Napa Valley, Halloween Weekend, Day 4

November 1, 2010

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Alright, today was just a travel day, but there ended up being some nice pictures, so I thought I would share.

(The good news: this is the last day of trip pictures. Next post is back to the airplane!)

Here was an awesome low-level cloud moving in along one of the little bays. We drove right through it over the bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge.


The pacific ocean.

Golden Gate Bridge.

So. Just over the bridge there was some screeching of tires and an (almost) accident. Once everyone started driving again, we took a look at what we thought was the offending car.

I snapped this picture.

Can you tell what was wrong?


San Fransisco.


More San Francisco.

On the plane, headed back east.

Pretty mountains.

Some awesome formations in the desert.

Same here.

In Dallas, the girlfriend grabbed this sweet picture of the sunset.

And finally, the next morning on the way to the kennel to pick up the puppies, she snapped this picture of the sunrise.


It was an awesome trip.

Now back to work on the airplane, Andrew!

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Napa Valley, Halloween Weekend, Day 2

October 30, 2010

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Well, after a good night’s sleep, we woke up, had a wonderful breakfast with the parents, and got ready for the day.

We had arranged with Tom D. from Vino Van Tours to take us around Napa (great recommendation from our cousins who had used him before).

It just so happened that one of my buddies was in CA on business, so he drove up and joined us for the day.

After meeting Tom, we headed out for Trefethen.


We were going to do some sort of private tasting, but they couldn’t promise Tom anything specific because they were setting up for their big Halloween party.

Why does everyone love their big pumpkins out here?

Inside, they had the placed decorated from head to toe.

This is with flash. It was pretty dark and spooky in there.

I can't tell if he is saying "Don't touch my wine!" or "My precious!"

Here is one of the tasting guides. Creepy.

They had a nice tasting for $15. The dry riesling was especially nice, but we ended up buying their 2000 Library Chardonnay.

This lady walked by us, and we thought it was a real dog. She had her left hand in him operating the head, and it scared the crap out of us.


Very well decorated.

This is their barrel room with a flash.

Without flash. That ghost is pretty cool.

After heading out, my buddy was able to snap this picture of the family.

Who's that goofy guy on the left? (Looks like he's been drinking wine!)

Next up, Bell.

We had a few people reccommend Bell, and it was by far the best tasting experience we had.

The outside of Bell.

First thing, Tom walked us by one of their presses, which was actually pressing! (I’d never seen one in action before, just the sparkling clean ones just before or long after harvest.)

It took ALL of my willpower not to go lick the side of the press. Mmm. Wine...

Back in the tasting room. Sandra Bell (Owner/Cofounder) took care of us and poured us our first glass. We got to talk a little about a mutual friend. Very hospitable.

A bad picture of some of the shelves in the tasting room.

I was too busy enjoying myself to take more pictures, but they walked us through 5 wines, and had a cheese pairing for each one. They spent about an hour with us just talking about wine, answering some questions, and talking a little more about the history of the valley.

Nice private tasting room.

Then, I got a little camera-happy. I’m only going to show you one of the (maybe) ten picture I took of the tanks.

Fermentation tanks.

Next, Tom took us to a place called Cornerstone, which was a tasting room only in the middle of Yountville.

Nice little shopping center area.

Here’s the inside.

That's top, on the right (underneath the light).

I liked their logo.

We went a little out of order. First, the sauvignon blanc, then the ’05 Howell Mtn cab, then the ’05 Napa cab, then back to the ’04 Howell Mtn cab.

Nice menu.

Here’s the Sauvignon Blanc. They had bread (needed at this point) and olive oil. Very elegant setup.

Mmm. Bread.

Then, things got a little out of control. Wine everywhere.

We were having a good time.

Proof that we were really in Yountville.

Then, we insisted we sit down for lunch, we were all a little….hungry. Yeah, that’s it.

Doesn't that look delicious? (It was.)

Back on the road, here is Tom telling us the famous Mondavi brothers story.

This minivan had a mind of its own, though. I couldn't get the seat to unlatch, so Tom always had to walk around and get it for me. Must be "all in the wrist."

Here we are (after lunch) driving to Rubicon.

Rubicon is Francis Ford Coppola's place in Napa.

Nice entrance.

A few pictures of the scenery, for your viewing pleasure.

So pretty, even when it is overcast.

Pretty house.

Pretty road.

Here's the front of the winery.

The fountain and some vines.

More pretty.

A nice picture of the fountain.

I could tell you about the rich history of the building, but I won’t.

Nice stonework, though.

Looking toward the tasting area.

Guess who is camera happy.

Enough pictures, Andrew.

Another picture of the tasting bar?

Oh, there was a little room for Coppola’s stuff. I didn’t know that Nicolas Cage was his nephew. Huh.

Merh. I have one of those at home too. (no I don't).

This is an appropriately lit picture. Tom was telling us about his supernatural experience at this winery.

After Rubicon (the wines were good, but I think lunch ruined our palates, and we didn’t buy anything), we headed up to Howell mountain to Ladera. Awesome place.

