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What is under YOUR carpet?

posted Apr 3, 2011, 12:31 AM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Apr 13, 2013, 9:52 PM ]

In this house that we are currently renting, the nasty carpet was an attractor of dust, animal hair, dirt, and who knows what. Eventually we asked the landlords if they minded if we pulled it and refinished the original wood floor underneath. After all, people pay big money for oak floors, right? This is even aged oak. Vintage, even. That's better than saying "old" - makes it seem cooler, somehow. So I pulled the carpet, and the pad, from the living room and the hallway. It was NASTY! Smelled like dust and must and feet and I don't know what else. So even with the floor "unfinished" it was an improvement. You can see what it looked like - nasty, dirty, and with some patchy fading in spots old varnish.

When the place was carpeted, it must have been before selling. The floor had a lot of water stains on it, and somebody painted the house interior (white paint) with no drop cloths. There were even a few footprints where a bare foot had stepped in a partial drip and made replicas across the floor. So it was going to have to be sanded. I did a bit with a hand held belt sander, but it wasn't until this weekend I got serious. I rented a floor buffer and bought several "sanding screens". That's basically just a screen with grit on it. Kicked the dogs outside, put on a mask left over from my days in the fire department (if it stops a tuberculosis spore it should stop a piece of old oak dust, right?) and made some dust. And some more dust. Eventually it was all sanded down. Looked nice all blonde colored, but some of the water staining was still showing through.

So - the next task is to stain it. I figure since I can't get rid of all the dark water stains, I'll just confuse the issue by staining the ENTIRE floor. Paint it on, let it sit for a few minutes, then go back and wipe it off with a paper towel. Rubber gloves are my friend, so I can let the towels get totally soaked with stain, and I just got smart and grabbed my kneepads I wear under my fighting armor. It is a pretty dark color although it gets a bit lighter as it dries. Note the shelves in the background. They aren't actually white, but I made a LOT of dust. Oh well..... when I'm done then it will be a major dust removal. I'm thinking of getting the compressor, and bringing the air hose to blow off all the little wind up toys....

I'll finish up, and then get some sleep. It is almost 1 and I'm close to done with the stain - then tomorrow the machine will become a wax applicator and buffing machine. No fancy (and chemically nasty) polyurethane coatings for me - I'm just going with a few coats of Johnson's Paste Wax, buffed out, and if the dogs scratch the floor a bit of wax and a paper towel can fix a spot, or rent the buffer and do the entire floor again. Wax floors need to be recoated every 6 to 12 months, depending on traffic. I'll get a picture of THAT tomorrow, once I'm done with it.

Fast forward about 4 or 5 hours - to Sunday morning (Yes, I went to bed late, and woke up WAY too early at 6 am). Applied the first coat of wax. Funny thing, because paste wax is "solvent based" - in that the solvent dissolves and leaves the wax. But it also will loosen up any stain that is on the surface of the floor that did not fully absorb to the wood or get wiped off all the way (talk to my knees - they were getting tired even WITH knee pads). But, on a good note, that means it sort of swirled around and smeared or wiped off any leftovers that were on the floor, and not IN the floor - and then sets them into the wax. After the first coat was applied by smearing globs on the floor with a putty knife and then immediately working them in with the buffer and a soft pad (kind of like those green scrubby pads for dishes, but thicker, 17 inches wide, and much softer). I took another pad, added an old towel to cover THAT, and buffed it. Came out nice. Here's the shot after the first coat of wax was buffed in. The uneven coloring (from not REALLY sanding aggressively) "adds character" - and I'm sticking with that story. It also camouflages the water spots that would not come out because they are soaked too far into the wood. I minimized them with the sander, and this is the next best thing. Yes, I have some circular scratching from the sandpaper - but it STILL looks much better, and I wasn't going to spend two days sanding and resanding and then sanding again. I'm happy with it, and ever since I pulled out the old carpet it SMELLS better.

The Bionic Dog

posted Jan 12, 2010, 10:26 PM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Jan 12, 2010, 10:40 PM ]

This is about my 93 pound, 3 or 4 year old Husky mix female, named Andi. She basically "blew out her knee" in mid December. With the torn ACL (or in dogs, the CCL - Cranial Cruciate Ligament, as in the one that faces the head of the animal) the knee joint is unsupported. It causes her to be walking on a joint that is not stable - it is like the leg gets all flexy in the middle, so she can't really trust it. Couple that with the fact that it lets the tibia slide forward and whack the patella (the lower leg hits the kneecap) and it makes an awful click/clack sound as she sort of wiggles her way around.

