Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Garage Door Insulation Kit Installation


After we replaced the wood stove in our Northern Michigan cabin's garage, insulating the garage door was next. It faced the cold north winds, and really reflected the cold right into the garage.

My wife had been "suggesting" that the door should be insulated before winter came. Winter came, and her "suggestion" became stronger. I couldn't put it off any longer.

We bought a DuraCore HP garage door insulation kit on sale for around $30.00 at our friendly Menard's Home Store.

The door was ten feet wide. Each insulation panel was 24 by 48 inches wide, just a few inches wider than individual door panels between the vertical rails. I took a straight edge and marked the correct width. I then did a scoring cut with a utility knife after lining up my mark on the edge of the work table, and snapped the panel on the line.

The insulation panel was 24 inches wide from top to bottom, and was the size of the inside of the opening, but there was a lip on the top and bottom of each door panel that made the opening slightly smaller than the panel size. So, I had to place the top of the insulation panel into the slotted lip, and bent the panel, bowing and flexing it into the opening.

This was a fast, cheap fix that really helps keep the cold out.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tape Measure Shortcut


There finally comes a time when you are on a ladder taking measurements, and you have dropped your tape measure, pencil, or notepad that you are writing the measurements on one time too many.

I got tired of having to fumble for the paper to write measurements on. I took a two inch strip of masking tape and wrote the measurements I needed on that. It was handy to have the measurements right on the tape measure to refer to as I made wood sawcuts. And, it was one less thing to drop off the ladder or misplace.

After dropping a tape measure one too many times, the lip on the end gets bent and loosens. If I use a tape measure with a bent lip, and need a precise measurement, I just measure from the one inch mark and add an inch to the final measurement.

Wood Stove Replacement

I needed to replace the wood stove that was in garage on my Northern Michigan cabin property. We bought a small one several years ago, and it just sat there until cold weather came here. It was very small. It just wouldn't hold enough wood to heat the 30 X 30 Garage.

I took out the old stove and I bought a Vogelzang 96,000 BTU Cast Iron Boxwood Stove, Model# BX26E BTU Output: 96,000. It has a decent size 19X26 firebox and takes 23 inch wood. This stove had to have a 36 inch clearance on all sides. No problem I could set it sideways in the back of the garage and still be able to park my pickup truck inside.
Its dimensions are L x W x H (in.): 32 x 19 x 26. It was assembled except I had to bolt the legs on.

After making a new length of stovepipe, I fired it up. There was smoke coming from under the top of the stove where it meets the sides, there was smoke coming from the two cooking burners, and there was smoke coming from where the top of the stove was bolted to the stove sides. When the smoke cleared inside the building, it was time for a fixup.

Wow..What a deal for $149.00. I guess you get what you pay for. I knew that the stovepipe was clear all the way to the top. I went to Home Depot and bought a big can of stove cement and some stove gasket. I used a tongue depressor to fill the open area where the top of the stove
was supposed to meet the sides of the stove with the stove cement...all around the stove.

I got gasket cement for the stove gasket. I took the two burners off, and carefully cemented a circle of stove gasket around the bottom of the burners. I made sure that I wiped off the excess gasket cement. After allowing the gasket to dry, I placed the burners back on the stove, with the gasket face down on the circumference of the holes, and put 3 firebricks on both of them to weigh the burners down to help the unglued side of the gasket form to the sides of the holes where the burners went in.

Then I painted it with Rustoleum high temperature paint. Time to fire it up again... It worked...no smoke anywhere.... The fix cost about $10.00. This sure cuts down on the kerosene for the portable heater in the garage.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dogs Versus Alligators


DOGS -03

Florida has sunny skies, beaches, and women in thongs. But it also has alligators. Our townhouse in Pembroke Pines was on a no name lake about 8 miles from Hollywood beach and two miles as a gator swims in from the Everglades from the west.

We had three dogs in a townhouse with a Florida patio screen room, and practically no yard. The only thing between the dogs and the deceptively tranquil and beautiful alligator infested waters was a metal framed screened wall. One of the dogs was a husky cross that would tackle any adversary. The other two dogs were Pomeranians weighing one and three pounds. Obviously, tasty hors d'oeuvres morsels for the swampy critters. The dogs liked to sun themselves on the patio, so we needed something to keep them from running through the screen into a waiting gator's lunch pail.

To complicate matters, the townhouse association had strict rules on modifications to the property. Not being one for the rules, I needed an invisible barrier. I decided to paint hardware cloth flat black to match the screen, and then screw it to the screen's frame. It would be practically invisible. I used 1/2 inch square hardware cloth on this and 3/4 inch screws through washers to secure the hardware cloth as I stretched it tight over the frame. This probably wouldn't stop a gator from coming into the patio through the screen, but it would keep the dogs in. Maybe a gator wouldn't like to bump his nose against it.

