May 102020

You may remember that we have decided to lightly scorch all of our larch cladding to give the walls more texture both visual and physical.
We are using an ancient Japanese technique called “Shou-sugi-ban Yakisugi”, although we are not burning the wood as deeply.
As we have over 2300 m (7500 ft) of timber to scorch we decided to make a machine to automate the process (and of course because we’re nerds). We made a start on the machine back in March (Article), but we now have bought the motors and electronics to carry on.
So over the last two weeks Stephen has been working on this whilst Shaun does other things around the house.
First part of the job was to build the computerised controls for the motors so we can select the burn rate and pattern. This was completed by the end of the first week after lots of programming and learning about motor control feedback.

Larch scorching machine progressing


On Monday of the second week the motors were installed to the machine and testing of wood through the machine revealed some problems… the wood was moving a bit irregularly and had difficulties at slow speed. Lubricating all the rollers did not improve things enough and it was concluded we needed bigger motors! On Tuesday we remembered that we had some bigger motors bought for use in a giant CNC machine (which will be built eventually!).
Larch scorching machine progressing


So it was back to the electronics bench to rewire and reprogram the controller for the quite different motors. By the end of the next day everything was mounted and working well.
Larch scorching machine progressing


The next step was to improve the way the torches were mounted as we needed more control of the flames, so we made two rails with T slots in them then we clamped the torches by the tubes leading to the burners. The torches are mounted to pairs facing in opposite directions allowing maximum adjustments.
Larch scorching machine progressing


Larch scorching machine progressing


As expected the flames started to burn the plywood sides of the machine, so we made protective barriers comprising glass fibre insulation wrapped in foil behind steel plates, and added hinged steel plates across the wood to protect the drive rollers.
Larch scorching machine progressing


Then we made a stand for the machine to make it stable and allow the use of roller stands to support the long planks of wood.
Larch scorching machine progressing


It was time to burn the first plank! This worked quite well so we needed to wire brush the loose char off. So of course we needed another machine …
We bought an adaptor kit for a angle grinder but found it did not fit any of our angle grinders so we had to adapt it! So a quick bit of drilling and welding later we had a powered wire brush drum.
Larch scorching machine progressing


Larch scorching machine progressing


Larch scorching machine progressing


So we brushed the plank off and had a quite nice result.
Larch scorching machine progressing


Next week we will complete the machine with some extra rollers and guide to make it easier to use.

May 092020

In a very disrupted couple of weeks .. we had steady rain all last week from Tuesday to Friday and some on Saturday afternoon too (a total of about 25mm of rain) .. Whilst Stephen worked on the Larch Burner Shaun got on with a task that we have been meaning to do for a while plus also take an opportunity to eliminate the ton of wasted slate bits and pieces.
Yes the Berm across our driveway that has been protecting us from flood water that comes down our Loke. It is currently constructed using a line of 2inch by 6inch planks held vertically and a line of house bricks on either sides to form a sharp hump. Unfortunately, it proves to be too sharp and some vehicles suffer scraping damage to their metal and plastic underbelly. Also during the heaviest rain falls, the water still gets over and floods our driveway.



So we surveyed the Berm and discovered that the line of planks dips down in the middle by three or four inches but otherwise it is pretty level. We have marked the fence post and the brick wall of the raised flower bed to the height of the existing Berm and we will use a string pulled taut to build the hump to the required height and level.
After removing the old planks and about 140 bricks and sweeping aside the sand to one side, we are left with the original driveway material (made from recycled motorway tarmac and granite chippings).

We then cut down through this layer to the sand underneath and pulled apart the driveway skin to form a trench a few feet wide and 4inches deep. We calculated that this trench will be spacious enough to take all the slate waste, crushing each slate into tiny pieces to avoid forming slippery layers.
But first, before we get to that part of the job, we dug out all the weeds in and around the flower bed end of the Berm, removed two paving slabs which were relocated to the middle of our yard to provide a new incinerator venue so we can get on top of getting rid of the wooden rubbish we have been collecting for the last few months.

Widen and Flatten Out the Driveway Berm


Shaun then got smashing! (We welded some bits of metal to the base of the metal thumper to help break the slates) Over a last few days all the waste slates were placed in the trench and smashed.
Widen and Flatten Out the Driveway Berm


We now just have to add some more material to make the ‘hump’ of the berm and replace the driveway material over the top.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Apr 112020

By Tuesday lunch time, we had finished gluing up all the Slates that forms the Skirt on the wall running right around the house. Some 300 slates were stuck onto the polystyrene padding layer so two thirds are above ground and the remainder is in the dirt. Over the remaining days of the week, we […]

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Apr 092020

On Thursday, we had noticed that the old roofing felt on the Garden Shed was loose and flapping about and this prompted us to decide that we ought to finish the job we started 6 months ago when we recovered all our temporary building roofs with brand new felt last year (the original felt was […]

 Posted by at 3:00 pm
Apr 042020

We started the week reviewing our complete set of task lists, removing those ones that we have done, and adding new ones plus doing some other chores like shopping. So after lunch, we resumed work on creating the Skirt to run around at ground level. The first job was to mark the wall at each […]

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Mar 282020

On Monday we went off to the local DIY store to buy a sheet of 75mm thick polystyrene foam board and we made a little portable “hot wire” cutter! We had to slice up the 8foot by 4foot sheet so it would fit inside our car! We cut 400mm wide strips, three of them and […]

 Posted by at 6:00 pm