Monday, August 3, 2015

I promise to write about something else next week …….

……. but this week the garage is still my highest priority.

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I’ve reached so many milestones I don’t know where to begin.  The most satisfying one was definitely the bloody door.  If there were 97 possible wrong ways to install it then I did all 97.  Once I finally ran out of possible wrong things I could do all I had left was the right method and, not surprisingly, the door worked just fine at that point.  Up until then – not so much.  It was incredibly frustrating – the directions were less than clear, in fact they were ambiguous at best and downright confusing in some respects – it took way too long and kept me up at night but it was all the more rewarding when it finally came together.  Right now it works as well or better than any overhead door I have ever seen, let alone owned.  It literally is weightless for its full travel, up or down. 

With the door out of the way the next priority was a general yard cleanup.  Once that was done I could backfill the north and west sides of the building.  The east side is still waiting for Steve-the-concrete-guy to come back and pour me an apron.  I managed not to disturb the south side at all so it didn’t require any cleanup. 

Once the east and north sides were levelled I could use the Genie lift to attack the eaves.  Its incredibly sensitive to being level.  The day I brought it home I thought I was broken because it would go up a little bit, then start squealing loudly and refuse to go any further.  I thought it was “level enough” where it was sitting – we park the truck and trailer there all the time – but once I got the machine inside and got to know it better I learned that it has an extremely low tolerance for side to side out of level conditions.  I guess that makes sense from a safety standpoint – when it extends to its full 26 feet elevation even a very little bit out of level could be  a huge problem.  Its more tolerant of fore/aft out of level conditions but that too makes sense because it is considerably longer than it is wide.  The fact it is so sensitive to level meant that I needed to get the sides of the building cleaned up before I could even think about using it to finish the eaves.

Concurrent with getting the sides of the building levelled up I discovered a feature of the Genie lift that I was previously unaware of.  I was aware that the front end of the platform was supposed to extend but I was also under the impression, mistaken impression as it turned out, that the extension was somehow power driven.  Since I couldn’t make any of the control buttons cause the platform to extend I had concluded that this feature was “broken”.  The lift was incredibly useful even without that extension feature so I didn’t give it too much thought.  There came a time though during the door installation where I was going to have to use a ladder to install the last track hanger.  I had another round of trying to extend the platform and accidentally discovered that extending the platform is as simple as lifting the lock lever and pushing.  It just rolls out as easy as you can imagine and when its fully extended I have a rolling scaffold over 12 feet long.  Its a unbelievably wonderful machine.  It was indispensible to me during the renovation even though I thought the platform extension was unusable.  Being able to extend the platform increases its utility 100%.  Or more. 

The final milestone this week was getting the electrical hooked up.  That happened today.  I trenched the cable in last week and I wasn’t really intending to do anything more until this fall but I had some time on my hands last night which I used to get started on the hookup and I finished it this afternoon.  I’m by no means done with the electrical – in fact I haven’t much more than started but I’ve got a light in my mezzanine parts area and a couple of duplex outlets in the main building.  I’ve also still got the original line powering some outlets so I’m pretty well set up even if I don’t do anything else until winter.  All in all a very productive week.

In fact it was such a productive week that I even took a few minutes to hang parts on the Frankentraktor.  It has been hors de combat since late spring.  I had ordered a coil, points, condenser and voltage regulator from various US suppliers and they finally all arrived a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t feel like I had any time to waste on what is really just a toy.  When things were going so well late last week I took an evening to install all the parts and it has been running like a champ since.  Last night I even took SWMBO on a romantic evening drive around town.

Friday, July 31, 2015

More garage

We’ve been back home for a few days & I’ve been busy closing up the garage so we can go away again.  We got home late Sunday night and Monday saw me back on the road to Saskatoon to pick up the big door.  That went in Tuesday and Wednesday.  Yesterday was window day.

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Wednesday was also trenching day but the official photographer had the day off & I didn’t take the time to document the mess I made.  You can see the leftover mess in the 3rd photo above.  I’ve been waiting to trench in the power until I tracked down the supplies to trench in a gas line at the same time.  That turned out to be problematic because it appears that the local plumbers have so much business that they don’t need to return phone calls …. ever.  I can’t even remember how many different plumbers I phoned and either spoke to their cast iron secretary or, on rare occasions, a real live secretary and never got a return phone call.  Of course when that happens a week or 10 days usually goes by before you even realize that the asshole hasn’t phoned back.  I have a hard and fast rule that I NEVER beg anyone to take my money so I flat out refuse to make a second phone call to the same asshole.  That meant that my circle of contacted plumbers needed to gradually expand. 