Pretty mountainous winery.

A picnic would have been nice.

Nicely landscaped grounds.

Here's my buddy, desperately searching for his next Cab fix. Just kidding. (I liked Ladera, because they didn't feel like they had to have a gigantic pumpkin.)

More awesome stonework.

I guess this was a pretty driveway. Why did I take this picture?

I loved all of the winery doors.

Back at the hotel, we assessed the damage. 12 bottles. Not bad.

Mmm. It's going to be a good couple of weeks (or months) at home when we get back.

For dinner, we went to Farmstead. Very organic place (although they didn’t really sell that part well.)

This was after dinner (and wine), so sorry about the lighting.

Hey look! Andrew's getting artsy with his camera-work.

Day 3, coming soon.

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Napa Valley, Halloween Weekend, Day 1

October 29, 2010

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I know there hasn’t been very much airplane work in awhile. But I can explain.

The girlfriend and I have been dreaming (and saving) for a wine trip for awhile. For about 9 months, we’ve been planning a trip to Napa Valley, CA.

It was awesome.

This post is going to be pretty long because of all the pictures. Bear with me.

First and foremost, we showed up to the rental car counter in San Fransisco, and among a lot of the choices was a Nissan Cube. We decided that the Cube sounded like a perfect (pronounced “hilarious”) vehicle for our wine adventures, so we got it.


See? Hilarious!


We stayed at the Harvest Inn, located in St. Helena, CA. It was wonderful. (Quiet, two heated pools and hot-tubs, complimentary wine and cheese tastings from local vineyards between 5:30 and 6:30 on weekends, and a small bar that was open until 11 every night. (An oatmeal stout is a perfect nightcap after a long day of tasting and dining.)


Cute little bar.


Okay, let’s get started on Day 1.

My parents happened to be in Napa the same weekend (not so much of a coincidence) and we decided (with some help from friends, other suggestions) that we were going to follow the “once you’ve been on one wine tour, you’ve been on them all” philosophy.

Side note: I love wine tours. Even though all destemmers, presses, fermentation tanks, barrels, bottles, and tasting rooms look a lot a like, I’ll go on as many as you’ll let me.

We decided our one wine tour should be Opus One. They only do tours (by appointment only) at 10am on Friday and Saturday.

Let me just say, the next hour and a half of my life was a life-changing one. Religious experience.


Here's the approach to Opus One.



This is around the side of the building.



These are some (very well manicured) grape vines on Opus One's property. Beautiful.



Mom and dad, walking up to the entrance.


They had some beautiful olive trees in the open area inside the courtyard.





More olives!


It was gorgeous everywhere.


Beautiful architecture.


Inside the foyer, you can see they are getting ready for Halloween.

We met a nice gentleman from Opus One named Hank. He took us on a wonderful tour.


I love the reverse columns in the banister.



This thing was huge!



Another great shot of the olive trees.



An olive with a little drop of water on it.


Okay, back to wine.

They have a young frenchwoman as the assistant winemaker. Her job is to basically taste all the different barrels and tanks every day to categorize and record the wines characteristics as it ages. I looked for a job application, but they didn’t need anyone. Bummer.


This is a lab job I would take.


Then Hank took us into the main winemaking room. I was shocked at the scale (it is small) of the operation.

Without going into too much detail, the reason Opus One is so amazing is the care they put into each step. Some of the larger places use huge machines that really beat up on the grapes, juice, wine, etc. during all of the steps to make many different kinds of wines. Opus one really emphasizes quality over quantity (that’s why they can charge $300 per bottle), and they only make one wine. (Well, sometimes they make two, but I’m not going to explain here…go find out for yourself.)

You can see in this picture their operation is pretty small. From right to left, a destemmer, automatic sorter ($$$), press (roller instead of bladder) and then the must (juice and skin mixture) is sent to the fermentation tanks.


Each of the round disks in the floor is a cover to a fermentation tank below.





Hank explained that they use high density vineyards to stress the vines. Stressed vines give less fruit, but much higher quality fruit.


You can see the idea of stressing by the coloration in the vines. The vines on the edges (and along walkways in the middle) have more soil, room to grow, etc, so they are still green. The better-stressed vines are in the middle, competing for resources, and producing better fruit. That's why they are starting to turn yellow/red.



Hank showing us a destemmer.



A simple map of their fermentation tanks.


We were lucky that they had just emptied some wine from one of the tanks. Now, they are scooping out the rest of the must from the tank.


There are a whole bunch of rules about going in there. Apparently every couple years someone dies from suffocation (fermentation=carbon dioxide) because they went in there before they were able to ventilate the tank. Here, you can see the harness and the rope used for safety.


They’ll take that extra must, and stick it in another press just to make sure they have all of the (wonderful) wine out.


Here's the last press.



An example with an empty tank.


Then, Hank had us descend into what looked like a dungeon.


Down the staircase.



Into a beautiful lower foyer.



Past some second-year barrel aging rooms.



And into the tasting room. Whoa.


