Monday, October 7, 2019

Cypress weatherboards

My Dad owned a sawmill in Grenfell NSW when I was growing up. He milled only one species of timber – native cypress pine, Callitris Hugelii,  as had his father, and his father and his fatherI have nice memories of when Dad would arrive home from the mill around 5:30pm with a bunch of floor board off cuts under one arm and his esky size “portable” 240 volt calculator under the other. The off cuts weren't just firewood, on them were the scribbled phone orders he'd taken during the day.Even now, when I smell cypress sawdust (or sump oil for that matter), I picture Dad walking through the back door. 
Mum & Dad, 2002,  at Mum's OAM presentation -
probably one of Dad's proudest hours.

So when it came to cladding our timber framed walls how could we possibly choose anything other than cypress weatherboards? And what a nostalgic time it has been. A local mill, North Eden Timber, had what we needed and the quality was brilliant. If you need specialist timber on the South Coast they're certainly worth a call. (No, it's not a paid announcement.)

One of the niggling things with cypress is that it doesn't like being nailed near its end (who does?). It splits (actually, just holding a nail near the timber will make it split). To make the job more fun (really?) we chose to scribe the end of the boards so they matched the bricks' profile.

After some experimentation we decided to pre-drill each board and screw it onto the studs using square head, stainless steel screws. The result? No splitting (but many, many, many hours of drilling and screwing. But did I mention, no splitting?)

We are so pleased with the journey and ultimate result we're going to use cypress weatherboards on another wall. 

Watch this space.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Hidden Secrets

In preparation for the next stage of our building project we've been religiously rereading the Timbercrete building manual. As a result, it occurred to me that there are a few things that the casual observer may not realise are hidden inside a well built "TC" wall.  Here's just three:

Source: Timbercrete building manual
The Timbercrete manual recommends the use of galvanised flashing over a termite deterring coating. This structure, called a damp proof course (DPC), forms the base on which the bricks are laid.

Source: Timbercrete building manual

Threaded rod
Each wall incorporates vertical threaded rods that help hold down the roof. (Note to self: holding a roof up is not usually as big a challenge as holding it down.) Each rod is a couple of metres long with a hook at the bottom so it won't pull out of the brickwork. We will have about 20 of these rods.

Hoop iron
Source: Timbercrete building manual
The bricks on every second course (or row) have a steel strap joining them together. For our 1,100 brick project we will need 300 metres of strap and about 1,400 screws to attach it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

We're off again...

Well, it's been a busy couple of months. Just before Christmas the Bega Valley Shire Council approved our application to add two ground level bedrooms and a kitchen to our home. Since then we've been sourcing timber, lead and glass for the windows and doing the ground work for the slab.  In fact, all going well, we pour the slab on Feb 11.

Carapark window
Windows.  It didn't initially occur to me, but it's over 12 years since I made the windows for the existing house. Consequently, I've had to revisit my notes to remind myself of just what's involved.  For some practice, I rebuilt the port hole window for our Carapark van in leadlight.

Not dog proof
Bugs.  After enduring the last bug season we decided that we needed fly screens on at least a couple of the downstairs openings.  But instead of building screen doors we decided to try chains.  We ordered the cheapest ones we could find on eBay and, to our surprise, they work pretty well at keeping the bugs out. But as you can see, they are a total fail when it comes to keeping the dog in. 

Bomb site. As I write this the house paddock looks like a bombsite. We have excavated the footings for the new rooms, setup the formwork and roughed in the plumbing. The knock on effect is dust, clay, excavator tracks and "stuff" everywhere. As Napoleon said (though there are some other bidders for the title) "On ne fuit pas d'omette sans casser des oeufs".

Bomb site

Thursday, November 29, 2018

He who dies with the most toys....

Railway sleepers n dog spikes
Railway dogs
For some people it's coins, for others it's frequent flyer points or compliments. I even know a retired minister who collects railway dogs. But for me, it's always been tools. 

In contrast to my Dad, who considered that every tool he owned was a hammer, I'm on a quest to find the right hammer for the job.

So it was with much fanfare that I recently welcomed three new tools to the fold.

Air powered riveter
There are approximately 2,000 rivets in the ceiling of our house – all installed by me, by hand with a lowly Bunnings hand rivet gun. By the end of each day it was a two handed job to pop rivet. Imagine my surprise when a friend mentioned to me recently that he had an air powered rivet gun. I hadn't known such things existed!  Suffice to say that within days of that conversation I bought one.

Conclusion: I wish I'd had one 2,000 rivets ago.

A box and pan brake
So, I was in the market for some weatherproof covers for my water pumps. At around $160 each I wondered if there was a DIY option that didn't look like a recycled compost bin. And yes there is, if you have a box and pan brake.

There's a 3 minute demo of one here:

Conclusion: It's brilliant (and no, you can't borrow it).

"A cleco, also spelled generically cleko, is a temporary fastener developed by the Cleveland Pneumatic Tool Company. Widely used in the manufacture and repair of aluminum-skinned aircraft, it is used to temporarily fasten sheets of material together, or to hold parts such as stiffeners, frames etc together, before they are permanently joined. Clecos are installed in holes predrilled through the workpieces (usually holes intended for permanent fasteners installed later). They expand on the far side of the workpieces and then draw and clamp them together while maintaining the desired alignment and preventing distortion of the pieces."

There's a 1 minute demo here if you're keen:

Conclusion: You can never have too many clekos.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

How to make it rain

The pipeline runs to the (broken) windmill
in the distance.
I feel somewhat responsible for breaking the dry spell in the Bega Valley.  A week after I finished the weir project it rained - the first measurable fall we've had for months.  And just to prove the point, we've had a little bit more every week since.  Not that we're complaining - the rain is wonderful and already the paddocks are getting a green tinge.

Let me tell you about the pump.  It does an impressive job, pushing around 200 litres of water per minute over a distance of 250 metres and an elevation of 20 metres.  If you ever need to move a lot of water you'd be hard pressed to beat this thing - it's a fire fighting unit consisting of a 5.5hp 4 stroke Honda motor attached to a twin impeller Davey pump. Ours is around 15 years old but they still make the same combo.  You can read more about Davey pumps here if you're that way inclined.

I have to admit though, that after all the work the weir looks pretty unspectacular (photo below).  But it has delivered! We pumped around 10,000 litres out on the first day and the water level didn't drop at all. What a gift.  

Kind of unimpressive really.