On nooks and crannies (part one)

On nooks and crannies…and why poking into them isn’t always a good idea…part the un…

We didn’t take full advantage of the holiday weekend…working on the house-wise. Rather, we cut it a bit short as I have some minor motorcycle repairs to do before my run to Michigan in about 7 days…minor repairs like a new tire, some new oil…maybe some sparkers and an air-filter…that and replacement or repair of some rather seriously damaged structural fender panels…ya know…details.

Anyway, Monday for that…another story yada yada…I’ll post those pics over here.

One of our tasks this weekend was some cleanup on our commercial building on the square. We’ve literally hauled tons of junk out of there…at least as much more still remains.

We were working on the mezzanine, which is a half floor at the back of the building between the first and second floor. Ours measures about 25′ x 20′. It was previously used for storage and also hosted a gift wrapping station. The problem with this extra, bonus 500 square feet of space is that it was packed…floor to ceiling and wall to wall…with junk.

We’ve worked several days cleaning it out. There are cash-registers from the last 30 years (maybe 12 of ’em), typewriters of all ages (from the old royal portable manual to several electric models), at least 5 adding machines, dead computers, cases of flash-bulbs (yes, real flash-bulbs), and about 5000 boxes of packing material, old computer labels (heavy!), green-stamp machines, postage stamp machines, an ancient copier, and heaven only knows what else…I’ve mentioned that this building was a pharmacy and doctors’ offices since it was built in 1896 or so…a little imagination about the tools and times can generate nightmares. Remind me to tell you about the spreaders…(shudder).

All this is leading up to this…We were done with the mezzanine. Everything was cleaned out. All that was left were the shelves, and all we needed to do was sweep the place up and turn out the lights.

And then I poked my nose into a nook…or perhaps it’s a cranny.

The stairs that go to the second floor have a landing. The landing is over a corner of the mezzanine and the space was covered by what I thought was a wall underneath.

It turned out to be an old table/desk thing turned sideways and shoved underneath.

There was a reasonably large space underneath…perhaps 4′ x 6′ and maybe 4′ high. Is that a nook? Or a cranny?

So…me…being the fool…I pulled the desk thing out…well…it wouldn’t come quite out…something SOLID was holding it in…but it came out enough so I could look in…

The space was more than half filled with paint. Lots of paint. Cans upon cans of paint. Probably 500 pounds of paint…in mostly quart cans. Paint so old the cardboard boxes have rotted around it. More than a hundred cans of it.

What I SHOULD have done….was shoved the desk/thing back in, and then nailed a piece of plywood over it, painted it to look like the surrounding walls, and just forgot about it. The next owner could worry it…well, perhaps it would be me…after the cans started leaking and paint seeped into the downstairs.

Sigh.

What I did was crawl in and hand it all out to the wife, and then we passed it down the stairs, and now we’ll find a proper way of disposing of it.

Here’s some of it:

Paint. Lots of paint.

Paint. Lots of paint.

There’s something more than 40 gallons here. It has such color names as “meteor black”, “(something weird) orange” and “pasty blue” or such. It’s alkyd based, high-build, glossy, and contains “dow corning silicone”. We’re guessing by the condition of the cardboard (and the amount of dust) that it’s 10-15 years or more old. Perhaps 20 plus.

So let’s see…if a gallon can cover 300 square feet then 40 gallons…divide by two, carry the three, multiply by pi…well…what, 12,000 square feet? A wall 10 feet high by 1000 feet long (we’d spill a bit)?

So…anybody need something painted in glossy, obnoxious colors? Something large? I have some paint here…

Oh, and why the “part one”? What could possibly be “part two”?

Glad you asked. It’s an interesting question…could be several interesting questions actually…this nook in part deux is over 6 feet tall…but it really boils down to one VERY interesting one.

Big, old, safe.

Big, old, safe.

“Is the poison gas…still inside?”

Sigh.

More on this later.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Done enough for now…

Alternate title: “A Tale of One of Two Towers” or “How to Use a Chop-saw from a Bucket-truck…”

In last week’s exciting episode, we did a bit of work on the tower. This week we moved it even further along.

Our scaling project is nearly complete. I’ve still got a lot of trim to do, the area around the windows to work on, and primer and paint, but I’ve got enough done for the moment.

The tower was looking rather dilapidated and that was imparting an “attitude” to the entire square. I didn’t like that.

My immediate objectives were to make the place look a lot better and to stop things from falling off the building.

