Construction Journal Entry Week of 4/18/10

4/20-22/10 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at 12:45 and was met by Bert and Ernie as usual. There was a slight drizzle in the air. After lunch, I drove the truck up to the upper roadway so I could unload the new toilet I had brought with me. I used a short plank and a length of rope to make a sling around the toilet which was in a sturdy cardboard box. Then using the porch crane, I lifted it up onto the porch.

It was a little tricky because the box was too tall to go over the top rope rail and much too tall to go under the lower one. But since it was sort of skinny, I was able to slip it between the two rope rails and set it on the porch. It sure is handy having that crane there. This toilet is too heavy for me to lift by myself, much less carry it up the stairs.

Four gray jays visited me on the porch during the process and took peanuts from my hand. I think it was the pair that has been visiting me lately plus a new pair that joined them. The new pair was pretty hesitant to start with, but they eventually got up the nerve to land on my hand.

With the toilet on the porch, I unloaded some other parts from the truck and then backed it back down the roadway with no problem. The drizzle had pretty much stopped by then.

Mike had been up since I left and he had brought the waterproof wire nuts. I finished up the wiring job in the dosing tank, gave it another test, and then closed it up. It is gratifying to have that job checked off. I screwed down the cover of the pump control box box and the septic system is now ready for action.

Mark, the plumber, called and told me that he has the demand pump and he would send Craig up on Thursday to install it.

Next, I went to work installing the toilet bowl. First I unpacked the box and read all the instructions. Then I broke out and removed the plastic plug over the drain pipe. Then I cut a remnant of a plastic tarp and stapled it to the floor in the toilet nook. I figured it would be a good idea to keep the subfloor clean and dry until the flooring was installed.

While I was stapling down the tarp, I found a nice Forstner bit in the crack between the floor and the log wall. It was not mine so it had to belong to the plumbers. It must have rolled down into the crack and been missed by the plumbers. I figured Iíd give the bit to Craig when he came up on Thursday.

Since I canít lift the toilet, I used a rebar S-hook hanging from a hole in a joist over the toilet site to suspend a come-along. I attached the come-along hook to a rope sling that I tied around the toilet bowl. With a little more rigging, I had the toilet suspended directly over the hole in the floor.

I stuck the wax ring on the bottom of the toilet bowl and I put the closet bolts in their slots in the ring on the floor. They didnít stay in place very well and that made it hard to lower the bowl so that the bolts would go through the holes in the bottom flange of the bowl.

Since I couldnít see the bolts once the bowl was down very far, I had to get my head down on the floor with a light to see where things were. Then I would have to get back up and crank the come-along down a little, or back up a little, or whatever it took. It was a difficult process to finally get the bowl lowered with both bolts coming up through their holes. There is no way I could have done it by myself if I didnít have a come-along or a winch to allow me to lower the bowl in small increments.

I was very happy when the bowl was finally seated properly and bolted down. It was 7:30 by the time I quit, but I felt good about the progress.

On Wednesday I started a fire in the wood stove and then finished the installation of the toilet. It was almost a thrill to flush it for the first time and see that it worked. That marked a major milestone in the project that I will appreciate from now on.

Next, I installed a large shower head that I had brought with me and tried it with the unassisted water pressure that I had. It worked wonderfully. Water squirted out of all the many holes in a nice gentle spray. It is exactly the way I like my showers to be. As soon as I saw that spray, I changed my mind on installing a pressure booster pump. I called and left a message for Mark to cancel the pump.

Mark got the message within a few minutes and called me back. Since he already had the pump and had scheduled Craig to install it and had prepared the invoice which he was planning to send with Craig, it took us several more phone conversations to decide what to do. He was planning on Craig giving me the invoice and collecting the check. I was planning to give Craig the Forstner bit.

Since I was the one who changed my mind and cancelled the pump, I ended up agreeing to pay the shipping and re-stocking fees for returning the pump, but I definitely did not want to install the pump. Mark cancelled Craigís visit and we agreed to exchange the invoice, the certification, the check, and the bit through the mails.

One of the factors affecting my decision was that I had learned from John in the plumbing department of Home Depot, who sold me the toilet, that modern washing machines are no longer driven by a timer to fill the tub but instead weigh the water. I was concerned that a washing machine wouldnít run properly on low pressure but John assured me that it would be no problem.

Now that I could see that the shower was no problem, my water system would operate just fine with no pumps or tanks or anything else but gravity. That was what I had wanted all along anyway. I felt good about my decision. And the decision was not irrevocable; a pump could be installed at any time in the future if I wanted.

Feeling very good about the plumbing progress, I used the toilet for its intended purpose and then went into the woods to check on the sequoia trees. I measured and rated each one and replaced each of the nylon sleeves with bigger ones except for Dan which already had a big chicken wire sleeve. The trees all made it through the winter, but some of them are pretty spindly. Iíll keep them watered and hope they all perk up and grow.

On Thursday morning I started another fire and was visited by Bert and Ernie again. Then I took a shovel, a pair of loppers, and a bow saw into the woods to work on the water line trench. Andrew didnít have a saw or loppers when he was digging so there were a lot of roots in the trench that he couldnít get out. He dug under some of them and others were just poking into the trench. I worked on the trench for quite a while until my back told me that I had better stop. It is still not quite ready for the copper pipe but it is close.

In the process of digging, I uncovered an interesting piece of glass about four inches square. It looks quite old so I think Iíll save it as a conversation piece.

Back in the cabin I unpacked, and started working on, a bathroom exhaust fan that I had brought with me. I had also bought a 4 foot length of 4-inch stovepipe and a cap for the outside end of the pipe that was screened against rodents. I snapped the stovepipe together and read all the instructions for the fan.

Then I did a lot of work measuring and checking to see whether and how I could run the stovepipe through the bathroom log wall inside the ceiling. The plumbers had run a vent pipe right through all the bathroom ceiling joists about a foot from the wall. I had asked them to put it as low as possible so there would still be room above it for the stovepipe, and they had done so. Then there was a lag bolt right in the center of the rim joist between the two joists where the fan had to go. And then there were the rebar pins in the log wall somewhere.

I had recorded the locations of the rebar pins in the utility room so I was able to extrapolate from that to have a good idea where the pins were in the bathroom. At least that had worked for me in making the hole for the vent pipe.

Taking in all those considerations, I figured that there was room for a four inch hole in the rim joist and wall log to the right of the lag bolt and over the top of the vent pipe. Then I went outside to see if there were any problems with this site out there.

Serendipity struck again. The hole site just missed the RPSL and the vent pipe on the outside. That was a relief. I suppose I could have reconfigured the vent pipe if that had been in the way, but I was glad I donít have to.

Next I did a test to see if a 4-inch hole saw will make a big enough hole to accept the 4-inch stovepipe. I used the hole saw to cut a hole in a scrap of plywood and tried getting the stovepipe into the hole. It was such a tight fit that the pipe went through until it hit a paper label glued on it. It would go no further. And the hole was in a ĺ inch piece of plywood. There would be no way I could get the pipe through a 4-inch hole in a wall log. And, if I could, the hole would have to be in perfect alignment so that the pipe could connect to the fan. I decided I needed to buy a 4 Ĺď hole saw. I put it on my shopping list.

I went in for lunch and packed up to leave feeling very good about the plumbing progress. I left for home at 1:30.



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