Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Long Time No Blog | Fencing Chronicles

I haven't posted anything new since Friday afternoon, and for that I apologize. You see, I had a fairly full weekend with:
  1. Running the light board for the Friday and Saturday evening performances of Thumbs (new play by Rupert Holmes) over in Souderton.
  2. A full day of class on Saturday: 9am to 4:30pm.
  3. Taking advantage of the unexpectedly warm Sunday (70 degrees!). I pruned the tree in my front yard, and then labored to install my new fence sections in my backyard.
  4. Spending any down time with my lovely wife.

Number 3 on this list -- and not number 4, folks (shame of you for thinking that!) -- was the killer.

Some of you may have already learned this lesson, but home improvement projects are never quite as simple as I hope or even estimate ... both in effort expended and time consumed. Oh, and I really should never assume I can replace/modify/repair just half (or some other portion) of something. In this case, I thought I could tear down the decaying and broken fence sections, but re-use the existing fence posts with little or no trouble.

Little .... or no ... trouble. Sigh.

A previous homeowner -- I don't know if this would be the one just prior to me, or one a bit further back -- had established what I will call a two-tone fence that stretched approximately 500 feet from the end of my house to a shorter wire fence that finishes off the property line. I say this was a two-tone fence because about half of it was privacy fencing of the stockade variety, about 6 feet tall, and the rest was a lattice style fence that was about 5 feet in height. The lattice fencing was in a terrible state after this last winter: the wind had actually blown some of it apart, forcing me to brace those sections haphazardly with scrap wood. Serviceable, but not attractive. And on the stockade fencing, well, some stockades were in better shape than others.

Bear in mind that my ultimate fencing goal is to have the entire backyard fenced in so that I can eventually get a racing greyhound. But I can't afford that right now because I had to replace the front concrete steps and sidewalk -- they were just melting away and could no longer be patched. So I got the bright idea that I could drop one or two hundred on fence panels and install them myself -- right on those aforementioned fence posts that were already in place. However, I quickly learned that the posts were not spaced for standard fence sections. Both the stockade and lattice fencing that the previous homeowner had installed were custom jobs. The distance between posts was not in any way set for a standard "off-the-shelf" fence section.

No problem, I thought, I can simply trim any section that is too long. I can even save trimmed stockades for later replacement of broken ones. (Note: Much easier said than done).

Oh, and then there was the "starter" beam which was secured to my house. It had been notched so that the crossbeams of the old stockade fence would fit right in flush with the beam. Well, guess what: The cross beams on my new sections would not fit those nice, custom cutouts. And on top of that, but those posts I wanted to re-use ... I didn't really notice it until I actually had to attach the new sections, but they kind of zig-zag!

I love old houses, but I do have one constant complaint: nothing is square.

Well, for all my grunting and complaining, I now have three out of the five sections installed. What with trimming, digging (for leveling purposes), and drilling, what I thought would take about two hours took several and the job lasted right up to dusk. I gave up when it was just too dark to continue.

I will admit that the new fence is looking good (at least from my side), but it might have been better to just suck it up and pay for a professional installation. (Actually, I think I just needed better planning -- including time to dig new fence posts at the proper intervals). Anyway, that's why I didn't post over the weekend. And I was too busy on Monday to post as well.

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