Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Building a New Garden Shed - The Temperamental Mixer!

The Belle mixer had been thrown out but rescued several years ago from a scrap yard. It was minus a stand so I built a new tripod out of 1 1/2 inch gun barell, 2 inch box, a short piece of round solid bar and some flat steel. It didn't have an engine either. Modern Belle mixers are usually driven by a Honda or Robin engine but I decided to use the engine from my old Suffolk Punch cylinder lawn mower as a replacement. But little did I know what hardship was ahead of me! The float bowl on these engines tend to drip eventually, but because the engine was mounted at a 45 degree angle on the drum, the bowl was never vertical, so the float never sealed properly. The result was lots of petrol drips during mixes. Next problem was the drive belt started slipping during a mix, with another mix ready in the wheel barrow and a third mix spread out on the ground! Very frustrating! Eventually the engine stopped working and refused to crank. I opened it up and discovered that the splasher on the crankshaft had broken off. So the engine was running dry with no lubrication. This damaged the connecting rod and smeared aluminium over the crank shaft. I made a new splasher, but eventually when the concrete floor was almost complete, a large bang signalled that my 'trustworthy' engine had definitely reached the end of it's life this time. A post mortem revealed that the connecting rod had broken up into 5 pieces. The last section of concrete had be mixed by hand.

Building a New Garden Shed - Starting to Concrete

June 1st, 2016

The existing concrete floor was at two different levels. It was partially cracked also and didn't have a vapour barrier which meant the air in the shed was always damp, with lots of condensation on the underside of the corrugated roof on cold mornings, which inevitably dripped down over everything. I decided to break up the cracked section of concrete which resulted in a large pile of rubble. I would also lay a new floor on top of the remaining concrete section, but make it thicker at the edges for structural strength. The new shed would be several feet longer and wider than the existing one. This resulted in having to excavate lots of soil which needed to be spread out over the garden, under trees, into hedges and basically anywhere I could find space.

Marking Out

I marked out the 4 corners of the shed with 12 mm rebar and marking paint. Firstly I hammered two pieces of rebar into the ground to mark the front wall, knowing the length of the planned shed. Then I roughly positioned the 2 bars for the back wall knowing the width of the shed. Knowing the length and width of the shed and using Pythagoras's Theorem, this gave me a measurement for what the diagonal length should be between opposite corners. Using two long measuring tapes, I altered the position of the two back pegs until both diagonals were equal.

Building the Formwork

I used 4 x 2s for the form work. For the long walls, 4 x 2s had to be joined with short 4 x 2 scraps. At the corners, nails weren't driven home so that the formwork could be easily disassembled with a crowbar. Thinner boards can be used instead of 4 x 2's, but 2 inchthick timber requires less pegs because it doesn't flex as much over a long span. Pegs to support the formwork were driven into the ground at corner points  marked out by the re-bar as described in an earlier post and also at two intermediate positions for each wall.
I wanted to make the concrete around the perimeter of the slab stronger for structural strength. So I dug a trench all around the edges and filled this with rubble from the broken up floor. This would make the concrete slab about 5 to 6 inches thick around the perimeter. Next I laid out a sheet of 1200 gauge polythene sheeting and on top of this I would add a layer of concrete about 3 inches thick on the existing 5 inch concrete floor. The floor would be poured in six, 1m wide strips.

Building a New Garden Shed - New Year and Back to Work on the Project

February 10th, 2016

Cold, wet weather and incessant rain during the autumn and winter of 2015, getting side tracked by other chores and duties and a series of personal events led to abandoning the project for the rest of the year. I eventually got back to clearing the rest of the shed in February. The corrugated iron was bedded down under the concrete floor and had to be prized out with spades, crowbars and cut with an angle grinder.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Building a New Garden Shed - Clearing the Site

25th August, 2015

The old shed had long outlived its purpose. Built in the late 40s or early 50s by previous owners, it was a patch work of corrugated iron, flattened out barrels and reclaimed scrap timber, probably from the yard of a local man who used to collect this sort of stuff from demolished buildings. The roof had leaked for years and no amount of silicon sealant would fix the roof which was peppered with pin holes from corrosion, but now had gaping cavities.
I thought it wouldn't take long to pull the structure down with a hammer and crowbar. However the builders had done a good job, using spiral shank nails to hold the corrugated sheets onto the timber frame. This is probably a lot more secure method of preventing sheet removal by burglars than using TEK screws.


Friday, 24 March 2017

Lawn Mower Won't Start? - Top 10 Small Engine Troubleshooting Tips

  1. Use fresh petrol (gasoline). Old petrol can cause difficult starting. Make sure there is enough fuel in the tank and check the vent in the tank cap isn'tclogged
  2.  The spark lead should be firmly attached to the plug, and the plug tightly screwed into the engine block. Try replacing the plug with a new one if the engine won't start
  3. Most modern mowers have a control handle which needs to be pushed forwards/upwards and held in place to keep the engine running. Make sure this control is mower is held fully against the mower handle while starting.
  4. If a manual choke is fitted, turn it on. Don't turn on the choke if the engine has been running in the last 10 minutes
  5. If the engine has a primer bulb, press it about 5 times. If the mower runs out of petrol during cutting, it will need to be primed again
  6. Check the air filter isn't dirty. Wash and dry foam type air filters in warm,soapy water. A paper filter can be blown out with an air compressor, but will eventually need to be replaced
  7. Check the cable connecting the "dead man's handle" (the control which keeps the engine running when held in place) to the engine is not damaged or snapped
  8. The carburettor should be tightly screwed or bolted to the engine
  9. Make sure there isn't any water collected at the bottom of the petrol tank. If there is, drain the tank and use a piece of stick or long screwdriver with a piece of rag tied on (with a twisty tie) to soak up water
  10. If the starter cord is hard to pull, check the underside of the deck and remove any clumps of grass which may be jamming the blade. Disconnect the spark lead before attempting to move the blade to remove clippings!
    Paper air filter

    Foam air filter