It was Monday 12th Feb. and I determined I would get up early to make the most of the forecast fine weather. It had been somewhat blustery on Sunday but Monday promised wall to wall sunshine, ideal for being outdoors. I wanted to pay another visit to the builder’s yard to purchase more granite dust so soon after breakfast I drove along there and bought two bags (50 Kg). This was to mix a fine concrete as opposed to the heavy-duty one I mixed a couple of days ago using granite stones. It was to be used for the construction of the sloping sides around the pit.
The tiles you see are there to act as weights against the plywood holding back the new concrete. I wasn’t able to fill-in to the existing floor tile level at this stage but it is almost at that level. I finished working on the project for the day and covered the mixer as it had to remain outdoors until no longer required.
My next job was to section off that portion of the raised bed where the rhubarb was planted a few weeks ago and is now beginning to sprout. I used some paving edge tiles I had to separate the rhubarb from the rest of the bed. I raked some soil from one of the flowerbeds where there is an excess amount of it at the moment, at the same time digging out a few bluebells then transferring it to the raised bed. The soil there had been a little too low.Following on from that I pruned back the overgrown and now dormant ‘Mums’ (Chrysanthemums) growing in the planters on the Patio.
Now it was time for lunch. E went out later and I set about making the handrail and brackets I intend to fit to the metal post I set into the floor in the pit. It is going to be there for safety reasons for anyone entering the room now that the pit is there.
Naturally the temporary wooden rail and post will be removed. It was four o’clock when I decided to stop work for the day.
The concrete had set by Saturday lunchtime and in a way I was grateful it was later rather than earlier in the morning for I had arisen quite late. I had been very tired the evening before after all the work I had done. I didn’t want the day to pass by without doing at least some more work on the project. I needed to erect some shuttering in preparation for pouring a finer concrete mix to form the sloping edge into the pit I was constructing.
A long length of timber was screwed to the pit floor against which I placed a length of plywood strengthened with timber and leaning toward the original floor edge. I fastened some timber to the original floor which acts to prevent the plywood from touching the floor at the top. This left an intended gap so that the concrete can be poured into the space and also to make a solid concrete edge along the complete top edge. It will be easier to understand when you see the completed work. After doing that work I began to tackle the removal of the concrete block at the end of the pit.
The yellow handle of the lump hammer rests upon the block. It was protruding out of the floor and we have no idea at the moment as to why it is there. Near to the end of the hammer shaft is a piece of steel tubing and another one a couple of centimetres further away (higher in the picture, click to magnify). They seem to be electrical conduits that have been set into the concrete block. Again we are not sure why they are there. The concrete block itself stands upon another block of concrete but it is of a different composition. The lower one looks like traditional concrete made using granite stones whereas the upper one, that which I am aiming to reduce in height, has been made using broken pieces of brick instead. It is as hard as nails and extremely difficult to chip away at. As I write this on Saturday evening I am almost there but it will take some time yet to lower it enough to be able to tile over it. Work will be resumed on Monday. Tomorrow, Sunday, I will be resting from work.
During the work of digging out the cellar floor I had been anxious about the stability of the remainder of the floor close-by to the pit I had dug. In yesterday’s post I wrote about filling the bottom of the hole with hardcore and propping up the side walls to prevent the loosened sand from slipping away. I felt a little relieved having done that work but by the afternoon of the next day, Friday 9th, I felt much better about it. I had spent the whole morning mixing concrete and laying it. After breakfast I made the trip to the builders yard to purchase some granite stones and cement. I didn’t need to purchase sand of course for I had bags of it! On my return home I set up the mixer outside in the garden and proceeded mixing the concrete. Rather than pushing the mixed concrete in a wheelbarrow to take it indoors I filled a bucket several times and took that inside instead. There are steps leading down into the cellar room and using the wheelbarrow would be too awkward and probably messy. I found it easier and quicker using a bucket but it took four mixing sessions with the mixer and several journeys with the bucket. I used the wheelbarrow to collect the mixed concrete and then shovelled it into the bucket. When doing this sort of work I get into a routine and it makes the work easy. This is how far I got..
You can see that I have cemented in the tiles which I used to support the opened side to prevent the sand pouring out. Naturally at this stage it is rough but it makes the finishing stage easier to do. The far edge in the top picture and the near edge in the lower picture, both the same edge, have yet to be worked on. That will begin soon I hope.
