Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Changing the Shower Head in the Central Bathroom

The central bathroom is mainly used for Linda's Mother.  As she has aged it seems less useful as a fixed overhead shower.  So we decided to change it to a hand-held shower head.

We bought the "New Tempesta 100 2-Spray Wall Bar Shower Kit in Brushed Nickel Infinity Finish" by Grohe from Home Dept ($57.73).   This has a relatively simple shower head, on a flexible water line, that sits on a vertical bar that allows it to move up and down.  The water line should attach where the current shower head is.  The box was delivered to Home Depot in about 2 weeks, and we went over to pick it up.

Opening the box, we find a bunch of pieces

There is the spray head,

the water line, the mounting bar,

 and what must be hardware for mounting it  on the wall.

But there is little in the way of assembly instructions.   There is one sheet, but has no words (German construction for a global market place), and even that seems to be for several different similar models.

Of course part of the problem might be that it is not clear exactly what model we have.  A search on the web for the "New Tempesta 100" finds that there are "Tempesta 100" models and "New Tempesta" models.  Looking at the box, we can see that the end label used to be for a "Tempesta 100", but they put a new label over it making it a "New Tempesta"

What instructions there are are almost useless:

This is a better version than was included in the box, since it at least says that the "08" is a "5/16 inch", which I'm guessing means that an 8mm drill bit is closest to a 5/16 drill bit.

The two ends of the water line are slightly different.

but it looks like the larger one fits on the water head better.

The mounting hardware appears to be a plastic piece that slips into the mounting bar, is to be held in place with a long screw and is then covered by a stainless steel sleeve.

The mounting bar slides onto the plastic piece until a small plastic dot pops into a hole in the metal bar.  There are two holes and two plastic dots, on opposite sides of the plastic piece, but it will only go on one way.  So the next step is to put the two plastic pieces on either end of the mounting bar.

Now the question is how to mount it on the shower wall.  The idea is to drill into the shower wall and put the plastic screw anchor into the drilled hole and then screw thru the plastic piece into the screw anchor to hold it in place.  Of course the shower wall is tiled.  Drilling into tile is possible, but difficult -- the tile can crack from the stress of the drill.

We need two holes, one at the top and one at the bottom, about 24 inches apart.  From the better instruction page, 620 mm or 24 7/16 inches apart.  There are apparently other models with bars that are 920 mm and 1020 mm long, but we have the shorter one, only 620 mm.

It would be easiest to drill into the grout between the tiles, rather than the tiles themselves.  Unfortunately, the tiles are 7.75 inches square, which with the grout puts them exactly 8 inches per tile, so the 24 7/16 inch for the bar is just a bit (7/16 inch) too long to hit two grout lines.  But if we put it on a vertical grout line, we can easily drill into the grout, and put it at any height.  Unfortunately, again, the horizontal spacing has a grout line right under the current shower head, and then one 8 inches to the left and another 8 inches to the right. 

Figuring we don't want to put it in the middle, since the copper water pipe is probably right behind that grout line, and we don't want to drill or screw into the copper water pipe, and we don't want the shower head close to the outside of the shower, we decided to put it on the inside grout line, to the right of the center.

Using a 5/16 inch masonry drill bit, we drill the first hole, the top hole.  Unfortunately, we only get about 3/4 of an inch in, and then hit wood.  We have a stud right behind the grout line.  So we switch to a smaller drill bit to put a pilot hole in the stud, and cut the plastic screw anchor to only about an inch long, fill the hole with silicone sealant to prevent water leaks (either way), hammer the screw anchor into the hole and then screw the top of the mounting bar into the wall, thru the tile/grout and into the stud.

This secures the top of the mounting bar.  We position it correctly, and then mark thru the hole on the bottom mounting hardware to mark where we need to drill for the bottom hole.

We pivot the bar out of the way, drill the hole (same as for the top, masonry bit to get thru the grout/tile, and then a pilot hole into the wood stud).  Pivot the mounting bar back into position, and screw it into the wall.

At this point, we slide the metal covers over the plastic mounting hardware, and the mounting bar is on the wall.

To finish the installation, we remove the old shower head, and then screw the end of the water line onto the pipe for the shower head.

And that is it.  It is all installed and working.

To adjust the height of the shower head, we can twist the left side of the shower head holder (to loosen it), slide it to the desired height, and then tighten it up again.  The shower head can be lifted out to be used by hand, or left in place and used as a wall mounted shower.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Starting the Wall in the Front Yard

After months of work, we have the trench pretty well defined, at least up close to the house.

We've got the rock out, and even the dust.  Now we need to start putting a wall up along the property line.  This will keep the neighbor's grass from growing over into our yard (and whatever we put in our yard from growing into theirs).

As with the back yard, we use bags of mulch and compost as sandbags to form up the wall.  We use the dirt on one side and a piece of Masonite board for the other, spacing them with 2x4s and 1x4s, pouring ready-mix concrete between them to for the wall.

