There are short term goals and long term goals with the Greyshade Estate project. A short term goal is getting a functional kitchen with a stove and refrigerator. A long term goal is to build a second outdoor kitchen with a DC solar battery freezer and rocket stove, and a cob oven so that can comfortably prepare meals when the natural gas is depleted and infrastructure upheavals result in long or short term blackouts. Either way a dishwasher wasn’t high priority for me. Of course while I was considering not bothering with an unnecessary modern convenience, Mrs Greyshade was negotiating gift money towards a new dishwasher and researching the most water saving, energy efficient dishwasher for the money. OK I'm easy. I don't reject technological convenience out of hand, I just don't trust it enough not to have a back up. Clearly buckets, sinks and hand washing are always an option, so what the hell, let's use the gizmo and save some water. Of course while the wife and in-laws plotted and planned to buy a dishwasher they didn't plot and plan to get me any help hooking the contraption up. I suppose I should be flattered that they have such faith in me.
The complex but well written instructions the machine came with highly recommended hardwiring it into the wall it detailed the appropriate gauge of wire and everything. No problem, I thought, there's a switch and outlet for the old garbage disposal. Since we compost religiously we have no need of a garbage disposal. I just needed to take out the switch and outlet and splice into the line. So I clicked off the circuit breaker, pulled out the three prong outlet and... stopped and stared. There were only two wires attached.
The three prong outlet installed in the drippy-ass under sink to power the water filled garbage disposal wasn't grounded. "Who would do that?" I thought. The kitchen as we bought it looked like it had last been remodeled in the seventies or eighties, so they would have known better. I double checked the whole circuit. It turned out that everything on the wall was on the same breaker. Its the wall between the kitchen and bathroom so it is the main plumbing wall for the house, This meant two things, one the whole circuit really needed to be grounded since it covered the wet areas of the house, and two it easily could have been grounded because the wall was full of cold water pipes. On one of the ungrounded, but three prong, outlets there was a cold water pipe just below. It could have been grounded with a six inch wire. The last outlet I checked was in the bathroom. It turned out to be on three stranded cable, but when I traced it I found that it was in parallel with a kitchen outlet and the ground wire had been cut short. Someone had deliberately made it seem like the bathroom outlet was grounded but hadn't bothered to actually do it.
I did what should have been done years ago. I ran ground wires to the cold water pipes in the wall. All the while I was thinking "Who would do this to to their home?" Finally it hit me; no one would do this to their home but they might to a rental property. Suddenly even the bad layout of the kitchen made sense. The kitchen was remodeled by some some greedy slum lord bastard as cheaply as possible with no concern for function or safety. If the landlord didn't want to update the wiring fine. It's an old house, but the fact that they replaced old two outlets with three prong outlets to fool people is really slimey.
In 2010 a family of four sold their charming little condo in the increasingly fashionable neighborhood of University Heights. With the money they bought a stripped out house in East San Diego previously owned by human smugglers. Their goal was a radical change in lifestyle that would allow DIY Makerism, self reliance, alternative technology, permaculture, and urban homesteading into their lives in ways their HOA would have never allowed. The ideas that lead them to take this plunge came from the steampunk movement as it was during a brief shining period when art and philosophy seemed at least as important as brass, and great essays, speeches, and letters were written. These days they don't worry so much about what people call "steampunk." They call what they're doing the Greyshade Estate.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012
This is what we've had for a kitchen for most of the time we've lived here. A century old baker's table provided much needed work and storage space, but we still have no sink. We've had to get water from the bathroom for every meal. We've done our dishes in big galvanized buckets in the bathtub. When you consider that most of the people in the world don’t have indoor plumbing we’ve been doing OK, but there are always those mornings when we get up and crave a shower only to find buckets of dishes thwarting us. That got old a long time ago. The first step in making it better was actually pretty straightforward; I just had to stick some boxes together.
The boxes were one of the bottom cabinet units salvaged from the old kitchen and lazy Susan corner cabinet from the ReStore. When we bought the place the kitchen cabinets where all along one wall with no space for a refrigerator. Our redesign is an L shaped layout with the refrigerator at one end and the stove at the other. I cut away part of the base for the old cabinets so we could put the fridge in the corner, but left the rest of it alone. I extended the existing base with simple frame of scrap lumber. That gave me a level base for the stove end of the L. I positioned the two cabinets on it and screwed them down.
An interesting feature of modern kitchen cabinets is that their fronts are separate pieces. I believe this is to allow for cosmetic remodeling. You (or rather your contractor) can pull the front and doors off, replace them with a front and doors with a different cheap veneer and your kitchen goes from Natural Colonial Knotty Pine to Smokey Danish Oak. Some people pay thousands of dollars for this service every few years just to be fashionable. Ah the lunacy of modern bourgeoisie.
Fortunately my cabinet fronts were not cheap veneer but actual wood allowing me to match them up with a paint job. In the above right picture you can see a salvaged cabinet front leaning against the cabinets. Its exactly the same depth as the front of lazy Susan cabinet, a standard three quarters of an inch. This means that I was able to screw the drawer runners from drawer cabinet into the front of the Lazy Susan cabinet. I then cut off one side the old drawer cabinet front and join it the Lazy Susan front.
The only problem was that the Lazy Susan was just a little bit shorter than the drawer cabinet. I managed to find some wood strips in my scrap pile that were just the right size to fill in the front. I used two by four sections screwed into wall studs in the back to support the the plywood top I cut. I cut aplywood side to close off cabinet and further support the top. A bit of wood putty and two coats of white paint from Freecycle and the bottom of the L was complete. As I said it was basically just sticking boxes together. The rest of the L will be a bit more complicated.