We had a good 8 feet of soil and roots to clear before we were able to move the lumber back in place.

I love when I can actually accomplish fix-it jobs around the condo. I’m not especially handy, but once in a while a project comes along that falls right in line with my skill set (and my somewhat limited collection of tools).

At the back of our condo driveway, there are a couple of parking spots. The back edge of that parking area is bordered by a railway tie that was installed to prevent soil erosion from a slope of trees and shrubberies that leads down to the parking lot. I daresay the lumber has been there since the condo was built, but in the intervening years, the railway tie came loose. Our fellow condo owner has tried to make sure it stays in place, but some soil erosion has occurred and the tie really has needed attention for some time – to be secured firmly in place.

Luckily, I have first-hand experience with just this task!

We actually went back further than necessary. We’ll have to fill in the gap between the tie and the slope.Or just leave it and it will fill in on its own after a few days of rain.

About 20 years ago, when I was living with my grandmother, I helped my uncle install a few railway ties around the gardens at the front of Nana’s house. I helped him cut the lumber, augur the holes, and secure them into place using lengths of threaded rod with a large washer and nut at one end. So I knew exactly what supplies to buy and what to do to secure this stray railway tie in place.

Saturday seemed as good a day as any to take on the task. The only thing I hadn’t foreseen was how much work would be involved in cleaning up the soil erosion to make sure the lumber could be put back properly in its place. Thankfully, my neighbor joined me and, using spades, shovels, and a broom we gradually cleared a path. It took us a good hour or more though. Because the trees and shrubberies had been growing there for so long, we found more than a few spots where roots needed to be chopped away. It was sweaty work, I don’t mind telling you. But just easy enough to be reqarding without being frustrating.

I don’t think I uttered a single curse word that afternoon. And that’s saying something. I get kind of pissy when fix-it tasks go awry. But I come by it honestly. My Dad was much the same. I think he’s mellowed in his later years, but when I was a kid I remember some fairly impressive strings of swear words.

Countersinking the holes means there’s no unsightly nut and washer sticking out.

Anyway, once the digging was over, I expected little difficulty with getting the lumber secured in place. But I learned a sad truth: my power drill is a bit of a wimp. I needed to bore a few holes through the 6×6 – but my little Black & Decker drill didn’t have the power to drive the augur bit all the way through. I didn’t give up though. My office has a drill with a bit more oomph and, after a quick trip to the office, I was able to finish off the task with little trouble. I even managed to use a hole saw to countersink the “spikes.”

Very happy with how it turned out, but I was never really worried. After all, the project is in a spot where no one ever really sees it, so I knew that even if I did screw it up it wouldn’t turn out to be an eyesore. Maybe that lack of pressure helped. Not sure it would have gone so smoothly if I’d had to do this at the front of our property, with nosy neighbours looking on.


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