Tag Archives: plumbing

Finishing the kitchen countertop

Previously, here on Sailing the Earth, I was telling you about our adventures with epoxy. It is fascinating stuff, if a bit temperamental.

Well, things have progressed and I can now share with you how it all turned out.

After completing the third and final coat of epoxy, the counter was ready to be installed. It wasn’t super perfect, but it was quite a bit improved from the first coat. There are still two bugs embedded in it that I couldn’t dig out, so they will have to stay in there… forever. Maybe someone will clone bugs from their DNA in a 1000 years.

I let the third coat cure for several days and then while Kat was at work on Sunday (yesterday, July 23rd) I proceeded to install it. First I had to prep the surface. This meant clearing off all of the clutter that was on the base, cleaning it and then applying a generous amount of glue.

Looks a lot like a breakfast pastry, doesn’t it? With the base all prepped, all there was to do was put the newly finished counter into place. I clamped it and screwed it down from underneath. That counter is not going anywhere.

Sorry for that blurry picture, but you can probably see just how shiny the counter is. Here is a close up.

Unfortunately, I discovered the hard way that it scratches pretty easily, or at least the brand that we used for this project. You can see the scratches I put in it in the bottom-left corner of the above picture. I didn’t have a way to clamp the counter down at the back so I used a 20L (5 gallon) jug of water to weigh it down. In positioning it on the counter, I twisted it a bit and the bottom of the jug is knurled plastic, so it left those marks you see above.

Fortunately, this is the trailer and not the house, so learning these things ahead of time is a useful experience.

With the counter locked down, it was time to install the sink.

Unfortunately, I miscalculated just how many pieces I would need to finish the plumbing of the sink drain and I wasn’t able to get it completed in one day. Kat was in town this morning so she stopped at the hardware store and picked up the missing pieces.

Here is a picture of the plumbing for the drain, immediately connected to the bottom of the sink.

I bought a P-trap that included the clean-out, just to make our lives easier if anything needed some maintenance later on. Frankly, I don’t know why they call it a P-trap. A U-bend or an S-trap would be better. I like S-trap actually because you could make it stand for stink-trap, as the whole point of that is to keep some water in the pipe to prevent smells from the sewer or septic from entering your home.

Anyway, that pipe that you see traveling downwards at a 45 degree angle joins up with all of this stuff at the bottom.

I added a clean-out plug, for future maintenance, though it was a bit overkill. There is another one on just the other side of the wall on the right.

The part with the T and the pipe heading out the wall through the blue insulation is the new plumbing vent I put in. The old one had been in the wall inside the small room where the toilet had been, but we removed all of that, so I needed to put the vent back in somewhere. This was a pretty convenient spot, right next to the wall. I just put a 45 degree connector on the T-junction and ran the pipe out the wall, upwards at an angle. There is another 45 just outside the wall and the pipe then runs straight up the wall of the trailer.

After it was all glued together and all of the threaded bits had their sealing tape applied, it was time to try it out.

Yay! No leaks. Now we don’t need to go outside to dump our dish water. In fact, we might even be able to do the dishes in the sink. Woah! Not sure we’re ready for that kind of excitement. It’s been a good two years since we could do our own dishes in a sink.

On a side note, we discovered something interesting about ABS glue and rigid insulation: the former will melt and dissolve the latter. Here you can see the hole underneath the pipe where the glue squished out and dropped onto the insulation.

Something to be aware of if you’re ever gluing ABS pipe near rigid foam insulation.

Despite the small flaws (and scratches… grrr) in the counter-top, this project turned out pretty well. Now if only we can complete the next project in a more timely fashion.


Academy, Day 23

Today we had review. The way they ran that was a number of the crew stood at the front of the class and asked us questions about things we should know. It was an interesting way to do it, and it worked pretty well. I’ll be doing more studying tonight for the test tomorrow. They did say that only two people have ever failed it since they started the academy, so it should be pretty straightforward.

We also had a talk about organizing and planning our independent study project, which is the third requirement needed to graduate from the academy. The second part is going out and participating on a full build from start to finish. I don’t think I’ll be able to fit that in this year, so hopefully next year I can work on that.

In the afternoon, my group went over to a different site to work on some botanical cells. These are big planters that are used to process grey water. This is what we started with: a big hole in the ground. You can see a little tunnel hole at the bottom. That’s the spot where we run the pipe that connects to the adjacent cell. My first job was to finish digging that out so we could fit the pipe through.


Once that was completed, we lined the cell with EPDM rubber. If you want to know what EPDM is, it’s ethylene propylene diene monomer. Look it up on Wikipedia if you want to know the details.


Once the cell is lined, we had to cut the hole for the pipe, stretch the EPDM over the pipe, add a gasket over that and then clamp the whole thing so it’s sealed. Here is a picture of Sangeeta (the G is pronounced like it is in the word Great) doing that detail.


Once that was all sealed up, we attached the observation pipe to the end of the stem pipe. This will stick out of the cell so you can open the cap and see what your water level is. It basically allows you to keep an eye on things. Once you attach that, you surround it with large rocks. The observation pipe has a tonne of holes drilled into it so the water will leave the pipe, go through the rocks and into the cell.


After the big rocks are in place, you start dumping gravel into the cell to fill it up. We won’t be filling it all the way with gravel, obviously. Only up to about 16 inches (40cm) below the top.


After the gravel, we’ll put about 2 inches (5cm) of sand as a buffer, then fill the rest with soil. That will finish off the cell and then we can start planting things in it once we have all of the water flowing. We didn’t get as far as that. Just to the point of filling it with gravel. Here is a gravel action shot.


Meanwhile, over at the main build site, they were working on adobe packout. Remember yesterday I mentioned about packing out the spaces between the tires to bring it out flush? Well, this is a picture of the guys working on that.


They are packing out with adobe, which is a mix of 2 parts sand, 1 part clay and two hand fulls of chopped straw. It works really well and as you work up the layers, you’ll do more sifting on the sand and clay to finer versions. You’ll also want finer straw. In the end, you can make it super smooth for a nice finish.

Academy, Day 19

Today is Friday and that means a full day of work, no class. We arrived in the morning on site and I was put to work setting up scaffolding. We needed this so we could work on constructing the beam that the vigas will sit on. This beam runs across the top of the vertical green house wall, which was framed out yesterday. Here is a picture of my wonderful scaffolding job.


The scaffolding didn’t take all that long to put up, but then we had to move a large number of 16 foot, 2″x12″ lumber that was used to create the beam. I also helped to attach those vertical 2″x6″ guide boards to the outside of the wall so we had a flush point to work from. Here is a close up of the beam in progress. You can see it is a sandwich of five layers of 2″x12″. These layers are both nailed and glued, so it’s one dang solid beam.


After all of the layers of the beam were in place, we had to put a cap on it. Someone caught a picture of me hammering nails into the cap and I managed to get it from them so you can see me in action.


I should also mention that my group also had a lab to attend today. We were doing plumbing stuff in the lab. Remember that WOM I mentioned the other day? Well, we were given a tub of parts and were told to put one together. It was a bit like a puzzle, and we had some guidance from Lou, the plumber, but we were eventually successful, though it didn’t look very tidy. Here is a picture of our built WOM.


So now I can build my own WOM, though they use a tonne of PVC down here. I’m hoping I can use other stuff besides PVC because of all the negatives associated with the stuff. Not to mention I wasn’t too thrilled about using teflon tape on the threaded joints.

Tomorrow will be classes and then another tour. I’ll try to get posting on some of the tours we have taken soon.