Saturday, 23 March 2013

A post about a beam

This week I finally decided to add rafters and a ridge beam to the loft space.

This is how the sloping roof interior was left after the initial paint job. Since then, I've built a water tank and put together a collection of old toys, and there's a hidden box of letters yet to come. Now that the loft has become more interesting, I realize the background should be more detailed too.

So I took a number of flat wooden strips 7 mm [1/4 in] wide, (the same as I used for the floor joists) and dirtied them down with dilute grey watercolour paint. I did the same with a length of square section wood for the ridge beam. 

I cut the flat strips into lots of short pieces and stuck them with PVA onto the dark painted areas in pairs at regular intervals, cleaning off the excess glue as I went.

Here's a view inside the apex at this stage, already far more realistic (compare it with Not much room at the top, 19 December 2012).

Working on the half of the roof that will be permanently attached to the rear wall, I fitted the ridge beam into the space allowed at the top ends of the rafters, then I filled in the hinges with shorter pieces cut to size. The loft floor will cover the lower ends and neaten the paint line. The gable ends were left clear so that the hinged section will open and close OK. 

And now I shall reward myself by making up the box of secret letters! 


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Having another bash

Wrapping tape around the waist of Bon Marché hints at some serious work ahead, and it is. For a start, it takes two people to assemble the main panels enclosing the ground floor. They are pretty heavy and about a metre in height - we have the makings of a Laurel and Hardy episode until everything is secured. A tolerant family member or friend is absolutely essential at such times!

Already sanded and primed, the largest sections are checked against one another. The rear wall of Bon Marché is MDF and the sides and front (which I've already covered) are of plywood. Because of their different manufacture, MDF and ply are not guaranteed to remain dimensionally stable in relation to each other, something I discovered as we got on to the next stage.

After laying the back and right-hand wall panels horizontally, at right-angles to each other, we began to prepare the floor sections for final fitting and gluing (but not actually gluing because the decorating is still to be done). 

Like the rear wall, the floors are cut from MDF and their tabs fitted the slots on the back without any difficulty. However, the slots in the plywood side were too narrow - only by something less than 0.5 mm - yet just enough to resist the necessary snug fit. The plywood had shrunk while the MDF had not, but it could be remedied by shaving the ply down one side of each slot with a sharp Stanley knife (an ordinary craft knife or scalpel blade would not be strong enough).

In the end, all the floors were pressed firmly in place and squared up.

Keeping the carcase on its back, I experimented again with swapping interior walls between Floors 2 and 3 (SeeThink electric, 19 October 2012). Fortunately the height of the rooms is the same on both floors.The result of the swap is a full-depth living room on Floor 2, visible through the side opening in the left-hand wall (see first photo). And each bedroom on Floor 3 gets its own door. Win-win! 

First, I took the walls from Floor 3 to Floor 2 where I plan to have a kitchen next to the living room. The smaller room was too narrow and I have moved the party wall a little over to the left so that the kitchen is now big enough for Charlie and Frankie to eat in, as well as cook. It will also be separated from the stairs and landing by a half-glazed partition,  a very common solution in those days to making extra room space in old houses.

And this is the living room viewed from the side. I'll block up the old connecting doorway with a chimney breast and fireplace. The new door onto the landing gives access round from the kitchen and also up the next flight of stairs to the bedrooms. 

Up on Floor 3 I had the same problem with the smaller room being too narrow (beds take up a surprisingly  large area, I find). So here too, I've moved the party wall and made enough space for a wardrobe.

This shot shows I've kept the dividing walls in a vertical line. By the way I hope you'll excuse the rather crooked, fuzzy photos, they were taken sans tripod from the top of a small step ladder. The house was lying on its back and the interior walls were propped up on Lego bricks. It was an all-round balancing trick!

Here's some 'new' vintage caboodle to finish with:

I'm so pleased with the F.G.T & Sons  gas fire, I've been chasing one for ages and to get the pale blue version is a real bonus. This is ideal for the lodger's room, now I'll have to make a coin-in-the-slot meter to go with it. The bread bin and slop pail aren't vintage, they're just awaiting 'the treatment'.