Sunday, November 09, 2008

Installing a new gate

I mentioned earlier that we were building some interesting things with concrete. This is not exactly the most interesting thing I was talking about but, we did make some pretty great posts upon which to swing a gate.

First, we started by forming the posts 9" X 9" square. Each has two pieces of 3/8" re bar running longitudinally in diagonal corners about 2" from the surface of the concrete. There is also a 3' piece of the same size re bar which is bent double to form a loop which sticks out the top of the post a couple of inches to form a lifting eye. Keep in mind, each of these posts will weigh about 400 pounds so, a lifting point is pretty important. One last internal detail is to provide for the gate hinges which are the through bolted type using a 3/4" bolt, about 10" long. We pre-made a couple of holes through the posts by positioning 9" long pieces of 1" square tubing laterally through the forms making very sure they were in the correct position for the gate hinges and that they would be in absolute vertical alignment when the post was set. They were poured right here on the floor of the shed where I park the Caterpillar so that I could work in the shade. Here they are after the forms are removed:

Living in the Texas Hill Country is great and it is very beautiful, however, there is one big draw back and that pops up any time you want to dig a hole. You don't use post hole diggers to dig a post hole around this part of the country. Those are only for cleaning out the debris which is, hopefully, loosened after you have pounded away with your rock bar. There are times you hit something you simply can not get through. I can recall a couple times using a skid loader mounted rock bit with carbide teeth and and turning for 20 minutes with the front wheels of the loader completely off the ground, without cutting one inch into the rock. Fortunately, stuff that hard is rare as it is mostly limestone.
Here is how you set a 400 pound post in the hole and a closeup of one the hinge holes:

Here is the way I like to permanently set a post. We dig this caliche right out the hillside with the loader and mix 5 shovel fulls with 1 shovel full of portland cement and dry tamp it very tightly in the hole. You just can't believe what a rigid post this makes!  Here are the photos in order - caliche, portland cement, mixing it all together, tamping it in the hole:
This is closeup of one of the hinges in place:
And here is the finished gate:

This is a 14 foot, 2" tubing gate purchased from Tractor Supply and it comes pre-painted. I would have liked to have built the gate myself but, you simply can not justify building one when they only cost $155 at Tractor Supply. There is about 100 feet of 2" tubing which would have probably cost more than the completed gate. By the time you add in hardware, painting, welding rod, etc., it is a no brainer.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Can Obama live up to expectations?

We feel as though we have just witnessed one of the most important historical events ever to take place in our lives and we are feeling pretty good about it. Now, we will see if we were correct in our assessment of Obama. Expectations are running extremely high, not only among the majority of Americans who voted for him, but among the rest of the world as well. Talk about carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders! Expectations are so high, I wonder if it is possible for anyone to live up to them?

I hate to say, "I told you so"  ...  not really, I actually love doing that because it happens so rarely. We may have been one of the earlier predictions though. Back on February 13th of this year, long before Obama got the nomination and while Hillary was still trying to change the rules to allow Florida and Michigan to count, we predicted Obama would win the nomination and "beat McCain like a drum."

A Canadian friend emailed me the other day and said they just elected their new Prime Minister after a 2 month campaign. That must be nice; two years is entirely too long. And, I shudder to think this starts all over in just a couple of years. I don't know what we are going to talk about now - probably just sit around and stare at each other.

Anyway, I am ready to think about something else besides politics. We have been building some neat stuff with concrete, I have a new acoustic/electric guitar I want to talk about, I am getting ready to build Peggy an electric steel guitar, and I am thinking seriously about building a curved top, hollow body electric. There may be a green house project in the works. Roads are under construction. Plus, we have to somehow work in our winter trip to the Rio Grande Valley. Stay tuned.