Enon Hall


These journal entries track our progress as we undertake our adventure of restoring this very old home. The main reason for keeping this journal on the web is that we have found that there are very few resources (books or websites) that follow all of the trials and tribulations of restoring an old home...from start to finish.

April 6, 2003

We spent all weekend in the lot doing more clearing. We raked and seeded a large area that Mark Dameron cleared and then set off with the chainsaw to do more thinning. We had a good system...if Gay pointed at it, I cut it down. It's starting to look more like a yard than a jungle. We still have about a dozen Russian olive trees left in the mix that Mark is going to try to pull up. They are awful, invasive trees. They self-seed and the vines love them because their branches start so low to the ground. When those trees are gone, the change will be quite dramatic.

Sunday morning I sent William on a mission to locate the property markers around the new lot. (We didn't have a survey as a part of the purchase.) I gave him the plat, a trowel, the metal detector, and showed him how to step off feet with his 9 inch shoes. Within the hour he had located and uncovered the first two pipes driven into the ground. I was impressed! The adjoining neighbors got into the act and showed us two stakes that they knew about, which left only one missing. After about an hour, we still hadn't found that marker and the neighbor and I decided to split the cost of getting a surveyor out to locate it. Its location will be critical when it comes time to position our new fence. -- Bill

April 13, 2003

We only had one day at Enon Hall this weekend. After a solid week of rain, the new lot was saturated and too muddy for further work. So I took on another, more interesting job.

For about a month now, our windmill has been squeaking when it spins in the wind. I've been worried that we were gonna be visited by an angry mob of neighbors from along the creek who have been going crazy from the noise. The sound really carries, especially at night. So, how does one go about oiling a 40-foot-tall windmill?

First of all, I'm not a fan of heights. So I rigged a shoulder harness that allowed me to tether myself to the frame as I climbed. It worked great and gave me the confidence I needed.

Plan A was simple. Climb up with a can of WD-40. I soon found that there was no way that I could get within the can's range...especially with the blades spinning in the wind. I wasn't too anxious to be decapitated in the process.

Plan B was a doomed idea involving duct tape, WD-40 in a spray bottle, a 20-foot extension pole, a small pulley, and a string running from the trigger of the bottle, through the pulley and down the length of the pole. I climbed up, tethered myself to the frame and then, with my hands free, tried to position the bottle near the center of the windmill fan. Twice, the wind blew the pole into the spinning blades and knocked it down to the ground.

Plan C was William's idea. After a quick trip to the dollar store in town we were back with: four new cans of WD-40, a shower cap, and a $5 Super Soaker water pistol with "The Longest Range Ever!" You probably can see where this is headed...

I filled the Super Soaker with two cans of WD-40 and pumped the pressure up; going for distance. Since I would be aiming directly over my head, I expected to get some fallout raining back down on me. That's where the shower cap, goggles, and a respirator came in.

William's plan worked great! I got back up to the top, aimed, and blasted a stream of WD-40 into the center of the fan blades.

And yes, plenty of it came raining back down on my head. But hopefully enough penetrated the windmill housing to ease the squeaking racket. We shall see!

Uh, don't try any of this at home. -- Bill

April 19, 2003

Rain, and the squeaking of the windmill, forced me inside. (Yeah, it's still squeaking. But I have a new plan brewing...)

I finally removed the propane heater from the library.

The Haydens had installed the heater as an emergency back-up but it had never actually been fired up.

Upstairs I did some electrical work in the bathroom; wired and installed a badly needed ceiling light and wired the shower fan that I had installed last fall. Installed a wall switch for the fan, too. My electrical work in the past has been limited to replacing existing fixtures, so this was all new ground for me. Was pretty proud when it all worked correctly! The three of us crammed into the bathroom and gleefully flipped the switches...light on, light off, fan on, fan off... -- Bill

April 27, 2003

I patched the ceiling of the guest bedroom upstairs. Before we had the roof replaced last year there had been a slow leak which cracked the drywall and made a big orange stain. I patched everything up and applied a coat of Kilz. This room is ready for paint.

This is the same room with the bouncy, sagging floor. Gay and I have discussed someday putting up a petition wall to create a little hall leading to the law office. Right now the only way into the law office is through this bedroom. The new bedroom door in the new wall would need to be lined up with the front and back windows to maintain the benefit of the cross ventilation. Anyway, occured to me yesterday that I could use this wall to stiffen the floor...and possibly even raise it a little. I would jack the ceiling below and then use the new wall to tie the floor joists into the joists in the attic...basically hanging the floor from the joists above. This, of course, assumes that the attic joists can take this weight. I will need to check it out further, but it might be a plan.

Speaking of plans, I am going to rent a 40' bucket lift for a couple weeks and use it for some high trim repair and painting. I can also use it to repair the windmill!

Gay hung some wooden Tavern pegs from Williamsburg in the center hall. William immediately accessorized them with some of his Colonial attire.

We spent the majority of the weekend in the new lot chopping up giant grape vine roots and stobs so that a lawnmower can get through. We threw down some more grass seed. I think we might be done with the lot for a while. It's certainly not finished, but we need to get back to house projects.

Like the back porch... The oil floor enamel has totally failed...peeling up everywhere. The whole thing needs to be sanded down and redone. Not sure what to blame it on other than the paint. I primed the boards before installing them and then used an alkyd floor enamel. One step forward, two steps back.

William and Lucy worked hard in the new lot (William pulling vines and Lucy digging) and finally had to find a place to crash. -- Bill

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