Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   PVC glue fumes and low blood sugar
Saturday, January 15 2022

location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY

Temperatures had dropped precipitously overnight and were below zero Fahrenheit this morning (I'm not sure how much, but they never got above 4 degrees above zero all day). This had the effect of wringing any moisture out of the atmosphere, leaving us with clear skies for an even better day of solar energy collection.
Prior to driving into Johnstown to get more PEX crimp rings, I worked more on other parts of the upstairs bathroom in hopes of coming across other things I might need. After careful measurement, I learned that there was a floor joist exactly where the drain pipe for the tub had to run. But that joist wasn't even as deep as a two-by-four and was running perpendicular to the two by ten floor joists running beneath the floor joists. What was going on? It seemed that modifications had been made to the joist layout to create horizontal chases for plumbing pipes, but I couldn't really tell what was going on by what I could see or even touch (the latter actually gave me more range; I didn't have a mirror). I tried to consult the cabin's blueprints, but they were somewhat at variance with how the cabin ended up, and it completely lacked a page about the floor joist framing of the second floor. I couldn't be certain of the structural significance of the joist that was in the way of the tub's drain pipe, but it seemed that if I could put a sister right beside it, it could carry whatever its load was and I could cut it away in the part where the pipe needed to run. I cut a new hole through the subfloor just west of the offending joist and then reached under the floor to break off (using metal fatigue) the three nails intruding into the space it needed to run. Then I managed to get a two foot long two by four down into the inter-joist bay and then up solid against the offending joist, where I secured it with Gorilla Glue, a tight fit, and several 3.5 inch deck screws. I haven't had to sister framing very often, and when I have it's been something I dread. But it always goes well, and this time it went as well as such things can possibly go, especially considering how little access I had to the space I was installing it in.
This afternoon I drove down to Johnstown to get supplies at Ace Noble Hardware. On the way, I stopped at the Johnstown Price Chopper mostly to get fruit, since all our cabin contained was various dry foods and Gretchen was craving something more like a smoothie. I also got beer of course, mostly so I could enjoy a road beer (one of the most undersung joys of mid-life). At Noble, I got a range of drain supplies, including flexible drain pipes in both 1.5 and 1.25 inch sizes. I also had a very patient employee try to come up with the brass fittings I would need to connect a female half inch NPT hose to a quarter inch male compression fitting (this was for a bidet hose in the upstairs bathroom; once you get used to using one it's hard not to want to use it every time). It would've been easier for me to do this myself, but protocol in these cases dictate that you let the Noble employee feel useful.
On the drive back to the cabin, I stopped a second time at the Price Chopper because I'd forgotten to get grapes. I made the mistake of taking my face mask off in the parking lot (something few others were doing) and the blast of cold on my skin was an immediate torment. It was four degrees and a little windy down there, and back at the cabin it was three degrees.
My first chore back at the cabin was to hook up the bidet hose using the brass fittings I'd just bought. But there was thread failure in one of the compression nuts that made the whole assembly fail. And then I couldn't get the damn ferrule off the quarter inch copper pipe and I had no spares. So it looks like it'll be next weekend before I can blast my ass with a jet of water.
Now that I had PEX crimping rings, I could finally finish all the high-pressure plumbing in the wall at the drain end of the tub. After that I turned on the pressure and was alarmed to see water shooting out of an air-bleeder cap in one of the valves. When I opened it up, I saw the cap contained no rubber ring. Really? What kind of quality control was that? It wasn't even that shoplifters were to blame; the valve had been sealed in packaging. I didn't have any rubber on hand for fashioning a new sealing pad. So instead I used a ball of plumber's putty covered with some teflon tape. I don't know how permanent that fix is, but I will have access to this valve via a maintenance hatch. There was another similar valve on the cold water side as well, and it lacked a sealing ring as well, so I sealed it in a similar manner.
I had another slow leak at one of the PEX-to-NPT adapters on the hot water line as it entered the shower control. Had all this been soldered together, I would've had to take everything apart in order to tighten the NPT fitting. But with finished crimped PEX connectors, the barbed end is free to rotate somewhat reluctantly inside the PEX pipe as though it were a union fitting, so all I had to do was tighten the NPT fitting. That's probably one of the reasons soldered fittings are going the way of the coelacanth.
This evening I assembled the PVC pipes that will be draining the new second-floor bathtub. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of working without having eaten anything in awhile, and this made everything even more unpleasant than it already was. I had trouble cutting an existing two inch pipe to the right length with the tools I had on hand (which didn't include an oscillating saw). And there were pressurized PEX pipes right there that I know are very easy to cut should my reciprocating saw decide to jump to some new random place (as they are wont to do). Then when I started gluing things together, the solvent and the glue seemed to be slopping around on everything. But worst of all was that the end of all of this that was supposed to accept a 1.5 inch polypropylene pipe was a couple inches further from the wall than it needed to be, and this was after what I'd thought had been careful planning. The problem was that it was hard to know how long to cut the little pieces necessary to connect one fitting to the next Fortunately I had some pipe with flexible accordianing in it that just about reached to the right place. But even that would be tight.
Light-headed from the fumes and lack of blood glucose, I finally came down to the kitchen and made myself a couple small burritos, which mostly contained chili I'd made back on Wednesday.
Meanwhile Gretchen had been talking about maybe watching a movie, something I definitely didn't have the patience to sit through. Fortunately, though, this was nearly impossible because the media drive I'd brought to the cabin required a USB-A-to-USB-A cable, which the cabin does not have. Gretchen then said we could just watch Netflix. But I said that would eat too much of our 20-gigabytes/month internet plan. Well, it might, depending on how much data needs to be streamed to watch a movie on Netflix.
All the solar panel clearing and drywall cutting had left me with a full body of aching muscles, so at some point I took a nice hot bath in the downstairs bathtub, still the only functional bathtub in the cabin.

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