Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Condo

After living here for two months and four months after closing the condo, phase 1, is 99% completed. 

There were only a few surprises along the way that added to the adventure. A leak in the wall in the laundry room which wasn't a big deal because I wanted to change the valves any way. An electrical Gremlin that I just couldn't get sorted. I just left it alone until I moved in and finally decided to tackle it. Just as I was about to give up and call an electrician I had an odd idea and changed the breaker on that circuit and problem solved. The biggest issue and most troubling was the living room floor that had a 3/4" depression the length of the room. After checking all of my options I went with carpet in that area because it was the cheaper, faster way around the problem.

The most important thing I've learned during this process is when your new neighbor tells you, "I really shouldn't say anything," you might not want to ask why. Seems the previous occupant of the condo was an elderly gentleman who was taking care of his elderly wife who had Alzheimer's. He decided it was to much and shot himself, in the head, in the bedroom. 

The neighbor found out when a landscaper knocked on her door and asked if she knew the lady and he told her she needed to go see her because she said she hasn't eaten in two weeks. When the neighbor asked her where her husband was she said, "I think he's dead." She walked in to find him in the bed and sure enough he was expired!

So, the condo came with it's very own Poltergeist! I attributed the misplaced tools and toilet seat being left open to me being forgetful! Once I started putting something on the seat it stayed closed. My daughter tried to get me to have a sage burning ceremony, but I had a get out of here talk with the old fella and the only issue now is the garage light is always on and the odd bump in the night. 

Phase 2 will be changing the tub and its six inch step down to a zero barrier walk in shower. That will not take place until around the first of the year because I am tired and need to get out and about to explore all the amenities of the retirement community. 

My original time line allowed four months to complete the renovation and I used all of it in big part because I just plain got lazy. My landlord letting me out of my lease early was a great benefit because I lived here for half of the renovation time and while it allowed me to be lazier that I should have been it was also helpful to be here during the finishing touch stage. Maybe now I can get back to doing some riding if these 98 degree, 75% humidity days would end.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Racing the Heat and Rain

Tuesday morning 5:40 AM and still 88 degrees at the condo. Needing a break and to blow the cobwebs off of Stella I headed out looking for some cooler weather. The Weather Guessers were saying monsoon rains were headed this way and flash flood warnings were the order of the day. With that poor family that was wiped out last weekend flash flood warnings aren't to be taken lightly, but I was planning on staying on higher ground.

The above sunrise picture was taken about 5:45 six miles from the condo. Looking North it was light clouds and sunshine. As I entered I17 the temperature was dropping as the elevation increased. By Sunset Point Rest area it was down to 76 degrees and feeling pretty good. Little to no traffic made it pretty nice to finally be out on Stella.  In the move I can't find my AA battery charger, so the camera was useless. I didn't even think to look for it until this morning. So, iPhone pictures it is.

There were two burn areas along I10, one on the West side and one on both East and West sides and the median. Clouds were building quickly North of me, so I took the exit for Prescott. The area around Dewey, Arizona had really been scorched over a wide area. It seemed really odd to see a house standing in the center of a circle surrounded by everything else burned. In the traffic I didn't stop and take pictures.

Made a breakfast stop in Prescott Valley with a very pleasant 75 degrees. Then it was through Prescott and connect to Arizona 89A and the twisties down the mountain through Yarnell and Wickenburg. 

Stella taking a breather at a water break. It was here the temps started climbing. It was 85 here with a touch of humidity. By the time I hit the garage it was 95, 42% humidity, and a heat index of 102 and that was only 10:45! We have had some rain each of the last three days and huge winds that have caused a lot of damage around the valley. My condo hasn't had any damage, but several around me have had their roofs blown off.

The condo is nearly finished with only minor touch up and finishing detail work left. It is looking pretty darn good if I do say so myself and I will be updating that in the next few days.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Is This What Happens.... you age?  Mortality rears its ugly head and plants a seed that is difficult to dismiss from your thoughts. After my minor heart attack last November it took a few weeks to quit thinking about it and get on with living. Getting older has its perks and I, for one, never want to go back to any prior age. I enjoy my 10% off at Denny's!

My pop used to comb the obituaries in several newspapers, in several states, looking to see who he knew that died. When he found someone he would tell me about them and then relive a story or two of their youthful foolishness. I thought it an odd past time, but then he was over 80 and refused to get out of the house much.

