Building My House

I have always wanted to build my own house. I am retired now, so I have the time. I found some land, designed a house that would fit the land and my needs and got started. I am doing all the work myself, so progress will be fairly slow. To read this blog from the beginning, start with the oldest archive and read posts from last to first.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

79 Foam - Day 3.5

No, I didn't get any foam sprayed yesterday or today. Sometimes you just need a day off from the heat inside that Tyvek suit. Other days there's other work to get done before you can continue spraying.

Until now I have been doing all my spraying from a ladder. While there are advantages to using a ladder because it is easy to move around, there are also disadvantages. As my metal roof is over 2x4 purlins (that run at right angles to the roof trusses), when you stand on a ladder you can generally only "see" one side of the purlin, the side facing the ridge of the roof. You can't reach the "backside" of the purlin without moving the ladder.

I solved that problem today by setting up stands so I could work from the walkboard instead of the ladder. It's set up with one end higher than the other, such that the walkboard parallels the slope of the roof. Now, as I work my way up the roof, when I reach a purlin I can spray the lower side of the purlin and then inch forward just enough to spray the other (upper) side. I'm thinking this will make for a better appearance and more uniformity in the foam layer.

I should have done it this way all along, but sometimes we opt for an easier, even if less desirable solution. What's that old saying, if you don't have time to do it right, when are you ever going to find time to do it ...over.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

78: Foam - Day Three

Boy, what a difference cooler foam makes. The high today was 90 inside the house. I kept the unused foam canisters in their cardboard box rather than set them on the table and let the fan blow 90 degree air across them. It made a difference as most all day long foam temps stayed 86 to 88 degrees.

The only problematic thing today was it still took what seemed like longer than 45-60 seconds to spray out each canister, but I'm probably counting too fast. Regardless, the foam expanded up nicely, getting about the yield I thought it should be getting.

I've learned to throw my spray sock in cold water before putting it on each time, which makes it much more comfortable (for a little while anyway) when you have to put it back on. I also learned that if you pull the face mask a little bit lower on your face, you can still get a good seal on your face AND your goggles fit much better preventing foam fumes from getting inside the goggles and making your eyes burn. In fact, if you're going to spray DIY foam make sure your goggles and mask can work together effectively. I got lucky and bought Stanley brand goggles at Walmart, which fit much better and have bigger flanges around the outside to better seal out the crud. The cheapo goggles at Lowes have almost no flange at all.

I also learned today that the brass button on the back of the gun that sets the direction of piston travel can get bumped while you move the gun around spraying foam; and if you bump it hard enough you will reverse the direction of the pistons. The symptom you will see is foam stops spraying. Just push the button again (quickly) and the foam won't set up in the mixing tube, you can keep spraying and you won't lose the remaining foam in the canister.

This brass button thing is just another part of the learning curve we all have to go through. Blogging about it, I hope to speed up your results if you choose Soythane.

So, all in all, I have a better opinion of Soythane today than I did yesterday, and my roof is pretty much 1/3 done.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

77: Foam - Day Two

What was so simple yesterday, seemed harder today. I had a long conversation with Soythane technical this morning only to find out that the darker brown color foam of the last couple of canisters was probably not due to moisture in the compressed air, but rather more likely due to the foam reaching it's highest sprayable temp, which I think is 95 degf, but realistically it should be more like 90.

I didn't get as early a start as I would've liked, so by the time I did start I was measuring foam temps up around 92. I sprayed a couple of canisters before lunch and they seemed to take an awfully long time to spray, like two minutes plus. These canisters are supposed to be empty in 45-60 seconds, so I expect the foam temp was the cause of my problems.

So, take a break, eat some lunch, think about what to do. I decided to make a cooling bath for the canisters, but I probably used too much ice in the bath. The water temp measured at 42 degrees, which cools the foam down way too quick and way too much. So, it's warm them back up some, but net result was I seemed to be measuring mid to high 80's which should have sprayed perfectly, only it didn't. Long spray times were still the problem.

Soythane says to shake the canisters to mix the contents before spraying. Maybe I wasn't shaking them enough.

Tomorrow the high is supposed to be mid to high 80's, so maybe that will make for a better day, and I plan to get a much earlier start.

Lessons learned - the head cover you want is called a spray sock, got mine from Lowes. Soythane recommended using Vaseline on any exposed skin, lots cheaper than even Walmart's version of Aquaphor. Oh, and they don't require you install a water separator in your airline.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

76: Houston - We have Foam

Yes, can you believe it, we have foam. After getting the compressor wired in to my circuit breaker panel and getting the regulator plumbed in so I could limit the gun pressure to 100 psi, it came time to turn it on and see if it worked. Sure enough, it did, and boy did it sound sweet, putt-putt-putting along charging up the tank to 170 psi. That was yesterday (Memorial Day).