Once we are done with the first section, we move the forms down and do the next section.

This gives us a base section of concrete.

But we want this to be a base concrete wall with white limestone rocks on the top, like our other walls.  We can use 4x6 and 4x8 stones, so we need the wall to be tall enough that we can mortar a 6 inch or 8 inch stone on top and create a straight line wall top, so we need the wall to be 7 or 9 inches from a line from the back stone work up to the street (where an iron pin defines the property line).  We stretch a piece of string along this and readjust our Masonite forms to be the right height, and pour more concrete.

Again, we slide the forms down and do the second section.

And then a third section.  First the bottom part.

And then the top part,

and when the forms are removed, we have the first half of the wall done.

A bit more than half.  This part is 30 feet long, from the back there to where it stops in the middle of the yard.  The remaining part, from there to the street is 25 feet.  So slightly more than half now.  This took 45 80-pound bags of ready-mix concrete, costing $180.24 (Home Depot).

After a little more cleaning up of the lawn edge,

we can put in another section.

This took another 10 bags of concrete.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Maintaining the Jack Hammer

The jack hammer, a Bosch Brute 11304, is starting to run dry.  Plus it looks like the gasket at the bottom has broken.  With the work that it has been doing, it probably needs maintenance.  I could take it to the shop (Austin Tools, as I remember), but that would cost $150 and take several weeks, or I could try to do it myself.

I can find a maintenance kit online at ereplacementparts.com for $67.26 (Service Pack 1617000426), plus shipping (so $75). It comes with the necessary gasket (plus more), and a tube of grease.  Plus replacement bolts.

It also has a diagram showing all the parts.

The ones marked in black are the parts in the service pack.
We put down cardboard as a surface to work on.

Starting at the end, first we take off the 3 large bolts with springs.  An 18mm socket seems to work with them.

Once they are removed, we can pull the bottom (unpainted) part off the rest, revealing a spring and the broken gasket.

Putting that aside, we continue to disassemble things, by removing the hex-head bolts.  A 3/8 hex key wrench works for them.

And once they are removed, it is possible to crack the paint and separate the top and bottom halves.

And pulling them apart reveals the main piston cylinder.

and then just put everything back together, with the new bolts and gaskets. 

At this point, there is grease everywhere, and I can't really take more pictures.  But it seems like just taking off the bolts, greasing things, new gaskets, and then putting it all back together in reverse, with the new bolts.

Update:  After getting it back together, I tried to run it.  The motor would start, and then immediately freeze.  Taking it apart again was exceptionally difficult.  It appears that the end of the piston had come off the cam, and then the cam had rotated until it jammed.

I took  it apart and put it back together several times, with the same result.  So finally I took all the pieces to Austin Tool, and the guys there showed me that the piston is not symmetric -- it is a little bigger on one side (right) than on the other (left).  If the bigger piece is next to the cam, the piston is a bit too far over and comes off.  If the smaller side is next to the cam, the piston is closer to the cam and stays on.  And with that small difference, it works.

I used it for two days, and the bottom gasket broke.  Again.  I plotted out the maximal gasket -- it should be round, with an inside diameter of 2 inches and an outside diameter of 3 inches.  Rubber, about 1/8 inch thick. It appears to be difficult to find such a simple gasket. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Getting Deeper in the Front Yard

Using the jack hammer, we can break up the top layer of rock in the trench that we've dug.

and then several days of moving the rocks and dirt out of the trench gets us down a foot or so.

But we need more depth than this, so we go back for another round, to get another foot deeper.

Expanding out from this, we can get down 24 to 30 inches.

The bump by the capped-off remains of the sprinkler lines is the French Drain that we installed from here to the back yard years ago.

Now we just continue to push the deep part towards the street, breaking off rock and hauling it out. 

The rock is a strange mix of limestone.  Some of it is hard and brittle, but most of it is soft and crumbly.  We get a lot of rock dust, which is almost like soil or sand.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Continuing to dig in the front yard

Back in April, we started digging up the front yard.  We started with a trench along the property line with the neighbor.  We have continued to dig out that trench.

First we extended the trench almost to the street.  We stopped when we should be near the gas line.  The gas line comes in from the street, goes about 8 to 10 feet and then splits into ours (which runs down in our yard) and the neighbors (which goes over to her yard and then runs down in her yard).

Then we went back towards the house, expanding the trench as we went, so that it was on the property line on one side, and the gas line on the other.

We took out a couple of big rocks as we went, as well as part of the sprinkler lines.

But we kept digging, removing all the dirt (which we put in a pile for later) and separating out the rock (which we got rid of).

This only gets us down to the rock.  We want to have at least 24 inches of dirt, but in the back, near the house, we only have 2 to 4 inches.  So we need to use the jack hammer to break up the rock.

Then we remove that rock.

That still only gets us down about 8 to 10 inches.  So we need to continue this -- jack hammer the rock to break it up, and then haul it out, until we get our desired depth.