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.
captpackrat: (Yard)
I noticed Google Street View now covers most of Vista, so i decided to look up my old home, the house my grandparents lived in for almost 50 years.

It's been ruined.

The front lawn was lovely Zoysia grass that stayed green all year round and felt absolutely incredible to walk on. Now it's patchy and half of it has been torn out. There was an excellent automated pop-up sprinkler system, but that's obviously been ripped out as well.

There was a magnificent magnolia tree in the front yard that had been there for at least 40 years. It's gone now. As is the trellis and star jasmine that used to be in front of my bedroom window and filled the house with perfume on summer evenings.

The backyard had all kinds of fruit trees, including a couple cherries, several varieties of orange and an avocado. These trees produced literally hundreds of dollars worth of fruit each year. Most have now been torn out so the owner could park a trailer.

The wrought iron mailbox post is gone, replaced with a plain wooden post like every other house in the world. The attractive yet strong security screen made of decorative steel loops is gone too. Oddly enough, they kept the plastic hose reel box sitting out front.

The house has been painted a hideous battleship gray. I hope that's just a bad photo or something, or else that house has now become the fugliest in the neighborhood.

One of the major selling points of this place was the fantastic views from the backyard. Surrounding the house was a simple chain link fence. It provided protection without affecting the view. That's been replaced with an ugly solid brown wooden fence that obscures everything. They might as well be living underground now.

I'm feeling so depressed now.
captpackrat: (Smug)
Went to see Snakes on a Plane today.  Yes, the movie is every bit as stupid as the title would suggest.  It's one of those movies that are so utterly bad that they're good.  If you haven't seen it yet, you need to.  This movie MUST be MST'ed.  "This is your Captain speaking, we'll be departing just as soon as we finish loading the snakes."  

Finally got around to buying a copy of Golden Sun 2 for the GBA.  I'm still monster harvesting in GS1 to try to get my characters to the point where they have every available spell in the game.  That way when I import them into GS2, they'll be almost invinsible.  I still need to kill something along the lines of a couple thousand monsters to get the necessary XP.

After I got home, I spent about 6 hours mowing the lawn.  The property here is huge, 4 or 5 acres, and that's a lot of freaking grass.  This was my first time using a riding mower, and I only got in trouble twice.  Because of the heat and the rain, the place hadn't been mowed in a while, so the grass was knee high in some places.  I got stuck on a old wooden beam that was buried in the grass and had to get help lifting the mower off it, and I accidentally ran over an extension cord (fortunately unplugged) and stalled the engine when it got wrapped around the blades.  At top speed, the mower is about as fast as one of those Autopia cars at Disneyland (and with the blades disengaged, it sounds exactly like one too), but the grass was so thick and tall, trying to mow at that speed would bind up the mower blades so I had to crawl along most of the time.  You'd think using a riding mower would be a breeze, but it's really quite tiring.  There's no seatbelt, and the ground is pretty uneven, so I had to hang on for dear life.  The controls are a bit madening, especially shifting into reverse.  You have to apply the brake, disengage the blades, then shift.  For some reason, it won't let you mow in reverse, it stalls if you try to engage the blades while backing up.

While mowing I disturbed a few field mice who went scampering for their lives.  The grass was much too thick to see them until they bolted out into a freshly mowed section.  I don't think I ran over any of them.  The mower was more than loud enough and I was travelling slow enough they should have had plenty of warning.  I still feel a bit bad about disturbing them.

I'm tired, dirty, and sunburned.  I haven't had dinner yet, but I don't feel like cooking anything.  I need a shower before bed, but I don't know if I can stay awake long enough.
captpackrat: (Yard)
I was in the backyard and noticed this HUGE lemon on the lemon tree. I don't think I've ever seen on this big. It's almost 7 inches long and bigger around than a softball.

Clicky for a pic


captpackrat: (Default)
Captain Packrat

December 2015

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