Sunday, July 26, 2009

Garage door repair

One of the springs on the garage door opener broke on Friday morning. Linda opened the garage door and it flew off. At the end of the spring, the wire is bent 90 degrees to form a hook, and that broke off. You can see by examining the broken spot that the wire is cast iron or steel. This is at least the second time this has happened, on these doors, since these are replacement springs. The other door still has the original springs.

So I went to Home Depot to get a replacement spring. They only sell them in sets of two, so I got two. The box suggests that both springs be replaced at the same time. The problem is that there are 7 different "sizes" of springs, and how do I choose the "right" ones for my door? The springs seem to be categorized by the weight of the door. I have two doors -- roughly what, 8 feet by 8 feet? That's not an option, but it's close. The largest size is for 16 ft by 7 ft doors -- that would be like most of the neighbors that have one large door for two cars. But I have two doors, one for each car slot. The size below 16x7 is for 8x7 and 9x7. So I must have doors that are eight 8x7 or 9x7.

Then for the heaviest 8x7 or 9x7 doors, the package lists a 130 lb spring. But since I have wood doors, they may be somewhat heavier, and I expect it is better to error on bigger springs, rather than under-sized ones, so I bought the 140 lb springs.

It took about an hour to remove the old springs and put on the new ones. The new ones come with cables that can be threaded thru the springs so that, if (when) they break, the pieces are "contained", and don't fly all over the garage. I probably had those for the previous set of springs (the ones that just broke), but it seems that I decided to put the cables on the other door, the one with the original springs, from when the house was built. I probably figured that they were more likely to break than the new ones, and it would be better to then be protected with them. Now I have cables on both.

The new springs look to be better designed too. Instead of just the last half of the spring turned 90 degrees for a hook, the new ones tilt out the last two loops of the spring. This should mean less stress on a given point of attachment, and it means there is a complete loop (two!) to thread the cable thru. If it does break, even the little loop should stay put. I still haven't found the piece of the old hook that broke off. It's probably embedded in some wall or ceiling spot in the garage.

Digging more dirt.

In addition, on Saturday, 25 July, I mortared another line of stone onto the rock wall around "the Jungle" where it meets the Bamboo Grove, and then today (Sunday), Lauren and I moved dirt from the big dirt pile (that has accumulated from my various excavations) and put it into the newly dug out area by the Bamboo Grove. I mixed a lot of leaves in with it, to try to increase the organic content and make it better soil. We worked for about 3 hours, digging dirt, moving it, and spreading it out.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer in the Bamboo Grove

June and July 2009

So far this summer has been mainly digging in the Bamboo Grove. The wall dividing the Jungle from the Bamboo Grove is in place. The rocks are on top. I need another layer of rock, to make the dividing wall a bit taller, and I have those, although I have not yet put them securely in place. So I've been digging out the Bamboo Grove, at least in those places where the bamboo is not growing right now. I have a ground level wall/divider between the Bamboo Grove and the other area behind the Jungle. I started at that end, digging up the Bamboo Grove.

I can dig down to bedrock. Bedrock is only 6 to 9 inches deep. In doing so, I dig up a bunch of bamboo roots and a bunch of loose rock. The loose rock gets put in the wheelbarrow and taken out to the driveway. When I have "enough" rock on the drive, I have to get rid of it.

The dirt gets piled up in the back. I basically do a trench and fill approach to digging. I dig down to bedrock and then move the edge forward, digging the dirt out and piling it behind me. As I move forward, the pile behind me gets bigger and bigger.

I'm trying to dig out all of the rocks and roots and get to just soil. I mix a bunch of leaves from last Fall into the dirt that there is, and sometimes some compost. I get the cheapest compost in 40 pound bags from Lowe's -- about $1.10 -- and mix that in. In addition, we have our own compost pile, but it takes a long time and doesn't produce very much.

This particular area, the area on the left in the photo above, was a very thin layer of dirt on top of a big mass of mostly crushed limestone. I think when they dug the trench for the electrical, phone, and cable lines, thye cut right thru the limestone bedrock, to get the lines at least 18 inches deep. Most of the rock that was cut out of the trench was just dumped on the ground here. Later the builder put an inch or two of dirt over it, so he could place sod and get things to grow, at least until the house was sold. Normally there is not a lot of debris, and I can just mix it in with the dirt, but in this case, it seemed really excessive. So I shoveled out the
solid limestone "soil" and put it in the plastic bags that the cheap compost comes in. I'll dispose of it, and fill this area back in with real dirt.

I got most of the central area to the left dug out and then continued up on the right. Once around a clump of bamboo, I'm almost to the fence. The objective is to clear out all the dirt up to the fence, over to the rock pond, and make it better dirt -- mostly rock free.

The excavated dirt, mixed with leaves and compost is filling in the area where I started to dig. It will compact over time, so the area needs to be "over-filled" to start with. And I may need to bring in even more, it if subsides too much. And, as you can see, there is still a lot of empty area. That should represent all the rock that has been taken out. I have a pile of dirt in another area that I will bring over to fill in, once I have the rest of the area dug up.

I am thinking now that I should continue to wall in the bamboo on all sides with the concrete wall down to bedrock. The easiest way to do that now would be to finish this section of digging and then trench all the way around the bamboo, next to the fence, down to bedrock and fill it in with the same sort of 4 inch wide concrete wall, topped with a white rock level with the bottom of the fence.