July 29, 2013

Revolving door!

Well, my family headed for home at just after 6.00 am local time today and I received a call on my mobile earlier this evening to let me know that they’d made Calais safely and were waiting to board the ferry to Dover. It was great having them over to stay and I must say that the house seems very empty now without them. Toddie loves company too and he’s been moping around quite a bit for most of the day. The sad thing is that at his age, this may be the last time that he’ll ever see them, but there’s no point dwelling on that as who knows what’s around the corner.

Today I’ve been busying myself doing washing and starting to ready myself and the house for the arrival of a friend to stay in two days time. So not much time with lots to do and the deadline is that I have to be at the station at Souillac south of Brive early on Wednesday evening to pick her up. So no slippage possible! After having nobody to stay for over a year, my house is like a revolving door at the moment with people coming and going 🙂

Since fully assembling the X-Air, I’ve been unable to do much more on it for the past few days. I can’t fly it to Galinat until I’ve made the outdoor covers that I have planned for it and although I thought I already had some brass eyelets, when I went out to check I found that in fact I only had one left. So I can do nothing until the ones that I’ve now ordered arrive. I’ve cut out one wing cover which, if it fits nicely I’ll be able to use as a pattern for the other. However, I can’t check to see how good it is until I’ve taken off the temporary covers that I’ve put over the aircraft and it would be too involved to remove them and replace them again. I only want to take them off when I can replace them, and the wing covers especially, with the ones I’m making. The following pic shows what I mean.

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It’s as well that I put the temporary covers on, though. After having day after day with temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius plus, today, when I wanted to hang washing out to dry, we had rain. How typical is that! But at least the X-Air stayed dry and it’ll be ready for when I can return to it to finish off my work. The last job Mike, my brother-in-law, and I did was insert all the wing battens. After my experience with MYRO when through a combination of old covers and carelessness I managed to rip an internal wing batten pocket, I did the job on the X-Air with bated breath until I’d finished. But no worries, everything went smoothly and they all went in nicely with just three or four being a bit tight at the end. So here’s the X-Air fully back all in one piece.

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It was only when I’d finished that I realised that I’ve fitted the ‘spare’ wing covers and not the ones that were on it when I flew it last September, which were all yellow without the blue leading edges (see my main headline blog pic). But no matter, although the yellow ones are possibly in slightly better condition than the ones I’ve used, the latter are good and the others will keep in my nice dark ‘grenier’ for use in the future. I just need to touch the colours up a bit where they’ve been folded, especially along the wing leading edges as can be seen, which I’ll be able to do later on. Now I just need the eyelets and a bit of time while my friend’s here to make the covers 😉

July 24, 2013

Getting there…

With the help of my brother-in-law, Mike 🙂 Victor rang this morning and said I’d be daft to put the X-Air on hold until my next-door neighbour returned from holiday, and he was right, of course. He suggested that we use either Regis’s or his large trailer to take it across to Galinat and finish off the assembly work there. There’s only one problem with that, though, and that’s with no doors on it, I can’t leave the X-Air there unattended without secure covers on it. So I decided that whereas I was going to take it across the road onto my neighbour’s land, assemble it and then make the covers I have planned there, I’d do it instead on my front lawn. I’ll then take the wings off again and whip it across to Galinat taking the new covers with me. So that was today’s plan of action. Here’s work underway during this morning.

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I need to attach the ailerons and fit the wing battens to get the correct dimensions for the wing covers and I hope that, as with the AX3, I’ll be able when the time comes to transport the wings with the ailerons still attached. I needed to stretch the wing covers onto the wing frames anyway, to be able to fit the ailerons so it was convenient to be able to do it in my garden.

Here are a few shots taken after finishing work at the end of the day, after I’d run the engine. I haven’t fitted the wing battens at this stage and that’ll be the next task.

