A couple of weeks ago I wrote about purchasing a plastic-covered tunnel with which to use to protect a couple of the Phoenix Canariensis plants we have in the rear garden. The other three could be more easily protected but these two had proved difficult to protect over the last couple of years. Last year if you remember we had a severely cold snap which damaged some of the plants, these two especially. However, they started to recuperate during the summer months and I didn’t want them to suffer again this winter so I purchased the tunnel. A week or so ago E and I erected the steel frame an d we were going to leave it that way for a few more weeks but on Sunday (11 th) I decided not to wait and I placed the plastic cover over it. Surprisingly it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it might be.
I needed a step ladder of course and I had wanted to use the larger of the two I had in the garage but it had been stored temporarily behind the scaffolding tower and the smaller ladder was also trapped in the same way. I moved the scaffolding pieces to free the ladders but then decided the smaller of the two would suffice. Whilst doing that I noticed a small patch of water on the floor near to the door. The roof had sprung a leak. Now it had only been a matter of a few days since I asked E to call her nephew to sort out the problem as he had done the alteration work on the roof in the first place. At the time he had used this ‘special’ paint (all singing and all dancing apparently) but weeks later there was an enormous leak and he had the work redone. Well a few days ago he returned to carry out repairs to another but smaller leak. Now he has to return yet again to repair this one! So much for the ‘special’ paint! I think he should have stuck with the bitumen and felt covering.
It was me who was garaged, spent quite a few hours in there working on the floodlight project. I was up and about very early on Tuesday so I could get on the treadmill for a time. I had been using the cross trainer on Sunday and had spent almost an hour exercising on it. Finally my muscles have gotten used to the machine and this time I had no problems. If you remember I had problems using it initially as I wasn’t used to it. Anyway as E and I had spent Monday doing other things I did no exercising that day. So on Tuesday I spent three-quarters of an hour on the treadmill before breakfast. After breakfast it was time to put on my overalls and get the electrical work done in the garage. I have to say at this point this project has fought me all the way for as I worked through it I was beset with one problem after another. Usually most jobs have a problem or two but this one was challenging to say the least. The electrical circuit is simplicity itself but the execution of it at times was frustrating. Anyway I worked through from late morning until three o’clock except for a lunch break in order to finish the work.
The top picture shows the reverse of the reed switch bracket screwed in position and the wiring installed and connected. It is operating on a 12 volt AC supply so there is no danger it being easy to access. It operates a relay inside the grey box on the far right in the next picture. The external photo cell unit is wired into the same box (the cable is that entering the box at top right). Another cable leaves the box to supply the floodlight shown in the bottom picture. There you have it, when it goes dark outside and the garage door is opened, on comes the floodlight……
All I need to do now is to replace the door cover which I removed several weeks ago before any of this work was started. Hopefully I will get the safety edge gear refitted on the timber I purchased to make a better job than that originally done by the installer.