So, today was let's shoot some foam day. I plugged the gun in to the airline and the atomizer pressure gauge didn't drop at all when I tested the gun. It just sat there rock solid on 40 psi like it was supposed too.

So, in goes canister number one and it sprayed out beautifully, emptying the canister in about 45 seconds, just like it's supposed too. This time I went over all my written checklist items before turning on the foam - tyvek suit on, respirator on, goggles on, hat on, gloves on, temps checked, pressures checked. The foam was 83 degrees sitting in the box - perfect. The substrate (metal roof) was a cool 148 degrees (measured with the laser infrared thermometer). It's been this hot many other days too. A metal roof that hot warms up the inside of the house quite nicely to 105 degrees. Yes, I was sweating freely inside that tyvek suit.

Todays lessons #1 - surgical type nitrile gloves aren't very durable. They tear easily and with your hands being that sweaty the new ones don't go on easily. I had some heavier rubber gloves, but they are a pain too. So, eventually I just put on some leather palm work gloves (cheap from Walmart). They did just fine, and your hands don't get soaking wet inside them, so they go on and off easily.

Lesson #2 - you need a head cover. Though I had goggles, respirator and hat on, there is still too much exposed skin to get foam overspray on. I only did fifteen canisters this afternoon, but that still spotted me up pretty good with foam. So, tomorrow a new tyvek suit with hoody will get used. I talked to a pharmacist at Walmart to ask if they had any "barrier creams" to put on exposed skin (that isn't covered by the hoody). All he could suggest was Aquaphor cream, so I got the Walmart equivalent.

Lesson #3 - I need a water separator. The last canister or three sprayed out slower than the first 12 canisters, like over a minute each. The foam looked a little darker coming out of the gun too. I think it's water that is a byproduct of air compression. Soythane had suggested getting one, so tomorrow morning I will.

Lesson #4 - You want to put a layer of Saran Wrap on the outside of your goggles. After about 4 canisters you will have enough overspray on the goggles that you will want to change out the Saran Wrap. And actually, I used cheap Walmart plastic wrap, not Saran.

All in all, a successful day spraying foam.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

75: Adventure – Part IV

Okay, so how are we going to unload this 600 lb monster without a forklift. Simple, we take it apart and remove one component at a time. The belt guard comes off easily, and weighs maybe 20 lbs. The motor comes off next. It’s about 80 lbs. But that requires me to disconnect all the wires inside the electrical panel. Fortunately, there’s only six wires to remove and I think I can remember where they all go. These first two items are light and I can hand carry them. Now, it’s time for the compressor pump to come off. This thing is BIG and it looks like it’s solid steel. The pulley wheels are about 16” in diameter and about 3” thick. I’ll bet the wheel weighs 100 lbs by itself.

A week or two ago I buried a ½” x 7” lag screw most of the way in a telephone pole in my front yard thinking I would need it eventually. Now, all I had to do was back the truck up to the pole; hook up my homemade block and tackle (see post #68) and hoist away. It’s all I can do to lift it with the block and tackle. Fortunately, my neighbor comes by to help lay it down on the furniture dolly and help me push it into the garage. Now comes the tank. It’s right at 5 ft long and 20 inches in diameter. It’s not as heavy as the compressor, but it’s close and it’s a lot bulkier to maneuver around. The neighbor comes back over and helps me get it off the truck and into the garage. As written here it doesn’t sound too difficult, but all this disassembly, unloading and moving into the garage took about 6 hours.

So, now I’ve got to put it all back together, which wasn’t too hard. The biggest issue in reassembly was having to reinforce the garage roof truss that I would hook the top of the block and tackle too to lift the pump. I did that by wedging a 2x4 vertically under the truss close to where my lift point was. I had forgotten to ask the sales guy how to wire it all up, so I emailed him a picture of the inside of the electrical panel and he told me where to connect up the wires, 10-2 with ground and a 30 amp double breaker.

About $80 later I have wire, breaker, conduit and fittings, so we’re ready to get this thing running. My electrical panel is about 15 feet away from the compressor, so hopefully the wiring will go smoothly.

