...and crafting a purposeful recovery

TMI

Way back when I said in my introduction that this whole blogging thing is really just journaling for show-offs. The practice has many motivations – instructional (I try to help future trailerphiles), observational (my occasional rants) and confessional (my awkward and sometimes discomforting self-disclosures). This post will fall in the latter category.

Have you ever felt stupid and kinda brilliant at the same time? I know it sounds counterintuitive but this is exactly how I viewed myself the other day while working on Sparta. After installing my bathroom heater, it occurred to me a good time to test out my 12v bathroom ceiling fan. As I got ready to plug that particular circuit into my car battery, I looked for the switch controlling said fan. It was gone. Without a trace. Although I had a vague recollection about installing a wall switch back in the wiring phase, I wasn’t exactly sure of its existence or specific location. I even checked the fan for an on/off button on the unit itself just like the light which sits adjacent. Nothing…no switch and no apparent means of operating the fan. Then, the unthinkable dawned on me. “Could I have?….No”. I kept looking. There had to be a switch somewhere. “Is it possible that I entombed the switch behind Hardi-board and laminate?”. The more I looked the more apparent the answer to that sickening question became. I had pulled the ultimate bonehead move.

Having owned up to that inescapable conclusion, I had to determine where the switch was. I wasn’t about to remove the bathroom laminate in what I thought was the approximate location. Where, where, where? This is when you realize the value of photo-documentation. In this great digital age, it is practical to take pictures of everything. As a culture we over-do it – documenting breakfasts, daily cat photos and the God-awful selfie. In demolition and remodelling, however, it is a priceless tool. I have hundreds if not thousands of pictures of Sparta in every stage of undress and rebirth, only a fraction I have shared herein.

So I had to start digging and find a photo including that fan switch. It had to be somewhere. Every square inch of Sparta has been lovingly photographed. Finally after combing through seemingly every last one, I found this photo:

It is very grainy because I had to blow up the original about 5 times, but there it was… the switch. About a foot and a half aft of the waste line vent pipe and 2/3 of the way down the wall. But for the purposes of actually finding that switch and sparing my laminate in the process, I needed more accuracy. But how? As I studied the pic I noticed the bamboo shelving unit I got from my brother to help organize things. I saw the trellis design could be used as a measuring tool and, counting down from the heater wire above it, there were 7.5 repetitions – about 17 inches to the top of switch. So I used this shelf as a de facto yard stick, marked the spot with a sharpie and took a deep breath, drill in hand.

My beautiful work about to be violated

I started with a tiny little bit and drilled a couple pilot holes, checking the bit for tell-tale evidence of a plastic switch or switch box. Or, worse, wood panelling debris as evidence of being totally off the mark. Nothing at first. I moved to a larger bit, thinking I could create viewing holes to see what was really going on. The first few were not too revealing. I felt like a surgeon going after a life-threatening tumor while avoiding necessary tissue (I have an active fantasy life). After a few off-the-mark attempts, there it was, blue plastic shavings from a long-lost switch box.

“I missed it by that much”. Painful to look at.
Once I had a bearing on it, I could sketch out the true location.
This called for my trusty little high speed drill and grinder bit. I couldn’t afford to start chipping laminate. Plus, there was no room for a bigger tool.
Emerging
If I were an assasin, I would’ve blown off his right shoulder first.

So if you are still reading this (and I wouldn’t blame you for skipping the blow-by-blow) the crisis was averted and the damage contained. The cosmetics are fixable. I share all this just to say that it is possible to commit a colossal fuckup only to pull off a decent solution if you just keep your head. Or, as my friend, Dwight, would say, “You can fall into a bucket of shit and still come out smelling like a rose”. Or, at least, not like shit.

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