Archive | March, 2012

Progress at last!

25 Mar

It has been one of those weeks again. If it could get in the way of either our social life or the 9 sq/mtr project it has.
I set out with really good intentions on Monday by taking a day off work to clear the decking of my pallet reclamation yard and move the timber stands up to the sheltered back side of the workshop. I managed to move a little over 940 linear metres of timber, reclaimed the timber from some machinery packing cases and just generally tidied up and separated all the damaged or mouldy timbers ready to be processed for Mikki’s wood burner and open fire. The job was a larger one than I first anticipated and 8 hours was easily consumed moving wood from one part of the garden to another and then stacking it up on the racking. This of course ran into Tuesday as well, and because I thought I had a decent supply of bars already made and painted in stock, I continued with this “haymaking” exercise moving the pallets and timber; but Lois will be pleased that she has the decking area back when I have finished.
Wednesday arrived and all my plans for the rest of the week almost immediately went straight out of the window and carried on over the horizon when a largish order (on a Cargo Cycles scale of things) was placed and once again my stock diminished to nothing. I thought that I had planned the month of March well; having 24 bars in stock right at the beginning of the month, but they have all gone now, and they are also flying off the shelf as fast as I can make them. Thursday came and I had already been previously booked for a day working on a minor installation job in a local food factory, so off I went and hit that both hard and fast on a personally set task and finish schedule, only to run out of customer supplied materials. Friday arrived and it was all hands to the pumps; or in my case just me on the saw and welder making even more bars just to keep up with incoming orders. The plan being to cut and weld steel all day long and then spray paint on Saturday morning, leaving the bars on the hangers for the paint to dry and set ready for packing and dispatch on Monday morning.
Then the welder broke down; it is always a vital consumable item that fails and always just after everywhere has closed for the weekend.
This time part of the Teflon covering on the spring steel wire feed liner to the mig torch had melted and was now preventing the gas mixture to flow to the welding arc. Why does the most important piece of equipment that you own always have to breakdown upon a Friday afternoon when you are at your busiest, and all the suppliers have just shut up shop and gone home for the weekend?
Fortunately after only one telephone call to the mobile phone of the manager of a local welding equipment and supplies stockist, they opened up especially for me, and they were able to get me up and running again before 9 am on Saturday morning. It always seems to be the simplest and most used consumable items that always causes the most trouble, and I have now vowed to keep a spare liner in stock, along with the tips and shrouds that I already do. I have also ordered a new ergonomic soft grip Euro torch complete with 4 metre long wire feed; my newly repaired and refurbished standard Euro torch with its 2.5 mtr long wire feed will now be held on the shelf as a ready to go, get me out of the shit replacement assembly.
I have also decided to replace the Mig welder in 12 months time just as the existing 3 year warranty expires, replacing it with a larger capacity 220 or 230 amp model (currently I have a 195 amp model): I don’t really need the extra amperage to weld thicker materials, but I do need the extra length duty cycle time capacity to help prevent the welder overheating and cutting out, and then having to wait for what seems ages as the welder cools down before being able to use it again.
After rushing about all of Saturday, I relaxed during the evening and started to do some Internet research on Norwich ready for a 2-3 hour exploratory Sunday morning cycle ride around city seeking out clues to use for the up and coming March AlleyCat. I got very lucky! And with judicial use of Google search, Google maps, Google street view, and copy & paste I was able to set the clues for the March Alleycat without having to leave the comfort of the sofa……. I do hope that all those taking part in the AlleyCats appreciate all of the hard work and effort that I put into organising and running one.
With this stroke of luck, I now have all of Sunday to get on with making the 2 new planters required to for our 9 sq/mtr project; the time is ticking on and I have yet to make any significant progress.
Bloody hell, we’ve gone and messed about with the clocks again; I knew it was coming, but yet again as it does every year it has crept up on me and I have been caught out by the change to British Summer time, and as I sit here drinking Tea, smoking roll-ups, and faffing about on the computer it is already 10 am on Sunday morning…. time for me to get my arse into gear and actually achieve something.
When I eventually got out into the garden it was sort of a false start. Lois has decided that that the temporary plastic mesh fence that we have had surrounding the grass seed and young grass shoots all winter could be taken down. So I pulled the fencing pins from half of it and started to roll the mesh up. The idea was to be able to keep a little tension on the mesh as it was rolled up. I got the first half done without incident, but as I was rolling up the second half, Oz decided that this sudden extra space was worthy of playing on. As I was rolling up the mesh, Oz jumped on it, and because of how hard he hit it, I went down landing badly on my left hand; the air was so blue with foul language, curses and oaths, that sailors from both Yarmouth and Lowestoft would have blushed in shame. It took almost 45 minutes for the feeling in my hand to return back to normal. Fortunately I have neither bruised it nor injured it; I’d just temporarily numbed it, but I do however have bruising on my left side lower rib, which is now rather tender and starting to change to an awful colour.
After the feeling returned to my hand, I got on cutting the reclaimed pallet timbers to length ready to screw them together to make the two vegetable planters that are such an important part of our 9 sq/mtr project. By tea time I had gotten all of the panels made for both planters, and concentrated up on making a low retaining fence to hold back some gravel that the Brox box will now be positioned on …… progress has at last been made folks.
When I came in for the day at 6pm, not only had I stacked everything up and put it all away, but I had also swept my working area clean of sawdust and debris. This I have added to a mixed trug full of donkey and horse manure as part of the winter fuel project.
Monday: and I am beginning to make progress organising the current large amount of reclaimed pallet timber I’ve had hanging around all winter:



