Tuesday, March 28, 2023

4-Wheeled Friends to NewOldHouse

On it's surface, one would not think moving some cars from one house to another, especially when the move is less than 500 feet would warrant an entire post. Well, let's remember that Murphy's Law is always present and these are cars which have not moved maybe for months, maybe since last Summer.

Site Preparation
during site prep
Before I could move any more cars, I needed to set up a place for them to land, even temporarily. NewOldHouse doesn't really have a driveway other than a small concrete pad in front of the attached garage. A single car can fit on the pad, but if that car is any larger than a compact, the old-skool flip-up garage door would not open. Earlier in this NewOldHouse odyssey, ToyoTruck got stuck behind the house while we were spreading wood chips. So, absent a hard surface, and having a significant mud bog practically everywhere else, determining a viable spot posed it's own challenge.

Boo and I decided we would ignore the mud for a moment and consider where, ideally, the cars would sit. To reduce the tendency for the vehicles to sink into the ground, I measured, leveled and placed 4 larger patio blocks where the tires would go. Under the patio blocks, I added a thin layer of sand to reduce the risk of the block breaking. Last, to protect the underside of the older vehicles (Hapy, the 1972 VW camperbus, and Oliver, the 1987 MGB) I laid a tarp on the ground. This should reduce the moisture-effect which increases underside rust when you park on dirt.

To side-step the mud effect, we waited until we had a couple of dry days and moved the vehicles once it was clear that the ground was dry. And so the adventure begins.

GoRo Goes
I started with the car I thought would be the most troublesome: GoRo, the 2009 Audi A4. GoRo had a rough winter, like the rest of us. After one of the overnight freezes, the outer handle for the driver door broke. So, to get in, you need to either get in the passenger side and reach over or open the rear driver-side door and reach through. Either way, it is annoying, but workable. A couple of weeks later, the hood latch broke. Fortunately, it happened after it unlatched, but one should not drive with the hood unlatched for safety reasons and we don't want to latch the hood because then it's stuck closed. So, GoRo has sat for a couple of months waiting to get repair-attention around the move. While it sat, the battery ran down. I hooked up a trickle charger overnight the night before and then it started up the morning we wanted to move it. I moved GoRo into the street-adjacent spot next to the wood-chip driveway so once it is fixed it can easily come and go without interrupting the driveway flow. Our old friend Courtney, of MobilePDX, will be fixing the hood release and driver door latch so GoRo can be put back into regular service. I could do it, but I do not have the hours in the day to get it done remotely soon.

Hapy not Happy
The last time I drove Hapy, it was to Pizzario, a small wood-fired pizza place in downtown Hillsboro, to sit-in on a Wednesday-night jam. That was 2-November. If I remember correctly, he started and ran great, but inside was really cold. I contracted CoViD19 that night, so my memory of how he started is kind of fuzzy. Anyway, he had been sitting with a trickle charger on his battery so 4-1/2 months after he was last driven I expected him to start right up and we would have a heroic drive to NewOldHouse. Maybe we'd take a victory lap or pickup something to eat while we were savoring our success. Nope. Instead, his starter made a horrible loud grinding noise. I concluded that the starter failed, and the little gear in the starter was not protruding all the way into the bellhousing and therefore failing to mesh with the teeth on the flywheel. I was immediately reminded of when we moved into this house from the rental next door, and ended up selling 2Dot0 because moving it was just one too many things to manage. Obviously, we are not selling Hapy. Instead, I got AAA to put him on a flatbed for the 500 foot move. The driver was a champ and did his best to get Hapy close to his prepared spot, but overhead wires limited him. So, with a come-along and 15+ meters of chain, our friend John and I moved Hapy into place. I may try hitting the starter with a hammer a couple of times to see if that re-enables the starter, but I vaguely remember some after-run from the starter last Summer indicating that it was starting to die. More than likely, I bought a lower-grade starter as the replacement, and it just failed prematurely as cheap parts do. Even if the hammer-trick works, it would just be delaying the inevitable and he is in a good spot to replace the starter, so now that I've typed all that, I will probably just buy a replacement, higher quality, starter and swap it in.

Oliver Shifts
almost there
I have struggled with the idea of parking a convertible outside. After losing 4 canopies to wind and snow this winter, I fely my considerable fear was warranted. I moved forward with it for 2 reasons. First, I have no choice. We need to get out of the old house and the garage at NewOldHouse is full of kitchen cabinets. So, there is no room inside. Second, we have a neighbor around the corner who has parked his brand new Mazda Miata MX5 in his driveway all winter. His car is fine and arguably worth considerably more, at least in terms of replacement cost.