Well, when only in your early 60's and people around you start dying it is sobering. The day after last Christmas my eldest sister died at the tender age of 64. True she had been ill for a while, but still only being 64 is tough to take. Now my ex's brother who is the eldest, who just happens to be 64, is in the hospital and not expected to see the weekend. Weird coincidence for sure, but makes me think because I'll be 64 in less than a month!

The ex told me, "Getting old sucks!" 

I have to disagree with that, getting old rocks!! Dying before you're old is what sucks! I think I'll just skip being 64 and get right to being 65. Maybe nobody important will notice. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Slow Going Is Still Progress

I have now lived in the condo for two weeks. The progress has slowed as I am now in the tedious, multistep, small finishing touches. Also I am not working the long hours I was in the first two months which is a good thing.

One thing I have noticed since moving in is that I completely overlooked many of the incidental items needed. Items like a bathroom mirror, towel bars, paper holder, and window coverings. Then there was/is the electrical gremlin that I refuse to give in to. I have been tempted to call in an electrician, but have struggled through to the point I now have all but three outlets working. At one point half of the condo's outlets and switches didn't work. So, progress has been made slowly.

Reminder of the before

 The new


As hard as I tried I just couldn't make the Farmer's sink work. 

 The bath

Monday, May 8, 2017

Milestone Day

Today is the beginning of week 7 in the condo remodel and is the biggest milestone to date... the counter tops will be installed. 

Sitting on ready

Getting here has been fun and the complications minor, but I am feeling the need to take a break for a road trip. I had planned to make every Sunday a no work, go ride day, but I have worked every Sunday for the entire six weeks. I'm trying to convince myself that taking tomorrow off to go ride will make the push to the end more enjoyable. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Hitting The Wall

I got to the condo yesterday morning with no motivation and just a feeling of agitation. I forced myself to start cutting tile for the entryway and things just weren't progressing. It took 34 days of long hours to finally hit the wall of I don't want to do this. So, I packed it in and went back home for a nap. After an hour I knew I had to do something for the progress to continue.

I headed out and picked up my backsplash, a new ball valve for the water heater, and a hose bib for the back patio. I'm not really much of a shopper and this was just things that needed to get done and made me feel at least a little productive. Arriving back at the condo I began to update the electrical outlets and switches. 

Earlier in the week the cabinet guys came and installed cabinets. Two experienced guys, with all the speciality tools, and tricks of the trade worked for a full, hard ten hours installing the twelve boxes. I think I am thankful that I chose to have someone do that part of the project for me. The end results were pretty good.

Artists rendering

 Actual placement stove side

Rendering sink side

 Actual install

So, today is the end of week five. I am going to be really busy today because the appliances are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow. I have to grout the breakfast nook and laundry room, get the old refrigerator out of the kitchen, put together the laundry room cabinets and maybe hang them, install the Farmer's sink in the cabinet, and get back to installing the tile into the bathroom to be able to set the vanity for the granite guys on Monday. 

Using the 6" wide wood look tile has doubled the number of cuts required to put this floor  down, but it will look great once the all the work is done. I am being really anal about keeping the all the grout joints at 1/8" and that is also adding to the amount of work involved. 

Just a couple of examples. The baseboard will cover the broken end in the lower right hand corner of the upper picture.

The good part is I am only about four feet from returning to everything being square and all cuts will be simple, straight cuts and won't have to worry about all the angles with compound cuts.

The best part is it is looking like I will have enough of the work done to be able to move in by the end of May. I will do the finishing touches while dealing with the chaos and mess. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Funday Sunday

I made the executive decision to work on the condo Sunday instead of riding. I have to be ready to have the granite measured next Monday and don't want to put it off. So, I grouted the kitchen floor.

Then I was cutting the edge tiles on the back of the kitchen wall in the living room. Laying it all out I came upon a big problem. The floor has a settlement crack the length of the room. Seen them before and usually not that big of a deal. But, the two foot length of the tiles means the floor has to be leveled out.

This is with the bar shimmed to level. Just after the crack the entire floor has a low spot. I will be using some concrete leveler to float it out.

This little hiccup had the potential to mess with my schedule. But, I'm going to fix this and have decided to hire a cabinet installer for the kitchen cabinets. The cheapest cabinet to be installed is just over half of what I can get them installed for. One miss directed screw would mean waiting for a replacement cabinet, plus the cost of it. While an installer could also have that problem I'm thinking I am more likely to have it happen.

With the floor stopping the tiling process Sunday, I did the only thing I could think of. I went for a ride! Headed out on Stella to look at appliances. It was in the high 90's when I left. I will say ATGATT on a near 100 degree day, when making multiple stops, was a pain. After two stops with salespeople being less than truthful I will just turn to Home Depot or Lowe's. 

