On second glance, it’s Monday, 6:40 a.m. in the tiny house. Spiders tight-rope across windows, between flowers, spin corbels under the porch soffit, and tighten the rigging. Against a backdrop of summer burning along the edges of maple leaves and a final eruption of dahlias, Sunday rose like a gray-eyed oracle. I had heard her approach and, with the renewed vigor conferred by looming deadlines, I delved into my list of dry-weather details (trim baseboard electrical outlet, window weather-stripping, final sash touch-ups, new tires and paint wheel rims, exterior inspection and caulking, etc.). And so it was, on a possibly the last sunny Saturday, I set myself to a long-languishing quandary. Here’s some background on the matter…
The little house is secured to its trailer foundation with steel bars slipped into and bolted through welded, trailer side-brackets. Two additional bolts fasten each bar through the skids on the bottom of the house (for the ‘why’ of skids on a trailered house, see the Trailer Work and The New Foundation sections of my photo album). One of the connections had been disassembled last November in order to access electrical wiring and juice the tiny house for habitation (for more on that episode, see Taking the Leaks posted 11/11/2012). Somewhere in the hoopla, the steel bar had been removed and the bolts jammed in a position rendering it impossible to re-install the steel bar. After wailing mercilessly on the ends of the bolts with my hammer, buggering the bolt threads for their nuts in vain attempt to drive them out, I gave up, relegating it to the bottom of my ‘to-do’ list and turned my attention to more pressing move-in matters, like propane (see Plumb Crazy, posted 10/21/2012). Months later, the tiny marketing campaign well under way (click here for video tour), thunderstorm and subsequent rains in the forecast for the foreseeable future, priority came clear. High time for a second look.
And so it was with accompanying angst, a few weeks ago, that I revisited the pile of nuts and washers, steel bar, split block and corresponding stuck bolts with the original logistical brains behind the operation, my friend and mentor, John Shinneman. He very sensibly advised me to take a chisel to the block through which the offending bolts passed between the steel bar and skids and remove it. Pressure/tension on the bolt between the block and skid should, theoretically, be relieved, and I should be able to drive the bolts back, hacksaw and/or re-thread the mangled ends, replace the block, re-insert bolts and secure with facility. I crossed my arms, furrowed my brow, emitted a dubious grmph! and thanked him for his time and expertise. John grinned and wished me luck before exiting jauntily stage left. I stashed the detritus parts out of sight of impending open house guests and stuffed it well into the back of my mind for just a bit longer.
The first step was easy. I inserted the chisel into the spilt in the block and with a few hammer taps, dispensed with it. Sure enough, without the added pressure of the block, the bolts—with another few hammer blows—were driven flush with the wood. My confidence lifted. I made a second trip to the barn (another 300 feet, times two) for consultation with fix-it guru, Bill Andrews, and acquisition of a couple of long punches, enabling me to prevail in driving the bolts clean out. I shimmied under the house to retrieve them and trekked back to the barn (more exercise) to clean up the threads with a tap and back to the work site to shimmy under the house again, and drive them back through the skids to flush on the outside. Back to the barn. Bill helped me locate an oak plank (very hard wood) from which I could fashion and drill a replacement block. It took several more trips to the barn and removing and re-threading bolt ends and aligning holes to find myself wedged under the house again in the failing light driving the bolts back through the wood and hitting the misaligned steel bar, once again buggering the bolt threads. I lay in the dirt, contemplating the mud pie I would make of myself trying to finish the job in the infinitude of autumn rains forecast to begin tomorrow. I crawled out and shuffled to the barn again to put away my tools.
Pacific Northwest weather is famously unpredictable, except that when rain is forecast, it is reasonably certain to occur though with wide variation in the timing and quantity. Despite the thunderstorm scheduled for 1:00, the sky was a soft, seemingly stable, gray. By 7:15, I was scurrying about to replace window weather stripping, touching up paint and caulk. Finally, after brief meditation on the pressing quandary and beseeching of the rain gods, it was back to nuts and bolts. I am extremely pleased to report that, with only seven or eight trips to the barn, by 11:30 a.m., just as the rain began, I had prevailed, only slightly dampened, fairly dirty, well-exercised (from repeated barn jaunts) and a not just a little triumphant.
The storm broke mid-afternoon yesterday with lightning, rolling thunder, downpour and brief electrical outage. From my tiny kitchen, I amalgamated a satisfying pot of Russian root vegetable soup with sour cream, lemon and dill and reveled in the drama of it all, secure on my foundation, at least until the next bend in the road.
See you soon!