Getting Ready for (more) Chickens and an update on the dishwasher.

The old chicken coop is starting to fall down. The roof supports have rotted, and the coop floor is nearly falling apart. We are down to three hens, none of which regularly lay eggs. Much to Izzy’s delight, it is time to build a new coop and get new chicks. Plus, I think the rats have found their way into the composting bin and coop.

The plan is to move the coop inside the last bay in the garage/carriage house. The space is just storage and has a dirt floor, but at least is under a roof, so I only have to build a racoon-proof space for the chickens. I plan on making the coop big enough to walk into, which should make it easier to clean. Which, in theory, will make me clean the space more often. I hope the new location will make it easier for the dog and cats to keep the rats away from the chicken feed.

I am experimenting with the floor. I plan on making it out of soil cement, though I put a load of gravel in that section of the garage many years ago, so I’m not too sure how it will turn out. But it is only for the coop floor, so shouldn’t really matter. I could always add a concrete slab on top if it turns out too lose and I really care about it. To make the floor I mixed in a bag of Portland cement to the first few inches of the gravel/dirt floor, sprayed with water and compacted with a 4×4 post.

The weather forecast for the weekend has temperatures above freezing (though it may drop just below freezing tonight), so I decided to do the floor today. The coop will be approximately 8 feet long by 4 feet deep, and 7 to 8 feet tall.

The soil cement floor installed.

I’m planning on a few improvements over the last coop. I’ll add a larger self-feeder for the chickens. This time, I’ll make it big enough to hold a full bag of pellets. I’ll also make the nesting boxes set up to have the eggs roll out of the boxes to a collection tray to make it easier to collect. We’ll have an enclosed run off to the side of the coop, as well as a door to the outside behind the garage. I’ll make an automatic door opener for the outside, but that will be a later post and after a trip to the pick-and-pull salvage yard with Ben to get a car antenna motor to control the door. I also need to do a good cleaning on that bay of the garage. It is time to get rid of some stuff that has been just sitting around.

Chicken coop floor covered with plastic and a blanket to protect from the cold tonight.

We should be getting chicks in two weeks, and I still have to build a brooder box. The brooder heater arrived today, I’m trying something a little safer than a heat lamp, I’ll see how it works. We will have to keep the chicks inside for a few weeks until they get feathers and it warms up a bit outside. The plan is to get 12 hens and 4 ducks. The ducks will make a mess, but the coop exit will put them in the back by the stream, so hopefully they can get enough water from the stream and keep the mud outside. Once the birds arrive, Izzy will be in charge of handling the chicks daily to get them used to humans. A chore she has no problem at all doing.

And, for the much anticipated update on the dishwasher. The repair seems to be working for now. The dishwasher is back to functioning and the basement no longer rains when the dishes are getting cleaned. Knock on wood.

Attempting to repair an GE Adora Series Dishwasher

Or, why one may not want to buy a GE dishwasher.

Last week, Susanna noticed the dishwasher was making a whining noise when it was running, and it wasn’t cleaning the dishes properly. I did a little online searching, and it seemed the likely culprit was the pump motor.

This morning, I noticed water raining down in the basement when the dishwasher was running. Not a good sign. After the cycle finished I pulled out the dishwasher and looked underneath. The water was coming from a rubber hose between the dishwasher pump and the main diverter valve assembly. The part is available online for around $60, but the reviews said the replacement part had many failures in the same manner that the original did, lasting less than 2 years in most cases. One reviewer mentioned patching the leaking hose and I took that path.

Leak location on diverter assembly for my GE Adora Dishwasher

Ben and I drove to the local Home Depot and I got some Flex Seal paste for the inside of the hose, some E-Z Fuse Silicone Tape to wrap around the outside, and new hose clamps. Hopefully that will repair the leak.

The leak is on the outlet (high-pressure) side of the pump, and seems to be a design flaw. If the repair doesn’t hold, I’ll order the new part, and add a few wraps of the silicone tape to the outside to hopefully extend the life of the new part.

Repair completed and installed.

