Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve 2009 ...

New Year's Eve is usually a good time for reflection, looking back, what happened, what didn't. I will spare you deep thoughts, as I am quite tired. New Year's Eve is also a good time to look into the future, plans, intentions, and ambitions. As I am not good at predicting the future, I will spare you those thoughts as well.

What I will tell you is, that E! and I will continue working hard to open Gunk Haus.

Work on the bar floor continued, and it is taking its sweet time. I have three rows down (to the right of the gap in the floor), and started to harvest two rows in the garret, which will replace the gap and the two damaged rows to the left of the gap.

I wish you all a Happy New Year.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Series Of Tubes ...

We spent most of our morning picking up the A/C spiral ducts. We had dropped them off on Monday at Mark's, who was going to spray-paint them.

The spiral duct comes in galvanized shiny silver only, which would have looked to intrusive against the beer hall ceiling. So we decided to paint them in a stealth black.

We'll have one duct each on either side of the beer hall running the entire length, and suspended off the ceiling.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Savage Salvage ...

I finished cutting and placing all the wood around the chimney in the bar this morning, which turned out quite nice. I still have to nail it down, though.

I meant to work on a similarly easy floor project for the rest of the day, but I had a brief intervention with myself, where I had to admit that the only reason why I was picking the easy floor projects was, that I wanted to avoid the more difficult ones.

This intervention was successful, and so I drudged up to the third floor, armed with pry-bar and nail puller. Here is the scene of the crime. The glass jars are E!'s beer vinegar, souring away.

I harvested three rows of flooring for now, which took three or so hours (houses aren't built to be easily deconstructed, especially not, if you're interested in preserving the building materials).

This is where the wood will be used.

Off with the damaged flooring material ...

... and on with the good stuff.


Monday, December 28, 2009

War Of The Species ...

Yesterday I left you, and the bar, with a hole in the ground. Today I rectified the situation, framed out the hole, for support ...

... and covered it up again. There is still a little infill necessary, which I'll do after I get a few scrap pieces from the other floor work. Off to the floor around the chimney.

I started filling it with old flooring from the basement, which needs to go to make space for the walk-in cooler. These planks are oak, unlike the floor in the bar, which is pine, but this isn't a problem, as the different wood will will create a nice contrast.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Restaurant Talk ...

We went and picked up some table bases this morning. The seller was another future restaurant in the area, called the Stoney Brae, located on Route 52 in Cragsmoor. Hey, you say, why do you advertise for other restaurants?! Well, for one thing, the Stoney Brae is too far away, the food will be different, and let's face it, there is nothing around here like Gunk Haus. Plus, the more good restaurants are in the area, the more people come here to eat (among other things).

Anyhow, the owner's fiancee met us there, and gave us the tour (we like to tour other restaurants). He had done all the renovations himself, just like us, and it looked spectacular! It made us blush a little, and I am glad we picked the name Gunk Haus, which is somewhat indicative, that not all is straight or plumb, but more rustic with lots of character. As usual, we were chatting about business, the troubles with authorities, and such.

On the way back we stopped by the Tuthilltown Gristmill, to see how our friends' restaurant is coming along, but they weren't home. Yet, they stopped by later at our place. More restaurant talk.

Late afternoon we had our neighbors Gia and Rick drop in, and we proudly gave them the tour.

Understandably, not much work got done today, but we did a little bit. E! is working on doors again.

I started some planning and preparation for repairing the bar floor.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bed Of Nails ...

I finally ripped up the last pieces of old flooring in the bar today, which was easy. This, however, was followed by pulling all the little nails that hadn't come up with the wood. Especially the last layer of thin oak flooring left a lot of nails behind. Do I need to say, tedious.

Now comes the phase of restoration, which I am dreading a bit, largely because I don't know yet how I want to do it, but it will be done, and it will look good (enough), and you'll love, or E! will liquor you up until you love it.

Here's an example of damaged flooring (yes, I am talking about the hole in the ground).


Winter Fun ...

We were over at E!'s sister yesterday morning for yummy waffles, and winter fun activities.

The Yodel King does it again.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Weihnachten 2009 ...

For the most part it was just another day that ends in Y. I just didn't see myself kicking back the entire day, so I continued ripping up the floor in the bar. Although I uncovered some damaged board, it didn't come as a surprise. I spent many a times in the basement looking up, gauging where to expect problems, so I knew all along where the snags would be. The big question was always how the surface of the boards would look like, and I am happy to report that they look great.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Floored ...

The floor in the bar is starting to look better and better. The top plywood layer is all gone, and the second plywood layer is two thirds gone.

