Monday, April 29, 2013

Reno cottage - varnishing the floors.

I think the Reno cottage is as dust free as it's going to get. It been brushed, wiped and vacuumed within an inch of our lives. Thankfully we didn't have to punch and fill nail holes as the floor had already been varnished. Someone else must have done a good job as there was still filler in nearly all of the holes, even after a few passes with the sander.

I've heard of floating floors, but floating walls?

Busted with a mini-vac.

We Mr CH started in Bed 1, that magical moment as the first coat goes on and you see the colours (and the stains). We used the same tung oil based estapol (by Wattyl) as previously used here and here.

Mr CH has his own meticulous method of mopping, he likes to soak his mop and then wipe a bit of on the floor away from the wall so he doesn't get varnish pooling against the wall.

He painted half of Bed 1 and then mopped through the doorway to avoid join marks. Lucky there is a second doorway. Not sure how the professionals do it, but this seems to work for us.

Then back through to finish Bed 1 and carry on through Bed 2 and lastly the lounge.

Baby almost mopped himself into a corner.

And then, when you stand back to admire your handy work, a colony of ants strolls out onto your wet varnish and dies! Lucky it only the first coat.
One coat down, two to go!
As we are still using the enclosed veranda for our workshop the floors won't be done just yet. They'll be varnished nearer to completion of the whole house, whenever that will be. It's starting to drag on a bit and the aim is to finish soon, weather permitting.

Can't believe it has been over a week since the last blog post, is it just me, or are the weeks flying past for everyone?  Have a lovely week.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Reno cottage - fixing window surrounds and floor prep.

It's finally starting to feel a bit like autumn, cooling nights and warm clear days. What a lovely time of the year. After so much rain this year we are hoping for some dry winter weather. Because our dry winters are the perfect time to paint outside walls (after a few dry weeks to shrink the wood first).

Before the floor gets varnished, the window surrounds on the north side have been getting a fix-up. The wood surrounds have been pulled off back to the bare bones for an undercoat.

Some of the window surrounds getting undercoated (oil-based) and some of the already painted skirting boards for the bedrooms.
Hammering the surrounds back in place.

Oops unpainted surround up (I must paint too slow for the Mr). For those not acquainted with these old "Queenslander style" house windows (cordless sash windows), the top window sits on the half piece of wood and usually doesn't move unless you have the "flap thingies" see below and the bottom window sits in front and slides up and down. Originally both the side of the window and the frame weren't painted for easy sliding. But that doesn't look pretty, does it?
Used to open widows up, to let the often stifling summer heat escape.

Lots of washing the floor sanding sawdust from the ceilings and walls in readiness for varnishing the floor.
Forgot to mention, I've finally finished painting the ceiling trim around the blue bedroom and the ceiling fan is in.

Found some scrunched up newspaper pieces from 1970 in the white ant holes in the walls. Advertising lingerie, stocks and bonds, the Remington Rand R2 copier and fabric by the yard from Myer - wave Myer's P.B.A and say "charge it please".

Wall stuffing circa 1970.

 The sanding and vacuuming has been done, as well as we could anyway, considering the floors were previously varnished and the floor is ready for varnishing.
Which is the scary part!
 Hoping you have a great week wherever you are and that your days are lovely and sunny too.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

If that was the holidays....

..then we've had them. A better late than never post.
For the first holidays in years, we didn't make it to the beach at all. The constant rain kept us at home, working on the Reno cottage and doing odd jobs. But desperation at having an almost non existent wood pile heading into winter, had us heading out to the farm on the first dry day available for a load of firewood. We said hello to some of the new babies.

 Made Mum a red velvet cake (birthday cake), which we helped eat.

Cleared a fallen tree for our firewood and filled the damp dell with the sound of chainsaws and laughter at no. 2 stepping in cow poo, not once but five times. Brothers and sisters can be merciless. Saw three scorpions, yuk.

