Trains, trains, old trains, rust and other stuff.

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This afternoon was a “take a break from your sibling afternoon.” Susanna took Will to “Launch,” an indoor trampoline house. I took Ben to the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum. What a great time. It was dirt cheap. Only $6 for both of us to visit. It isn’t the biggest museum, but it is a great deal (and the trains are mostly open to climb around on – one just has to be careful).

Ben enjoying our ride on the flat car.
Ben enjoying our ride on the flat car.
Ben exploring one of the engines.
Ben exploring one of the engines.
Ben on one of the engines.
Ben on one of the engines.
Ben on the handcar. We were able to take the car up and down the track.
Ben on the handcar. We were able to take the car up and down the track.
Ben waiting for a ride on a flat car.
Ben waiting for a ride on a flat car.

Another weekend project finished…

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A new reading corner in the loft above the garage. I had boxes of books that I didn't have space for in the house - the loft was a perfect place for them.
A new reading corner in the loft above the garage. I had boxes of books that I didn’t have space for in the house – the loft was a perfect place for them.

This year, Susanna and I are trying to focus on smaller projects. Projects that can be finished in a weekend. Over the past couple of years, we have completed many major projects that took several months to complete and we thought it would be nice to take a break from the big projects for a while.

This was one of the weekends where the boys aren’t here, so we tackled a bigger weekend project. We have two big out buildings. One is my workshop, and I have been keeping it in pretty good shape (though the lumber stack below the workshop, and the storage area above it could use a good reorganization). The second building is our garage. The garage has a second floor that has been a focus on our improvements this year.

One side of the loft above the garage is the boys’ play room/game room. I finished that for the boys for Christmas. It was a big change from the dirty wreck of a play room that they had before. However, to get to the play loft, one had to go through the other side of the loft – the storage area. It has been a disaster for the past couple of years. Okay, since I moved here.

Next to the reading corner is space for a card table. Maybe a place for Susanna and Ben to do jigsaw puzzles.
Next to the reading corner is space for a card table. Maybe a place for Susanna and Ben to do jigsaw puzzles.

I did have one set of shelves built many years ago, but it wasn’t enough storage (okay, if we got rid of stuff it would have been). But the space didn’t feel special. This weekend I added lights and built a second set of storage shelves and a book shelf. Susanna organized and cleaned. The end result is another pretty cool space to hang out.

I know we probably won’t spend much time there, but it is nice to have another cool nook to sit on the property.  It is nice to have Susanna to help encourage me to finish projects and not just start them.

The space isn’t perfect. It gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I am hoping to add an exhaust fan later this year to keep the temperature more reasonable.  One of the window panes is still broken (Ben broke it earlier this year), and that will need to be another short weekend project to fix.  We may also add a window air-conditioner to the boys play room (on a timer of course) – hopefully they can keep some of the mess out of the house.

We even added decoration to the stairs up to the loft. The boys play room can be seen through the doorway on the right.
We even added decoration to the stairs up to the loft. The boys play room can be seen through the doorway on the right.
The original shelves are to the right. The new shelves are on the left (the reading corner is on the other side of the shelves on the left). The new shelves are made from a bunch of maple and oak lumber I have left over from last summer.
The original shelves are to the right. The new shelves are on the left (the reading corner is on the other side of the shelves on the left). The new shelves are made from a bunch of maple and oak lumber I have left over from last summer.

 

A new car…

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Our new car (2013 Chevy Sonic)
Our new car (2013 Chevy Sonic)

I have been driving our 1999 Jeep Cherokee for many years. It still runs, but is showing its age: the air-conditioning is out, driver’s side airbag doesn’t work, the horn doesn’t work, one of the doors is damaged from an accident last year.  With summer coming on, it was time to add a new car. We kept the jeep (it is the only car with a hitch now) and bought a slightly used 2013 Chevy Sonic (only 19k miles).  Not the fanciest car, but it gets good gas mileage, had high ratings for being well-built, and fits all four of us.

