Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Prepping For a Project

Well, it certainly has been some time since I've posted here. Things have been quite busy. Even with the large amount of work going on, we have still managed to get some stuff done around the house.

Here are a couple of photos showing the beginning stage of another project we are starting on.

The back of my truck full of bricks. We found these brand new bricks for sale on craigslist. It came out to just under $0.11 a brick, not too bad since new bricks can easily cost 5 times that much.

Ten bricks on my bathroom scale weighed 36 pounds, therefore each brick averages 3.6 pounds. We had 455 bricks in the bed of the truck (as well as a heavy full-size spare tire with steel wheel which weighs a lot). If I hauled this kind of load more often, I would consider replacing the old leaf springs in the rear, but as is, the truck handled the load very well. It also helped that I serviced all four brakes earlier in the year.

Here are all the bricks neatly stacked and eagerly awaiting their job. What job will that be? I'll let you guess until we are done and post the results.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Although much work still needs to be done and even more how-to articles written, I have decided to formally open my other site, How-To Matthew. How-To Matthew will focus more on the technical how-to in the DIY realm which will free Daue Manus to be a more fluidly flowing journal of our DIY [mis]adventures! Check it out!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fun on the Roof

We recently borrowed a very large extension ladder and one of the first jobs on our list was to do some minor roof work. Some caulk work needed to be done around the flashing on the dormer windows but we decided to also take a look at everything else while we were up there since this roof has recently gone through some very rough storms.

Here is the flashing on one of the chimneys. We will eventually need to work on this before it starts leaking.

The flashing on this chimney is less than a year old and is in good shape.

This vent's flashing will need some work as well.

Here are a couple of other views from our roof top.

What do you think, does our roof look like it is in good shape or should we be saving up time, energy, and money to replace it soon?

Monday, May 18, 2009

More Gardening Fun

With the warm Spring temperatures and lots (and lots and lots) of rain we've had recently, everything is growing rapidly.

We put this child we were watching for our friends to work planting some green beans.

Here is the space an old shack used to sit on. Now that it is gone, we can expand our garden.

Here's the raised bed I made last Saturday. Moving those railroad ties was quite a chore by myself! I also had to excavate a lot of very clay-like soil. Later in the day my wife returned home and we added top soil and left over peat moss and manure, then she planted another garden of tomatoes.

This bed was where we had a good crop of tomatoes last year. As you can see, it is full of tomato plants sprouting. These plants are "wild" offspring from last year's crop.

And our strawberries are also doing well. Some are even blossoming. You probably can't tell in this photo, but the beans the child planted a week ago are starting to come up as well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Planting Raspberries

One of our projects this past Sunday was cleaning out the small area between the back of the garage and the retaining wall that marks the rear of our lot. We then filled it with a mix of dirt from the other side of the back yard where a dilapidated shed used to stand and left over peat moss and manure from our dwarf fruit tree planting project.

We now have six raspberry plants growing in what used to be an unused and unsightly corner of our yard.

Another possible benefit of these plants is that if they get nice and thick, their thorny stalks may help reduce the number of feral cats that like to stray into our yard and try to get into places they shouldn't be.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Under Construction

I am working on a completely new site for all the how-to articles that will be more user friendly, have more DIY articles, and have much more content. Duae Manus will remain as our day-to-day journal of DIY adventure.

Creating the new site is a daunting task, and in order to get it up and running in a timely fashion, there will be few new posts on Duae Manus. Stay tuned for further announcements!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Checking and Replacing a PCV Valve

The PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) valve is part of an emissions system designed to divert gasses than escape past the piston rings back to the air intake to be burned by the engine.

I will describe how to check and replace a PCV valve using my 1996 Ford Ranger as an example.

1. Locate the PCV valve. It will usually be on a valve cover or somewhere around the top of the engine.

2. Disconnect the hose from the valve.

3. Pull the valve out and shake it. It should rattle. If it doesn't rattle, the valve is plugged and needs to be replaced. Also check the hose by disconnecting it and blowing through it to check to see if it is clogged.

4. Installation is the reverse of these steps.

Replacing the PCV valve is an inexpensive maintenance item you should consider doing every few years. In the case of the Ranger with the 4.0L engine, it is a ~$2 and five minute preventative maintenance job that can keep your engine and emissions system in top shape.