Oh my god. We are going to get to taste some OPUS ONE!


Such an elegant presentation.


At this point, Hank was just teasing us. He asked us to come out into the first-year barrel aging room.


They paint the center section of the barrels red so you can't see the drips while they fill and sample the barrels. Nice touch.



Seriously. This was so cool.


Then, Hank handed everyone a glass (it was killing me, he served the ladies first…ugh).







So, then the pictures got bad. I was having a love affair with my glass.


Girlfriend, Mom, and Hank. (Girlfriend sniffing.)



She turned around and said "Ooooooooooooh" all giddily.


After another 15 minutes of making love to that glass of wine, we made our way back outside.


More barrels.


Up on the rooftop, we enjoyed some of the (overcast) views.


Olive trees, looking west.



More west.






It was so beautiful up here.



Looking north.



Girlfriend, mom, and dad.



Robert Mondavi and Baron Phillipe, founders of Opus One.


Finally, we had to go.


Looking from Opus One back out toward the entrance.



Another good shot of the entrance.


Next, off to lunch.


Taylor's Refresher (now "Gott's?), or maybe it used to be Gott's. I don't know.


It’s this cool little walk-up diner with amazing food and a pretty decent wine list.


I had a blue-cheese burger.




I nice half-bottle of zin for the family.


After lunch, we headed to Rombauer (to try their famous Chardonnay).

I was more impressed with the garden area. I saw a dinosaur in the garden.


That's my kind of T-Rex.


We walked by a pretty awesome old door, though. This must be for barrel storage.


Old door.


We like a few of their wines (great Merlot, Cab, and really did like their famous buttery Chardonnay), but the guy who poured our tasting was kind of a jerk. Not modest at all, and I just didn’t feel like buying from them. It was our only weird service experience all weekend.

Next up, Sterling (for the tram ride and views).


All of these places have really cool driveways.


We sprung for the Silver VIP experience.


I finally got a picture of my girlfriend's abs on the internet. Ha.


So then, we all loaded up onto the tram (gondola?) and headed up.


My mom turned to my dad and said, "We forgot the skis."



Looking up toward Sterling.



Looking back down after about a 2 minute ride.



This is Castello Di Amorosa. Kind of cool looking, but I've heard it's hokey and has bad wine.


Inside Sterling, they hand you a glass of wine, and send you on a self-guided tour. (Every 50 yards or so they fill you back up with something new.)


Some fermentation tanks.



Some old, but huge, barrels. I can't remember if these were used for fermentation or just large-scale barrel aging.



Lots o barrels.


At the end of the self-guided tour, you end up on a pretty balcony looking south over much of Napa Valley.


Looking south over the valley.



Nice views.



I liked this bell.


Back inside, we headed to the tasting room, and were seated for a nice tasting.


They were all pretty good, but none of us bought any wine. I think lunch killed our palates.


Next, off to Clos Pegase. This place was suggested for the art and archtecture, but not necessarily the wine.


Cool place.



The light was actually pretty good for some of these pictures.



I don't know if one of these "L"s fell down or that is how it is supposed to be.



Looking down one of the vineyard rows.



Hey, look! Art!



This is looking toward the tasting room/building.



I heard there is a giant hand underground. I believe it.



Very pretty building.


After a few more pictures, we decided to actually go tasting, and I ran over to these vines (which still had fruit on them) and picked a grape.

Wine grapes taste very different (kind of bitter) from regular store grapes. I was waxing poetic about how awesome it was when a gentlemen from the winery walked past. I looked down sheepishly, trying to avoid his eyes, and everyone started toward the tasting room.

As we all walked toward the door, he leaned over and said, “don’t worry, everyone does it.”

Darn. I thought I got away with it. Puts a whole new meaning to “caught red-handed.”


I can't get over how beautiful the views are. Here's the crime scene.



Alright Andrew, you are getting a little camera-happy.



Seriously, Andrew. Put the camera down.



”]Hey, more art!



But more importantly, WINE!


I took a picture of the tasting menu mostly because this is the only place we bought wine on Friday. Based on the recommendation, we were going to like the architecture (which we did) more than the wine. We loved the Syrah, and bought two bottles.

Take that, overly-commercialized Sterling.


All excellent, we liked the Syrah and Origami the best.



They have an artist onsite designing labels. Pretty awesome.



Random trunk.



Barrels and art.


This is my favorite picture from the whole trip.


I giggled for about 5 minutes at this. I'm not joking. My mom had to drag me into the next room so I stopped laughing.



Wholy art.



This guy looks like he is reaching for the vineyards.



I should really put the camera away.




After wine tasting, the girlfriend and I thought it would be a good idea to hop in the hot tub.

She grabbed the camera away from me, so lucky you, here’s a picture of me running from the camera in my bathrobe.

Yup, this is in public.

After much running, I finally slowed down enough for her to catch up and snap a posed shot.

Dinner at Brix that night was fantastic. Highly recommended. I’ll post Saturday’s pictures soon.

