Is the workshop done yet?

I thought the shop was ready for the final inspection, at least as it pertains to the original building permit. The inspector came and said code requires the wall separating a garage from the living space must be covered in at least 1/2″ drywall.

Apparently, the garage between my shop and the living space does not suffice.

I have the inspector coming back to see if this is good enough. Drywall from floor to roof sheathing.

Birthday Wheeling Trip ’19

It has seemingly become a tradition that a number of us with October birthdays plan a weekend trip to go off road. This year, we continued that tradition. 🙂

Mike, Chris and I rented a lake house via AirBnb that was near Windrock Off Road Park. Windrock is close to Oakridge, Tennessee, a key piece of the Manhattan Project.

Windrock has 73,000 acres and over 300 miles of trails. I’ve been there a couple times before. We covered 50 miles in two days.

We also took a side trip Saturday night to Nemo Tunnel, a since abandoned railroad tunnel. It’s a little less than a half mile long. When you’re in the middle of it, and you turn off all the lights in the Jeep, you can’t see anything. It is pitch black. There’s no light at all for your eyes to even adjust to. Worth the 30 minute trip to get there.

Nemo Tunnel 24 Entrance

According to the GPS, we spent 16 hours, over 2 days, covering 50 miles of trails. Nothing was overly difficult. Trail 16 was a lot harder when I did this 2 years ago. It’s been dug out a bit and the ledges don’t seem as steep.

The only issue we had was Mike’s passenger side front shock started making noise. We figure out what the problem was and took care of it. One of the things for which a Hi-Lift jack is useful! We needed to relieve the pressure the Jeep was putting on the shock. By jacking up the body and letting the axle droop, it was a simple fix.

Looking forward to wherever our birthdays take us next year! Although I am not looking forward to cleaning my Jeep.

How to build a workshop

How to build a workshop in 10 simple steps.

Step 1. Design the shop

I started with SketchUp – a free online 3D modeling program. I first created the house and garage, the figure out how big I wanted the shop. I took these to an architect that created plans and drawings I used to get the building permit.

Step 2. Dig and pour the foundation

In some ways, this was the hardest part. I called multiple concrete contractors and couldn’t get a call back from most of them. I found this Amish man through another contact. He used his excavator to dig a 12″ wide trench footer, 36″ deep. He also set the foundation blocks.

Step 3. Deconstruction

I had to remove part of the back of the garage to be ready for the carpenters.

Step 4. Frame the main structure

I ordered all of the building materials from Menard’s and had it delivered. I’m a big fan of that store. Everything I bought, I made sure to wait until they had an 11% rebate sale going on. The lumber alone netted me $455 in rebates.

I used an Amish construction crew to frame the main structure. I have never seen a more efficiently working group of people before. All of the framing, sheathing and roofing was done in two and a half days by 3 men.

Step 5. Pour the pad

The Amish man that poured the footer came back and poured and finished the interior pad. Because it was so cold at this point, we needed the structure built in order to have some containment of heat for the pad concrete. I also ran a diesel torpedo heater over the weekend to keep it warm in the shop.

Step 6. Install doors

I installed the overhead garage door and the two walk doors with the help of a friend. The overhead door is insulated (R-12.9) and has a carriage door design. After all the rebates, it was practically free.

Step 7. Soffit and fascia

The carpenters left me with the rafter tails and the sub fascia. I needed to install the lookouts for the soffits, the soffit material and the fascia. For the soffits, I used Allura fiber cement vented soffit board. For the fascia and the overhead door trim, I used MiraTEC engineered wood. I love the wood grain look.

Step 8. Siding

The existing house is sided in 3/4″ cedar clapboards, with an 8″ exposure. Although I would have loved to use the same material, it was just cost prohibitive. I opted to use Allura fiber cement siding. It comes in a 9 1/4″ wide board, 12′ long. It’s fire rated and has a 50 year warranty. Plus, it’s about 1/2 the cost as cedar. Once I got the first course on with some help, I was able to finish the rest of it myself.

