Saturday, December 30, 2017

Bathroom Update and Basement Work Continues

I had totally forgotten that my wife had a bathroom scheduled for a "Rebath" appointment. The upstairs bathrooms are one of the things we don't care for in the house, but who ever looks at dimensions of the bathrooms when they go house shopping? I can stand in "my" bathroom, put one hand on the wall to my left, and my other hand can touch the wall of the shower. The tub/toilet area in both upstairs bathrooms is only about 6' wide, and it gets a bit cramped in there trying to towel off. My has commandeered the hallway bathroom as "hers", as the sink/vanity area is much larger, and the vanity in that bathroom has drawers, where mine is a cabinet that the sink sits on top of, with a much smaller mirror.

Both upstairs bathrooms have a separate area with the sink and mirror, and a second area with the tub/shower and toilet in it. The sink/mirror vanity area is separated from the tub/toilet area by a door, and the hallway bathroom also has a door leading to the sink/mirror/vanity.

The master bedroom has a doorway leading to the vanity, and then a door to close off the tub/toilet area.

Both bathrooms have/had a multi-piece plastic tub/shower insert of 1980's design, and while they were still in very good, usable, "leak free" condition, the plastic they were molded from is yellowing, and the insert was wider than it needed to be, reducing the space between tub and toilet even further.

The plans for my bathroom include a new tub/shower, removing the wall between the tub area and vanity area, and relocating the door separating the two to the wall that separates the vanity area from the bedroom, and relocating the door to my wife's walk-in closet from the vanity area to the blank wall nearest my side of the bed. That job has an estimated cost (at this time) of $15k~$20k, but it's a major redo, involving plumbing, framing, drywall, tile, and probably a host of other things we haven't thought about.

In the meantime, here's what a $6k "Rebath" gets you. BTW...the guys that did the work were superb, again. Every single thing we've done since we bought the house has been attended to by superbly skilled, friendly, hard-working guys (no gals yet, but Chainsaw Mama will right that wrong when she comes to carve the tree trunk!), who show up on time, or early, do very good work, clean up when they're done, are done when they say they'll be done, and the quoted price is honored even though they might hit a snag which requires more materials or labor. The "Rebath" guys banged a wall moving some things upstairs, but they patched the wall, retextured it, and repainted the spot.

And I can't tell where they fixed the ding in the wall........

Before, from my wife's cellphone:

Next, down to the studs:

The installation guys commented that tub/shower insert was "Home Owner Grade", saying it came from Home Depot, or whoever turned in to Home Depot.

They said it was a first-class installation, and showed NO signs of leakage on the supply or drain connections, and there was NO sign of mold/mildew/brown25 or other biological activity. They sprayed some stuff anyway, "Just-In-Case", and then hung the new drywall.

After which they installed the new tub.

I was out running errands and fixing other stuff (more on that later...), but I saw them bring in the precut sections of acrylic "tile" so it could sit overnite and stabilize, and the next morning they'd do any finish cuts, and glue it up, install some extras, and be done.

I was out and about during that time, but here's the finished result.

I thought I took some pix of the new fixtures and stuff, but guess not. The first time I pulled open the shower curtain (cue 'Psycho' violins...) it struck me as....uh....."Bold"? But the more I see it, the more I get used to it. It's kind of a marble-like look, from the top of the new, bigger tub to the ceiling, and the cut-to-size panels are held on with 3M structural adhesive and sealed at the seams with silicone calk.

And yup...we paid extra for the grab bars. Might need them some day.......

And that pesky 96" baseboard heater standing in the way of construction? Meet his new 72" replacement.

Fits much nicer in the footprint of the workbench I want, and puts out as many BTU's as the old one that was in there.

I had been hoping the power feed was on the right hand side of the heater, as that's where the main wire chase that runs under the house goes, but nope. It was fed from the left hand side, as you can see by the wire coming through the paneling.

