Construction Jungle or Ski Touring HQ?

Post by blogger | July 27, 2015      
Not a ski in sight! Kinda' sad, but the space is coming together.  We got the cabinets from the Habitat store, dirt cheap. New drywall, new doors, new windows, new floor. This has been a tough one.

Not a ski in sight! Kinda’ sad, but the space is coming together. We got the cabinets from the Habitat store, dirt cheap. New drywall, new doors, new windows, new floor, new electrical.

It was a perfectly good workshop garage. But it wasn’t. Walking the century-old concrete floor felt like hiking a boulder field at the toe of an Alaskan glacier. Quarter-inch thick drywall (gift from previous owners) was falling off the walls from water damage due to a formerly leaky roof. A full workshop electrical system with only two circuit breakers elicited a buzzing sound reminiscent of PSD tinnitus. In winter, the heater ran constantly due to cracks in the doors large enough for a small cat to squeeze through. Hello kitty!

If it wasn’t for needing to put my office out there, I’d have left it. Like many a homeowner construction project, this one has gone on longer — with all manner of unplanned delays — than I ever thought possible. Family medical issues, jury duty, rain… all conspired to something like 1863 and I’m running around Gettysburg trying to survive. Tubes of electrical conduit make good rollers under your feet; especially exciting when a table saw blade is whirring a meter away. Yesterday, doing electrical work, I got zapped not once but twice. Battle? Who says?

Most painting contractors told us it would be weeks (if not months) before they could show up. But this one was there the next day, though we had to buy her an airless sprayer.

Most painting contractors told us it would be weeks (if not months) before they could show up. But this one was there the next day, though we had to buy her an airless sprayer.

In any case, it’s all coming together. Over past few days Lisa donned her painter hat, fired up the airless sprayer, and gave the antique building a new coat. I’ve begun joking about how many trades I can do in the space of just a few weeks. Electrician is the current hat, but do I qualify if I got shocked?

Overall, I’m glad we embarked on this. We’ve laughed and we’ve cried and the desk is getting installed out there in just a few days. Tomorrow, I might even build a ski rack.

After new drywall, before doing new floor.

After new drywall, before doing new floor.

Changing snowmobile oil, Nytro, in the Wildsnow garage workshop.

Changing snowmobile oil in the former Wildsnow garage workshop. The situation was okay and fun-funky yet not exactly where I’d want to spend 10 hours a day doing computer work. With the new design I can park the snowmobile next to my desk and keep our ski quiver within reach.


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13 Responses to “Construction Jungle or Ski Touring HQ?”

  1. Rachel Bellamy July 27th, 2015 10:29 am

    woah, I’m excited to see it when all is said and done! HQ has so many upgrades!

  2. biggb July 27th, 2015 11:43 am

    Be careful sparky!

  3. Billy Balz July 27th, 2015 6:35 pm

    We cannot do our own elec legally in MA….adds huge $ to every project. Be careful with the 220V! Gotta have a good shop!

  4. Lou Dawson 2 July 27th, 2015 8:56 pm

    So, you noticed my nice neat 220 outlets? Main danger with those is the 30 amp breaker allowing an arc. Have had that happen a couple of times, once when metal scraper fell in between the plug and receptacle, another time while removing an electric oven. Was studying up on “arc flash” the other day because I wanted to up my safety procedures while working on the service panel. Hotter than the sun. 220 at low amperage is not a big deal, that’s what most of residental wiring in Europe is… Lou

  5. Mark Worley July 28th, 2015 7:08 am

    High amps are what do the damage. And the previous owners used 1/4 inch drywall? Seriously?

  6. Lou Dawson 2 July 28th, 2015 7:48 am

    Mark, yeah, it was pretty weird… perhaps it was 3/8″… but way too thin for a workshop — and it was on the ceiling, sagging of course. We put a layer of foam sheet over the old drywall and lifted new 5/8″ to the ceiling, along with screwing 1/2 inch to the walls. I couldn’t face the mess we would have made removing the old drywall and having the insulation fall out of the walls. Best in this situation to only go so far. We used a drywall lift for the huge 8×12 foot ceiling sheets.

    What was really crazy, 28 years ago when we bought this place, was the 2×6 ceiling joists spanning 25 feet! Back then, I installed the the glue-lam beam in the photos because I was afraid the ceiling was going to collapse. Apparently the ceiling joists had been trussed up to the roof rafters, but the previous owners had knocked out all the truss webs to open the attic for storage. Being haunted by those guys has become a family joke, but perhaps this is one of the last times I’ll have to deal with any of their weirdness. Or, perhaps not, as the roof rafters are still over spanned and need to be sistered. Good laughs, anyway.

  7. Caleb Wray July 28th, 2015 9:29 am

    Pretty nice improvement Lou. I will miss the old garage though. I hoped you keep the smell of apoxy, gas, and burned ski wax. You could bottle that you know.

  8. Scott Nelson July 28th, 2015 9:32 am

    The changes are pretty dramatic! Lou you continue to redefine what it means to be a jack of all trades. The name ‘McGyver’ comes to mind…

  9. Scott Nelson July 28th, 2015 9:36 am

    Yeah, all those smells are history, for the time being anyways….

  10. Lou Dawson 2 July 28th, 2015 10:40 am

    Caleb, yeah, I already miss the classic cave, but life goes on… main purpose here is to move my office out there, and combine with workshop, hence the major refurb. If I’d only been refurbing the shop I’d have done much less work.

    I hope the cave lives in the memories of those such as you, Louie, Jason, MK, Jordan, Cripple Creek and many others who ventured out there next to the welder and wax bench, and wondered if the gas heater was safe and what those stains were on the walls.


  11. UpSki Kevin July 28th, 2015 6:29 pm

    nice!… I’m looking forward to bringing 220 into my garage/home-shop too. I need to put in 2-3 seperate 110 circuits to keep everything independent out there (namely the heater/boiler control seperate from everything else!)

  12. Lou Dawson 2 July 28th, 2015 7:31 pm

    Kevin, we’ll have a “shop warming” party in a few weeks, be sure to stop by. I’ll let you know. Lou

  13. Caleb Wray July 30th, 2015 12:46 am

    It will indeed live on Lou, in a lot of minds. It was a place of mythical legend for the younger generation, but forward is always the right direction. My opinion is that you should hang a black and white photo of the old setup on the new wall. Some of us got an education in that garage. BTW, what were those wall stains, I always thought it was better not to ask.

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