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First Floor Wood Floors

May 30, 2010

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May 30, 2010 – Ripped Up Dining Floors
Jun 04, 2010 – Picked up New Flooring
Jun 05, 2010 – More Floor Demolition
Jun 12, 2010 – Underlayment and box opening
Jun 13, 2010 – Started Laying Floor in Living Room and Foyer
Jun 15, 2010 – Living Room Done
Jun 26, 2010 – Dining Room Done
Jul 06, 2010 – Hallway/Powder Room
Aug 01, 2010 – Family Room/Kitchen
Aug 14, 2010 – Nailgun purchase, Trim
Sep 05, 2010 – Almost done with the Kitchen
Sep 12, 2010 – Kitchen Finished!
Oct 23, 2010 – Dining and Living Rooms Done
Nov 28, 2010 – Family Room Finished
Jan 02, 2011 – Family Room and Powder Room

Okay, this is not airplane project related, but I need a place to keep everyone updated with pictures and progress on the wood floors project.

(Okay, okay, it is related…I am redoing the floors while I wait for the wing kit to arrive). Happy?

Long story short, the floors in my house are kind of weird. On the first floor, I’ve got good wood floors in the foyer, carpet in the living and family rooms, vinyl tile-look-alike in the kitchen, and laminate flooring in the dining room that was not installed correctly.

The floors are on order, so it’s time to start. I’m putting these floors in the whole first floor. It’s going to be a big project. I’m going to start in the dining room, move to the living room, then go to the rest of the house. That will have the least impact on the kitchen and family rooms, where most of the day’s activities occur.

May 30, 2010: Ripping up old dining room floors. (I won’t add a ton of commentary…for your sanity’s sake.)

I've taken out the first part of the floors. The person who installed these lined up all of the seams. Also, you could put your foot on any row, and slide the whole row back and forth. Boo.

First row pulled up.

I like to play a game called "will it burn?" (Yes, it does.)

The underlayment actually wasn't in bad shape.

Jack and Ginger: "What the heck is this stuff? Can I eat this?

I pulled the underlayment up and balled it up to throw in the garbage.

All done for the day.

Next up, removing the molding and taking up the crapet in the living room. I’ll update this post later with more progress.

June 4th, 2010:

Hey, I picked up the wood floors today. The guy helping me load them into the 4Runner made a joke about not being able to fit them all into the truck. It was only funny because they fit exactly. I could not have fit one more box.

This seems like it

A side view. I had a ton of extra room. /sarcasm off.

From the front. (Those top few rows would have gone over my head in an accident, I promise.)

After removing 9 or so boxes (30 lb each?) from the back. 38 left. (Arms tired...)

Hey look! All the boxes are inside acclimating! Wait...this doesn't seem like all 47 boxes.

Oh. Here are the rest.

I’m so tired from all of the box-lifting, that I can’t even come up with anything funny to say. Sorry.

(Here’s some funny for you: When the guy from Lumber Liquidators asked when I was planning on installing the floors, I responded “Summer 2010.”)

He laughed.

So should you.

The instructions on the packages say to let the floors acclimate for 24 hours, but I am going to stick with the tried-and-true 1 week waiting period. No use in tempting the wood floor gods by installing them too early. Besides, I still have a lot of demo (demolition…in the form of removing carpet, pad, and tack strip, as well as molding) to do in the living room before being able to lay the underlayment (perpendicularly) in both living and dining rooms (Of course, I am laying the floors parallel to the windows and along the longest hallway, per common practice.)

More later this weekend.

June 5th, 2010:
Not much to see here, just more floor demolition.

Pulling up carpet.

Pulling up more carpet. (In sections, because I have so much crap in the living room.)

Next, pulling up the tack strip...

All done with the tack strip...let's move into the foyer.

Pulling up these wood floors was satisfying. Very satisfying.

Towards the kitchen...

Finally. All the foyer wood floors have been demo'ed.

lastly, I started pulling of the molding, very carefully. We are going to try to save this, seeing as how it is about $1 per linear foot to replace.

Next up, more molding demo (salvage) and then laying underlayment in preparation for laying floor!

June 12th, 2010:
After spending a couple days prepping and paiting the dining room and living room cieling room, I was finally given the okay to really start on the floors. First thing was to really make sure the floors were clean, then start unrolling the underlayment.

After laying the first row, moving the flooring onto that row, and laying the second row, I grabbed this shot. The blue stuff in the middle is a flimsy plastic covering for some double sided tape preinstalled on one side of the underlayment. On the other side is that 3″ piece of plastic (you can see on the right). After you line everything up, just pull the tape off through the seam, and they seal together. Nice and easy


Working on the third row.

I have to start in the bay window area, so once I got the third row in, I stopped because I am too excited to actually get some of this stuff down. Here are a couple boxes opened and just scattered randomly.

Nice color and variation, right? We're really happy with it.

Next up is drawing some reference (straight) chalk lines to make sure the seams look good along the longest hallways. Then the saw comes out to get actually started.

June 13th, 2010:
Wuhoo! I actually started putting floor down.

