Siding lift for replacing siding on a 2nd story wall.

The bottom of one of the siding panels on the North side of my house was starting to rot from the bottom.  The old siding is made of what feels like cardboard.  A number of years ago I got involved in a class-action suit against the siding manufacturer and receive un-remembered thousands.

It’s actually lasting fairly well except certain parts so I’m just replacing what needs replacing with Hardie cement board siding.  This particular one has been on my mind for a long time marked as rather difficult because it is on a 2nd story and I have nobody to help me.

I spent the last few months looking at it and designing ways to do it in my head.  I was set on using a hand cranked winch and using a pulley on the eaves to hoist it up.  The other day, while sitting in the hot tub, I came up with a better plan.

Using two 15 foot 2x4s, cross members and a pulley I could just crank a 80 lb panel up there and slide it right into position all by myself.

Yesterday I built the mechanism and today I removed the old siding and hoisted the new one right into place.  My plan worked perfectly and cost me around $50 for the hoist and $30 for the siding.

Damn I’m good.  Natural born engineer here.  Congratulate me.

 

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Winter Front Siding Project

IMG_0018I’ve been patching it and ignoring it for around 10 years now but the siding in the front of my house needs to be replaced.

Right above the roof of the porch, where the rain drips and splashes onto the siding, the rot is beyond repair.   It doesn’t look too bad in the picture but a lot of the surface is caulk and paint.   Fine for me but not good when it comes time to sell the house in a year or so.

The majority of the siding is just fine but you can’t find exact replacement planks so the whole thing has to go.  Major bummer.  I’ve decided that this will be my first winter project.  There’s no way in hell I would do it during the summer because it is 100 degrees and humid as a newly opened dishwasher door right after the wash is done.  Not gonna do it.  Wouldn’t be prudent.

Now that winter has come,  I am ready to tackle it.  I’m going to rip off all the siding, and window trim then put some house wrap on.  Next I will use some Hardie Fiberboard Siding.  Home depot doesn’t sell any style other than the plain white plank shown below and I want a little texture like the old siding does.

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It has surface texture but not really any other look.  The old siding had a simulated shingle look that set my house apart from all the others.  Hardie does sell a simulated shake style but it is significantly more expensive and I would have to special order it.  Bleah.

Fortunately my awesome brain came up with a great plan.  It’s really inexpensive too.

IMG_0017I’m going to take that regular 12 foot long siding plank and use my cut off saw to just cut slots in the board.  I went and picked up a single plank today for experimentation.

First I score and snap the 12 foot plan into three 4 foot lengths.  That way it will be easy for me to handle all alone by myself and should line up with the wall studs.

Next I measured out 6 inch lengths and marked them with a pencil.  (48 inches divided evenly by 6.)  All I had to do is slice on each mark with my cut-off saw.  The blade length automatically determined my 6 inch reveal.  The result pictured above looks pretty damn good.  I’m sold.  What do you think?

Each 12 foot plank costs $6.95 and I calculate the whole side of the house should end up costing me only $344.  Shit yeah!   Totally worth it and it will fit in my Prius.  I guess I’ll just have to get myself psyched up.  The hardest part of a large project is getting started on it.  Once you get going you wonder why you waited so long then suddenly it’s done.

Do I not kick ass?  What would you pay for me now ladies?

The next morning:

OOPS!  There’s a flaw in my plan.  Do you see it?
It came to me last night while I was lying in bed.  The slots are too long and there is about 3 inches of open slottness between each row.  Air and water would go right through slots to the sub-wall. Hmmm.   I’m going to have to recalculate.

I can reduce the reveal from 6 inches to 4.25″ maximum.   That would raise the cost to $410.  Around $100 more.  I guess it’s still worth it.  I won’t be paying labor to anyone so it’s still a steal.  I’m not sure I like the smaller tile look but I’ll let it grow on me.   It’s not too bad.  What do you think?

 

 

Repaired my Xantrex inverter

Last year I bought a 1500w Xantrex inverter for my RV.  At most I expected to run my microwave.  I was testing it out when POP!  The power went out.  This inverter has a surge current rating of 2000W and microwaves don’t use that much power.  Still.  It couldn’t handle it.  I was sad.  I expected better from Xantrex.

