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Trailer Deck Part 3: Final Assembly

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.

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Log: July 24-26, 2015

Friday

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.

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Custom Cut Steel Entry Door

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?

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Trailer Deck Part 2: The Railing

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.

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Pickled Eggs Part 2: The Results

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!

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Log: July 6 and 7, 2015

Monday

Came up a little before 8pm with a tarped load in some intermittently heavy rain. Backed the truck into the pole barn and unloaded the woodworking tools and hardwood pieces I picked up after my last trip up. It’s nice having all of that out of the Oshkosh garage, and it’s really nice being able to say I “backed the truck into the pole barn.” Up until a few years ago, that statement would be describing an accident.

Before it got too dark, I noticed how much new-growth grass we had this year in the area between the driveway entrance and pole barn. It’s nice to see the yard reestablishing itself.

The rain really started pouring as I finished wrestling down the last drill and sander from the truck bed. I need to put a small section of rain gutter above the pole barn entry door. It’s like looking out from behind a waterfall. I finished unloading the tools I brought up and the supplies from Menards for repairing the outdoor outlet for the pole barn. My first setup didn’t stand up to winter very well, so this time I got the same type of PVC box and conduit I used for all the other outdoor outlets. I installed this during breaks in the rain, but still need to wire it back in.

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Log: June 12-14, 2015

Friday

IMG_20150612_185836Came up a little after 6pm with Jake. This will be his first overnight trip to Puckaway, and he’s pretty excited. He slept most of the way up, so I got him situated in my trailer with the Happy Meal I picked up in Ripon on the way. Didn’t take him long to finish, and he was ready to go. We got his work gloves on and gathered up all of his trucks and tractors to play in the yard while I unloaded the truck. Clear skies and upper 60s. Mosquitoes are out, but not terrible. Opened up the trailer windows and turned on the fans to circulate some fresh air and found room in the fridge for the dozens of Gatorade and water bottles I brought up.

IMG_20150612_201050Jake wanted a four wheeler ride, so we took the blue ATV through the short marsh trails and climbed dad’s deer stand. We watched some jets doing maneuvers overhead for a while, which he got a big kick out of. It was approaching 8:00 and I wanted to make a quick run to town before it got too late so we made our way down and parked the ATV. Jake handles ladder climbing really well. On our way in to town, I stopped to get a better look at something huge on the side of the road. Big ol’ snapping turtle. Once I explained that it wouldn’t bite him just for looking at it, Jake came out of the truck to check it out, too. He thought it looked grumpy and dirty and was glad it didn’t want to bite us. Satisfied with our nature encounter, we drove on to Piggly Wiggly and the Dollar General to get some snacks and supplies. I knew we weren’t going to get out of the last store without a toy of some kind, so Jake spent the ride home checking out his new Hot Wheels.

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The View from Above

Eye in the Sky – The Alan Parsons Project

Thanks to satellite/aerial imagery, it’s easier than ever to see how things are progressing at Puckaway. I’ve collected a few different pictures and found an image slider plugin to use for them. It’s pretty cool.

Bing Maps vs Google Maps

The two heavy hitters in free online aerial photography really show how much the land changes throughout the course of the year. I couldn’t find exact dates, but I think the Bing image is from the summer of 2013 or 2014 and the Google one is from fall of 2014. The marsh ATV trail is well-established now, as both pictures show, and with the Google image you can see the yard pretty clearly.

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Log: June 9, 2015

Came up for a lawn maintenance trip around 4:30. Upper 80s and sunny, but at least it isn’t humid. Grass is knee high in areas I cut earlier this year, and waist high everywhere else. I brought the mulching blades for the new mower; this will be a good test for them. I hopped on the green ATV and did a quick perimeter check for any storm damage from the weekend. Nothing new by us, but the Illinois neighbors have a sizeable tree branch down in their front yard. Not that anyone’s been there to notice. I started down the smaller marsh trail loop, once again overgrown, and noticed what looked like a giant ant hill. I slowed down as I approached it to get a better look and was only a few feet from it when it got up and flew away. Turkey. Big one. Scared the hell out of me. Didn’t look like it had a nest or anything there; I think it was just trying to stay cool. It eyeballed me from twenty feet away for a while before strutting off into the woods. I don’t ever remember seeing as many turkeys around up here as I have in the last year.

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Log: May 15-17, 2015

Friday

Rolled in around 11:00 am with a new riding mower on the back of the truck. It’s an early-2000s Sabre (budget John Deere) model with a 48″ deck. Dad bought it from Linda and Dennis now that they’ve sold their house in Campbellsport. I had taken it home, washed it up, and given it a tune-up. I was also going to get new mulching blades for it but ended up ordering the wrong fitment; I’ll have to bring them up another time. The mower itself is in great shape but the bagging accessories look like they’ve been through hell and back. The bag unit itself is completely unsalvageable and the chute and blower assembly will require a lot of creative patching to get up and running again. But at least it cuts. I used the ATV ramps to unload the mower and decided to try it out by trimming the areas of the yard I had mowed/mulched last month. Even with dull, worn blades, it made quick work of cutting. I even tried a few areas with a lot of leaves and it never bogged down once. I can only imagine how well it’ll do when it’s got proper, sharp, mulching blades.

I was just finishing up cutting around 12:45 when Red and Gunner pulled in, trailer in tow. Red’s mission this weekend is to gather up the aluminum cans he stored here several years back and cash them in. It didn’t take Gunner long to go into “Puckaway mode” and start sprinting huge laps around the yard. He’ll sleep well.

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