Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Interestingly, ‘Synapse Drippings’ Is the Name of My Andrea True Connection Tribute Band. But I Digress

Honestly, this is the “before” picture.

Our clean out was capped, so we moved on to reworking the transition from the vertical DWV pipe to the sewer pipe under the floor. Blessedly, we could throw away seven feet of concatenated strangeness that came with the house, and we replaced the whole mess with plastic pipe. I’m not a vice president without portfolio for any of the large tech companies that litter the Fortune 500 these days. I have no plans to freeze my head when I die, or upload my synapse drippings into a computer. When I’m dead, I’m gonna get buried, and let you lot worry about the plumbing in my house for a change. I’ll be perfectly happy to perish if I don’t have to dig my own hole. The plastic pipe we installed will outlive me, so as far as I’m concerned it’s a permanent fix. I fixed the whole world in the same way by having two kids.

After we removed the busted Tee pipe under the floor, we were presented with the bell end of the next pipe. Fernco fittings only fit on the spigot end of clay pipes, so some sloppy surgery was in order. We cut off the bell end using the diamond blade on the sawzall. We did it right in place. We stuffed a rag in the pipe in the usual way, and I showed my son how smart people cut pipe. In a ditch, smart people look lazy. If you’ve ever driven past a crew of construction workers and excoriated them for leaning on their shovels, you’ve probably mistaken being smart for being lazy. You also probably did all that excoriating with the windows rolled up.

It’s not possible to work flat out all day, every day, when you work in the manual arts. You have to work smart or you won’t last. And don’t give me any horsehockey about going to the gym, either. I once employed an ex-Marine bodybuilder. I was building my own house at the same time, and sent him to help my uncle build the chimney. My uncle was getting along in years, and had a bad heart. My bodybuilding minion was somewhat cavalier about picking up measly 35-pound blocks instead of the giant useless metal disks in the gym. My uncle wore him out in about four hours. He refused to go back the next day.

I held the sawzall in place with the blade on the pipe, and I instructed my son to get a length of wormy 2×4 from the pile of wood I keep around for lever emergencies. He stood the 2×4 on end in the hole and pushed against the frame of the saw, which put pressure on the blade as I held the trigger. It took a minute or two to get through the pipe, but we were both fresh as a daisy when we made it to the other side. Just like a daisy, we were covered in fertilizer, but we weren’t exhausted from the effort. That’s what I mean about working smart. Work smart, and you really can work all day, every day.

We put together the pipe like a tinkertoy. Working back from the clay pipe, we put on a Fernco fitting, a short length of straight 4″ pipe, a sweep, which is a term for an elbow with a longer radius, a tall piece of pipe, a wye to match the angle of the pipe descending from the floors upstairs, and then a cleanout plug on the other opening on the wye. We put it together dry to make sure it fit, and then cemented all the pieces together and installed it in two tranches in one trenches. The only thing left was to join the new pipe to the old cast iron monstrosity, using the wrong Fernco fitting.

I know it’s the wrong fitting. You can not tell me in the comments it’s not the not the right fitting, thanks. Officially, Ferncos that are installed above ground are supposed to have a metal halo that resembles Messala’s braclets wrapped around them. Don’t ask me why. All the ones that are buried in the ground are just rubber with a clamp on each end. I was thinking of re-using the correct one that was already in place on the old setup, but it was such a mess I decided to use the wrong thing instead. Sometimes the wrong thing is the right thing to do. You know, like prom night.
[to be continued]

[Update: Many thanks go out to my PayPal-averse friend Sam from Oregon for his generous gift via the regular mail. It is very much appreciated]

5 Responses

  1. There are gems scattered around. This is one: "It's not possible to work flat out all day, every day, when you work in the manual arts. You have to work smart or you won't last." It's true. After 26 years, I know it, but I've never heard anyone say it. Hearing you say it made my day, somehow.

  2. shoreacres, howze come you're not going by soreachers? I would (got an extra helping of silly some years back).

  3. Daylight Saving Time. That's what the MacGuffin was in your job. Down around my place there's a bunch of Gaians that go all haywire on those Earth Day/Birth Day events.

    We have some excitement down around my place when the clocks change. A couple dozen folks gather in Courthouse Park and count down to 2:00 AM for the change. One gets up in costume as Father Time but it is only a bed sheet and an egg timer. I guess we’re supposed to be cheered up by having an “extra” hour of daylight to start the day and accept gracefully when the sun goes down at 4PM.

    Sipp, I think I have some of the same shoppers you have. I was out running errands, standing in the line at Walmart for meds. Behind me comes this guy, looked like he was on a Polack bowling team.
    Mid-forties, wouldn't know matching colors if they bit him in the butt.
    "Whassatcha got?" He asks, pointing to the cafe curtain rod I'm holding.
    I spoke not a word, showed him.
    "Oh" he sez, "thought it was one a them canes. My buddy has one with four feet".
    "Yes, when we get older we lose equilibrium." I said (my mistake).
    "Oh" he sez, "I lost my equilibrium when I had that aneurism, back in '97."
    "You're lucky to be alive" sez I.
    "I dunno, I'm waiting for them to come get me. Y'know, go up into space".
    "I'm five foot ten." I said with finality, "you won't need any money up there."
    He nodded sagely and I saw behind his eyes he'll be chewing on that for a while.
    The art of conversation, one of my strong suits.

    Sipp, pardon the cut and paste. It seems like I'm running out of energy. My oncologist tells me "think about your situation in terms of months, not years.

  4. This story brought back memories of the Great Sewage Disaster when an exterior clay sewer line pipe that had partly collapsed finally clogged up and sent puddles of sewage around my basement. The interior cleanout had been hidden by the simple expedient of carpeting over it. Heck, the former owners even carpeted over an open drain. An external cleanout? Why that would have been too easy – there wasn't one that anyone could find.

    The clog was so bad it ruptured stuff under the basement floor, which turned out not to have been properly installed. By the time the exterior and interior line were replaced with very sturdy ABS pipe, cleanouts were placed EVERYWHERE, the concreted was patched, and the lawn was repaired it was an expensive job and my insurance company hated my guts. However, the plumbers promised me that if I could get a pair of sneakers through the drain, they wouldn't clog the line. Tempting as it was, I didn't test this out.

    Two houses later, I still have nightmares. I’ve never bought a house since without insisting on a plumbing inspection separate from the home inspection. Said plumbing inspection included a complete video camera inspection of the sewer lines.

    Best of luck in your ongoing repair saga.

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