Jumped the creek, climbed the tractor, spotted magic growing, saw an eel trying to slide over the rocks, grossed-out at South African python skins, played on a "found" go-cart and wore the dog and ourselves out.

Long forgotten board games got a work-out, with all that rainy weather.

No. 2 son had a birthday and got a little surfer dude cake, duckie-diving of course. I should have made the wave a lot bigger, worth ducking under. Looks pathetic, the kind you'd cop in the face instead. Was a little disappointed with this cake, should have added lots of lollies or something.

Made a new batch of biscuits I haven't tried before, milo biscuits. Mr CH thinks I need to make another batch or two, just to make sure I got the recipe right.

After a dry spell, I found two more vintage coat hangers, how ridiculous the joy at finding something so mundane. I think that now makes a dozen, with most of them pink, blue or green, so it's nice to get some yellow/ orange.  A cheery orange pillowcase, and these little plaster doggies. Battered and still looking cute, these were prizes given away at side show alleys back in the 50's.

Finding it hard to believe the first week back to school is over already and that I have spent it washing and folding a Mount Everest pile of clothes etc. mopping floors, baking, mowing and repairing the vege patch that washed down the hill in downpours.

Leaving you with pics of the pretty flowers coming out now, mostly salvias. What the rain didn't drown, is now flowering madly. Aren't these Autumn days gorgeous! Back next time with a reno catch-up.
Have a fabulous weekend.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The electrocuted rat.

What do a tub of Vick's VapoRub, crackling sounds in the night and poo on a hand railing have to do with each other? Answer - a rather bizarre week at the Crazy House.
Three of our neighbours have chooks which means we also have mice/rats and therefore snakes in the neighbourhood. During the last two weeks, Mr CH has been driven to distraction in the middle of the night by the noisy scurrying of mice/baby rats along the water pipes under the house. If it's one thing he really can't stomach, it's noises in the night! So after buying some rat traps and setting them in place, he was mortified to realise while checking a baited trap, the mouse/rat watching him was too small to set off the trap and had been enjoying a free meals of peanut paste.
 After a few days we thought it/they had gone to greener pastures thanks to the cat, who despite only having her front teeth left had managed to catch two mice/baby rats over the previous nights and brought them inside for adulation. The nights were peaceful once again. Until, I got up in the early hours of the morning to see what the cat was up to, running up and down the hallway and heard a strange crackling sound from under the floorboards. So poor Mr CH was woken up to "come check, quick!" We quickly worked out (burning smell) that something was wrong with the wiring under the floorboards, so the power was turned off and after deciding the house didn't appear to be on fire we went back to bed.

 A few hours later (with our power still off) Mr CH decided to prise off some wood panelling from under the house where he thought the noise was coming from and "a wall of stink so thick you could see it", had him outside gagging. Seems a rat had chewed some wiring after getting stuck and had electrocuted himself and had sat there for a few days - fermenting! No one, I mean NO ONE is going to fix the wiring with THAT in there. Which is where the Vapo Rub comes in, if it's good enough for the crime scene investigators then it must work right?

Gross pic deleted for kindness sake.
 I thought you should share all the gory details by the way.
 Picture Mr CH trying to hold up the bottom pipe (while dry retching) while garden-gloved-me, tried to scrap Mr Rat out into a dustpan with a piece of wood ( while holding my breath) after I had first attempted to pull his tail which started to come apart in the process. We took many fresh-air breathers and decided this Vapo Rub wasn't strong enough! If anything the odour seemed to have fused with the Vapo Rub on our nostrils. So eventually Mr CH decided to grit his teeth and "be a man" and pulled Mr Rat out with pliers.

We found out later that in another few hours, our house could have caught on fire while we were sleeping.

The timber stay had to be cut away so the wire could be repaired. Two wires were damaged, one didn't need to be replaced though. Eucalyptus oil was rubbed all over the wood in an attempt to rid the stench. All outside gaps have now been filled.
 Seems it's two steps forward, one step back, sometimes with home renovation. This panelling has only been in place for about five years and now needs a patch up.
So thankful as it could have ended a lot worse, despite smoke alarms.

