Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Think I'm Getting Too Old For This Stuff!

Well, I didn't get all the crawl spacin' finished today. I had a couple of cables I forgot about, so this morning's activities consisted of making the measurements, adding 20% plus 5 feet to my calculated length, and then cutting lengths of RG-6QS and Cat6a Ethernet cable. I drilled a new hole in the floor under the radio desk, and stuffed the Ethernet cable into it, then went outside, trimmed a small hole in one of the foundation vent grills, and stuffed the coax that will connect to the FiOS ONT ("Optical Network Terminal") into the new hole. Got that finished (in between phone calls), had lunch, and then went down under the house, and pulled the cables from the front room PC and router from where they landed on the dirt when I stuffed them in the other day, back to the hatch opening. Then I crawled the other direction to where the two new cables were that I laid in, and pulled them back to the hatch. While I was down there, I "scouted out" the locations of the cables from the Home Theater rack, and my step-son's room to see how far I'd have to crawl to get to them.
I couldn't even see them!
All I had was my drop-light, and while it lit up the immediate area, it doesn't throw a beam, so anything more than 4~5 feet away is effectively UN-illuminated. I would have taken my spotlight down, but it uses the same battery as my cordless drill, and that battery was in the charger.
Since I've never been under a house before, it was a real learning experience for me. I can see where I need to go, but the entire area under the house is not all open space. I suppose I should have known that, understanding a bit about Mechanical Engineering and Construction Practices, but I wasn't prepared to see all these concrete "pilings" under the house in various places. All the load-bearing walls have good support under the flooring, resting on these pilings, but they make crawling around under the house a bit like being in a maze.
Let's see, we go 6' this way, make a left turn through the cutout in the foundation, go 6 more feet, through another cutout, make another left, and there's the cables from the home theater rack! I can't just drag them back with me, as they wouldn't be long enough, so I've got to feed them through the open spaces in the framing that rests on the pilings, go back and take out the slack, feed them through the *next* open spaces in the framing, and THEN go back to where I started from to get them to the hatch area.
The process will be similar to get to the cables from my step-son's room, but I'll be twisting and turning to a different map.
The one thing that bothers me the most is going in and out of the hatch in the closet floor. I don't mind crawling on my belly like a reptile so much, but man, getting in and out of that damn hatch (it's 24"x18") when there's only 27" of space between it and the dirt is a major pain in the a$$! I just aint as limber at 59 as I was at 29!
Going under the "new" part of the house shouldn't be quite as bad. The access to that crawl space is through a small door on the side of the house, and it's just a straight crawl all the way. I have to go in there to get the cables from our bedroom, feed them through a gap I found, and then pull them over to the hatch. It shouldn't be as bad as pulling the cables under the original part of the house. When I was down there today, I fed a long length of small Dacron line (think tiny paracord) through the gap, and I'll secure that to the cables before I feed them to this side of the house. That way I won't have to go through that damn hatch, but will be able to pull them to me with the cord.
Gads, I'll be glad when this project is finished!


  1. Man! I do not know how you even worked up the gumption to even start doing that. It is all about age for me.

  2. Well, thanks, but it was more a question of "What's down there?" than "Can I do it?".
    I've been active most of my life, and crawling around working on cars gave me the "limberness" years ago.
    Waiting for the guy to come fix our stove (oven won't light), and then I'll go under the 'new' side of the house.

  3. Ah, you have surpassed the tip over point in this project. Your approach sounds good. The nice thing about these projects is you only do them once!

  4. Back in the hole, you're not done yet!!! :-) Hot showers work (at least it mitigates SOME Of the pain)...

  5. Yeah, always one more cable to pull!
    The guy who came and fixed the stove also fixed the ice maker in the fridge. BUT....the water supply is pretty 'timid' to it, and he asked how it was connected to the water. When I told him it had a "Vampire Tap", he suggested that I screw it all the way in, and then back it out. he said they're notorious for getting gunked up and having the flow slow to a trickle.
    SO.....since I'm planning on going under that end of the house today to get the cables from our bedroom over to "The Other Side", guess what else I get to do??

  6. I just went outside and pulled the hatch in the wall to take a look-see.
    The vampire tap was about 10" inside, and I was able to close it, and reopen it without crawling inside.
    We now have full flow out of the "Drinking Water" spigot on the fridge, and hopefully the icemaker will work properly now.
    It's also raining, and since I don't feel like crawling around in the cold and wet, I think for today I'll just go ahead and put the connectors on all the cable ends that are inside the house.
    The coax ones take maybe 10 minutes each, but the Ethernet ("RJ-45", even though they're not really "Registered Jacks") plugs take me longer, as I'm pretty picky about doing them, and feeding 8 little wires into the plug, and keeping them all in the right order, takes a while.

  7. It's been years since I've been under a house like you've been doing - had to put heat tape on the plumbing of my Mother's house.

    Plus, putting CAT5 ends on would give me a headache in short order, even with the bifocals.

  8. Well, the connectors for Cat5e and above are actually easier to install. They have a little block that you thread the wires through, and when you're sure they're in the correct sequence, then you slide it into the main housing, and crimp it together.
    When I was working for DirecTV I built the test bed for the new program management system that was deployed while I was there. I installed something like SIX HUNDRED Cat5 connectors (the 'old' style), and it was a chore!
    I have all the F connectors and Ethernet connectors on all the room cables, and the cables I pulled under the house yesterday. Tomorrow I'm going "back in the hole" to get the cables from the Home Theater rack and my step-son's bedroom pulled to the closet, and if I feel REEEEAL ambitious, I'll go under the new part of the house to get those routed.

  9. With enough C4 you don't have to even worry about it any more.

    You're a braver person than I. Being home improvement challenged AND claustraphobic, I'm not one for a lot of tight space home repairs.

  10. "Home Improvement Challenged"??
    After all the work you did on the HOTR, I *don't* think that's an apt description of you!

  11. Oh yeah... ALWAYS one more... and it's the WORST possible position/area/etc... LOL


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