To start today, the girlfriend and I measured from the walls along the back of the house so we could make a series of straight reference lines with a chalk line. I then used one pretty close to the bay window as the starting point, and moved into the window area. Turns out, the front of the house wasn’t perfectly square with the back of the house (and the longest hallway, which we want to be perfect), so there were some rip cuts early in the day.

I shouldn't have started in the bay window area. This was actually hard to measure and make all of these cuts.

See the angled walls? Hard!

Oh man, these look good.

Coming down the stairs is where the look the best.

Due to the overlapping nature of the locking joints I had to extend all the way into the hall closet so I could move further down the living room.

After about 8 hours worth of work, I have the bay window done, and a lot of the foyer. I'm going to lay the last row in front of the stairs (requires some intricate work with the saw) and then finish up the living room before coming back into the foyer to fill into the front door and toward the kitchen.

It doesn't look like much, but that was 8 hours of back-breaking work. Anyone feel sorry for me? (I didn't think so.)

I need a nap. (How bout some wine! That’ll do.)

June 15, 2010:
Living room done.

I'm tired, and my knees and back are sore, but here's my update. Better than carpet, eh?

June 26, 2010:
Foyer and dining room done.

Here's the foyer being claimed by Ginger. (She is also making sure none of the neighbors enter into HER cul-de-sac.)

Here's the dining room, mostly done. I have one very skinny strip to do under the window, but why do today what I can put off until tomorrow?

“But, Andrew,” you say, “why is there a big hole in the floor?”

Well… [deep breath]

Basically, with the lips that are included on 2 of the four sides of each piece, you have to work from left to right, but you can either lay the next row on top of the existing row (if working from top to bottom), or tuck  the next row under the existing row (if working from bottom to top). This picture is sideways from the description, but basically, I was working from the right side of the picture toward the left side, and when I came to the doorway, I could have run the next row all the way through the kitchen and into the family room, thereby disrupting all activities in those rooms, or devise a plan to jump the doorway and continue into the dining room. The way I’ve left this, I can keep laying floor until the single biggest gap (right in the middle) is the only one left, then, I can slide that one row in from the kitchen, and the only violation of the overlapping and locking seams is that one 4.25″ edge right in the middle of the room. (The pieces will still be overlapping, just not locking. The directions allow this by using a chisel to scrape off the locking part of the overlap, then using wood glue to secure.) We chose the middle of the room for this edge because it will most likely be covered by a rug, and if it ever separates (not likely) you won’t see it.

Also, you can see my patented protect-the-floors-from-the-wood-chewing-dogs apparatus. Also, you can barely see the hideous vinyl tile lookalike that was previously in the kitchen.

I’m tired. Time for a nap.

July 6, 2010:
Working on the hallway and powder room.

I missed an internet update for a nice workday last weekend moving into the hallway, but here’s a picture of both day’s worth of (slight) accomplishment. I finally worked my way down to the storage closet and bathroom doors. These door jam undercuts are pretty tough, and you have to chisel off some of the self-locking parts of the flooring and use wood glue to hold them in place, but it worked outl

I'm getting closer to the dreaded kitchen, but need to finish up the storage closet and powder room first.

After moving into the bathroom (I have to go both into the closet and bathroom at the same time), I realized I would be able to put off tearing out the vanity and toilet until later. I can move into the bathroom, and then back out before getting to the toilet, backfilling both of the skipped areas later, when we’re ready to replace the vanity and tackle the toiled thing. For now, I’ll do what I can and move onward toward the kitchen.

You can see I'll be able to go into the bathroom, then work right, then come back out before getting too close to the toilet.

The next big task is tearing up the carpet and tack strips from the storage closet. That is hard work in a small space. Boo.

August 1, 2010:
I didn’t really update this page much during July (and for that I apologize), but I was working on the floors here and there.

I didn’t get any pictures of me pulling out the carpet and tack strip, or actually laying flooring in the storage closet, but that took me awhile.

Instead of pulling up everything in the kitchen now, I decided to “turn the corner” into the family room, and work upwards toward the wall. This way, I could get a big chunk of room done without interrupting the family using the kitchen on a daily basis.

After pulling up half the carpet and rolling it up into 4′ sections (your welcome, picky garbage person!), I slaved over a crowbar and hammer pulling up the carpet tack strip. Then, I carefully removed the trim, labeled everything so I know where it goes, and cleaned up the concrete floor.

I'm pretty sure the builders painted all of the quarter-round on the concrete floor here. Nice.

After laying down my underlayment, I laid some temporary rows (the ones with the holes in them) for alignment, and then started building up toward the wall.

When I’m ready to connect the kitchen and family room, I will remove the temporary rows and replace them with “real” rows.

This is going to look very nice with the trim done. (Oh, and the rest of the room done.)

Today (Aug 1), I started in on the kitchen. First thing, I turned the corner into the pantry, and then started backfilling the dining room pyramid hole.

After a pretty difficult cut to get around the wall and door jam (had to buy a new tool to cut the door jams properly, wuhoo!), I put some more underlayment down and got the pantry knocked out.