It was Thursday and I decided not to take an early morning walk as I might otherwise have done but chose instead to carry on with the work in the cellar. More sand needed digging out before I could make any decent progress so after breakfast that is what I did. However before I got started I did a little sweeping up of leaves in the garden as it was beginning to get a bit untidy. It didn’t take long and soon I was digging out the sand. Have you ever tried shovelling sand that has been kept dry for 140 years? It takes patience. The next step was to shore-up the exposed edges and fill the base with hardcore. Hardcore is something we seem to have most of the time from the various projects we have done at home. It is produced and later used then more is produced from other jobs. We never seem to be free of it. Anyhow I got this far before lunchtime…
You may be able to see some bricks lying laterally across the base. I used these to split the area into three sections thus making it more stable whilst the work is ongoing but it also adds to the strength. Once I have mixed the concrete and spread it on the base the next task will be to add concrete to the side walls to stabilise and strengthen them. For the present I have fitted stone tiles against them to prevent sand from falling out. It was now twelve-thirty and I asked E if she would like to dine out for lunch. Normally she would be going shopping but she cancelled that and we went along to the Mexican Bar and Restaurant down by the sea front. It has been a long time since we visited a Mexican diner, though E is rather fussy about eating spicy foods. She actually had a steak with pepper sauce whilst I had Burritos filled with chicken for our main course. It made a change from our usual dining preferences. There are a few eating places down by the sea front though we seldom dine at any of them. That was about it for the day and we spent the rest of it relaxing at home.
….or a hole in the cellar floor! In yesterday’s post I wrote about beginning the work in the cellar room we now call the gym (boiler room too). The work is being done to lower the floor where the Elliptical trainer stands. It is now Wednesday 7th as I write late in the afternoon having spent a few hours in the cellar though that is not strictly true. On getting up this morning I spent some time on the treadmill before breakfast and after breakfast I began the laborious task of digging out the exposed sand until at the end of the working day, that is four o’clock by which time I had filled these bags…
…which left this hole in the floor…
The heap of broken bricks together with the smaller pieces in the large white bucket had to be filtered from the sand too. It was very tiring work as sand, even this dry stuff, is quite heavy. Although I spent five and a half hours working only three and a half were spent digging the pit. I had also spent an hour in the garden digging out a few bluebells which had appeared beneath these bushes and trees left of centre.
The other hour was for lunch, the only break I had in the day. Initially I had thought there would only be sand to dig out but builders will be builders and they put all the building rubble in with it. Actually I suppose that makes sense and for two reasons, one, it saves disposing of the rubble in land-fill and two, it makes the area more solid for laying the stone tiles. The sand fills in the spaces in the rubble and provides a cushion for the tiles to lay upon. I am able to dig alongside the remaining tiles without fear of them dropping into the hole as long as I don’t disturb the foundations beneath them whilst the work is proceeding. It would be impossible to do that if there was only sand beneath them. Even so I will have to add concrete to the exposed foundation as the work progresses.
After I had written yesterday’s post late in the morning it was lunch time. I had just moved the Elliptical trainer if you remember and now after lunch I was eager to make some sort of start on the floor. E had a scheduled appointment at three o’clock with her physiotherapist for problems with her shoulder. It was only the previous week she had similar treatment for her ankle. Evidently they couldn’t schedule the appointments to run consecutively, something to do with different therapists and/or treatment. This mean unless I stayed at home I wouldn’t be available to receive her batch of medication drugs when it was delivered. I wanted however to get into the cellar and do some work and might not be able to hear the doorbell should it ring. I wasn’t prepared to just sit around on the off-chance the guy delivering the drugs called while E was out. I left the doors open in the cellar and upstairs and was able to begin the work of removing the stone flooring. It was easier than I had first thought. The main problem was in removing the first couple of stones. I chose to remove those already broken and in less than twenty minutes had this much done…
Storing the good stones here next to the boiler…
Once I have sorted the far end of the area where that concrete block sits my next task is to dig out the sand. The sand incidentally is clean enough to be used for mixing the concrete! The guy delivering the drugs didn’t arrive whilst I was doing the work but came later.