Similar to Hapy, Oliver has been on a trickle charger all winter, so I figured his battery was good and he would start up. At some point during the few days prior, someone had unplugged the trickle charger and his battery was completely flat when I went to move him. I put him on another charger, and put gas into his tank. The charger did not resolve his battery, and I had to replace it before turning the key wouldn't immediately flatten the battery. I got a group 24 Duralast battery from Autzone and learned that the old battery was actually a group 35. A group 35 is smaller, so the PO probably did that for easier install, but I have read that the group 35 does not have the same pop at start. I'm not sure that's actually true, but it is usually best to install the correct group battery for your car regardless of what the interweb experts say. Anyway, with the battery replaced and some gas in the tank, starting was still not immediate. The fuel I put in the tank needed to get pushed by the fuel pump up to the carb, and fill the bowl. I worked the butterfly at the carb to get some atomized fuel into the intake and with a billow of smoke he started up.

in place
I drove Oliver over the NewOldHouse, wishing his registration was updated so I could take a longer spin. He drove well with no noticeable exhaust, shifting easily. His throttle responded right away, implying the carb-leaning adjustments I did last summer to eliminate the bog worked. Perhaps he is ready for another run at OregonDEQ. Since he still has a leak under the windscreen and the rains have not yet left for the summer, that run has to wait. I parked Oliver next to Zed, behind the house. All 4 of his tires are on patio blocks set on top of a tarp. I covered him with a "Gold Shield 5L" cover from CarCover.com to keep him dry.

The picture on the right was taken before I put the cover on, obviously, but you can see the tarp on the ground and the patio blocks. Now that the cover is on, it drops down almost all the way to the ground so the tarp and blocks are mostly not visible. Since he was moved and covered, we have had rain (because, of course, it's western Oregon) and the cover kept Oliver dry and the cover did not appear to even look wet while it was raining. I'm not sure how that works.

That's it for today. While the effort to move these three was in some cases significant, and they all need some kind of repair, I am thrilled to have them home. Thanks, as always, for following along-

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Shop to ToolShed

Clearing the old (previously called "existing") house has lots of sub-topics. I think, for this blog, moving tools and parts from a 2-car garage into an 96 square foot shed might be most on-point of what's left for a targeted post. So, I cover that today. 

our humble beginning
We start with a sub-sized 2-car garage. I say "sub-sized" because a full-sized car could not reasonably park in either spot if you were also using that bay for any storage at all. The former owner had a BMW SUV parked in one bay, where we parked Oliver (1978 MGB). Otherwise that side of the garage was completely empty, including the back wall. The other bay was filled with shelving. The other bay was also where the laundry area, the furnace and the hot water heater were located. We set it up in a more standard way, with shelves along the side-walls, leveraged the laundry space in the same way and added some storage along the back wall nearest the door to the inside. So, basically, wall-to-wall shelving where some major appliance wasn't already located.

Facing the garage from the driveway, the bay on the right was filled with Oliver and shelving. The shelves he was parked up against were used to store recreational equipment (skiis, camping gear, eg) and household spares (light bulbs, batteries, paper products, eg). Oliver barely fit and access to the shelving was accomplished by shimmying sideways along Oliver's passenger side. His rear bumper was less than an inch from the garage door and there was, maybe, a meter and a half (5 feet) from his front bumper to the garage back wall, and the entrance to the house. We had a small storage cabinet there which jutted out, maybe 8 inches from the wall to further constrain passage, but a person carrying a laundry basket could easily pass through without touching anything. An MGB is not exactly a huge car, measuring in at just over 4 meters (13 feet) so a more typical car could prevent door access. A VW bus, for example, is almost 4.5 meters (15 feet), which may have been too long to park there. When you add a spare tire to the nose, like Hapy (1972 VW camperbus) has, you lose another half a foot, so Hapy stayed outside. Anyway, the non-car-ish contents of the shelving next to Oliver are eventually routing to the NewOldHouse garage, once that garage is cleared of the new-to-us kitchen cabinets earmarked for the kitchen rebuild. So, we got creative for temporary storage, putting that stuff into the NewOldHouse attic.

a "before" image
In the other garage bay, I had all of my car/bus/truck parts and my tools. These things were relatively well organized until the furnace was replaced last Summer. Okay, maybe that's being a little generous... it was semi-organized chaos, but I knew where everything was. The furnace installers needed access behind a shelving unit full of parts so they just moved things around, putting things in a heap until they could do what they wanted. This left a huge mess in the middle of the walkway from the rear of the garage to the driveway. On top of that mess, a handyman we hired plopped another mess of scrap wood and drywall. So, before I could move anything, I had to clean up and reorganize a little bit. Remaining Agile, I dealt with just enough for tools and parts to be moved, leaving a larger organizational effort to happen at the ToolShed.