Sunday afternoon traffic was busy, as expected, but the closer to out of town I got the better it got.  It wasn't until I was out of town that I realized the vents on my helmet were closed. It also clouded up and the temperature began to drop. With the vents open it was quite pleasant to be out on Stella. 

I logged in just over 90 miles of smile inducing, much needed, wind therapy. I was nearly back into town when the best part of the ride occurred. Mr. Harley rider pulled up next to me at a light, revved his loud pipes, and made motions that he would outrun Stella when the light changed. I let him leave first, but quickly hit redline for two shifts and Mr. Harley was in my rear view mirror. I slowed and he passed me like he was doing something. Stella had her first drag race, and first time hitting her redline, and did quite well.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Four Week Report

I am now four weeks into my condo remodel. In one respect it seems like a long time, but in another I have accomplished a lot in a short period of time. I keep forgetting I had to wait for two weeks for Marty, the drywall guy, to fit me in. It was well worth the wait as he is a magician with making repairs and once he was here it went quickly.

While Marty was fixing all the drywall issues I was assembling the new kitchen cabinets. As I was working on them I was thinking it was like putting together a high end IKEA product. I have put put together plenty of IKEA products for my girls in the days gone by. All components of the Cabinets To Go cabinets are real wood and of a high quality, but come unassembled in flat boxes.

My assembly area

 Dovetail drawers on all boxes

Once Marty was done it was time to get busy painting. I purchased a Harbor Freight airless sprayer that had the potential to work great, but operator error led to less than desirable results. I finished up with the old fashion pan and roller.

Sun City residents love to come by and see what you're doing. They also love to have you come see what they did. Some of their projects look terrific and some leave me scratching my head. An example would be the one with the same tile in one unit that goes in a different direction in every room. I couldn't imagine living in that kind of environment. I have also seen several with up to five different floor coverings in the same unit. 

 Being on a deadline and needing to get the cabinets installed I pulled off the painting to start the tile work. Because of what I had seen it took me about three hours to make a final decision of where to start. The entry way to my unit is on a fourty five degree angle to the rest of the unit. That would leave the tile in the three major rooms all running on a diagonal, which in square tiles looks great, but the wood look tile not so much. So, I started in the kitchen, laying in the traditional pattern. This will leave my entryway to run on an angle, but making everything else square and easier to lay. 

My plan is to lay as much tile as I can today, completing the kitchen and breakfast nook section, then working in the living room area back towards the entry way. Sunday I will grout the kitchen area to enable me to start hanging the cabinets on Monday. Have to have them done so the granite guys can do the templet the following Monday. Somewhere this week I have to find the time to go order my appliances.

In another stroke of luck my landlord has agreed to terminate my lease early without penalty. I have been here five years and getting out three months early will be nice.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Sort of Ride

Monday started with me painting doors. After four coats on each door I decided to go for a ride. Headed home for a quick lunch and shower and I was off.

In short order the catch in my lower back started to become an issue. The combination of the riding position and lack of riding and it was getting uncomfortable. At the 50 mile mark I was near the Sunset Point rest area, so I pulled in.

The high desert was awash in the yellow blooms that attest to the amount of rain we have had. The only bad part will be the wildfire season.

Looking off the other side of the rest stop shows the green already turning brown.

Because I am a smart person I left the camera at home, so the iPhone pictures are all I got. Anyway, after stopping I almost couldn't get off of Stella. After a pit stop and some stretching it wasn't loosing up, so I aborted the ride and headed back toward the house.  

My ride only lasted 100 miles. 100 uncomfortable miles and ended with a nap. The nap was interrupted with the call that my cabinets are in and I will pick them up Wednesday or Thursday after I get the freshly painted doors out of the garage. I then went to Home Depot and got a different brand of paint. I will be back to full time get it done mode in the next day or two.

Tuesday was spent painting doors and door jambs for nine hours and ending with copious amounts of Deep Blue Rub. I hate back issues, but will try to get a ride in on Saturday if the drywall guy doesn't work. I will be on hold while he is doing his magic on the condo.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Started Putting The Condo Together

The tearing it apart stage is a thing of the past and the putting it back together has started. First step was the repair of the cold water line that was leaking in the wall. Adding a washing machine box with quick shut ball valves brings things into the modern era.

Cutting some holes to put the electric into the attic where it belongs, instead of being stapled to the ceiling.