And of course, there's ZERO detectable slack in that cable. So, I'll get a surface mount box, some cable bushings and properly rated cordage, and a good terminal strip to tie it together. One cable clamp type bushing in the heater, connect the ground, connect the feed to the element, and test it. The AC line voltage measured 238.5 Volts, and the heater draws 6.3 Amps at the voltage. The house has "240V, 150A Service", which I think is a bit "light". I haven't investigated the cost to upgrade the disconnect, wiring, new panel and additional breakers so it would be 240V, 200A Service, with a couple of extra breaker slots in the panel for a 240V outlet in the radio room.

And today I installed the last of the damn curtain rods, and crawled around on the kitchen floor repairing and adjusting those damn "EuroTRASH" cabinet hinges. I had an Epiphany about adjusting them the other day, and it proved itself when I walked up to one cold, sized it up, asked my wife what was wrong with it, and made the adjustments with her watching, and that set of cabinet doors closed perfectly. So now I guess I grok EuroStyle hinges. I find it to be somewhat similar to the euphoria I felt when my Rochester Quadrajet experiments proved themselves on the street, strip, and track.

I need to make still another Home Depot. Some of the people there know me by sight and say hi.....another thing about living here that my wife is finally getting used to.

Tomorrow I'll post some general gripes, bitches, and moans about the workmanship of the previous home owners, along with the pix to back it up. I'm glad my wife was helping with the hinge project tonight. She got to watch first hand one of these spring-loaded hinges when it decided to grenade, and the All-Hands-On-Deck scramble to find the missing pieces. It prompted a good discussion between us over the fact that this stuff happens Every Single Time I touch something we know the previous owners had their hands on. Her bathroom ceiling vent fan is a good example. It's half a new box BASHED TOGETHER with the old box. It's not square in the hole, and not level, either. It LOOKS bashed together.

I'll go into all that tomorrow.........

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas To All, and few updates........

First off, Merry Christmas to all!

I must have been a very good boy last year to have warranted a present as nice as living in Colorado is turning out to be.

Christmas Day we'll be at our Daughter-In-Laws brother's house for dinner in the early afternoon. This is another rural property, but quite different in character than her parent's place up at 7500'. This place is set up for ranching, and is about 40 acres of nice, flat land well North and East of Fort Collins, literally on the edge of The Great Plains. At one time it was an active ranch, and then it wasn't. Don't know the story on the property, but I'm sure I'll enjoy the location!

Update on the Weather Station - The company is aware of the solar heating effect on the main unit with the temp sensor in it, and offers a $40 upgrade to replace the cylindrical louver assembly, but I'll probably just make a little shield out of some thin aluminum.

I found a different instruction manual for the main unit in the enclosure, and was able to get a corrected barometric pressure into the console, where it "stuck", and it's now in "close enough" agreement with trusted sources, so that negative checkmark is removed.

But I still see no way to "trim" the stored calibration factors in the console for the temperatures. Yes, the display software will allow that, but the display on the little base station console is still wrong, and that bugs me.

The garage cleanup is coming along well, and I finally scored on the three Home Depot wire storage racks I wanted. AND the price was $20 per rack cheaper.

The storage and placement of items on the shelves is by no means optimized! This is just a first cut as I go through things, and sort them out. The large pile of cardboard in the immediate foreground is going to be cut down so we can drag it down to the recycling center, and when that's done it should look much better in there.

This is looking the other way, and you can see a lot of "holes" in the pile where things were. Getting rid of the YUGE cardboard pile and sorting through the remainder of this will get me enough space to store the Supra.

And things continue to progress down in the basement. The blue tape represents the critical "Hard Points" for the workbench/drawer units. Hmmmmm....that 96" baseboard heater  aint cooperating very well, is it?

Reading up on these things, they're remarkably simple. Just a big Nichrome heating element strung through there like a toaster, and a switched source of 240VAC on one end. Further reading reveals that a new "modern" unit to replace this unit can be 72" long, and just as efficient in terms of heating a room. I haven't researched those claims yet, but a 72" unit would remove all the length from the left side (because the right end is where the power comes in, and that point is fixed), and screw into the paneling just like this one does.

