Friday, November 27, 2020

A Fishing Expedition

When we last left our hero, he had installed an ethernet jack but was foiled by a crawlspace too narrow to pass through. A truly unfortunate situation, but not one without hope.

I decided that the most logical way forward would be to cut a hole in the rim joist of the floor perpendicular to the wall I was installing the ethernet jack in, and use that access to fish the wires through from the furnace. This presented some challenges, but none of them proved to be insurmountable.

But first things first, I needed to gain access to the rim joist to cut a hole in it, so I set to removing the trim. First, the edging, which was stuck down to the tile with possibly a bit too much construction adhesive (which caused some of it to ooze out at the edges and collect a bunch of ugly dirt).

Once that was off I could start removing the snap-together flooring that had been used to cover up the old, ugly trim that formed the riser between the slab floor and the raised floor.

The secret to removing trim pieces like this is to get behind it with a flat bar, find the nails, and then hammer the flat bar against the nails to bend them out of the wood or shear them off. You don't want to pull them back through the trim as they'll usually make a mess of the surface when they pop back through, assuming you can even get them out that way in the first place.

With the second piece removed we've gained enough access to the rim joist, and also the remains of the orange shag carpet that was apparently covering the floor in some distant past. Lovely.

A hole saw theoretically would have made quick work of going through the trim board and the joist. Theoretically. It went through the trim board just fine, but when it came to punching through the rim joist I noticed it had a fatal design flaw: the hole saw was just a bit less than 1.5 inches deep inside. So it only made it through about 90% of the 2-by-whatever joist.

Thanfully 90% is close enough, and I was able to finish the job by just smacking the plug through with a hammer.

Unreachable corner of my crawlspace, reveal your secrets!

Ok, not many secrets there. The thing in the foreground that looks like a huge turd is just the slightly rusted bolt holding down the framing to the top of my foundation wall. It'll be fine. We can also see the lovely fir floor joist here, as well as a register box and flexible heating duct that was contributing to making this area almost impossible to get through.

Also cobwebs. The spiders are having a real party down there.

So, in goes the fish tape.

And by some miracle and a lot of swearing, out comes the fish tape!

I bent a piece of romex into a hook to be able to fish it up, since the access through the floor into the furnace room here was a bit less than what I might need to fit my arm through. The fuel hose pliers also really came in handy.

Here's a wide shot of both ends of the fishing. The jack I'm trying to wire into is on the far side of the wall to the left.

The heating vent in the floor there is actually the second one in a row, the one visible through the hole I'm fishing through goes to the riser to the left to heat/cool the addition space.

Needless details aside, once the fish tape was through, getting the ethernet cables pulled to this point was a piece of cake.

Pro tip: label both ends of your cables before you start pulling them.

Now we have to turn the corner, this is going to be the part where we need to get lucky. In goes the fish tape.

And with a bit of swearing and cursing and somehow reaching around both ends at once I managed to get it out the other side.

The bent romex and fuel line pliers were again the MVPs.

So a bit of tape and a quick yank and the cables finally reached their destination.

I snapped them into the back of the keystone jacks and popped the faceplate back on. But the job isn't done yet, the riser still needs to be reassembled!

The flooring was easy enough to nail back up with my shiny new 18ga brad nailer fresh from the wilds of the Amazon. Likewise I used an appropriate amount of construction adhesive to stick the edging back on, after cleaning off the old rubbery goo from both the edging and the floor.

Do I even lift, bro?

It's worth noting that I also glued the puck of trim board back in to close the access hole I cut. The hole in the joist remains, though, as the plug was lost within the murky darkness of my crawlspace and I saw no reason to cut another from a scrap board to stick in its place.

Speaking of edging, when I moved in the piece of edging intended for the door into the car hole wasn't installed, and was just left on one of the hantavirus-covered shelves. Since I had the glue out I decided to finally give it a home.

I didn't fix the drywall that the previous owner's dog clawed through though. That's a project for another day.

For now, I'll just enjoy a job well done.

And the new hard line does, indeed, work. Here's Wifi vs Ethernet:

I have to say that Ookla's math seems a bit suspect. I'm not sure how 250Mb is faster than 90% of the US when 350Mb is only faster than 89% of the US. Either way, it's fast enough.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Park Hopping

 As I'm taking the week off, it's traditional that I get in at least one nice big bike ride, weather permitting. This time I decided to try stringing together a few sections of dirt on BlackBirb, my XC bike.

The distance wasn't any particular challenge, I'd ridden out that far a few times before. What would end up being a struggle was making it up and over Almaden Quicksilver twice in one ride.

I always somehow manage to underestimate that park. Maybe because it seems smaller than it is, or because it's surrounded by much higher mountains. Either way it's really quite brutal.

Thankfully there's at least some interesting sights to see at the top, while slowly poisoning yourself with centuries old mercury residue.

The ride ended up taking a bit longer than I expected and by the time I was rolling home I'd run a bit low on food and was quickly running out of both daylight and the warmth that the sunshine provided. Luckily that only happened once I had crested Almaden Quicksilver for the second time, so it was pretty much just all downhill from there.

I did enjoy my ride out and back on Ohlone Trail, which I did for the first time on this ride. The trail was mostly non-technical with some rude grades here and there, but I found myself underwhelmed by the scenery it offered.