The damage to the floor so far is limited, like this hole (which I knew of already). We'll most likely ravage one of the garrets to get matching wood for infill and repair.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This Just In ...

I just received a few pictures from Sarah, who had visited us last weekend. Thanks, Sarah, we miss you.

E! doing research for the menu.

Ripping up the floor in the bar is backbreaking, and dusty.

And this is what it's all about, no, not the mail box, Gunk Haus!!!


As Seen ... 90 Years Ago ...

The peeling of the onion floor in the bar continued today, and I uncovered the first section of the original wide plank flooring, which we intend to restore. So far it is looking very good. This is no surprise, because I uncovered an area which I suspected to be without blemish, aside from that, it had been covered for the last 90 years.

How do I know it has been covered for 90 years? As you remember, just above the wide plank flooring is a 3/8 inch oak flooring, and between the two I found a 1919 issue of the New Paltz Times, the April 9, 1919 issue to be precise. As World War I was over the next big news was the announcement of the schedule change for the Wallkill Railroad.

Aside from the New Paltz Times, I also uncovered an April 11, 1919 issue of the New Paltz Independent. What this means is that in 1919 New Paltz, a town which today has less than ten thousand inhabitants, supported two newspapers. Now that is impressive.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Peeling The Onion ...

I am certain you remember the work on the front entrance, and how I stripped the floor in that area to the original wide plank flooring. Well, now that the ceiling in the bar is plastered, the floor is ready to be fixed up.

That means removing the layers of plywood, vinyl tile, and oak flooring that have accumulated over the decades. It is backbreaking work, but someone's gotta do it ... ;-)


Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Jack Is Back ...

It was, by no surprise, a long day, although it was much longer than expected. We plastered the bar ceiling, and by saying we I largely mean Jack, but that would not give credit to all the helpers, namely E! (master plaster mixer, who was just crazy busy all day), and Sarah (who applied plaster weld on the bar ceiling all morning long).

But the man of the hour (or hours), was, as with the Stube ceiling, our master plasterer Jack. He just whipped the mud onto the ceiling like there's no tomorrow. He was kind enough to leave me a few corners to play around, because I could not keep up.

Mixing plaster is dirty work, and the ingredients (plaster and lime) aren't particularly healthy.

Plastering itself, however, is fun, albeit hard work, especially when plastering ceilings.

It is definitely dirty work.

But it is soooo worth it.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Plaster Ready ...

We have a friend of E!'s stay for the weekend, and put her straight to work. Although it doesn't seem like it, but we're good hosts: We provide shelter and food, and drugs to heal your aches and pains.

It was a long day, but we are ready for plastering tomorrow. We got the seems taped, sanded, and plaster welded. Visible in below picture is part of the wood cover for the steel beam, which I installed today.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day. Jack will be here at 8am, and then it's bang, bang, bang, plaster the bar ceiling. Fortunately we are invited to two parties tomorrow evening, so we can chill out and relax.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Sound Of Gunk Haus ...

I awoke at around 2am to a hissing sound, which told me that a lot of water was running through a pipe. As you can imagine, I was instantly in panic mode. Something had to be wrong, why else would there be a lot of water running in the middle of the night.

On with the bathrobe, and down to the basement (sorry, Amy, no singing this time). As it turned out, everything was fine. It was simply the water softener running its backwash cycle.

Everything was good, except that I was awake again at night. Subsequently, I was rather tired today, and so was E!, but we managed to finish the taping of the bar ceiling.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Almost Done ...

It has been so slow drywalling the bar, but finally we put the last piece up today, almost. We didn't actually close off all the walls in the bar. For one thing, the entrance still needs to be done, and along the north wall the lower section is still open.

Our main goal is to get ready for plastering the ceiling on Saturday. The walls won't be plastered until we have fixed the bar floor, and hence they don't need to be completely covered.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pinstripes And Polka Dots ...

We took a huge chunk out of taping the bar ceiling today. Aside from that we got more drywall in, and, apart from a thin stripe, the ceiling is all covered. We should be able to finish up all drywaling by tomorrow, hopefully, and cover the steel beam with wood (fingers crossed).


Insomniac ...

I may have mentioned before that sleepless nights have become quite common for me. Lying awake for two or three hours several nights a week is not unusual. Normally I entertain myself playing backgammon or sudoku, but a recent anonymous commenter (hi Amy) suggested I do what The Bloggess did on one of her recent posts (parental guidance, I would give The Bloggess blog an R rating).

So here you have it: Der Königsjodler by Fredl Fesl


Monday, December 14, 2009

Master Tape ...

E! is the best taper west of South St, and beyond, and today she applied her skills in the bar. Drywalling the bar was (and still is) not easy, because of the crooked walls and many corners. But that does not deter a master taperess.

