When a simple project snowballs

This weekend my gf wanted me to “fix” the steps behind our house******. The steps are small boulders that have been there, untouched, for 30 years. They are moss covered (which is fine) but they’ve settled so that the front of each step is slightly lower than the back, adding to their treacherous nature. My gf pictured me easily lifting each step and inserting one or more stone shims, leveling things out.

Heh. It turned into a four hour project. The dimensions of each boulder is deceptive. They are each around 3 feet wide, nearly two feet deep (the surface you step on), and they each extend down 2 to 3 feet. Using my 6 foot long iron bar I could just barely force my way under the front of each step and budge it up a bit.

So, we started on the top step. I lifted the front of the step up and she placed rocks under the front to raise it a bit. The first few went ok. But, each successive step down was affected by what we’d done to the boulders above it. The final boulder actually had to be flipped over 90 degrees and re-seated. Without a crane. I actually devised some wedges that we inserted, and then used a sledge to move the boulder into position.

The whole project put me in mind of the construction of the pyramids, to the point where I actually yelled, “let my people go” at one point. :frowning:

Meanwhile, my gf kept an eye on my labors.

******Extra Credit: Find the acorn!

I can’t believe you worked so hard to please a woman with [del]a heart[/del] an everything of stone. :smiley:

I’ve had home repair projects like that, but merciful traumatic amnesia has erased the details so that I can get on with my life. Suffice it to say that you haven’t lived until you uncover the problem behind the problem which was hiding behind the obvious problem, and you have to fix it all before you can fix anything, and you can’t walk away because it’s all pulled apart and you can’t just leave it like that! :mad:

DIY car repairs are also delicious opportunities for this.

Pretty much any home improvement project my husband and I take on.

The worst was when I JUST wanted to take down the hideous 80’s wallpaper off of the bathroom walls and paint. I told my husband that he didn’t even have to be bothered, I could do the whole thing myself. HA!

We bought the house from a couple that had built the addition this bathroom was in so we were unaware of how they did things. As I started to peel the wallpaper off of the wall, it was also peeling some of the sheetrock paper off with it. Apparently, they didn’t prepare the walls before they wallpapered. Not wanting to re-sheetrock, my husband ended up doing whatever he had to do to the walls and then doing a knock-down spray. While this was going on we couldn’t use the shower so we used the upstairs bathroom that doesn’t have a shower - only a tub. We had to take what I called “shower baths” with a rubber nozzle thing attached to the tub faucet. The main house was built in 1936 and this was the original tub and plumbing. We never used the tub until then. One morning after my shower bath, I pulled the plug and the water didn’t go down. So then my husband had to work on the plumbing which caused a leak that appeared on our kitchen ceiling. Another project for my husband. Then we decided as long as we were jazzing up the bathroom walls, why not put in new flooring? So there was that. Which led to removing the toilet. My husband decided as long as the toilet is out might as well replace the wax ring. As he was setting the toilet onto the ring and making sure it was set properly he heard a crack. He cracked the PVC piping directly under the toilet. It all came out ok in the end, but wow! We nearly filed for divorce during that whole debacle.

Beautiful! But there’s no bloody acorn, is there.

That’s nothing. For me, fixing a leak led to new counters.

To fix a leak in the kitchen sink, I first went under the sink to turn off the water. The knob came off in my hands. No flood, but it needed to be fixed, which involved new piping. While we were doing that we decided to get a new sink, since we didn’t much like the old one. I cleverly was at a conference when the plumber came with the new sink. When he took the old one out we found that it was a non standard size, and putting the new one in would leave a hole around it. Only solution for that was a new countertop everywhere (the old one was not so great) to get it the right size.

I had a recent Jeep project get totally out of hand.

Under the dash are two little tweeters. The driver’s side one was toast. Easy, huh? Just drop that lower dash trim, replace and done.

Except I had some higher quality BMW tweeters and mids that were the same size, so why not upgrade? But then I had to drill out the original Jeeps ones from the brackets, rivet in the BMW ones, solder the connections and good to go.

