Category Archives: photographs

Dumper fixed (for the time being)

Written by stephen gale

Turned out the poor performance didn’t have anything to do with the engine – the right hand front brake was seized on!  Good job I didn’t go to the hassle of changing the diesel injector!

The brakes have now been sorted together with new oil, new oil filter, air filter and fuel filter. I am proud to say that I managed to do it all myself.  It seems to run a bit better although I do wonder if it was worth all that effort.

Despite its age, parts are readily available and I even managed to find a maintenance manual online.

We fixed the ceased brakes and then change the oil, oil filter, air filter and fuel filter.  It seems to run (and stop) a little better than when we first bought it.

We fixed the ceased brakes and then change the oil, oil filter, air filter and fuel filter. It seems to run (and stop) a little better than when we first bought it.

These are pretty easy machines to work and designed to be repaired in the field (pardon the pun!).

These are pretty easy machines to work and designed to be repaired in the field (pardon the pun!).

Christmas Eve 2013

Written by stephen gale

In contrast to last night’s storms, today has been very bright and sunny.  But cold – down to 3C.

Here’s a photo that we haven’t seen before.  If we ever sell the house, I would put money on the fact that the estate agent will take the photograph from here – it is beatiful rural view with no other properties in the background.

I haven't taken photographs from this angle before  - from the opposite side of the valley.  It was a gorgeous day today (Christmas Eve 2013) - cold but sunny - but I only had my Blackberry on me.  It will be worth re-visiting with a better camera.

I haven’t taken photographs from this angle before – from the opposite side of the valley. It was a gorgeous day today (Christmas Eve 2013) – cold but sunny – but I only had my Blackberry on me. It will be worth re-visiting with a better camera.

Rain and manhole covers

Written by stephen gale

Yesterday was a terrible day, weatherwise.  It rained for most of the day – according to my weather station around 10% of the rainfall that has fallen this year so far, fell yesterday.  It stopped (briefly) around 2pm.  This gave me an opportunity to pick up some exterior plywood to make up new covers for the manholes on the septic tank.

The existing manholes covers were made of wood and pretty rotten.  The one manhole cover protects a drop of around 11ft!  This is where the water from the septic target drains into the bottom field.  The hole is made up of reinforced concrete rings, but there aren’t any leg irons (metal foot hoops used for climbing out), so if you fell in, it would be difficult to get out.  The new covers are made of 18mm exterior ply, so should last a bit longer than the existing covers.  A coat of primer and gloss paint will also help.

Given the state of the existing wooden manhole covers, I have put some temporary fencing around the area.

Given the state of the existing wooden manhole covers, I have put some temporary fencing around the area.

This is the final tank in the system and this is where the waste water drains away into the bottom field.

This is the final tank in the system and this is where the waste water drains away into the bottom field. It is around 11ft deep!

Dry stone walling – Day 19

Written by stephen gale

It is difficult to believe but it has been over a month since we have done any dry stone walling.  The weather has been a major issue (you can’t find the stones under the snow!) as well as turning our attentions to stripping out the cottages ahead of the building work starting.

Today was a great day weather wise – the temperature hit a positively barmy 13C.  Although the wind was still cold, it was great to be working outside and only having to wear a t-shirt.  Hopefully, we have many more of these days to come. 

We spent most of the day building up the section of wall where we had already sorted out the foundations.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be get to the top of the wall ready of the coping stones (which seem in very short supply).

Some of the material that has come out of the cottages during the stripping out will be used in the walls.  Either in the foundations of the wall where they are out of sight (always a good place to lose the odd bricks) or in the wall itself (making sure no machined faces are on the outward face). 

There were two 70’s type stone fireplaces in both of the cottages and much of this material will end up in the wall.  I am spreading it throughout the wall so that it is not too noticeable.  However, we got a surprise today when we turned one of the pieces over – it turned out to be part of a gravestone.  I have no idea if this is a real gravestone or just a waste piece of stone. Either way, not quite what I was expecting to see a 70’s fireplace made out of!

  Reverse side of the 70's fireplace Dry stone walling - Day 19

Day 2 of reslating the outbuilding

Written by stephen gale

Yesterday, the roofing felt and laths were installed. Today, the slates are going back on.  We are replacing the occasional broken, or poor condition, slate with slates off the lean to.

Biggest ones at the bottom.  Smallest ones at the top.

Biggest ones at the bottom. Smallest ones at the top.

Dry stone walling – day 18

Written by stephen gale

Well, the weather has improved enough for us to be outdoors.  It was hovering just above freezing, but it didn’t notice too much as long as you kept moving!

We are still working on the wall in the orchard and are now using some of the stone that has been removed during the renovation.  Since the one side of the wall is higher than the other, the first five courses on the orchard side are actually underground.  This means that there is an opportunity to use any old stone in these courses as they won’t be seen.  This provides the opportunity to get rid of some of the stone that has been removed while renovating the smaller cottage.  This consists of concrete blocks, old bricks and the occasional patio slab. This is quicker to lay as the material is more uniform and has flatter edges.  This feels like a bit of a “cheat”, but since the material can’t been seen and it saves the stone for the rest of the wall, I can’t see why not.

We did remove some stone that made up the rather awful 1970’s fireplace in the smaller cottage.  This roughly matches some of the stone in the wall, so we have decide to use this.  It will be seen, but as long as none of the machined edges face out on the wall, I think they will blend in OK, particularly once they have weathered a bit.

Now we have removed the shed in the corner and some of the undergrowth, people who drive by can see us working on the wall.  This has led to numerous cryptic comments in the local pub.