As I now usually use the treadmill at least three times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it became awkward that I had a dental appointment on Friday at nine-thirty. It meant I had to arise early in order to have my exercise before keeping the appointment. If I don’t exercise first thing in the morning I don’t do it at all. Exercising early allows me to have the rest of the day free for other activities. Exercising later in the day means I might already be too tired to do it! Anyway I arose around six-forty had my exercise and had eaten breakfast by eight o’clock. After taking a shower and dressing I drove to the surgery for my check-up. This time nothing was out of the ordinary. I paid the receptionist and drove back home. Things were going well and I was thinking about things I could do for the remainder of the day. Going out for a meal was a definite possibility but as it turned out I didn’t get the chance. A couple of months ago we had a new garage door installed (see previous posts). When I returned home I opened the garage door and reversed my vehicle into the garage. On leaving the garage I tried to close the door but it had become stuck in the open position. I switched off the power and attempted to wind it down manually using the supplied handle but it wouldn’t shift. The door had unwound itself and required manipulating by hand. That couldn’t be done whilst the steel cover was in place. It was a job for the fitter to do under the guarantee agreement. We paid a little extra to extend the guarantee to ten years from the one year basic cover. I had to leave the door open which meant leaving all the garage contents exposed to the possibility of theft. I wasn’t prepared to allow that. We called the company by phone and they told us they couldn’t help as the guarantee was the responsibility of the official sub-contractor. They couldn’t supply a telephone number but only an email address and a website. We tried the website first so that we could enter the details of our complaint but it wouldn’t work. Evidently the site didn’t have a secure status and was blocked! E tried the email approach and after a few attempts finally was able to send the message. However, before she could send the message we’d had problems with the email provider (AOL) for quite some time. Rather than waiting for a reply for an appointment date E decided to send another email requesting they contact us by phone. So there we were, no reply, no appointment date and a garage door stuck in the open position with the possibility of it remaining like that for days! What kind of company operates this way? I was disgusted and furious. I decided to take things into my own hands by removing the steel cover, which was rather awkward, then I was able to free the unrolled door before lowering it electrically. I switched off the power and left the door in the closed position. I left the steel cover off too so that the installer can follow-up on the repair/resetting when he finally gets here. It means I haven’t the use of the van until he does, though it is possible to re-open the door if I really need to. I know what the problem is causing the fault, it is a strip of material located in the slot in which the door runs. It acts as a slide and prevents metal to metal contact as the door operates. It has become detached from the slot. The one on the opposite side is perfectly alright. The now loose material interferes with the door rolling up and down and it requires securing probably with adhesive. I wonder sometimes how things in this world manage to work and keep on working without these kinds of problems. They don’t make ’em like they used to!
After a recent bout of rain we noticed there was a leak in the new raised portion of the garage roof, that is the garage in which I park my van. E’s nephew, a builder, had done the original work and he called back a couple of days after we had informed him of the problem. However, the weather wasn’t particularly good at that time so he put off the repair until Friday last week when it was pleasantly warm outdoors. He cut away the fibreglass covering which had by then set hard as expected but hadn’t adhered to the wood-based sheet beneath it. Water had somehow gotten beneath the covering and leaked onto the floor of the garage. This time he produced a different compound/fibreglass mix which was presumably superior. I asked him how long it would take to dry out and he told me a few days. What he meant was that as soon as it was applied it became waterproof almost immediately but it would take a few days more in which to cure. I hoped he was right, he wouldn’t be happy to have to do the work again. The finished work looks good though, just right in fact. Here is a picture of the area after the grey covering was replaced. Whilst they were doing that work I took the opportunity to shorten the excessively long electrical supply cable to the new door control panel and to tidy up some of the other wiring by using mini-trunking. Now that looks a lot better also. At the time of writing we still haven’t heard from the installers of the garage doors who were to return to install the door alarm system. We are hoping it will have been done by the time this post is published. I can now plan out how I am going to install the circuit to control the main garage light when the door is opened at night. I had to remove the existing circuit I had installed which was operated by the old door. I will carry out the work when I get time.
Earlier in the day I had been working in the rear garden tidying and sweeping up yet more fallen leaves. Already the two bins are again full to the brim though the leaves will compact allowing more to fit in later. Many of the trees still have their leaves and probably won’t lose them yet awhile, maybe by the end of the month. Our apple trees still have their leaves and the only four apples growing on them this year. In fact those four apples are all on the same tree, the largest tree has none. Must be something to do with pruning and the unusual weather we have had this year.