But as long as I have the dash apart, why not install the switch panels I have for accessories, and remove all the broken originals.

Well, now that the switches are installed, why not wire up the aux cooling fan, driving light and rewire the power to the stereo? After all, you can’t get to the backs of those switches once the dash goes back in.

Okay. Wiring up the lights required backtracking the wiring to find out where it was shorted out. Ended up abandoning all the original, installing a new relay, routing the new wiring. But there was a big leaky hose right where the wires run. Better replace that…

The fan was a piece of cake. Thankfully. Seems to help a lot, too.

But now the added load on the stereo from the extra speakers is causing distortion at high volume (the only way I listen to it), and now need to explore amp options…

All because I replaced one stupid tweeter. :rolleyes:

We bought a 1910 house that was formerly a boarding house. The living room and dining room had about 5 - 6 generations of wallpaper on them, we decided we would strip the old paper and paint instead. Once we got down to the final layer of paper we discovered that the walls were lath and plaster but the plaster was just a thin coat of rough horse hair plaster and was quickly disintegrating.
So the lath and plaster came down.
That lead to the discovery that in the 70s someone had foam injection insulation put in the walls. This was stuff where they drilled little holes in the exterior walls and then piped this stuff between the studs. Well in the 50 years since it was applied it had mostly turned to dust.
So the very fine insulation dust had to go.
So now we are down to stud with nothing between us and the outdoors but the clapboards and the shingles.
Turns out that to paint the two rooms we had to go down to stud, get real spray-in insulation, drywall and then, at long last, paint.

kayaker, that little scene is simply gorgeous. Treacherous steps and all.

Never shim rock steps! It leads to years of constant maintenance.

There’s an acorn, even though there are no oak trees!

Last weekend I replaced a light switch in the basement. While I had the breaker tripped, my gf walked through the basement and for some reason decided to plug in the dehumidifier (which did not start, since she plugged it into an outlet on the circuit I had shut down).

When I finished installing the switch and had everything good-to-go, I flipped on the breaker and it immediately tripped! I was devastated. Took apart the switch I had just repaired and everything looked great. Flipped the breaker back on and it immediately tripped. Repeat two more times with the same results.

Turned out the dehumidifier was fucked. Once I noticed and unplugged it I was good to go.

Thanks! It’s an especially nice spot when the horse are in the pasture at the top of the steps.

:smiley: Believe me, the steps will go 30 more years before anything else is done with them, and I’ll be compost.

I’ve build rock steps on hiking trails for years, and the more shims you use the sooner the steps adjust and start wobbling. But that’s a different use case than your steps. :slight_smile: Carry on.

I see the acorn. Does that mean you come over to my farm and give me some hours of labor? I’d lake to partially dam the creek to build a small pond/swimming hole for the horses. Maybe I could keep Irish out of the trough.


Wrens lay in that acorn every year. We have several other acorns (from the same artist). Some are bird feeders, some are set up for nesting.

I’ll come work your farm if in exchange you gift me the Super Giant Acorn!


You’re not the first person to find out that a fairly small rock is much heavier than expected.

How many cubic feet are these boulders? 3’ X 2’ X 2.5’ = 15 cubic feet. Times 175 pounds per cubic foot (say granite or limestone) that is 2,625 pounds–which doesn’t sound like something you can move around with a pry bar.

Based on previous experience helping to move very heavy things, I guesstimated the steps were each about a half ton. I was just eyeballing the dimensions, I guess I rounded up.

This chart makes it look likea 3x2x2 boulder would be about what I was lifting.

I’ve owned my 6 foot iron bar for most of my life. Purchased originally at an estate sale, it seemed like something a guy should have.

Archimedes would disagree.

The thread in the Game Room about “Doom” reminded me of the time about 20 years ago when I spent about $500 upgrading my computer so I could play a copy of “Unreal” that I had bought for about $10. I forget the exact sequence of events, but every time I upgraded one part, something else was no longer compatible and needed to be upgraded. I wound up replacing the motherboard, CPU, GPU, RAM, OS…I think the only original parts left when I was done were the case and the drives.