Last Monday I was halfway to Saskatoon when I realized yet again that the last asshole hadn’t bothered to call back.  So I Googled plumbers in Wadena (the radius was up to 100 km at this point) and phoned Water World.  Some dear old soul answered the phone and told me that Ashley would have to answer my questions but then proceeded to ask all the right questions about what I was doing.  I think she was actually Ashley’s mother.  When she finished she said Ashley would call me back if he had any more questions and I thought “Yeah right – I won’t hold my breath” but within an hour there was Ashley calling back and before I knew what was happening I had another stop to make in Saskatoon to pick up the necessary parts. 

I know nothing about gas fitting but Google is your friend and I had learned that some installations use plastic pipe.  There was 100 feet of copper line on Kijiji that I briefly considered buying but fortunately I didn’t because I’m sure if I had done that then when it came time to hook it up whatever plumber I finally found would have asked “WTF is that and WTF did you use it?”  It turned out that gas fitting is just like plumbing with PEX now.  I ended up with 50 feet of 1” plastic pipe and a couple of steel risers with what looks like oversized Sharkbite fittings.  Cut the hose off with a knife, clean up the end, jam it into the Sharkbite and bury the pipe – QED as father used to say.  I don’t know when I’ll get around to hooking up heat in the garage but it seemed stupid to bury the electrical and not put the gasline in at the same time. 

Ashley told me that the gas and the power could go in the same trench as long as they were separated by one foot so I dug a 3 foot plus trench, put the power in the bottom and the gas at roughly 2 feet below the surface.  They had to go in that order because otherwise I would have had to do some additional marking to indicate that the gas was beneath the power.  I’ve got the old power panel that we replaced in the house last summer.  It wasn’t big enough for the house but its way more than adequate for the garage.

Friday, July 24, 2015

On the road again

We’re back on the road – we’ve been away from Buchanan for just over a week now.  We started off with my Class of ‘79 reunion weekend in Saskatoon.  There’s a small group of us who have been getting together the weekend of the 3rd Saturday in July for a very long time now.  It was a smallish group this year but we had just as good a time as we always do.

We stuck around in Saskatoon until Wednesday morning so that I could attend the 1st ever Ag in Motion outdoor farm show.  I’m glad I went but I don’t know that I’d bother going again unless it gets a lot better.  I was surprised by the number of seed companies there that I had never heard of.  They had put a lot of work into their booths with most of them having seeded extensive plots of new varieties and – apparently – hauled water to them to keep them going through this summer’s drought.

The big disappointment to me at Ag in Motion was a combination of who WASN’T there as well as who WAS there.  Who WASN’T there was the bulk of the prairie equipment manufacturers including such notables as Bourgault, Morris and Seed Hawk.  Who WAS there was a plethora of tillage companies.  Tillage manufacturers ferchrisakes!! In a year where we flat out wouldn’t have a bloody crop if it wasn’t for the fact that we have largely given up on tillage for the past 10 years, the big new equipment event at the first ever outdoor show is effing bloody tandem disks.  I couldn’t believe it.  There I was waiting to see the latest seeding technology in action and instead what I got was a great bloody lineup of big 4WD tractors hooked to shiny new tandem disks.  WTF??  Mind you, the politically correct term now appears to be “vertical tillage”.  “Tandem disk and harrowing the crap out of land until its black and ready to blow away” sounds so yesterday after all.  If we have as little rain in the next 12 months as we have had in the last 12 I predict that none of those high tillage machines will be back for a third year, assuming the show itself survives that long.

From Saskatoon we moved down to Lucky Lake where they have a delightful little campground tucked in on the north side of town.  We’ve had the place completely to ourselves until tonight when a few other trailers have started to show up for a big wedding this weekend.  I bundled up the cutoffs from the garage project and brought them along so that SWMBO could have a bonfire and so far she’s had one each night we’ve been here.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Of cats and trees and garages

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That’s “Tweak” the cat who has been on our news ad nauseum today.  You know its a slow news day when a cat in a tree leads the news all day.  Tweak’s big accomplishment was spending 4 days in a tree.  I have some experience with cats in trees so pay attention to what I am about to say.  Cats dying of starvation from spending time in trees is not a huge issue in North America.  I’m not qualified to speak of other parts of the world but I suspect the principle may apply.  I point to the marked lack of cat skeletons in trees as evidence of the truth of my statement. 

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That’s the only picture I was able to locate on short notice of George I.  Its not immediately obvious that there is a cat in that photo but look closely – he’s definitely there.  Its also appropriate that I should include a picture of my first garage build.  It was a pretty significant structure as well and it is still standing.  You may also note my previous use of raised chord trusses although at the time I didn’t know what they were called – they were just what I ended up building.  But I digress – today’s subject is cats in trees.

