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2013-Aug-10 - Wooroloo - Steelworks #89
I would describe today as a difficult day.

We did ok in the end but it was slow going and frustrating.

Tanguy and I managed to leave at 7.00 am and were out on site at 7.30 am.(we returned home at 5.30 pm)

The first job was to reassemble the ground water sump pump that normally runs in the well.

We had made a short visit on the previous Thursday to rotary brush and rust convert the back veranda steel and found that the sump pump had broken down.

It pumps away excess water collected by the sub soil drains and the water tank overflow.

There had been heavy rain on Wednesday and when we arrived on site we found there were a number of lakes around the house.

The dedicated circuit breaker kept tripping out and I eventually concluded that water was entering the electrics of the pump when it was submerged.

Spare parts are no longer available so we took it home, opened it up on Friday and applied silicon sealant around the power cord entry seal.

On Saturday morning, when we reinstalled it, it worked a charm and the level of ground water gradually went down during the day.

This is probably just a temporary fix and I will buy a spare pump for the longer term.

I set Tanguy to work on installing purlins on the front veranda.

This is going to be a huge job for me so any help I can get will be very appreciated.

It took me a bit of time to show Tanguy all the steps - probably 20 steps in all to install a single purlin.

Tanguy was very keen, and starting from zero knowledge managed to install 5 purlins during the day.

About the best I have ever done, even with experience, is 4 purlins in one day so he did very well.

Drilling 12 mm holes through the 7 mm webbing of the 150 PFC was a bit of a problem for Tanguy and I recalled that I found it very difficult when I first started.

Drilling large holes through thick steel is definitely an acquired skill.

It needs perfectly sharpened drill bits, good drills, and just the right pressure and drilling speed - too fast and you just overheat and blunt the drill bits, too slow and you overheat the drill.

So we decided that if Tanguy is still here next weekend, I will drill the 12 mm holes and he will install the purlins.

This will give us the best of both worlds.

I had hoped that I could weld the 33 cleats on to the back veranda steel and also rotary brush and rust convert the remaining surfaces.

I got nowhere near this - just twelve cleats welded on one side.

There are few things that slowed me down - it took me a couple of hours to make some of the prerequisite measurements, an hour or so to calculate the purlin spacings and another hour to mark up the positions.

Also I need to stagger the welds across the length so I am constantly moving the arc welder around, and also the winch up trolley that I use to support the region being welded.

Around about 3.30 pm I notice that the Ecomax warning light was on so I switched on the sewage pumping tank.(The pump is meant to be left on all the time, but while no one is living in the house I leave it off during the week)

However, even though I heard the pump run for 5 minutes, the warning indicator did not go off.

I was pretty sure that the pump was working and that the alarm float was sticking.

For some reason I was really upset and disappointed by this. We had just fixed up one sump problem and I really wanted to push on with my welding. Instead, it meant that I needed to abandon the welding for today and deal with the Ecomax issue.

First off I had to spend an hour packing away all the tools.

Then Tanguy and I lifted off the top of the pumping tank.

As I suspected, the tank was only half full (indicating that the pump was working) and with the banging and clanking we were doing while removing the lid the alarm sensor unfroze and the warning indicator went off.

I think I will purchase a good quality mercury switch from Reeces during the week and replace the original part.

Most of the parts installed by Ecomax have been poor quality and I have gradually replaced them with much more expensive quality parts.

After the sensor switch is replaced, the only original part remaining will be the sump pump and I will purchase a spare one of these as well.

I know that I am not a professional plumber but I don't really trust the workmanship from Ecomax - I am sure that I can do a better job than them. Plus they are a communications black hole - you ring them up to report a problem and no one calls you back or tells you what is going on (or they tell you the problem is your fault).

When I made inquiries on Monday I found that the Ecomax installation company in Western Australia had closed down.

Not surprising in the light of my personal experiences with them.

I also heard some pretty negative comments when talking to other suppliers.

The original suppliers of the components are still running as a business from NSW.

I rang them and they were quite helpful - apart from that I don't know enough about them to pass any judgement.


I really needed a day off work so decided to take advantage of the sunny day to make some more progress.

Tanguy and I headed out about 2.00 pm and put in about 3 hours work.

Tanguy installed another 2 purlins and I managed to weld on another 17 cleats.

I feel like we are getting somewhere now.

Tanguy also loaded up the utility with firewood and chopped it up at home on Thursday.

Sump pump fixed

Tanguy installing purlins

Working on the back veranda steel

29 cleats welded by end of Wednesday

Tanguy looking determined