Construction Journal Entry Week of 10/25/20

10/26-30/20 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 5 days: Monday through Friday.

I arrived at 11:15 on a beautiful cold, clear day with about 3 inches of snow on the ground. The snow looked to be a couple days old and maybe had melted a little since then. There were a number of animal tracks in the snow and they were somewhat distorted which is why I think there might have been some thawing.

I was particularly interested in identifying a set of tracks that I think might have been cat tracks. I looked at a lot of the tracks trying to see claw marks, the absence of which distinguishes them from canine tracks. I couldn't find any distinct claw marks, but maybe the thawing obliterated them. But if they were cat tracks, they were way too big for a bobcat and a little small for a cougar. It also looked like there were two sets of tracks with one animal behind the other. Maybe it was a pair of young cougars. Who knows? There were other tracks that were obviously rabbits and either dogs or coyotes.

I brought my gear up to the cabin in one trip, hoisted the flag, built a fire in the stove, and then had my lunch and nap. When I got up, I did a little vacuuming.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing a little writing and trying out my new voice-to-text capability. It is wonderful and will greatly help me in my writing.

On Tuesday Robert called first thing and told me that he was going to try to arrange to come over and get the jammer this week. He made no promise though.

The temperature outside was 24 degrees and there was no new snow overnight.

After breakfast, I made a bracket to hold the pedal for the piano. It has been irritating for me that the pedal slips around and distracts me while I'm practicing. I cut a hole in the shape of the pedal in a piece of 1/4" plywood. With the pedal in the hole and my heel on the plywood, the pedal now stays right where it is supposed to.

Next, I installed some more loft flooring between the railing and the fascia board. This requires a ladder from the first floor and a lot of trips up and down the ladder and the loft staircase.

After lunch and a nap, I did some more writing.

On Wednesday, after piano practice and listening to the radio, I went back to work installing flooring outside the loft railing. I got all but the last 18" which I finished up after lunch and a nap.

I was just climbing down the ladder when Bill called. We had a nice, long-overdue conversation. When we hung up, I went down to the crawl space and re-installed the hangers in the joists for holding the ladder. I had removed them prior to the insulation job, but now it was time to put them back. When the hangers were installed, I carried the ladder down and hung it up where it belongs. It was nice to finally get that ladder out of the living room.

On Thursday morning, after piano and while listening to the radio, I began moving stuff off the last section of loft floor that needed flooring. That is the little 5'x5' section above the entry room.

The whole thing was densely packed with boxes and things that I don't use often. Some of the boxes were full of things I had removed from the trailer nine years ago and haven't looked at since.

I didn't go through the boxes as I moved them, but at least I looked in them to see what was there. Among the things I found was a telephone. I have really wanted to install a telephone in the bathroom and here was one that might do the job. I tried it and it produced dial tone so I figured it must work. And it didn't need power.

I turned my attention to installing the telephone, which I thought would be simple. No such luck. Since my telephone distribution block is in the pantry I thought it would be easy to run a wire up between the joists in the pantry ceiling and over to the log wall on top of the partition between the bathroom and the utility room. From there, the wire could just drop down to the bathroom between the stud wall and the log wall. That space was still open and needs to be filled some day.

The first thing was to get access to that telephone distribution block. And for that, I needed to remove all the stuff that was in the way, which was a lot. There was a collapsible table in there that nearly filled the pantry. On top of that was a huge bag of masonry tools and a big box full of all kinds of odds and ends. There was another big box full of wood scraps under the table. And there were other things.

I took all that stuff out of the pantry and tried working on the wire-stringing job while standing on a step stool. It didn't take long to realize that the stool was too short and wobbly to work. So, I went out to the porch and got one of the big sawhorses I had gotten from Ray Aldrich and brought it in. It barely fit in the pantry doorway, but it did, and it provided a nice high, stable work platform for me to stand on.

The plan was to tie a nut to the end of a string and drop the nut down into the space between the log wall and the stud wall. That was about six feet away from the telephone block, so I got a six-foot stick. I fastened a screw-eye to the end of the stick, ran the string through the screw-eye, and tied the nut to the end of the string.

The stick went over the plate on top of the bath-utility wall easy enough and the end of it reached the log wall fine, but when I released the string, the nut only dropped an inch or two. I had hoped it would drop right down alongside the log wall, but no.

I went into the bathroom and did a closer inspection of the structure and I realized that the plate was butted right up against the rim joist that was bolted to the log wall. The drywall forming the ceilings of the bathroom and utility room plugged up the rest of the space. There was no opening for the nut to drop through.

Well, OK. I decided to drill a hole up through the plate. About an inch of the plate was exposed and there was barely enough room between the bathroom wall and the log wall to get a drill angled in.