Next step is to wait the 24-hour cure time of the Flex Seal and see if that fixes the problem (for now).

Thanksgiving 2020

After a crazy year, we were finally able to see family over Thanksgiving. My dad had and recovered from COVID this fall, so was able to travel over Thanksgiving without having to quarantine. We were able to get out and do some hiking, worked on the kitchen, and even replaced the bumper on the truck from the accident Will had the week before Thanksgiving.

The view on our hike along Poquetanuck Cove Preserve, Ledyard, CT
Isabella taking a break while hiking.
Isabella and my dad exploring the woods at Poquetanuck Cove Preserve.
Ben and Tucker at Poquetanuck Cove Preserve

Halloween Pictures

I’ve been a little behind on posting to the website. Here are pictures from a photo shoot with the family last month. I had a little fun with Photoshop – something I don’t often play around with.

A ghostly Izzy. Niantic, CT
Will, Jill, and Izzy as a ghost family. Niantic, CT

Slow progress on the Kitchen

We pushed hard throughout the summer to get the kitchen back to functional. With Susanna not working, the boys stuck at home, and no family vacation, we were able to move back into the kitchen a few months. Once we were back into the kitchen, things slowed down a lot.

Pantry cabinet, refrigerator and coffee nook – starting to look lived in.

In September, the kids went back to school, Izzy started school, and Susanna started work. And things slowed down. That isn’t to say, I got nothing done. I have installed most of the trim, cabinet toe kick trim.

Earlier this fall.

I have a few things left to finish at this point. We are tiling the backsplash ourselves. This last weekend, I tiled the nook behind the stove (seen open in the picture above). Susanna and I plan on tiling the wall this Saturday.

After we tile the wall, I need to finish the trim around the windows. It has been nearly impossible to remove the window sill trim without breaking it. I’ll need to make new sills and finish trimming the window. The window sills aren’t difficult to make, I just need to take some time in the shop and just build them. I even have an old one pulled out to duplicate.

And then it is just finishing touches. I need to order and install the baseboard trim. Again, and easy project – it just requires measuring the walls.

The final project that needs to be done is to build a radiator cover. But that wall isn’t part of the functional kitchen, so the windows and radiator are last on my list…

I’ll try to get some better pictures tomorrow.

Kitchen Update

Our plans had been to have a family trip to Europe this summer and renovate the kitchen in 2021. When the craziness of the spring spilled into the summer, we cancelled our tickets to Europe and decided to instead renovate the kitchen.

Susanna and the boys started the demolition in the beginning of July, and then I spent a few weeks updating services and hanging the drywall (with some help from Ben). The boys were stuck at home for the better part of the summer, so we had lots of help during the hard part of the project.

Earlier this month, Susanna spent two weeks finishing the ceiling and walls, from the joint compound, through sanding and finally painting. Then, last weekend, we rented a sander and spent 8+ hours sanding the one hidden gem we found during renovation – a hardwood floor under the linoleum kitchen floor.

The kitchen layout is similar to the old layout, however we did eliminate a window to give us more cabinet space, and moved the fridge. Eventually we will pick up a counter depth fridge to fit with the cabinets. We purchased cabinets from IKEA, and while I don’t really like their furniture, their kitchen cabinets are pretty easy to install and seem to be of reasonable quality. The rail system for hanging the uppers makes lining them up a snap. So no complaints there.

This weekend we hung the cabinets on the wall where the fridge will go. The next week or two will be doing the other two walls and working on trim and other finishing touches. We aren’t too far from having a partially usable kitchen!

First wall of cabinets installed, with a space for the refrigerator. They still need the toe kick installed, and the side panels to match the color, but progress! But the coffee nook is ready for use with a temporary countertop.

Sailboat Progress

Yesterday was a good day to get some work done on the sailboat. The weather was sunny, but not to hot (low 60s) and no rain forecast until later today.