Not knowing what to do I just let it be.  This year I decided I would try some exploratory surgery and see what happened.  What could I hurt?  It was already dead.  Maybe it was just a fuse or something.

Fortunately it wasn’t too hard to open up.  A few screws on the ends and pull out the bottom plate.

Taking the circuit board out would be difficult so I hoped that would not be necessary. There were a bunch of fuses which I was getting ready to test first.

I noticed right away that a capacitor had completely blown up.  There were cap guts all over. It seemed unlikely that JUST replacing this capacitor would fix the whole thing but what the heck.  I looked through my parts bins and found an exact replacement.  A 100 uF electrolytic.  It was used and had short leads but it was on hand.

The remaining plates sticking up wouldn’t hold solder so I had to remove the rubber base and trim down the plates to the leads.  I still didn’t want to take out the whole circuit board so I decided to just solder onto the existing topside leads.

I added some short wires to replace the missing capacitor leads and soldered it in place.  I was lucky. The positive side was marked on the circuit board.

It isn’t pretty but it will be perfectly fine if it works.  No big loss if not.

 

I buttoned it back up and connected it to my battery.  No FAULT light!  Promising! I grabbed a nearby fan and plugged it in to the 120V outlet.  The fan spun to life!  SUCCESS!!!!!   I just saved myself a few hundred bucks buying a new inverter.

Damn I’m awesome!  You would think women would be all over me.  If only they knew.

 

 

Built my model house

It’s July 4th 2017.  I am happy to have a day off from work.  Really not knowing what to do to celebrate Independence day, I decided to just stay home.  It’s far to hot outside and the world is far too crowded anyway.  I asked myself, if I could do anything I wanted on my day off, what would it be?  The answer was stay home and enjoy the time.  Besides, where’s lonely guy going to go all by himself anyway?

I had a brain idea the other day to build a scale sized model of the house I want to eventually build.  I did some googling and ended up on Youtube watching Adam Savage build a model of his childhood home.  It looked easy enough so today I popped by the store and picked up three sheets of foamcore board.  Thanks Adam!

I already had a 3d drawing I did on my computer using Google Sketchup and another using a program called SweetHome so I already had the dimensions on record.

I spent a good portion of the day measuring, cutting and hot-gluing my model together.  It’s far from finished but at least I have the basic framing done.  I might also build some furniture and accessories.  I’ll probably print out flooring and tile and glue it to the floor and walls where appropriate.  It might end up being rather detailed by the time I’m done.

You can see the room layout.  The roof slopes from 8 feet in the back to 12 feet in the front.  The large front room will be the kitchen and living room.  The back side is divided into the bedroom and the bathroom.  You can see a piece of the roof that shows how it overhangs the front to shade the top windows which will be electrically operable for air flow in nice weather.  It has a nice 10 foot wide porch that stretches the whole width of the house.  I’m really going to enjoy that.  I’ve always wanted a large porch to sit in my old-man rocking chair.

All the rooms are very large and spacious including the bathroom which will have huge shower and laundry rooms.  The kitchen is huge an will have a lot of counter space plus a large island.  I never have enough counter space in my current kitchen.  The whole house has a fairly modern and clean look while being very simple to build.  The simplicity is reminiscent of early house design before families exploded and houses became unnecessarily large McMansions.

It’s a 1/24 scale model and the design is completely my own.  I probably should have gone into architecture.  Apparently it’s in my blood.  I understand my father built a scale model of his dream house once too.  That’s kind of cool to know since I don’t remember much about him.

I believe I will be able to build this house pretty much all by myself.  I did the Sketchup model board by board as if I was actually building it.  That took me a very long time but that was during my last job where I had nothing else to do for 8 hours a day.

I really like the way this foam-core model turned out.  I impressed myself again.  I never cease to amaze myself.  It just goes to show that one can do anything he puts his mind to.

