A step nearer our target…

Before the finishing touches can be added to the porch, we need to be able to access the porch more easily so we needed to create a suitable set of steps. First, we had to move the step which we uncovered six years ago, buried beneath the paved surface that we removed. As this was really quite heavy, we decided to use the old low-tech trick of moving it on cylinders, which for us was some small wooden logs waiting to be burned…

…but it turns out they do the job really well! Having cleared the space, Mike scraped away the dirt and then we created the shuttering to box in the space and filled it with…

…the concrete I made. As you can see it was a little dark by the time we finished this stage…

…but a couple of days later (to give the first step time to go off) we were back on the job. First we tipped the red step on end so we could ‘walk’ it around. We put some waste wood in place…

…and then lowered the step onto the wood which was sufficiently ‘slippery’ that we could push the step backwards into place before squirting some very powerful glue into the void below and then removing the wood…

…so the step dropped into place, cushioned by the adhesive.

Once we had finished this, we decided it was time for a break, and nipped off for a few (fortunately really lovely) days away before we returned to the fray.

On our return, we finished off the steps by filling the two small dimples to complete the top step. Whilst that’s hardening off, we moved on to…

…working on the main fire place. Our problem was: how to remove the vast slate mantelshelf safely? To give a sense of the problem, we guesstimated it’s weight at about a ton (or tonne if you prefer, so we didn’t want it falling on our feet, or inded on the mahogany floor.

We decided on the stepwise approach, so we removed slates from first one side and then the other, allowing the shelf to descend to ground level under control -or at least, that was our hope. We started by removing the slates on the top of the right hand stack, with one of us levering the mantelshelf upwards with a wrecking bar whilst the other hit the slates hard with a bolster chisel and pulled them away.

After the first side, we became a little concerned as the shelf took a long time to gently drop and we were getting worried perhaps it wouldn’t fall…but then it gently began to move, and we decided to remove the slates from the left hand side. Again, the descent was proving slow and difficult to control, at which point we became aware that having another pair of hands available might be helpful so we made suitable arrangements…

…and carried on with the stepwise removal. A little after lunch, the mantleshelf was close enough to the floor that we started trying to work out how to move it out of the way.

Hmm. Tricky. After lots of discussion, we lined up a couple of sack barrows in front of the fire; Mike and Niall inched one end of the slate onto the trucks whilst I stopped the other end falling off its pillar. Once that was finished, they swung the other end onto the barrows whilst I held the barrows steady. Once in place (with Sliderz under the handles to ensure they could still move) the shelf was carefully pushed away from the fire place…

…through the lounge into the dining room and from there out the bay windows to be temporarily parked in the car park until we can work out what to do with it. GIven its size and weight, the only thing we can think of is to make it into a garden seat: any suggestions you may wish to make would be very welcome!

Once the mantelshelf was removed, we knocked away the remaining slates and then sat down for a well deserved break.

I hope I am not giving too many secrets away when I say we are both now sitting very quietly in our chairs. Here’s hoping the energy returns soon!

2 thoughts on “A step nearer our target…

    1. Ironically, we took time off today, and drove to Conwy (one of the nearest big towns, complete with its own castle) to find almost everything was closed on a Monday! Wales can be a strange place… I will be writing to Irene later tonight, so if you want more gossip, she might be able to fill you in in a day or so! Take care, love from Carrie and Mike.

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