12.1.2019 – Sunday
There have been a few small things that have bothered me and the Ol’ man. This year we fixed five of them.
The longest standing, and first to be fixed, has bothered me since day one. The garage has a simple wall mounted propane heater on the inside. We keep the pilot light off and use it maybe twice a year during the cold months. The past few times it’s been run has been for our convenience when cutting up a deer. It’s become a sort of best practice that the Ol’ man and I usually have a deer quartered, deboned, and in the fridge within 6 hours of shooting. Despite the infrequency of use, the vent to the outside is often seen, and in my case, noticed.
The Ol’ man had some left over rough sawn pine from the Cabin construction (of coarse). He pre-finished it and I brought some wood working tools up to the cabin on July 6, 2019. The installation was very simple. I clad the existing OSB box with the pine and broke the corners with a block plane. Later, some additional exterior finish was applied to darken the fresh wood revealed by the block plane.
The next two improvements were required. They were finished on July 12, 2019. From use and the elements a bit of wear and tear was suffered by the garage service door sill and our porch railings. The sill was taken back to my shop and cleaned up with a wire wheel on an angle grinder. The rotted wood was replaced by a new version carefully milled from treated pine. This time we used concrete screws and a carefully selected multi-surface construction adhesive to secure the sill to the slab. Previously, water had run under the sill into the garage. That won’t be the case this winter.
After a quick installation of the sill we moved on to the biggest improvement. The bottom post on all three outside stairways has always been less than satisfactory. They would wobble and inspired little confidence in their permanence if you leaned on them. My investigation into a fix began a few months earlier. I had just built two Shaker Low Post beds for my house in the wood shop and found the solution in their construction. The beds featured captured nuts and heavy bed bolts to secure the posts to the rails. I wandered around Menards for a while after work one evening and found the necessary parts for the project. In late May I began to prepare my materials for installation.
I cut a long C-channel bar into shorter lengths and ground two shoulders of the square nuts to fit.
The thick hot dipped galvanized square bearing plates got a nice coat of dark bronze hammered paint. So did the bolt heads.
Because the steel will be in contact with treated wood I cleaned them and appleid a thick coat of paint to the C-channel.
Installation of the captured nut and bolts was straight forward. A block of treated 4×6 pine was cut to fit snug between two stair stringers. Next I clamped it in place and drilled a long hole for the bolt. The block was then unclamped and using the first drill bit as a quick guide to double check my aim, I drilled the hole for the captured nut.
The 12” bolt is 1/2”-13TPI galvanized with a 3”x3” sill plate for contact on the post. It is installed exactly like a bed bolt, but the design has a 1” steel C-channel piece of steel about 2” long that cradles the square-nut. Tightened to 86 ft pounds the clamping power should approach 9,000 pounds. The rail gained incredible rigidity compared to before.
Look close and you will see a new stair stringer in the photo below. The previous one was split from deck screws placed too close to the front edge. The front of the stair tread us left unsupported by the damaged stringer and bent down with weight. We also replaced that when fixing the posts. That was a simple task of removing the old stringer, copying it, and installing the replacement. Later, the Ol’ man returned with some pre-finished rough sawn pine and dressed up the repair. We are now contemplating dressing all the stairs with rough sawn kickers.
We uncovered a future repair project while reinforcing the posts. Off the front porch the posts were in contact with the ground. The bottoms rotted out and can’t be saved. The two outside treated stringers will also need to be replaced. This is a project for 2020. The Ol’ man already had two sets of pine posts cut from our local mill this Summer and treated pine stringers are just 2×10’s cut to fit.
In mid-summer the Ol’ man put that final coat of paint on the garage service door. He also refreshed the trim. Before this, the door was lighter green than the cabin doors and the paint was streaked with brush marks and a paint that didn’t fully cover the primer. The door is now deep green and looks so good. It took 10 years, but it finally matches the cabin.
The final project was finished up on the second day of the Michigan gun deer season. I was held up from making opening day at the cabin. Something about being a good husband and watching the three kiddos while my wife attended some sort of Women’s night thing in Marquette. Yeah… I don’t get it either.
I made due and hunted the opening from my second floor study at home. Life is a compromise sometimes. This was a fine compromise.
I planned to arrive at the cabin by noon, but as you can see, I had a late start. I didn’t make it to the cabin until 1:30pm CST on November 15, 2019. Most of my time at the cabin this deer season was my attempt to combine the irresponsibility of Octoberfest with the gluttony of Thanksgiving. Fitting I suppose since it falls between the two on the calendar. I took a break from my gastrointestinal cross training to do the final cabin upgrade of this post.
After recovering from the events of the day (and night) before I skipped the morning hunt and started on the upgrade to the garbage drawer in the kitchen. I purchased the fanciest drawer slides I could find from LeeValley.com two weeks earlier. Now I had to figure out how they worked.
After a bit of head scratching and research I resolved that I should have investigated their mysterious workings prior to going to a location with spotty cellular reception. I did make these cool mounting brackets ahead of time at least.
The wood mounting bracket allowed me to start with a perfectly level and parallel mounting surface. Then I installed the fancy Blum Tip-On Movento soft close ball-bearing drawer slides with push-to-open internal catch.
Previously, the trash bin was on a tray that slid out (sort of) being a door that first had to be opened all the way. Problem was the old drawer slides were not ball bearing and the soli ash bin was heavy. The slides were not installed perfectly parallel or level, and bound, only sliding half way out. The action of opening a door first, then pulling out a stubborn drawer that would bump into the door if not fully opened, was a great irritant to everyone.
The new slides glide out effortlessly. The door was mounted to the face of the bin and the two move as one unit now. Two options for accessing the trash now exist:
- Gently push the front of the frame and panel drawer front and a catch releases and the drawer pops out, gliding to full extension. Closing the drawer resets the catch and then the soft close takes over and drawer glides shut the final inch and a half.
- Pull on the knob and the drawer glides out. When closing, the soft close engages and the drawer glides shut the final inch and half. This is arguably smoother since the catch doesn’t have to reset for the push-to-open feature.
The Ol’ man and I were both impressed with our high tech Austrian made drawer slides. They are rated to 40 kilograms capacity for the pair.
A final improvement that has continued to elude me is cellular reception. Initially there was excellent reception with our SureCall cellular booster for both AT&T and Verizon. Then AT&T faded. I’ve been through multiple variations of antenna configurations, each time chasing small gains until no further improvements could be made. Then the signal faded all-together. I settled and decided to set up for the best possible Verizon reception and gave up temporarily on AT&T. I discovered a way to set up a $45/month unlimited plan using an iPhone 6S on a virtual network (Spectrum) that uses Verizon towers for service. I use a small Travel Router tethered to the iPhone to create a wifi network at the cabin so our phones continue to work despite no AT&T reception. We can even make phone calls on our phones over the wifi network. This is an ongoing problem that I’m still actively working on. At this point I’m starting to suspect that AT&T changed something on the tower that used to provide service to our cabin.