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Finished Deck

Finished Deck

Remember that time I built a massive deck in the back yard?

Well, I just realised that even though I had the pictures, I didn’t actually upload the final photos!

So here they are….

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I think it turned out alright. 🙂

It’s been a few years since we sold the place with this deck and we still kind of miss it. I wonder what the current owners have done with the back yard? Hopefully it still looks the same.

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Posted by on October 15, 2015 in Decking [COMPLETE], Home Renovations

 

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Cupboard under the stairs

Cupboard under the stairs

In the house we renovated there was a large cavity under the staircase that I filled with a storage cupboard.

The space wouldn’t be used because it was narrow and deep, so I drew up some plans and built a giant cupboard into the space under the stairs. It had two rear facing doors with tall cupboards and three large doors that opened out to reveal shelves.

The end cupboard was great for ironing boards and tall items. We put boxes into the shelves to add even more storage room. The first cupboard was quite small, but was enough to house the wi-fi router and board games.

The cupboard was built to fit into the space as much as possible, but still to have room to display items on the top. It was painted the same colour as the wall to ensure it blended in with the room. Carpet was then laid around the cupboard and it became a hidden feature of the room.

It was made out of very thick mdf boards and then painted a dark chocolate brown in the inside, but the same colour as the wall on the outside.

Overall it gave the small townhouse a new level storage that it previously lacked while utilising the wasted space that was currently there.

Here are some pictures of the finished product.

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Posted by on June 12, 2015 in Home Renovations

 

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Intercooler install – Removing the bumper

Intercooler install – Removing the bumper

This is an photo journey of my installation of a new intercooler in my Saab 9-3 (1999, RHD). The standard one makes the air flow back and forth in the intercooler, but I’m installing a bigger cross flow intercooler to cool the intake air and to increase the flow of air to the engine.

To install the new intercooler, the old intercooler needs to be removed and for that to happen, the bumper needs to come off. This section of the install will just focus on the bumper removal.

This is how the car looks at the start. You’ll need to have the bonnet (hood) up so that you can get into the engine bay.

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The next two pictures show the piping going to the intercooler (not very clearly).

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When I’m working on the car like this, I always have my ipad open and handy with a tutorial ready to go. It makes things a lot easier.

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The first part to come off is the front grill. There are two clips at the top of it that hold it on. The clips pinch together and then you can lift the grill off.

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From the top looking down at the right hand side of the car (facing it), you can the screw that holds the right side front light assembly.

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Remove the screw and then light assembly pulls forward.

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Pinch the sides of the clip together to release the whole unit and put it aside.

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Next is the actual headlight. Looking from the top down, you can see the two screws holding in the top of the light. Remove these screws.

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Once those two are out, there is a third screw on a metal bracket on the side of the unit. Undo this screw and pull the light forward.

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Once pulled out, undo the clips holding the wiring to the light.

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My bumper has driving lights and therefore I’ll need to unplug them before taking the bumper off. The following shot is the plug from the bottom, looking up.

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The next wire to unplug is the temperature sensor in the bumper itself. 

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It disconnects easily by pulling the clip out.

 

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Once all the electronics have been removed, the bumper is only held on with two large bolts. These are on either side of the radiator, located on the metal frame of the bumper.

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Remove these bolts.

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I also have a bit of a body kit thing – like a skirt that goes into the bumper. It has a screw holding it to the car, so that needs to be undone. There is also one on the bottom (photo looking up from the ground) that needs to be removed.

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Once all the above have been removed, the bumper can now be pulled forward from the car evenly.

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Planting Clivias

Planting Clivias

Now that all the boards are finished it’s time to pretty up the backyard a bit, starting with adding a little bit of greenery.

When I first cleared out the gardens (way before construction of the frame for the deck) I kept all the plants I removed and put them in pots. This turned out to be a great idea as I had a lot of plants available to green up the place without having to buy any! Besides, the ones that survived in pots for a long time turned out to be the most hardy.

One of the plants that I had a lot of was clivias. They are a fairly small plant with large green leaves and pretty orange flowers. They also have berry looking seeds that add to the colour and appearance. You can find out more about them at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clivia

Before planting them I had to get the garden bed ready. As you may have noticed from my previous post, I had a half buried coppers log (treated pine log) to form the border of the pavers. I wanted to freshen this up a little so I removed the log and cast it aside here’s a picture of what it looks like (and where it ended up is a secret…)

Anyway, with that gone I decided to put a spare length of decking board as the border to hold the pavers and to hold the dirt back. You’ll see it in future photos, but here’s a close up of how it worked out. I also had a lot of containers holding dirt and used the dirt to fill in the area a bit.

