Friday, January 6, 2012

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

The most significant thing that happened this week was the moving of our electrical service.  We have been looking forward to seeing the end of these ugly poles... which soon can be removed.

BC Hydro showed up on Wednesday morning about 9:35, cut off our power and proceeded to disconnect their lines from two old poles, then bring the same wire from the third pole back...

And reconnect us to the new mast on the back of our workshop.  Coming this way took about 100 feet less wire than before... but we then had to take about 75 feet of 1.75" heavy conductor from the new meter base to the house panel.

The whole thing took BC Hydro less than 40 minutes.  They mounted the meter and then turned our power back on.  Wesley, our electrician, had things set up so we would have power into our workshop panel immediately while the house was cut off.

The old 200 amp panel was right in the back of our closet where we are going to be walking to get into our new closet... so we had to move the panel.  This was no small job, so we were glad to get going on this mid-morning.   Since we needed some supplies from Victoria, Shirley went on her own and I stayed to help Wesley move the panel.  With a long extension cord we brought power from the workshop to the house so Wesley could disconnect and label all the wires and know how to get things back the way they used to be.

In about an hour Wesley had the panel removed and we set it up in a much better wall in our new larger closet, only about four feet away from the original location.  Before lunch we had the panel mounted in it's new home and we spent the rest of the afternoon re-routing the wiring so we could reconnect everything to the same breakers, right where they were before.  Many of the wires were long enough so moving them was easy... but there were about eight or ten wires that went into junction boxes with more wire added to them.

When Shirley returned from town we were almost done re-routing wires and all Wesley had to do was connect them to the breakers.  While he did that I took Shirley to the Wild Fennel for supper.  By the time we got home from eating Wesley was ready to turn on the breakers to light up our house.  He worked a ten hour day to see this all completed.  It was no small job.

Wesley said that twice before when he moved an electrical panel and he went to turn the power on it didn't work... and both times it wasn't his fault... there was a power outage on the island!  What are the odds? I fully expected that it would happen again... after all it was raining and stormy all afternoon... and you know how things happen in three's?

The next most significant activity this week was building the shelving for our new pantry.  I really have no previous experience in building or finishing cabinets... so I had a very costly class called Woodwork Finishing 101.  I really should have let Westwood make the pieces for the shelf gables and the 54" cabinet that goes between the fridge and freezer.

But you know me... I thought I could do it cheaper.  So I ordered the doors for the cabinet, bought a couple sheets of nice 3/4" maple plywood and some 3/4" ivory Melamine.  I then proceeded to cut out the pieces and stain them.  I had basically everything done and the next day after Shirley was back from Victoria I started to put the Watco Danish Oil on to the stained maple... we stained them the same colour as our kitchen cabinets. Yikes!  I got a rapid rude education in woodwork finishing.

As you can see from the photo above, I was mystified by the strange circles and blotches that developed as I applied the Danish Oil.  I was just sick.  The more I rubbed the worse it got.  The Danish oil that Shirley went to town for wasn't working for us... so she Googled it up to learn why we had the problem and she soon had the answer.  Since the stain was also oil base they cannot be used together.  Why didn't I think of that?

So out to the workshop I went and started sanding off all the finish.  What a huge job.  I spent a whole morning getting the wood totally stripped so we could re-stain it.  But when we applied the stain again we still had a problem!  There was some weird swirls that seemed to be telegraphing thru giving a really odd pattern that neither of us liked.  It was like the swirl used when we put the oil on.  I tried a second board and it also had the same problem.  What the world was going on?  It was enough to make a grown man cry!

Shirley was ready to just paint the wood a solid colour... maybe an antique look.  But that seemed like even more work that I wanted... plus how good is antique and Melamine going to look together?  So back to the workshop I went and I sanded those two boards yet again.  This time I went deeper and I used two more levels of finer sand paper.

Before I just used 80 and 120 grit paper since that was the belts I had for my electric sander. But I had some 150 and 250 sheets in my sand paper drawer... which meant some serious hand rubbing.  I found I was spending up to an hour to polish a board now.  But when I had the first one done we tested the stain... and it came out absolutely wonderful!

So I spent ALL day Friday sanding and redoing ALL the boards with ALL four sandpapers.  We had to also take off the "iron-on" maple edging and re-apply new edging to all the plywood, since the oil had also affected that part as well, and it was too thin to handle much more sanding.  So, as I am writing this tonight, all the boards have been repaired, sanded and stained and will sit over the weekend drying... getting ready for lacquer.  Am I crazy?

Sunday I will take some sheets of plywood and block off a corner of our new studio to make a paint spray booth.  I bought a new Wagner paint sprayer from Home Depot.  We want to pre-finish the cedar shingles for the siding on the addition as well... and I hope to be able to hang up the boards and end gables for the cabinet and lacquer them too.  Wish me well.  These boards cannot afford another sanding!  The maple skin on this plywood is already too thin in places!

"When you come to the end of your rope, just tie a knot and hang on."

I sent this quote to Shirley on a card in 1965 while she was in hospital for several months... after being in a car accident in Calgary.



  1. What great photos you got of the power boys working with the electrics...and what a thrill it is to know we are going to be done with those two nasty old poles that have been too close to the house and in our faces.

    And for the wood working project, all I can say is, It will all be OK in the end, if it isn't OK then it isn't the end of the story!!

  2. So sorry for that painful experience with the oil and the stain... nasty and frustrating. But yeah for no power poles! That's sweet.