Lots of people have helped my wife & I get through the rewire. We’re very grateful to all of you. The work is now complete and we hope shortly to be issuing cake and electrics party invites. I can’t pretend to have enjoyed any of it but I don’t need to tell you that, I’ve worn my discomfort openly. I suppose most people would grin and bear it, as if they enjoyed climbing into tiny filthy cavities and being perpetually injured. The worst of it was at the beginning with no heating or hot water. My evenings around the hearth cast long shadows and then none at all after it went on fire itself. This unfortunate start percolated into most of the rest which followed.
Along the way, my camera has broken, so I can’t dish up the long anticipated finished shots. Mind you, nothing looks that completed. You can’t see a safe electrical installation – it’s the ones which you can see which are likely to cause problems.
In an age when we’ve become very used to just turning something off and back on again to make it work properly, we’d do well to remember that all these machines still depend on something which few of us understand: steam power. Despite giving various names to the technologies we use to create electricity, all of them are still rooted in the steam age. We turn water to steam, to drive pistons, to create this useful force. We often comment that without electricity, our lives would become very difficult to live, very quickly. So few of us have both the skills and resources to survive such an ordeal, social breakdown would seem inevitable. We’re not just accustomed to power at the flick of a switch, we’re dependent on it.
This dependency turns us into addicts for the means to make the steam we need. Like most junkies, we don’t care about the quality of the means to our highs, so long as we obtain electrical comfort. Consequently, we poison our planet. We carbonise the atmosphere and irradiate our soils and waters. Although we have the means to resolve these secondly problems, our society seems blind to their urgency. The steam has got in our eyes.
Posted in Electrics
About an hour ago marked this time. It wasn’t the gracious moment long hoped for, tempered as it was by the recent receipt of a rather unpleasant email and, much more importantly, the pain of finishing with this burn wound on my back.
Nasty. Don’t play with candles (I wasn’t). It’s about the size of a hand. Probably because of the way it was put out.
The happy couple whose wedding night was too hot for me will most probably not wish to be publicly associated with a fool who can’t dance near a candle in his new shirt. Oh.
So, the event which I’d been long waiting for, the end of the #rewire, finally came. A few last minute hiccups, nothing too serious, and the final switch was thrown. Frankenstein’s monster screeched, wrenched free from its bed and stormed off into our home’s 20th century nervous system. I confess to not wishing to see wireless power invented any time soon.
Posted in Electrics
At last, after all these years of waiting, the interview none could catch. Some cunning Australian accountants did the math and talked the ultimate engineer, Neil Armstrong out. So to hell with good blogging, and over to them. Don’t read me – watch the four short episodes in turn and … imagine.
Myself, Mr Armstrong’s point never seemed more gigantic, more courageous and more aduous than listening to him describe a last minute fix to get off the moon. After describing his suit’s Frankensteinesque maneouverability’s combination with the cumbersome backpacks, Mr Armstrong notes that “his colleague” has knocked into a circuit breaker. It looks a bit damaged. Trouble is, that’s the breaker for the main thrust. He says it looks okay but there must be some doubt because they decide to strengthen it by jamming a marker pen into it. He’s travelled to the moon, manually landed with only 20 seconds of fuel left and now he’s performing electrical work into order to leave. To think that I have been grumbling about my own electrical issues. On the moon!
Neil Armstrong Interview in four parts.
Seriously. Look what we can do. Now look at what we are doing. If we can put ourselves on the moon, we can sort out the climate problem. Seriously. Imagine.
Assuming that I have any left, regular readers will know that I have been rewiring my own house. This has taken me to corners of the cavity underneath the floorboards and the attic which I’d rather not have been. The attic is covered in glass wool loft insultation. Horrible stuff. It gets all over you and itches. I’m a big fellow. Some of the spaces I’ve worked in have been very small. It’s hard to show this with a photograph because I’m always jammed in the space and there isn’t someone else to take the shot. Until the work is safe, I can’t let anyone else in the house.
Click to enlarge image
This humble hole leads to a box cavity above my shower. The shower is lit by a pesky downlight. I hate downlights now. I’d have them banned. They don’t work as well as other room lights which throw the light around. They generate lots of heat, which makes them a substantial fire risk (necessitating all sorts of other remedial strategies) and they are devilishly fiddly to install. I’ve changed my lighting plan considerably to abandon the inclusion of any further downlights. I’ll probably sell the others on ebay though that makes me feel guilty for perpetuating the bloody fad. That’s what they are: a fad which has got completely out of hand. In the future, they’ll be regarded as embarassing and people will be baffled about why so many householders installed them, in the same way that leylandii trees are now seen. Garden decking will also suffer this fate.