For a couple of weeks now we have been waiting for the garage door to be replaced. After the initial survey we had to make alterations to part of the roof in order to accommodate the door housing, the box which houses the rolled-up door. We, that is I, had to install the necessary electrical supply and to generally clean up the area. We spotted some dampness on the interior of the wall after all that work was done so I had the added task of effecting a solution which meant I had to do some external pointing around the affected area and then seal the bricks and mortar with a proprietary sealant. All is now well. Having done all the preparatory work we were asked if we wouldn’t mind postponing the installation for a day. We didn’t object and so finally the work was carried out on Friday (6th). As it turned out the weather turned out better that day than it had been on Thursday but only as far as it wasn’t windy. The old door…We had been told that the fitters would arrive sometime during the morning, that is eight til midday but nobody came. I received a call just after eleven o’clock letting me know the fitters would be with us in an hour or so but again nobody came. E wanted to phone their office but I asked her to wait a while longer. She called them at two because nobody had arrived even then. There was only an answering machine at the office but she left a message. Fifteen minutes later the fitters arrived. They apologised with the excuse that one of them had to walk fifteen miles to collect another van as theirs was out of action! Why he couldn’t take a cab I have no idea. I didn’t question him, I was just glad they had finally arrived. They immediately got on with the work but it was around six forty-five before they left. I was asked if I would like to pay for a nine year extension to the one year guarantee for the added fee of £145. I knew I had this option as the guy doing the estimate had told me but it wasn’t necessary to take the option until the work had been completed. I took out the extension. New door from the inside… As I had taken the option I was then informed I was entitled to an alarm system for the installation fitted at no extra cost plus a remote control which could be stuck on the wall anywhere in the house or garage that would operate the door too. This picture shows the safety feature which cuts off the supply to the motor should anyone step close and disrupt the beam.
The beam is projected from the tall black bar to a similar bar on the opposite side of the opening. The next picture shows the bar, the power supplies and the eyelet at the top of the door housing for use when mechanically operating the door in the event of an electrical problem. There is a long operating handle supplied which can be fixed to the wall for storage when not in use.
I will be tidying up the cabling using mini trunking when I get a moment free. The last picture is the new door shown from the outside. The fitters would return on Saturday afternoon to install the alarm and check all was right with the installation.
There’s no getting away from it, Autumn is upon us here in the UK. As the temperate areas of the Southern Hemisphere are welcoming Spring, we in the north are moving in the opposite direction. Leaves have been falling from the trees in greater quantities and for anyone living near that means the annual sweeping up of them! It’s either that else let the mess continue. Having a garden is a lovely thing and for those who wish to keep theirs tidy and well-maintained sweeping up the leaves is a must. The problem is the leaves don’t all fall at the same time. A couple of days ago I decided to sweep up as many of the leaves that had fallen as I could, mainly off the pathways because quite simply I got fed-up looking at the state of the garden. As the green waste bins were full after my trimming back the bushes in the front garden there was limited space for any swept-up leaves. I managed however to get them all in by compression. On Wednesday we were expecting another visit from the installers of our new garage door prior to it being installed the following week on Thursday. More accurate measurements were required and an assessment of the preparatory work we had done for the installation was needed. It was just as well I was at home for they had misunderstood my original request to maintain head-clearance and the reason for my having the roof at that point raised to accommodate the unit. They didn’t stop long and after five minutes or so were on their way. They weren’t sure if it would be themselves or the other local crew who would return to carry out the installation. E had been working in her studio during the morning but after lunch she joined with me and we cleared-up the fallen leaves once more but this time we included the lawn. Fortunately we have one of those devices , a rotatory sweeper which sweeps up the leaves into a hopper by simply pushing it along the ground. We had the work done in less than fifteen minutes but then had to put the leaves into one of the builder’s bags we keep in the garage. The green waste bins wouldn’t be emptied until two weeks later so storing the leaves temporarily in the bags was the only option and there would be more leaves to sweep up long before then. Autumn in the garden is never dull, there is always something to do, in fact I have some plans afoot already.
A week or so back I wrote about having a replacement garage door installed. I had been having problems with the old door that fairly recently was converted to electrical operation though it wasn’t the electrical conversion but rather the inherent mechanical components beginning to show their age. The picture below shows almost the exact door as the one we are having replaced….