I entertained myself with framing out the area to the right of the bar. For those of you who haven't been following this blog for a while, in this area used to be a landing and stair to the second floor. I removed half the landing and a few steps in February, and framed out the ceiling, but never did anything underneath.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Painfully Slow ...

The picture below captures everything I did today, and it doesn't look like much. Look at all the light switches on the wall, it takes quite some time to measure and cut it all out. In the background the trim around the door to the Stube was comparatively easy.

E! was very busy weatherizing the windows all around. With the cold wind blowing around the house it is easy to identify problem areas. Maybe we should apply for funds from the Federal Weatherization Program.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Back At It ...

At long last we hung some more drywall today, closing almost the entire ceiling. Still some more sheets to go. I had wanted to be done drywalling the bar by Sunday, ambitious, I know, but I painfully realized today that we don't have enough drywall, and we're not going to get more until next week (we have to special order it, and it usually takes a day or two for it to come in). I told you before about the whole planing ahead, and clearly I failed that this time. This doesn't mean we'll just sit there and wriggle thumbs, there is plenty of work to be done.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fishing Operation ...

Home renovation, as much as home construction, is a massive logistical operation. If you don't think ahead, way ahead, you end up having to do more work, or redo work you did already.

So far we did a pretty good job at thinking ahead, for the most part, but sometimes we miss a thing or two. Nothing that can't be fixed, until you have all the walls closed off. As we are about close all the walls in the bar, it was time to think what was still missing.

Turned out, we forgot to run two additional wires to the kitchen. These wires run through the ceiling of the wait station, which is rather crowded. As you know, we already closed off the walls (and ceiling) in the wait station, so the only way to get a wire to the kitchen is by employing smart rats, who pull the wires through. Alternately, you push a fishing line through the little cavity (as shown in below picture, where all the wires disappear), and pull the wire through (if you do own a smart rat, who can perform such tasks, I really want to talk to you).

And while I was running wires, I also installed a wire for the second floor bathroom. We're not going to use the wire until a year or two from now, but when we do I'll be happy I already have it there.

Different topic. I got a new toy today. We would have gotten it eventually anyway, but I finally pulled the trigger. I love it, it makes doing dishes so much easier.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What A Bust ...

I woke up (too early) to the sound of snow plows driving by, which could only mean one thing: Snow plow drivers get up earlier than I. Granted, it also meant that it had snowed overnight.

Well, it was time to take out the big guns. You remember that I had wanted to prep the lawn tractor for snow throwing three days ago, which I had to abort because of a missing part. I picked up the part, but never assembled the snow thrower.

So this morning I headed out to throw some snow. The first thing to do was to make sure the tractor actually starts, which it didn't. But I knew, that a safety contact occasionally gets loose, and just needs some wiggling. I wiggled, but it didn't help, short circuiting, however, did help, and that's when I realized that the tractor didn't start, because it wasn't shifted in neutral.

After getting the tractor started, I dragged the (really heavy) snow thrower from the shed. I tried to drive the tractor to the shed through the snow, but it kept on getting stuck on an ever so slightly incline. I should have known right there and then.

Attach the snow thrower to the hitch, and drive out the barn. Ten feet out the door nothing happened. Back up, and try again. Fifteen feet. Twenty feet. I kept on getting stuck, and the snow thrower just didn't throw.

The snow thrower is belt driven, and the belt kept on slipping, because it got wet, and therefore it didn't throw snow. What a downer.

Granted, it didn't really matter, because we have beyond-awesome neighbors, who plow the front of our house. I can not express how grateful we are for the community we live in, and I can only hope that some day we can give back, if only a little.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Exhibit B ...

I thought I'd give you an example of what work is involved to put a few sheets of drywall up on the wall. Look at this innocent section of bar wall: Barely four feet wide, a window, some weird something sticking out of the wall (which may or may not support the chimney).

What isn't obvious from the picture is, that there is already some furring around the window, which creates a step between the furring and the studs, i.e. more work. Anyhow, here's a shot after all that work is done (by adding a lot of wood). And now that I look at it, I realize that I am still missing some wood below the window, which would allow me to affix a radiator.


Monday, December 7, 2009

South Side ...

I assume you know, but let me recap why Gunk Haus is called Gunk Haus. It is named after the Shawangunk Ridge, locally known as The Gunks. The name Gunks Haus didn't really sound so good, and it has a hokey ring to it, where Gunk Haus is just wicked.