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The wings have only been attached temporarily and it won’t take much to whip them and the struts off again as I won’t be connecting the aileron control cables. We’re popping out tomorrow but with a bit of luck I might be able to get the wing battens in later in the day. But it’s great to at least see the aircraft coming together and almost ready to be flown again 😀

July 23, 2013

Back to the X-Air at last!

Well, the family arrived safely, a bit later than planned after some traffic hold-ups further north in France, so I and the house had time to be well prepared for their arrival. The kitchen and bathroom work has proven to be a god-send and despite some sticky days, with temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius, we’ve had some excellent days out together. And yesterday with a slight lull in our activities, I was able to return to the work to re-assemble the X-Air for the first time for many weeks. All that’s now left for me to do is re-assemble the wings and ailerons, re-attach them together with the strut assemblies and reconnect the aileron cables before being able to take to the skies. So wings it was.

The X-Air wings and ailerons are almost identical to the AX3’s when it comes to assembly, so there’s nothing for me to worry about. My plan is to assemble the wings, move them and the fuselage to the section of field opposite my house that’s owned by my next-door neighbour who has given me permission to take off from there now the hay has been cut and the bales transported away, complete the assembly work and then fly the aircraft from there the few minutes to Galinat. Due to the temperature over the last couple of days, I’ve been doing the wing assembly work on my front lawn in the shade of my lime tree. This is OK as far as it goes, but the tree is shedding huge volumes of seeds and small premature fruit at the moment which get everywhere and can be an enormous nuisance. Here’s a pic showing the framework of the X-Air’s starboard wing.

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And here’s a shot of the port wing after assembly and having its cover fitted.

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I’ve moved all of the items I’ll be fitting, including the ailerons, onto my front lawn so I can just push on with the job. When Bertrand and Andre dis-assembled the X-Air before I bought it at the end of last Summer, I asked them to leave all of the bolts that they unscrewed in-situ so I could see exactly how things went back together. They did exactly that, which has saved me a lot of time and made things easier than they might have been. They also bundled related items together, like the wing battens and the struts, and here’s a shot showing what I mean.

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Things have been going well, except later on this afternoon a squally weather front passed through and I thought it wise to bring assembly activities to a halt just in case there was a thunderstorm. There wasn’t, except the stuff that came out of the lime tree made a real mess. I also had a conversation with my next-door neighbour yesterday and he told me that he was going on holiday today to Brittany, returning on 1st August. That’s a bit of a nuisance because it means that I’ll probably have to postpone my assembly work while he’s away. It’s a pity because I have another friend coming to stay with me a couple days after my family have left and I’d hoped to have the X-Air in the air by then. I’ll have to see if there’s a way of getting round things 😉

July 14, 2013

Just in time

It’s late Sunday evening and my family will be arriving from England during the late afternoon tomorrow for a 2-week visit. My target was to get all of my new kitchen floor units together with the new hob and sink units installed and working in time for their arrival so we would at least have the basic facilities that I’ve done without since I arrived here but which will be essential with a larger group of people in the house. And I’ve succeeded – just 😀

The panic to do with my new jigsaw was just that – they are not really designed to cut in clean, absolutely straight lines. You need a hand-held circular saw for that, and after I’d bought myself one of those, progress resumed once again. In fact, it didn’t take long at all to get the smaller of the two worktops cut to size and installed.

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But that was the easy one, of course and the challenge was to get the large one cut to size and lifted into place. My problem was that this was Friday evening and after cutting it to size, there was nobody around to give me hand to lift it up and manoeuvre it into place. I tested it for weight and as I’d now split a few centimetres off its width and shortened it a bit, I decided that I’d be able to lift it myself. But lifting it was just one of the problems – having eyes to see in two directions at once was the other (one of the advantages of having a helper) and I’m sad to say that in one unguarded moment, I caught the edge of the other short worktop with the aluminium joining strip that I’d attached to the end of the large worktop and marked it. I was terribly disappointed, naturally, but there was no point crying over spilt milk and I had to press on towards my deadline and think about how how I’d do the small repair that would be needed (since done and not a total disaster – if necessary I can always replace the worktop, that I haven’t yet screwed down, some time in the future when I install the wall units) 🙁

Then I had to mark out and cut out for the hob and sink units, without removing the large worktop, otherwise I’d probably have done more damage. Cutting out for the hob unit was possible ‘in situ’ because the hob is smaller than the unit it now stands on and cutting out for the sink unit was done just by placing several blocks at one end of the worktop to raise it clear of the base units underneath.