Ah, the ToolShed. In my last post about the ToolShed, I had just dropped all of Zed's interior onto the floor (see "before" image on the right). Those items needed to be sorted and, as much as possible, stored on the mezzanine before anything new arrived. Well, as I was preparing for this, we had a freak snowstorm drop 4+ inches of snow. The snow and rain and melting took out my last remaining canopies, leaving considerable wreckage, and blocking both the doors to the shed and the egress from the driveway to the shed. So, the daisy-chain of mess grew by one more.

Zed parts up, one shelf in
On a Saturday morning, I disassembled the canopies and moved as much of Zed's interior up onto the mezzanine as I could fit. I also took apart the table that I had set inside the doorway for a temporary work table. The table went into the demo-in-process kitchen and the stuff that had sat upon it got piled on the side. Now, I could consider a shelving solution.

The side walls of the shed are just shy of 12 feet long and less than 7 feet high before the ceiling pitch starts. The mezzanine juts out 4 feet from the rear wall. With the mezzanine location, it does not make sense to put shelving all the way to the rear wall. Besides, the standard shelving system is 4 feet wide, and the interior of the shed is just shy of 12 feet so you can't fit 3 shelves side-by-side anyway. So, my plan became setting 2 shelves along the wall width-wide and a third shelving unit turned sideways nearest the rear wall. After measuring it out, I was left with over 3 feet of space behind the turned shelf. Into that space, I set the old Westfalia closet, and used it to protect Zed's window glass between the closet and the rear wall. Ultimately, I will probably share that closet with someone else who will put it to use, but for now, it is helping protect Zed's glass. If you're local, and you will use it, please message me.

Moving Shelves and Parts
end of day 2
That afternoon, I started moving things. My process was fairly obvious, and repeated a few times: empty a shelving unit into large plastic tubs, disassemble the shelving unit, move the shelving and the tubs, assemble the shelves, and reload them with the tub contents. This cycle took a couple of hours per shelving unit and lasted the rest of that Saturday and all of the following day. 

Once the shelves and their contents were moved, I shifted to the heaps of stuff left by the HVAC folks, the handyman, and, honestly, me. I ran out of energy, daylight and give-a-crap before I got all of the remaining stuff out that day. As you can probably see in the images, it was raining (of course, it's Oregon) by the end so I left wet footprints as I went. Still, you can see I had quite a bit of available shelf-space after moving over 80% of the stuff. I returned after work the following few days to move things like the car jacks, ramps, jack-stands, random larger car parts, sound absorption materials, etc so all that remained were my rolling tool cabinets, and their contents. It was this 20% that unraveled the organize-as-we-go model I had been following. These things, unfortunately, ended up where the tool cabinets are intended to go.

Moving Tool Cabinets
The documentation for the tool cabinets say to empty the cabinet before rolling it. I don't know how much people actually follow that advice when you're moving it around your garage, but I followed it to move the larger one to NewOldHouse. I do not have a liftgate nor a very low-floor trailer. Even if I did, the mud bog in the backyard of NewOldHouse prevents driving anything back there. We already got ToyoTruck stuck when spreading bark chips, requiring a visit from AAA to pluck him out. A truck hauling a tool cabinet would definitely get stuck. So, I started by emptying the cabinets into a pair of large blue tubs, like you can see in the various pictures. These buggers got so heavy, I needed to use a wheelbarrow to move each tub from the ToyoTruck in the driveway back to the ToolShed.

Once the tools were moved, we considered the remaining space in the ToolShed and how overgrown the assortment of to-be-shelved pile had become. Boo and I considered that the organization would take away from our get-out-that-house velocity. So, we decided that the tool cabinets would temporarily live in the attached garage. We just had to move them. The red-rollie is an older Kennedy upper/lower cabinet. I moved the upper cabinet with the large blue tubs. I use the lower for holding my larger power tools, and electrical stuff. Since that cabinet is so much lighter, I did not empty it, we just pushed it. The larger black cabinet is the one I bought a couple of years ago (see $50 Tool Chest). It's a Harbor Freight / US General 44" that weighs 300 pounds when empty. I had pretty much all of my hand tools usually stored there (wrenches, sockets, body hammer/dollies, tap/die kit, etc) and I still had a couple of empty drawers.

cabinets at NewOldHouse
To get the cabinets to NewOldHouse, we hand-rolled them down the street to the end of the NewOldHouse dirt driveway. That's our friend John pushing red rollie in the picture above-right. We were blessed with 2 dry days, and did this move mid-day on the 2nd dry day. We brought some wood planks with us, strapped to the top of the 44 with a plan to lay them on the driveway for ramps to run the cabinets. We figured we would try simply running without the ramps first... and we made it without incident. I was super-concerned about moving these cabinets, so the fact that they moved so easy and fast was a great surprise.

