New Hearth Pad Arrives.

Day #185 & 186

November 18, 2020 – On Wednesday we received a call from AES Hearth & Patio. They received our new hearth pad and it was ready for pick up. Okay, hopefully it won’t have any damage this time.

I drove over to their Camp Hill store on the Carlisle Pike. It was in fact, a new hearth pad with no damage so I was good to go.

November 21, 2020 – On Saturday morning we left the house bright and early at 6:00 AM, bound for the Cot-Taj-Mahal with the new hearth pad. If you can remember the wood stove is sitting outside on the porch. I unloaded it from my truck using a pallet jack that I rented from Penn Equipment in Burnham, PA. After we place the new hearth pad on the floor we can move the wood stove inside and put it on the pad. To do that we need to rent the pallet jack again so out first stop was Penn Equipment.

With the pallet jack in the back of the truck we drove the rest of the way to the Cot-Taj-Mahal.


At the cottage, we unboxed the hearth pad and placed it on the floor. I used the pallet jack to bring in the wood stove.

New Hearth Pad
New hearth pad in place.
Pallet Jack
Pallet jack and plywood ramp at the sliding door.

After removing the fire brick from the inside of the stove, I installed the ash pan and the Queen Ann’s legs. At this point I pondered about how we were going to stand it upright without breaking the cast iron legs. At 350 lbs, the stove is just a wee bit heavy for Robrandi and I to be lifting.

Stove Assembly
Install the ash pan and cast iron legs.

After some engineering reflection I built a wood frame that we used to roll the stove upright. The frame was slightly taller that the Queen Ann’s legs. This kept the weight of the stove off the cast iron legs as we righted it. All good…. For some reason I don’t have any pictures of this contraption. I think we were to stressed at this point.

Hearth Pad & Stove
New hearth pad and wood stove.

Hearth Pad & Wood Stove

Moving ever so slowly we positioned the stove on top of the hearth pad. There you have it. The whole thing is centered on the accent wall and it looks great! All we need to do now is install the stove pipe and it will be ready to fire up.

After setting the wood stove it was too late in the day to return the pallet jack. Penn Equipment is closed on Sunday so this means that I’ll be making a return trip on Monday, at least to Burnham, to make the return. Rather than stay the night, we decided to just head back and spend Sunday at home.

Winterization for 2020

Day # 184

November 17. 2020 – Just a very short post today. I traveled to the Cot-Taj-Mahal this morning to perform the 2020 winterization. This includes draining down the water, and winterizing the toilet and drain traps.

Everything went as expected. I used the shop vacuum to suck all the water out of the pipes and I loaded up the toilet and drain traps with anti-freeze . Winterization complete… We should be good for the winter.

Sometime next season I will be replacing the existing CPVC water pipe with much more temperature tolerant PEX water piping. I think I’ll still have to drain but I won’t have such a risk of a pipe burst if a little water gets left in the system over the winter.

We’ll see…

Acoustical Ceiling Tile System – Living Room

Acoustical Ceiling Tile System

Day #182 and #183

November 13th & 14th, 2020 – This weekend my brother, Dave, is coming to the Cot-Taj-Mahal to install the acoustical ceiling tile system in the Living Room. On Friday, before he got there, I nailed some 1″×3″ furring strips to the bottoms of the Living Room ceiling joists. This will help to keep the batt insulation from sagging down onto the top of the acoustical ceiling. The first few images show the furring strips.

After the furring strips completed, Dave was able to start the acoustical ceiling tile system. Wall angle installation is first. This angle runs around the entire perimeter of the Living Room. With the wall angle hung, the installation of the main beams come next. The main beams connect together with cross T’s to form 2’×2′ squares. In each of the squares we place a ceiling tile to complete the installation.

Field tile or full size acoustical ceiling tile make up the main part of the ceiling. Cut tiles or boarder tiles install along the edges of the wall. The tile at each of the “can lights” receives a circular hole to accept the light, and a trim ring on the light finishes the installation.

It is important for the grid system to be level and square to avoid any unsightliness in the completed installation.

I’m sure you will agree, the acoustical ceiling tile installation looks great. It is much cleaner and brighter than the old yellowed 4’×8′ ceiling panels and if any tile suffers damage we can simply replace it.

At November 14th, it’s getting late in the season. Next week I will have to drain down the water and freeze proof the toilet and drain traps. I plan to work thru the winter but with no heat source I can’t take any chances.

Wall Paneling in the Living Room.

Wall Paneling - Living Room

Day #180 & Day #181

November 7th & 8th, 2020 – We are almost ready for the lay in ceiling installation in the living room. My brother Dave came down last night to make a list of the materials that we need. The focus for this weekend is to finish installing sound batt insulation and wall paneling in the Living Room. Once this is done we will be able to install the ceiling system.

The gallery above shows the progression through the Living Room. The wall paneling installation went pretty smoothly, and by the end of the day, on Sunday, it was complete. The hardest part was moving the miscellaneous tools, bins, tables and chairs around the work area.

With the paneling finished I can now install the floor base, corner molding and window trim. More importantly, we are now ready for the acoustical ceiling system. I have Dave set up for next weekend. It’s going to look nice!

Ceiling Insulation in the Living Room.

Day #179

November 1, 2020 – Just a short post and then a rant for today. As far as the renovation work is concerned I finished up the insulation in the living room ceiling. This gets us closer to installing the actual suspended, lay in ceiling system. Here’s a couple of photos.