74: Adventure – Part III

So, while I’m waiting on parts I talk to an engineer friend of mine who wanted to hear the whole story starting with the manifolding of two compressors idea. I tell him the details and he immediately says. Tony, you’ve obviously forgotten your hydraulics engineering principles. (Yes, I have an engineering degree too, but I didn’t work my whole career in engineering – so yes, I have forgotten a thing or two). Long story short, you can manifold two compressors together, but you have to increase all your hose and air fitting sizes so that friction doesn’t rob you of all your extra capacity. So, I upgrade my airhose to 5/8” ID from 3/8” and make the manifold out of ¾” ID hoses. No, I didn’t buy 5/8” airhose that would have cost a fortune. The same engineer said go buy a new, heavy duty 5/8” waterhose. It will handle 100 psi no problem. He was right.

Fortunately, I hadn’t given back my friend’s borrowed compressor. So, I manifolded them together again with all the larger hoses and try to shoot a canister. It shoots foam and the foam looks good, but with about 25% of the foam left to spray the pressure tanks have run out of volume and both compressors kick on and can’t maintain the needed cfm. So, spraying stops and I pitch the remaining 25% out the window.

So, now I’ve sprayed out about 4 canisters (about $90) and don’t have much to show for it. It’s back to the drawing board one more time. On Monday, when the rental compressor repairs were supposed to be finished they call me to say the repairs didn’t fix it and they have to order more parts. It will likely be another week before it’s repaired. So now, it’s time to break down and BUY a compressor. I check all over town, nobody has one locally that’s big enough to do the job. I check Ebay, nothing. I check Craigslist and they have lots of compressors. After checking everywhere within a days drive I find what I need in Dallas, a compressor company that rebuilds and sells compressors. They have a 5hp 210 volt, 80 gallon, two stage Quincy brand rebuilt compressor with a new electric motor, a reconditioned compressor pump and all for $1100. I’d seen several other used compressors in this size range for about the same price, so rather than take a chance on a used one, I bought a rebuilt one.

I drive to Dallas to get it. It weighs almost 700 lbs and is bolted down to a pallet. They load it in my pickup with a forklift. The drive home was uneventful.

Tomorrow – unloading the compressor.

73: Compressor Adventures – Part II

Okay, so everything is ready to spray (again). I get all suited up, check that the tank pressure is fully charged at 175 psi, and that the regulator is set for 100 psi. I check the gun operation and it cycles fine, only when you mash the trigger the atomizer pressure gauge drops to 36 psi. It needs to stay rock solid at 40 psi. So, I try to shoot a canister… doesn’t work. Foam again doesn’t even make it all the way through the mixing tube. So, now I’m really psssssssd. Fortunately, this time I get the canister out of the gun and outside the house pronto, because it too starts barfing and belching and you can imagine what other colorful terms I thinking here. But, at least it isn’t doing it inside the house.

So, technical support gets another call, or two, or three, or five. We discuss every idea imaginable. Were the gun settings correct, what are all the temperatures, can I hear air leaking out of the gun, the air hose, or the compressor. Are there any kinks in the airhose that would restrict airflow. Am I using a tiny diameter airhose (most airhose is 3/8 I.D., but some is ¼ I.D). Is my airhose too long. I have to commend the guys at Soythane technical because they were right there with me every step of the way and for as long as it took. They even offered to overnite ship me a new gun at no cost so I would not lose any more work time. I said before you do that let me see if I can find another compressor to check my gun out on, so maybe we can isolate the problem to the compressor or the gun. So where in the sam hill am I going to find another big compressor on short notice. The answer just kinda fell out of the sky. My neighbor has a son who just bought a soda blasting rig to start up a side business. I had gone and seen his rig the day before. He said it’s just basically a “huge compressor”, capable of like 230 cfm at 175 psi, slightly more than I will ever need.

So, I drive up to his place and the compressor gods are smiling because he’s at home and happy to fire up the compressor. I reset all the gun settings to their default values and this thing sprays the prettiest canister of foam you’ve ever seen. He’s impressed with how the foam expands, so he got something positive out of it too. So, compressor #2 is dead or dying. I had noticed that all along it kinda sounded like it was loafing at idle instead of that nice, crisp RPM sound of a lawn mower making full power. As it has a governor, I grab the linkage with a set of pliers and goose it and the RPM’s go up, but I don’t have enough hands to hold the linkage and check the gun pressures at the same time, so the rental company gets a call and a request to bypass the governor. They didn’t like that idea and said no, we’ll send you a mechanic. He arrives 20 minutes later and in short order he administers last rites to the compressor. Fortunately he came in the truck with the liftgate so he could take the dead carcass back with him. I follow him up to the rental shop where they promptly refund my money.

So, parts have to be ordered and it will be 3-5 days before the repairs are finished. That’s not really so bad because it looks like rain is coming, and it’s the weekend and we had plans anyway.

There’s more to this story, so “yall come back now.”