Once the cabinets were moved, everything tool or car/truck/bus part related had been solved for. The garage still had camping gear and other not-car stuff, I'll touch on that as part of a larger "we're out" post once we're actually all the way out. Of course, the cars themselves remain. Each of them presented their own challenge to move, so I'll tell those adventures in the next post. 

Thanks so much for following along, and staying tuned during this move. I can't really describe how difficult this has been other than list out the challenges: no help from my family; little help from friends and Boo's family; my folks stuff was added increasing the overall amount of stuff we needed to resolve; my father died; we moved my mom into assisted living; both Boo and I are suffering at least one arm with tennis elbow; record-setting cold/wet winter; our only vehicle to move our things is an open 6-foot bedded pickup truck.... and, of course, the NewOldHouse hadn't a bathroom nor kitchen (still hasn't a kitchen). These are not complaints, rather, I am reminding myself that our success in light of these barriers is all the more worth celebrating. We are very close to being done, and then life will start to return to normal.

Again, thanks, as always, for following along-

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

We're In

We are now sleeping at NewOldHouse, so this post will effectively serve as a mile-marker, if you will. From the pictures, you can see boxes in the backgrounds and the walls do not have decorations yet. That will come.

Push Becomes Pull
In my last post, I described our effort to move as working from the edges in towards the center. For us, life in our home has 2 centers: the main living space (kitchen / eating nook / den) and the master bedroom suite (bed and bath). So, we were focused on solving for all the other spaces: the ShedRoom, my work-from-home office, the extra bedroom, the garage, etc. That was working, but we didn't feel like we were making sufficient progress towards actually living at NewOldHouse. We are paying to heat and illuminate 2 houses on top of 2 mortgages. In the Pacific NorthWest, there is a great deal of dark to offset and this winter has been relatively typical but with more cold stretches mixed with wet ones than usual. We felt that if we could significantly reduce the more expensive (read: larger) house quickly, we could save some pennies while we get moved faster. We decided that continuing to push things from our existing home to NewOldHouse had reached its useful end and we needed to change it up.

We started by relocating my daily work-from-home into the NewOldHouse. Most of my things were already there, I just had been working with a laptop on my lap at the existing house, but that had been contributing to the inertia problem. So, I started a morning walking-commute to NewOldHouse to work.

office evolving
Rather than continue with the edges, we encircled our second center (master bedroom), moved it and all of our clothes over to NewOldHouse. Just like that, we are sleeping there... or here. This shift now allows us to spend those small hours before bedtime doing tweaks around NewOldHouse rather than at the existing house, and the shift is showing dividends. After work, we can collect a bunch of things and haul them to NewOldHouse to be distributed before we turn in or the following morning while shuffling around with coffee. While the overall acts really are not that different, changing from pushing things out of existing house to pulling things into NewOldHouse has kick-started our efforts. There is just something about doing the push in the cold, wet and dark that made it much more difficult than the pull. I just can't explain it, but I am seeing the difference play out.

Bathroom Improves
Yeay bathroom!
The bathroom had taken major steps forward (toilet and sink functional) only to sit in a partially completed state (shower not functional) for a couple of weeks. That time wasn't wasted, of course. It was just spent on boxing things or sorting belongings (both ours and my folks) at the existing house. With the push-pull shift, the bathroom game is back on. Boo deep-cleaned that old tub and the walls, as well as fixed a bunch of the plaster. Once the plaster was set, I caulked everything (tub to surround, tub to floor, fixtures, etc). To get us operational, Boo installed one of those spring-loaded shower curtain-rods that hold to the walls by outward force rather than with screws. We know we have more plaster finishing, painting and maybe some tile-work before the bathroom is complete, but in our Agile way, this gets us to a minimum viable space. So, until we temporarily suspend bathing for tile or paint, we moved bathing to NewOldHouse. My current thinking is to wait until it's warm out before we restart. When I consider how far this bathroom has already evolved, this image is a major milestone.

