Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Staircase finale

Sorry I never got around to posting pictures of the finished product. Sadly, soon after I finished the staircase, the plague descended upon the loft, and while my roommates fled, I fought off an army of tiny evil terrorist bugs.

After slaying millions of bedbugs - with the help of an exterminator - and throwing out all the furniture, I packed up my remaining belongings with pdb mothballs (which kill bedbugs and their eggs after ten days of maximum exposure) and moved into a tiny sublet in the East Village with my bf.

Next time I'm over there, I'll try to get a photo of the staircase, which still stands and totally functions perfectly.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Finally, stairs.

So the trick seems to be to clean the interior of the the pipe that attached to each stair. Then sand it a little bit, and re-clean it. Also, cleaning the pole helped quite a bit.

With great effort and shimming stairs down the pole while my roommate A braced the pole from the torque, we have half the stairs on the pole. Hopefully the rest will come soon. And pictures.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Spiral continued.

Part Four

Two of my friends were here, so we decided to bolt the pole into the floor. We placed the base where we wanted it, then I traced the holes in the plate. Having moved the whole piece aside, I drilled out the holes in the floor with a 27/64 size drill bit- to match the bolts I bought at the hardware store. We then places the pole back over the holes, and began screwing in the bolts- by hand. Taking turns taking turns, it occurred to us that we needed a better wrench. So we got a 3/4 inch wrench and used the round side of it, which proved infinately easier to bolt the bolts tighter. After the bolts were as tight as possible, we did a little shake to the pole. One would expect that, having hit a rafter below with two of the four bolts, that this baby wouldn't shake at all. Well, maybe things don't always seem to work as planned. There is some major shake action going on with the freestanding center column. I can only hope that it will be stable after all the stairs and the top piece are on. So much depends upon that top cap.

Part Five

Excited about finally being able to get the stair pieces out of the living room, we grabbed on and pushed it down the top of the pole. It went about 2 inches, with great force, and was totally stuck. Here's the disaster part. No budging at all with this stair. My roommate aptly noted that it resembled a periscope, looking out upon a landscape of biting off more than I could chew. Whatever.

I went to the hardware store again (they're getting to know me better these days.). I was checking out the wd-40 when the guy who works there suggested the liquid wrench. Always willing to test out something new and useful, I bought it.

I sprayed the liquid wrench around the inside at the place where stair cylinder met pole, and on the outside bottom at the same spot. The budging became a little easier, and the stuff started running down the pole. My ever-dealing-with-the-situation-at-hand roommate grabbed a towel and wrapped it around the bottom of the pole to catch the cascading grease and grime. After a good deal of torque and fretting over whether I would pull the post out of the floorboards by accident, I had wrangled the stair off the pole.

Apparently the month of sitting in a pile in the living room had accummilated a great deal of dust within the cylinders of the stairs that attach to the pole. Apparently I'm going to have to clean those out, and likely grease them up, to put them on the pole. That's what I've learned for now.

So at the end of Part five, we have a pole bolted to the floor and a pile of stairs still waiting to be of use.

to be continued...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Spiral Staircase.

Part one.
A. I live in a loft in brooklyn. When I first leased this space (and yes, we lease here- never could afford to buy- and build out the lofts anyway, because it's still the only way to have enough space to reasonably be happy and make things without moving to Jersey or further out the L train than one can endure.) I built a mezzanine level (second floor) -- it's up to code, and really sweet. The lumber and fittings were a bit expensive, but it is beyond stable. The only problem is that there isn't really any room to build stairs that wouldn't be garrishly ugly or entirely out of budget. So we've been looking for a staircase since the beginning, two years ago.

B. It was found nearby, in early march, already cut into pieces. A team was assembled to transport it back to the brooklyn loft. The stairs were in three stair sections which proved a weight not unliftable by two grown boys, and a hacksaw had left pieces of the ballisters screwed into the outer ends of the individual stairs- so we all had lovely little cuts the next day.

Part two.
I unbolted the stairs from the broken up remnants of the original center pole. (And carefully put the bolts into a cup as to not lose them. I'm terrible about lost or extra pieces most of the time.) The stairs reluctantly came off the old pole pieces, and became a DuChamp still life in a pile on the living room floor.

They stayed like that for almost two months. The to-do list is a long long list.

Part three.
A. I measured the distance from the floor to the second floor floor. I measured it at the point where I knew a 4x4 was supporting the wall with ease. Looking out the window on the adjacent wall, I thought about where I'd get the new center pole fabricated. Strangely, I was staring down the neighboring metal fabrication studio's gaping mouth of a garage door. I called them up and started trying to explain what I needed made. They were confused, so I said, how about I come over, I'm across the street. Moments later I was in their office, drawing little pictures of the wall with strange arrows and vector lines on it. Regardless, I tried to explain what I needed to be done. And $150 and a week later, two friends and I were dragging this huge pole (welded to a plate) and another plate with a slightly larger (4inch) size section of pole attached. This second section will attache the top of the pole to the second floor.

This new pole, of 3 inch diameter steel (a 3 in pipe, as ordered, is acually a 3.5 inch measure of pipe diameter) is beautiful.

** considerations and possible mistakes I've made this far:
1. When I decided on a size of the plate attached to the centerpole, the engineer I was talking to didn't seem to think I needed anything more than a good 2 inch clearance from the pole. Now I'm thinking that maybe I could have gone with a slightly larger base for the pole. But maybe it's going to be fine.

2. I have no access to the space below the floor of my loft, and being a wood framed building, I'm taking a gamble on hitting a rafter below when I anchor the pole. **see part four**

3. The cap to the pole, the other piece they made, was attached to a nine inch plate. The plate should have been substantially longer maybe another 8 inches at least. Why?-- well I accounted for the distance from the edge of the pole to the wall, a space determined by the base of the pole-- but I didn't account for the distance in the wall made up by drywall, then the distance of the double ledger (the two long board which are attached to the posts holding up the floor and from which the rafters for my second floor are hung). What advantage could a longer plate have given me? Ideally, as it was later explained to me by a metal worker and an architect who often have drinks at the bar where I work, I would build a bridge between the two rafters: this bridge would be made of a piece of 4x4 or 4x6 which would be nestled as close to the ledger as possible, and which the cap-plate would anchor into. The stress of the pull of the stairs would be dispersed better, and the ledger's integrity wouldn't be compromised by some deep drilling which likley has a girth that could split the ledger. --- But I didn't think of that before the plate was made, and I admit, I'm slightly intimidated by the price tag of the free stairs already, if not the strangely amused way that the engineer across the street let me have these pieces made without the slightest bit of confidence in my ability to build anything. --And I'm not going to go back and have him make another part until I know this one doesn't work. I'm just going to try to work with what I have.

Re`din´te`grate (r?`d?n´t?`gr?t)
a.1.Restored to wholeness or a perfect state; renewed.
v. t.1.To make whole again; a renew; to restore to integrity or soundness.
The English nation seems obliterated. What could redintegrate us again?
- Coleridge.

This is a long list of things we're working on, how we're working on them, and how they turn out.
Some are projects, some are sagas, and some are easier or harder than they look.
But Mom (Patty) and I (Rachel) are good at fixin, mendin, paintin, smashin, and redintegrating things.