Problem apparently solved; I just have to source and purchase a new 72" heater, and swap it out with what's there now, then call my carpenter buddy and discuss what I'd like and what he suggests for a workbench/drawer/shelving "solution", and then build it.

While he's busy doing that, I'll be busy pestering him with questions about building the custom desk/operating position/station console on the wall to your back in the photo.

That custom build will house my new, "modern" Ham rigs, flanked on the left and right sides by the classic gear I wanted (lusted after, really...) but couldn't afford when I was a teenager. The Hallicrafters will be on the left, and the Drake gear will be to the right of the current era gear. The equipment has all been located, along with all the manuals and spare parts, and is awaiting check-out and any necessary refurbishment. Until that gets done, they'll be used as dimensional models for the construction of the station console.

And while I'm in a clean/sort/pester-the-carpenter mode, I'll have tunes to do it by.

The receiver is a "100 Watts Per Channel" Onkyo HT-R510 Home Theater receiver that I bought way back in 1999 or so. Just using it for an FM radio right now, and this will probably wind up as the garage radio, and I'll get a decent older receiver and better speakers for down here.

And as is typical of my somewhat nomadic past life, I haven't even hung my shingle out, and work is finding me, forcing me to set up a temporary "Computer MASH Unit" as my wife calls it........

This is for a family friend, and I have to unravel a Windows 10 "Update" that blew her desktop away. I remember reading something about this on the Flex Radio Systems email reflector, and it's a known, specific problem.

And we'll start showing a ton of construction articles coming up. One of the upstairs bathrooms is getting a minor remodel, and I'll grab pix of that. Then we have the basement woodwork going on, and the arrival of the Supra.

Yep, Merry Christmas to all! This is one of the best ones I've ever had!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Temporary Weather Station

And at this point, it's very temporary! Not that I'm sending it back, but because the "Sensor Suite" isn't installed in it's final position, as seen here:

And this is it turned 90*:

The anemometer cups and wind vane speak for themselves. The rectangular box off to the left side in the above picture is the rain gauge, and the vertical stack of louvers houses the brains of the thing, along with temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure sensors. The housing at the very top holds the solar cell, which charges two "AA" sized rechargeable alkaline batteries that are supposed to last for 36 months. The little brain box also houses a 915 MHz transmitter to send data to the base unit every 48 seconds.

The new toy is a Weatherwise WS-1090-SOLAR wireless weather station, and I bought it after reading the glowing reviews on

This is the console that sits inside:

The console is powered by three "AA" batteries said to be good for 12 months. The clock inside is radio synchronized to my neighbors over at WWVB. Somebody made a joke here a while back that being so close to WWVB would probably cause NON clock equipped stuff to try and synchronize. So far, every single device we own that has a radio synchronized clock in it has come up, and gotten a lock and was fully adjusted within 15 minutes. GOOD signal strength here, buckaroo!

I found I had to run the LCD contrast at max to get a decent viewing angle out of it. The screen is a 7" touch screen, and tapping any display area brings up a sub-menu of display choices for that parameter. And there's a USB port on the side that allows you either download the stored measurements, or communicate directly with the device, and display/store/manipulate the data provided by the Sensor Suite.

Pretty sophisticated, and pretty powerful for a $100 device.

The only complaints I recall from eHam and other sites was that the "300 foot" wireless range was a bit optimistic, and you were better off to keep the two units "Line of Sight".

One of the things I've noticed is that the temperature readings for both inside and outside don't agree with several other thermometers I have, or with the NWS and some other local Weather Underground stations.

The inside temp is always 5* higher than all the other thermometers, and the outside temp runs about 2* higher than close-by stations.

And the barometric pressure reading is consistently low.

And when the Sensor Suite is in direct sun, the indicated outdoor temperature climbs to 15* or higher than the ambient air around it.