Now to get the Jeep to pass emissions so we can keep it for a couple of more years. And clean a space for it under the workshop.

A short work day!

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Hanging out on the porch with Tucker enjoying the overcast (but not to cold) afternoon.
Hanging out on the porch with Tucker enjoying the overcast (but not to cold) afternoon.

The boys have a shortened school day today. That means an afternoon off of work for me. It isn’t as nice out as it was earlier this week, but it isn’t cold and it isn’t raining (yet).

Sounds like a good afternoon to relax on the porch and have a beer…

Finally, a boat shape is starting to form

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The rough shape of the boat begins to form with all the major pieces stitched in place.
The rough shape of the boat begins to form with all the major pieces stitched in place.

This afternoon I installed the starboard side and the middle frame piece. The boat shape is starting to show – though it looks a bit skewed in the picture – I think that is the angle of the camera. I need to add all the wire stitches and make sure that the shape is even before gluing.

But, I think I’m finished for the night. I’ve been fighting a cold all weekend and want to take it easy tonight.

Starting to look a little bit like a boat

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The start of the stitch-and-glue process.
The start of the stitch-and-glue process.

The next project is moving along. I spent a two hours this afternoon cutting out the last two pieces from the 3/8″ plywood sheet and started to stitch up the panels into a boat.

It will be interesting to see how the final shape turns out. My plan is to work a little bit each night this week and maybe I’ll have a boat shape by the weekend.

After the panels are stitched up I will apply epoxy glue to the joints and cut away the wire stitching. I’m not sure what the proper order for assembling the panels, so I’m just doing it counter-clockwise from the bow. It seems to be working so far.

One busy day. And one tired family

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Susanna mowing the grass..
Susanna mowing the grass..

We had a super busy family day. Our Saturdays start with soccer camp in the morning for both boys. However, this morning, Ben was too tired to play soccer. Susanna took Will to soccer, and I took Ben to run errands with me (i.e. pick up lumber for the boat project).

While Susanna and Will were out, I helped Ben get fitted on Will’s old (okay, until today, current) bike and watched as he rode up and down the road a couple of times to check the fit. I was also able to move some cherry lumber to the workshop loft. I plan to build some more furniture later this summer and want to get the lumber a little more dried out. I’ll have to move some oak up tomorrow.

The afternoon brought more kids. Two of the neighbor kids came over as well as one of Will’s friends from school. I spent the afternoon turning a couple of large pieces of plywood into smaller and hopefully boat-shaped pieces of plywood – interrupted to make  several play knives/daggers/swords for the kids.

I’m tired. I think I will take a long hot shower tonight and be not too far behind the boys in going to bed.

One project down… time to start another.

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The Dinghy sides cut out from plywood and put together to even out.
The Dinghy sides cut out from plywood and put together to even out.

I finished the second nightstand this morning. I put the final coat of varnish on the project, and tomorrow morning I’ll move it to Will’s room.  Time to move onto a new project.

The next project is a little different from the furniture that I had been trying to make. I am making a plywood dinghy for this summer. The sailboat will be on a mooring, so we will need a means to get from the dock to the boat and back. In a pinch, we could just use the canoe. However, a real dinghy would work much nicer (and it would be easier to tow behind the sailboat).

I downloaded free plans from Bateau. The boat will be the D4, a 7′ 10″ dinghy. The boat is built using “stitch and glue” technique from plywood panels. Today I cut most of the panels out (I have two seat frames to cut tomorrow). The pieces were cut from 1/4″ and 3/8″ plywood. I did the initial cut using a jigsaw and used a hand plane to get the pieces to final shape. Who says you can’t use hand tools on plywood.

The next step will be to drill holes every 4″ around the edges of the plywood and then stitching the panels together with copper wire. The joints are glued together with epoxy and the copper wire is removed (or buried) when the epoxy cures. The entire boat will be covered in  fiberglass and then painted. I’ll probably add white oak rub rails after the boat is painted (mainly because I have lots of oak and not much sapele left).