An Eccentric Anomaly: Ed Davies's Blog

I've been holding off doing an update until I'd finished the south roof sheeting but it's been a while and, though I'm close, that doesn't look like happening for a little while so…

As previously noted, I dithered through September and half of October on replacing my van with a small car. During this time I got a couple of roof sheets (the one above right of the small bedroom window and the right hand one of the two above that window) up by getting the bus up to and back from the site or by getting a lift from my neighbour when she was going to Lybster for the afternoon anyway. I also did some clearing of the whins by the entrance.

It was annoying that a couple of the good days were on the weekend when the busses don't really work in that direction; there's a southbound bus in the morning (going to Inverness) and a northbound bus in the afternoon (coming back) but that doesn't help much if you want to go somewhere north for the day. Also, Monday September 19th would have been a good day but the bus company announced they'd be operating a Sunday service for HMQ's funeral so I was further annoyed after the event to discover that, at the last minute, they changed their minds and actually ran the service they normally run in the school holidays so I could have gone to site.

With the car, on October 23rd I prepared and 25th I put up sheet SP3, the top one between the small bedroom and the bathroom. Going up:

On the 27th and 29th I prepped and put up sheet GC2, the left of the two above the small bedroom window, and prepped SQ3, the next top-row sheet, which I put up on November 3rd.

On the 8th I replaced the battens to the west of the small bedroom window and added most of the vertical battens up the west verge of the south roof until rain stopped play about 14:00, leaving just the top batten to do. On Saturday the 12th I added the top bit of batten,

the firestop down the verge:

and half the DPC to cover it:

Hmmm … should have given a bit more thought to how much was left on the roll. Nowhere locally to buy more on Saturday afternoon. Sunday was a nice bright day so it seemed a pity to stay at home but a bit breezy, and forecast to get windier, so not ideal to start on the next roof sheet so I decided on a trip to Inverness to get more DPC. Not the most efficient use of my time or petrol but I felt I needed to get a bit more momentum.

I stopped for a break just north of the Kessock Bridge (on the north side of Inverness). As I parked it felt like I'd backed on to a log or something. I stopped and looked round the car but couldn't see anything obvious but the car wouldn't reverse until I'd driven forward a bit. After that it was fine until I drove out when it seemed to be dragging a bit. I thought it was just the brakes binding and would come off immediately I started moving properly but when I pulled on to the A9 it was still doing it. With nowhere to stop I just drove slowly with my hazard lights on. A police SUV pulled in in front of me then pulled over into a bus stop immediately on the north end of the bridge so I pulled in behind them. After a short discussion he suggested I cross the bridge and pull into a proper layby on the south side and he'd follow along behind “to give me some cover” which we did. I wasn't sure if it was still sticking by the time I got to the other side so, rather than calling the AA immediately, waited a while for it cool down and tried it in the layby when it was completely free moving backwards and forwards.

I carried on to B&Q in Inverness, got the DPC and a small pry bar, spent some time looking at loft ladders and electrical connectors, etc, then drove home as normal. Put it all aside as something to get sorted at some point but meanwhile only used the park brake briefly, leaving the car in reverse most of the time.

Wind (mostly) and rain (a bit) stopped any further operations, except on Wednesday the 16th when I put up the lower half of the DPC, until Tuesday November 22nd when I got up sheet GD1, the lower one to the left of the small bedroom window. With the bottom sheets I don't bother with the using the “transporter erector vehicle” or ropes to put the sheet up, I just pick it up, blunder blindly at the house, bung it roughly in the right place, move it into position then use a couple of clamps as spreaders against the ground to hold it in the right place until I've got the first few screws in. In this case I was nearly caught out by a surprise gust of wind which almost knocked me over just as I was picking the sheet up.

Just as I was packing up my building control office turned up with a colleague. Apparently he's leaving building control to take up another career (with the company which supplied the stone chips under the house and some of the hardcore for my parking area) and was showing his replacement round the various sites. That's a pity as he's always been very helpful and willing to discuss various means of meeting the regulations consistent with what I'm trying to do.