For a few years I have wanted to replace the door with a roller-shutter type so I contacted a company which manufactures and installs them to call and give me a quote. Having agreed on the price I told them to proceed with the work. I was informed that it may be a month or so before it could be done. In the interim I arranged for the garage roof to be raised where the new roller was to be fitted and that work was carried out during the following week. Since then it has been a case of waiting for things to happen, that is up to the time of writing this on Thursday (21) for on Wednesday I received a call informing me that after a second survey on Wednesday 27 to check the preliminary alterations have been completed the installation will take place on Thursday October 5. The work will be completed in one day. I never did like the old door because there were too many things in its design that were prone to fault. Things move on though and hopefully there will be less problems associated with the new door. The other garage has a rolled steel shutter door which gives us little problem and there is no reason to replace it. Hopefully in my next post regarding the new installation I will be able to post a picture or two.
One thing I hate are ladders but only if they are in my stockings! The other variety though come in very handy don’t they? Years ago we purchased a two-section aluminium ladder, classed then as 27 feet (8.5 metres) and it has proved to be very useful because if required only one section need be used. We acquired another more robust aluminium two-section ladder that has a pulley attachment at the top, or rather that section which would be at the top when both sections are used. I say we acquired it because I have no idea from whence it came nor to whom it belonged. It may have been owned by E’s father, who lived in the house with us but who is now deceased. In any event no-one wants to claim it though we’ve asked them. I don’t really want it either but until I can find a way to dispose of it I am lumbered with it. I may end up taking it to the dump. Once I do that I can place one or two of my other ladders on the racks instead. One of those is presently stored on the rack which the grey coloured bicycle is hanging from (last picture) but it is out of sight in the picture.In the picture above you can see we have one section of it suspended near the ceiling in the garage on the right. There are empty builder’s material bags sitting on it at the moment. The heavier section I have hung on the wall on the opposite side of the garage together with our original ladder. We did not posses a rack on which to hang ladders so me being me decided I would make some. Now it has been a while since I worked much with metal insofar as bending and shaping it under heat like a blacksmith does. I have been trained in that discipline along with many other things so I am used to it but having all the equipment at home to carry out mechanical work is not what most women would regard as normal….LOL. I have a limited variety of tools and equipment but one of the most useful is a metal-working vice of a decent size on a workbench in the cellar. It has proved its worth over the years. I found some suitable mild steel metal bars in my stock of things and using a gas-torch to heat up the metal to straighten it and the shape it I made two brackets and fixed them to the garage wall…
You can see the ladders hanging on them. I also attached some sturdy chain to aid with supporting the ladders. Because the ladder we ‘acquired’ is quite heavy, one section being almost twice as heavy as the one we purchased, the brackets might bend under the strain without that extra support. The chains could be locked too should we require it. Sorry about the detail as I took the pictures as an afterthought but if you click on them they should magnify. That was my work for a couple of hours on Monday (11th). Speaking of stockings by the way, it is getting nearer that time of year when I resume wearing them….but without the ladders!
After E’s nephew and his crew had finished their work on the garage roof alterations I finally got the opportunity to finish the electrical work on Friday morning. The task was to wire-in the new power outlet from the existing circuit in the garage but before I could do that I had to remove some now unnecessary lighting cabling and tidy up what remained. In the picture below all that work took place at ceiling height on the left above the ladders and scaffolding stored there and toward the door out of sight on the left. It would have taken far too long to shift everything to gain better access but the ladders and scaffolding were actually a benefit as I could climb them to reach the ceiling!
Once that was done I set about fitting a little extra support beneath one of the timbers. In the next picture it is the piece on the left flat against the wall at ceiling height. Let me explain. When the garage was built not all of the joists had been inserted into the house wall (the wall in the picture). Some had been supported by another joist which had been secured between two that went into the wall. It sounds complicated but in essence some of the joists could not be inserted in the wall where there is chimney stacks, and there are two of those along the length of the house wall.