We have accomplished that and so much more.

Sooo…off to the pictures!

Oh…a bit of a story on this one…see, my wife is not quite ready to run the saws yet. She’s never done that sort of thing (I grew up with it), and with nice, sharp, flesh-rending equipment it is important that you do it right.

I’ll teach her…when she’s ready…but she’s not asked me to yet.

Anyway, what do you do when every shingle left to mount needs a cut and there’s nobody handy to run the saw?

Well, I set the saw up in the window so I could reach it from the bucket truck

Well, I set the saw up in the window so I could reach it from the bucket truck

This worked out well…the wife still providing the blanks and running other parts and materials for me, but I could make the cuts without exiting the bucket.

A couple hours of work or so...whilst I'm up there

A couple hours of work or so…whilst I’m up there

Occasionally coming back down to make a mess:

Occasionally coming back down to make a mess:

And the shingles are done!

And the shingles are done!

The obligatory 'this thing is really tall' shot

The obligatory ‘this thing is really tall’ shot

The 'distance' shot

The ‘distance’ shot

I was careful to catch most of the junk that came off the tower and put it in a five gallon bucket (okay, LOTS of 5-gallon buckets), but there was a LOT of material and some got away. We were left with a mess on the awning.

Stuff on the awning

Stuff on the awning

MORE stuff on the awning

MORE stuff on the awning

So…time to clean up the awning then. We don’t want this stuff blowing all over the square. There was also a bunch of broken glass, apparently from several replaced windows in the past…about 40 pounds of it, that I removed from the awning.

No help for it but a broom and a bucket...and some careful movement of the boom to avoid hitting stuff (signs, wires, lightposts, flags, small dogs)

No help for it but a broom and a bucket…and some careful movement of the boom to avoid hitting stuff (signs, wires, lightposts, flags, small dogs)

Nothing left but a bit of dust! There were 5 buckets worth (2 full of nothing but glass!)

Nothing left but a bit of dust! There were 5 buckets worth (2 full of nothing but glass!)

I still have to do trim, the shingles around the windows, and some caulking, priming, and painting, but our objectives have been reached for the moment. It looks so much better! We’ll work on the rest a bit later.

And just for a quick look-see…

From this:

Needs a bit of tinkering...

Needs a bit of tinkering…

To this:

Shingles done! Looks good, yes?

Shingles done! Looks good, yes?

Next weekend we are back at the Old Vic, scraping, priming (we hope), and preparing for guests!

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Scaling the tower…

Now that the Left-handed Fargle-snorker was back on the road again…there was no excuse left to keep us from getting to work.

Not that it was a bad excuse or anything…after all, when there is Fargle-snorkering to be done, ya really need the right tools to do it.

And whilst I had the right tool…since it had no brakes it was kind of hard to actually stop and work on anything.

Ah well. Fresh out of excuses…so here we go!

So, ya’ll may remember this tower:

The tower before repairs

The tower before repairs

Obviously, it needs repair. For starters, it’s full of holes. Unless it’s a colander, most things full of holes need repair.

Also, the cedar shake siding is seriously weathered…some missing and much of the rest loose and falling off, there is missing trim, and birds and weather were freely making their way about the upper floor of the building.

A few weeks ago we did some repair…here we replaced some missing trim and removed some other dangerous (heavy and loose) trim from the top of the tower. We also started shingling the bottom part and finished that here.

Anyway, step one…remove the old stuff:

Tower scaling

Tower scaling

As you can see, a Left-handed Fargle-snorker is a handy tool for this task!

A Left-handed Fargle-snorker is a handy tool

A Left-handed Fargle-snorker is a handy tool

To avoid a huge mess in the street and having to clean too much stuff off of the awing, all this I’m peeling away I put in the bucket hanging from…well…my bucket. Then to save time I’d lower it by strap to the window and my Dad would exchange it for a fresh bucket.

Buckets of scales were removed

Buckets of scales were removed

Up and down. Around and around.

Up and down. Around and around.

Up and down. Around and around.

I dropped plenty of small stuff on the awning anyway…a lot of the shingles were only held on by a wish and a prayer and disturbing one would let a sliver of another drop off. I’ll sweep off the awing (from the bucket) a little later.

More up and down

More up and down

I destructed about half to start with…as that’s what could be easily reached without moving the truck around. I then started the re-assembly process.

