Gateway to Subterranea – The Risers

First I did a dry-run to see how things fit together.
Not uncommonly, I had to cut the base-flange to get the first circle to fit hard against the square, formerly “half-moon” riser.
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I marked a line and clamped a straight-edge on the base – and changed blades in the circular saw (from rough-cut to plywood) to make a nice clean cut. Zoomie!
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I marked the concrete with a big fat Sharpie to establish the outline, and where the epoxy stickum-caulk would go once the center clean-out plugs were removed.
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And then it was time to mix some mortar and set the first square-hole.
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With that in place I assembled the vertical stacking pieces (six screws each) and laid-down the gooey stick-em.
I removed the octagonal center plugs and set down each circular riser.
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The last bit was to cement-down the end-unit, the final square – and top it with a lid.
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The concrete form for the tank is a kind-of rough casting and not entirely symmetrical. I tried to make it as straight as I could but the pieces only fit together one way. At least there was more room on the overflow end so the last flange did not require cutting.
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I’ll back-fill it tomorrow. Country Livin’ at its finest!

Backyard Archaeology

There we were, no-shit! Hunkered down behind the concrete bunker….
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After my plumber-friend came by to help with his expertise and professional acumen (“feel”) for setting the throne, I mentioned that when one flusher is dumped, there is a “blurp-echo” in the other. Which he observed before we set to work, and said perhaps it was something to do with the construction of the toilet we were removing – and to test after the install.
So we did. *Blurp.*
And so he asked about the previous inhabitants, and upon hearing the words, “wife and two little girls” he abruptly said, “That’s it! You have no idea how quickly wet-wipes and XYZ add up in a system! Why didn’t you have a septic inspection prior to the sale?”
Problem was that this place sold in just one day with multiple offers, and to complete the sale we (and all the other buyer-competitors) released all contingencies… We “won” because of a variety of reasons, not just on price.
“You probably need to get it pumped.”
So I set-to, digging to find the caps.
I had one re-bar loop to navigate-by, but remember seeing another. Found that corner and then began to dig for the others. Fortunately with all this rain the ground wasn’t as hard as a rock, as is normally. So I made some progress and excavated down to one long-side of the tank. My aching back. Thank-God for the rubber Muck boots. Anyhow, found those two and discovered the orientation and called it a night.
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In the morning around 9:30AM I called Sweets and talked about getting onto their schedule, which as it happened they have an opening today.
Awesome! “Do you have a strong young kid to dig?” Sure at $115/hour! Oops I better keep moving dirt myself. I hit the blender with a blueberry smoothie, and an egg for protein and got my gloves. At that price I could afford a bit of exercise.
After working digging till Noon I finally got the entire tank-excavation uncovered and hosed down, and using my Archaeology skillz and Marshall town trowel everything looks nice.
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Marshalltown trowels because they are forged and the strongest ones for plying the dirt and rocks at an excavation site.
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UPDATE: Yeh it was full – had not been pumped in several ownership turnovers.

Damn the Torpedos!

Spitting down rain all day, several inches projected before the series of storms rolls past us. The “seasonal pond” is becoming a “seasonal lake” – but we have firewood.
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The log pile needs a little work, but there’s gravel underfoot so it’s not as bad as appears. I’m told the big stuff, “that have all the energy in them,” need to move topside and to put smaller pieces on the bottom instead.
Okey-dokey mr. Physics Professor friend.
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For my Birthday I went to Home Depot and bought myself a little 5-ton log-splitter (electric). That evening during a lull in the monsoon I went outside and around to the woodpile to grab a couple large rounds. No RTFM, I just plugged it in and split them inside the garage. Nice!
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Also while I was there I bought myself a new Kohler flush-pot. The little old “round” one of dubious and ancient manufacture in the Master en-suite never made it through the previous owner’s renovations. I need a throne that is somewhat more age-appropriate (comfort height) and also “elongated”… HBTM it’s good to be King of my Domain.


That’s a stock-pic not the correct or current tile or wall-color but I have not yet begun the over-haul and in the end it will be much closer.

Gone in 60-seconds

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As you can see in the top picture, the “deployed” grate-vents take up about an inch of depth.

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The contractor’s hole that was cut for the vents was fine for the inexpensive, beige-painted, short little Home Depot vents, but not for the fabulous bronze vents we purchased – so material had to be removed.

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With the MultiMaster and a wood-metal saw-blade attached, the super-easy ability to do a sideways plunge-cut and then a vertical cut removed enough material and allowed the grate to drop right-in.
The blade/tool also doesn’t have a jerky, instant-on start-up. It begins gradually and comes up to speed, and then once you make the plunge-cut, you can pretty easily move the blade laterally/sideways to keep cutting. Nifty tool, works in tight spaces.
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SIDE EFFECTS: During this process the whole vent sheet-metal and 4-inch ducting-hose fell off with an Oops! It dropped away into the basement and disappeared, so I had to go down there with a flashlight and get up on a ladder, and push it back-up into place. I secured the tin from below with a long sheet-rock screw. Back On the upstairs side I anchored one end of the ducting with another screw and then adjusting for height, did the other side.
The action of falling released two pieces of hitherto unknown yellow fiberglass insulation batting that were lodged in the duct-hose, clogging it. Now what was once a hot room in Summer and a cold one in Winter flows A/C and heat freely. YAY two-fer!

