Sunday, 30 November 2014

Front Wall Finished

I bought three more shiplap planks and managed to finish the front exterior today. It still needs a couple more coats of stain and some sealing strips around the edges, but the construction work is complete. Solid as a solid thing, and looking good.

Next comes the internal cladding, but I'm putting the electrics in first so that I can chase the cables into the insulation before fixing the internal surface and sealing it all up.

A two-way consumer unit with 16A breaker for ring mains and 6A breaker for the lighting circuit has been fitted just inside the door and the incoming supply to the temporary socket needs to be fed via a kWh meter to the consumer unit so I can keep tabs on 'leccy usage and pay Eco for the power I use. I don't anticipate a huge amount of imported electricity as I shall have the solar panels for lighting and low consumption circuits.

I even fitted an exterior bulkhead light to illuminate the entrance and the area outside the door. I'm debating whether to fit an awning/porch over the front...I shall see how it goes once we get bad weather. For the moment, the exterior is as finished as it needs to be, bar the final staining.

Friday, 28 November 2014

The Dihewyd Deli

I have just acquired an Andrew James food slicer. I've debated one for a while but the fact we can get a 1kg smoked gammon joint at Lidl for £3.99 and the fact that 100g of deli meat in Morribobs is £2.00 made a convincing arguement.

It's a big beast.

Post-roast gammon remains

Sarnie meat

Sarnie-thickness cooked ham. Delicious!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Nearly...but not quite

Grrrr...I thought I was there today, I really did, but ended up being snookered by a schoolboy error.

Shiplap timber is rarer than hen's teeth in Jewsons. I think I had their last two random pieces back in July when I fettled a couple of planters for the garden, and they still haven't had fresh supplies in. Torn over where to source it, I considered Mount Trading in Aberystwyth or Huws Gray over at Bow Street, but was a bit reticent about carrying extra long loads for long distances at any speed on Pudgy's roof-bars. It then occured to me that there is a Travis Perkins in Lampeter, so I headed over that way this morning on the off-chance they might have some in,

Glory be, they did. In 4.2m lengths too, and I'd very carefully calculated that I could clad the entire surface area I needed to with six pieces 125mm wide. Only, I didn't allow for the overlap of about 20mm between two pieces, so I ended up a couple of planks short. Never mind - they have plenty more in stock so I'll scoop up a couple more at the weekend.

But, with what I did have to hand, I've done about 85% of the front wall!

Tada! An almost finished front wall. Ok, so I cheated with the camera angle, so you can just make out where I'm short in the bottom right hand corner.

A little trimming to do on the left of the door (and I need to take an angle-grinder to the tie thingy to the left of the door) and three more planks on the lower wall, and one final strip along the top and the flashing and it's all done.

It's had a wash-coat of thinned wood treatment to seal it, but once the final pieces are in place, it will get two more coats of exterior varnish, and look a bit more like antique pine.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Insulated and airtight

Today I picked up some foil-backed PIR board - Recticel Eurothane GP (which is pretty much the same as Kingspan or Celotex) - from Jewsons and stuffed and mounted it on the inner wall of the office.

Some Visqueen Gas sealing tape to seal the joins between the sections and a handful of screws to attach the insulation to the frame - job done!

I could just leave it as's functional enough, but I want an inner cladding not only for strength but for a nice cosmetic finish. So now the frame is covered, it looks even more like a proper shed.

The insulation only took me a few hours, so the rest of my time was spent today getting rid of rubbish, sweeping the floor (it's got a lot of sawdust and trampled mud all over it), and generally sorting out tools and clearing up.

Come teatime, not only did we have a fabulous sunset in the West, but a red sky and rainbow in the East.

Sunset over the Cloud Forest - taken standing on an IBC to the back of the Storage Shed.

The view looking in the other direction, towards the East.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Put T' Wood In T' Hole!

Today I took the door over to the shed. The moment of truth...would it fit? Would I need to mullah the frame or the door? Well, it almost fitted from the get go! I just needed to trim the upper and lower parts of the door frame for height, and then I seasonally adjusted the door stop strips to adjust for the slight warp on the door. It may not be perfect, but it's more than good enough for me. Weathertight, windproof and secure.

