One of the things about being retired is that you can offer your services to help a buddy do something because…well…because you really haven’t got anything else to do and it’s nice to go for a car ride.
Yesterday was one of those days when I had a little free time and a friend, Darrell needed a hand to put a window in his hunting camp, which is actually an old mobile home that he has parked on his property in the woods about an hour or so from the cottage. It had all the qualities of a day I enjoy, a ride in a pickup truck, carpentry work, outdoors with nature and when he said the girls were coming and we would barbecue for lunch, I started lacing up my work boots.
So with my assortment of tools gathered up and into the tool box we set off on Wednesday to do a little renovation work on the old camp. It was a great day, sunny and hot, but not so hot that it was unbearable to be working on a little carpentry project. Besides, Darrell has a great sense of humor and his wife and Wendy seem to get along very well, so besides being a good day for carpentry it was a good day to spend with some friends. So all four of us headed out early Wednesday morning, Darrell’s truck loaded with our carpentry tools, windows and framing wood and silicon caulking and us.
A beautiful morning for a car drive through the rolling hills and farmland on the way to his little hunting hideaway. I would have enjoyed the drive a little more had I been able to sit still in the truck, but the leather seats, perserved, no doubt forever with copious amounts of spray-on-leather-protectant, had me slipping and sliding off the seat. By the time we got there my hands were cramped from hanging on.
Well the project turned out to be a little more challenging than expected, but then again what renovation project doesn’t turn out to be a little more challenging that expected? In this case, the age of the mobile home, coupled with a window that probably had been leaking for awhile, coupled with an infestation of ants, had taken it’s toll on the existing window frame and related wood supports.
Now a lot of carpenters and handymen would have probably rethought the project when they discovered the ants, but not Darrell and I, no-sir-eee, because we are far from the designation “carpenters” or for that matter “handymen”. We are more of the git-er-done type of guy, guys who are undaunted by little problems like ants, bats, and hornets nests, all of which we encountered during the day. The bat was really unrelated to the window project, unfortunately he was hanging around the door to another building where a lot of the supplies we needed were stored. No big deal, Darrell, always good with animals, chatted with him for a minute or two and the bat disappeared, never to be seen again that day. Unfortunately Darrell’s communication skills with bats is much better than his skills with ants.
So, long story short, and I intend to keep this short because I tend to go on and on and on when I am writing these kinds of stories, telling you every annoying little unimportant detail, extra stuff you don’t need to know, like us finding a hornets nest and…..oh yes…umm…back to the project….
So we studied the job for a couple of minutes, then started tearing out the old window and the old window frame etc, getting down to the tedious part of the job, framing for the ‘new-old’ window.
Did I mention that the window we were putting in was about as old as the one we took out, only in better shape. I think Darrell, always one to consider home decor with some degree of seriousness, wanted to keep the look and feel of the old hunting camp as authentic to the period when it was built as possible.
He also liked the idea of having the window removed so he could sweep out the camp.
An interesting thing happened when we framed up the opening for the new-old window, which by the way is appreciably smaller than the original window. Seems our measurements were a little…well….”off” and we ended up with a frame that was too small for the new-old window. Now I take the credit or blame for this one, because as my disclaimer, located in the right-hand sidebar clearly says, “I am not a handyman…I can barely change a lightbulb…etc” I should update that to include that I really am not much good at measuring stuff either…nor am I much good sawing stuff….But then again, how could anyone cut anything accurately while his buddy chooses the same time to start dancing some kind of “Irish Jigg” behind me.
But what I lack in handy-manli-ness I make up for with ea-gar-ness, and a love for tearing stuff apart. So we quickly tore out the new frame and re-measured, about 5 times before we cut anymore wood. After a few aborted attempts, we got the frame sized correctly and the window installed !!
Now here is where it probably hit the two of us….the new-old window was considerably smaller than the old window we removed. That means, you either have built in air conditioning, or you need to fill it in with something. We hadn’t particularly thought that far ahead. It was also about that time of day when I take my shirt off and my pants start to droop down from the weight of all the nails and stuff that I was stealing from Darrell and putting in my tool belt pouch. It was really getting heavy.
“What are we going to do about those openings?” Darrell asked, “What are we going to use to fill in the opening around the window?”
“No worries.” I replied, in my best handyman who has it under control voice, “I thought ahead and brought some tubes of silicon, a couple of tubes should do it, they make that stuff pretty strong these days.”
“I’ve got a couple tubes of it too.” Darrell said. adding, “You can never have enough silicon.”
“Perfect.” I replied, trying to sound calm as I climbed the stepladder, which was as old as the original old window, (Darrell really likes to keep the “look and feel” of the old camp authentic) trusty caulking gun…err…cocked and ready.
It was about this time in the project that Wilma, Darrell’s better half, decided she had seen enough, jumped on the lawn tractor and headed for home.
Watching her drive up the lane Darrell said, “Don’t worry, she will be back, either she runs out of gas or the police will stop her on the highway.” as he turned his attention back to the silicon job he was doing on the opposite side of the window from me. I briefly considered going with her, but at that moment my fingers were siliconed to the window and my tool belt had fallen down around my ankles. Besides, Wendy had already ran after her and there wouldn’t be room for all three of us on a 12 horsepower lawn tractor.
Well…turns out that four tubes of silicon, are not enough to fill in big gaps in the sides of mobile homes, despite the claims on the side of the tube…..
But again, resource-ful-ness, ea-gar-ness and des-par-ation came to the fore (and no, we didn’t use duct tape) Some scrounging around in the
junk supplies that Darrell has piled up everywhere stored carefully in another building, found us some material that we could use to close in the opening around the window. Couple that with the tubes of silicon caulking, most of which ended up on my fingers, in my hair (and unfortunately on the zipper of my pants) we had things looking pretty good.
In fact, we were so proud of the job we did that we got Wendy to take our picture with the finished product.
If you look carefully at the above pic, you will see that Darrell’s hand is stuck to the window frame, apparently I am not the only guy challenged by silicon caulking. He started to panic until Wilma, who had returned from her
attempt to run away tractor ride, pointed out that if worse comes to worse, he could just take the glove off. While a good idea, it didn’t sound nearly as much fun as my plan to free him using the jig-saw.
Even the ants seemed happy with their new window, I saw several of them wave to us as we drove out of the driveway on our way home…..
Fortunately I was able to see the rolling hills and farmland much better on the drive home, I had gotten some of the silicon caulking on my pants and I stuck to the slippery protectant-coated leather truck seats.
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