The manual alludes to being able to calibrate the readings from the touchscreen, but I can't find any way to change the displayed value. And the weather software I used to communicate with the unit via the USB cable will allow me to set numerous offsets and scale factors, but they only apply to the displayed value in the software. The LCD screen still shows incorrect readings.

Granted, it's not my $600 Davis Instruments Weather Vue system, with genuine NIST-traceable calibration, but I'm surprised you can't make adjustments to the displayed values on the display console.

Over the last few days I've run across, and collected up, all the bits and pieces of my Davis weather station. The entire sensor suite is still on the 5' section of mast I had it on in Long Beach. sure would be easy to put that section of mast into the heavy-duty 5' Rohn tripod I have and set it up on the back porch.........just for a while, you know?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Homeowner Bliss......

We've been pretty lucky so far. Anything really expensive, say....a new roof....we knew about coming in. Likewise the tree and the fence.

And the new washer and dryer are working fine after leveling both of them (NOTE TO INSTALLERS: Just because it doesn't rock doesn't mean it's level!), removing about 75% of the length of exhaust ducting because the "Installers" used it ALL to save the 10 minutes it would take to trim it, and cleaning several handfuls of wet lint from the "anti-critter screen" a previous owner installed.

So I was a bit distressed that our brand-new, top of the (Home Depot) line GE dishwasher wasn't working very well. The dishes weren't clean, the soap dispenser would sometimes ope, sometimes not, and the soap would never fully dissolve when it did open. It also didn't sound right. Instead of the nice, quiet "swoosh-swoosh" of a normal dishwasher, it made some rather "unusual" sounds. Since it was still under warranty, and we have the receipts, GE was most happy to send a Service Tech out to investigate.

Took him all of five minutes to diagnose, troubleshoot, and correct the fact that the water valve feeding the unit was barely cracked open! He said it looked like it had been opened enough to leak-check it, but they never opened it all the way. Since his service report doesn't have a category for "Botched Installation" he said he'd scratch his head and write something creative on the report.

It still takes two hours to run a full cycle, but the first load of dishes came out spotless!

And the Service Tech from the small, locally owned and operated appliance place was first class all the way.

Or the bathroom fan/light in the basement that I had to get real creative with. But first I had to learn there are several popular electrical "Box Sizes", and I had to get a replacement of the same size to ensure a drop-in replacement, right?

Well......kinda. The replacement fan/light is made by the same company, fits the same 8"x8-1/4" box, and has a model number close to the 1980's model. The problem is that the instructions only cover new installations, where the ceiling isn't there yet, and you can happily pound nails into exposed joists all day long. We have a fully finished basement. With a ceiling. The ceiling was installed after the original fan/light was installed.

IOW......there aint no stinking room up there to pry out the old nails, and drive in new ones.

And I'm NOT ripping up perfectly good, well-painted drywall, overhead, no less, to replace some bathroom fan/light. Nope, aint gonna happen.

I wound up getting the motor mounting plate out of the old fixture, and compared the two motors. Yep....same little shaded-pole motor with a slightly different fan impeller on it.

So, I'm in the process of putting the 2017 motor in the 198x box. When it's done I'll put the old motor plate with the new motor on it back in the old housing, and then finish it off with the new plastic louvers and lamp assembly with a new LED bulb. My wife wanted to know why it was taking several days to swap the fan out, so I had her go up on the ladder to show me how to get the old box out.

She deferred to my experience and left the area.......

And I put up two new solar powered, motion activated, LED security lights. I put one in between the two garage doors to light up the driveway and path to the house, where the front porch light takes over, and the other one over the side door to the garage.

The side door will be replaced Real Soon Now! It's the original from 1977 and is a huge heat loss area even though it's on the South side of the house, and there's an additional outside "Storm Door" to replace the usual, cheesy, falling apart aluminum screen door. There's also an identical storm door for the garage-to-house door where the entrance to the den is. They're both identical to the one I installed on the back door of the Long Beach house, so I know what they cost, and they're top of the (Home Depot) line products.

