Puckaweekend grows ever closer. As I write this, it’s a little over six weeks away, so this is the perfect time to brew up a new round of pickled eggs to bring to the party.
The first efforts went over quite well considering this was something I’d never tried to do before. The mustard eggs and horseradish eggs were the clear favorites, so this time around I made two large jars of each. While I didn’t deviate far from the original recipes, I did end up making some minor adjustments to both varieties. The mustard eggs got a little heat help from a heaping teaspoon of red pepper flakes, I subbed garlic Tabasco for the standard variety, and I added some onion powder to broaden the flavor a bit. The horseradish kind got a double-dose of its namesake and this time I added it after boiling the vinegar and dry ingredients. I think I lost some of the potency last time that way. Also, as it was in season this time around, each jar has some fresh dill. I minced, rather than crushed, the fresh garlic for this batch. I have no idea whether that’ll make much of a difference, but it was certainly easier. Besides, I needed a bunch of minced garlic for a new experiment.
Walked over to Paco’s around 9:00 am to start the process of loading the garden shed onto Peter’s flatbed trailer. Since Paco’s backyard is fenced in, we began by removing a section of chain-link fence. It came away in one piece except for the center pole, which we had to cut at the base. I emptied the shed and took out all the shelves to make it as light as possible, then jacked it up at the doorway so I could side a pipe under the frame. I wrapped a long chain around the base, cinched it up in front of the shed, and grabbed it with the blue ATV’s winch hook. After some initial hesitation, the shed starting rolling across the pipe. Paco and I alternated between positioning pipes and pushing and turning the shed to clear a tight corner between his garage and his kids’ playset. Once we got out in the open, I went back to winching from the ATV while Paco laid out pipes.
Once we had the shed lined up with the trailer, we had to switch tactics. I traded the ATV for my truck and hooked up to the trailer. With the fence out of the way, I could back a few feet further into the yard, clearing the house and giving us more room to work. We attached the trailer ramps and used my new come-along to slowly ratchet the shed up the trailer deck. It took some finesse, but we eventually got it positioned perfectly on the front of the trailer. I pulled out of Paco’s yard as carefully as possible but, because of the added weight of the shed, managed to scalp a 4 foot section of sod. At least it was easy to put back. I parked on the street and helped Paco put his fence back together. We kept his sawed-off fence pole in place with some rebar; you’d never know it had been modified. I backed the trailer into my driveway to finish securing the load and took a break for lunch.
Jake and I came up for a quick trip around 4:30 and rode the blue ATV over to Peter’s to ask to borrow his big flatbed trailer. The plan is to take it back to Oshkosh to transport a garden shed from Paco’s house. Peter was happy to lend it out. Jake and I ran the ATV back to the pole barn and drove my truck down the service road in Peter’s woods where he keeps the trailer parked. I let Jake sit in the front seat for this little excursion and he was really excited.
When we got to the trailer, Peter was there waiting to help us hook it up. I carefully and slowly wound my way back down the service road and pulled back into the yard to check the tire pressure and trailer lights. One of the rear lenses was broken and all the tires needed airing up, but everything was otherwise in great shape. As I was airing the tires, Peter stopped in with a replacement light assembly, so he must have been thinking about the same thing. He’s a great neighbor; I owe him a beer or several for all this.
Came up a little after 4:00 pm with a full truck bed of tools and building materials. Warmer and more humid than I expected. I wasn’t here five minutes and a UPS truck rolled up the driveway. The experiment worked! Amazon and UPS consider this a valid shipping address, so I got a new TV antenna for my trailer delivered right to Puckaway. I unloaded my tools, the new storm door for my trailer, and the salvaged countertops I got for free on craigslist and went hunting for a pole I could use to hang the antenna.
I found three pipes of varying diameters and built an antenna mast. I drilled through the two larger pipes about two feet from the end and ran bolts through. This let the next smaller pipe “stack” inside and netted me about 30 feet of overall height for the antenna. I temporarily strapped the pole to the side of the deck, hooked up the TV, and scanned for channels. I was able to pull CBS, ABC, and FOX from Madison. Not bad for $30. I’m sure I could get more channels if I could raise the antenna even further, but I had more pressing tasks ahead.
Jake and I arrived a little before 11:00 am after stopping at Menards to get some lumber. Hot and muggy, but beautifully sunny with a slight breeze. It was already 85°, so the first thing I did was fire up the A/C in the trailer. My goal for the day was to get the deck finished, but I wanted to be sure Jake didn’t overheat. He didn’t seem to mind the weather at all, though. We unloaded the dump truck and tractor that he brought up with us and he set off to explore the yard. He thought the new deck rail was really cool, and was even more excited when I told him he could help me finish it.
I’ve been feeling pretty motivated by how quickly the railing went up and was anxious to finish the deck. I had originally planned on using my miter saw and drill press to prep each spindle, but I opted to cut them in groups by section instead. With over 70 spindles total, this saved me quite a bit of time with roughly the same results.