The longer I work on Gunk Haus, the more I get the feeling it should be called Fudge Haus. While renovating an old house you can mostly throw your best practice books out the window. Walls are never even, due to sagging window and door frames become crooked, and the hand hewn (and even the milled) timber is wavy or twisted, or both. To compensate for that, there is a lot of shimming in order. With modern material like sheetrock, there is even more shimming necessary, because of its rigidity (in comparison to the old lath and plaster, which would follow a wall's curvature more easily). My approach to shimming is to grab whatever lies around on the floor and stuff it behind the drywall. I am all about getting things done. Getting things done the right way is for people who have all the time and money and resources, I am not those people.

Anyhow, we finally got the south wall of the bar closed off (alright, there is a little piece missing, but who's counting).

More of the same tomorrow, and most likely the day after tomorrow, and possibly for the rest of the week ... ;-)


Sunday, December 6, 2009

No Snow Throw ...

As long-term and faithful readers that you are, you'll remember that I treated myself to a lawn tractor at the beginning of the year. It came with a bundle of attachments, including a snow thrower.

If you don't live around here, you may not have noticed, but we got four inches of snow last night. It had been on my to do list for a while, though I never found the time, to prep the lawn tractor for the white season. With the snow on the ground, there were no more excuses: Today was the day.

So I got the tractor out, or I was going to, but the battery didn't like the cold temperatures, and went on strike. Out with the jumber cables, and zapp, the engine started right away.

Fiddling with the chains was a bit of a challenge, but I figured it out, eventually.

On went the snow thrower hitch, and I got really excited, and went to get the snow thrower (which is really heavy, upwards of 80 pounds). That's when I looked at all the pieces I had and realized that something was missing.

Not finding it, there was only one possibility: I had never received it. So I called the guy I bought the tractor from, and sure enough, he still had it (he didn't have my phone number anymore, but figured I'd call eventually).

By the time I had picked up the piece it was already too late to continue. So I'll finish some other time, and wait for more snow.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hare And Tortoise ...

As fast as we moved with installing drywall on Wednesday, as slow it felt the last two days. I may have mentioned before (or maybe I didn't, but it doesn't really matter) that the bar is the most tricky in terms of drywalling, because there are so many nooks and crannies, odd and uneven walls, in other words: lots of work.

Nevertheless, we got some drywall up on the walls today (and judging from the picture, I should clean the camera lens sometime).


Friday, December 4, 2009

Bar Ceiling ...

We got a few more sheets of drywall up on the ceiling, though there was more cutting and fitting this time. We're starting to hit the areas, which require a bit more preparation (I still have a little bit of framing to do, and run more wires before we can close some of the walls, but it'll happen, don't worry).


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Planning Ahead ...

It was definitely a slow day. I woke up too early (a little after 5am), and felt tired all day. What a great opportunity for some light work.

The bar is the main point of entry to Gunk Haus, and hence the home to the hostess. As we are not completely sure on which side of the main entrance the hostess stand will be, I installed phone and data lines on either side.

As for the bar, you never know which side you want a point-of-sale system installed, so two more phone and data lines, one on either side of the bar.

What we do know is where a wait staff stand will be, and it also needs a phone and data line.

None of this sounds really exciting, or is even picture worthy, but now that we start closing the walls, we need to think ahead, and install whatever is needed (and hope we were smart enough to figure out our needs for the next five years).

While I was pulling wires out of my wire box, E! was running around (driving is more accurate) to pick up supplies, like more drywall, and wood to cover the steel beam we had installed last spring.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Child's Play ...

We started installing drywall on the bar ceiling today, which went so well, that we ran out of material by 3:30pm. Granted, we didn't have to cut much, but in three hours we had installed seven sheets of drywall on the ceiling. As E! demonstrates in below picture, it's easy peasy.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Playhouse In A Day ...

Last Christmas we promised our niece and nephew a playhouse. I always wanted to try timber framing techniques, and this seemed like a good opportunity. As you know, of course, E! and I are busy enough with fixing up Gunk Haus, so there isn't much time to work on a playhouse.

I had all these grandiose ideas and plans, when one day I watched the kids on a playground playing in a little shack-like playhouse. That's when I realized, the whole playhouse idea was all about me, not about them. The best playhouse for kids is the one they have, not a fancy palace with bells and whistles.

So I set out to devise a more simple design, and here is what happened today:

Collect a few palettes, ...

cut holes for doors and windows, and fit the sides together, ...

put the roof on, and celebrate Richtfest (a traditional celebration in Germany, after a house' roof frame has been erected) ...

throw on some slats, and done!

Now, you may say this looks unfinished, and to some extend you're right (although you may want to re-read the beginning of this post about why this is a great playhouse), but at the same time, it gives the kids a chance to work at it themselves (they also did get child-size tool sets last Christmas).