Pantry done.

Then, I turned another corner (I only point this out because these are the hard cuts) and moved into the fridge area.

Fridge area cleaned up.

Fridge area done (enough to put the fridge back). I'll need to pull it out again to put the trim in, but it's good for now.

The next work session will be a big one, I’ll be laying floor all the way into the family room.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that is exciting for everyone. Even you…right?

August 14, 2010:

Well, I finished up a closet and pantry in the last few days, so it is off to Harbor Freight to buy a brad nailer to put up some trim. (We have to get the trim back up before putting stuff back in the closets so the garage can be cleared out enough for the wing kit to arrive.

Here’s the nailer I bought for $20 or so.

Doesn't it just ooze "high quality?" (Please note the sense of foreboding.)

Huh, looks like it should work okay. (More foreboding.)

After shooting about 6 brads, I was thinking to myself, “this thing is pretty nice.”

Two more, then it jammed….doh!

I took it apart, cleared the jam, put it back together, shot two more brads, and it jammed again.

Once again, I have learned my lesson about buying cheap tools. Some tools are fine to buy cheaply (like the 4 adjustable wrenches I got for $10, which are awesome), but something like a brad nailer really needs to be nice quality.

I returned the original unit to Harbor Freight and headed over to the Aviation Department (I mean tool section) of Lowe’s, and picked up this nice Bostitch brad nailer.

Much better.

Alright, so the walls aren't straight, and the trim is showing some gaps. That's what caulk is for! (I am very unhappy with the quality of the trim. I think early next year I will pay someone out to re-trim the whole house.)

This is a really nice, high quality unit. Highly recommended.

September 05, 2010:

So even though I don’t appear to be getting a lot done on the floor, I really am progressing rather nicely. Over the last few weeks, I connected the dining room, kitchen, and hallway into the family room, and almost finished the kitchen.

If you remember from awhile back, I had left a few rows out of the dining room so I could finish the dining room before having to rip up all of the flooring across the length of the house. It’s time to finally fill that hole. I thought it would be easy to just slide a few pieces into the last row, but I was WRONG. Apparently, when the top AND the bottom of a row are locked in, it is pretty impossible to slide them left and right.

I was able to do 1 and a half boards manually before getting stuck. Hmm. What to do?

Can't slide these in any more. Hmm.

Ooh, I have an idea. Let’s use some airplane tools!

This is going to be fun. I have to get 4 of these in here.

It absolutely worked, but it took forever. Here’s a ridiculously oversized video file to help you see how it worked.

Nice, huh?

Looking good.

Okay, then, a few weeks passed, and I was bad with taking pictures. Anyway, I moved around the island, under the oven, and finally started converging on the back door.

Wuhoo, it's coming along!

And after another hour or so…just a few rows left in the kitchen.

Here, it was 5:30, (HALF AN HOUR INTO COCKTAIL HOUR!!!!) and I was being summoned to make drinks. I have all weekend to lay these last few rows. (Next weekend I should be able to finish up the family room.

I can taste the finish line, and it tastes like Rum and Coke…(oh wait…That’s just cocktail hour.)

September 12, 2010:

Wuhoo! Finished the kitchen. Sorry about the pictures, they were taken before the floor was mopped clean, but they still give you an idea of how much they’ve improved the house.

The final kitchen corner done. (The girlfriend was amazing today and took it upon herself to mop all of the floors. They look so good now!)

Then, I decided it was high time for all of you to get a look back at the rest of the kitchen. We used to hate the white cabinets, but with the right paint color, I think they will balance nicely with the granite. (You can see our existing paint color to the far left. The color just left and right of the range is the proposed new color. It will be dark, but it really plays nicely with the granite.) Okay. Now that I’ve said that, you can have one of my man cards.

Starting to look decent.

Now all I need to do is replace the dishwasher and microwave with stainless. Oh wait. I bought a new dishwasher on Labor day.

Real conversation:

Me: {struggling to install new dishwasher…} This is hard work. I thought Labor day was supposed to be relaxing.

Girlfriend: Why do you think they call it “Labor” Day?

Me: {pensively podering}…touché.

Beautiful new dishwasher.

All I have left is half of a family room…and all of the trim.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…

October 23, 2010:

So it’s not like I haven’t been working in the last month or so. I have been busily putting up trim and shoe molding.

Here’s the hallway done.

I like the rug.

Dining room done.

Living room done.

I guess I took another picture of the dining room. Oh well.

Up next, finish trim and shoe molding in the foyer.

November 28, 2010:

Well, over the last couple months, we’ve been putting up trim and shoe molding in all of the rooms. I don’t have any pictures, but we have the dining room, living room, foyer, hallway, and both closets completely done.

Today, the girlfriend is going to paint the trim in the kitchen while I FINALLY get all of the flooring layed. (Except in the powder room, which we are fully renovating…in a few weeks.)

I moved all the furniture off the remaining carpet.

