Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Very First Build

            This is a fairly old picture of an older cabin.  This is the first owner/builder project I was involved in.  I was probably 3 years old---I'll bet Bob and Jim remember it better, but my earliest memories of anything are of 'helping' dad build this.
            It's a 600 square foot 'A' frame in Running Springs, maybe 4 hour drive from where I live now.  I remember carrying a hammer around, asking for a hammer for my birthday, and nailing boards together.  I remember the smell of fresh cut lumber and big black beetles.  I remember when we'd go up to the cabin for the weekend how it was way, way up a hill you had to climb, carrying groceries---when I came back decades after we'd sold it I was genuinely surprised how close to the road it was.
           When we owned it the underside wasn't enclosed---just posts and cross bracing, and a cool swing.  There was a trap door so Mom could just sweep dirt right out.  The deck only went off the front and those stairs weren't there---you just went around the back.  I'm not really sure why they added those stairs.
          I was called up to do some helicopter work for the Butler II incident, very close to here.  This cabin took some damage on the right side from that fire.  We had a family ski trip the next winter and wanted to get a pic with my kids.  So many memories of weekend trips, birthday parties, snow, how Dad would keep the freestanding fireplace going all night in the winter just to get the place up to 62 degrees.  I really didn't want Dad to sell it.  I'm guessing he sold it around 1978 or so.  I think he was nervous about the prospect of 4 teenage boys having access to a mountain getaway.  If he hadn't overestimated our prowess in matters of love or partying, he could have kept it.  In any event it's good to see it's still standing, though it looks pretty different

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Even more done

So here's the latest finished outside.  The foundation is painted after two tries----first attempt I tried to match the hearth so it was darker brown with black and natural concrete streaks.  It looked exactly as I imagined.  When AnnaMarie came to look at it though it looked nothing like she'd imagined, so I lightened up the brown concrete stain and made it all the same.  She was right, of course--- you shouldn't draw attention to the foundation.  We'll probably plant around it anyway.

   The bench seat in the bay is done.  The lid comes off for storage.  It's kind of a bad angle picture---the planks to the left look wider because they're closer---it's the back of the fireplace housing.  I have a little more interior siding to do, maybe 300 square feet or so
The great wall has been a pain since day one.  Standing it up, insulation, siding the outside, now siding the inside.  I want as few seams (butt joints) as possible so getting 20' wide boards up high in a 20' wide house is tricky. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Exterior Done!

  With the exception of some stain for the foundation concrete and the stone bridge to the front porch, and a little black touch up paint for the chimney cap, the exterior is done!

  The foundation is going to be stained brown with black streaks.  The chimney cap needs a little more of the high temp flat black paint....The porch lights came from 'Architechtural Salvage' in Little Italy---very old, $25 each (there are three of them)  AnnaMarie says they fit perfect.
      The porch ceiling had to be fire resistive, like everything else.  It was boring and flat so I cut up some of the extra soffit material in 3" wide strips and trimmed it out some.  Caulking all the joints and seams before painting really smooted it all out----with white paint, any gap, no matter how small, looks black.  A.M. loves red doors.  The deck and railing will fade lighter over time.
   Here's the backside.  The eyebrow eave was an afterthought and not on the plans.  The rangehood vent is tucked way up under the eave on the water heater chase---that duct was a bear to run...The hinge for the water heater access door left a big ugly gap so I slipped a length of old firehose under the trimand lapped it over the door.  It took paint well---we'll see how it weathers.  The rain gutter was a must---rain fell off the roof to the downward slope and splashed mud onto the house.  I still plan on some digging and gravel on this side.
  The bright chrome chimney parts didn't look good so they got two coats of high temp primer, then high temp flat black.  All the vent pipes will get the same.

  The chimney from the back side----the furnace flue is hidden behind it from the street.  I didn't want any vents or plumbing showing from the street side.  I cut the slate into random widths and cut the corners off, and drilled screwholes.  They were attached with mastic but screwed in place too---with the shingle lap I was afraid of them sagging before the mastic set up.  I caulked the corners with a mix of black and gray silicone.

