Team Seacats

Tool-Based Motivation

by on Aug.05, 2012, under Garage Mahal

While I struggle to get contractors to show up and finish their stuff, I have found myself letting out a big depressing sigh every time I step into the garage. After trading voice mails for two days, I discovered that my sheetrock guy was out of town all last week (vacation or family emergency unknown).  I’m giving him four days next week to finish or I’m finding someone else/doing it myself.

On another topic, I have a sign project for the graphics business and I’ve really needed a new drill press to finish out 24 signs with about 8 holes each. I sniffed around on craigslist for a drill press and stumbled across a guy that had six factory refurbished units listed at about 1/2 of retail. I was scheduled to meet him one afternoon last week and he failed to show up.   Feeling like being stood up provided enough of an excuse, I tried the warehouse door and found it open. I sniffed around and found the drill presses and decided that it was indeed a great deal. After picking out the one I wanted, I also found several table saws on pallets in various conditions. One of them appeared to be a 110V unit with very little use (most of the larger saws are 220V).  By the time I finally met with the guy a couple of days later, I had talked myself into both the drill press and the table saw. The drill press was a “damaged box” that was reinspected by the factory and found to have no issues. The table saw was a show room demo unit that was barely used and it has a 64″ (or something ridiculously long around that) Biesmeyer fence and a mobility kit with a kick down wheel.

The table saw weighs about 400lbs and unloading it was going to be quite a chore.  That proved as enough motivation to get the I-beam and hoist installed on my ceiling.  The beam and hoist were solely intended to help loading and unloading boats from trailers (or double-stacked boats on/off trailers).  After loading up the saw (with a hand operated fork lift at the warehouse), the truck was backed into the shop, a strap arranged around the saw, and the hoist put in action.  Once lifted, the 400lbs saw easily rolled back eight feet out of the back of the truck and was gently put on the ground back on it’s included mobility kit.  Nothing groaned, nothing creaked, the hoist stayed put in any position.  It was buttery smooth lifting and moving the load.  This operation would have taken at least four guys to unload that saw.  Wow…I felt like that beam and hoist just paid for itself – and I’m just getting started!  However, I’m finding that I not used to having it yet – while assembling a wheeled mobility kit for the 300 lb drill press, I must have downed a whole beer scratching my head about how I was going to lift the drill press onto the mobility kit before it dawned on me to use the hoist again. All big items will be on wheels in the shop so they can be moved and rearranged.  With about 30 minutes of rearranging, I will be able to switch the shop from fiberglass/boat work mode to cabinet / sign shop mode.  I may eventually need to re-wire the tablesaw for 220V because it causes all the fluorescent lights in the old shop (on one old 15amp circuit) to flickr out when it starts up!  Now, I also need a dust collection unit (it never ends).

I need to get out there tonight and wrap the new tools in plastic to protect them from the paint and dust.

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I still have some work to do with the beam – this particular hoist was borrowed.  It’s going to take a little fabrication work to mount the hoist I have purchased to this trolley.  The ceiling will eventually have some casing/trim run around the beam to hide the MDF and sheetrock joint (MDF was used under the beam to prevent compressing and cracking the drywall).

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Primed for Color

by on Jul.30, 2012, under Garage Mahal

Honestly, I’m about at the tail-end of my patience with the sheetrock contractor.  I like the guys and they started off with good quality speedy work…and then they got busy elsewhere and the work got sloppy and slow.  First, they forgot the rounded corners they quoted me (and I reviewed with them before they got started on the project).  Then they forgot to wrap the windows and shop door opening as quoted.  When they came back to redo the rounded corners and window openings, they got in a hurry and tried to do them all with one pass of mud before sanding…and came back to sand while the mud was still a little wet.  I’m no expert, but I’ve never seen anyone try to do a joint like that with one pass before – they certainly didn’t try that on the previous joints and screw holes previously.  Everytime I complain, a guy shows up for about 10 minutes late in the evening and sands a few more spots.  Added to which, I just found an entire corner that doesn’t look like it’s been sanded from the very beginning.

Having gotten tired of rescheduling the painter (we’re now half a month into what was supposed to be a four day sheetrock job) and not being sure how picky I am really being, I scheduled the painter to get the primer up.  I’m a little less pleased with the drywall work now that I can see it with paint on it and will be asking the company to do a detailed walk through with me and fix the items in three days, or walk away without their last 10%.  It’s bad enough when I have to wait for myself to get things done – much less so when I’m paying someone to get it done because I didn’t think I had the time.  The problems aren’t huge, but they are frustrating because I know it wouldn’t take these guys long to just fix them if they would just commit themselves to getting it done right once and for all instead of doing “just enough” to keep me from screaming.

