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Friday, 27 May 2016


Feiertag or holiday post .....

There are four bank-holidays in May here, and this one fell on a Thursday so of course everyone has taken a long weekend and I'm the only idjit working! So relax and enjoy some housey pics, dear reader, for today is polemic free on the blog. If you don't like house renovation posts, apols.

Kitchen range
The old kitchen range and chimney dated from ~1920s as far as I can tell and were past their sell-by date in terms of being the main heat source for winters when -20° here in the high valley is not unusual. However, I took it out with great care, lots of photos and measured sketches and will pack all the bits on a pallet in the barn and shrink wrap. Over a tonne of brick, tile and mortar went in the skip. 

Chimney sweeps here also have a quasi-official function in that they must pass working chimneys as fit for use - and the old one was shot. They have an arcane scale of charges for the bi-annual cleaning - if the bottom door is less than 300mm from the floor, for instance, you pay a penalty fee for cleaning. So a new chimney for both the kitchen range / boiler and the big wood stove in the living room. Both logs not pellets - the valley will get cut-off from time to time and one needs to be able to burn the furniture if necessary ... wood is currently 40€ / m3 if you carry whole 'rounds' yourself from the state forests or 60€ / m3 cut into 1m lengths and split.

Going ...

Going ....


The new chimney

The old shingles came off, we uprated the rafters and re-covered for clay tiles. The house was built in two phases - the first c.1650 - 1700 and the second c.1750-1800 and the roof main structure is a mix of timbers from both periods, mostly high-grown Larch as dense as modern Oak (note for climatologists; timber from the 'little ice age' was much slower growing and dense and outlasts quick growing timber from the current warm period. When we start the next ice age in earnest, there will be a shortage of timber in US, Canada and Europe ...)

Tile battens here are 40mm x 50mm and I got a laugh when I told the tilers that in the UK ours are 19mm x 38mm. But then our roofs don't have to take 2m of snow. The Spenglerers who do the gutters also fully clad the chimneys - mine now need a layer of insulation on top so the external flue stays warm in severe cold.  The little steel triangles sticking up are to hold the snow blanket in place to thaw and are rather cutely called schneenasen or snow-noses. 

The barn is a 3-decker and the top floor was used to store hay cut from the meadows - which are as steep as they look. I'll be buggered if I am scything 2 acres by hand (Soay sheep are the answer - thanks for that suggestion; there are small herds in Germany) so I've been hard put to think of a use for it; a local chum suggested a small-bore rifle range as you can get 20m from the far end into the hillside. I remember banging-off ping pong balls at 15m at our school range with a rimfire .22 so the idea is attractive. 

Rafters are fully boarded, sheeted, counter-battens run vertically and then finally the H/D battens
A roof fit for an Alpine winter - and a new .22 rifle range?

Not a trick shot - note trees are vertical. Walking on the meadows is an art I am rapidly learning

This weekend I'm demolishing the little houses in the old roof. And trying not to drop very substantial 10" x 5" timbers studded with nails onto myself. Ground and first floor ceilings are stone vaults built from the local Dolomit - which looks to be the same hard-as-buggery Permian-Magnesian limestone I once quarried in South Yorkshire for roadstone. It takes diamond bits and lots of patience. 

My thermal store has also arrived from the UK; solar thermal panels from Poland, new roof windows from Slovenia and plumbing kit from the local OBI complete the cosmopolitan flavour. The barn-found door stop is a muzzle brake and a small section of gun barrel; I was never a gunner but it's 50mm across the lands and about 54mm across the grooves so possible from some sort of Anti Tank weapon.  

My new fave toy is the mini-dumper, which will quite happily carry over 300kg up the steep cart-track to the middle floor of the barn. Believe me, when you get to 57, you really don't want to do a 6m climb with 40kg a time in a wheelbarrow. 

One roof-house almost gone, just the big timbers to lose

And another to demolish. New chimney to right, plus purlin offcut; purlins here are glulam 8" x 8" and rafters 4" x 9"

My new fave toy in the middle barn 
New thermal store and muzzle brake doorstop

Have a great weekend all and remember we have the moral high ground; Brexit will be an act of courage from a valorous and defiant nation, and the Remainian cause based on fear and lies will not withstand.  


Cuffleyburgers said...

Great Job Radders.

But much more fun than a 22 rifle is a pistol.

There you are in land of Glock - what are you waiting for?

I just got myself a Beretta. Beautiful.

Bloke in Italy

Barnacle Bill said...

I just got a SIG P230 which I thought was in .38ACP turns out it's actually 9mm Police/Ultra (9x18). Going to be fun sourcing that!

As for the DIY Radders; looks like you've got your work cut out but no doubt it's a labour of love. That's some slope in your backyard! I take it that you're living in the caravan for the moment?

Raedwald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raedwald said...

BB - Caravan was an 'in case' acquisition but not needed - the lads use it as a snap-hut - safe-space away from the officer class. I'm in what will be my study. I stoically bedded on a torturous Futon for 8 days before crying 'bugger this!' and getting my proper bed out of the unter-barn and assembling it.