Good Vibrations

I blame the persistent cold and gray weather, and some floor radiator-vents at the Low Granite Outcropping that are not fully operational. Namely the vent-flaps cam-down and stop against the wooden recesses in the sub-floor. We replaced all the cheap, beige-painted tin-vents from Home Depot with nicer bronze-finish steel ones, but the original holes cut into the floor don’t fully accommodate a complete range of motion.
Looking down in there, the base of the “box” that holds the vent-tin and ducting needs to be relieved, but my Sawzall is too big and long-stroke, even with a short blade while the Jigsaw is too short-stroke and physically un-accommodating. It simply can’t fit down in the hole there and make (any) of the cuts without a juddering mess. So I hit upon a tool-idea that should solve the problem and got my Amazon on…multimaster
I really liked the Fein drill I had a few years back, and had checked these tools out but was not convinced I had an actual need. Since that time a number of improvements have been made, patents ran-out and competition has emerged from everywhere to drive more innovation – like interchangeability, tool-less blade-swapping – and more power/less vibration. Since nobody else is going to get me this for Christmas, I figured I’d have to be my own Santa, because: Home Improvements.
I got the basic starter-kit and a couple additional pieces; a circular-saw blade with a depth-stop to control the amount of cutting. We’ll see how it goes, Reportedly the Bosch blades work nicely and in some application may be superior…
UPDATE: Cropped-down pic from MultiMaster Website – I’m thinking something like this will get into tight corners and spaces:
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The original plaster-cast saw came out in 1967. In 1969 after I broke my wrist ice-skating, they used one on me to remove the cast (after a month of itching and scratching). I thought sure as hell they were going to cut my arm off, but you could actually touch the blade and nothing happened, they showed me and it was pretty cool, and seeing a picture of it again was a real flash-back.
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Paint where there aint supposed to be paint

IMG_1173_x800With all due respect to my crew of guys and Eric Church, there really isn’t much “paint where there aint supposed to be paint.” And I’m moving ahead putting stuff back – like the laundry equipment. Also Jason the master electrician fixed a couple issues with the panel and all the circuits in the garage (except the laundry equipment) are now GFI. Plus deeper inside the house we now have working dimmers on the “stadium lights.” IMG_1168_x800IMG_1172_x800

Fun with Electricity

Meeting with mIMG_1161x1000y pal Jason the Electrician tomorrow in the AM. There were a few things on the inspection report that need correcting, and then there’s the Wish List of minor improvements, like switched receptacles and a floor-plug. We’ll see how it all pans-out.

Meanwhile I need to prep for paint as the Garage is finally looking awesome, and even the area behind the washing machine and clothes dryer looks good.

That blue door is going to be another color – medium gray which will match the exterior color (and because I have leftover paint of that color), while the walls are going to be light gray-blue as usual. The backside of the chimney is going to be a darker gray maIMG_1162x1000tching the exterior trim (because I have leftover paint of that color).
Pretty soon we’ll be back in operation on our regular schedule – whatever that is.
At some point I’m going to have to deal with the roof/ceiling and insulation for the hoot-hot/too-cold months.  There’s a loft-like storage area up there that mainly attracts spiders and invites a load of hidden crap like odd-sized 2×4’s and other trim pieces to resided, out-of-sight and mind – and that’s not good or optimum. You can’t go up and walk around in it, can’t really make it useful storage. It just ends up being a crap-and-spider-hider, and I HATE spiders.
I’d rather have it gone and the cross-beams/trusses exposed, while drywall and insulation fill in betweeen the joists. So that’s another project and improvement.

Advances on the Low Out Croppping

Airport Overlook-Beach House has been undergoing some upgrades, and on the exterior She had decided the stupid pink plum blocking the view had to go – so yesterday it went. Today Bernard-Built-Like-an-Oak-Tree came out to grind the stump, which lead to some interesting developments. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees or the land for the rocks.
As Bernard skillfully maneuvered the very-very heavy, tracked, self-powered, land-vehicle stump-grinder (did I say tracked?) work it’s way across the rocks — and the pathway, and the rocks, and the terrain, and the rocks and tanbark, and finally to the cliff-side stump-site, we watched from above.
We made some topographical observations. We could do this: we could unify some of the terraces if we moved some big rocks. This is gonna be fun. My fingers will pay but it will be fun.
In other news The Railing By Burt went in last week. It took about a year, but the design and execution was a bit fussy, especially with the raw and hard-as-rock acacia, and that takes time. Can’t rush it:
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Labor-Day and Labors of Hercules

My old (almost 30-some years) street-riding, dual-sportin’, dirt-riding, Squid-Hunter buddy and his wife are is moving up here – two more refugees from the social and economic hellhole that is fast becoming the Land of BayAryans.
They found a place up the ridge along Pleasant Valley Road towards Pollock, on the edge of the National Forest. It’s in need of some work. The previous owner was a 70-something yr. old smoker who sold and moved in with his girlfriend.
(Cue stable-scene:) The 30-year old gold-tone wall-to-wall shag carpet in the house absolutely reeked of smoke, so like the Augean Stables and with a dumpster in the side yard, my buddy has been systematically hauling out the stinking crud, washing down the walls and windows, and scraping off the stinking late 70’s-period popcorn ceiling.
We went up to help since we had a minor load from the Ranch-work to also toss in the dumpster.
Standing on the pickup truck’s tailgate and with a foot up on the dumpster, the eye-watering old smoke-stench from the carpet and ceiling-crud almost made me fall over backwards. Luckily we are experiencing a cool-down, and the breezes up the mountain contain the fragrant balsam smell of sugar pines and fall colors and new beginnings. The smell of that revived me and I remained upright. Also some of the lumber I brought went into immediate use in a stair-repair. And we have a screen door that will fit in place of the old bent one with its stinking screen.
With ten gallons of primer/sealer on hand my friend is carving away a clean and habitable corner of the house in which to homestead while further repairs and cleaning takes place. Fortunately the garage of the house has survived without need for such treatment and provides a temporary secondary residence before winter closes in. They have a short escrow and will be up here in full by next weekend. Good luck and welcome to the neighborhood!