Sunday River opened Merrill Hill for the first time today. It was great to ski some new terrain for the first time in years.

iOS and iPadOS kept pestering me to turn on Personal focus no matter how many times I said “Not now”. I finally caved and just turned it on, which resulted in my notifications being disabled all weekend. You can imagine my surprise when I turned it on and had 20 unread emails.

As everybody started sharing the “Year in Review” posts from Spotify, Apple Music, Instagram, etc… it occurred to me that Apple Fitness should really add a similar feature. It would be great to see a summary of the various workouts from the year with something like “You walked 360 miles during workouts”. Maybe next year.

Just wrapped up my first full year of Wordle. I got 360 out of 365. Here are the words I missed. 304 - LOWLY 412 - Did Not Finish 454 - PARER 532 - DADDY 553 - SAFER

I seem to get caught up on repeat letters and superlatives.

Go Kart Garage Retrospective

As a follow up to my previous post, Building a Go Kart Garage, I want to do a quick retrospective on the project in an agile methodology sort of way.

Things that Went Well

Teamwork - Kaleb and I made a pretty good team on this project. We were really good at double checking each others work and more than a few times this helped us from making costly mistakes. I helped drive the project along and he did most of the cutting and assembling of the garage.

Costs - Overall I feel like the cost of the entire project was pretty reasonable for the end product. An equivalent shed from New England Outdoor would go for around $5,000, which is about twice what we paid for materials.

General Implementation - For the most part we didn’t make any big mistakes that required undoing anything we built or purchasing extra materials because of a bad cut (see the Teamwork item above). Usually projects like this involve quick little one-off trips to the hardware store to get one more piece of wood or a new box of screws, but I think we only ran into that situation once.

Memories - It was a great learning experience for both of us and we won’t soon forget this accomplishment.

Things that Could Have Gone Better

Time of Year - We started this project in November in New England, which introduces two challenges: lack of daylight and cold. If we had done this in the summer the project probably could have been completed in half as many sessions. A few times we had to stop because it got dark and then a few times it was just too cold to work on it.

Transport - The Kia Sorento worked out really well and we managed to squeeze everything into or on top of it, but I feel like time was wasted securing stuff to the roof or making multiple trips because we couldn’t fit everything in one trip. If we had a trailer or had stuff delivered it might have made the process easier and involved less trips to Lowe’s.

Planning - The CAD models and YouTube videos were an invaluable resource, but one thing we failed to understand is how the dimensions of the garage didn’t work well with the standard lumber sizes. For example, the doors were each 52” wide, which gave the go kart several inches on each side, but the wood we used for the doors comes in 48” wide pieces. We ended up having to buy 4 pieces to do the doors, when we could have made them 4” smaller and only had to use 2. Similarly the roof ended up being just a little bit too big to match exactly with the standard 4’ x 8’ pieces of plywood and we ended up with a less sound patchwork of plywood.

In Summary

The project went very well despite some of the challenges we faced. The garage looks really great now that it is finished and everybody who has seen it has been surprised at what we were able to build. We learned a lot about building stuff even if there are things we probably didn’t do exactly right.

Building a Go Kart Garage

Over the summer, my son, Kaleb got a Go Kart and did a lot of work to get it back in working order. In September he mentioned how he didn’t want to keep it on the ground over the winter and wanted to build a platform to put it on. At the same time we were starting some home renovation projects with a contractor which allowed both of us to gain a little more experience and more importantly confidence. The first job involved installing insulation in our basement and other minor repairs during the process. The second job was more relevant and involved some major repairs on our shed. In both projects I learned some really basic stuff about how stuff is constructed and also the various types of materials needed for such a project.

We began to discuss the platform Kaleb wanted to build and now he was angling for us to create a garage for his Go Kart and also his lawn tractor he had been keeping in our shed. He used Fusion 360 to generate a model for the garage and we were able to use AR to put it into the yard.

I was feeling pretty confident at the time and said, “Let’s do it!”. Over the next few weeks Kaleb took a deep dive into “How to build a shed” YouTube videos in order to learn more about the best way to build it. Here is one video that we referenced extensively, Building a Lean-To Shed

On Saturday, November 13th we made our first of many trips to Lowe’s to pick up the first materials. One big thing we learned during the prior two months was that my wife’s Kia Sorento could hold a lot of materials. Inside the car we could put a few 10 foot pieces of would, we could also put a bunch of 8 foot pieces right up the middle when the seats were down. Once or twice I did manage to put a 12 foot piece of wood out the passenger window, but later we learned that it was just easier to strap it to the roof rack.

Kaleb took on the first few tasks himself, that included putting down the footings for the platform as well as building the framing for the floor.

Next up was the framing of the sides and back, which went pretty smoothly and took a couple days to complete. After about a week the floor was complete and all four walls were framed.

We had to take a break for Thanksgiving, but started back up in December with the framing of the roof and putting on the plywood.

During the week we picked up the wood for the sides and spent a few days putting up the side, back and front walls.

I was feeling really good at this point because most of the structure was now sealed in from the outside, even though we had to use a tarp on the roof and the big front doors. Next up was an unexpectedly tricky part the doors. After framing the first door and putting it in place we learned that things weren’t as square as we hoped. We made a few adjustments and managed to get the first door up and it actually opened and closed just fine. The next door was a little easier and we eventually were able to get all four doors on after several different sessions working in freezing cold December evenings.

At this point it was mid-December and I really wanted to get the roof done, before it got much colder and ski season started. We tried to make one more push before Christmas, but bought the wrong size trim and had to put things on hold until after the holiday. Thankfully when we came back from skiing the temperature soared into the 50s and we were able to put in a solid day on the roof. We couldn’t have done it without this video, How to Build a Lean-To Shed Part 7 - Roofing Install

We put in the last nail at about 5pm on December 30th, about 47 days after we started. We worked on 17 different days (as far as I could tell) and it turned out really well. The total cost of materials was $2,278.82.