I had been trying to figure out how to replace or repair the toe rails. I was trying to remove them as full pieces, but he bolts were fiberglassed over from the inside, so I couldn’t easily unscrew them. Yesterday I started grinding the bolts/fiberglass cover off from the inside. And it worked! I also learned that the deck is solid fiberglass, vice a cored fiberglass. That will make repairs easier (no repairing rotted core material). I wound up cutting up the toe rail and removing it. I’ll build a new rail out of sapele or teak once I repaint the deck.

Toe rail removal process.

The boat has some interesting (and strange) construction characteristics. The backing plates were made from plywood, and in some case enclosed in fiberglass (or at least the were for the railing base and bow pulpit). In most cases water has leaked past the deck fittings and completely rotted the backing material. But those are quick to grind out.

Port bow deck with the toe and forwared stanchion removed. Holes filled with marine fairing compound.

I’ve also added a disk sander to my tool collection. The disk sander is much more aggressive than the random-orbit sander, and excels at removing he old paint/gelcoat/nonskid from the deck. I think my next step will be to remove all the hardware from the bow section of the deck and repaint that section and reattach the appropriate hardware. Though, maybe I should sand and repaint the interior part of the deck before adding the hardware.

After sanding and making a mess, I decided to play around with gelcoat. I don’t have spray equipment for the gelcoat, so will have to decide if it is worth the work to brush on gelcoat or painting is easier. I painted a small section of Will’s boat with gelcoat as well as the top of the companionway hatch. My thought is to sand the gelcoat on Will’s boat down to smooth as a base for the top cover (paint or gelcoat, depending on what he wants). I plan to wet sand the fresh gelcoat on the companionway hatch to see how smooth the painted surface and one layer of gelcoat appears. I’m hoping that the thicker gelcoat acts as a high-build primer. It seems pretty easy to sand smooth, at least for a small area.

Next question. What colors to use on the big boat?

Workshop Updates – Quarantine

I have had a lot of extra time over the last two months. I have been able to go into work part-time, and have to work from home the rest of the time. For a few weeks I was only able to go into the office for 10-15 hours a week, but am back to 5.5 hours/day in the office and 2.5 hours at home. I set up my telework workspace in my workshop – that allows me to get out of the house and work without too many distractions (at least not limits the 4-year old distractions).

As part of preparing my workspace, I removed my old, small desk from the workshop, and built in a new larger space. That gives me room for two computers (work and personal) without having one on top of the other.

My new desk space in the workshop. I moved the computer into the closet next to my workspace. I added a cat door (bottom left) so the barn cats can go upstairs for food and I can keep the door to the second floor shut for heat.

In addition to my desk area, I have been spending a lot of time cleaning and organizing the workshop. I have been spending evenings over the past few weeks cleaning out the closet. I moved my personal computer into the closet, which will hopefully keep the dust down on it. I built a shelf and am in the process of building storage drawers.

The closet is heated, so I can keep paint/glue in it over the winter. I’m trying to keep the resins and glue a little better organized so I can be ready when it is warm enough outside to work on the boat.

Rearranged closet with a glue/epoxy station on the right, and paint storage under the shelf. I have one additional shelf to install under the printer and should finish off the ceiling with some scrap lumber

Once I finish cleaning up the rest of the space, I’ll add pictures of the (hopefully) organized workshop.

Workshop Airborne Dust Filter

This morning I finished and hung a homemade airborne dust filter in the workshop.

I had a fan blower sitting around from an old above-the-stove microwave thanks to an unnamed household member. The microwave was run for several minutes with no food inside – which didn’t help the microwaving part. But the vent fan was fine. Ben and I took the microwave apart a few years ago, and the fan has been sitting around in my shop waiting for a project.

I had to order a filter, switch and a starting capacitor (since I apparently didn’t save one from the microwave). The plywood was left over from another project. After being distracted way too many times, I finally got the project finished today. It has two speeds wired in, but no labels on the box (yet).

I’ll see how much dust the filter collects, which hopefully reduces the dust my lungs collect.

Air filter assembled and hung above the tablesaw. The blower exhausts on the left side of the box.
Fan blower and wiring – the wiring harness from the blower didn’t leave a lot of room to work with.