Friday, August 30, 2013

Mildew Madness

As you recall we had a little leak and some mildew/mold.

A whole lot of bleach and scrubbing seem to have everything under control.

Time for some new insulation and drywall.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Roof Redo

Editor's Note:  I talk about some large sums of money in this post, and I'm not too keen on discussing personal finances on such a public forum, but the money is pretty central to the story, and if you are thinking of buying a house, it is good to see just what this sort of thing is going to cost.

As you can see from this photo, we needed a new roof.  We knew it when we bought the house; however, I thought we could go a little longer.  Unfortunately, going into the attic and seeing light pouring in all over the place definitely demonstrated the time was now.  Every little sprinkle was stressful since a potential leak could cause lots of damage.

Here are some more glamour shots:

We got the first quote to do the roof quite a while ago and it came in at $13,000 for a fairly basic roof.  That seemed high to me so I checked to see what materials would cost.  My rough estimate including just shingles, tar paper, and plywood sheathing was about $7,000.  To me, $6,000 for labor seemed a bit high.
Some time passed and I discussed DIYing the roof with some of my family members.  They reluctantly agreed to help, since they know how miserable roofing can be; particularly removing old wood shake.

I started looking a little deeper into material costs and all the little things started adding up and inflating that initial $7,000 estimate, so I decided to get a couple more quotes to have it done for me before moving forward.
One quote was $11,500 and the second was $9,650 for similar roofs.  That second quote was too good to pass up, so I hired them to do the job, but I got a couple upgrades:  radiant barrier plywood and thicker shingles.  The final price we agreed on was $10,500, which I thought was almost too good to be true.

It turns out, it was.  This is when the real stress started.
A week before they were supposed to start, I got a call from the roofer explaining that he messed up on the quote and couldn't do it for the price we agreed upon.  He asked for $12,000.
I was obviously not pleased by this.  I firmly believe you should honor your agreements, particularly when they are in writing and signed.  In my opinion, he should not have said anything about his screw up and just done the job.  He may not make a ton of money on it, but at least he doesn't alienate a customer.

Anyway, after some tense negotiation, we agreed on $11,500, which was still significantly better than the other quotes, when the upgrades are factored in.  He also agreed to install the top of a couple new skylights for us.

So we were all set to go for August 19th, until we got a notice on the 16th that our street was going to be slurry sealed on the 19th.  After a panicked phone call we were able to delay one day, so that a bunch of giant trucks could ravage the new pavement.

When the job finally started on the 20th (our anniversary), things went fast.  Demo was first.

It turned out we had some termite/rot in some of our tongue and groove eves, so that had to be replaced, at extra cost.
Another fun event was when the demo was done, the truck pulled away and ripped the phone line off of my neighbor's house.  Luckily they were cool about it.

Next task was loading up the plywood and tar paper.
Notice the freshly sealed street getting ravaged.

Fresh plywood.
Here you can see the radiant barrier, which is basically aluminum foil on the bottom of the plywood that helps keep the house cooler.
Here comes the tar paper, and shingles are loaded.

Shingles are starting to appear.

And finally, here's the finished product:
Here's the Before shot of the front.
You can see one of our new skylight tubes in this photo.
And Before of the back.
We are so pleased with the way it turned out, and it is such a relief to not have to worry about a questionable roof.  If you're wondering, the shingle we got is the GAF Ultra HD in the color "barkwood."
I also got to have fun riding the roofers like a rented mule.  I called them out on several things, and I am pretty sure they were terrified of me.  Sure beats doing it ourselves.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sprinkler Valves Don't Rock, Until Now

These are the sprinkler valves right next to our front door.  They are not only terribly ugly, but they are a potentially breakable tripping hazard.

They were clearly begging to be turned into a rock.

Here it it with a little more context.  Sorry about the poor lighting.

This was one of the easiest and most satisfying projects yet.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bicycle Tuneup

New pad is on top, if you couldn't tell.
I've been getting back into more serious cycling recently, with a weekly ride on Thursdays at 5:30AM along with weekend rides, however my bike was in need of some love.
The first task was the brakes.  After 3,400 miles, the original pads were down to almost nothing, and that did not inspire confidence on the hills of Palos Verdes.  A new set slid right in and some minor adjustment finished the job.

The next items was my bar tape.  When I bought the bike, the bar tape was not in the best shape.  It got a little worn off in shipping, so I fixed it with electrical tape, and that had been fine since then.  But it is has really started to wear, so I decided to replace it.
Here's what it looked like before:

 And after:
Good as new.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Commence Engine Teardown

After the poor leak down test performance, I didn't want to waste any time, so I began tearing down the engine.

The first step was removing the valve covers.

Then I went for the timing chain cover, which I plan on replacing since it has the broken bolt in it.  You may recall I already got the replacement on ebay.

 No drama.  Just quite a few nuts and bolts that are were surprisingly easy to remove.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Leak Down Test

German "Inception"--fine German engineering inside fine German engineering.  Is your mind blown?
In order to determine if my BMW's engine is any good, I needed to test it.  The other option would be to hope for the best and just build the bike and see what happens when cranking it for the first time.

Since it is not in any position to crank, a compression test is out of the question, so I had to do a leak down test.  If you're not familiar with that test, like me a short time ago, you basically pump pressurized air into the engine and see how much leaks out and where it leaks out.  The images below show the tester and the concept in cartoon form.

Ideally, an engine will have less than 10% leakage.  Up to 30% is probably acceptable for street engines.  My left cylinder had 40% and my right had 100% (gulp), mostly through the exhaust valves.

Verdict:  An engine rebuild is in my future.  It's only time and money...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Outstanding Office

This is our office before the makeover.  This is the only before photo we have, and it is messier than usual, but you can see it is strictly functional.

Here is the after, from roughly the same angle:
Ten points if you can spot the grapefruit.
Here are the other angles:

I still want to do some cable management.

You might not be able to tell, but we repainted it in a light gray as well as replacing and rearranging furniture.
We replaced the stainless steel desk with a more compact and warmer (literally) one we inherited from Chrissy's uncle, and stuck my desk in the perfectly sized space at the end of the bed.  Most importantly, we got some art on the walls.
We still want to hang some curtains, but other than that we are very satisfied.  The new layout feels a lot more open than the old one, plus it is much more comfortable to watch videos on the computer from the bed now.