(Last night, while we were drinking amazing wine and eating blue cheese and carmelized onion-topped NY Strips, I kept trying to get the girlfriend to sing that goodbye song ("nah nah, na-na-nah nah, hey hey yo, goodbye") to the carpet. It didn't work.)

After pulling up the carpet and padding, I went to work on the trim and tackstrip.

Fast foward 3 hours, and the rest of the floor is down. Wuhoo!

If you want to know about the white splotch on the wall, ask my dad.

All done! (I’ll put the trim and shoe molding back up in a week or so when we have a chance to sand and paint it, but we’re done!)

Most of the furniture back in the family room.

The only thing that is left now is the powder room and the trim in the family room.

January 02, 2011:

Well, I thought I’d be done by now, but I am pretty darn close. I got the trim and the shoe molding up in the family room, and we’re basically putting the final touches up (still need mirror, hardware, and faucet) in the powder room.

Trim and molding is up in the family, which of those 4 colors to the right is your favorite?

Check out this powder room.

See, still need mirror, new light fixture, and faucet.

This green is totally awesome.

Not much more left…

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2010 Mid-Atlantic Fly-in

May 15, 2010

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If any of you find your plane in these pictures, and would rather not have them posted publicly, please shoot me a message and I will take them down.

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Fixed Squeaky Dryer

May 6, 2010

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About two weeks ago, our ~10-year-old dryer started squeaking pretty badly with every rotation of the single-piece drum. (A single piece drum is one where the back wall spins, too. If the back wall is stationary while the “walls” turn, you have a two-piece drum.) Anyway, since it was with every rotation of the drum (as opposed to the faster rotation of the motor or ventilation (lint filter) fan), I knew it was probably one of the supports for the drum.

After doing a little bit of google research, I stumbled acrross this thread, and a very helpful gentleman who posted on how to fix a squeaky dryer.

Anyway, after ordering the part from ebay ($5 instead of $20), it arrived last night and I got to work. (I had to do the work in my PJs; we haven’t done laundry in a week and a half because the dryer squeak was unbearably annoying. It drove the pups crazy.)

This is from applguy:

I don’t see why you couldn’t fix it yourself…it’s not really that difficult, but it can really be a bonus if you can have someone help you hold things together at one point. It (the dryer) is serviced from the front. The part number you will likely need is 5303281153. This is a kit that contains every part that could possibly need to be replaced when dealing with a rear drum bearing.

Okay, here's the kit. Let's get started, I need clean underwear!

Here are the pieces in the kit.

First, unplug the dryer from the outlet or remove power at the breaker/fuse panel. To raise the top of the dryer, insert a putty knife into the crack between the top and the front panel and push against the spring clips to release them. There are two clips, anywhere from 23 to 8 inches in from the sides. You should be able to feel the spring tension when you push on them. Push one in slightly, and raise that side, then the same for the other end of the main top.

those clips were pretty rusted. I had to wrestle with them a little to get them to disengage. Luckily, I could see them from the front of the dryer, so I didn't need to poke around a lot.

Once the top is up, you will disconnect the wires to the door switch (right side, on the backside of the front panel), if there are 3, mark them somehow to get them back correctly, if only 2 wires, no need as location makes no difference.

I only had two wires. That hole on the left is where the back of the switch comes through.

It was easier for me to actually removed the switch to pull the connections off. a push tab on either side and it slide right out.

Then remove the phillips screw holding the yellow tab-looking plastic thing front and center in the top of the front panel. Then remove the 2 screws holding the front panel to the side panels, screw heads are inside the cabinet, screws pointing towards you. Pull the front panel away and lift off the bottom clips to remove.

Here's the (very dirty) front panel removed.

Whoa. This dryer is dirty. (You know how sometimes you empty the lint filter and you think, "there doesn't seem to be an appropriate amount of lint in here. I wonder where it went." Apparently, it just fills up the empty space around the drum in your dryer.)

Now remove the belt from the idler pulley. The idler is located right behind the blower/motor unit. Make sure to note how the belt goes around the idler so you get it back on right. Once the belt is free, slide the belt to the back edge of the drum and, using it as a handle (on the top side of the drum), lift straight up to disengage the rear bearing from the cradle. This can be a very tight fit, especially if it worn badly. You may have to pull relatively hard. Once done, the drum will pull out through the front of the cabinet.

It wasn't that hard to pull out, but the removing of the idler belt was traumatic. Not because it was hard, but because there is a spring loaded pulley in there, so when I removed the belt, the spring went flying (couldn't find it among all of the lint), and the pulley fell off without me getting a good look at it. The good news? The trick about using the belt as a handle towards the rear of the drum was an excellent one. The drum came out pretty easily. (I would have never figured out to pull up to remove. You can't see anything back there.)

Now you can see the drum support ball on the back of the drum and the cradle that holds it. Simply keep note of how you remove the cradle from the back wall to reassemble it correctly (this is where 4 hands are better than 2 and don’t loose track of the ground bearing from the back).


Using a small drop of supplied grease to keep the bearing in the plastic cradle makes reassembly much easier.

Yes, sir.