Step 9. Electrical

I rented a trencher to dig about 70′ of trench, 30″ deep to bury the feeder wire for the shop. There’s no way to get anything from inside the house to the shop. I wanted to have ample capacity, so I buried 2-2-2-4 aluminum which will be good up to 100 amps.

I also buried some 1/2″ conduit for a data line and a 1-1/2″ empty run of schedule 40 for a later run of a gas line for heat.

Step 10. Paint and gutters

The last thing to do was to paint the siding and trim and install the gutters. I used a roller for the soffit and fascia, brush painted the trim, but used an airless sprayer to paint the main body.

The finished project

I started the project in January and it’s now the end of September. I could have hired a contractor and let them coordinate everything for me, but I would have spent at least 50% more than I did by doing it myself. I wasn’t in a rush. I’ve been using the shop since the doors were put in, but I am happy now that it’s done.

Next year, we’ll get some landscape design done. I also plan to do the electrical work inside, insulate it and put 3/4″ plywood on the walls. I am thinking about using a corrugated tin for the ceiling, or maybe interior barn siding. Still a lot to do, but it feels really good to see it like this.

Paint and gutters

Now that the siding is complete (finished that off after the electric service was finished) it’s now time to paint.

I used paint from Sherwin Williams that matched what was on the rest of the house. When the house was last remodeled and painted, the remaining paint was left in the basement. This helped, since I felt I could get the most accurate paint match.

I started with the trim, soffit and fascia. I rolled it on for the soffit and fascia, and then brushed in the cut in and the trim. Two coats later and it looks great.

After that dried for about a day, I did the cut in for the main color.

I also painted above the doors and windows. There’s only about 550 square feet of wall, but an airless sprayer will make this a lot smoother and even coat. I had picked up one of these cheap ones from Harbor Freight a number of years ago and it has worked perfectly before.

This time was no exception. I got the first coat done in less than 2 hours, including setup and clean up.

I did manage to get a little overspray on the soffit. That cleaned up easy enough with some touch up paint.

I waited a couple days to put on the second coat and remove the plastic and tape. Second coat took about an hour and a half, including cleanup. I did need to do a little touch up on the white where there was some overspray, but that only took about 30 minutes. The feed for the electrical service seems to disappear. Once we get this landscaped, you’ll never notice it.

The last thing I need to do is install the gutters. Again, I bought all of the components from Menard’s. The gutters came in 10′ sections and was just a matter of snapping an appropriate slope line, using some seam sealer and screwing it into the fascia.

The downspouts run into an underground drainage system that comes out in the yard, keeping the majority of the water away from the building.

I can finally take a break from working on the shop. I am done until next year when I figure out all the electrical requirements.

Trench Settling

Purposely haven’t done much with where the trench for the electrical is. We’ve been waiting for some decent rain as I know it would help settle the soil. It has . 🙂 I may plant some grass in mid October before it gets too cold.

We have power!

Took a lot of work, and a lot of help from my wife, but I have power in the shop!

Once the trench was dug and signed off by the building inspector, next step was to lay in the wire.

Decisions, decisions

Figuring out what kind of wire to use took some research. Not being an electrician, I didn’t know exactly what to use. I reached out to my nephew who works in the trade for some ideas. He old me they use two different types of wire, SER and URD. SER is a service entrance wire and URD is an underground wire.

They both would not work for me, according to the building department. SER cannot be buried. Not even in conduit. URD can be buried, but since it’s not fire rated, can’t be used inside.

Then I stumbled upon MHF, mobile home feeder wire. Not only can it be buried directly, but it’s fire rated for indoor use. And the building department agreed. Perfect!

Running the feed wire

The stuff is not too heavy, and a little unwieldy. It’s 4 conductors, 3 each of #2 and one #4, all aluminum. The #4 is green for the ground, and one of the three #2 conductors has a white line indicating the neutral return. And at only $1.37 a foot after rebate (have to love Menard’s) it’s way cheaper than copper. Not having to pull this through a conduit was the icing on the cake.

