So with the primer down and dry (no more than 24 hours ideally) and a little dam built of 1/4″ weatherstripping to hold back the tide, It was time to pour underlayment. This powdered substance is made by a variety of companies but the gal at Home Depot told me the Custom brand LevelQuikRS is the best. So I mixed it up per the directions for two+ minutes until I had a smooth but pourable consistency – about that of pancake batter. Using a notched trowel I smoothed it into my confined test site, skiming it evenly towards edges and corners. It worked great and 4 hours later I had a rock hard, smooth finish.
A perfect spot for closet innards.
Once I got Sparta safely settled on her little hilltop it was time to empty her of the accoutrements necessary for her ultimate makeover – cabinets, window frames, trim and tools all had to be offloaded from the voyage. This, in order to prepare the floor for leveling. Of course to pour underlayment one must first level the vessel. With four adjustable auto jacks and the screw-jack from my girlfiend’s Audi (note: 3000 lb. weight limit not ideally suited), I adjusted each corner using a large carpenter’s level.
It had been years since I last worked with self-leveling underlayment and was not confident tackling the entire floor at once. So I poured a test-section. Keep in mind Sparta’s floor was a hodge-podge of original flooring, large sections of 3/4″ plywood with irregular seams and a variety of small patches (like where I plugged the old heat vents). In short, the floor had become an ugly reminder that yours truly is an amateur and it needed to be silenced. The test section chosen was the roughly 3′ X 8′ space directly below the future bedroom closet.
Prior to pouring I had to finish floor prep. This involved:
1.) Finding all the little seams and old screw holes and filling them with super hard patch (comes in a can. Lots of choices)
2.) Plugging the gaps running along the bottom of the wall panels where they reach the floor. I had a bunch of leftover window seal that was too thin. Perfect for this task.
3.) Scrape off all but the most stubborn floor tiles. The majority of these came off with a putty knife, though they were brittle and broke into smaller pieces. Sometimes I couldn’t get them all off.
4.) Applying the diluted (1:1 with water) Henry underlayment primer with a brush. This to maximize adhesion.
Here are some pics:
Pesky 60 year old tile. Stubborn like me.
Pushing weatherstrip into gaps. Note white patch material.
The all-purpose patch
Henry’s Underlayment Prep 1:1 with H2O
Blue-hued and ready to pour. Note 1/4″ weatherstrip at lower left to dam in the section.
Ok, let’s wrap this up. So it’s Friday afternoon. I’m stuck in the middle of my new landlord’s access road and blocking her comings and goings. With Sparta’s hindquarters dragging in heavy gravel, there was no going forward. Reversing my path, while an option, would be like threading a needle in the dark while looking in a mirror – at least to this novice driver. This called for quick thinking and resolute decision-making. I had to figure out a way to get Sparta’s tail-end up off the ground so that I could drag her – still limping and minus a wheel – the remaining 75 yards up a hill. I came up with a plan. Lower the nose and raise the tail with an 8″ drop hitch and lift her rear end with a forklift to help clear the transition zone from flat to slope. I ordered the necessary equipment from the rental place for delivery early the next day and then did the only thing I could. I left Sparta floundering on the rocks and tried to relax by the pool to let go of my angst.
My plan required an assist and this was provided by Pedro, a heavy equipment operator and, on this day, my forklift guy. With Sparta’s nose lowered thanks to the new drop hitch, Pedro was able to slip the forks in under her rear, adjusting their tilt carefully so as not to pierce her soft underbelly. As he lifted and pushed I pulled and, together, we were able to free Sparta from her imprisonment.
The daunting final leg
Finally, both girls at peace
By jacking up the bad side and taking all weight off the remaining wheel, the suspension floated back to it’s equillibrium state. Then, I was able to slip a piece of 2 X 4 into the gap and strap it in. Upon lowering the wheel, I was gratified to see the leaf springs locked into position, affording me 3 – 4 inches of clearance. Whew!
So finally, after 3 days of mucking around with this bad wheel, I was able to set out on the last leg of this 1/2 mile odyssey. With Cristina pulling up the rear red lights a-flashing, I slowly headed down the highway, doing nothing to disturb this uneasy peace I had won with Sparta. There were a couple of very tight turns going onto the new property, but I had determined in advance my approach angles and was confident I would clear them – even with Sparta now listing to one side.
So far, so good…
There was, however, one important angle that I had failed to take into account – the degree of slope that awaited me once I cleared the trees. As I emerged onto the clearing and slowly made my way up the hill, I suddenly came to a grinding halt. The Tundra was stopped cold and no amount of gas was budging her. Getting out to investigate I found Sparta ass deep in tunnel-muck, helplessly run aground and aluminum body trim now peeling away like crepe paper. Now what?
I suppose it was inevitable. There comes a time in every obsessive relationship when loathing enters in. When all that devotion, attention to detail and doting over morph into pure hate. This was such a time. My struggles with Sparta continued and seemingly worsened as the week drew to a close. On Thursday I was able to fit a larger tire onto the wounded left side of my double axle rig, only to find that the stablizer rods that connect each set of leaf springs actually work as intended. They are designed to keep all fours tires on the road surface by self-adjusting for changes in road resistance. So all that resulted from my larger tire was that the rusted hub of the broken wheel was pushed closer to the road, continuing its tendency to drag. This was a really lousy time to learn about these things that just had me chasing my tail.
Leaf springs pushed to the asphalt.
Despite this continuing drag problem, I decided to limp along a 1/4 mile to the tire shop, carving a white snail-trail into the blacktop. Cristina followed me in horror, her hazards announcing my ineptitude. Once pulled safely to a broad expanse of curb next to Calvary Tire (had they come to my rescue?), I confered with them about my options, having first borrowed a tool or two to remove the offending hub. What I found there was telling. Inside the hub where a drum brake should be found was an assortment of metal shards, springs and scraps like one might normally find at the bottom of a neglected tool box. What a mess and these parts had basically turned the wheel into a coffee grinder.
Taking one look at that and Calvary’s advice was, “Better go see Chuck”. So off I went, useless hub in hand to confer with Tony at Chuck’s Wheel and Axle. With a quick glance he grasped the enormity of my problem, shook his head and said, “Uh-oh, you’ve got an old Hellwig hub there and they haven’t made parts for those in years. You’re gonna need a new suspension, axles and wheels”. Though I admired his deep and comprehensive knowledge on a topic about which I knew zero, I could only plead for a short-term fix that would get me on the road and to my destination. “Well, if you don’t have far to go, block the stabilizer bar.”. Genius! So with a quick trip to the hardware store, a dive into the wood scrap bin and purchase of an adjustable plumbing strap I was good to go. Except that by now it was the heat of the day and I was spent. The actual move would have to wait…
You can’t beat wood for gerry-rigging.
Look at that beautiful clearance!