Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Addressing Baseless Accusations

(Author's note: For nearly a week, I've tried to get the photos for this post to load on Blogger. FINALLY they did so today!)

For more than two years, the porch columns at This D*mn House were without bases.

When I bricked the porch during the summer of 2008, I tried desperately to pry up the existing column bases. Nothin' doing. One of them even started to bend as if to break. So, I left them alone and worked around them.

The result was that the columns became mounted upon little collection pools for every hard rain. And, during the fall, leaves would even fill the gaps. So, last year, I tried to order some PVC bases. Why PVC? Two key reasons.

First, it would stand the weather. And second, it would be easy to cut in half. (With the columns in place, there's no other way to get a base onto them!)

It took two tries to get these -- and they still weren't really what I wanted.

They were too big. I tried to return them and get a smaller set but the company didn't want to do this a second time. If I returned them, they were going to charge me not only the return shipping but also a restocking fee which combined would wipe out any reimbursement. I didn't find that acceptable.

I know they think I'm a moron and perhaps I am. They did not, however, at any point, really understand what I was doing. So, to steal a line from Cool Hand Luke, "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

And so the bases sat downstairs for nearly a year. Until last Friday.

I decided to try an idea I had to use them. I started by filling in the gaping holes with concrete. That was one of the easiest parts though. It would take a great deal more time and an inordinate amount of patience to finish the job.

My next job was to measure and mark and then carefully cut each of the bases in half.
That was pretty easy, too, thanks to my Firestorm cordless jigsaw. Chop. Chop. Done!

This was where things started to get hairy. Now that the base was in half, I had to carefully fit it around the column, trying to ensure it was both level and aligned where I had cut it.

Once I'd done that, I ran some Loctite along the inside of the base and then along the cut marks on the outside to keep the pieces together. After that, I had to run some mortar mix beneath the base to lock it into place. Then, came the superiorly fun part: filling the gapping base with mortar -- without slopping it all over the column or the base itself.

It was painstaking and required a level of patience that is generally beyond my capacity. Somehow, I managed it. The result was this.

While the mortar set up, I occupied myself with starting on the other column base. Once it was in place, though not filled, I caulked the first base along the cut marks. I then laid one final layer of mortar in the first base and smoothed it out as best I could. By then, it was getting dark so I had to call it a day.

Because the forecast had included the threat of rain, I had to wrap both columns in plastic. Luckily, the rain never came. The next day, I managed to get both columns completed ... except they need a bit of touch up. I put painter's tape around the columns to avoid glomming paint on them (I'm not a good painter) and then painted over the now filled-in bases. The result was this.
You see that little rim of concrete around the column? That's what was left after I took off the painter's tape. The mother is going to touch it up.

When she does, I'll get a new photo of the front with both bases in place. I was worried that even with the paint, it wouldn't look right, but I think it really looks good. Even the mother said it did and she rarely likes anything!


starsimplified said...

Wow! What a great job! It looks wonderful! Doesn't it make you feel good when you come up with a brilliant solution like that? It should. Congrats!

Kate R said...

It looks great, you did an excellent job!