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I’m pleased to say that my connecting pipework for the hob lined up tolerably well, which was a relief, and after changing the burner jets to ones suitable for 28 mBar bottled gas, I eventually got the hob to work after trying fruitlessly for several minutes and then remembering that my regulator (outside on the gas bottle) has a safety press-button, that you need to press and hold for a while when you connect it up for the first time. Panic over 😕

Fitting the sink was quite time-consuming, the main reason being that I’d chosen one without a hole for a tap unit. I’d decided that I would drill a hole in it myself, as I didn’t want to have my mixer tap fitted in the worktop surface. It was a tough job but I ultimately succeeded in doing what I wanted to. I also had to make up a large packing piece to go under the surface of the sink unit itself to secure the mixer tap that I had, connect up the hot and cold supplies that I put in place several days ago and finally fabricate quite a complex plastic waste system.

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Today I had to cut out the last two shelves to accomodate the waste system, make up the final drawer unit and fit the remaining doors, and I eventually attained my target of having a basic working kitchen late this afternoon.

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I’ve now put away all of my tools and cleared the kitchen ready for me to start cleaning the whole house through tomorrow. With a bit of luck I should be all finished and looking serene, with a smashing salad and cold drinks ready and waiting for when they arrive. Fingers crossed 😉

July 11, 2013

At a grinding halt

Progress on my kitchen has been irritatingly slow over the past few days. I’ve had to go out most mornings before starting work either to buy materials or do other errands and whenever I do that, I can bank on losing at least half a day. That means having to work late into the evening to get things finished but that can also mean that I end up making mistakes because I’m so tired. Luckily, although I’ve made a couple, it fortunately hasn’t resulted in any disasters, though.

After making good around where I’d taken out my old sink, I just splashed a little bit of emulsion onto the bits that would be exposed (called ‘toshing over’ in the trade 🙂 ) and installed the pipework that I prefabricated a few days ago for the new hot and cold water supplies.

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I was then ready to go on to install the remaining base units, starting with the cooker unit that will hold an electric oven and the new gas hob that I bought a few weeks ago. To be successful as a plumber, you have to be good at forming a mental picture of things in 3D and then converting that into reality. I’ve always been pretty good at that but my skills were sorely tested when I came to run the connecting pipework for the gas hob, and will be so again when I come to connect up the new sink waste. But first, back to the hob. I had very little choice about where I could bring the gas pipe through the wall from the outside but it just so happened that the hob connection was also in about the same place. So it was quite challenging to say the least, to get the two to mate up, especially as I wanted to do it all in solid copper as well as have it ready just to connect up when I’ve fitted the worktop. So the first challenge was positioning the hob where it will finally be, sitting on top of a worktop of thickness 38mm.

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Then the fun began, because I not only had to get the pipe supplying the gas to turn back on itself, I also had to get it onto the correct angle to smoothly slip into the hob connection, and all in a space that was extremely restricted! It literally took me several hours to get right but I think I got away with it, although I’ll only know for sure when I come to connect it up after I’ve fitted the worktop for real.

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Here’s a shot taken down the back of the unit.

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And this is how the cabinet itself finally came out after it had been secured to the kitchen wall.

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Installing the last two base units has been very tricky and time-consuming, not least because with a gap having to be left for my washing machine, they had to line up accurately in two dimensions with the other units. Plus they also needed to incorporate a pipe for my washing machine waste and be secured top and bottom to the wall to give a permanently rigid final job. Here’s how they came out.