Removed about half to start with

Removed about half to start with

The underlay was in amazing condition…with ZERO rot or serious problems despite the condition of the shakes. I had expected substantial repairs to be needed but thankfully the only thing needed was some loose stuff re nailed.

The Underlay was in good condition

The Underlay was in good condition

Here the pattern and jig-saw-puzzle nature of this beast begins to show itself. I did a bit of extra work to present some additional flourish in the form of pattern to the siding.

One big jigsaw puzzle.

One big jigsaw puzzle.

Down.

Down

Down

Up.

Up.

Up.

Round and round.

Round and round.

Round and round.

Nail nail nail nail nail nail.

Nail nail nail nail nail nail.

Nail nail nail nail nail nail.

It’s fun to note…the old siding was probably original…it was all nailed on with square nails. So…cedar siding can last 115 years or so in Texas weather…more I expect if better cared for. Short of mass destruction or some sort of catastrophic weather event…I don’t expect to have to do this again!

All held on with square nails...

All held on with square nails…

This is where we left it for this weekend. It was getting late, and I was just plain used up. There’s a lot of work involved in that big jig-saw puzzle. My helpers (my Dad and my Wife) were worn out too.

Almost done!

Almost done!

Almost done! As you can tell, there are just three rows left to apply. Of course, because we are approaching the top of the tower, every single shingle left to apply needs a cut. Excluding setup, there’s probably a couple hours work or so left to finish those off.

Close up view of the shingle detail

Close up view of the shingle detail

A good look at the pattern…

Close(er) up view of the shingle detail

Close(er) up view of the shingle detail

Once I finish the shingling, I’ve priming, caulking, and painting to do. There is also work needed around the windows to replace those shingles and get everything weather-proof. That will come as we have time…the main objective of this project was to stop further deterioration, improve the look of the city square, and to remove anything loose so it didn’t fall on somebody.

I think we accomplished that and SO much more.

A big thanks to my Dad and my Wife. They worked very hard…they probably hauled a ton of trash and debris out of the upstairs while also helping me (keeping me stocked with shingles/supplies, taking the old shingles I lowered, and making cuts for me).

Thanks!

Hopefully I’ll knock out the rest of the shingling and maybe some trim and caulking next weekend.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

More tower work…

Continued from last week…This Sunday we finished the bottom section…that’s the hardest one as there was quite a bit of repair to do underneath the siding…and because of the height and pattern nearly every shingle in that section has some sort of cut to it.

My good friend Larry helped immensely as my “saw man”…we set up the saws on the second floor and he could make all the cuts I needed…and as mentioned above…LOTS of cuts in that section.

The bottom with new siding.

The bottom with new siding.

Distance shot

Distance shot

There was a large bolt/wire hanger through the center of the bottom section…it no longer had any wires attached and any future wires I would not attach to the tower anyway…so I took it out. Everything was so seized up I had to grind the nut off (split it) and whack it off with a hammer before we could remove the big bolt and bracket.

The tower looks SO much better without gaping holes in it!

On to the top section next time!

Oh…and as usual…it’s not really “done”. There are a couple pieces of trim to install just below the sills…I just haven’t purchased them yet.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

Tower repair…

Weeeeee!

Weeeeee!

That’s me, 35 feet up there…removing about 40 pounds of wood trim that was no longer firmly attached. It was about to fall off and I *really* don’t want to kill random pedestrians with pieces of my building. Over half of it was missing.

I had to pull square nails to remove the rest of it.

Removing old trim

Removing old trim

Removing old trim

Removing old trim

I then added new trim to seal a gap between the roof and the wall of the tower. It’s the “shiny” in the pic below…

Adding new trim

Adding new trim

That’s my friend Mike down there…helping me out by watching the truck and being my second boom operator if needed…he is also my saw man for the siding underlay repair and shingle replacement.

Mike, hanging out

Mike, hanging out

We started on the siding underlay repair and siding replacement as well…

Siding pattern-repair begins

Siding pattern-repair begins

That is a jigsaw puzzle there…only one row of those doesn’t require some kind of cut. Add in the 150 year old “square” factor (as in, nothing is square after 100 years…unless it’s broken and needs replaced) and there were dozens of cuts involved here. The top will go faster.

There’s enough here to see the pattern anyway…we ran out of time and the weather came down on us the next day (45 degree temperature drop, 7 inches of snow). The upper tower will have several rows of fishscale, several straight, and three rows with the round/arrow combo that gives the illusion of the circles.

Can’t wait to see it all together!

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer