Monday, June 25, 2007

All in all, I'd rather be fishing

(The inground trampoline project is mostly here.)

You've all been wondering where I've been, haven't you? Well, I'll tell you. I've been suffering. Suffering like no man should ever have to suffer, but suffering in a way many men have to on an altogether too frequent occasion.

That is to say, I've been doing one of The Mrs.'s pet projects.

You see, it all started back last July when we came out here for a house hunting trip. And that wonderful house we bought had many features that had the hidden potential to give and give and give. The one of particular interest to today's story is that beautiful in-ground trampoline seen here with MaxieC, Ellie, and our real-eh-tor. That delightful ring of concrete pavers around the edge of the trampoline hole were a bit askance when we bought the old house, but we loved it anyways.

This year, of course, the concrete pavers are more than just askance. They are quite askew. They have been slowly sinking throughout the year, the victims of a piss-poorly built retaining wall that has been collapsing and allowing the dirt to wash out from behind it. I've been looking at this and saying, "Yup. That's a pretty piss-poor retaining wall." The Mrs. has been filing that in the to-do list.

But then on Monday I was jumping on the trampoline with MaxieC, and the stitching holding in one of the springs let go. Uh oh. The magical alignment of a trampoline that needs to get replaced, a retaining wall under the trampoline that needs to get replaced, and a weekend where every single day is going to be over 100 degrees.

So this project began like every other project. Poorly. I measured the old trampoline at 13'9" in diameter. We piled into the truck to head to Dick's, and they have 13' and 14' trampolines. The 14' is, not kidding here, 1 cent more than double the cost of the 13'. And it's on sale for $100 off, whereas the 13' is not on sale. I select the 13' and hope it runs a little big.

We get it home and assemble the frame. I measure it, and it is exactly 13'2". That's a mite small. The Mrs. and I go to the old trampoline to overlay the new dimensions in order to visualize the gap, and she notes that the old trampoline is exactly 14'.

What? I measured it at 13'9"! I measured it twice!

The Mrs., in her snide way, noted that of course I did.

I remembered where I had measured it before, which was perpendicular to the way The Mrs. was measuring it, and sure enough it still measured 13'9". So the stupid circle wasn't circular. Yeah yeah, I should probably have measured it in a couple different directions to make sure it was a circle. But it made of damned tubular steel. It shouldn't deform.

We pack the new trampoline back up in its box, which takes two tries cuz we filled up the box and had 4 bars left over on the first try and headed back to Dick's. On the way, The Mrs. is calling every sporting goods place in the phone book, and none of them have 14' trampolines. Only Dick's. On sale. For double the price of the 13'. Plus a penny.

The exchange went very smoothly, as stores are often happy to take something back in exchange for you buying something that is multiple hundreds of dollars more. They had to find two guys to load the 14-footer into the truck, as the box was also double the size of the 13'. Turns out the 14' is a super-heavy-duty model that is rated for 250lbs and has PVC coated tubular steel of about double the diameter of the non-pvc-coated tubular steel of the 13'. It also has "extra long springs for superior action". It seems nice. But HannahC weighs like 45 lbs and MaxieC about 30. So it's serious overkill.

Now the problem with the new trampoline is that it's larger than the old one. I figured it would be easier to make the hole in the ground larger than to make it smaller. I spent most of the rest of the day tearing out the old, collapsed retaining wall. It was made by sinking 12 3-ft 4x4's 1 foot into the ground (no concrete) and then attaching 3/8" plywood for about 12" in height followed by 2 strips of 5" wide Trex decking material. The attachment was done with either 3" screws or 1" screws depending upon, apparently, randomness.

As part of the demolition, I managed to bash the living hell out of my right pinky knuckle in a freak accident. I was holding a long Trex board, and the crowbar I had stuck in the ground fell over, slid along the Trex, and smacked my finger. Man, did that hurt. It only swelled up a little, so I kept working. This really annoyed the womens in the house (both The Mrs. and HannahC) who kept wanting to run me to urgent care. It must be nice.

I kept asking The Mrs. to photo document the demolition, but she kept sub-contracting to HannahC, and she kept mostly just eating ice cream sandwiches and popsicles given that it was 100 degrees out. So but the time any photos were taken, it was already complete and there were serious lighting issues that rendered the photos worthless.