That wasn't all this week, after what appeared to be small greenish horse/cow hybrid poo on the back stairs and thinking it was from another dog getting inside the yard (it wasn't Penny-dog's), I was only further confused at some of it up on the hand railing. What kind of Great Dane dog would poo on stair railings and why? Mr CH on seeing this, looked up as if expecting to see the proverbial flying pig. Had us so confused until Mr CH said "I bet it's snake poo". So a quick Google search confirmed it was and seems a lot of people had Googled "What does snake poo look like" before we did.
Our neighbour had recently told Mr CH that he had a large carpet snake living under his house, which he wasn't going to mention to the four female members of his household.

A day later and this partial snake skin was hanging in the mango tree. You can just see the faint carpet pattern.

As far as snakes go, the smaller the better don't you think so?
Let's hope there are no more crackles in the night.
Have a lovely weekend, it's supposed to stop raining.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

More diy floor sanding....

Now that the front veranda wall has been painted, it's time to get the floors sanded, the last bit thankfully. Mr CH has started cutting the MDF vj sheets for under the windows, which will be nailed in place after the floors are sanded.

 We once again hired a drum sander and an edge sander to sand the floors ourselves, therefore saving money. We have been looking forward to seeing how the veranda floor might look, once all the years of grime and wear were sanded off. We are pretty happy they sanded well, love the red showing through, though there are a few gaps in the floor boards that will need filling before we varnish.

Front door to lounge

Bed 2 (blue room) before sanding.

After first pass with the medium grit sandpaper, still a few bits of varnish in the low spots that come off with the next pass.

After each room was sanded, Mr CH did a pass with the sander from one side of the house to the other, through the doorways to avoid "ripples" at each doorway from where the sander stops and starts. There is a lot of tilting the sander back while sanding floors to reduce pressure and stop the sanding digging in.

We sanded the dining room and bed 1 last time, but after lots of paint drips and a bit of dirt, we intended to give it another pass with fine grit sandpaper to make sure it was the same as the other rooms before varnishing.

The spot where we had moved the wall (turning the lounge into Bed 2) needed extra sanding. These floors had already been sanded once (and varnished) before and there was quite a height difference in the boards. So Mr CH sanded against the grain, attempting to bring the "hump" down to the same level. We probably should have sanded it down a lot more, however we wanted to avoid scratches across the grain.

While Mr CH used the drum sander, I got to use the edge sander, a machine that weighs half my body weight. Just imagine my gritted teeth under that mask, ha.

Happy boy!!! (the next day)
You can still see some water stains still on the boards, unfortunately they wouldn't come out without sanding half the floor boards away. Most likely from decades of mopping lino floors and some water seeping through to stain the boards. The sisters who owned the house when we moved here, varnished the floor over the stains. We though this wouldn't sand out, just a pity it's in the middle of the floor now, and not hidden under furniture. Win some, lose some.

Fifteen bags of sawdust.
We sanded for eight hours with cuppa/lunch breaks in between.
We used 40 grit (medium coarse) and 80 grit (fine) sanding sheets. The veranda needed three passes (one coarse, two fine) The bed 2 and lounge needed two passes (one coarse, one fine) and the bed 1 and dining (previously sanded) needed one pass (fine). After all the rooms were sanded, (after the aches wore off) we got out the orbital sanders and gave the rooms the once over to make sure they were smooth enough to varnish.

Mr CH thought someone might find this helpful.
 When he changes the sanding sheets on the drum sander, he loosely attaches the new sanding sheet to the drum (under the attachment plate) and rolls it through, then takes off the attachment plate and pushes both edges under to re-secure the sanding sheet. I feel like a twit telling this, but he says it is difficult to stop the sheets catching on the sides any other way. So if you are crazy enough to sand floors like us, that might help.

Attach one side of the sanding sheet and roll through.

Now need to build up for the varnishing....

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