I installed the main platform spindles in three groups, one for each side. I planned the spacing so that I’d only need a 2×4 to help me line them up: 1 1/2″ offset from the center posts of each run, and 3 1/2″ apart. I saved any spindles with warpage until the end of the runs. This made for a very even look, overall.
I had to dig to anchor the lower deck posts to the stair risers. I’m glad I buried the bottom of the risers rather than cut them down, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to secure the posts properly. This involved more root trimming with my sawzall for the left post, which was slow, sweaty work.
Came up at 6:30 and got things settled in the trailer. Turned on the A/C right away as it was 80° out with 90% humidity. Had to clean out the drain hole on the back of the unit as the fan was slinging water. I need to come up with a solution to protect that from the elements and leaves and whatnot while still letting it vent properly. I spent some time in the pole barn getting a workstation set up for cutting down the trailer door, the one project I’m absolutely determined to finish this weekend. Aside from looking much better, being able to latch and lock again, and doing a better job of insulating the trailer, I’m hoping this cuts off one more point of critter entry.
I installed the adapter I needed to finish the kitchen sink drain and tested everything out. I really appreciate being able to wash up inside—sure beats hanging out by the pump with all the mosquitoes. Dressed the bed with the clean sheets I brought up with me and did some general housekeeping. Spent the rest of the night lounging and watching TV. It’s going to be a busy weekend, so I might as well relax while I can. The new “ducting” on the A/C sure seems to help it circulate better; it got down to 70° in the trailer and the difference in humidity is immediately noticeable as soon as you go outside. In bed by 10:30.
The main trailer door was in bad shape.
It was actually the third door to be in bad shape. The first, the original door to the trailer, had peeled and rotted away from years of disuse and exposure to the elements thanks to both a lack of weather protection around the frame and the trailer having sat in the yard at a slight tilt for many years. The second door was a hollow-core interior door that fell apart almost immediately and never fit well into the existing frame. And the latest door was a hastily hung interior door from my house that couldn’t even latch. Gaps wide enough to fit a determined housecat existed along the top and bottom of the door frame. The new deck looked so nice that it made the door seem even worse by comparison, so it was time to give this project the attention it deserved.
The problem with mobile homes, especially older, smaller ones, is that pretty much everything is at a reduced dimension compared to normal construction. This saves space and weight, which are important for the “mobile” part of a mobile home. But it makes finding replacement materials and effecting proper repairs a little challenging. A standard rough opening for an exterior door is 82 1/2″ tall, minimum. The rough opening for the trailer is less than 79″. There are specialty mobile home catalogs and suppliers out there, but you certainly pay for the privilege of custom-fit parts. The cheapest exterior door assembly I found during my initial research was over $300 and it was pretty plain and flimsy looking. I knew Menards had steel exterior doors for around half that price, but at a standard height. Could I actually cut down a door like that?
Even in its incomplete state, the deck has become a welcome addition to the property. But there’s still plenty of work to be done on it; it’s hard to relax in one of the lounge chairs when you don’t know if you’re going to pitch backwards off the platform. It’s time to tackle the railing.
Once again, SketchUp was instrumental in planning and visualizing this project. Among other things, it helped me decide how to finish the rail cap corners. Joining them at a 45 degree angle is difficult to get right and invites later warping. Instead, I had them meet at right angles, but with notches cut in the long board where the corners meet. It’s a simple, clean look and compliments the two small 45 degree corner rail sections. All of the posts are attached from outside of the deck platform. This way, none of the square footage of the platform is lost by adding the rails and none of the planking needs to be cut to accommodate the posts. It’s also easier to clean up and would disassemble relatively easy should we ever need to move the deck.
When last we left our eggsperiment, the three test batches were sealed and sent to chill for a few weeks. Since then, I gathered a few brave souls to test our results. I think we have a hit on our hands. Three hits, in fact!
First, a few words on the process: nearly half of Part 1 was dedicated to following a method to “perfectly” boil eggs. I had never tried it before and didn’t know what to expect, but I’m really happy with how they all turned out. All of the yolks were creamy, not chalky, and none of the whites were too hard or rubbery. You could have the best recipe in the world and waste it on bad eggs, so it’s great not to have to worry about that.
Unexpectedly, we even managed to convert a few hesitant onlookers into pickled egg fans. Lyssa and Paco’s wife Ashley both enjoyed the mustard eggs especially. I solicited comments from Red and my coworker Matt which I’ve included below in their own words. For the others who have sampled these eggs, you’ll just have to trust me to relay their impressions. Also, while you’ll find plenty of extra goodies soaking in the jars alongside the eggs in each batch, I’m always a fan of more garnishes. I’ve included a suggested topping for each egg in the review section. It makes me feel classy, like some kind of egg sommelier!