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So what’s all this about coming to grinding halt, you may be asking yourself. Well, I had plenty of time this evening to fit at least the smaller of my two worktops, if not both, actually. But I couldn’t, due to a combination of circumstances. First, I was very annoyed to find that both of my worktops had sustained damage on their front left hand corners that I needed for the smaller of the two, UNDER their protective packaging, which I thought was both unprofessional and very sneaky by Leroy Merlin. As I’d bought a new British brand Titan jigsaw, that I’d been using just for a bit of light cutting of plywood and thin MDF only a few weeks before from Brico Depot especially for cutting my worktops, although I was miffed about this, I thought it wouldn’t be much of a problem just to skim down the edge with a nice new blade and take a centimetre or so off, leaving a new, clean edge. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The jigsaw turned out to be completely useless because despite have a laser beam and goodness knows what other technology, I found that it was impossible to cut a straight line with vertical sides. There was enough ‘play’ in the blade mechanism for it to keep veering off line even though you were dead on it on the surface, giving an unwanted curve plus an increasingly sloping side to the cut. I wasted about 10cm of worktop before deciding that there was no way that I could risk attempting using it to cut my worktops to precise dimensions, so as it came with a 24 month warranty, it’ll be going back tomorrow in exchange for something probably more expensive but hopefully more effective as well. But once again, I’ll be subject to yet another delay while I try and sort it out 🙁

July 7, 2013

Really pleasing progress today

Yet another lovely Summer day here again today, but once again I had to put all thoughts of enjoying the sunshine, or flying, completely out of my head. With only a week to go before my family arrives and with each part of the job taking a bit longer than I originally anticipated because of unforeseen problems, I had to start early and press on with my kitchen work. I’d set myself a target to have completed all of the making good around where my old sink was by the end of the day, so with that in mind I set to work. Here’s how things looked at lunch time.

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I had no choice but to bash the wall away around the sink waste pipe because I soon found that it had never been made good properly and that in fact there was a gap through almost the complete thickness of the wall to the outside. I knew that because I’d noticed several small black bees congregating outside at a position where there are holes in the stones that I could now see corresponded to the sink waste pipe. Soon after I began to remove the lumps of stone responsible for the bumps on the inside of the wall, a small bee emerged into the kitchen, followed shortly after by another. So making the wall good properly became a high priority! 😐

Although it looked a mess after all the old tiles had been knocked off, it didn’t look quite so bad after I’d cleared them all away and swept up.

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It was then just a metter of pressing on until the job was completed, which it was by the early evening, after Andy Murray had become Wimbledon Champion, unfortunately, so I missed the match. I don’t have a plastering trowel because unfortunately I loaned mine to someone and never got it back, and I keep forgetting to buy a replacement. So I had to apply all of the making-good mortar as usual by a small hand trowel, which was slow and tedious work, but nevertheless, eventually the job was done.

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I was very pleased by the progress I managed to make over the week-end, and today especially, which I think will keep me on track to have all of the kitchen base units and accessories in before next week-end. Tomorrow I’ll be able to start installing the remaining base units and may be able to get them all in by the end of the day. I’m going to try to polish the tile patches that I put in, using my wet polisher so it’ll be interesting to see how they come out. I’ll keep my fingers crossed in the meantime 😉

July 6, 2013

A stonking day!

The observed high today was 31 degrees Celsius – in fact it’s still around that as I am typing this at a little after 8.15 pm. But although it’s been a glorious day, I’ve not managed to see much of it again, because of the time I’ve spent indoors. Where I knocked out the two end supports for my old sink yesterday, two holes were left in the floor tiles. Both of them fall under the base units, except that the left hand one corresponds with the gap I’m leaving for the washing machine, so will be visible whenever the washing machine is pulled out. Nevertheless, I decided that it wouldn’t be worth going to the length of breaking out and relaying tiles and instead I’ve gone for patching them with coloured mortar. So my first job was to pop down to Les Briconautes to see if they had what I wanted, which they did.