Now to get to work on the inside....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gotta Vent

Venting the range hood has been kicking my butt.  The outside wall opposite the range is the housing for the tankless water heater, and the wall is full of supply and drain pipes, gas lines, and wires.  I found a path I can snake this 4" flex duct around though and the vent itself is now hiddwn on the back side of the water heater enclosure, high enough that exhaust won't go back in through the kitchen window.
The access door to the water heater has to be all fire resistive construction, too.  I put the heavy duty hinges on top---so it opens from the bottom.  I had to leave a big gap at the top of the door so it could hinge, and it was ugly and too big a gap to pass inspection so I took off the trim board over the door and sandwiched a piece of fire hose under it.  It looks pretty good.  Also yesterday I finished putting up the siding!  That was a good feeling.  I still need to caulk and paint and put in rain gutters. 
This is the scariest drill bit EVER!  I needed to drill through the kitchen wall in just the right spot to run the exhaust duct.  The hole saw bit I needed was $60 plus $20 for the extension.  For one hole.  Byron suggested Harbor Freight and I found this adjustable one for $7.  It worked, but after drilling through the cement siding board it's all worn out. 
The picture's a bit fuzzy because I took it in the pre-dawn hours before I left for work.  After finishing the siding yesterday I got to work on cladding the chimney with slate.  Each slate tile was cut a random width, two corners cat at 45 degree angles, and a hole drilled in the center (My old partner from SDFD, Mike Rea, came up  for an afternoon so I introduced him to the wet saw)  I had to mix up a special mastic and try to get it on without it dripping on the roofing, then screwed each shingle in place, overlapping the row below.  I ran out of shingles, mastic, daylight, battery life in the driver, and personal energy all at the same time---but got it finished.  I still need the sheet metal top cap.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Hype Gap

    An interesting dynamic in presidential elections is the hype gap.  I remember people fainting and swooning over Clinton, Obama, even Kerry and Dukakis albeit to a lesser degree.   I don't recall seeing the same kind of pop hero status for Republican candidates---enthusiasm, yes, but no contrived hype.
      Some may point to the main stream media and say it just isn't presented in a balanced way, always doing what they can to support the liberal.
      When Gore was running against Bush, there was absolutely more hype behind Gore.  We could bicker about how the final 255 votes were counted, but I think we'd agree it wouldn't have been a landslide either way.  My liberal friends point to the disparity in fervor and predict outcome based on that---whoever has the tide of excitement will win.  There's always a danger, though, in painting your opponent with the same brush as your view.
       Conservatives, however, want LESS government.  We want more individual freedom, more liberty.  We don't want our potential stifled by progressive taxes or our innovations quashed by out of control regulations.  We believe in the free market,  and any government meddling only hurts the economy.
        So we're suspicious of all politicians.  We want to support the government official who is entrenched in government but for the individual, not the government.  We want a candidate who sees the Constitution as an important protection of the citizens from an overly intrusive government, not a stumbling block to work around and manipulate in order to force programs on us that are way outside of the ennumerated powers (Healthcare for all under the interstate commerce clause?  Give me a break.  That's so far outside of what the framers intended and you know it.)
       So I'll still quietly support the candidate that's headed in the least wrong direction.  Being anti-Gore does not make me a huge Bush supporter (Thanks for all the illegal immigrants and the TSA, George) and I've got some serious concerns about Romney's record, so don't expect me to defend every action he has.  He's worth investing in since he will de-fund Obamacare.  It will take decades to undo the dmamge Obama has caused, and having him for 4 more years as a lame duck, with no need to please future voters and a desire to 'fundamentally change' America (which he has proven to be in a socialist direction---a system that has never once led to prosperity) my hype and enthusiasm lie behind not giving him a second term. 
       I get it---Obama's cool.  I might even prefer to spend an evening in a bar with Obama than Romney, but it's hard to tell about people through the press....Back in school, though, if I needed help with homework I wouldn't have asked the coolest kid, I'd ask the one who knew what he was doing.