The only conduit I needed was to run it into the shop. Code requires conduit 18″ below grade. I ran conduit from outside the house into the sub panel and tied it into a new breaker. I’m still only feeding this panel with a 50 amp breaker, even though the new breaker and the load center in the shop both are both 100 amp. If I find that I am tripping this breaker, I still have some #2 wire I will use to update the feed from the main.

Finishing it all off

Last thing to do was to fill in the trenches. This will take some time. Need to let everything settle for a few weeks before cleaning up the extra dirt and planting grass again for the third time. Something tells me I’ll be planting in the spring, too.

Dodged that bullet

Wow. I am amazed this house didn’t burn down. I never noticed this before. But the sub panel in my basement, the very panel that I plan to feed that work shop from, was hiding a problem that had developed over the last 2 years.

Before and After

Here’s a picture of the inside of that panel I took when the house was being inspected. This was 2 years ago.

Very simple panel, nothing mysterious. All work either done or supervised by a licensed electrician.

Here’s a close up of the same panel today. Notice anything different?

Several of the neutral connections have charred/melted insulation and the plastic bracket holding the neutral bar is partially melted. The problem, missed by the inspector (as good and thorough as he was) is that second screw from the bottom. It was looser than the others. This created a gap, which allowed the current to arc, which generated a lot of heat. I have no other explanation. This panel is only fed from a 50 amp breaker and there was no other damage in this box or the main box.

I was able source a new load center from Menard’s and pulled the insert from it. After disconnecting the power to this sub panel, I removed everything from it and replaced the damaged insert as well as any damaged wire.

A little paranoid

That panel cover is going to stay off for a while, with a fire extinguisher close at hand. Even though I am positive I won’t need it, I’m a little on the paranoid side right now.

I also went through and checked and tightened every neutral wire in the both breaker boxes.

Downspout diverter

One of the things about this house that I didn’t really like, is we don’t have storm drains for the downspouts. The rainwater just hits the ground and is diverted away from the side of the house. Not very effective. A while back, I installed these underground diverters on the house and wanted to add them to the shop as well.

The come in two parts, one, a collector that you place under the downspout. It has an angled face on it that screens the large leaves and such from the entering the drain. The second part is a popup that you place in your yard an appropriate distance from the structure. They work incredibly well and it was a no brainer for me to put these in.

I didn’t get the popup buried. I need to get a different connector to attach the drain line to it.

Workshop Power

I rented a 6″ x 36″ trencher to dig for th power line I need to run to the shop. The shop is attached to the garage, which is attached to the family room of the house. Both of those are on slabs, which means I have no way of running any kind of wire through the main structure from the basement.

My only option was to trench. Code requires 24″ deep trench for direct burial wire. This is about 30″ deep in most places. Once it passes inspection, I’ll get the wire in the ground and go from there.

While I had the trencher, I went ahead and dug for some downspout drains. I don’t have storm drains here, so the rain water leaves the downspout right to the ground. I don’t want it next to the building, so I am adding some underground pipes that will lead to a popup in the yard.

Downspout drain trench

Compressor Rebuild Part 2

I took the rest of the compressor pump apart. It was a mess. I figured that the piston seals had probably failed, and decided to replace those along with all of the gaskets. Everything was available on eBay. I also gave the tank a fresh coat of paint and replaced the wheels.

Once I got it all back together, it rand and filled up to 135 PSI and shut off as expected. I ran it for a while without issue. And then all of a sudden, it started making a horrible noise. I shut it off and took the head off, only to notice a blown gasket.

I don’t think I tightened the head bolts down enough. Another gasket is already on the way. Once that’s in, we should be good to go.

I am still hearing a small leak next to the tool pressure regulator. I’m not sure what I can do about that. I tried some teflon tape, but that didn’t help. It could be a crack in the plastic.