The door from the inside. Gapping round the door is approximately 1mm on each side, Close enough for ministry work and hopefully enough to allow just enough for expansion and contraction. I'm happy with the fit.

The balance is pretty good too, and although I didn't actually check the door with a spirit level, there is no tendency for it to swing open or closed when ajar, so I think it went up pretty square.

From the outside, it still looks a little odd without the final cladding on the front, but I'm happy with the semi-rustic look. It fills the hole securely, keeps out the weather and with rubber sealing strips in place, it won't rattle in a Force 3 breeze. 

Yes, it's beginning to look like an office. Even with just the breathable membrane covering the frame, inside with the door shut you can feel that the weather is being kept out. There is a noticeable difference between indoor and outdoor temperature, thanks to the translucent roof and the sunshine we had today.

From the rear of the body, the whole shebang is now starting to look pretty much as planned. You now get a feel of 'shed' rather than a feel of 'Nightfreight'. Once the internal framing has been insulated with Kingspan and clad, it should be a nice cosy enclosed space.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

When is a door not a door? When it's ajar!

Well, I have had my eye on a couple of doors and I have been umm-ing and er-ing over which one I would finally choose. I did have my mind set on a glazed door and as I've put in a double-glazed window, I felt double glazing the door made sense. Without fart-arseing around trying to match a bare door to a double glazed panel, or vice versa, I decided on a ready made off the shelf pre-glazed baby. On the other hand, a basic timber door might look a little more 'shed-like' and will be a tad cheaper.

Today I looked at the two in my final shortlist at B&Q and tried to make a decision. Solid door or glazed door? Glazed door or solid door? In either case I would need to buy some door furniture so a set of hinges, a lock and catch and a set of handles were on the shopping list. Oh, and a tin of stain.

So what swung it? Four reasons. Firstly, the selection of glazed doors of the type I had considered were bloody heavy, at 44kg each. That is not only a heavy door for what is just a shed, but would need a potentially stronger frame and hinges than a lighter door choice. The unglazed door was a mere 25kg. Secondly, the glazed panel is larger than my window and wouldn't line up in an aesthetic manner. Thirdly, the glazed doors all seemed to have marks or dings on them from being shipped or handled - nothing major, but more work with the sandpaper and plastic wood. Fourthly, the basic solid door was £20 cheaper. I don't want to skimp on the project, but in the end the extra cost of a glazed door put me off. It may look a little 'plainer', but that's not a bad thing. I'm glad I put the window in now, though.

I've played with a couple of front doors, and I've rehung interior sapele or pine doors, but haven't 'built' an exterior door before. By that, I mean fitted hinges, chiselled out a rebate for the lock or trimmed it to fit an aperture. Fitting a complete framed double-glazed front door at a previous roost was simply a matter of beasting out the old door and frame, and then frame-fixing and sealing in the new one...a job for an afternoon.

Well, it wasn't a big deal. The lock came with paper templates and drilling details so half an hour with the drill, hammer and chisel saw that done, and test-fitting a pair of cheap handles (they need to come off again for staining) was the work of a couple of hours out in the garage tonight. I'm doing as much work 'off-site' as I can to minimise the fiddling about on-site.

The door (outside side). Tongue and groove pine, with an engineered frame and ledged and braced on the rear. I'm only using a cheap-ish Yale 3-lever lock rather than anything high security...we're in the middle of nowhere, so Fort Knox it doesn't need to be.

The handles are nothing fancy, just B&Q 'Value' at £6 a pair, but enough to be going on with. How well the brass flashing will stand up to the weather I wouldn't like to put money on, but they looked a little better than white plastic-coated or cast monkey-metal aluminium versions.

I still haven't made my mind up yet whether to hang the door so it opens inwards or opens outwards. Half of me says "it's a shed so open outwards" while the other half of me thinks it might be better from a prevailing wind point of view to have it open inwards. Visions of a Force 7 gale blowing through the Cloud Forest and ripping it out of my hands and off it's hinges spring to mind.