On Sunday November 27th I drilled sheet GE1, the bottom left one on the south roof, then the next day put it up and drilled and put up sheet GD2, the upper of the two to the left of the small bedroom window:

The sunset that evening was quite pretty:

The next day was the turn of the last (west-most) sheet on the second row (GE2):

As I was packing up I realised I didn't quite have enough stitching screws to finish off the roof, which was a bit irritating. Most of the screws in the roof are 65 mm long and go through the steel into the timber battens but where sheets overlap I've been putting additional short (20 mm) stitching screws in half way between the battens. As the next day looked like it'd be useful, too, I went over to Gillock in the evening just to get another bag. Unfortunately, when I got to Achavanich I found the A9 from there north blocked due to an accident so went back south down the A9 to Latheron then round the long way to Gillock. I did at least get to stop for another nice sunset over Loch Rangag:

Actually, the following day was a bit breezier in the morning than I'd expected so I didn't go to site until gone midday and only had time to re-rig the lifting and safety ropes for the last two top-row sheets. Doing these, particularly the last one, presents some new considerations:

Consequently, the scheme I've come up with is to put the safety rope right over the whole roof, tying it off to the container on the north side:

If I do finish up putting any weight on it then it'll mess up the two sheets it's resting across but should be at a flat enough angle that they don't cut into the rope too much.

As for removing the upper ramp and lifting rope, I won't bother with the ramp for the last sheet. The sheet's two edges should be supported by the sheet on its right and the firestop and DPC on its left so, with any luck, won't catch on the battens. To access the lifting rope and pulley I'll move my ladder round to the north roof and reach across over the top of the roof. All this faffing around will likely take a while, what with re-tying the safety rope and so on and maybe a certain amount of replanning in the process so the weather needs to be ideal or it'll need to wait for slightly longer days.

On Sunday, December 4th, I drilled the second-to-last sheet for the top row (SR3). It was just a little too gusty, with a few showers around, so I didn't try putting it up then but did the next day.

The following Sunday (the 11th) I went up to the site in the afternoon with the idea of checking that it was practical to reach over the roof ridge from the north side to undo the lifting rope. When I arrived I found my neighbour had left an old gate across the entrance to allow him to move his cattle up or down the road without them wandering off sideways onto my land. Rather than bother to move it I decided to just park the car in the entrance but as I turned round to leave it pointing outwards, assuming I might be leaving later in the dark, the back brake jammed up again so I made my way back down the road to free it off and go home while there was still daylight, not wanting to have to deal with it in the dark. I got home fine but as I turned round at home to park I felt a horrid graunching noise from the front of the car, so best not drive it again till that's sorted.

The following day was bright with a light breeze but I woke feeling really depressed and with a bad back so didn't do anything much. After that there was snow lying for quite a while which made me really reluctant to look to see what was happening with the car or to drive it at all, even just up and down the road to test. I did wonder if it was something simple like a bit of the whins cuttings caught somewhere but thought it was more likely something more serious. The ground clearance on the car is so low it's actually quite awkward to look underneath even when the gap isn't filled with snow.

By the 20th the snow had gone and I had a look and a little test drive which confirmed that, yep, it needed a garage. The next day I had hospital checkup in Inverness so didn't do anything that day by which time it was getting too close to Christmas to do anything sensible.

On the 28th I walked round to the garage in Dunbeath and arranged to take the car in the next day where they immediately confirmed that the problem at the front was a spring gone. It was all a bit of a drama with some back-and-forth on what was covered by the car's warranty, secondary damage caused by the broken spring and the wheel with the rear brake problem (pads detached from lining) being difficult to access with just that wheel having a locking nut which didn't match the other wheels or the available key, etc.

Monday, January 2nd, would have been a nice day but without a car or any busses that was not much help.

The next few days were difficult with the busses, too. It seems the contract for a lot of the local busses (as opposed to the Inverness busses) has gone from Stagecoach to a small local company with just one local (Duneath-Wick) service in the morning from Stagecoach. It took me a while to work out where the timetable for the little company's busses were (scruffy scan of a spreadsheet on their Facebook page) and also the morning Stagecoach bus came and went from the websites in a somewhat mysterious way; I got it on Wednesday January 4th to get some shopping but it didn't seem to be running the following week though it's back now. Odd.

Anyway, I didn't get the car back till Friday, January 13th. I went up to the site the following day just to check things; it was too breezy to do much useful. As expected the inside of the house was dry except the bay below where the last remaining sheet is to go. Since then there's been snow lying and I haven't been out. It's been melting a bit today and Friday looks like a day where it might be possible to do something useful. We'll see.