Friday, October 30 2009
Today when I was cutting the elliptical holes in the brownhouse wall for the vent stack, I made a mistake by cutting the outside one a full semimajor axis higher than I should have, which I didn't notice until I was trying to stuff the 4.3 inch pipe into the 3.5 inch wide wall and it wouldn't fit, at which point I realized that the outside and inside elliptical holes should have been slightly overlapping. It wasn't a disaster; I just glued one of the oval cutouts back in place on the inside (where I'll be spackling over the particleboard walls with joint compound). Choosing to stick with the errantly-placed ellipsis on the outside managed to complicate the routing of the vent stack, which was now on a trajectory to hit the east gutter. I had to add another 22.5 degree bend to send it off at 45 degrees from vertical briefly near the gutter, and then two more the other way to gradually bring it back to completely vertical. From there I planned to run the stack another five feet upward, to the height of the Purple Martin house.
I also wanted to change the color of the vent stack from sewer-pipe white to a more Victorian black. Black would help passively-solar-heat the stack to encourage upward drafts on sunny mornings. Given the circadian rhythms of the humans in my household, daylight mornings will be the brownhouse's busiest hours of the day (though I've noticed that with a vegan diet I tend to need the services of a brownhouse several times each day).
I couldn't find any black paint, and I also needed some spray foam to finish off the installation of the vent stack. So I drove to Herzog's and returned with the loot and set about to spray paint the top leg of the vent stack. But as I was removing the useless plastic top that snaps over the can, it came off in such a way as to snap off the little button that you press to spray the paint. Lovely! In a rage, I began spraying the stack by pressing the loose button against its nub and hoping for the best. The best, if that was what it was, involved a random spray of cold black paint all over my hand. But enough was coming out of the nozzle that I kept at it despite the mess and discomfort. Eventually, though, I went off, washed my hands, put on some latex gloves, and went back at it. At this point the main problem was the incredible cold of the decompressing accelerant on my fingers. Eventually they went numb and I had to stop. But by then I'd sort of done what I needed to do.
I should mention, by the way, that I love the way the stack looks as it penetrates the wall through those mathematically-precise ellipses. Inaccuracies had been on the order of an eighth of an inch and I'd barely been able to get the narrow pipe of the spray foam can in there to fill the voids with foam. It's the kind of elegant result I would never have expected for what, at the outset, had seemed like a daunting carpentry challenge.
The vent stack outside the brownhouse.
A close-up of the vent stack leaving the brownhouse.
The vent stack rises through the brownhouse cabin and then exits through an elliptical hole in the wall.
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