Tuesday (6th) was forecast to be a cold wet and miserable day starting off with a snowfall. Actually the snow was predicted to fall during late Monday night and on into the morning. As it happened it hadn’t been snowing by the time I awoke at six o’clock though I could detect one or two flakes every now and then. By the time I was dressed and downstairs however it began snowing in earnest. I was off for an early morning walk and had to keep the hood of my coat up the whole time I was out, about two hours. When I arrived back home the garden looked like this….As you can see by then the snow had stopped falling but notice it didn’t stick to the path. It was the same story everywhere I walked, snow only stuck on the grass and elsewhere was simply wet. About a centimetre or so had fallen. Around these parts over the last few years it has hardly snowed at all and if it did it didn’t last more than a couple of days on the ground. Sign of the times on this side of the country hereabouts. Rain was predicted to fall later in the day and it also began to get warmer. The snow didn’t last. Once my exercising was out-of-the-way I thought about the next project I had in mind to do. It had been on my mind for weeks really but I had been busy doing other things. It was to move the new Elliptical Trainer temporarily to a new position in the cellar room so that work could begin on lowering the floor where it stands. With the use of a trolley we moved it here….
Now the floor where it stood was vacant and ready for the work to start.Those paving stones have been there since 1877 when the house was built. Beneath them is sand. They are quite thick and closely packed together and will be difficult to dig out. However some are broken which may make it a little easier. Behind the short piece of timber which is standing at the top centre in the picture is a large piece of concrete. We are not sure what it is, perhaps the remains of a demolished pillar? It needs taking down a little further to make it level with the floor. This room, now our gym also houses the boiler. It was once part of the servants work rooms and had a fireplace as did three of the other rooms down there. The chimney breast in this room stands behind the bench-press in the picture above but the fireplace has long since been bricked-in. At last I can get on with the project and then we can return the trainer to the spot.
It doesn’t take long for me to complete a project once I get started. It is getting started which is often the problem but that is usually because I have either not enough time or I haven’t all the materials at hand. I have just returned from the pub after spending an hour there for my lunch. It is Friday (2nd Feb) and this morning I spent some time on the treadmill before breakfast. After breakfast I set about the tasks which would see the completion of the second part of the garage door project. The first part was to install the floodlight and the automatic circuit to control it (see previous posts). Whilst doing that work I discovered the safety edge equipment required a more robust installation from that which had been carried out by the installer. Sometimes things are best done by one’s self! This second part was what I set about doing earlier today. The first thing to do was to fit the two lengths of now painted timber, one at each side of the door frame on which to refit the edging strips themselves. They are coloured black in the pictures. The strips house the infra-red beams which when interrupted stop the downward movement of the closing door. The job took only a few minutes to do…..
Click on pictures to see detail.
Finally I had to replace the metal cover over the length of the door which hides the door when it is rolled up (part of it can be seen in the first picture). I had removed it some time ago when repairing the guide strip (see older posts). That was it, the end of another little project. E had come to the garage to show me something and I took the opportunity to ask her about a plant we have in one of the flowerbeds. Whilst we were looking at the bed we saw some more bluebells beginning to show themselves so rather than going indoors for lunch I spent some time digging them out, about fifteen of them. It as almost two o’clock when I returned indoors and E had almost finished her lunch. She needed to go with her mom for the weekly shopping. I decided at that point I would eat out, hence the pub visit.
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.
Trotting off to bed at nine in the evening meant I was rather tired and to be sure I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow on Friday (26) night. Of course that meant I woke early on Saturday morning but it served a purpose. I could take an early morning walk and in doing so that in itself served a purpose too. E had mentioned a couple of days earlier that she would like some sea shells for use in her crafting hobby so I took along a couple of bags and on my way back home along the sea front I collected the said shells, a couple of hundred of them. They would keep her occupied for ages! At the same time I gathered some more pebbles and stones for use in the garden. I was back home at nine o’clock so had the rest of the morning before lunch free. I decided to do some more preparatory work for the garage project so I manufactured the bracket that would hold the reed switch and also secure the magnet on the door which would operate it.
The bracket will be screwed to the frame so that when the magnet reaches the fully open door position it will lie directly beneath the switch and operate it. There was one small snag just as there is always just one snag or another and that was to do with the positioning of the magnet. There was only one place it could be fitted and that was on top of the cover of the alarm box which is attached to the bottom of the door. It is the only place it can go if the circuit is to be installed. That wasn’t a problem, I removed the top of the box which in fact holds the electronic circuitry and there was a space beneath the circuit board which allowed me to drill two fixing holes for the magnet. The magnet is the white coloured strip on the grey box…..
The snag was that when the door was on its downward journey the newly fitted magnet interrupted the safety edge beam and stops the door then raises it automatically as it is supposed to. The safety edging strips needed to be moved further out by inserting some packing behind them. As a temporary measure I used nuts but I have to say I wasn’t pleased with the way they had been originally installed. I propose to remedy that by using some lengths of wood to secure the strips more firmly than they are at the moment. The safety edge is the black strip running vertically on the edge of the white framework. Behind it is a length of plastic strip which hasn’t been securely fixed. The opposite side of the door is the same. Simply poor workmanship on behalf of the installer. It will be corrected.