Raedwald said...

BiI - Magazine rifles and shotguns are Class 'C' here - no restriction. Pistols are another matter. Beretta, eh? James?

Elby the Beserk said...


Soay sheep are very hardy and make very sweet meat. Deffo the way to go for grass clearance leading to gorgeous lamb. Glad you are settling in.

Anonymous said...

Never seen a blue muzzle brake. Looks NATO, did you paint it yourself?

Vote Leave


Sniper said...

Who is Alison OBI?


Tony Harrison said...

Dunno what happened to my earlier comment but in essence I said it's a great project, with which I hope you have continuing success, and that muzzle-brake might be from the 47mm Bohrer anti-tank gun of WW2 vintage.

Raedwald said...

Steve - paint it blue? Heaven forfend! Had I painted it, it would have been a fetching BS381 Light Admiralty Grey - even though few A/T guns are generally found on board ships ;)

Tony - helpful guess - my guess was the same vintage but a PAK38

anon 2 said...

Can't help observing that some used to say it's 'easier to start from scratch than to re-build.' Perhaps that's not true on vile alien territory like those mountains (was always glad to fly over them without having to stop); or ... maybe there's another socio-cultural parallel in there somewhere.

Anonymous said...

It's going to be some great 'den' and lair, I'm loving it - hard work though but worth it - imho and if it's worth doing, then only the best will do..... agin - imho.

Just in case, as they say - in the scouts 'be prepared'.

Get some real firepower, AK, hand gun and pump action...pick carefully, distance range landmarks; stones, trees, grassy knolls, killing zone and make note of conditions, trajectories and differentials - academically speaking - natch.

DeeDee99 said...

I admire anyone who can take on that kind of project - and live in it at the same time. Well done you.

lilith said...

Calfy's Dad kept Soays. SUCH fab sheep. No shearing (they shed wool), super hardy, and bold (presumably because their horns are as big as their bodies). They look you in the eye and make unsuspecting dog walkers scream and run away (which is rather bewildering for the sheep!) And delicious too.

meltemian said...

We built from scratch on the top of our hill.
Not sure I could have coped with living and rebuilding at the same time. At least we had rented somewhere with hot running water to return to each night.

raedwald said...

meltemian - well done for new build; I'm just a sucker for old houses

Yeah, living in 3 rooms (kitchen, bathroom, bedroom) with electric water heating and all my beloved stuff in boxes in the barn is a trial, but also an incentive to graft lol. Also, when I think folk in London would pay £1,200 a month for 3 rooms but without the alps and a natur park on their doorstep then it seems quite a good deal ;)

TrT said...

Re: Your thermal store

They are great at what they do, but 300L of water is 300L of water however you slice it.
Depending on the output of your solar panels (PV or Thermal?) and stove (assuming the stove is connected), that may not be enough.

Assuming you have space, a few more traditional (IE cheaper) stores, can give you a huge buffer when you need it.
Once your store is up to 90, if you have another 1,000L you can keep on storing, and you can cool them down first without touching your store, which you need for hot water.

May not be worth it, but its rarely ever suggested.

Thud said...

Serial rebuilder of period houses for 25 years now, you need a forgiving wife.I reckon I've one (or 2) rebuilds left in me....nice job by the way.

Raedwald said...

TrT - a man after my own thoughts! I sized the 500l accumulator based on the "25l of capacity per kW of water heating" rule of thumb - with detailed winter heat load calcs both by me and my local Baumeister coming in way under my gut feeling. So I'm installing an extra 15kW of space heating anyway, plus, as you say, a backup cheap(er) accumulator from to store the spare heat - on top of heat sink rads and an overheat hot waste with tundish to simply dump the heat if it gets over 95 ...

When I get the micro-brewery going, spare heat will be used to pre-heat the liquor tank ...

Raedwald said...

TrT - a PS

I loved your 'if you have space ..' caveat - caused great chuckles here

I'v spent my career pissing-off building services engineers by refusing them the vast plant rooms they inevitably pitch for at design stage. They've never ever failed to get everything needed into the spaces I actually gave them, though they had to work hard to do so.

Now the boot's on the other foot so to speak I've given myself a huge plant room in the roof with generous working room and space for several tanks plus a workbench and manuals library ...

TrT said...

Sounds like you've got it in hand :)

"Now the boot's on the other foot so to speak I've given myself a huge plant room in the roof with generous working room and space for several tanks plus a workbench and manuals library ..."

I'm looking at solar at the moment so its on my mind, I want a useful dump load to overcome the 4kw DNO limit, my hot water tank is looking like its going to be hidden in a corner wardrobe because of lack of space.

Franklin Stewart said...

Lucky for me, I love renovation posts! I love seeing homes come together and someone's dream become a reality. It looks as though your project is coming along nicely. I hope that you are making the progress you want and it will be exactly as you had imagined once it is finished. Good luck with it!

Franklin Stewart @ Muller Exteriors