Saturday, October 16, 2010

55, Sill(Cill)(s) 2.

As fortunate as I was in the procurement of the window sills, (or cills if you prefer to spell them that way, I still can't make up my mind!), I was still left 1 short. This was needed for the side window in the main bedroom. The profile of my sills is a little different to the standard variety usually found in this part of the world. The shoulders on either side junction at a sharp 90 degrees with the upper sloping surface whereas on the common garden variety, of which I also have a small stockpile, they are concaved.
Not wanting to mix and match the sills on the house or cannibalise one of my other ones, I decided to make a new one from scratch.

The smallest stone in my collection with enough length to provide a sill of the required size, was, in a previous life, a capping stone. It came off the abutment of a small bridge located on the railway line near Little River, situated about mid way between Melbourne and Geelong. It was rendered obsolete many years ago when all the bridges and culverts along this line were strengthened, carried out by replacing the steel decks with new steel reinforced concrete ones. This necessitated the removal of the upper courses of stone and the installation of cast in situ concrete bearers.

Firstly I removed the rough back of the stone and then sawed off a slice about 5mm thick, (seen on the bench on the right). This was to ensure the soundness of the block, any unseen cracking would certainly become apparent on a piece this thin. Being happy with the result I then removed a suitable slab, cutting it about an inch thicker than needed to allow for final trimming.

I was a bit annoyed to find that a drill hole had been made into the base of the stone at some stage, for no apparent reason. The bulk of the original block, just shy of 600kg had made it a bit impractical to roll it over for a visual inspection. The hole ran about 3/4s of the way through and my saw cut had passed right across it. Fortunately though, with its angle and depth I was able to locate it within the waste area of the top bevel.

With the block positioned at the correct angle I then proceeded to make consecutive cuts about 1/2 an inch apart to remove the bulk of the waste.

The fingers were then broken and chiselled off.

The blade was then dropped slightly and the face tidied with the blade being moved sideways 1/16 of an inch after each pass.

With the bevel completed, the next step was to form the step to the front vertical face of the shoulders. I removed the bulk of the waste with a small angle grinder and then chiselled the surfaces true. Having completed these I then chiselled out the rebate to house the timber window sill at the top edge of the bevel.

Having all the upper profiles completed, the sill could then be trimmed to its correct dimensions. I started with the front face which received the same treatment as the bevel using consecutive saw cuts to emulate a tooled finish. This process testing out my sanity with a steady, continuous and monotonous 2 hours of back and forth for each face.

The Back, Head and Bed were next, with normal saw cuts sufficing.

The drip groove under the overhang could now be formed, taking care to stop short of the ends.

After some light chiselling to remove the radial saw marks on the seen areas of the trimmed ends it was ready to go!

3 days toil later and it's in its final resting place.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

54, Enough scaffold!

Following the purchase of the scaffold frames in February, I received the call I had hoped for in mid March. A scrap metal dealer in Laverton had for resale, a large number of steel planks. The asking price of $400 per 50 2.4meter planks had me making a couple of trips to transport about 110 of them home. These included a number of 1.8m planks, needed to make the correct run lengths. Many of them had seen better days and with a few nights spent in the shed with my welder, I was able to bring them back to a serviceable standard.

Now that I had enough gear I was able to completely encircle the whole house and have enough frames to take me up to final roof height. My tube and clip stuff mainly being used to support the temporary roofing over the work areas.

With the scaffolding taken care of I could get back to the stone laying. The aim at this stage is to raise the first floor walls to window cill height, about 600mm above floor level, around the entire perimeter. This is to allow the temporary roof, covering the ground floor timber framing, to be flashed sufficiently to prevent water entry. It will also, hopefully, enable me to seal the completed work sufficiently to prevent spark and ember entry in the event of a bushfire.

The East wall coming together. The limestone string course had to be stepped and broken, (just visible behind the inclined steel plank,) to allow for the stepped flashing over the existing roof.

