Paint Shop & Dry Dock

Yesterday I got the last cabinet doors cut after disassembling and removing all the RETROvan’s woodwork. Then I labeled everything with Frog Tape and transported it to Sundeleaf Painting in Milwaukie. Amazingly, it all fit in my SUV.

Eric was eager to help with this project and I’m confident he’ll make everything pretty. It’s really nice when you find someone who just gets it. We talked through some options, with the priority being water-proofing, and came up with this scheme:

Everything will get a hard, durable piano lacquer-like finish, only more satin than glossy. Eric assures me he has something better than polyurethane, which is too soft. The bulk of the surfaces will be a charcoal color (about 75-80% black). The reason is to hide the inevitable scuff marks from people’s shoes, etc. All eight doors will be bright white. The exposed edges of the maple plywood will be finished (either charcoal or white), but they will not be filled in smooth. That is, the laminated layers will still be visible, creating some design intrigue. This is an aesthetic choice, similar to the style you see in a lot of Danish furniture.

The job should be done by early next week, so I’m pretty excited to see the result.

Meanwhile, today I rented a tractor from Home Depot and helped Gary Jackson grade and level the RETROpad between the curbs. We wanted a Bobcat but they were mysteriously “unavailable.”

The bedrock is ideal. A previous owner must have been in the rock and gravel business, because there was about a foot of crushed granite mixed into the clay soil. Gary drove the tractor back and forth to tamp everything down solid.

And here’s the result, ready for rebar and cement. The rebar is important because the RETROvan will weigh up to 10,000 pounds, concentrated at its tires. So that’s roughly 2,500 pounds per square foot in four places. The slab itself will be four inches thick, but will use a high-strength concrete mix fortified with pea gravel.

For ideal drainage, the ten feet at the back will slope one inch toward the back. The twenty feet at the front will slope three inches toward the front. That makes for a good, level tailgating space in back and insures that most of the rainwater will flow away from the house and toward the street. One of Gary’s nicknames is the King of Swale, so he’ll nail those slopes better than anyone.

At this stage, the RETROpad reminds me of a submarine dry dock, complete with a control tower. Speaking of which, Frahler Electric sent a “low voltage” specialist over today and he fixed the Ethernet jacks. One pair of wires were simply crossed. So now, I can tap into the house’s gigabit network. And that means once the RETROvan becomes fully operational, I’ll be able to video conference with any client in the world as if I were in the house.

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