Ceiling Insulation
Ceiling insulation in the living room.

Ceiling Insulation

and now the rant…..

Back at the end of September, when I initially picked up the wood stove and hearth pad, I noticed a small hole in the cardboard covering. It was so small that I didn’t think anything of it. Shame on me, but prior to today, I never checked it. Well….

Towards the end of the day we went to set the hearth pad on the floor. Robrandi cleaned off the mortar from the tile work and removed the blue painters tape from the floor. I brought in the pad and we removed the card board wrapping. Of course the first thing we see is a broken tile and missing mortar. My whole day just turned upside down. It seems impossible to get materials down here that do not have some sort of damage!

After some discussion we decided that it has to go back. The broken tile is right in the front of the pad and it will be extremely visible.

Because I have a smaller truck bed, I had to build a wooden carrier so it would lay flat to avoid any further damage as we drove the dam thing back to AES Hearth & Patio. Of course, as soon as we went to put it in the truck it started pouring buckets. We got soaking wet! After I tied it down and stomped around for a bit we packed up and left for home. A crappy ending to an otherwise good weekend. Uggghhh!

Floor Reinforcement for the Wood Stove.

Day #178

October 31, 2020 – Our new wood stove weighs in at about 350 lbs. The floor joists underneath the stove are full 2″ × 8″ solid oak. They are rather bouncy and I’m a little concerned about the point load that the wood stove will add to the floor. To help spread this load I decided to add additional floor reinforcement by adding solid bridging between 4 of the floor joists (3 joist spaces). This means I’ll be spending my weekend underneath the Cot-Taj-Mahal on my back. Yea!

Floor Reinforcement - Joist Spaces

Before I could start on the floor reinforcement I had to clear out some old wiring left over from who knows what. The plan is to install solid bridging in three of the joist space from the outside wall across to the center of the floor. In the pictures, the first concrete piers that you see are at the center of the cottage, width wise.

Floor Reinforcement - Solid Bridging

I used treated 2 × 8 pieces with galvanized joist hangers on both ends. The nailing was difficult due to the cramped quarters underneath the cottage.

Floor Reinforcement - Complete

All in all the floor reinforcement went much better than I expected. I managed to finish it up in one day. I hope that this will provide some additional strength underneath the wood stove. We don’t want it falling thru the floor.

Tomorrow I’ll move back inside to continue the ceiling insulation in the living room.

Wet Saw Rental – Wall Tile Continued.

Day #176 & #177

October 24 & 25, 2020 – I’m back this weekend to continue the wall tile, this time with the assistance of a wet saw. Yesterday I picked up Core Cut CC1000T Super Duty Tile Saw from Best Line Equipment in Mechanicsburg. I have a two day rental and I will return it on Monday so I have to get ‘er done!

Wet Saw
Core Cut CC1000T Super Duty Tile Saw

Wall Tile Continued - Wet Saw

With the wet saw set up outside the wall tile installation continued. I didn’t break anymore tile and there were no issues.

Wall Tile - Wet Saw

Wall Tile Almost Complete

I set the top rows off a ladder. It’s always a lot of up and down when working from a ladder but thankfully there weren’t that many rows involved.

Wall Tile Complete - Wet Saw

Each row of tile butts tightly to the next row so there is no grouting required. The wet saw provides for a very straight cut along the ends of the wall.

Living Room Wall Tile
Completed accent wall in the living room.
Gyeem Raj-DuKamar
Gyeem Raj-DuKamar at the Cot-Taj-Mahal.

With the wall tile installation complete I will return the wet saw on Monday. I will have to rent it one more time, in the future, to complete the backsplash above the kitchen countertops. We are using the same tile. It should look awesome. Stay tuned.

Wall Tile Installation Begins.

Day #175

October 18, 2020 – There is a lot happening today. I am installing more wall paneling, taping and applying thinset mortar to the cement board joints and starting the wall tile installation. Before I got started I had a cup of coffee at the lookout. It’s a foggy morning on the Juniata.

First up. I had one full sheet of the shiplap paneling left so I took down the tv, installed the paneling and then re-installed the tv. This gets it out of the way. My painter should have no problems painting around the bracket.

Multi-tasking 01
Paneling behind the tv. Power outlets and switches.
Paneling 06
Tv re-installed. Switch and outlet cover plates on.

Wall Tile

Next up was the wall tile installation. Since none of the floors in the cottage are level I have to use wood shims to block up both the paneling and the wall tile. This helps to insure that I get plumb paneling joints and level wall tile. It’s a pain in the ass but a necessity.

Wall Tile Installation
Taping the cement board joints and the first row of wall tile.

The cement board I choose is Hardy Backer Board. I used 1/4″ to help reduce the weight of the installation.

Cement Board Joints & Wall Tile

I have a QEP 24 inch Slimline manual tile cutter. It’s a great cutter but the wall tile that we choose mimics horizontal stone. The tile does not have a smooth level face. Each of the “stones” are a different thickness. I learned pretty quickly the I would not be able to use the manual cutter on this tile. On row two I broke a piece cutting it. Rather than continue, risking more breakage, I decided to stop and come back later with a “wet saw”. It’s the best way to cut this sort of tile.

For the curious, the blue painters tape on the floor marks the proposed wood stove location.