Construction Journal Entry Week of 9/23/18

9/25-27/18 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way up, I stopped at Costco to buy some salmon for my dinners. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 12:30. The temperature was 60. It was a beautiful fall day.

I brought my gear up to the cabin, hoisted the flag, had my lunch, and my usual nap. When I got up, I went up to the bluff and checked the cedar trees. They were all looking good and the irrigation system was working normally. I turned on Brian's valve and then proceeded on to check the spring. To my dismay, there was no flow at all out the overflow pipe. The bentonite evidently did not fix the problem. I pondered what to do as I carried the two bentonite buckets back to the cabin. I turned Brian's valve back off, stored the bentonite buckets, went inside the cabin, and cooked the salmon. Then I decided to change my plans.

It dawned on me that in spite of there being no water coming out of the overflow pipe, there was still a sizeable flow of water running down the overflow channel. That could only have been coming from leaks. I decided to try to plug those leaks from the outside with hydraulic cement.

On Wednesday, after breakfast, I carried a bunch of tools and a supply of hydraulic cement up to the spring. I started by lowering the water level in the creek as much as I could by using a posthole digger to fish debris out of the creek bed under the big boulder. When that was done, the water level was lower and the overflow channel flowed into the creek unimpeded.

When I removed the screened overflow pipe, I had a clear view of the leaks. The water was gushing out around the cleanout nipple and also around the service nipple. I decided to mix several small batches of hydraulic cement and press it into the cracks that were leaking starting at one end. But there was a problem.

The cement would cover the cleanout cap so I wouldn't be able to open it. So, I decided to make an aluminum sleeve to cover the cap and keep the cement away from it.

I went back to the cabin, fabricated the sleeve, and went back up to the spring. I installed the sleeve, mixed up a small batch of cement, and stuffed it into the crack.

I discovered immediately that the cement needs to be extra stiff, and that you can't work it hardly at all once it is placed. I tried to pack it into the crack with a small trowel and all it did was to loosen up in the flowing water and just wash away.

I also needed a much smaller trowel than I was using so I returned to the cabin again and found a piece of 1/2" EMT pipe that was already fashioned into a workable trowel. Back up at the spring, I tried again. I mixed up a small, extra stiff batch of cement, rolled it into a ball like a lump of putty, and pressed it into the crack and held it with that small trowel. It seemed to work.

So, I used that technique to plug cracks starting with the biggest. When they were all plugged, the water level in the channel had dropped about an inch and I figured that that might be enough. There was still no flow out of the overflow nipple, but I thought that the water might be rising inside the springbox and just hadn't reached that level yet.

I went back to the cabin for lunch and a nap hoping that by the time I returned the water level would be high enough to run out the overflow pipe. No such luck. There was still no overflow.

I tried a couple more lumps of cement and slowed the leakage a little, but still no overflow. So then I made a major decision. I decided to mix a big batch of cement and completely cover the cleanout cap. Of course that means that I wouldn't be able to remove the cap without breaking the cement away, but in 25 years I have never had an occasion to open the cap anyway. There is no way debris can get into the springbox.

I mixed up the big batch and pressed it over and around the cleanout cap. Almost immediately, water started coming out the overflow pipe. Unfortunately, it ran right down onto the cement I had just placed and threatened to wash it away.

I quickly grabbed the screened overflow pipe and threaded it onto the overflow nipple. That made the water flow out into the channel a couple inches past the cement which saved the day.

With some flow out the overflow pipe, I decided to call it good. This is the driest time of the year, so the flow should increase as the weather gets wetter. I carried all the tools back to the cabin and turned my attention back to the back-porch rail.

First, I drove a screw into the Grid A1 post and through to the rail tenon just to keep the rail from moving out of position while I worked on it. I used a tape and a sharpie to mark the rail every four inches. Then I used a chalk line to locate the center of each hole where the chalk line intersected the 4-inch marks.

When I went in for the night, Earl called and told me that he had left his eyeglasses in the Nexus Hotel in Seattle when he was there for eye surgery last week. I volunteered to pick them up on my way home and bring them to him next week. He was happy about that.

On Thursday when I went out to hoist the flag in the morning, I discovered a mouse in one of the crawl space traps. I disposed of the mouse and reset the trap. This is the time of year when the mice are busy looking for homes for the winter.

After breakfast, Dave called and reminded me that the Kavanaugh hearings were about to start. We cut our conversation short so he could watch it on TV and I could listen to it on the radio. During breaks in the hearing, I made some progress on the rail. First, I made a gauge for stopping the bit at 1 1/2 inches when drilling the baluster holes. Then I used the gauge and a 7/16" spade bit to drill all the baluster holes in the lower rail. I also carried the filler rail from the front porch to the back porch and put it in its place in the gap between the porch deck and the lower rail. It will do the job nicely of closing the gap up.

While I was having my lunch, Earl called and said that he had found his eyeglasses. I wouldn't have to stop in at the hotel on my way home after all. I left for home at noon satisfied with the progress I made on both the spring and the rail even though it wasn't much.

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