 The big, bottom hole is where the junction box was protruding the wall and was just covered with drywall mud. The electric line was then stapled up the wall and across to the fan. Not safe and ugly as Hell.

After a three day wait the new doors arrived late Thursday afternoon and Friday morning I got to work. In less than five hours I had all six of them installed.

There was a sea mural painted on the wall surrounding the back yard that had to go. I jumped the gun and started painting before I took a picture. This is the part on the side of the garage.

Fresh, new white walls. I was just searching for things to do.

I have literally worked myself out of a job for a few days. Nothing else can continue until the drywall is repaired and textured. That isn't scheduled to start until Thursday. I think Saturday I will prime the bare wood of the door frames and sand the doors.

Early next week I am going for a ride! There will be a report after it happens.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What Is That Screeching Sound?

Four days into the remodel and things were moving smoothly and quickly. Even removing the popcorn ceiling went better than expected.

Then the brakes were applied. The washer valves wouldn't shut off, so I got a couple of hose caps and fixed that temporarily until I could cut into the wall to replace them

Unfortunately when opening up the wall I found what appeared to be a leak on the cold water line. The top right shows what really old copper should look like when not exposed to leaking water.

Yep, its a weeper

I will have to open the wall up some more to be able to replace the leaking T and to put in a new washer box. May as well use the latest gismos since I cut into the wall.

The drywall guy came by today and gave me a livable price, but can't do the work for two weeks. Texturing the ceiling and patching all the holes in the walls is something best left to the professional so I will have to wait. Waiting means removing the 500 feet of existing tile, patching the cracks in the floor, installing four new doors, converting a pocket door to a real door, relocating three electrical boxes, running the electric for a ceiling fan in the attic instead of stapled to the wall and ceiling of the bedroom, removing the water heater for the tile installation and changing to a ball valve shutoff, painting the closets and pantry, and taking out all the pavers in the little back yard to make Dexter a potty place. That will also mean at least two more trips to the dump.

Minor surprises aren't a bad thing as long as they stay minor and I can fix them myself. That makes them affordable and just adds to the fun. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

As Luck Would Have It....

....Stella was finally ready to be picked up the day I received the keys to the condo. So, now I have two operational motorcycles and the need to get to work on rehabbing the condo. Decisions, decisions…..necessity overcame what I wanted to be doing and the demolition of the condo commenced. 

Before pictures

Friday night I removed the cabinet doors and microwave.

I spent 18 hours over Saturday and Sunday getting busy. After watching many hours of home improvement shows it didn’t take long to find one of those ahhh s@#t moments. The generic fiber board cabinets weren’t modular and had been built in place. Being built in a time when the Unions were strong they were built to last with thousands of staples and came apart one board at a time. Slowing me down was probably a good thing. But, I managed to need a trip to the dump Saturday to prevent a standstill anyway.

The doors were something called split jamb doors which I had never seen before. Basically the door frame came in two pieces with the door trim already installed. My home inspector told me you just have to beat them off with a BFH, but that sounded like a good way to tear everything up. I searched the internet and found thousands of install videos, but not one removal one. After looking it over carefully I made a plan to bust off the door stop and tried it out. It worked perfectly and with the stop removed the two halves just pulled apart in under five minutes a door. The reason for the removal is they are covered in some dark brown, plastic coating that is near impossible to remove. The pantry door had been painted and it looked awful, so new doors it is. 

Worst part so far is the plumbing for the kitchen sink isn't in the wall! I can't believe they didn't make the plumbers move it, but what are you gonna do 45 years later.

So, the updating on the condo is in full swing. I’m planning on a ten hour, six day work week until completion. I’ll take Sundays off to go ride and after the major demo is done and all my dump runs are complete I will ride Petunia or Stella over to the condo everyday. Who knows I may even take the long way home once in a while.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Updates..Stella, Petunia, Life

Today starts the fifth week of Stella being at the Dealer to have her rear drive assembly fixed. Updates have been sporadic, calls not returned when promised, and questionable excuses have been offered. But, when you are the only Dealer within 350 miles you hold all the cards. The two best excuses are #2 the mechanic quit and took the special tool with him. 

The #1 best excuse is the non reusable keeper is on back order and should be here in thee weeks. I told him to just put it together with the used keeper and call it good. That is when he used excuse #2. He called me Thursday morning and said the tool would be in Friday and he would call me back as soon as it came in. I’m still waiting.

Well, at least Petunia is back up and running. But, is being naughty and blew a fuse yesterday that I have to check out this morning.