Towards the end of the day, we decided it might be nice to think of a plan on how to rebuild the retaining wall so it didn't suck. So we headed across the street to see the neighbor's trampoline pit. His was even worse than ours, him having been deployed to Iraq just as he started the job and thus having to half-ass it like crazy to finish before leaving. The neighbor (who is now back) and I strategized for a while, and I am largely using the plan we developed during that chat. Though I've simplified it a bit because I just did not want to sink 6x6's into the ground in 100 degree weather, so I'm using 4x4's instead.

Here are MaxieC and I Sunday morning preparing to haul all the debris out.

Now this is where it gets fun. The Mrs. called this, "the most over-engineered in-ground trampoline ever," because she's just plain mean when the weather gets hot. But we were in Lowe's earlier in the morning, and I explained to her that I could buy a laser level, the cheap one being $69 and the good one being $399, but I would probably only ever use it once, or I could "old school" it with mason line. She decided that a $69 tool would be crap if there was in fact a $399 version of the same thing (which, in laser levels, is an accurate assessment of the state-of-the-art), so I should old school it.

This little spider-web jobbie took about two hours to set up. I sunk a rebar into the approximate center of the hole, then I staked a mason's line across the diameter. I then used my speedsquare to measure off 30 degrees from the line and ran the next line. Repeat until six lines are strung. At the moment of truth (on the last line where the accumulated error shows up), I measured about 32 degrees on each side. So not too bad. The fancy $399 laser level could have marked the angles for me much faster, but the $69 model would not have done angles.

I then securely fastened all the lines together at the center rebar post and used a line level to level them all out. I stapled the lines to the stakes to keep them from losing level when bumped. In theory, now I can measure off a fixed distance from the center on each line in order to sink a post and then measure down from the lines (which are level with each other) to get the right height on everything.

It'll be a miracle if that works. I've seen it work on TV, but it's the kind of thing that is unlikely to work for me. I'm thinking of surveying the neighbors to see if I can borrow a laser level for a half-hour to mark the posts once they're all in.

Here's me digging away for post hole #4 of 12. I'm sinking the posts about 16" and using an 8" tubular form with about 50 lbs of concrete. I am consuming about 24oz of ice water per post hole and installing posts at the rate of about one every 40 minutes. It started out faster, but digging holes in clay in temperatures over 100 degrees at high altitude isn't anywhere near as relaxing as you'd think. Plus, my pinky hurts.

I made a plumb bob out of mason's line and a lead fishing sinker. This is as close to fishing as I got all weekend, though I caught the same number of fish as Bozzetto.

I managed to get six posts in before succumbing to the heat. MaxieC is always available to pose for the camera. You can see the new trampoline frame in the background.

Since I only got in 6 posts, and the concrete needs to set at least overnight before mucking with the posts (I didn't spring the double-cost for the quick-dry version), The Mrs. has put me on a schedule for the remaining six posts. 2 each day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I get home too late on Tuesday and Thursday to do any work.

I met my quota today.


ellie said...

I'm glad to see you wearing the Pepsi shirt. Why not just go with the above ground? The concrete looked dangerous. What do you do around the sides?

CJ said...

so that's why you were grabbing your finger wincing in pain during lunch! I thought your ring causing pain as your finger bloated due to the heat.

Your projects are more tiring than work. It was nice sitting under the shade watching fish dance on water all around my lure. The ducks have better luck catching the fish than me -- however, they had to do it under the burning sun. I prefer shade and the cool breeze.

Fat Moother said...

Good Grief - how in the hell do you know how to do this stuff?

Rhonda said...


Steph said...

What's the point of an in-ground trampoline again? If you jump up and off the trampoline aren't you still in a collision with the ground?

So you still need a net, and if you have a net, why not have it above ground?

Rob said...

In Costa Rica you can pay someone roughly $10 to do everything you described, go fishing with the family and come home to admire your accomplishment ;-)

blogauthor said...

Holy smacks that is cool. That's the only trampoline I'd let my kid play on. Having a spinal cord injury in the family and all.