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

Hatches, I’m Depending On You, Son

The laundry cubes were thumping and spinning again, so the pressure is off. It’s good to keep disruptions of your daily routine to a minimum. Of course this whole project is one, big honking disruption to everything, but we don’t mind too much. Little by little the butterfly comes out of the worm. This place ain’t no butterfly, but it’s starting to at least be a moth.

Wandering down the passage to the stairs, you can see that we’ve boxed in the poop pipe. It’s a cast iron job that runs straight up through the house and right out the roof. Ugly as other people’s children. We have to leave the cleanout exposed up near the ceiling, but we re-jiggered it so it doesn’t stick out so much, and clonk the unwary tall visitor in the head.

Heading back the other way, we have to finish the floor over the hatch to the basement. In the comments yesterday, Anne got really confused, and asked me why I didn’t just disassemble the whole house to make the stairs under this hatch less steep. She’s laboring under the misconception that I’m trying to do a good job. I ain’t. If it makes you feel any better, do the same mental arithmetic I do: I didn’t build a crappy staircase. I built a fantastic ladder. See? Problem solved.

This hatch always stuck up out of the floor, and the hardware on it used to trip me every time I passed by on my way back from getting a bag of wood pellets. We’ll solve that problem right now. We beefed up the hatch something awful. I made a version of a torsion box. It’s a sandwich of plywood and solid insulation, and it’s about four inches thick now, and doesn’t feel like a diving board when you walk over it anymore. It gets mighty cold down in the carhole, so it can’t hurt to insulate the hatch to a fare-thee-well.

There used to be a portion of the granite foundation wall sticking into the room in the corner on the right. We boxed that in and insulated it quite a bit with the same sheets of extruded polystyrene insulation. It’ll keep it infinitesimally warmer in the laundry room.

This click lock flooring is good enough for what it is, where it is, and what it cost. It just sort of lays there, though. It’s not attached to anything. That won’t fly on a portion of the floor that’s on hinges. Or more accurately, it will fly. I cut all the pieces to size clicked them together into a single assembly, and glued it down to the plywood subfloor. I shot some small nails around the perimeter to hold it down a little better.

I bought a heavy duty pull ring at the hardware store, and buried it in the flooring and plywood. It’s flush, so no more tripping. There’s not much more to say about the last picture, so I’ll just let you revel in the amazing assortment of tools I have on hand. Two drills from the tenth century, I think. They came with ni-cad batteries back in the day, which died after many years of use. I couldn’t buy any more batteries, because everything had shifted to lithium-ion batteries. I couldn’t bear to throw the tools away. Years later I learned you can plug the lithium-ion batteries into the old tools and they work fine. Then you can ponder the environmental improvements we’ve made my mining charming metals like nickel, cadmium, and lithium by the mega-ton instead of using copper extension cords.

There’s a J roller in the picture. If you lean on the handle and roll it back and forth, it really lets the glue know you want it to stick. There’s a hammer over there by the brick wall, so I’ll have something to trip over, just for auld lang syne. There’s not one, but two kneeling pads, because even though I’m not officially in the way yet, I am getting old.

We took the old handle grip off the top of the door and put it underneath, to give you something to grab if you’re closing the hatch behind you. As you can see, adding a little floor area on the left was worth the trouble. It’s a small landing, but it is a landing. Before we fixed it, you ran straight into the wall at the top step.

You can see the sandwich construction of the hatch in this picture. A 2″ x 4″ frame, with 1/4″ thick luaun ply on the bottom and 3/4″ OSB on the top. It weighs a lot, and it feels just as sturdy as the rest of the floor when you walk on it, which is faint praise, I know, but better is better. It does get foot traffic, because as you can see, the dart board is already on the wall above it.

[To be continued. Thanks for reading and commenting and recommending this blog to your friends. Don’t forget there’s a tip jar in the corner. We wager on the dart games, and I lose a lot. Thanks!]

3 Responses

  1. I was going to comment on the two (2), yes, (ii) knee pads in the picture, but ya beat me to it (not hard when you’re writing the post, eh?). I’ve found that having foam pads in handy places in the house (garage, basement, back yard deck box) helps me prevent even further damage to knees that don’t work all too well right now. It’s a cheap investment to keep the orthopedic guys as far from me as I can.

    Looks like the hatch’s center-of-gravity is far enough over to the side that when it’s fully open it’s not going to fall back onto whoever’s climbing out of the hole. Our attic hatch in the 1901 farmhouse had been insulated by some thumb-fingered moron and added so much weight that when open would not go far enough over to bloody well STAY open. This was something I discovered the first time I used it when inspecting the house prior to buying it. I had to rig up a latch on a roof rafter (hey, “roof rafting” sounds like a new sport) that would catch it when flung open and keep from clonking me on the head.

    To heck with all this work, let’s all go roof rafting!

  2. Knee pads! Thirty plus years ago I got frisky and decided to install marble tile in my newly-purchased home. Despite the knee pads, my knees still twinge a bit whenever I think about that DIY weekend adventure.

    Now that the insulated hatch and gentle ladder/deathtrap stair to the basement are in place, can the cold storage room/wine cellar be far behind?

  3. You do fine work Sippican! But, I am older now and worry about stairs. Also a long time ago DH dug a stairway into the side of a hill at our place. The shorter rise and the wider width of step were/are just perfect for me! Now, whenever I see a stair to be overcome I subconsciously hope for that same perfect formula! As time has progressed I noticed that I really appreciated a handrail on indoor stairs, but then as I grew older even more, I realized I now very much appreciate two handrails where possible!

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