Still working in the orchard.  You can just some a couple of pale grey bricks hidden at the bottom of the right hand side of the wall.  The first 5 courses on this side are hidden underground since this provides an opportunity to get rid of some of the material that we have removed.

Still working in the orchard. You can just some a couple of pale grey bricks hidden at the bottom of the right hand side of the wall. The first 5 courses on this side are hidden underground since this provides an opportunity to get rid of some of the material that we have removed.

Clearing out the orchard – Day 5

Written by stephen gale

With the last of the sheds gone from the orchard, we can now start to clear out the last patch of the orchard.  This is the triangular piece of land furthest away from the house.  It had become overgrown with holly as was as a very old (and largely rotten) alder tree.  The chainsaw and a set of croppers soon had this area cleared out.  The brambles that had grown throughout the dry stone wall were particularly time-consuming to remove.

The larger pieces of timber were cut into logs, the rest was put onto a bonfire on the site of the old shed.

It took most of the day to clear out this area, but now we can start to see the state of the dry stone.  Despite it’s condition, you can see that the it was never really straight!  We will rectify this as it gets rebuilt.  With all of the undergrowth gone, it will be much easier to mark out the position of the new wall.

With all the undergrowth gone, you can see the true state of the dry stone wall,

With all the undergrowth gone, you can see the true state of the dry stone wall,

With the shed now gone, it is time to finally clear out the last part of the orchard

With the shed now gone, it is time to finally clear out the last part of the orchard

Stripping out – the upstairs in the smaller cottage

Written by stephen gale

There was a stud partition on the end wall containing rockwool.  Since this end of the building faces onto the prevailing wind, I assume that there had had problems with either cold or damp (or both) penetrating this wall.  As soon as we stripped off the plasterboard, you could tell that it was damp.  Although the rockwool and the outer plasterboard were fine, the stone wall was damp to the touch.  Many years ago, it seems to have had a coat of black bitumen paint which had then been wall-papered over (many times).  There was even a football poster still pasted to the wall – Denis Law and Gordon Banks – looks like it is from the 1970’s.  It was damp, but still in one piece.

We took the last remnants of plasterboard over the main beams up stairs, we took the remaining ceilings down downstairs and then finally took up the chipboard floor upstairs.  It had been very poorly laid in the first place, but a plumber had then cut the boards to install central heating.  It was a complete mess.  It took longer than we thought to take it up, but less time that we thought to burn it on the bonfire!

Last job of the day was to remove as much of the pipework and wires for scrap and have a generally tidy up.

The stud work and the rockwool removed to reveail a rather damp end wall that had be painted (long ago) with black bitumen paint.

The stud work and the rockwool removed to reveal a rather damp end wall that had be painted (long ago) with black bitumen paint.

Football stars from the 1970s pasted to the wall behind the partition.

Football stars from the 1970s pasted to the wall behind the partition.

The floor has now be removed. Horrible tongue and groove chipboard that had been very badly treated by whoever put in the central heating.

The floor has now be removed. Horrible tongue and groove chipboard that had been very badly treated by whoever put in the central heating.

The wooden from the floor and the ceilings ends up on a bonfire at the end of the day.

The wooden from the floor and the ceilings ends up on a bonfire at the end of the day.

More stripping out

Written by stephen gale
Shower - the disabled seat went via Freecycle

Shower – the disabled seat went via Freecycle

We have spent the past couple of weekends stripping out one of the cottages.  The upstairs is now pretty much done in the smaller of the two cottages.  The bathroom was the only thing left upstairs and that was removed last weekend.  The bathroom had a disabled shower  and we were pleased that we managed to find the shower seat a new home.  This went very quickly via Freecycle (www.freecycle.net) as did a spare double bed and mattress.  I can see us using this as a method for getting rid of a lot of surplus stuff.

The flooring upstairs is tongue and groove chipboard and is in a terrible state – it hadn’t been laid very well in the first place and then a plumber seems to have hacked it about when installing the central heating.  I have a funny feeling that this is going to need to be taken up and replaced. However, we need to finish off removing everything upstairs before removing the flooring.

The bathroom itself had a built-in shower tray and once this was removed, there was a hole in the floor.  The shower appears to have leaked over time and the chipboard had rotted.  The wall tiles were not too much of a challenge and came off fairly easily – mostly a whole tile at a time.  Once the floor has been taken up, we will remove all of the pipework.

Existing bathroom - shower to picture right

Existing bathroom – shower to picture right

Just the bathroom now left upstairs

Just the bathroom now left upstairs

The bathroom now gone - partition removed.  Shower, toilet and basin in the skip.

The bathroom now gone – partition removed. Shower, toilet and basin in the skip.

The importance of standing back

Written by stephen gale

When building a dry stone wall, it is important to stand back and look at the work that has been completed.  It is often difficult to see potential issues when you are working right on top of the wall.  I have got into the habit of taking photographs at the end of each work day.  Often these photographs reveal issues that even standing back cannot reveal.

If you look at the top image, the far left hand edge of the coping stones (the ones on the top of the wall) you can see that the wall trends downwards.  This is more obvious if you look at the line of the wall directly underneath the coping stones.

The next image shows that this issue was corrected, but in the next section of the wall, the course of stones just underneath the coping stones now trends upwards.  In the bottom image you can see that this issue has been again corrected.  With a dry stone wall, it is relatively straightforward to strip off the coping stones and rebuild the wall and replace the coping stones.

So how do these errors occur?  Simply put, by not religiously following the line that has been set up.  On the other courses in the wall, you can deviate from the line of string knowing that this can be compensated for on subsequent courses.  However, on the final course (the one before putting on the coping stones), you have no such leeway and the line of the string must be following very carefully.

top line wall