While I was doing this, my wife decided that we needed planter boxes so we could grow tomatoes almost year round. As long as I had the tools out, I went to the Home Depot and bought six inch fence boards to make the boxes. I waterproofed them, painted the backs of them flat black and hung them on the horizontal frames of the screen wall. None of the condo commandos on the board ever noticed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Air Conditioner Fan Blade

Air Conditioner Fan Blade Replacement


Before we moved to Dallas, we lived in a townhouse in Pembroke Pines Florida when Hurricane Andrew hit with full force about 15 miles south of us. We had over 100 MPH winds constantly for about eight hours straight. The wind sounded horrible, and you could hear things popping and snapping outside all night long. Several palm trees blew over beside of us, but we were relatively unscathed. The back of the house faced a lake and was glass from ceiling to floor. The glass shimmed in and out like a bowl of jello. But, It didn't break.
We did see St. Elmo's fire dancing like a first time New Year's Eve drunk across the surface of the lake and across the power lines across the lake behind us.


No damage, except where the flying palm frond went through the wire cover on the top of the central air conditioner on the roof and into the fan blade. It stopped the blade in its tracks. It mangled the blade. Since residential air conditioner repairs were low on the priority list of contractors after the storm, I climbed up and took the old fan and motor assembly out. I bought a replacement fan from an air conditioning supply house.

After getting back inside the townhouse, I removed the lock nut off of the motor shaft. Easy enough. But after years of sitting and spinning, the blade was stuck tight on the motor shaft. I didn't have a gear puller, which would have made short work of taking the mangled blade off, so I used a an automotive ball joint separator and some muscle to get it off. I reconnected the motor wires to the unit and straightened out the wire cover as best as I could.

You can see the old, torn up blade and the new one installed on the motor in the pictures.

Floor Tiles (Adhesive Type)


The home that we inherited in Dallas in the early 90's had all of the warmth and comfort that anyone could ever want to raise a family in. The neighborhood was built in the late 1940's and the remaining residents from then were either elderly, retired in Florida, or no longer with us. The neighborhood of fine older homes was undergoing a rebirth as new families moved in and modernizes their new homes. This home was the place where the extended family always met for holidays when I was a kid growing up.
Part of the process of bringing this old home back to life included re-doing the family room floor. The room had been dark fifty years, with thick, dark stained wood 5 inch wide overlapping pine. The ceiling was stained 3 inch wide tongue and groove pine. The floor was the original dark brown patterned linoleum. The room was gloomy.There had been years of cigarette and cigar smokers to make matters worse.
We decided that the easiest way to brighten up the room was to replace the floor covering with white adhesive tiles. It was a 12 by 24 foot room rectangle, so no cutting or trimming of tiles was needed.



Self Adhesive Tiles
Box Cutter
Rolling Pin
Tape Measure

This is for a floor that is not too damaged to cover over. Measure the room and get the right amount of tiles. Each tile is 12 inches by 12 inches, which makes determining the amount to get easier.

Clean the floor of all dirt and accumulated grime. This took some time for us because the floor was the original old one and had seen lots of use and abuse. We finished the floor cleaning job by using Windex and paper towels. You may be amazed at what Windex will clean. It may be necessary to use a putty knife to scrape down any high spots you find. Use a filler to fill holes or cracks that might remain in the old floor to make them level and flush with the rest of the floor.

Floor molding will probably have to be removed. If you want to re-use it, then be careful not to break it as you pry loose the toe nailed molding. Start at a corner as you remove the molding, and mark on the back of the molding its position on the floor, i.e. 1,2,3,4 as you remove them. It makes replacing them easier.

Open a package of floor tiles. Be careful not to drop or bend the corners too hard because they are brittle enough to break the corners off if mishandled. Don't take the paper backing off yet. Visualize the way that the pattern will lay on the floor, and lay the first row up against your starting wall without adhering them. Leave about a 1/8 inch space between the tiles and the wall for expansion. The gap you leave will be covered by the molding. If you are using a tile with a pattern, make sure that all tiles are lined up in the right direction. When you are satisfied with the look of the row, it's time to begin the adhesive process.

If the room is wider than tiles will fit evenly in one foot increments, ( i.e. 12 X 18 ½ ) you will need to have a beginning and ending row on the 18 ½ foot side that is not a one foot wide tile, but a 3 inch wide tile row. In other words, you will have 18 full one foot wide rows and a 3 inch row in width on either end to make the tile floor 18 ½ feet in width to look balanced after installation. Make sure that the pattern matches on the ends if you have to cut tiles to a smaller size.
Carefully remove the cover from the adhesive and place the tile together in a row on the starting wall. Remember, be careful with the corners. Use a rolling pin to "iron down" the tiles for a good bond with the floor being covered. The rolling pin won't go all the way to the wall. Place a length of 1X4 against the tile that you can't roll, and step on it firmly.
Repeat the process of placing tile, rolling, and placing tile until the floor is covered.
Replace the molding and put back your furniture. It's a good idea to use floor coasters under any heavy furniture or couches that will be on the floor.