Monday, September 17, 2007

The Legend of Saturday

Is there anything better than working as hard as you can all day Saturday, into the night, until you can barely do any more, and then eating yourself into a coma? Readers of this blog know by now that sometimes for us, there is no better feeling. Saturday was another one of those killer work days.

The first goal was to get the supply and return manifolds for both heating zones (main floor and attic) built. Since we had already built most of the supply manifold, we got started on the return manifold. It went smoothly. We were measuring, pipe cutting, and fitting with speed, ease, and accuracy. We even had a small audience. And by "small audience" I mean "large rat." It was home in it's new nest - a ball of insulation in an empty desk drawer on the bottom shelf in the basement. I guess rats are usually home around 11 in the morning. We just worked around it.

The return manifold was done pretty quickly. We weren't actually crimping the fittings on yet, because the tool that we usually rent was on loan. But, true to form, our local hardware guys were tracking it down for us and putting the pressure on the borrower to cough it up, and assured us we should have it by later in the afternoon.

Next, it was time to start work on the attic heating zone manifold. This would be trickier because we need to run two 3/4" tubes from the front basement wall to the back of the basement, then up through the bedroom closet to the bedroom ceiling and across to the front of the house, before we could bank 90 degrees and send them across the front of the house T-ing off to the circuits. There was already a hole drilled in the floor of the bedroom closet where someone had run a couple of wires and my plan was to use this hole as a guide for where I'd drill the next two 1" holes for the tubing. It was important to drill carefully here, because directly below me in that joist bay is the big fat electric cable...the main service line coming in from the meter and heading to the panel. I checked this out two or three times, going to the basement and looking at the existing hole and its relative position to the service line. I figured if I drilled 2 inches to the left of the existing hole, I'd be way clear.

Erika was in the basement, holding the tubing away from where my drill bit was going to come down. I was in the closet in the bedroom, ready to drill. Just in case something went wrong, I double checked my hands to make sure they were only on plastic or rubber parts of the drill. As careful as I was to not come busting through the floor with the auger bit, it still came busting through the floor. And there was a pretty good spark that I could see flash in the tiny space between wood and bit. Erika got a much better look at this, as she was feet away from where my bit penetrated the service line. She said it looked more like flame than spark. But we were okay. Wow. The bit smelled pretty charged, too.

After regrouping, I drilled another hole, and then another. Both of these holes were in the correct places this time. We measured our tube lengths and started running. Once again, this went easier than expected. With such long lengths, we didn't even have to use as many elbow fittings as we thought we might, we just made big bends. Once we reached the front of the house upstairs, we were ready to run the manifold across the front of the house and make our connections to the circuits. We got a call from the shop and they told us that the crimping tool had arrived.

Picked up the tool, picked up some delicious coffee with thick, rich cream, sat on the lawn in the shade eating panini-style sandwiches that we had made on a fresh loaf with tomato and cheese.

Then back to work. We ran the upstairs manifold, crimping wildly. Coupled two splices. And before we knew it, we had accomplished building and installing the manifolds!

I was probably around 6 o'clock by now, maybe later, not sure. On to the second task of the day: more stapling!

Way back when we first started stapling plates up, we started in the bedroom and neighboring "tool room." We have gained a lot of stapling experience and technique, and we've noticed early mistakes in our approach while laying in bed every morning looking up at our first attempts. So, like pros, we cut metal and stapled like the wind. In that final push of the day, we fixed up two rooms and finished that task up.

It was getting dark. We straightened up the upstairs, put the tools away, swept, mopped, got a fire going outside, and then were able to cook up some eggplant and burgers and rest our muscles.

Saturdays rule!

- John

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