One job leads to another….
Saturday 27th January also marked the 45th anniversary of E and I meeting for the first time. Time for a celebration meal later in the week methinks.
Up early, off for a walk, collected some more stones, returned home a couple of hours later and had a late breakfast. It was Thursday. It began well enough, bright and sunny but the clouds began to drift in and drop their load of rain. It got colder as forecast but it wasn’t too bad. E went to do the weekly shopping before noon, the second time in two weeks. She traditionally goes shopping in the afternoon but I fancy she has decided earlier is better. I think it is too as it leaves the rest of the day for her to do other things. I could go shopping with her but as she takes along her mom my presence wouldn’t be appreciated, I would spoil their routine. As it happens I don’t much like shopping for food so it suits me fine to stay away. I was able to concentrate on my little project. Having collected the necessary components I needed to build the interface unit for controlling the light in the garage I discovered I had a more suitable relay for the job. Initially I thought I had only one which operates on a 12 volt DC (direct current) supply which necessitates the use of a rectifier but I found I had one that operates on a 12 volt AC supply so I didn’t require the rectifier. This made the task far easier as I only required two components in the unit……
You can see the relay on the left inside the box and the transformer to the right. I rigged it up for testing by plugging it into a wall socket as it will be done when installed in the garage. I connected the reed switch (shown lying on the lid) in order to test the circuit. As the magnet was brought close to the reed switch the relay was activated. The integral switch in the relay will be used to switch on the light. The whole unit will only power up when the outside photo cell senses it is dark. The next phase is to install the wiring to the photo cell. Next I have to fix the reed switch in such a position to allow an existing magnet on the door to operate it when the door is opened and to install the wiring to the switch itself. Finally I have to purchase an LED floodlight then install the wiring to the control unit. As time permits I will get those things done.
I wrote yesterday about our neighbour’s panic attack after she had discovered her dog had died. She doesn’t enjoy good health and is reliant upon her oxygen bottles else struggles to breathe some of the time. E and I were concerned that she was over-stressed but she finally calmed down whilst we were there. Today, Wednesday I called in to see her after I had earlier phoned to see if she was alright. Thankfully she had settled down and was her usual self. I had been exercising on the gym equipment soon after getting out of bed but at that time it was too early to call next door to check upon her. After my breakfast late in the morning I decided to sort out what pieces of electrical equipment I had in stock with which to build the circuit for the garage light project I have been mentioning in previous posts. Finally I was able to gather enough bits and bobs to make progress…..It always seems the way when searching for the right parts I have some of them but not all of them. I then find I have other suitable parts but not all of them are usable with the first lot. An example would be a reed switch which is only suitable in low-voltage situations., as here… That means a transformer is required and also a low-voltage relay. A low-voltage relay would use an alternating current and could be used directly with the transformer, if I had a suitable relay. I found I had a low-voltage relay which uses direct current and therefore added to the transformer I needed a rectifier too! Fortunately I did possess all the parts necessary after salvaging them from redundant electrical gear I had. I even found a suitable box in which to install them, see picture above. I left off working on the project as it was by now lunch time and after lunch I had some gardening work to do. First of all I had to sweep up more leaves again and it was then I began to notice montbretia and bluebells here and there in the flowerbeds. Once again I set about digging them out. This is an ongoing task. Most were removed early last year but I always knew there would be more appearing for a time.
On Monday evening I set my alarm to rise early on Tuesday morning and went to bed but not feeling as tired as I might. I use my mobile phones’ alarm feature having not had an alarm clock for many years. I didn’t invest in a new clock when the old one gave up the ghost because by then I had a mobile phone.