We ordered a brace from OrthoPets for her. It arrived today. The brace is made from plastic molded onto a plaster model of the dog's leg, that the prosthetist made from a fiberglass cast that I made of the dog and mailed off to the lab in Denver. The joints are the same ones used in human prosthesis - kind of a rubber that gives a little bit of spring. Velcro, padding, and medical grade foam line it for comfort. Lighter, better fit, and a MUCH better joint than the one I made from leather and aluminum. I should hope so - since it has added up to about $650 once you count the medical grade fiberglass material to make the cast (vet aisle at the farm and ranch supply store just outside Spokane.... rednecks do their own doctoring), shipping the cast out, the fed ex shipment back, as well as the actual device's cost. But, if it allows the joint to be stabilized without surgery, so that the scar tissue can grow. The surgery most commonly done (called "traditional repair" or "Lateral Suture Stabilization") does what the brace does - but with nylon fishing line inside the knee - it holds it while letting it move in the normal range of motion and you hope the scar tissue builds up around it to hold it all together. Like the vet said - her football career is over, but that doesn't mean I have to get her a little doggy wheelchair (OrthoPets makes those too). Took 7 days for them to make the thing, and I have had really good communication with them. I don't know how MANY of these they have going on at one time, but the quality and workmanship seems really good.

The dog doesn't like it, right off the bat. It makes the leg a little bit stiff and she has to get used to it. She also still makes a bit of the click/clack noise, but not quite as much, and she is not wiggling her way around on basically 3 and a fraction legs - she is using all 4 again, and actually walking around. She was following me around the upstairs begging for scraps (I had a turkey hotdog in my hands that I was giving her pieces of). Give her a few days and I think she will be much more mobile. We are supposed to ease her into wearing the brace - kind of like getting used to contacts. An hour at a time, a few times a day, and work up to longer. They included a suggested schedule in with the brace.

Attached is a close up shot - with the brace on her right stifle (rear knee joint on a dog is called a stifle - I don't know why). She is also wearing her soft harness - the harness allows me to lift her up with the handles on the top side so she is not putting strain on the legs going up and down the steps into the backyard. I don't think she likes the harness much, but she accepts the extra help going up the stairs. If we don't grab her she will go up the steps on her own.... but that is a sure way to let her undo any of the buildup of scar tissue in the joint that will eventually (we hope) stabilize the joint from the inside. There are other surgeries that cut and then reconnect the bone of the lower let in such a way that the joint doesn't NEED the cruciate ligaments to stabilize it - they change the angle of the top of the tibia and then screw a metal plate to hold the bone together. I don't want to do such an invasive process on the dog (nor spend $2,500 on the TPLO surgery), nor the cheaper ($1,200) fibular tie-back that the vet I took her to specializes in - it doesn't have as good a track record.

IF the brace can stabilize the joint, and let scar tissue build up to help out, then the dog can get back to a normal life without surgery. I can always have surgery done later IF this does not work. As long as the joints are not sliding and banging around, there should not be pain. I'm a fan of not having to cut on an animal if it is not necessary. There is a slow period of recovery if you don't do surgery.... but there is a slow recovery if you hack the bones, put them back together in a configuration that is different, and hold them together with metal plates and screws.... If it was MY knee, I might try the brace only option for awhile, too.

My wife is tired of old cars....

posted Oct 5, 2009, 8:34 AM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Oct 5, 2009, 8:54 AM ]

...specifically old ones that don't work well. I don't blame her - I LOVE old cars - but they have to function. The weather here in Spokane is somewhat "harsh" these last two winters. Getting around on the roads is sometimes a real challenge. I'm building up an old 4x4 Eagle for my winter ride. We really needed something for my Robin, as well. So....

That, in the picture, is a 2003 Volkswagon Passat. It has the normally aspirated 2.8 liter V-6, 5 speed automatic transmission, and all the fancy things for a winter car like heated seats, heated mirrors, heated windshield washers, and of course - all wheel drive via the VW "4 Motion" system. The Passat (German for "Tradewind") of this year is based on the Audi A4 platform, and the 4motion system is a Torsen T2 differential. The 30 valve V-6 makes 193 hp @6000 rpm and 210 ft/lb of torque @3200 rpm. Supposed top speed of 143 mph - I think I'll take the wikipedia article's word on that.

