email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Another Garden Enclosure Post

I'm beginning to wonder when this is going to end!  When I started it last Fall, I expected it would take most of 2 weeks.  Sad laughing at THAT now!  A day to break up the first couple of old rotting raised beds and transfer the soil to the other beds, build a couple new ones, transfer the soil to the new ones and then remove the other old frames. 

Then a day to dig holes for the new frame (15 minutes each, right?), and the rest of the day to construct the basic frame (just "tinkertoy" stuff, right?)  Another day to toss chicken wire over the frame.  Then a day to tighten the chicken wire all around.  And then a day to build a screen door into the structure.

Oh what fools we mortals be...

I keep finding problems to solve.  Now, I'll grant that solving problems is an enjoyable challenge.  But "2 weeks" has turned into "2 months" (given a break over Winter), and it's not finished YET!  I am both HORRIBLE at foreseeing problems AND estimating time to do work.

In my defense, doing things you have never done before in any way is difficult.  But I PLANNED this and had a pretty good idea of the work.  Sort of...  Well, I didn't expect digging a simple 2' deep hole wouldn't take just 15 minutes, but 30, and after several I was worn out for the day.  I bet my estimate of the total time is only 1/2 was it was, but what I didn't realize was that I couldn't keep at it 6 hours a day.

I then there were surprises.  Who knew chicken wire was so heavy and resisted being pulled tight?  Who knew that tolerances for fitting PVC pipes (with steel conduit inserted in the PVC pipes for rigidity) would be so important?  Who knew that making the tops of the frame would be so tricky on ground that sloped East/West AND North/South.  And I assumed the hanging chicken wire would be easily attached to the ground with 6" landscaping staples.

So today, I decided I needed to attach steel conduit reinforced PVC pipe at the bottom of the frame (to attach the bottom of the chicken wire).  I went to the local big-box DIY store to buy them.

The idea was to use something called a "snap-tee" to attach the PVC pipes at the bottom of the frame to attach the chicken wire using nylon cable ties.

It fits over existing PVC pipes by friction, but can also be cemented.  So I bought more PVC pipes and the snap tees and conduit steel pipe, and got them home.  Brought out my can of PVC cement and read the instructions.  The instructions mentioned that if the cement was "jellylike", DO NOT USE .

So I opened the can of cement and of course, it was "jellylike".  Well, it WAS 10 years old.  So back to the DIY store for fresh PVC cement.  Everything takes more time than you expect...

OK, I had the cement, the PVC pipes, and the steel conduit rods for rigidity.  I was confident the rest would go well today and quickly.  I had set the upright frame VERY carefully, so the  PVC pipes at the bottom HAD to fit perfectly, right?

Of course not!  So much as a 1/4" off and each cross pipe at the bottom required cutting to size.  And with the fitting, the steel conduit pipes had to be 1 1/4" shorter.  Argh!  I had to cut each steel conduit pipe shorter and the PVC pipes shorter by varying amounts (they are NOT all exactly the same lengths, varying by as much as 1/2").

There was a lot of cutting involved...

It's all maddening, sometimes!

So, I was ready to use the snap tees and cut-to-length between each individual set of uprights pipes.  That should be all that was required, right?  No.

The snap tees weren't exactly what I thought.  I thought they fit over half the pipe, so that another could be placed opposite each on the other side of the pipe.  But they fit 2/3ds over a pipe.  So you can't put one opposite the other on the same pipe.
They have to be one above the other...

If I had it to do over again, I would have made a jig to cut the snap tees to fit half the pipe instead on 2/3rds, but I was half done before I realized the problem.  And when the PVC cement sets after 10 minutes, there is NO undoing it.
It sets in just several minutes.   So when it is put anywhere, it STAYS there!

So I had to figure out another adjustment...

Doing some dry-fitting experiments, I figured out  could I place one snap tee over another.  In effect, all I accomplished in 2 days was attach 7 PVC pipes with steel conduits in them along all the bottom of most of the structure.  My guess before would have been 1 hour at worst.  It took 4.  O the hottest day of the year so far...  90 degrees and 90 humidity.  ARGH!!!

But like every other problem, its done!  Another unexpected problem solved...

At least I can next attach the chicken wire at the bottom tightly tomorrow!  Unless I discover some NEW problem to solve.

Next will be installing the screen door..  That's going to take more hole-digging, but at least I know how slowly that goes into the dry gravel/rock/clay soil.  I've been delaying that, seeing forecasts of rain to soften the soil a bit.  But it hasn't rained (naturally) so I'll have to do it the hard way like I did for all the upright pipes.

I have the screen door framed with 2x4"s.  The holes I dig will hold 4x4" posts set 2' deep.  The door frame holding the screen door will attach to the 4x4 posts.

And I bet something will just NOT work about that.  What would this project BE without one more surprise...


Ramblingon said...

Man. You are a better man than me! (heeee) I would have just drained my bank account and hired it done. You have persistence plus!

Megan said...

When I read your second sentence - "two weeks" - I couldn't stop laughing. Sorry! Assure yourself that it will seem funny to you too in, say, 10 years' time. Or perhaps, 15!

Sydney, Australia