On arriving back home I checked my postbox and had the welcome surprise of a letter from Merignac. The last time I had a letter like it was at the beginning of the week when the DGAC had returned my French ULM licence paperwork asking me for information that they didn’t actually require (because I already have a UK licence) and to complete another form. However, when I opened this one I was pleased to see that it actually contained my French licence, so I’m at last able to legally fly my X-Air. Not that there’s much chance of that in the next week or so however, as my family arrive for a two-week stay on Monday week and I have to finish off the initial work in my kitchen and get the house and garden ready for their arrival. Here’s my French licence for any UK microlighters who might like to know what it looks like.

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I notice that on the back page (the second pic above) there’s a section for ‘taking passengers’ that hasn’t been stamped. I’ll have to find out about that as with my hours, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t. Francis, the instructor at Castillonnes, will know the answer. I think possibly he will need to sign it, but I’ll have to wait and see what he says.

Regis is on the last couple of laps with the Zenair that he has been repairing for the last year or so and is now at the paint spraying stage. I brought the compressor and spray gun that I bought to spray MYRO’s pod last time, with me to France, so I loaned him both. However, it was too hot for him to do any spraying yesterday, so I doubt that he’ll have got any done today either. The aircraft is the all-aluminium, high wing, STOL Zenair 701 and I must say, from what I’ve seen of it recently, it is now looking terrific. Regis managed to acquire a low hours Rotax 912 engine for it, the 100HP I think, so its performance should be outstanding and I can’t wait to see it completely finished and ready to fly. Well done Regis on completing what I know was a long and very demanding project 🙂

July 5, 2013

Gone, but not forgotten

… or lamented. My disgusting old sink has at last disappeared from my kitchen. It didn’t go without a fight but it was worth every cut, knock and skinned knuckle 😐

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It’s just gone 10.00 pm and I’ve only just finished clearing up. It’s been a horrendously long day as I started 11 hours or so ago and only stopped briefly for a meal and drinks. Today’s high was 30 degrees Celsius, not inside my house of course, but even so my tee shirt is wringing wet as I had to do the whole job by hand with just sledge and club hammers and a cold chisel. And as I’m also covered in dust, I can’t wait now to get under the shower.

But I refused to stop until I’d totally removed the old sink from my kitchen. I promised myself that I wouldn’t stop until I’d done it, but anyway, in practical terms it has also raised a lot of dust and I didn’t want that to go on for a second day. I’m not sure whether knocking this sink out or cutting out the old tiles in my lounge has been the worst job that I’ve tackled here, probably the tiles but this must come a close second. It’s going to take a day or so longer than I originally anticipated to finish the job because of the amount of making good there is to do. Because of it, I had to buy a couple more compression couplings so I could make some stub stop ends for the hot and cold water pipes that I had to cut, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to turn my water back on. But that didn’t take long, so apart from having no kitchen sink, I’m in pretty good shape all in all.

Now it’s time for that shower 🙂

July 2, 2013

Strange things sometimes happen

Life often plays tricks on us, doesn’t it. Sometimes it gives us a nasty surprise just when we least expect it and occasionally something nice unexpectedly happens right out of the blue. And there are also those occasions when we think it’s just given us a good kick up the backside only for everything to turn out better in the end than we could possibly have imagined. Well, today’s series of events was an example of one of the latter.

To be specific, things started to happen last thing yesterday evening while I was getting ready for bed. While I was cleaning my teeth I noticed a pool of water growing steadily larger under one of the compression joints I did last week for the water heater pipework, the very first one actually. Now, it’s very unusual for that type of joint to fail some time after it was done and has been working without leaking, so you can imagine how annoyed I was. I became even more so when, after I’d grabbed a couple of spanners and tried to tighten it up, the steady drip became a stream from around the thread of one of the nuts. I dashed to turn the water off and after trying unsuccessfully to cure the problem, I just had to leave the main water supply turned off and fill a large water container from the outside tap for my immediate use.

