Another Hangover And A Good Roughing Up

In our push to complete as many outside details as possible before the rainy season begins, this past week we focused on the north wall of container #4.

Ramiro and I fabricated and installed 21 support braces just like the ones on the hangover overhang at the front of the house. Here we are on the second day:


Ramiro is welding the brackets onto the container. After we had a few brackets installed, we lifted the 2″x6″ carriola into place and welded it to the brackets. This made aligning the remaining brackets quite easy:



When we had all the brackets in place, we ground the welds smooth with the angle grinder and prime painted them. While the paint dried, Ramiro sanded the side of the container. He used a wire brush on the angle grinder to remove the areas of heavier rust around dents and dings. Here is Ramiro hand sanding the container:


Ramiro gives the paint a good roughing up.

While Ramiro sanded, I took the last three hours of the day and hand sanded, two-coat primed, and two-coat finish painted (latex) the outside east wall of my shop. We still need to paint the window blocks the teal/green trim:


This is the same color as the rest of the house. In full sun the color looks blue-ish. In actuality it is a soft gray green, almost the color of sea foam.

The next morning we slipped pieces of roofing metal, that I had previously cut, into place on top of the brackets:


Armando and Pancho joined Ramero and me to mix and place the concrete slab above the roofing metal:


I used the 2″x6″ metal carriola instead of a 2″x3″ so that we could have more thickness and build in a drainage channel on the top of the slab. Here is the finished slab:


It is hard to see the channel. The next photos show it more clearly.



I cut a six-inch hole in the roofing metal and inserted a PVC pipe as a downspout to carry off rainwater.

We finished the slab at 11:00.

The back garden was filled with weeds so I asked the guys to weed for an hour and then they could take the rest of the day off.

At noon, Armando took a shower (now at the end of the dry season there is very little water at his house) and he and Pancho left right at noon. But Ramiro said that because he arrived a bit late that he wanted to work a bit more. I told him it was okay if he wanted to leave, too, but he insisted on working for another hour.

The garden now looks like this:


Cousin Christine — this is the palm that you gave us (in a small pot) a couple years ago.


And Christine T. — even though the dirt is dry, dry, dry, your plants are growing by leaps and bounds. One of our neighbors told us last night that this plant is in the taro family and that the young leaves, stalks, and roots are edible. The grasshoppers sure love to eat it!

Here is a panoramic view of the back garden from the roof. We need more plants!

Panorama -- Garden --031

A couple hibiscus bushes have bloomed, including this dainty one:


And this big yellow flower:P1010185-002

Armando and Pancho have been rocking the container support columns:



And Cynthia, after placing an order on January eleventh, finally* received from the States two spray cans of mold release for use in slumping glass. She is going to make lamp shades for the lights over the kitchen counters. Stay tuned.

*The mold release took two-and-a half months to arrive because it had to be routed through the Panamanian Pharmacy and Drug agency (among others) because one of the many ingredients in the spray could possibly be used in the production of illegal drugs. Really? I mean really?

Tomorrow Ramiro and I plan to paint the north wall and its windows and then move on to other exterior walls.

I think that’s all for this week. Thanks for stopping by.




The Making Of A Hangover

With the heavier rains on the way, I would like to pour the concrete on the roof deck over container #1, the one closest to the road. Armando was ready to assemble a concrete crew. But there was one task that I wanted to do first, namely to resolve the issue of rain falling on the front windows (the windows closest to the road).

We have focused a lot of design attention on the southeast elevation at the front entry. The approach from the driveway, the angle of the front steps leading to the front door, and the window wall all look good. But the south elevation, the one parallel to the road, was looking sad. It was basically a shipping container with a few windows punched in, a roof deck, and a big roof overhead. This lack of creative design, plus the matter of there being no rain protection for the wall and windows on that south exposure, had to be resolved before I made a major mistake and poured the roof deck slab first.

To refresh your memory, here is that south exposure:


Even if the construction debris was cleaned up and the walls were painted, this elevation would still be crying out for help.

I decided that a hangover was in order. Or should I say, an overhang? Yes, overhang. I took some 2×2 tubing of various lengths up to the roof deck. I didn’t want the overhang to project out so far that it significantly reduced light coming into the kitchen, and just a couple inches looked stingy. In heavy rains, the wind often blows the rain sideways, so an enormous overhang still wouldn’t fully protect the windows. I decided that an overhang of 18-inches looked balanced and proportional.

Aramis and I decided that there would be one 2×2 tubing “outrigger,” 18-inches long, every two feet. I set him to work cutting 34 outrigger pieces. While he did that, I cut from the same size tubing what would become end caps for these outriggers. The end caps will keep bees and biting flies from making nests in the outriggers. Next, Aramis welded the end caps to the 18-inch outriggers. Here is a photo of this process:


In the lower left corner is an end cap cut from the tubing. The middle piece of tubing has the end cap hammered into place. The tubing on the right shows the end cap welded into place and ready to be ground smooth.

Here is Aramis welding the end caps to the outrigger tubes:


And here are the tubes being ground smooth:


Next while I jockeyed a level, a framing square, and the tubes, Aramis tack welded each outrigger tube in place.

These outriggers wouldn’t be able to support the weight of the wet concrete by themselves, so next we made angle braces. A few braces looked okay and would have supported the concrete, but I made a design decision and installed a brace at each outrigger.

This was a lot of work but the repetitiveness of the braces echoes the vertical lines of the container siding and added a really good design element. It looks industrial, befitting the industrial nature of the house.

Next, after Alex painted these assemblages with two coats of paint, Aramis and I welded 1.5″x3″ galvanized carriolas (C-shaped, thin-gauge channel) around the perimeter of the overhang.

Finally, we cut galvanized roofing panels and placed them over the outriggers. We will pour the concrete roof deck on top of the roofing metal. Here is a closeup of the completed hangover overhang:


The next photo shows an overall view, complete with the roof deck hand railing installed and painted:


You have to paint bare metal fast in the tropics. A rust film can form overnight!

And finally, when you compare the first photo in this post to the next photo, you can see a big improvement in the design. The house feels much more grounded now:


In other news, Armando and Alex have all but completed rocking the east wall in the carport. They started the job on Armando’s birthday, a Saturday. When I finally got to look at his work (he had two rows done), I could see that he was a good two-inches off level. But it was his birthday and I kept my comments to myself. But on Monday, I greeted Armando and Alex, and asked them to take a look from a few feet back. “Oopf,” Armando exclaimed. So we got out the hammers and chisels and removed a full-day’s work and started again. They weren’t happy, but I couldn’t stand the thought of seeing the wall off level for the next 30 years!

Now, with the wall nearly complete, I freely hand out the compliments and tell them that they are artists. And good work it is:


The gardens are looking good, too:


These days it is difficult to get a photo in full sun.


There are even a couple orchids in bloom:


These white flowers are tiny compared to the much larger purple Catalayas in the next photos.

P1000493 P1000497

And lastly, in the No Wonder Why She Hurts So Much department, Cynthia was in the process of emptying a cat box about a week ago. She stepped on a slippery spot on the steps by the future green house. Her feet went straight out into the air, gravity kicked in, and she landed on the edge of a step, covered in, um, kitty litter. The bruises are extra big because she takes a blood thinner. Get well soon, Cynthia, I want to see you working in your studio again soon!


That’s all for now, thanks for stopping by.