Opening out is going to be a little tricky right now as the level of the ground outside the door is a bit high, and may need scraping away, so I think what I might do is prepare hinge rebates both ways, so I can hang it opening inwards, and then change my mind later if an outward opener seems a better idea, later on.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Cracking On

Today was a pretty decent day for November. Hardly a cloud in the sky, con-trails clear and bright in the upper atmosphere, very little wind and gloriously sunny. 

Eco had bagged up two one-tonne Jewson bags of sand from round the side of the Manor which needed moving, and I removed the plastic tanks from a pair of IBC's so we could get rid of the large pile of composting hay and rush sat in the Goat Field. A couple of tin sheets to stand pallets on, and two IBC cages of hay and two tonnes of sand duly re-positioned round the back of the Chicken House.

On the way out to work this morning, I called in at Jewsons and bought a (very expensive!) roll of breathable membrane to fettle the front of my timber frame. £54 for a 50m roll....I used 2.3m! Ah well, I'm sure it'll come in handy later in the fit-out.

Membrane stapled to the frame and tucked around the door frame. I also fitted and did the initial sealing around the door frame, so the construction work on the front wall is now finished and structurally strong.

Although strictly an interior door lining, by the time the shed has been clad, all the joints have been frame-sealed and the whole shooting match given a few coats of exterior woodstain, there shouldn't be any real problems with weatherproofing. It's just a shed, when all is said and done, but much better engineered than a conventional larch-lap garden jobby!

The view from the window. I need to clean's been sat in the garage for six months and a little mucky! With the membrane in place, you now get an idea of what the end wall looks like from inside. The window does make a difference. Lovely view over the brash piles and the Goat Shed. Some tidying up and landscaping work before we erect the polytunnel and turn the Goat Shed into a garage for Squeaky Joe and his implements. We need to do something about a trackway in front of the boxes too. The tractor has churned up a fair bit of mud and it's well gloopy after the rain over the last few weeks.

I'm pretty sure the destructions for the membrane said 'writing side out'...! Retrotecchie's Tool Of The Month for September really came into it's own. The Parkside pneumatic stapler from Lidl - brilliant. I really like that tool.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Office Construction

Well now that the van bodies are in place, it's time to start fitting them out. The Woodwork and Metalwork Shops are going to have non-symmetrical double doors. Non-symmetrical because it means less cuts on a standard 1220mm x 2440mm sheet for the larger door, and because the 'personnel' access door doesn't have to be as big an opening as the other door.

The Site Office is going to be a little different, having a conventional glazed timber external door and a wall across the front, fitted with a non-opening window. I could have gone for an opening window but it's more for natural light purposes than ventilation and I happened to have an old sealed double glazed unit in stock that I 'framed' when I was still down in Surrey, on the premise that 'it might come in handy one day'!

So, the first job was to obtain some 44mm x 44mm planed timber and give it a woodstain coating. I could have used treated timber, but it is going to be an enclosed frame and I find planed is a little easier to work with.

I'm going to be using a fairly standard 762mm (30") wide external double glazed door, so the frame has been designed to accommodate a 22mm internal door lining. The exterior of the frame will be lined with a breathable membrane and then clad with shiplap or similar timber. The internal wall will be insulated and clad with either a sheet material like OSB or ply, or clad with T&G softwood.

The frame has been bolted to the galvanised aperture of the van body using 8mm x 75mm coach bolts which you can just see in the image above, This, plus a continuous bead of flexible frame sealer should ensure a weathertight fit into the door aperture. The box sections down each side will be filled with an insulating material before being clad up to the interior walls of the van sides. This should give a reasonably good cosmetic finish, as well as mitigation of heat loss through the body corners,

Hopefully a reasonably strong construction to protect against westerly winter winds. The frame has been skew-screwed and assembled with No-Nails. By the time this has the door casing fitted, the door hung, the breathable membrane attached and been clad, it should be pretty solid. I'm looking at a minimum of a five year life for this assembly, and longer if any protective coating is renewed periodically.

Kind of looks like it has been 'Photoshopped' in, doesn't it?! Should look pretty good once the cladding goes on.