A word about keeping dirt. Worms are awesome natural ways to add fertilizer and to aerate the soil, making it a fantastic start for replanted plants. To encourage worms going through the soil, I filled old pots with dirt that had various bits of natural detritus (like leaves and roots and sticks). The worms enter through the drainage holes of the pot and move through the soil eating the debris and adding fertilizer. It’s a good idea to put a layer of leaves and sticks on top of the pots to keep the moisture in and to provide extra food for the worms.

Once the bed was bordered and topped up with soil, it was time to plant the clivias. I didn’t have much room (width-wise) and wanted to make it look as full as possible. I therefore opted for a trench-style planting. Basically I dug a trench through the middle of the garden bed and then placed the clivias in the middle of the trench.

To explain the best way to plant clivias, I’ll go through step by step how to remove them from the pots. The best thing about clivias is that if you put one in a pot, it will grow other shoots which then grow into mature plants in the same pot. I ended up having sometimes 5 or 6 clivias in the one pot! So because I had left these in pots for some time, they looked pretty haggard due to leaves and sticks falling from them out of a nearby tree as well as weeds taking root in the pot.

The first step was to remove all of the unwanted stuff in the pot to clean it up a bit. The leaves and weeds can be kept aside and either used in compost or use it to make a nice leaf litter for a mulch.

Much better! Now the next step is to remove it from the pot. For this step you can’t be gentle, you’ve just got to shake the pot until the whole thing falls out. Ideally, shake it in a horizontal way so the plant comes out without damaging the leaves too much. If it’s hard to come out, tap the bottom of the pot to loosen it away from the pot.

You can see that the plants were becoming quite root bound – that is filling the pot with roots instead of dirt. The best thing you can do to prepare for replanting it to remove a lot of the roots. They will grow back quickly, though so don’t worry too much. My theory is that plants distribute energy in growth equally to their leaves and roots. If the roots are damaged or if there isn’t enough water, the plant concentrates on the roots more than the leaves. When you replant, you want the clivia to concentrate on building new roots to become more solid in the ground. Therefore, if you get rid of some of the roots, the plant will put all it’s energy into making itself more solid in it’s new environment. To do this, just grab a shovel and chop at it. Keep the excess roots and dirt and put them in a pot to let the worms do their magic. They love clivia roots, by the way.

Although this looks butchered, the root ball size here is more than enough to start the planting. I guess the root ball itself is about the size of your fist. If there are multiple plants in the one pot, just get the blade of the shovel in there and separate them at the roots. Then cut each one back to a similar sized root ball and plant them as individual plants. You can then put them straight into the trench we dug earlier and then cover them with dirt.

Just continue doing this until the trench if filled. As I said earlier, I planted them quite close together to give it a bushy look. If you plant them further apart, they will grow over time to fill up the bed. Don’t forget that once you have put them all in to give them a really good water and then stand back and admire your handy work. You can sprinkle some slow release fertilizer through the bed if you wish (like Osmocote) but in my case, the worms helped me with that for free!

 

All that’s left now is to clean up and move onto the next section of the garden (to the left in this picture), but that’s another blog post. 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Decking [COMPLETE]

 

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Padding the bag

Padding the bag

Now that the material is cut for the inside and outside of each face of the bag, the next step is to put the padding in the middle and sew each panel up, ready for assembly. The padding I used is in the picture below, and I used two layers in each panel. The padding was fairly cheap – I think around $15, from memory.

So the first step is to cut the padding out. This doesn’t have to be too exact as the padding is very expandable and moves around a fair bit. To do this, I lay the padding down on the table – two layers – and then put the inner material on top of it to get the shape.

I then used my sharp scissors to cut around the shape.

Once that’s done, flip the whole thing over and lay the outer material for the panel on top of it to make a material, padding, padding, material sandwich.

Next I need to hold the layers in place while I sew them together. I used pins to do this and made sure the padding was right at the edge of the panel. This way, when sewn, the padding shouldn’t move around at all.

Putting the pins in at the angle shown means that you can sew over them easily and then remove them once the sewing is done. Continue doing this the whole way around the panel ready to sew. In the picture below, I use many more pins than I did for the other panels, but you only really need to put in enough pins to hold it all together. It doesn’t have to be perfect either, it’s only to hold it while it’s being sewn.