At the end of this week I begin my next project. Because I just don’t know when to quit I purchased a fixer upper condo in the retirement area known as Sun City West. I close on the little gem Friday, the cabinets and granite are ordered, and I plan to start the demolition on Saturday.

I hope I'm not getting to old for all this fun!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Fine Mess

Here in Arizona, known for abundant sunshine, we have had an usually cloudy, wet beginning to the year. January had only a couple of sunny days and February hasn't been much better. But, I have snuck in a few rides to nowhere just to ride. I take the camera and then don't use it. Just thrilled to be out on the bike and don't think about it until I am back in the garage.

I had been noticing a small drip of oil under Stella, after these rides, and looking at where it was dripping from the source couldn't be located.  Then Thursday morning entering the garage there was a puddle bigger than a Homer bucket. Went to the Guzzi forum for some help and it was suggested the leak was either the CARC (transmission in Guzzi speak, rear end in the real world) pinion seal or the gearbox output shaft seal (transmission in the real world). 

Solution was to pull the CARC and have a look see. So, I did and this is what I see  

I clean up the mess and sit the CARC to the side and half an hour later it looks like this just from sitting and with no pressure at all in the unit because I have the vent on top removed.

Now, on one hand this is great news as this is the pinion seal leaking which is the easiest to replace and I was planning to remove it anyway to grease the swing arm bearings that seem to come from the factory dry. The bad news is it requires two special tools and not using either of them very well could ruin the CARC beyond repair. The CARC replacement is close to 40% the value of the bike! There in lies another problem. There are only two Guzzi Dealers in the State of Arizona. Neither of which have a very good reputation when it comes to service.

On the recommendation of the forum I contacted the Houston, Texas Dealer and they want the whole bike, not just the broken part. But, on the bright side they confirmed it would be covered by warranty. I began to think that would mean anything that would go wrong in the future would require a trip to Houston and who knows how long to wait for parts to get there from Italy to get the repair done. 

It gets even better when a dealer from the Land of Oz chimed in with DON"T RIDE IT ANYWHERE! He included a list of what could go wrong in just a very few miles and it isn't pretty.

The closest dealer here is 60+ miles, one way, from me, will require getting a trailer, and hoping the reviews I have read are wrong. I'm not sure this is the adventure I was looking forward to when I went Italian.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Time To Quit Farkling

It is just about time to leave Stella alone and get to riding. She is as farkled as she needs to be at this point. The only thing I really need on her now is miles. The finishing touches were in the wind protection and helmet buffeting area.

The new Scorpion helmet is great, but there was some buffeting that the old HJC didn't have. I made some adjustments and finally added a Laminar Lip. That was the least expensive option I could find.  It worked pretty well until I opened the vent on top of the Scorpion. It was impossible to ride very far with the vent open because the air blast was directly into the vent.  The noise was terrible.

A new, taller windshield was over $200 and being a cheapskate that didn't work for me. So, with coffee in hand I stood looking at her and thought I identified an option. A quick trip to Home Depot and $8 got me an aluminum flat stock and a couple of bolts. I cut the flat stock to hold the windshield braces and move them up 1.75".  

I was feeling pretty good about my project until I tried to install the dash panel. Because of the rise, the fat section by the upper bolt interfered with the preformed panel.  A quick stop and think and I decided to trim the offending areas of the panel.  This was a huge chance as the dash would be very expensive to have to replace if I screwed it up.  I marked where I thought I needed to trim and cut it before I chickened out.  Tried to install the dash and hadn't cut it enough. So, with a honing stone in my drill I went to work making adjustments a little at a time.  I finally got it to fit and it worked out pretty well.

A ride would be required to test everything out.  That was accomplished on Monday when I headed out for a quick 90 mile New Year ride to nowhere. Headed out toward Wickenburg with overcast skies and a temperature of 50 degrees. The farther I went the lower the temperature went. The skies were growing grayer and trending toward black and the wind began to gust. The buffeting  seemed to be gone and when I opened the vent all was good. I stopped and lowered the windshield half way and tried that, but it was a no go as I couldn't ride with the vent open and put it back up again. I aborted my intended plan to make Wickenburg and instead turned toward Lake Pleasant and home.

So, I got in the first ride of the year, seemed to fix the buffeting issue, and missed out on the rain. That made it a good day for me. I return to school today to substitute in a 4th grade classroom. I still have seven of my mandatory days to do and think I will only do a day a week. No need to get in a rush as I have until mid March to finish up.