Big cargo capacity when you flip/tumble the rear seats forward. The bottom of the rear seat tilts forward, and the seat back drops down into the space left. They lock together making a perfectly flat floor. There are also cargo tie downs in the back, and a pair of 12 volt power sockets - so if you have one of those fancy electric powered coolers you can stow it in the back, sling a web strap around it to keep it contained, and plug it in so that your wine and cheese stay at the right temperature for the picnic.

At 3,100 pounds it feels much more solid, but moves surprisingly well. Road feel is good, but not punishing, and the leather seats are very nice. It remembers where you adjusted the seat (up/down/tilt/forward/back) as well as where the side mirrors were pointing. It can remember 3 different drivers, so when Robin gets in, she pushes a button and it reconfigures the seats and mirrors for her. It even re adjusts the mirror on the right side to point down further when you put the car in reverse, and back up when you put it in drive. Fancy!

I chase fires....

posted Jul 10, 2009, 9:15 AM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Jul 10, 2009, 9:24 AM ]

I just do it like a dog chases cars. Well, like a dog who can drive and occasional hits the racetrack. A week ago I saw a column of smoke just off the main drag so I pulled into the neighborhood. A car was blazing merrily in the driveway just in front of a house, Spokane FD had arrived and was JUST dismounting the truck. They pulled lines as I was walking up, pulling my iPhone to shoot a little amateur video. Unfortunately I caught only about 2 seconds of video (when in a hurry it is easy to touch the ON button twice.... but that means you turned it on, and then OFF right after). I did get a good still. Look at the house - the white droopy thing hanging off the roof used to be a vinyl rain gutter. Since I was heading out to my property to do some work, and it being the 4th of July weekend and the possibility of getting my OWN calls, I was in uniform as well. I came to where the car owner was - who was having some type of seizure - and worked with a neighbor (a nurse) to keep him safe until the medics showed up, and then stuck around to help while they got lines in, drugs onboard, and we all grabbed him and got him on the gurney and then I left.(click the picture for a larger one).

Toys for the inner child

posted Jun 18, 2009, 11:04 AM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Jun 18, 2009, 11:17 AM ]

At least, if your inner child is a throwback to when you used to get much more excited by the smell of gasoline and dirt than girls (because they had cooties, sillyhead!). I just bought (for $50) a small ATC from the mid-80's. I was GOING to use the tires, differential, front forks, etc to build a wonderfully strong kinetic sculpture to race. (KSR is amphibious people powered racing done by lunatics.... try www.kineticuniverse.com or check out this great "how to" page at www.kinetickingdom.com/KK-how2/index.html. I drove out to Hayden, Idaho to pick it up after work (about 20 miles to the east over the state line) and ended up just tossing it on the back of the car, securing it with double straps so there was no way it could come off, and driving out to my property (about 60 miles to the west). I got a LOT of funny looks on the freeway.
Back at the property, I put air in the front tire and took a look at the condition. With just a little tweaking and some new wires, I got it to sputter under its own power, so I tossed in some gasoline, checked the oil, and pretty soon I was riding up and down the driveway and hills at my property. So, now I have a toy to ride, and if I can get the ORV tag for it I can ride it at the offroad vehicle park a few miles up the road. There are 600 acres of dirt, hills, and trails - something for the slow folk like me as well as the lunatics. Plus - I can do laps in my driveway - it is an eighth mile loop - just for fun.
So..... I have to keep my eyes open for another one - hopefully in not such good shape - to cut up for kinetic sculpture building.

Dang Bambis!

posted May 15, 2009, 8:05 AM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Apr 13, 2013, 9:24 PM ]

It has been about 16 months since I last hit a deer. Two weeks ago I got another one. When you hit a deer with a Land Rover, you knock it forward (like using a 1 wood in golf - a very flat face). When you hit one with a Saturn, the very low and sloping hood and windshield act more like a sand wedge, and fling it up and over the car. In both cases the deer ended up very dead. I had to sell the Land Rover (I'm was just not that good a bodyman). I have learned since then.... and Saturns are tough. The hood, one headlight, some metal bits in front - those were damaged.

The tupperware fenders flexed, but don't show damage. The antenna was bent back.

Trip to the local Pull and Save got me another headlight, some brackets that were bent in front, an antenna, and a few bit parts. No hood though.

After two weeks of hunting for a cheap (under $40) used hood I bout a new one (aftermarket - from china) for $139 plus tax. Total cost of the replacement bits probably ran about $200. Paint should be another twenty or so.