And I bought and assembled a "temporary" weather station to put in service until spring when the tower goes up, and my Davis weather station will go back into service. For under $120 delivered to my door, I'm astounded by what you get. I'll do a separate post on that later, after I knock a few off the Honeydew list.

So life continues after our escape, and my wife still has some culture shock, but I think she's recovering nicely.......

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Heat Working Again In Radio Room

And I did almost nothing. I blew the dust out of the thermostat with canned air, and cycled the control through its entire range several times, INCLUDING past the clicky "ON-OFF" detent several times.

Then I set it at 72*, and a few minutes later I heard the popping of expanding metal, and the smell of a long-dormant heater coming back on duty. I'd vacuumed out the baseboard unit just in case it had any stinky stuff in it, but it looked pretty clean.

It took about half an hour, but the wall thermometer stabilized at 73*~74* for the next several hours, so it looks like the heater is functional again.

The only thing I can think of was that cycling through the power ON-OFF detent several times cleaned the contacts enough to wake up whatever dimbulb controller is in use. Most late 1970's home thermostats were quite crude, so it has a very simple mechanism.

I'll have to try and find a model number on the Chromalox thermostat so I can learn more about them.

Anyway, we now have heat in every room, and we'll avoid the dreaded "one cold room" issue that I've read can cause problems with condensation.

Headed up to see the kids on Sunday, and drag back another load of stuff. If the relatives are around, I'd suspect we could get all of it out of there. The last time we pulled more than half out, so this time should be a bit easier.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Here, Duckie, Duckie, Duckie.....

Found my Drake R-4B this afternoon. I was in the bottom box of a three-box stack (very close to what Old_NFO predicted), and was labeled (by me, no less!) "SB-303", and "SB-310". I looked at the box and thought....hey, the SB-310 is already on the shelf....OPEN IT!

Yup, the R-4B was in there, snuggled up against the Heathkit SB-303. It's now resting next to the T-4XB, awaiting it's place in the Station Console.

Also emptied and consolidated 4 more boxes of stuff, and moved an additional several boxes out of the area. Once I get everything clear in that half of the room (or more) then my carpenter buddy and I can get together and do the final layout of the workbench and he can start buying the materials and planning his schedule. Once I go through the "Bedroom" and "Study Area" spaces and sort them out and move some things around, I'll easily be able to clean out the radio room. This will be the FINAL decision point on which room the Radio Room will be made from. I'd prefer the rear room for technical reasons (saves 35'~50' of feedline!), but the front room with the bookcases and wood paneling just looks soooooo inviting! Anyway....once the room choice is made,  Mr. Wood can get cracking on the workbench. When the workbench is finished we can get started on the Station Console.

Going to go pick up three of the 18" deep, 48" wide wire rack units on Monday for the garage. I'd go tomorrow, but I'd rather avoid the weekend crowds that pool up at Home Depot! These are identical to the one rack in the basement, except they're "chrome plated" instead of being black powder coated. Seems the only places that stock the black ones are in Kalifornia! The one that arrived here the other day came from the HD warehouse in Irvine, CA.

And still no sign of any of the THREE gardeners we called for an estimate on doing the front and rear yard clean-ups. Oh, well.......

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Pix, As Promised

Thought I'd just start a new post instead of adding to the previous one.

Believe it or not, this is about half the stuff that was in there. A lot of it was moved downstairs and unpacked before this was taken. It looked like a warehouse before!

The other side is much better. The semi-portable 9' tower is on its side here, under a large piece of left over carpet, and behind the Samsung box. I have the wood for the new feet, so as soon as I get this outside I'll screw the new wood feet on, and lug it into the backyard through our nice, new gate. The spoiler/sunshade for the Supra is off to the left behind a bunch of cardboard waiting to go to the recycling center.

Don't get me started on Fort Collins' "Recycling Program"........nice little racket you guys have going there......

And moving down to the subterranean levels........

We have a bookcase full of (mostly) BOOKS!

