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.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Weir

One of the selling points when we purchased Pemberley in 2005 was access to water.  Despite the drought our little creek still flows, albeit underground in some places, and the small weir remains full.  In fact, last century it was the water supply for the farm's dairy and house.  The creek doesn't appear have to a name on the maps, but flows into Wattle Camp Creek just past our boundary.  Maybe we should name it?

In the 1960s the owners laid 250 meters of galvanised pipe from the weir to the house tank. According to a previous resident it was a revolution not to have to carry the water up the hill in buckets. (It is a very steep hill.)

It has always been our plan to reboot the pipeline and the drought has spurred us on to do it before summer.  A couple of weeks ago we optimistically shoved a hose down the pipeline at the top - hoping it would trickle through, unobstructed, to the bottom.  It backed up after a few minutes.  We then dug up the weir end of the system to find meters of clogged and rusted pipe.

So, we had two options.  Dig up and repair the old pipe or lay a new one.  We chose the latter.  After ripping the route with the Fergie (built in 1948) we cleared the trench by hand (approximately 23 cubic meters of dirt).  The plan is to lay a 40mm PVC pipe and get another 60 years out of it.

The last 45 meters
The target is yonder windmill (near the trees)