Anyway I found it very difficult to get to sleep even though I had been busy during the day but did manage a few though interrupted hours. As usual for me I awoke fifteen minutes before the alarm was due to go off so I cancelled the alarm and arose shortly afterward. I didn’t fall into the trap of going back to sleep because it was prayer time and I had to be up anyway. I would be taking the van in for its MOT Test at eight-thirty. Again, as is usual for me I arrived fifteen minutes beforehand. I had asked E if she would pick me up soon after eight-thirty but on my arrival I was informed that I could wait as they would have the test completed within the hour. I phoned E to let her know she could remain at home. It was just as well I phoned when I did because she was about to exit the front door. The van passed the examination and I was soon driving back home. Normally I would have gone for a walk but decided to take a break instead. I had other things to do anyway. In the afternoon I spent some time dismantling an alarm unit I had manufactured many years ago in order to salvage some of its internal components. I had been thinking of getting to grips with the garage door project to automatically switch on the light (see older posts). Having finally come up with a practical solution I needed to source the components. By late afternoon I took a break from that and watched some television, that is I watched a program on BBC iPlayer which I had previously missed. About three-quarters of the way through E came downstairs in a bit of a panic and asked if I could go next door with her. Something had happened regarding our neighbour and my first instinct was that she was in desperate need of help. She has been suffering with emphysema for a couple of years and has to use an oxygen bottle several times during the day. She is very poorly. We were there in minutes. Our neighbour was in a state of panic too and she could hardly breathe. As we have a key to her house door we were able to enter without her having to let us in. She was immensely distraught. We immediately set about calming her down and getting her to use the oxygen cylinder. After a few minutes we were able to find out what the problem was. She struggled to tell us that she had found her dog had died two hours earlier and she hadn’t noticed. Her son had already taken the animal to the local vet. Rigour mortise had already set in. He arrived back home a half-hour later and we chatted a while before we returned home. Thankfully this time our neighbour was alright.
It has been more than two and almost three months since we had the new garage door installed. A few weeks ago there had been a problem with the cushion in one of the guides, there to prevent metal to metal contact and wear when the door is opened and closed. We had informed the installer’s repair and maintenance department but it was more than three weeks before they contacted us to make an appointment! I in the meantime corrected the fault myself because at the time I wished to reinstall the circuitry which automatically switches on the main garage light whenever the door is opened when it is dark. Naturally that only happens when the door is opened and when closed the light switches off. On the old door the installation was simple to carry out, it just meant having a micro-switch which allowed the door to operate it as it reached its open position. The micro-switch was wired through a photo cell (still fixed above the new door, see in the picture) and then on to the light. The light can be manually switched from three positions too, that part remains as it did. I was sitting at the table having just eaten lunch on Monday afternoon last week when I decided to investigate my options regarding this garage light circuit. I took my toolbox to the garage to work on the problem. Unfortunately it was and still is proving difficult to install the micro-switch on the new door because it is a roller door and there is no easy way for it to operate the switch. It can be done though, nothing is impossible but it could require much work to achieve. There had to be another more simple way I thought. I had thought about having a relay which would operate using the power supplied to the door for it to open and I set about testing that. It worked but unfortunately it also worked when the supply was connected for the door to close. This is because of the type of motor being used. The relay switch would replace the micro-switch had I gotten it to work. It is possible to have a relay operate an external circuit of course and had the manufacturer incorporated one in their control panel it would have made things so easy. I however cannot tinker about with the panel as it would invalidate the guarantee and warranty. So having discovered I couldn’t use a relay in order to reinstate the automatic circuit I am left to continue figuring out how to get the door to operate the micro-switch instead. I had to shelve the idea whilst I think about it.
Although I don’t mind it being Winter and the fact that it is cold far more than it gets warm there is a lethargic atmosphere deep in my brain telling me to refrain from attacking the jobs I want to do. This applies both to outdoor tasks and indoor tasks alike, I have to force myself to do some of them. It’s all about self-discipline of course for once I am engaged in a task nothing really matters, I just get on with it. I suppose if it were warmer and the sun was shining it would be a different story but no, perhaps it wouldn’t. You see if it is warm and sunny I like to relax in it! Again, it is about discipline and motivation. It is the middle of January as I write. The sun was out throughout the morning but decided to go hide for the rest of the day. The day suddenly feels the temperature it is and to add to that a slight breeze is blowing now. Suddenly I don’t wish to be outside in it but the waste doesn’t find its way to the bins all by itself and the leaves don’t get swept into the wheelie bin either. Neither of those tasks need to be done immediately but there is a nagging urgency for me to tackle at least one of them. I’ll let you guess which one. We love our creature comforts don’t we? The bedclothes are cozy, the heating is on, there is shelter from the elements and a nice warm cup of coffee invites us to remain indoors. Nothing will get done unless we decide not to be lazy and just get on with it. It’s battle fought by many a dedicated couch potato and won but I am not a couch potato so I’ve no defence. I put on my armour and throw myself at the enemy. I am beginning to once again set my mind on the things I want to get done and even those I don’t but have to else they will niggle at my grey matter. Who wants to be outside working in Winter? I have to confess I do for some of the time but sometimes it is nice to stay put on the sofa. I have been doing things of course I have and with each day passing I am slowly getting more of them done.