Camp Kitchen
To support daily living at NewOldHouse, or anyplace for that matter, you need a way to store and prepare food. Even the smallest economy apartments have something. NewOldHouse has nothing. When we bought this place the kitchen was in mid-demo, and it was so horrible there was no way anyone could reuse any of it without jeopardizing their health. So, we continued the demo and cleaned as much as we could of what remained. Once the upper cabinets were down, the remaining appliances removed and the surfaces cleaned, we stopped the demo. Other priorities had arisen, so the "kitchen" was left in a semi-demolished state. Fast forward a few months, and we want to shift our daily lives into NewOldHouse... so we need a temporary kitchen.

temporary kitchen
We started with the most basic of the basic: a means to make hot water, a pour-over coffee contraption and instant oatmeal. With this, we had morning meal addressed. To this, we added granola bars and other individually wrapped foods to bridge the middle of the day. For dinners, we got go-food for the first couple of days, but that is expensive when done regularly. So, we quickly added more storage capacity by reusing one bookcase for dry-goods and another for dishes. Within a kitchen cart, we are storing a variety of pans, a hot plate, a slow cooker, a rice cooker and an electric skillet. A slow cooker and a rice cooker can support many meals for super cheap.

With food storage and preparation mostly solved, we are left with one last challenge: a sink. The old kitchen sink was disconnected during the demo. It had a rather unpleasant garbage disposal so it had to go with the rest of the unusables. The sink itself is fine and we may find a purpose for it in the future, but for today, there is no sink. Our solution for sourcing water is to fill and store pitchers of water from the sink in the connected garage. We call it "TheWell". The other need for a sink is to clean dishes. We could wash them in TheWell, but the garage is unheated, and this winter has been particularly cold and unpleasant. So, leaning over a concrete sink in a 35*F garage doing dishes sounded a bit to much. So, until the weather warms up into the 40's (mid single -digit *C), we will be doing the dishes in the tub with plastic washtubs.

Schmidty and Tuukka
Tuukka watches the new street
At some point in your move, you have to consider the timing of moving your pets. In our case it's our cat, Schmidty, named after a Vet who we love dearly and our dog, Tuukka, named after the Boston Bruins goalie. Like all animals, they did not understand what was going on, and they grew nervous as they watched belongings moving around, and disappearing from home. We brought Tuukka with us over to NewOldHouse starting very early in the process, like, once it was clean enough that we would not be concerned about him stepping on something that he would then lick off his paws. He did not like it for the first few weeks, and it wasn't until we started bringing soft things for him to sit on that we realized it was sitting/lying on the hard floors that bothered him. He adjusted fairly quickly once some of the softer chairs and a couch we added.

Schmidty hides
Schmidty was a completely different matter. He would follow us as we walked to NewOldHouse, and would walk the perimeter, but would absolutely NOT accept being brought inside. This persisted for months. Finally, after we had moved pretty much all of the furniture that was going to NewOldHouse, we put him into a carrier, collected his belongings and hauled him (howling) to NewOldHouse. He hid under our bed and then under my nightstand (picture on the right) for a couple of days. Boo and I had both read that it is best to keep your indoor/outdoor cats inside for at least a few days for them to acclimate to the new space. They need to have their home/center redefined before they go back outside or they will become disoriented and could get lost. After a couple of weeks, Schmidty still had not gone outside. I think part of that is the cold wet weather, which he doesn't like. This past weekend he finally explored outside for the first time. After a couple of short trips out and back in, he is settling into a pattern of going outside. Of course, yesterday, we found him howling to get let in... at "existing house". So, some learning remains. Once inside, it seems both of the animals like NewOldHouse at least as much as the old one, based on their behaviors.


The funny thing about living Agile is that you do not often get the satisfaction of a big bang or finish line. Things evolve and evolve and eventually you are in a better space, closer to your goal. Every once in a while, there are moments when a significant threshold is crossed. The first night we slept at NewOldHouse with our pets was one of them. I clearly remember the feeling of turning the thermostat at existing house down to 60*F (to protect your house, don't let the temperature fall below the dewpoint) as we exited to live at NewOldHouse. We have passed an important line, but there remains significant work to do.

As I said at the top, this post serves as a milepost of sorts for us. Of course, the kitchen is still in mid-demo. We still have many belongings at the other house, including Hapy, Oliver and a garage full of stuff. There are lots of things which still need to be done on both ends, but we will be doing those things from NewOldHouse from here-on, and that is a significant difference.

That's it for now. Thanks, as always, for following along-