George I spent most of his life freely roaming outdoors including the time we lived in Saskatoon.  Nobody thought anything of it at the time – that’s just what cats did.  When we moved to Nipawin he discovered tall trees – jack pines to be precise.  If you know jack pines you’ll know that they typically don’t have many branches for the first 30 or 40 feet.  Occasionally we would notice that we hadn’t seen George for a few days.  Unfailingly this would happen after an extremely windy period.  For some reason when it was windy he would go up a tree and then forget how to get back down.  I’d go out in the forest in the evening when it was quiet and call him – he’d answer with his plaintive “I’m up a tree” yowl.

Unlike Tweak in the hyperlinked story above, I didn’t call the fire department or any professional tree climbers.  And I didn’t stuff him into any bag to get him out of the tree although I would pay good money to watch anyone stuff any cat into a bag high up in a tree. 

If I could find a long enough stick (think dead tree) I’d use that to poke George from the ground but usually I had to drag a ladder out to the bush and climb closer to him before starting to poke him.  He didn’t like being poked – surprise, surprise – but eventually he would lose his balance, fall a few feet and then remember how to climb down.  Usually he’d kind of fall and recover a few times until he got close enough to fall on my shoulders and then he’d ride down with me.  A fire hose would probably have worked better than a poking stick but I didn’t have one of them available.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Western Canada is burning up

 

We’ve been travelling back and forth through BC for a lot of years now.  Its probably 15 years since the mountain pine beetle first started devastating vast swaths of forest.  As we drove past thousands of acres of dead pine trees we always commented on how at some point those trees would have to go up in flames.  There were several mill fires when they cut that standing dead timber and then attempted to saw it.  The dead timber gave off a drier sawdust which, not surprisingly, was explosive and I think there were three mills lost to dust explosions over the last 4 or 5 years.  This summer may very well be the one we’ve been expecting when the whole forest goes up in flames from BC to Manitoba.

BC isn’t in as bad shape as Saskatchewan but its early going.  We’ve got at least 6 weeks of normally dry weather before we can expect general rains in western Canada. 

The dry weather is a blessing for my garage construction project but its balanced by the extreme heat which seriously cuts into the time I can tolerate.  My mid-afternoon productivity goes down dramatically in the heat.  Progress this week consisted of building 7 trusses, getting them placed and sheeted.  I’ll put my trusses up against any store bought ones.  In fact, mine are considerably better.  The store bought ones are fine as long as you keep them standing up but they literally fall apart if you stress them on their side.  I didn’t deliberately handle mine flat but if they happened to get sideways on me I didn’t worry about it either.

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Movin’ on down the road

Mike and Diane hooked up yesterday morning, capping a busy week of building, visiting and sight seeing.  We took them to Yorkton on Friday to see the musical ride.  We had intended to stay to watch the pony chuckwagons but a couple of things interfered with that plan.  First off the Yorkton Ex grandstand seats were so bloody uncomfortable that I doubt we could have survived any more time in them.  More importantly though our three boys (and one almost daughter in law) showed up for a visit and to pick up the Malibu.

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We’ve got a ton of happy memories of our Malibu Response (ski boat) and I think the boys share those memories.  But the boat has been sitting for four years now and it was time for us to move on.  Its damned expensive to own and operate any boat so I wasn’t sure whether I was blessing or cursing Michael when I phoned him to tell him we planned to give the Malibu to him.  He’s at least pretending its a pleasant gift but I’m sure he will quickly learn that a boat is just a hole in the water that you throw money into.  Regardless of what that future may look like, the three boys showed up to pick up the boat and Jenna came along to supervise.   We managed to get the boat loaded onto Michael’s trailer with a minimum of peril and drama although there were a couple of moments when it got exciting. 

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Whenever the Malibu finally hits the water again it won’t be the first time Michael has been at the helm so I know its in good hands.  We elected not to try to put it in the water this weekend because it likely needs some shop time before it gets wet.  Its sad to see it go but it feels good to know its going to be used again.

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Michael and RJ had a load on the trailer when they arrived.  They brought my new car hoist which turned out to be quite a bit more impressive than I had expected.  It was right at the limit of what my little Scat wanted to handle just lifting the individual posts.  I’ve now got a very heavy jig saw puzzle stored in the little barn at the back of 210.  It will likely be fall before I have the garage ready to receive the jig saw and I expect assembling it will be an adventure. 

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That’s my new hoist assembled in it’s former location, the Medicine Hat High shop.  The three major components (2 posts and a crossmember) are currently stuffed into our little barn.  Both posts are heavy but the one on the left is surprisingly so.

Friday, July 3, 2015

More garage pix

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