Keeping Warm

posted Sep 24, 2008, 10:00 AM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Sep 24, 2008, 10:12 AM ]

The big Carpenter bus came with a rather "rough" conversion. It was something used as a bit of a base camp from some river guides at a rafting company. Not the requirements for the highest levels of fit and finish. But, it did come with a wood stove in it. The door was rusted shut, and it had a lot of rust flaking off inside. But, being a few hundred pounds of steel, it had enough to slough off a few pounds. To the right is the stove in the old bus. It actually is a "certified" stove, complete with the appropriate data plates and information on the back.

I utilized a dolly, a ramp, brute strength, and some innovative use of rope in some sort-of-block-and-tackle arrangements to get it OUT of the Carpenter and IN to the Bluebird that is still "home" while the slow process of building up the big bus takes place. After rust breakers, wd-40, more brute strength, a hammer, and a few well chosen 4 letter words, I took the old stove pipe from my older, inefficient stove of last winter (too hot, and too fast of a burn) and got it setup. Freeze warnings last night had me covering the tomato plants outside, and thinking of a stove inside. With just a few bits of wood in it, it burned for hours and hours with a cheerful glow. I think this could run overnight if I loaded it up before going to bed (I'll make sure to change out the batteries in my carbon monoxide detector before I do that, though - just in case). I guess I better split a bunch of wood from my piles of dry logs, and make sure that the ones for this little stove are short. The monster stove in the shop takes just about anything (it can handle 24 inch long logs) where this guy would do best with about 14 inchers.

Great (random) quote:

posted Sep 10, 2008, 11:28 AM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Apr 13, 2013, 9:24 PM ]

"I don't really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves." (Robertson Davies, The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, 1947, XIX, Sunday., in writing about Daylight Savings Time)

Got me a new toy.....

posted Sep 1, 2008, 7:35 PM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Apr 13, 2013, 9:24 PM ]

I traded a laptop computer (last time I traded a laptop, I got a Mercedes!) for this truck. It is a 1966 Chevy C10 (1/2 ton) truck with an inline six cylinder motor that is 250 cubic inches. For point of comparison, my big GMC dually pickup that I keep around for when I need a HUGE load moved (like a dozer, or a backhoe) is a 1 ton, with a 454 cubic inch v-8 (and an insatiable thirst). I should do much better with this old truck - easy to work on, and pretty cool lines. My grandfather had one that was similar, I think it was a '64 - with a three speed shifter on the column. I remember I borrowed it once to go pick up a tiny honda car - and I corraled some locals and we just lifted it into the back! I just like the look of it, and this one already has big fat tires on it. I've work to do on it, of course, but I envision it in bright obnoxious yellow, with red flames on the nose, out in front of my daughter's sorority house on Dad's Weekend next year, attracting ALL the local frat boys and absolutely mortifying my child. Of COURSE I needed another truck.... the dually is currently broken (as well as thirsty) and the Jeep hasn't been worked on yet at all. This one I drove home (although the carb has junk in it and it runs rougher than I like). With a 4 speed manual transmission, the first gear is a super granny. I read that the first gear on this model is the lowest commercially available, making the transmissions prized for off road trucks - in the description I got from the guy I traded with "in first gear it will climb anything - it will climb a TREE in first!".

You can see a smushed front to the center of the hood.... like an elvis sneer but symetrical. You can't see it, but there is another hood in the back of the truck. The tires are 60's in the front, and 50's in the back. Fat fat fat. Seems a little silly to have fat drag race styled tires with just a 6 cylinder motor, but I won't say "no" to traction. There is probably 200 miles on the tires, they still have the little nubblies on them. Just in time - my champ has about given up (transmission woes) so I'll get rid of that car, and I will have Rowan's Saturn to drive until at least Christmas - this truck will be my "backup" rig.

What kind of inbred moron.....

posted Aug 25, 2008, 11:46 AM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Aug 25, 2008, 11:52 AM ]

....decides to break open a car, so that they can pop the trunk, to steal something they have no clue about? Rowan (my daughter) had the front window smashed and a box of old sweatshirts stolen from her trunk. Lovely. Now I need a new window.

A word of warning to the low-life of Spokane. If I see some wannabe young male hood-rat wearing a KKG sorority sweatshirt - they are going to have some 'splaining to do.

This is what you get when you have a place in the city, I guess. Out at our property, if the dogs don't get them, the neighbors and their shotguns full of birdshot will.

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