This was a little bit of a stretch, but I got it installed using one arm in back and one in the front. Once you get the screws started through the wall holes and into the plate from behind, the ball will stay put and you can move to the front to tighten these bolts down.

Here's a shot from the back. You can see the little tab that keeps the bearing in place.

This broken plastic piece fell out while I was working. My dad used to tell me (no he didn't) that it wasn't done right unless you had extra pieces when you were done. Check.

As far as the post on the back of the drum is concerned, if the new and old parts look ABSOLUTELY identical, leave it alone and just clean it up good. If you must change it (another place where 4 hands are better than 2), be very careful with the new screws, because they are cheap and the heads strip almost instantly.

The old screws stripped on the way out, and the new screws (almost) stripped on the way in. These appear to be self-tapping, so you really have to turn them hard, but they are cheap, and the heads were soft. I finally got it done after much care. (I basically treated it like a tap. In a little, then out. In a little more, then out a little, etc.)

Put a generous portion of supplied grease into the cradle and reassemble the dryer. Good luck, and if you see something that doesn’t look right or confuses you, let me know.

I didn't know what "generous" was, so I just filled the puppy up.

Okay, here is where the directions stopped. I found the missing spring after cleaning up a little. I also spent a little time looking at the pulleys. I did remember that the belt came down on the right side, under the small pulley, then over the larger pulley to the left.

The l-shaped bracket holding the larger pulley has a hole on the left side. This is where the spring attaches.

that small little hook on the right side of the aluminum bracket on the right is for the other side of the spring.

Anyway, I slid the drum in, put the belt on the pulleys, and then (with one hand, with great talent and luck), managed to hold the pulley in place and stretched the spring from the pulley bracket to the hook-shaped notch in the floor bracket


Here's a bad picture of the final hookup. (Sorry, I couldn't get a good picture of the whole spring setup, but you get the idea.)

Of course, as I am writing this the next morning, I get this email from the girlfriend:

Good morning sunshine,

Remember how you said that our plan for tonight was to relax. Well, unfortunately, the dryer will need your additional attention. The dryer no longer squeaks, but it also no longer spins. I opened the dryer this morning to get the clothes out from last night and found a very wet blob. I’m sorry love.


May 26 Update:

After figuring out that I probably stretched the belt while using it to help lift the drum out, I was positive all I needed was a new belt. Also, the dryer did start making another noise, and it wasn’t so much a squeak as a grinding.

So, now we have a non-spinning, grinding dryer. (To clarify, it would only not spin if we had a lot of wet clothes in there. Less than a full load was fine.)

So I jumped online and bought a new belt and a new felt runner.

They arrived today, and I jumped into taking the dryer apart again.

FRont is off,, the top is propped up.

First thing, let’s attack the grinding. Here is the old and new felt pieces with the plastic runners. It goes on top of the front pieces round lip.

The drum sits on top of the runners and spins.

Then, I needed to remove the old belt to put the new one on.

Let me just get my camera in there (can’t see due to tight fit with the hands) to see what’s going on. I snapped a few pictures and then looked at them on the camera.

Okay, this is how I remember it from last time.

Wait a minute. It looks like the belt is rubbing up against that pulley arm.

Yeah, there is definitely some rubbing going on. Let me take one more picture...

DAMNNIT! (It's pretty clear that the belt (which is grooved on the other side) is supposed to be on that grooved pulley.)

When I was threading the belt onto the smaller pulley last time, I got the spring attached, and everything kind of snapped into place. I thought it was good, and when I tested the dryer, the drum spun, so I assumed it was good. I should have looked closer.

Now, I guess that means that the spinning problem is fixed. Maybe the belt rubbing was causing the grinding, too.

Maybe I should get my money back for both pieces! Oh, I already opened and installed the new felt piece. Okay. I’ll get my money back for the belt. Wait. It was $7, and shipping back to the store will be more expensive.

I decided to keep the new belt in inventory, and leave the existing belt on there.

After putting everything back together, I have a nice silent, and strongly-spinning dryer again.

Here's the felt glides assembly, just so you know what I was replacing.

Anyway. All fixed.

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Saw RV-12 at EAA 1114

November 21, 2009

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A couple things for the last few weeks. Per my last post, I’ve been increasingly interested in polishing. I think it is a a great look. Even though it is a ton of work, and everyone will flock to the airplane with their dirty little fingers, I think it would be an amazing look for the RV-7.

Also, I’ve set a date for the ordering of the empennage kit. Dec 12, 2009. We’ll see how that goes, but everything seems to be falling in place.

Today, I managed to scoot over to Cary, NC and check out the east coast RV-12 demonstrator (the “blue ship”). Wow, it was beautiful. Mitch (Vans’ east coast representative) was a really nice guy, and explained a lot of things about the RV-12. A couple things of note:

  • 555 hours from first kit to first flight
  • 65 hours for both wings to be completed.
  • “100 or so” holes to be drilled (almost all match-drilled)
  • Most of the holes on the kit are prepunched to final size (no drilling, deburring, dimpling)

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