Lois has decided to give trimming back the spindly Buddleia a go, before it becomes necessary for me to terminally grub it out completely:


The two new, 2 tiered vegetable planters for our 9 sq/mtr project stacked up and ready for a couple coats of bitumen paint and wood preservative. I’ve made a rather rash promise this evening in that I will have them completely assembled, positioned and filled with soil and manure before 6pm Sunday the 1st of April:

and finally. Three photos of our existing planters just to let you see how they are currently progressing:
Flower Planter:

The Herb Planter:

And last but by no means least, our existing vegetable planter:

17 Mar

I spent 2½ days installing the plywood cell walls into the loft; 19 joists with 4 panel sections fixed to each, making 76 pieces of plywood lifted into the loft and screwed down by me, along with making a box section for the loft hatch and a new box to act as the loft hatch which is also to be filled with 200 mm of insulation.  The insulation installers turned up at the allotted appointment time, and 30 minutes later the job was completed, and immediately I began to feel the difference in the whole house. Each room is warmer by 2-3⁰C, and the house is quieter: from inside generated noise, and especially from the background noise of the city: which over the last 15 months we had become so use to.
I have decided to dispose of the old sections of bedroom units and old wardrobe pieces that have made up the floor of the loft and will replace them with 9mm plywood, I may even glue a piece 18 mm insulation board to the underside of each new section of plywood flooring before I lay it down in place. Yes, it will be more expense, but we are here in this house for the long term, and once it is do, it is done. …… and it will save us more on the heating and fuel bills.
While I am still on the subject of fuel bills, insulation and the like, the main contracting company that installed the insulation under this scheme has informed us that we also qualify for the Barclays bank carbon off-set scheme for a completely free solar panel installation: up to a maximum of 46 sq/mtrs. In a nutshell Barclays bank premises across the country consume a lot of electricity and have a very large carbon foot print, and they receive off-set carbon credits by covering our roof with solar panels with us producing electricity which we either consume and use to reduce our bill, or sell to the national grid. So we are now going along the road of checking through all of the small print, whilst waiting for the pre- installation survey later this week.
Clearance work has at long last begun in our garden ready for the installation of 2 of the new planters which are a major part of our 9 sq/mtr project. I have a large fibreglass storage box to move before grubbing out a spindly Buddleia tree.  He frames for the new planters have been made from reclaimed pallet stringer timbers, and are waiting to be clad with old pallet deck planks before they are put in place.
However, work as a contracting mechanical engineer and pallet bar sales have really taken off and all of a sudden I have not got all the time I need to get these projects done. Add to that the fact that my 50th birthday is approaching: only 8 weeks away, and Lois wants it all in place, the decking cleared and the garden tidied before I can have a party, I am really going to have to get on and do at every available opportunity.
The plywood cells in the loft prior to the extra insulation being installed:

One of the many wasp nests that I found in the loft while doing this job. That is Norfolk reed  the roof tiles have been laid on; it’s been there for 77 years:

The yellow fibreglass storage box that will have to be moved. It will be turned around 90 degrees and placed tight up against the blue water butts. One planter will be installed where the yellow box currently is, and the second where the pallet is sitting. Alas the small Buddleia will have to come out.
In this photo is where all of our 9 sq/mtr project will be sited. Our original 3 tier vegetable planter is on the left of the photo. ,
The current state that I have our decking area in. Lois is getting fed up with not be able to enjoy it, while I have a pallet reclamation yard there. I have over 1000 linear mtrs of timber stacked up there.