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Electrical Work X: Into the Attic

February 23, 2010

~February 10, 2009~

With the conduit bending well under way, I wanted to fish the wires that would feed power from the basement all the way up to the attic crawl space.  However, that would take some preparation.

There is a skylight at the top of our stairs, approximately halfway between the front and back of the house.  It is the access point for the crawl space, and the height of the crawl space (the distance between the tops of the ceiling beams and the bottom of the roof beams) at that point is about 1 foot.  That space increases toward the front of the house and decreases toward the back.  I think I’ll have to cut holes in the ceiling and fish the wire with the fish tape through them for much of the back of the house.  So, the bottom of the crawl space is just beams 2 feet apart on centers with the lathe and plaster for the ceiling below attached to the bottom of them.

The crawl space.

You can’t crawl on the lathe and plaster or you would knock huge amounts of plaster down and possibly break the lathe and fall through it (I’m really not sure, as I haven’t tried this, yet, and don’t plan to:) ).  It’s possible to crawl/push-up/creep-on-hands-and-toes around up there just on the beams, but that wouldn’t really be a workable method for spending much time up there and especially not for getting any work done.

So, I needed to get some plywood to lay on top of the beams.  Of course, I didn’t think of this until after I had already done my major electrical shopping trip with the Lowe’s truck to bring stuff home.  So, I was back to using my bike as transportation.  I had them cut my one piece of 4 foot by 8 foot plywood in half to 2 X 8 at the Lowe’s.  I had hoped I’d be able to tie and clamp the plywood to the sides of my bike resting on top of the pedals’ axle inside their crank shafts and beneath the seat and handlebars.  That way I’d be able to ride home, even if I’d have to stop and get off to make any sharp turns.  But, alas, there just wasn’t enough space there.  So, I’m out in the parking lot of the Lowe’s (at my reserved parking spot) with these two pieces of plywood and it’s starting to get dark.  There were a couple of guys waiting out there (for a jump for their pickup, it looked like) and they took pity on me and helped me hold and balance the plywood on top of the bike while I strapped it on.  It’s probably a good thing they did, or I might still be there.  I ended up with the two pieces resting on my handlebars in the front and the little rack I have behind my seat in the back.  They formed a V so that they could go around the seat.  I tied them around the middle to attach them to the bike and keep them from falling apart too much.  Then I clamped them front and back at the bottom.

Plan view of a bulk freight carrier.

Cross sectional view of a bulk freight carrier.

So, I grabbed the handlebar and brake with my left hand, the far piece of plywood with my right hand and jammed the near piece of plywood under my armpit and started walking home.  Of course the West Philadelphia sidewalks are (if one can believe it) actually considerably less smooth than the West Philadelphia streets.  So that was fun trying to avoid the worst of the elevational cracks and potholes.  After only a quarter of a mile or so, the front clamp fell off.  I managed to balance my bike-plywood construct with one hand and bend down to pick it up.  It was starting to crack, but I managed to get it back on anyway.  Maybe half way home the back clamp fell off.  I got it picked up and put back on, too, even though one of its clamping pads had broken off.  A bit later the front clamp finally gave up the ghost and died, but I managed to get the rest of the way home without it.

Apparently not designed for securing bulk freight.

I did get some rather weird looks, and at the Blue Line station 3 blocks from home and about 1.5 miles from the Lowe’s someone said, “Please tell me you didn’t come all the way from the Lowe’s.”  I assured them that I had and continued on my way.  Not easy, not fun and definitely not something I’d care to do again, but it got the job done.

So, now that I had my plywood home, it was time to put it to use in the attic crawl space.  So, up it went.

My first attempt.

And promptly got wedged in the skylight opening.  So, down to the basement both pieces went to be cut in half to make 4 pieces of 2 X 4 plywood.  And up to the attic, again.

My second attempt.

This time was a success!!!!  Until I went to see what the camera had been taking pictures of.  But I still had 3 pieces to take up to the attic, so not a complete loss.  Here is how it really went.

It worked!

So, I got all my plywood up into the attic, and nailed it into place at strategic locations.  (I didn’t have enough plywood to floor the whole way from the skylight to my work-area-for-this-part-of-the-project.)

A veritable highway.

And I was finally ready to get started working.

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