Saturday, April 19, 2008

Post Posting

Another fence post has been eaten through by damp and insects at Chateau Stevie.

On the side of the house the driveway is laid there is an "L" shaped fence running from the property edge to about ten feet from the garage, then doglegging back for eight feet or so to bring the final run of fence (which is actually an eight-foot wide gate cunningly disguised as a fence) and the side gate in line with the front wall of the garage and house. I built this fence when the driveway was relaid in '95, and a damn fine job it was too.

Sadly, some fence-erecting lore passed to me turned out to be wrong, and the inside corner post at the dogleg1 rotted through at the end of last year sometime. It did this because it turns out that whether or not you arrange good drainage for the post base, you should NEVER set a cedar post in concrete. Would that this piece of knowledge had not come at the cost of actually doing it to see what would happen. The post rotting through wasn't a disaster since it forms a corner and is thus stabilised by the fence panels into immobility.

However, I arrived home on Monday to observe the run of fence leading from that post to the next one displaying a distinct wrack2. Letting out some of my most powerful Words of Power I leapt to the side gate, which I now noticed had warped into a banana shape for no readily apparent reason other than to irritate me. I opened it and the hinge post detached from the house.

Clearly the fence had become infested with some sort of evil spirt , so to be on the safe side I uttered some more Words of Power under my breath.

It turned out that the other cedar post, the one that terminates the run of fencing and also does duty as the hinge post for the secret Extra-Wide Gate of Admitting Appliances In To And Out Of The Back Yard Along With Letting Us Stable A Car On The Patio If We So Wish, had rotted through, much as I expected from the behaviour of the fence. Though the damage was done and there really was no need for them, I made some warding gestures and added a few more Words of Power to the already blue air.

The business of replacing this post would be easy if I had not set it in concrete. If I had gone Full Monty it would be a significantly harder job since not only would it involve excising the concrete pig from the pit but since the concrete would have been poured next to the patio it may well have bonded to it. It was too dark to do anything other than grab a handy 2x43 and prop the fence post back into an approximation of plumb.

The next night, after work, I took a metal rod I use for making holes in the ground for the Halloween lawn cat flats and probed around the post for concrete. The rod was nearly three feet long and would allow me to probe quite deeply in the ground. Crossing my fingers I thrust the rod with great force into the mud at the foot of the fencepost. I was rewarded with a severe shock to my wrist as the rod hit the concrete lying about half a millimeter below the ground. I examined my wrist for compound fractures and fought the pain by doing some mental exercises involving grasping the wrist with the other hand and leaping up and down while shouting protective charms. Once again the neighbourhood children were driven from the streets by my keen grasp of invective.

I had planned to do the work today, Saturday, but I just couldn't face it. I think it will require breaking up the concrete since the last time I excised a concrete post-pig it required my improvising a block and tackle out of my old rock-climbing gear, the utilisation of the broken-off post as a luffing boom4 and several days to recuperate afterwards. My ear is blocked again and the side of my face is sore so I wasn't in the mood for pounding on concrete with Messers Lumphammer and Bolster Chisel5.

I think this time I'll use a jackhammer to break up the concrete and detach it from the patio slab and/or the driveway. I'll rent a jackhammer next week and do both broken posts, I think. Normally I'd employ The Rule6 but I'm down a router which I must replace out of the meager funds left after having last week to make up a couple of grand in taxes my employer forgot to withhold and I honestly cannot justify a jackhammer or indeed find anywhere in Chateau Stevie to store one.


Still and all.

I've never used a jackhammer before.

  1. This post was central to the goings on during the "Falling Backwards Off A Workmate" episode too
  2. Technical term for "leaning" when it happens widthwise and turns a rectangular fence panel into a parallelogram
  3. Regular readers should not be surprised that there are often such things immediately to hand or within arm's reach in the grounds of Chateau Stevie. This one was left over from the garage cleanup I did last year
  4. Like a crane boom. I needed to turn a sideways force into a lifting one. I ran the rope over the post, which I positioned at about a 45 degree angle, and then attached it to the pig. When I pulled the rope, the post swung vertically and hauled out the concrete mass. I am grossly oversimplifying the amount of effort and the number of curse words and sprained muscles it required to do this
  5. Goodbye elbows for the next three days too, in that event
  6. No Tool, No Job

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