Thursday, October 31, 2013

200 AMP Service

There is creativity, and there is reality. The fun part is constructing a building out of predominantly free things and innovating and eye balling and watching something grow.  Then there's electricity, and the true cost of state of the art materials, safety, and doing a job according to specs.  Specs I previously knew nothing about.

  I met with a great guy from NYSEG (New York State Electic and Gas?).  We walked the property and selected a spot for the meter. All of the news related to this was awesome. I could use an existing pole. The location of the meter was only 20 feet from the pole, etc.  I envisioned having to rent a back-hoe or having to pay a grand to have a pole installed; none of that proved true, and so I left our meeting with a NYSEG project number an a booklet full of sketches and requirements for installing a 200 AMP Combo box.  You can stop reading now if you're not interested in this stuff, but what is interesting is the learning curve and the discovery that you can do things yourself.  An estimate for doing this work hovers around 1400 dollars.  Instead, I went to work.  The first step was building the mounting unit.  5 feet in the ground.  5 feet above.  That's a shovel, a level, some salvaged pressure treated for free, and what ended up being about six hours of digging, not including the twenty foot trench.  Then I went to Cascade Electric in Lake Placid, NY, and the owner led me through what I needed and put a list together.  This is when it hurt. I walk away with 580 added to my credit card.  The rest was relatively simple.  Learn how to wire it on youtube, pound a few 8 ft grounding rods into the ground following specs, and assume it will twice as long as someone with experience. I also was not afraid to ask questions and the owner of Cascade Electric was patient and helpful.   It took me about two days, but everything went smoothly and as far as electric service entrances go, the thing looks pretty cute.  I'm also thrilled that I can't see it from my future house site.  It astounds me to see a million dollar home in Lake Placid with an electric panel sitting in the midst of $40,000 of landscaping.  Nothing says welcome to my McLodge like the warmth of a grey electric meter.

Regardless, I now have to get it inspected and then have the power hooked up.  That will give me a outside box with power.  I'll have to dig a 100 foot trench later to bring power into my future basement.
The posts
The completed mount

Laying out the conduit

End of Day One

Wood, Craigslist, and Train Stations

My quest for siding has taken a new twist.  As the building evolves, I'm developing the irrational need to infuse it with character.  And that seems to be evolving into materials with stories.  This continues.  I've been trolling Craigslist for siding and came across a post that included the image to the right. The cost was 100 dollars.  It turns out this really nice person was cleaning out a small barn in order to put a house on the market, but I arrived too late. There was a woman there who seemed to be involved in great camp renovation who had already offered him 300 dollars to assure the sale.  I hunted around and with great disappointment, and asked the owner to give me a call if there was anything left over.  Two days later, I got the call.  She bailed. He offered it to me for the original price.

 His storage barn was moved to its current site in the last 1950's.  It was an outbuilding for the original Lake Clear train station constructed circa 1891.  The wood inside?  It was reclaimed from the main station that was torn down at the same time. The picture does little justice to the volume of wood. It is stacked 20 feet long.  The bulk of it (perhaps 1500 square feet) is clear douglas fir, pulled from the floor of the building, but there is also wainscoting, trim wood, siding etc.  It will take 6-8 pickup loads to move it.  I am stacking and stickering the wood in my barn. The fir will be set aside for flooring in our new house when it is built.  I'm thrilled by a few things here.  One is that the flooring in my future house was milled in the 1890's. Two is that the flooring in my new house cost 100 dollars. Three, the various pieces of siding and wainscoting will give me the opportunity to get back to the process of siding my little beast of a building before the snow flies.

Lastly, the nicest thing about the whole process was meeting yet another friendly, interesting person. I'm heading over this weekend to pick up more wood, and to help the gentleman and his wife move some heavier things out of the upstairs of a garage.  People are amazing.

The train station, I believe, is in the top of this image.  I imagine the fir trees of this era were quite impressive. 

This is roughly one and a half truck loads. The longer pieces are stored in the rafters.  I haven't made a dent in the original pile at this point.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Free Wood and other design considerations

At this point, the little beast is coming together.  I managed to find enough rough cut 2 x 4's and a few 2 X 10's to finish off the framing.  The windows were found at a local dump, and so construction moves on.  I got creative in the framing, using most of the 2 X 4's flat.  This allowed for the framing to fit inside the corner posts and angle bracing.  I'm happy how it's turning out.  Without power, I'm hand cutting and using a battery operated saw to make the cuts.  There is nothing better than the slowness of building this way.  The new framing took the building from overbuilt and unmovable to positively granite like.  Nothing moves at all, anywhere.

Free wood creates some design realities as well.  I had to calculate how to utilize the resource. My solution was to eyeball the amount of wood and have at it.  When I was done I had about ten feet of 2 X 4 left over.  Trust the eyeball I guess.

This end in the top photo will have a high door to load things if needed onto the second floor from the outside.  There will be a single sliding door at the business end of the building.  Now I just need to build a few doors and find some siding.

As to the total cash outlay, hinges added an extra ten bucks, so I'm hovering around $310.

Roof Diving for the slow: all for 300 bucks

At a certain point, age and experience are supposed to provide some benefits. Not so here.  I came back on a beautiful spring day to finish off the shingles, forgetting that I had tacked the roofing brackets in with one inch roofing nails. So I got the ladder out, headed up on the roof with my trusty hammer and bundle of shingles and started to work.  The bracket slipped out after about five minutes and I pulled a slow motion leap from slightly lower than twelve feet.  I landed it, rolled over on the grass, and did not feel my 54 years of age until the morning, which was not good.  Regardless, the shingling went on the next day with much more care.

At this point I have roughly 300 dollars into the building.  That's three squares of shingles and some drip edge.  The rest has been hand cut or salvaged.  The granite that forms the footings was found on craigslist for free.  Someone had torn out a fireplace and needed the cut stone gone.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When a building's too tall, shorten it.

When the first bent went up, it was clear that the building was too tall.  The problem was that raising the bent took a massive amount of effort, and once we had it up, we had little interest in lowering it back down.  The solution?  We cut the other two bents down, used the tall one to help raise them to vertical, and then cut the tall one in place.  At this time my neighbor Fred had come over and was more than willing to help out.  We used an eight by eight to balance the middle of the bent, braced the whole thing with a few slabs of wood, measured and cut the height, and then lowered it down. The lowering of the thing was a bit sketchy, but it all went pretty smoothly, and the best thing about it was working with my son and getting to know Fred.