Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Building a Neighbor's Fence

Build a fence in my neighbor's backyard

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):

After I finished my wife's Backyard Sun Shade Pergola we were sitting there enjoying the evening when a neighbor (almost) from down the street came walking up to me and asked if I could build him a fence. They were trying to sell their house and the way their property was situated, it looked like their backyard was somewhat small when in fact it was actually a decent size but because of a hill (their property line was at the top of the hill) it didn't look like much.

I decided to have a look at it. Once there he showed me that there was a storm drain that went right along their property line where he wanted me to build the fence. After some research I found out that none of the companies that drilled holes would take any responsibility if they drilled into the storm drain and the city also wouldn't. I certainly didn't want to spend $2000 in fixing it if it was damaged.

After some more research, calling the city engineers and talking to the neighbor he agreed that if I was to take every precaution and do my very best not to damage the storm drain he would accept the risk of paying for any repairs should we damage the storm drain after all.

After all the permits were in place and all the underground utility locates were done I called Pierre's Mini Excavating and arranged to meet him at the site. He pulled up with a bob cat and a hydraulic auger and I was just blown away by how fast he went down to 3 feet. It took him less than an hour to do nine 8" holes, 3 feet deep. I was a little disappointed that the owner didn't tell me about their $200 minimum charge which ended up messing with my budget by about $50. Not a huge deal, but I still did not like the fact it happened. After talking with the owner it turned out his fault as he didn't tell me by mistake. I still think he should have made up for his own mistake but he wouldn't budge which did leave a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, but for the time and pain it saved me I'd hire him again in the future.

Luckily, we did not drill into the underground storm drain pipe, but I did end up having to take 3hours with a manual post hole digger to clean out the holes and make them a bit deeper.

After cleaning the holes out, I put the pressure treated 4x4 posts (10 feet long) in and set them with some 0-3/4" gravel. Next came the horizontal 2x4s followed by the vertical 1x6-6' fence boards. Fitting the 2x4s ended up taking about 3 hours longer than I had originally planned, but nailing the fence boards down took about 2 hours less so I ended up pretty much where I figured I'd be at time-wise.

After it was all cleaned up I was actually pretty happy with it, but I was SO sore the next 2 days that I could hardly walk.

The hilly backyard after the post holes were marked
After the holes were drilled
Ellie inspecting the work
Loading 2000lbs 0-3/4" gravel
After the holes were cleaned out by hand
After the dirt was cleaned up
Starting to set the posts
Bracing the posts and installing the horizontal 2x4s between the posts
Continuing on the horizontal (well, really, they were parallel to the ground) 2x4s
After 4 sections were done with the 2x4s
Almost done setting the 2x4s
Installing the fence boards. This was the fun part
Another view of the fence board installation
All done except for some smaller pieces that I had to cut up with the table saw
The back of the fence
All done!
After it was painted

Post hole digger
Fiberglass measuring tape
Regular measuring tape
Landscaping spray paint
Breaker bar
Metal tamper
Saw horses
Chop saw
Table saw
Air compressor
Framing air nailer
Adjustable angle gauge
Chain saw
Lawn tractor
Small wagon/trailer

9 - 4x4-10' pt
30 - 2x4-8'
160 - 1x6-6'
0-3/4" gravel
2" hot dipped galvanized nails


Neighbor's happy, hope he can sell his house quickly

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fixing Leak On My Delonghi EAM4500 Cappuccino Machine

Replacing the leaking silicone gaskets on my cappuccino maker

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):

It's been about three years since I've last had to fix a Cappuccino Maker Leak so I didn't mind hauling out the tools for a good maintenance job. This time it certainly went quicker because I knew exactly what to do.

I spent a LOT of time researching and thinking about what kind of material I could use for a gasket last time around so this time it was just a matter of taking it apart, cutting the new gasket and putting it back together.

The parts that were taken off the machine
The machine without its covers
The old heating element gasket
The place where the heating element normally sits
Sand paper on my surface plate
Cleaning up the heating element
After the 2 heating element halves were refinished
The silicone baking pan I used for the special heating element gasket
Cutting it to approximate size
Applying the engineer's blue to the heating element
The imprint of the heating element clearly showing where the gasket goes
The old and the new gasket side by side
The new gasket installed in the heating element

Brewing a beautiful cup of java

Needle nose pliers
Socket set
Swiss army knife
Granite surface plate
Smooth small paint roller
Utility knife
Tap & die set

9" silicone baking pan for gasket material
KY (water-based, food grade, to lubricate o-rings)
Engineer's blue (paint)


2.5 hrs


Hope it lasts for another 3 years...