The hole above is only just wide enough for me to insert an arm into. I had to lie, face down into the ancient glass wool loft insulation (that’s the brown stuff you can see), stretched across the rafters, with my left arm completely inserted into the cavity and feel around until I found the cutout for the shower light, to feed the cable through. I am right-handed but I couldn’t lie the other way around because there are pipes in the way.
Click to enlarge image
There’s the pipes. The beams coming down on the left of this image are not the edge of the house – there’s another room below to their left. I have to turn sideways to get between these beams. The secret to surviving this sort of carry on is to wear a facemask, a decent headtorch and kneepads. Kneepads are crucial! Why don’t they make them in bright colours though? What’s the point of making something black or dark green?
Click to... oh you know!
This was the trickiest working space I’ve ever been in my life. Six foot two is the wrong height to do this kind of work! In the picture above you can see the space to the left of the beams on the left of the previous picture. Oh look! There’s a secondary water tank. I guess the water tanks are put where they are easy to access but, for my purpose, they were in the way of everything I had to do. In this image you can see a dark round junction box. Inside that there’s the wiring arrangement to deal with an incoming cable, an outgoing cable, a cable to the bloody shower downlight and a cable to the switch.
Just not in the mood for blogging. Not in the mood for completing the last lighting circuit either. It’s a particularly tricky number.
Yesterday I started and completed the main equipotential bonding. Here’s the incoming gas pipe bonded to earth.
That wasn’t done before…
The bottom of this wall had turned to a lose crumble. Luckily the bit above was held intact by the bit around the side. I remortared it and squeezed a 35mm back box into it. Just under an hour later, I wriggled the back box out and waited another 23 hours.
Yesterday I spent my day moving furniture that was in the way, lifting carpet, lifting underlay and feeding a lonely cable through the various sleeping walls under my living room floor. It was no fun at all. It was hard, dusty, back breaking work.
Eventually, I reached the other side of the room, where I discovered that the bottom of the wall had collapsed.
My ambitious plan to finish the living room rewire without moving the furniture out (there being nowhere to put it) was thus thwarted. This wall needed repairing first. You can’t rely in the top of a wall staying up with the bottom missing.
At this point, knackered, I retreated into a bath for an hour. Although the plan had involved a really hot one, my fatigue prevented the management of suitable temperature control. Tepid had to do.
After that I went off to Brighton & Hove Green Party’s general meeting, where I learnt more about the government’s education policy than everything I’ve ever picked up from the so called quality media. The party had adopted a new format for its general meetings, which was a success. It was good to see a whole bunch of new members too.
Afterwards we retired to The Claxton for a couple of quiet pints in time honoured political tradition. At some point after eleven I received a message from my wife, lovingly urging me not to get too drunk. At that moment, I decided to follow my pal Ian’s advice: “a long walk home gets the best out of the beer”.
He’s right. Three and a half miles later and here I am, sober, happy and ready for bed. If I’m raring to go in the morning, it won’t just be good advice, it’ll be sage wisdom. We shall see.
Spent yesterday taking things apart. Things made in a time now called yesteryear. Electrical things. Mainly it was old sockets and junction boxes. I’m going to recycle the copper – it’s worth a bit of money these days. Scrap merchants will pay for it. You can ring around for prices and take the best offer. Gone are the days when you had to pay them to take it away.
The most interesting deconstruction involved my old fuse board.
The real highlight of my day was a visit from my wife, who was absolutely delightful. She didn’t stay long – I sent her off to a gig she wanted to go to, whilst I went back to work. Regular readers will know that a little while back, this grafting project of mine came close to deconstructing my marriage. I’m pleased to report that we’re a happy couple once more, albeit in difficult circumstances.
Took down the wall mounted cabinets in my kitchen yesterday: three double, five single and one half cupboard cupboards. All on my own. This was not easy. Also made two new cavities, for switch fused spurs. These are going to handle the under cabinet lighting. After that I took down all the tiles in the kitchen. Now the kitchen looks like this:
That’s the first time I’ve seen that little window from the inside. Here’s another image of the theoretical kitchen:
And one last one, as much for my benefit as anyone else’s:
After all that, I went out to catch up with my wife, who is sensibly staying at a friend’s house. Luckily, there were some leftovers from their meal when I got there. A couple of beers, a well timed bus journey home and I slept like a man being sued by Paul Randle-Jolliffe. Untroubled.