In general, however, it does look pretty good.  There are just several spots that need to have blade scrapes and air bubbles filled.  A couple of the window corners are pretty rough and there are a few screw heads that got missed above the baseboard level.  I’m hoping to resolve this with the guys in morning and intend to have a plan for the painter to start putting color on the walls this Friday.  (I just realized I didn’t get any pictures with the primer up).

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this shot shows a little of the lack of detail in the window corners.  The corner molding/drywall forms should have been mitered – but they weren’t and they tried to make up the shape with mud.  I’m sure it can be done…but it looks a lot like “the hard way”.  (you’ll probably need to follow the link and zoom in to see the corner detail).

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After watching my entry doors get beat pretty hard by driving rain, I decided to install some awnings to provide some weather protection. It took a while to figure out how to install the upstairs unit and it took quite a bit of maneuvering with ladders to get it done. I finally hatched a plan to temporarily zip-tie some aluminum rods to the awning structure to give it enough rigidity to support itself from two middle bolts. It worked like a charm.

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The high wire act for installation…
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Well Hung

by on Jul.15, 2012, under Garage Mahal

Sheetrock is now up throughout the building!  The guys are almost a week behind and while I really want to get cooking, their delays allowed me to finish a couple of minor things I wanted to do before the sheetrock went up.  I haven’t been complaining much about the delay, but that’s about to change if it continues.  They are, however, doing a very nice job so no complaints there.  I had expected the mudding crew to show up yesterday but that didn’t happen.  One thing for sure, I’m glad I didn’t take this job on myself.

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upstairs looking at the bathroom to the left and the dumbwaiter ahead

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Another view of upstairs

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My future desk to be in the corner to the right

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Downstairs looking at the door to the “instrument room”, dumbwaiter shaft, side entrance door, and the smaller garage door that opens to the back yard

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Another view downstairs

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Fuzzy Recycling

by on Jul.05, 2012, under Garage Mahal

Sheetrock is up on the ceiling!  The milestones are clicking off quickly now.  I have a contractor handling the sheetrock and insulation duties.  I waffled on whether or not to do the sheetrock myself but after watching these two guys hang the entire upstairs ceiling and cut in the 24 can lights and other features in a little less than two hours, it’s clear I made the right choice.  I also got to witness a circus-act like method of working around a room on an inverted 5 gallon bucket by wiggling hips (that was awesome).

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The insulation guys then showed up on an afternoon during one of the hottest days of the year (104 degrees F) last Friday.  They worked for about 2 hours before hanging it up.  They returned on Monday and completed insulating the entire structure.  They really did a nice job.  The product is cellulose which is a recycled paper product treated with boric acid for a fire retardant and bug resistance.  It also has some corn starch in it so they can blow the material into the wall through a water mist.  The paper goes into the wall wet and dries to a firm padded consistency and is literally glued into the wall cavity.  The beauty of this insulation is that it has much better air flow resistance than fiberglass and installation ensures that it packs well around all wiring, electrical boxes, plumbing, etc. and completely fills the voids.  It’s only slightly more expensive than fiberglass and, although has properties similar to spray-foam, it’s about 25% the cost of spray foam.

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I’m waiting on a county inspector today and assuming that goes well, the sheetrock guys are scheduled to come back on Monday to start on the walls and ceiling downstairs.  I’ve also got a painting contractor selected and hopefully paint will be done within the next two weeks!

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Milestone!

by on Jun.21, 2012, under Garage Mahal

Aaaahhhh…I think I’m cracking open a $16 bottle of beer tonight that I’ve been hanging onto for a while.  I passed both my plumbing and electrical inspection with only a minor thing to fix…I had missed caulking a couple of upstairs top plate electrical penetrations but the inspector signed off on it and asked that I get that taken care of before insulating.  I’m surprised at how anxious I was about that – I feel like a weight has been lifted!  I had kinda hoped to get some kudos from the inspector for the effort I put in – but he was pretty matter-of-fact about the thing.  No problems, his signature said it all!  He then gave me instruction to call them back once the insulation is in to sign off on the framing…but my building contractor had taken care of those permits and I’m quite sure the framing permit was inspected and closed.  I’m not quite sure what to do there but the inspector said he would look into it and that I should give him a call in the morning for some instruction.

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Unfortunately my insulation contractor can’t get out here for about two weeks…so, maybe I’ll head to the lake for a little R&R at some point.

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