Q&A / 

June 25, 2014 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

Good Morning! This is going to be an abbreviated newsletter because I'm nutso busy.

Tim dressed as Train Conductor

Yesterday, I worked the scenic train finishing up my training as a conductor and got to do something very, very cool, but with huge responsibility. We did a push back.

The rail line is like a road, but in your car, it's easy to turnaround if you want to drive back to where you just came from. Guess what? Not so with locomotives. Sometimes the train goes down the line about ten miles, but when it comes back up the line to the station, the locomotive is pushing the train instead of pulling it.

When this happens, the engineer is blind. He can't see what's going on. What was the last car on the train, now becomes the lead car.

I was at the controls in the last car (now the front car) ringing the bell, blasting the horn at crossings, and on the radio constantly with the engineer telling him where we were. And my hand was never farther than 6 inches from the "dump" valve. This is the emergency air valve that I can push to STOP the train.

My mentor, Jim Cluett, was next to me training me how to do all that needed to be done. Tony Keegan was the engineer. It's a huge responsibility because the day will come where you have to make a split-second decision to STOP the train.

Tip of the Week - Gravity and Plumbing

Jennifer was the victim of a crappy builder and crappier plumber - no pun intended.

Did you know I'm a master plumber? I've been one for over 35 years. I love plumbing. Crazy, isn't it? It's a ton of fun to design and install drain and vent systems.

The plumber in Jennifer's house must have had a defective level, bad attitude or was under the influence of ?????.

CLICK HERE to read what's going on at Jennifer's house.

Nice T-Shirts

I've been testing all sorts of new work clothes and the past few weeks I've given a serious look at Dickies products.

I started testing their soft performance t-shirts and am VERY HAPPY. I think you'll be too.

Here's what I love about these t-shirts:

  • they're SOFT
  • they've got a longer tail - that's nice when you like to let it hang out
  • they're 85% polyester so they keep you cooler wicking perspiration away rapidly
  • they're AFFORDABLE!

If you're looking for some great t-shirts, give these a hard look.

Roof Framing - The Birdsmouth Cut

I'm in the middle of a project here at my house - my deluxe firewood storage shelter. The roof matches the slope of the one on my house - a 12 / 12 roof. This means the roof rises 12 inches for every 12 inches of horizontal run.

Here's a photo of a pretty good birdsmouth cut. This is the cut you need to make so the rafter sits on top of the wall. In my case, I just have a single 2x8 beam to support each side of this narrow structure.
birdsmouth cut

You just need a simple framing square, pencil, tape measure and a saw to create these magical cuts.

Two years ago, I taped a series of videos showing how to create the rafters for my shed. They have this same birdsmouth cut. You may find them of interest to you if you want to discover the magic of basic roof framing.

One day, I hope to make more videos showing how to cut hip, valley and jack rafters.

Hartford CT Meet Up!

I'll be in Hartford, CT on July 18th. That's a Friday night. I'll be attending the ARRL convention that day and on Saturday.

I've blocked out dinner time for you. I'll be downtown and I'm sure we have all sorts of possibilities. If you want to hang out and chit chat about anything and everything, reply to this email and change the Subject Line to: Hartford Meet Up

Your 15 Minutes of Fame

If you haven't noticed, I've started to feature more and more questions I get from folks just like YOU. Today it was Jennifer down in Panama City, FL.

Do you want your fifteen minutes of fame? I'm GLAD to answer your question, and it really helps if you send in a photo with it! Questions that have photos are the FIRST ones I look at when they come in.

Go ahead, take a photo of your problem and send it to me! CLICK HERE to submit your question and photo.

You submit your question down lower on the page.

More Tips Next Week!


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