In the picture above two of the three joists had been inserted into the wall whilst the middle was supported by the timber lying flat on the wall. The left-hand joist of the two which were inserted into the wall had to be cut and removed. It ran alongside the steel beam you can see top left. Now that short piece of timber on the wall was only secured to the outer timbers. Although the nails are intact and still in place the timber had been moved and it left a gap as you can see. My task was to fit a short length of timber to the wall beneath it thus giving more support (not shown in the picture). It probably would be fine without it but I never take chances when it comes to structural integrity. At the opposite end of the now removed joist the crew had kindly left the hole unfilled. In the picture below it is immediately adjacent to the steel beam (top right).
It was awkward to get at and it needed much filling. I used a fine concrete mix and a brick. When bricklayers build double-thickness garden walls, which in fact the wall in the picture above is, they never bother to fill the gaps fully between the two bricks. Saving mortar I guess. The wall we reckon is as old as the house (1877). Later in the day I went to the top of the house to see E who was busy in her workshop and I looked again at the roof…
…and noticed something that needs attention. In the picture above on the far side of the roof the top of the wall can be seen and it was capped with a layer of mortar when the garage roof had been constructed. Some of that mortar needs to be replaced, about one-third of it toward the front at the right-hand-side. When the weather permits I will do that work myself but I won’t be using just mortar, I will use a fine concrete mix instead, it is much stronger and less prone to cracking in the heat of the sun.
In contrast to yesterday’s post I said I would get on with the electrical work and I did. It was a slow start for me on Tuesday as I began the work at ten-thirty. There were several things I had to do before I could make any progress on diverting the supply to the existing power outlets in the garage. This garage we erected in 1989 about a year after we had moved in, maybe less, and the wiring for a light and a twin power outlet was taken from the basement house wiring. I rewired the house in 1988/9. Different electrical regulations were in force at that time so the wiring was compliant to those regulations. Since those days the garage supply, though still wired the same way, was brought under the protection of circuit breakers and RCD units by myself. Added to that I had installed two outdoor electrical supplies each fed from a dedicated RCD unit and circuit breakers. One was fitted in the boiler room and the other was installed in the other garage. The board provides the supply for that garage and for the other circuits at that end of the garden, the patio for instance. The unit in the boiler room supplies a couple of power outlets and some lights at the opposite end of the garden behind the first garage. For a time I connected the power outlets in the first garage (the one in which my van is parked and the subject of this post) to the same RCD unit. Today, Tuesday as I write this, I have removed the supply to the outlets and re-supplied them from one of the house distribution boards instead as there was a spare circuit breaker I could dedicate for them. Ideally I could have installed a small RCD board we call here a ‘garage unit’ in the garage itself but because there is the same protection wiring it the way I have I chose not to use one. It would be an unnecessary expenditure. Most of the electrical work was therefore carried out in the cellar (basement) rooms as I had to run a cable to the main supply units through those rooms. Having done that work I ran out of cable to actually wire for a new outlet near to the garage door. I would have to do that small job another day, probably Wednesday after I purchase the cable. This is the board I fitted before doing the rest of the work….
The lighting switch was originally directly on the brick wall. The new power outlet beneath it is the new one waiting to be wired into the existing circuit. I had to do a lot of cleaning and clearing out of rubbish as well as moving some things to the other end of the garage in readiness for the new door to be installed in a couple of weeks time. Here are some pics of the existing door mechanisms. The motor in the top picture pulls a loop of chain similar to those on bicycles which is attached to the top of the door..
The tracks in which the doors wheels run can be seen with the huge springs and their pullies above them. Click on pictures to magnify. The ladder in the last picture has been there for many years and has never been used. It was left by someone but nobody can remember who! It could be used but we have other ladders which are in better condition. You can see in the last picture the old garage door post with the cream-coloured painted top which was left as am extra support for the wall when the garage was constructed around it.