 

 

TARDIS almost finished

Last year I, crazily enough, decided to build another TARDIS to sell.  Thought I might make some extra cash.  This will actually be my third.  My 1st eventually rotted away in the back yard due to rain infiltration.  The second is on it’s way to the same end due to lack of maintenance and rot.  It might still have a year or two left in it if I don’t do any upkeep.  Just too lazy and it’s way too hot outside.  100 degrees in the sun is most unpleasant and the winter slipped by before I had time to do any upkeep.

So the third was intended for sale on Craigslist.  It costs me around $400 in parts and a year of labor so I expect to get at least $1500 to make it worth my while.  More if possible because I’m not going to build another one anytime soon. I’m pretty sure this is my last one depending on how well it sells.

Number three is almost done.  Just a little more wood work, preparation and paint and it will be ready.  I may even have a buyer lined up.  There is a restaurant here in town that is known for such novelties.  They had an interview in the paper with the owner who said the he would like to add a TARDIS to his collection.  I’ll probably go and hit him up when it is done and see if he wants to buy it.  If not, I’ll put it on Craigslist and I’m sure it will sell quickly.  If not that, I’ll keep it myself to replace #2.   I’m sure that as popular as Doctor Who has become, it will be an easy sale.

 

 

Smart Meter Installed. Booooooo!

I came home from work today to find that the dreaded Smart Meter has been installed.  I was kind of surprised to see that they hadn’t cut my power because they can now see that I have solar panels feeding power back into the grid.

Now it’s just a matter of time before I get a call or letter asking why they are detecting reverse current at my meter.   My choices will be to turn off the solar system that I spent a lot of time and money on or spend unknown mass quantities of money to have it made official.  Neither one will make me very happy.

I guess now we just wait and see what happens.  What is my punishment for going solar?  Stay tuned and we’ll see how this pans out.

 

 

DIY Outdoor shower with hot water

I’ve been wanting an outdoor shower for years for many reasons.  The primary reason is that using the shower inside fills the house with humidity that is extremely unwanted in Texas in the summer.  Even the exhaust fan doesn’t help significantly.  An outdoor shower avoids all of that.

I finally decided to do something so I shopped around on the internet finding the cheapest one from Walmart.com for around $29.00.  I almost went with that but what’s the fun of buying one that’s already made.

Not sure exactly what I was going to do, I went to Home Depot and looked around at the parts.  I finally decided to go with a simple PVC pipe design.  I bought a single 3/4″ pipe and all the parts I would need including a $4.50 shower head.   I could have gotten a nicer one but this is a prototype that I wasn’t even sure about.  A cheap one is fine.  The whole thing cost me $24.00 after taxation.

The most complex part might be the bottom.  It needed to stand by itself so I used a T fitting as the base.  For a third foot, I used another T to come out the back and connect a faucet.  Any cheap faucet will do so it will connect to a hose.  Yes, it works in reverse but that’s fine.  Actually better if you think about which way the pressure goes.  I used a washing machine hose to go from the faucet to the garden hose.  I had it handy so it cost me nothing.

The top of the shower consists of a simple 90 degree bend, a 45 degree bend and a screw on adapter for the shower head to attach to.

After verifying everything fit together, I cemented it all together and waited for it to cure.

A cold shower may be fine for some people but warm is definitely better.  I like to take my showers in the evening so I am clean when I go to bed.  Not a big fan of sleeping in my own filth.

I connected the other end of the garden hose to the drain faucet on the water heater.  The hose runs through a hole in the garage where other pipes and wires pass through.

In the summer I keep my water heater set to a lower temperature.  A lot of heat is not required during the summer and it saves money on gas.

Before you do this, I must caution you that using the drain valve may cause it to leak since it has usually been sitting unused for many years.  Don’t worry too much though. You can buy a replacement valve at Home Depot if necessary.  This kind of connection is also not good for permanent use because the hose could burst and flood the house.  If things test out OK, you could replace the valve with a pipe to the exterior and put the valve outside.  I might do just that if the shower works out as a long term thing.  In the meantime, be sure to turn off the water at this valve when you are not using the shower to avoid unnecessary leaking.

So there you go.  The whole project took me around an hour or less.  Easy peasy and funly wunly!