The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Archive for March, 2014

Windsurfing is Not My Specialty

Posted by Exile on March 17, 2014

Well, actually, not at all. But there were boards involved and the wind was definitely up…

It’s no secret that once I get stuck into something, I have to keep going no matter what the circumstances may be. Putting a solid roof on the shed was only the first step in creating a comfortable home for my motorbike which will double up as the workshop/toolshed that I’ve always wanted. Once the roof was on, I decided to insulate it for warmth in the winter and thought it might be a good idea to insulate the walls as well since the wind was still blowing through the gaps. The shed is 10 years old, warped in places and there were open spaces to let the draught in.
Can’t have that sort of thing going on, now can we? Well I can’t, so that’s that.

My mate had well and truly worn himself out on the roof, so he wasn’t going to be of much use. I decided, do it alone and do it well. Stubborn old git that I am.

To insulate the underside of the roof was not going to be easy but I had thought it through. I created a ledge all down one side of the shed to rest one end of the chipboard plates on. The other end could then be lifted up and supported by makeshift pillars to hold them up while I got busy with the electric screwdriver. The insulation held itself up by being forced gently up into the spaces between the rafters. All that was done in nice weather and went quite nicely, thank you. It took me a whole day, a lot of tea and smoke breaks and very little foul language, but I got it done and am proud of the result.

Encouraged by this success, I decided the walls must be easier to do because one isn’t continually fighting gravity when working on the vertical bits. I created the framework, measured and checked again, even drew a plan sketch of each wall. Victory was guaranteed. In fact, I’m nearly finished with the whole job so the arithmetic and planning seems to have been pretty damn good.

The fun part was getting the material in.

See, the weather changed. We had a bit of a storm. It’s still blowing a bit now, three days after.

Undeterred by Mother Nature’s whimsy, I had to get on with the job so it was off to the builders merchants and buy material. Storm or not. I bought screws, more insulation, metal brackets and, finally, chipboards. The boards are big. Solid and heavy too. They measure 2.4 metres by 1,2 metres. The trolley I used to carry them out to my car allows one to stand the boards up, rather than lay them flat. This was no problem inside the merchants hall but once I got into the car park in a force 8 gale I realised I was in trouble. Holding a hundred kilos of weight on four wheels with what is effectively over two square metres of sail solidly mounted on board is not easy.
I set off like a rocket… totally out of control and like a speeding bullet, I careered up the parking lot being dragged along by the cart. I tried to turn it sideways into the wind but that made it tack like a yacht which increased my speed, changed my direction of travel and did nothing for my self esteem.
Luckily, the wind slowed for a second and I finally managed to stop the bloody thing before anyone or anything got hurt or damaged about one hundred yards from my car and very close to the main road. Even more luckily, one of the staff had seen all this and, despite almost laughing himself to death, offered to give me a hand.
Eventually, we loaded the whole lot into my car and I could journey homeward with the backdoor of the car open and plates and wood hanging out. (It’s an estate car. The back door really is at the back.)

My problems didn’t end there. Once at home, I had to get the plates out, one by one, and carry them to the shed. The wind was still blowing. Taking one plate in my outstretched arms. I lifted it from the car and carried it onto the pavement. Once again, the wind caught me and, like a human kite, I was forced down the pavement whilst fighting the drag of the wooden sail. Determined not to be blown to kingdom come by the thing, I hung on for dear life and finally wrestled it up over my head to lay it flat which meant the wind no longer had a grip on it. I had to repeat the process four times before I was finished. Getting the small bits in was easy.

I may have to wait for better weather before I get the last bit of this project done.

If you hear reports of strange things flying over Denmark, you’ll know I didn’t.

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Fiddlers on the Roof

Posted by Exile on March 4, 2014

A tale of ‘high level’ activity.

The old roof on the shed had never impressed me. Made of wobbly plastic sheets held down by elongated screws, it cracked with age and moved about in the wind. It was a constant battle to keep water out and it leaked at every junction despite the fall of gradient. Capillary action is not to be underestimated. It had to go. My motorbike, Thumper, lives in the shed and I was fed up with having to cover him with tarpaulins and constantly wipe the damp of him. Hellfire, indoor areas should be dry..! Not only that, the roof extends over the woodpile. I was tired of buying dried wood only to have it get wet again. Something had to be done.

asphaltrollThat something was an easy decision, albeit expensive, but you don’t get something for nothing. The roof would be replaced by a truly waterproof cover. Asphalt roofing. Guaranteed watertight.
The process is simple. Off with the old plastic roofing and cover the entire roof area with wooden plates. These plates measure 1220 x 2440 mm, are 7 mm thick and heavy as hell in a gentle breeze. Then, roll out the roofing, stick it down with cold tar and add nails under the overlap, which is again sealed with cold tar. Cover the edges of the roof construction with a fold over and nail it fast. Result: one lovely, black, watertight roof. Sounds easy. No it isn’t. At least, not when it’s blowing a bit and very cold.

I had enlisted the help of a good friend. We do all sorts for each other and even work together, on the odd occasion, redecorating and renovating peoples homes. He was happy to help, or so he said, so I got him up on the roof with me. Kneeling on solid plates, so we wouldn’t fall through the now brittle plastic roof, we began removing the three hundred screws that held it in place. It was surprisingly cold up there. And wet. And windy. We were soon shivering and our knees were knackered. We progressed, slowly, until the old roofing was gone and then adjourned for warmth and coffee.

Suitably revitalised we returned to the shed. I went up onto the roof, he handed the plates up to me. I wriggled and pulled them into place. With one third of the roof covered we both set about screwing them into place. It was still cold. and windy. But no longer wet.
More coffee.
We repeated the process until the roof was covered.  Finally, with a solid flat surface beneath us we retired for a lunch break and the sun came out. We were looking forward to getting the asphalt down and would hopefully be done with it before sunset. We trimmed the ends off of the final plates to adjust for the length of the shed and broke out the tar. One has to spread this sticky black goop out with a trowel. It isn’t difficult but is time consuming and on worn out knees, frankly, it’s a pain. My mate worked away at this while I carried rolls of asphalt roofing material up the ladder.

asphaltroofThe critical part is getting the first roll down. If that one goes down straight and flat without folds or bulges then everything else follows nicely. We took our time, we measured and checked everything twice. Allowing for the overlap and covering the edges of the roof, we got it right and then nailed the folded edges into place. The knackered knees really suffered now as we were working on gritty asphalt instead of nice flat boards. We nailed the trailing edge down, daubed more tar over the line of nails and rolled out the second roll of asphalt giving ourselves a ten centimeter overlap. This process was repeated six times and finally the roof was covered. 
We then crawled down the ladder, cleared up all the mess and put the tools away.

By now, we were finished, not only with the job but also physically. Done in and dirty we went to wash up and discovered that the long haired and lovely one had prepared food and drink for us. Gratefully, we sat down at the table and reflected on the days work. The result is great. Everything fitted into place, the roof is solid and watertight and we agreed we are never going to do anything like that again.

Hopefully, I’ll never have to!

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