of the patio. Driving those screws was a major pain, literally. Unit 2 installed.

The barometer/indoor temperature/humidity unit was easy to install, just drive a nail and hang. Unit 3 installed.

I still have to figure out where to put the rain gauge. It has to be mounted level, and it should be mounted well above ground to prevent splashes from sprinklers/hoses/etc. That means it goes on the roof. But there really isn't any level place on the roof, everything slopes. The patio is the closest, but it's got about a 10 degree slope, and the roof material is made of aluminium, I don't know if I can drive screws through it to secure the unit. I guess I'm going to have to buy some wood shims or something to level it out. Fortunately, it's probably going to be quite dry for the foreseeable future, so there's no hurry in getting it installed.

I discovered that the base unit is compatible with the RadioShack temperature/humidity sensor I already had. I may buy a couple more (there are 3 open channels) since RadioShack's units are cheaper than Oregon Scientific's.

When I get the money, I'm going to buy the web hosting software so I (or anyone else) can check the local conditions from anywhere in the world. :)

Currently, the barometric pressure is 29.56 in, winds are calm. Outside temperature is 64.6F, humidity 76%, and dew point 57F. Indoor temperature is 73.2F, humidity 57%.


captpackrat: (Default)
Captain Packrat

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