I started with a spade bit, but if I drilled the hole, I could see that the drill chuck was going to tear out the drywall. There was enough room for the bit but not for the chuck and the drill. So, I switched to the long 54" bit I had used to drill the long holes for wiring up switches in the columns. There was plenty of room for the skinny shank of the bit but when I tried to drill the hole, I found that I couldn't steer the bit in the correct direction and it ended up trying to bore into the rim joist.

So, I switched bits again and got a 10-inch, or so 5/8" ship augur. That worked and I was able to drill all the way up through the plate. Now, all I had to do was somehow get a string through that hole and over to the telephone block.

After lunch and a nap, I got a skinny dowel and shoved it up into the hole through the plate. Then, back in the pantry, I used a flashlight and a hand mirror to look down between the joists and sure enough, I could see that dowel sticking up down at the end. There wasn't enough space for me to get my head up between the joists and there was barely enough room for me to get my hands up there, one holding a flashlight and the other holding the mirror. Then there was the problem of aiming both the flashlight and the mirror so that I could see. Moving the mirror was sort of predictable, although not quite natural, but moving the flashlight was completely counter-intuitive when I could only see what I was doing by looking in the mirror. Up was down, and left was right, but at least I could see the dowel.

The plan was to tie the end of the string to the end of the dowel and then hook the string with a hook on the long stick and pull the string over to the block. So, I removed the screw-eye from the end of the stick and made a wire hook which I fastened to the end of the stick. Now, I not only had to handle the mirror and the flashlight, but I also had to handle that stick. I needed three hands.

I taped the mirror up against the ceiling and positioned it so that I could see down to the dowel without having to hold the mirror in my hand. Then I tried to set the flashlight down so that it illuminated the dowel without me holding it. That left both of my hands free to drive the stick.

Then the exasperation set in. I had to learn to drive that stick by looking in the mirror. It was not easy. I couldn't see either my wire hook nor the string, but I knew the hook was on the end of my stick and the string was on the dowel. I did my best to try to snag the string, but most of the time, I only dislodged the flashlight, which I had to re-aim, and from time to time, the tape holding the mirror would let go and I had to re-aim the mirror, but I kept at it until exasperation and the late hour made me give up. It was time to stop and take a shower.

While I was showering and shaving, I came up with a new approach. I thought that if I could get a sewer snake up through that hole, it would work its way down between the joists and all the way to the telephone block. But I didn't have a sewer snake up there. Then I thought about using a piece of steel cable. I had a lot of that.

I finished my shower at 5:30 and 6:00 is my usual dinnertime, so I figured I had a half-hour that I could spend on my new approach. I went out to the privy, where I had temporarily stored all my cables during the insulation job. There was a rat's nest of 1/4" and 5/16" cables that were 20 or 30 feet long. Some of them were kinked badly and all of them had some sort of eye on each end. Since I was not going to use these for yarding logs anymore, I figured that I could destroy one of them and cut a short, straight section from one.

As I was pawing through the cables looking for the right one, I found the end of a 5/16 cable that didn't have anything on the end of it. That looked promising because there couldn't be anything on either end of the cable I needed. I pulled on that cable and worked it out of the rat's nest and was overjoyed to find that it was only about 6 feet long and didn't have anything attached to either end. It was perfect, and as usual, perfect is close enough.

I brought the cable inside and chucked one end of it into my drill. I shoved the other end up into the hole after pulling the dowel out and was able to shove it in a foot or two. Then, by slowly running the drill, I was able to feed all the rest of the cable up into the hole. I could hear the cable rattling around up there, and I figured that it must be finding its way down between the joists in its effort to try to straighten out.

When all the cable was in the hole, I unchucked the drill and went into the pantry to see what I could see. I was starting to get the flashlight and the mirror ready to start searching, when I happened to notice that the end of the cable was peeking out right above the telephone block. What a wonderful surprise. The time was now 5:44 so in less than 15 minutes, the new approach had worked.

Without wasting any more time, I tied the string in a clove hitch around the cable, threw a few half-hitches between the clove hitch and the end of the cable, and then went into the bathroom. There I grabbed the other end of the cable, pulled it all the way out, and I had my string strung.

I unhitched the string from the end of the cable and hitched it right back onto the telephone wire that was waiting. Then, back in the pantry, I pulled the telephone cable out, so the end was hanging right alongside the telephone distribution block. The time was 5:56, just in time for dinner.

On Friday morning, Dave called, and we had a great conversation. After breakfast, I stripped the ends of the wires and hooked them to the distribution block. I got dial tone in the bathroom and I called my cellphone from there and left a message to see if the phone worked both ways. After I got home, I learned that it does.

I took the big sawhorse back outside, set the collapsible table back up in the pantry, and replaced the stuff that was in there. I left for home at 12:30 happy with the developments of the week.

Go to Next Journal Entry
Previous Journal Entry

Index to all Journal Entries
Go To Home Page

©2020 Paul R. Martin, All rights reserved.