Anyway, once the ride was done there wasn't much left to do but shower up and eat a very late lunch. This was a bit tricky because by the time I was out of the shower my blood sugar had dropped pretty low along with my blood pressure, and the combination of that with some mild hyperventilating ended up making me pretty nauseous right when I needed to cram food into my belly. Not ideal, but I lived through it and feel fine now.

Filling that hole in my... door

 So the door to my furnace dungeon has a bit of a gap at the bottom. This is partially due to the floor sloping down a bit from left to right, but also due to the floor sloping down a bit from out to in. Since the door is a right-hand out-swing, this means that filling the gap between the door and the frame with more door is not an option, thus I instead am left to fill it with more frame.

First, the state of the world as it was: A previous owner in some far distant past had nailed down a small strip of wood over what I can only assume is the last remaining remnant of the original asbestos linoleum the house was built with. It was not a good strip of wood, and did not even remotely do the job it was intended to do.

Also it was ugly.

Truly hideous.

Anyway, it was easy enough to remove, and I grabbed a reasonably decent chunk of scrap fir 2x4 and went about carving it into the shape of a threshold. I planed down the faces, cut the length, routed the rabbet, and then glued an extra piece to the backside because I needed to make up more than an inch and a half on the tall side.

I trimmed the bottoms of the door stops and slid it in, and let me tell you it looks better already.

But I was far from done, of course. Next up was filling a few nail holes, drilling some screw holes, and painting it up with some semi-gloss latex.

A couple coats with some blow-drying in between and it was looking pretty slick.

Still fits in the doorway despite the extra thickness of the paint, so that's a bonus.

And it even fills the gap at the bottom of the door. Truly this day is blessed with miracles.

The door sure is ugly up close, but you don't notice it from a few feet away.

Finally, the last step, using up the last of a tube of caulking to fill the gaps left to allow for a little movement between the various different materials.

The gold screws on the white painted wood add an extra classy touch, I think.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Locking It In

 So my portable generator came equipped with a 30a 120v outlet, as is common with generators supplying more than 2400w. I didn't think much of it at the time, figuring a 30a outlet is a 30a outlet, and the model I picked came equipped with a TT-30 socket.

Turns out the TT-30 sucks.

You see, as the name implies, the TT-30 was designed for travel trailers. In particular, it was designed with rather short blades, such that if a hung-over camper pulled out of their spot on a dreary Monday morning after a weekend of booze-fuelled hijinks, the electrical plug would simply pop loose from the socket without severely damaging either end.

Unfortunately this meant that the plug retention was bad enough that just the weight of my 10ga extension cord was enough to lever the plug out of the socket. Not ideal.

Turns out the other standard for portable generators is to use an L5-30 socket. As implied by the 'L' designation, this is a twist-lock design, and definitely does not have any issue at all with plug retention. Had I been paying more attention, I might have noticed that my generator is offered in an alternate configuration where it is equipped with an L5-30 outlet from the factory.

But mine did not.

Thankfully this situation is not impossible to rectify, so with a few Amazon purchases and a bit of fabrication, I gave my generator the L5-30 outlet it always deserved.

No more loose cords for me!

As a bonus, the 10ga extension cord I had purchased actually uses an L5-30 plug natively, and so this saves me from having to use the L5-30 to TT-30 adapter to plug into the generator.

Annoyingly I did have some trouble starting the generator after doing all this work. The spark was fine, the compression was fine, but the fuel just wasn't going through the carb. I had run the carb dry after my initial test firing a few months ago, but apparently there was enough gas in the carb or in the lines for it to go bad and gum things up. Thankfully giving the carb a few blasts of carb cleaner was enough to wake it back up and get things running smoothly again.

Less Milky

 Even though the finish on the sound bar mounts looked not awful in photos, it bugged me looking at them in person. So, not being one to leave well enough alone, I sanded the finish back to bare wood and started over.

This time I began by applying a few coats of gloss oil based poly. This did two things: one, being an oil based finish it worked a lot better to soak in a bit and bring out the "wet wood" colour, and two: being gloss meant it didn't have any matting agents to make the finish cloudy as the layers were built up.

I topped it off with a finish coat of the satin water poly to knock down the shine, and the result is a much, much nicer looking piece.

Definitely much better.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

You Can Never Break The Chain

 So BlackBirb managed to wear through its first chain after just 1000 dusty miles. That dust is basically what did it in; I'd often find myself out on a long ride only to hear the chain start to sing a dry, grinding song of its people due to the dust having stripped away the chain lube, even though I'd just given it a fresh coat before heading out.

But still, 1000 miles isn't bad for a mountain bike chain. It's also not amazing, so for the new chain I grabbed the SRAM Eagle XX1 chain, which has been tested to last a really absurdly long time compared to most other chains on the market. And it damn well better, given it was $80 vs maybe $25 for the chains I usually get.

There's a couple colour options at this price level, because of course there are. Gold, copper, oil-slick or black. I was tempted to go with the oil-slick because it's needlessly blingy, but BlackBirb has a nice murdered out black/red colour scheme going and I didn't want to throw too much chaos into that, so I went for the black instead.

Oddly all four chain colours come with an oil-slick coloured quick link. So I get a little hint of chaos, just enough to keep things spicy. As a bonus, I managed to not accidentally install the quick link backwards this time, like I did on Purple Haze (it doesn't actually make much difference, it's just a little embarrassing).