Once you have all the pins in place, it’s time to hit the sewing machine. Essentially, it’s just a matter of sewing right around the edge of the panel to hold it all together. Since I left some extra room around the poweriser when I traced the outline, I’ve chosen to sew in about the width of the foot on the sewing machine. I just used a straight stitch to hold it together as each panel will be sewn again later and that will add strength then.

Sew all the way around the panel and when you’re finished, remove the pins and cut off any threads that are hanging around. The finished product should look like this.

Once that’s done, it’s a good idea to quickly test and make sure that the poweriser still fits in there. The more testing the better, otherwise you may find a problem way too late to fix it.

Yep, we’re all good. Now to repeat another three times.

And then when that’s done, a little more testing…

Perfect! Now, I just need to make the sides of the bag and it’s almost ready to be sewn together. Stay tuned to the next exciting blog! 🙂

 

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Balcony Boards

Balcony Boards

Now that the side boards are done near the steps and the capping and frame are in place for the boards under the balcony, the only thing left to do is to put the boards up.

I had a big advantage with most of the deck in that my brother-in-law, Jake, gave me quite a lot of help. Two sets of hands are so much better than one and I do suggest if you’re doing any sort of decking that you get an extra pair.

To compensate for being able to get someone to hold the other end, I had to use clamps to hold the board instead. I found the easiest way to do this was to clamp things under the board on the frame holding them up, but not necessarily in place. This way I could put one screw in and then do the rest fairly easily. Here’s a picture of how I set up the clamps.

As you can see from the next picture, I also made sure the boards butted up against the side part to hold that whole frame in. Once in place, it is impossible for the side frame to move and everything fits together nicely. The lines of the boards don’t match up perfectly, but I found that to be more of a feature than a problem.

I just kept adding boards in exactly the same way each time until I reached the ground. The last board, in fact resting on the ground in a few places. I wasn’t too concerned about being exactly on the ground the whole way because I wanted to make sure that if some small creature got in, it could also get out.

This left a large gap in one area, but the gap was covered near the fence. This meant that I needed to do a shorter board to finish it off. Here’s the gap.

Once I put the last board on, all that is left is to put some extra dirt in the ground and plant some cliveas in front of the boards to make it look nice. Below is the finished pic before I started on the garden bit.

And with that, I packed up. Next post, the garden!

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Decking [COMPLETE]

 

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More on the poweriser bag

More on the poweriser bag

Last post I ended with the outside material cut for the poweriser bag. Next we need to do the inside material for the bag.

Because no one is actually going to see the inside very clearly, I decided to use some material that I had left lying around from other projects. It’s not bad material, it’s thick enough and does have a pattern, however some of it is not big enough for the whole size of the bag. This means I may need to cut it and sew together parts to make it big enough.

For the parts that are big enough, it’s just a matter of getting one of the outer pieces and lying it on top of the material and cutting around it. If it isn’t big enough the first step is similar. Lie the largest piece down on the table and then cover it with the outer material.

 

Then cut around the parts that are over hanging to be able to make as much of the shape as you can. Once you’ve got the first part of the shape, the next step is to find another piece that’s going to fit in the gap. When you place it on the table, over lap the old piece with the new piece as below…

 

Lay the outer material down again and cut around the edges so that the new piece also is trimmed to the right size.

Once this is done, we’re ready to sew the two pieces together to make the whole thing like one piece of material. Remove the outer material altogether and any scraps let over from cutting.

As you can see above, the next step is to put pins through the two pieces where they overlap so that we can then lift the piece of material up and take it to the sewing machine to join then together.

Once on the sewing machine, it’s just a matter of sewing along the edge of the join with a wide zig zag stitch to ensure that the two pieces are held together. Ideally, we want to over lap the stitch a little so the fabric doesn’t fray. To make sure the join is very strong, we’ll do three rows of stitching.

First row….

Then flip the material over and do exactly the same thing, but on the patterned side this time…

Then (and you can see this in the above pic as well), run the same stitch right through the middle of the two other stitches. This probably isn’t necessary, but I wanted to be sure that with the weight of the powerisers I wasn’t going to have any problems with seams coming apart.

Each join was done the same way and I was able to get all four pieces out of the left over material I had. Here’s a view of the other side of the material.

The key thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to look great, no one will see this side of the bag. Secondly, it has to be strong. And thirdly, remember that the pattern part should face out on each part you sew together.

Finally, cut off the loose cotton where you’ve sewed and then put it aside then start on the next one. Once all four pieces are done, I’ll continue on with the next steps in the next blog post.

 

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