Sunday, 22 November 2015

It doesn't matter what you know

It only matters what you do. With this project I was reminded once more of the difference between being around and helping someone do something; and actually doing it yourself. Although just because you don't know exactly how to do something including all the little trick, that doesn't that you can't do it or shouldn't have a go at it.

I recently installed our clothes line properly. Before the socket for it was just put in the dirt and packed a little. This meant that there wasn't much holding it straight up. To fix this at the time we just put some rocks and sticks against the base which kinda, sorta helped. It still lent over if you didn't load it evenly and didn't spin very well.

The solution? Use that dodgy old bag of rapid set concrete that's half open in the back shed and dig a hole that's actually deep enough. Believe it or not, it worked fine. Even in the absence of PPE, qualified people or even properly stored materials. It only matters what you decide to do.

The first thing I did was to dig a hole and actually check that it was going to be deep enough. I checked it a number of times just to be sure.
After I'd dug the hole to the required depth I looked at the bag of cement, back at the hole then back at the cement and decided it probably wouldn't all fit in that sized hole. So to ensure no wastage and also to help stabilise the block of cement in the ground. I "belled" out the bottom of the hole a little so that if you were to look at the cross section of the hole the bottom has an outward flare like a bell, rather than straight sides.

After I was happy with the hole I put some water in there, more than I needed planning to let it soak into the walls of the hole so it doesn't dry out while the cement sets. Unfortunately because it's been raining recently and the ground is nice and moist it didn't soak in very well so I probably had more water than I needed for the amount of cement. I think this is what cased some of the concerns I had later.

With the water not soaked into the walls I added the cement to the hole and started to mix it through with a shovel. This was a mistake. I should've put the socket in before I put the cement in which would've saved a bit of futzing around trying to get it deep enough in the cement. Also, with hindsight it may have been easier to just mix it up in a bucket with the correct amount of water, put the socket in, then pour the cement around it.

With the socket worked deep enough that it wouldn't be sticking up out of the ground I put the rest of the clothesline into the socket so that I could get it vertical. I don't have a spirit level so I just eyeballed it from a few directions. Then to make sure it stayed there while the cement set I put a few of the blocks that were holding it back around the base.

At this I left it overnight. Then when I came back the next afternoon to have a look at it I started to get a little concerned. The concrete hadn't set yet. Apparently this stuff takes more than the 15min it says on the packet. This could've been because it was old or just as likely because there was too much water and it was taking too long to dry out. So after that discovery I left it until the next day.

After the second day and it was firm, but not set I figured it probably wont set properly; but it will still hod as firm or firmer than rammed dirt. So because I mis-judged how big the hole was I filled it the rest of the way with dirt and rammed it down. I don't have any proper tools for ramming dirt so I just used a brick I had lying around from building the forge. This packed it in plenty nicely enough for my taste and with the dirt the clothesline became much more stable.

So now it's completed and I've even got a load on there at the moment that is only on one side so it's about as unbalanced as it will get and it hasn't swung to a low point or lent over. Looks like my eye is calibrated fairly well. 

So remember, just because you've never done something or even been shown how to. It doesn't mean you can't. Just remember what you need to finished product to be and be prepared to change the plan to get there if things don't happen how you'd expect.


P.s. Sorry about the bad photos. I had a shocker while taking those.

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