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Poor retired plumbers trip to Texas

847 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Stoneface
Just back.

Well we have just returned from Bonnie Texas, Houston to be exact. Three and a half’s months is just a tad to long to be away from my Scottish workshop. Weather very changeable, I didn't have the courage to expose my whiter than white pins. Sticking to jeans tucked into my socks.

We were told to bring our string vests as it was so hot, so taking this advice literally I packed my extensive collection of thongs and open toed sandals. On arriving the thongs had little effect on my frostbite and after a very expensive trip to Marshals, where I purchased my Artic gear.

My first week was the little jobs, everything from door mechanisms to broken fences. First real job was a replacement table top for extending the dining room table to accommodate the extra guests on Thanks Giving dinner. Apparently, it’s quite an event over here, where people here sit down to a lovely turkey dinner. In the UK we celebrate by burning a guy on a bonfire.

I headed down to Lowes and bought a sheet of poplar veneered ply, luckily, I had my metric tape with me and managed to get a 2.4m x 4.8m sheet. Which they cut for me with their wall saw, but the blade only has three teeth on it and rips the crap out of it. Luckily again I oversized the cut and on getting home my son borrowed a Dewalt site saw which allowed me to rip it to exact size. Just edge banded and a few coats of varnish. That last process also caused me a problem in that back home we have matt, satin and gloss. But here they throw semi-gloss into the mixture, which threw me a bit, but tried it and still not sure as to the results.

Next job was a request from my daughter in law Clare for a spice rack, sorry a real big spice rack. So off to Home Depot this time and found a really good selection of Poplar, first time I have used this and very pleasant to work with. Not going into the build as I have posted this build separately.

This is completely new to me as where I live in the north of Scotland our exotic woods have names such as white wood, red wood and meranti. Someone once told me there were more exotic woods down in the south of England and mentioned MDF and Ply, but not sure about them. Haven’t come across an MDF tree yet, a friend told me they are difficult to spot unless you look at them from a certain angle.

Biggest problem is lack of tools and machines. Now if you guys and girls have any idea of who I am you will know my workshop is designed to make my life easy, now if you look at my Houston workshop bench in the photos you will realise my dilemma,

I actually had to use sand paper with my lily-white soft hands, and twice I accidentally picked up an imperial tape measure with something my son told me was inches and feet. I burst out laughing, but by the look on his face he was deadly serious. Luckily I had my trusty Metric tape with me.

Next job was very complex in that I could only tackle it from one side. Now with my son’s house in Houston it is typical of the area being two storeys, but the lounge goes all the way to the second-floor roof with a Walk around railing overlooking the lounge below. It has a recreation area overhead as well with a wall separating it but unfortunately has two huge viewing areas cut into it.

Now the kids have a tv up there and the big folks in the lounge below can’t hear their tv for the noise emanating from above through the viewing holes. So, told to block them up but still leave as a feature. Big problem on lounge side, yes, they are 20ft up in the air and a two-step ladder doesn’t reach. Had to complete the build from upstairs.

Off to Home Depot again. 4 sheets of dry wall, 10 lengths of 2x2 and a sheet of 2inch poly insulation.
Made up a frame of 2x2 to fit the hole but never fixed it, instead braced them to keep their shape and removed them, they weren’t square or identical which didn’t help. Then cut the 2-inch insulation and fitted inside the frames, using 4-inch screws through the frame to hold it in place, next using the frame I set them down over the drywall and cut to shape. Now I didn’t want to screw on the lounge side so applied Gorilla construction adhesive to the back of the dry wall and stuck them directly to the frame.

Now at this stage I was about to paint the drywall for the lounge side, but was informed that it should match the existing walls. Now here in Cinco Ranch the use a splatter process to spray all the internal walls, then flatten the splatter with a wide bladed knife. I found out you could buy this splatter in a can. After a multitude of practices, I went for it and eventually got there, coat of paint and set it into the opening. I had cut small pockets into the insulation to allow me to screw it into position. I just repeated the process on the other side, which was so much easier.

So, what to do now. What I had left was quite a few cuttings of the 2inch insulation which was fairly expensive and I had just spent a very cold experience of trying to lag my sons 4 outside taps with everything from hand mits to wholly hats, as we had a really cold snap there. So, decided to utilise the insulation to create my own form of frost protection. I still had quite a lot of the Gorilla construction adhesive, that’s the white stuff you see. Off to my favourite shop in the whole of the USA again and bought a jar of bungee clips, a load of plumbing 3/4 to 1/2 pvc reducers, eye bolts and a length of 1/2 wooden dowels which I cut up into 2inch lengths and used like Festool dominos on all the edges. I then cut triangular pieces as strengtheners. I bored holes in the sides and inserted the reducers then cut the bungees to length tying a knot on the inside. The returns are to stop the bungee cord from cutting into the insulation. Lastly, I used my multi master to cut a slot all the way around the insulation facing the wall and cut some foam pipe insulation in half and glued it into the slot to get an air tight fix to the brick wall.

Now I know the photos don’t look pretty as I had yet to rub them down and paint them to match the wall, but unfortunately, my time was up in Texas, so didn’t get to finish them. But they are in position and working, and no burst pipes, I hope, and maybe even painted I think hopefully.

So that’s it and a lot of conjecture thrown into the mix, and I’m probably setting myself up for a hiding in the comments section.

All I can say in my defence is if I had the opportunity to relocate permanently to the US I would without any hesitation.

But unfortunately, I’m passed my sell by date. How do I know this, my wife told me on numerous occasions?

Scotland and a little Texas.


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Maestro! You've been missed, Colin.
Great wall solution, and execution; I'm guessing your family rejected the idea of double-glazed sealed units in those open sections? They're virtually soundproof.
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Coleve, if you come back and need power tools I have a shop close. Maybe an hour or so away. Give me a shout. I am retired but keeping busy. I can arrange to be around so you can use my shop to make stuff if need be.

No metric tapes here. Bring your own.
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It all looks pretty good to me Colin.
Thank you that is most kind. Every time I had a job to I had to limit myself and build to what I had available to me.

Will give you a shout when I return next year
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Looks like you found all the solutions and made a family happy. Looks great to my eye. You attention to detail is wonderful as is your clever approaches.

When do you have time to visit or do you just enjoy keeping busy? Come to Indiana and I am sure there is something that needs done!

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