For added strength I used a high proportion of full width tie stones for the first course above the limestone string course and reinforced concrete beam.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

53, Helping out.

During July I was able to assist a friend, Steve, by cutting for him some 40mm thick slabs. These were to cap off some rubble stone retaining walls that he was in the process of constructing in the backyard of his and Maryanne's house in Footscray.
I had a large rock in my collection that was to be surplus to my requirements, as, externally it showed a texture that varied greatly from that which I was using. Steve was happy to use it, regardless of the texture, so I picked the 2 tonnes of it up with the loader and moved it next to the shed and power supply.

We first split the stone the easiest way across its width using the plugs and feathers. This proved to be a bad mistake for me, as the texture proved to be, for the most part, of very fine grain. Had we split it lengthways I would have been able to use it to provide me with 4 decent window sills or steps and I would have found another rock for Steve. Oh well, too late now!

The next step was to halve those pieces again to create more manageable blocks of about 250kg to load onto the saw.

These blocks I then sawed to the 300mm slab width that was required.

... and then laid these over to saw the 40mm slabs. I squared the ends of some pieces and left the rest at their full length for Steve to cut and mitre as required to fit.

The (almost) finished product! Job well done Steve!.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

52, More scaffold!!!

My constant perusing of eBay, once again, paid off and I scored myself another deal. This time it came in the form of a quantity of scaffolding. A large number of steel "H" frames comprised the listing and were compatible with the frames that I already have. I negotiated a cash price per frame on the condition that I take the whole lot.
There was, however, one small drawback with the purchase. By road they were about 930km distant, in Liverpool, just out of Sydney.
I obtained a couple of quotes for transport to Melbourne of $600 and $650, which, to me sounded excessive, especially considering that I would still need to transport them the remaining 100km home. Having a third party pick up the frames would also have further drawbacks, as I needed to pay the seller in cash for all of the frames, the exact number not being determined until they were sorted and loaded.
Unable to procure a small truck for a reasonable price and all other options exhausted, I hitched up a trailer to my van and set off.

It was a pleasant drive and got me away from the place for a couple of days. The van, as in the above photo, paused for lunch on the return trip at Violet town was itself loaded inside with about a tonne. It handled it well, albeit a bit slow up some of the hills.

2 days, $305 of diesel fuel, 1 flat trailer tyre, a $68 overnight stay in a motel in and a couple of meals later I arrived at home. The final purchase totalling 72 frames .
I now have more than enough scaffold to completely encase the whole house, one more hurdle overcome. I am still on the lookout, however, for more steel planking.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

51, Ground floor stonework completed. (for good, I hope!)

The blog's been quiet for a while but the work on the house has continued on relentlessly. After completion of the string course my attention was shifted to the state of the limestone that I had capped the rear wall with for the past ??? years. I had left it uncovered, exposed to all the elements but with a channel formed behind it in an attempt to divert any rainwater. This proved to be a mistake as the water tended to form pools, soaked into the stone and kept it wet, causing it to discolour severely. This was not an issue in the area where the rear balcony was to be located, as these were to be re-laid with bluestone in a similar manner as I had done on the front. The 4 blocks, however, forming the string course at the top of the rear laundry wall, the first section of wall completed, were a different matter and were so badly stained that they needed to be replaced.

Work on the rear wall completed, ready for the balcony.
With only about 60mm of the string course to be seen above the balcony floor level I felt it better to use bluestone here, as the wear and scuffing to be expected in this area would be extremely detrimental to the much softer limestone.

Staining is still evident on the top of the east wall on the right of the photo, this is not as severe as it was on the rear. I am hoping to be able to bleach it out, as I do not wish to have to replace these as well.

The rear wall, now finally re-laid. The stonework can now continue upwards.

The north end of the west wall abutting the existing house. The block work has been arranged to keep the, yet to be installed, step flashings at even increments.