This is the wall the workbench/storage shelves will be going into after I repair the non-functional baseboard heater. I wasn't able to even get to the heater before, as the moving guys had stacked boxes three high and two deep right up to it. The thermostat for the heater is to the extreme left in the picture above, a box with a knob slightly out of focus.

The new rack I received and assembled the other day is all the way in the corner, and the less deep rack is the one I brought from Kalifornia. I still have to get some 1/16" plywood to make "shelves for the shelves", like in the 18" deep rack next to it. Otherwise, all the feet on the equipment gets hung up on the wires the shelves are made of, and nothing sits level, or is easy to slide in and out of the rack.

There *should* be another shelf at the top of the leftmost rack, careful as we were taking the rack apart, and bagging all the little split-lock plastic shells that the shelves pilot down onto, we somehow lost exactly eight pieces, enough for one shelf. The new rack came with contact information to get replacement parts, so I'm probably going to buy a few extra of these!

Some of this equipment will be installed in the station console (the Hallicrafters and Drake gear) to be my two "Boat Anchor" stations.

And I somehow managed to spill over into the "Study Area" of the basement suite.

And then on into the "Downstairs Bedroom" area.

But not to worry....the door on the left in the picture of the "Study Area" leads to a very large storage area.

Looking left into to it:

Looking straight into it:

And looking into it to the right:

I haven't measured this little "bonus space" yet to see how big it is, but it sure is handy!

We didn't get out to get the tree today because she had conflicting errands and appointments, so sorry, no pretty tree pix today.

Still Here, Still Busy!

Just doing all the normal home-owner stuff that comes with moving into a new place.

We are now "100% LED Lighting", with the last of the offending bulbs being sought out and eliminated. All the hallway lights have "65 Watt Equivalent" soft-white lamps as well as all the basement lights and exterior lights.

So far, no increase in my noise level, and I'll be setting up again on Thursday, 7 Dec, to see if I can contact the Iowa again. The fiberglass case for the SGC tuner should be here tomorrow, and "all" I have to do is drill a couple of holes, and redrill the plastic cutting board I was using for a backpanel, mount the tuner, and reassemble the 33' vertical, making sure it's well staked down, and with as many of the longest radials I can squeeze into the backyard.

And after installing the new disposer in the kitchen sink, the wife decreed the old drain in the other sink looked "all funky", so another trip to Home Depot for a nice, new shiny-pretty drain and stopper.

The wire rack I ordered arrive and I assembled it and loaded the other rack back up with gear I'd moved into the "study" area of the basement. I've got 90% of my books unpacked, sorted, and loaded into the bookcases built in to one of the walls in the Radio Room, and it's empty enough now to easily get at, troubleshoot, and repair the baseboard heater. As soon as that task is finished, I'll get my carpenter buddy in there to build a nice workbench, and add a shelf above the work surface so I can keep some test gear and small parts cabinets there.

And even the garage is showing signs of improvement. I've gone through ALL of the boxes in the garage, inventoried them, and moved a good size pile of stuff downstairs where it belongs. I hung both of my fiberglass cross-booms for my satellite antennas from the bike hooks in the ceiling, and have just about finished "weatherizing" the 9' semi-portable tower. That will get "stored" out on the patio in it almost final resting place until spring, when the satellite station will go back on the air.

Wednesday we're going out to get our Christmas tree, the first real tree we've ever bought. The guys who whacked the big dead cottonwood tree in the backyard also run a Christmas tree lot in Laporte, so we're going to go check them out. And since it's so close to where we were staying, we'll swing by there and pick up a load of these funny green rectangular steel boxes I have that seem to weigh "too much" for their size, and bring them back here, too. I also have to make an effort to make sure I brought home all of the radio gear I had there. As of right now, I can't find find my Drake R4-B receiver, and it's got me a bit stressed over where it is.

I'll come back Wednesday night and add some pix to here......

Egad....'Tis a Trifle HOT This Week

 Or for what's remaining of the week. It was 97* today, and is expected to be 100+ through Sunday. The humidity is only 17%, so you step...