One of my problems was that because of limited access, I’d had to use a shifting spanner and grips to tighten the nuts up in the first place and to be honest, the fitting didn’t look anything like pretty as a result. So this morning I went in search of another large spanner that I knew I had somewhere and that I’d hoped might fit the body of the fitting without slipping, which it did. Luckily I already had another new 16mm coupling, which is what this was, so I then set to to take the old one out and replace it with the new one. The leak was coming from where the new fitting was joining up to old tubing and the problem was probably due to standards having slightly changed in the years since the old pipework was put in. I removed the old leaking nut and cone and replaced them with the items from the new fitting but left the nut and cone on the end of the new tubing that I’d put in because that hadn’t caused a problem. This left me, of course, with a spare 16mm nut and cone, but I thought that they’d come in handy sometime, never for a moment thinking just how soon that might be 🙂

I was mightily relieved when, after tightening up the nuts on the new fitting and turning the water back on, the leak had been cured, so I was able to pack up my tools, have breakfast and think about today’s jobs. The main one was to install the new tubing through the wall to the outside for the gas, but I’d also had to start thinking how I’d then connect this up eventually to the hob unit. Although I’d used a 10mm rod to get through the wall, I’d worked it around pretty well and I hoped that as a result I’d be able to put a 12mm tube through. The reason for this was that I’d noticed during my various forays into the plumbing sections here and there that there seems to be a greater variety of 12mm fittings than there are of 10mm. So when I dropped into Les Briconautes this morning to pick up a 1m length of 12mm copper tube, I also checked out the fittings to see how I might connect it to my hob at one end and the gas cylinders at the other. I picked up what looked like the correct union for the hob end and then cast my eye over the gas section. I found a rubber tube connector and it looked as though I could combine this with a different type of 12mm union to achieve my objective.

Sadly, when I got home and was able to check this out, I was proven wrong. The union for the hob was spot on, but as I already half suspected, the thread on the rubber tube gas connector did not match that of the other union that I’d bought, and the worry was that I hadn’t spotted anything else at Les Briconautes that might have been suitable. Then I had a brainwave. What about that spare 16mm nut that I’d kept from this morning – might it be able to do the job? Voilà! It not only screwed on as smoothly as silk but it also held the tube nozzle part firmly, perfectly in the centre on its fibre washer. So what a bit of luck my having the leaky coupling had turned out to be, when I’d originally thought it was yet another annoying disaster. I’d been mulling over and worrying about how I’d be able to connect the hob to the external gas cylinders and now the solution had not only been given to me, but it had also been dropped right into my lap 😀

After that, in some ways the rest of today’s work was a bit of an anticlimax. I prefabricated the interior part of the gas pipe before poking the other end out through the wall, which it did much more easily than I’d thought it might. Then it was just a matter of making the job good, ready for me to continue tomorrow with making up the pipework for the new sink and bashing out the dirty old one. Here’s how each end of the new gas pipe looked just after I’d finished the making good.

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So I’m all set now for tomorrow. It’ll be impossible to get the new base units and worktops and sink all in tomorrow, so I’ll end up without a kitchen sink for a couple of days or so. But that’ll be a small price to pay to get rid of the disgusting old one that I’ve had to put up with ever since I moved in just over a year ago. It’s one old traditional rural French feature that I’m happy to do away with, thank you 😉

July 1, 2013

Bit the bullet

As I mentioned in my previous post, my original intention today was to crack on and smash the old kitchen sink out so I could then continue installing the remaining new base units. However, I’d been thinking more and more about moving the gas cylinders outside and not leaving them under the sink where they had been up to now. The additional storage space would be very useful, but I was more worried about what might happen in the long term if I was going to be forever lifting heavy and dirty gas cylinders in and out of my nice new oak-door base unit. Eventually there would be some kind of accident causing damage to either the carcass of the unit itself or one of its doors, and that’s what finally persuaded me that I should move the cylinders to the other side of the wall. That and the fact that having them outside in the open air would also be much safer.

But moving them presented a whole new set of problems. Making a hole through the wall for starters, which would then need to be made good once the new gas pipe was in, before I could continue fitting the base units. And if I didn’t do it now, it would be very difficult, if not impossible to do a decent job later, once the base units were all in, let alone the worktops too, so I decided to bite the bullet and go ahead with the job today 😐

I had to go down to Les Briconautes in Montignac anyway to buy a pack of two 14mm soldered elbows so while I was there, I thought I’d see if there was a length of steel rod in the rack that I could use as a long cold chisel to bang a hole through my wall. As luck would have it, there was a choice between 10mm mild steel and 10mm stainless, so I went for the former as it was about half the cost of the stainless at only 3.90€ for a metre length. I knew that getting through the wall was going to be a long, tough job, not just because of the thickness of the wall but also because the temperature reached a high today of 30 degrees Celsius!

I roughly estimated where I wanted the pipe to be on the wall inside, found a gap between some big stones in the wall outside that roughly corresponded, shoved the tip of the rod in and began belting it with my club hammer. Pretty soon I was streaming with sweat in the heat of the day. I had to keep banging the rod in and then withdrawing it to stop it sticking inside the wall so progress was pretty slow. However, I got to what I estimate must have been 10cms from the inner surface of the wall before I hit something so hard that I ground to a complete halt. I reasoned that I must have hit a really large stone more or less slap bang on and I wondered if there was any chance that if I attacked the wall from the other side, I’d find it and be able to break it with the hammer and chisel.

But unlike the Channel Tunnel where they can use laser guided instruments and exactly join up two ends of the tunnel by drilling from each end, for me it was a completely different story. The chance of my being able to transfer my ‘estimated’ measurements of distance and height from the outside to the inside and put an ‘X’ on the wall that corresponded with the point of the metal rod was pretty remote, to say the least. But I had no choice, so I went ahead and did it.

Once I’d made a hole in the plaster and rendering inside, I did indeed come across a very large stone. I tried breaking it with the hammer and chisel but to no avail, even after I’d drilled a few holes in it to help split it. I then noticed that I could see its lower right edge and decided to attack it in that area, with some success. A chunk of the stone came away and I then thought it might be a good idea to put a long masonry drill through at that point and see how far it could go. I’ve got a drill that’s 50cm long and it took very little to get it in right up to the drill chuck. So I then went outside, withdrew my now very curvy steel rod and continued bashing that through from the inside in the same place. I reckoned that if I just kept hammering, the chance was that with the mortar between the stones being softer on the outside, even if I hit a large one, I might be able to knock it right out and get the rod through.

But it wasn’t necessary. After several minutes of steady banging, the rod was indeed through! I could hardly believe it and went outside to see where it had emerged. Now this was the most amazing bit – bearing in mind that I’d attacked the wall a bit lower and to the right from the inside, compared to the original hole that I’d tried to make from the outside, I could hardly believe my eyes to see that, allowing for slight movements due to stones inside the wall, the tip of the rod was below and to the left of the original hole outside, exactly where it should have been! So my measurements when I’d tried to mimic the Channel Tunnel and join two holes banged from the outside and inside, had been spot on. Lucky or what!

Here are some pics showing each end of the rod after I’d punched through.

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As you can see from the measurements on the tape at each end of the rod, the wall of my house is 1 metre thick all but 25cm, so no wonder punching through it was hard work. And in case you think I was cheating, here’s the rod itself.

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It’s all I’ve done today, but I’ve done it and that’s the main thing. Before I can continue with the plumbing for the sink and installing the base units, I’ll have to put a 12mm copper tube through the wall tomorrow and make good around it, adding an extra couple of days to the job. But the end result will be much better and I know that it’ll be worth it 😉