“We might have to jack hammer…”

Today, I came really close to throwing in the towel on this hobby.

Really, really close.

Our house, circa 1885, has been suffering from a slow drain. Last week, I reported that the plumber had successfully passed a snake through the sewer pipe running under the house. The problem, it seemed, was outside – under the front yard. It was probably a tree issue.

Digging commenced Friday and tree roots were indeed discovered. The original, 1885 drain was removed and new pipe was laid as far as the city service – although the city will have to come to clear their part of the system, as it has also been compromised by tree roots.

That said, all was looking good until one last inspection of the system. The inspection camera was shoved into the floor drain at the end of the Port Rowan peninsula. It got about 20.5 feet, then disappeared into water – about 18 inches ahead of the camera that took this image:
 photo SewerCam_zps0efbaa57.jpg

20.5 feet – minus a few feet for going down the floor drain pipe – turned out to be right under the apple orchard in Port Rowan:
 photo Sewer-Orchard-01_zpsd6962a6e.jpg

The measurement was confirmed with a locator and for a while – for far too long, in fact – it seemed that the only solution would be to break into the concrete basement floor to have a closer look and replace the offending section of pipe. And since jack-hammering can’t be done sitting down, breaking into the floor would’ve required chopping apart the layout along the lines in this image:
 photo Sewer-Orchard-02_zpsffacc842.jpg

Note that the space between the lines includes four turnouts, plus the derail, plus the built-in-one-piece-for-smooth-transitions incline for the coal track.

“Cool train set, by the way,” says the plumber. “Can I see it run?”

“You can if you can fix the drain without digging up the floor.”

Fortunately – after much prodding and probing – the crew determined that the drain was in fact operating as it should. Water flowed well. A snake declared the drain clear, and several flushes and utility sinks full of water confirmed it. The camera was merely getting caught on some sediment at a bend in the pipe, which the flushing helped clear.

Crisis averted.

I do not have to take up découpage.

I remain a model railway enthusiast.

I’m off to pour a single malt, to raise a toast to my plumbers.

19 thoughts on ““We might have to jack hammer…”

  1. Local modeler Doug Gieger had a similar problem, except that they did have to tear out the concrete basement floor under his HO Granite Mountain RR. He was able to convince them to use some special equipment so he “only” lost a big part of his lower deck. We had floods in Boulder, CO, USA, last September, and I lost 95% of my kits, models and tools. Count yourself among the lucky ones. Gerry Cole

    • Gerry, all of us who have heard of your tragedy, not to mention all of your neighbors’, have been mourning your loss with you, whether you’ve been aware or not. We all pray that you never again have to experience anything even remotely like this.

  2. Trevor,

    Thank God for small favors! I raised a glass of Sierra Nevade Rye Ale to your luck, health, and same to the Port Rowan sub this evening.

    Happy Modeling

  3. What’s a basement? (Not a common item out here in the western US.)

    Glad you didn’t undergo an earthquake at the apple orchard.

    Skip Luke

  4. Wow! You scared me with the talk of quitting! I too raise a glass to your good
    fortune and not have to see your magnificent railroad even partly tore up.
    Cheers, Gord

  5. Trevor,

    Découpage wouldn’t be such a bad hobby, if you aren’t easily bored.

    How about a change of name for the blog from Port Rowan in S-Scale to My Adventures in Découpage?

    The Other Trevor…

  6. Whew, glad you dodged that bullet.
    Given that the planned cut lines were in such awkward places, would it been better and or possible to move the cut lines further away to less sensitive areas? Makes for a bigger piece to move, but might have been less disruptive.

  7. I can guess how you must have felt!
    Although I had the house re-wired before I started on this layout, at some time in the future I shall need to replace the central heating radiators. Unfortunately, to do this involves lifting up the floorboards, which of course run the same direction as the layout above!
    I’m glad all worked out OK for you Trevor.

  8. Thank the powers that be that this turned out OK.

    Lesson to be learned here: although I have no great desire to build a portable layout, in light of your experience I have changed my approach slightly to make the layout “sectionable”. Luckily (it’s an ill wind, etc) I had only just started purchasing and cutting timber, so other than an hour or so of re-thinking, I have lost nothing and gained lots!

    Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulations – I haven’t enjoyed your pain, but hopefully can ease it a touch letting you know it has helped someone else avoid pain.


  9. And a toast with Makers’ Mark Bourbon on ice to the successful avoidance of the destruction of Port Rowan!

  10. Wow, Trevor, that was too close. Jim Hediger had the exact same issue years ago and it took him the better part of a decade to get the Ohio Southern back up and running. Not only is it a lot of work, it’s downright demoralizing.
    And Gerry, you, along with all our friends in our former hometown of Longmont, have been in our thoughts and prayers.

    • I remember hearing about Jim’s trouble, Marty. I think it’s wonderful he was able to recover – even if it took the better part of a decade.
      I’m not sure I would have the willpower to do that – even with a layout as modest as mine.
      Maybe for something positive – like a house move linked to a career opportunity.
      But not for something like drains, which feels like the universe is out to slap me for being pleased with myself. 🙂

  11. Thanks for the comments, everyone. It was a tough weekend. It’s starting to feel better now.

    I’ve started many layouts. This one is the closest I’ve come to finishing one. And it’s the first that has really satisfied me in terms of presentation. The layout looks good, to my eye, and the room is a comfortable place to be.

    I see things on the layout I want to improve – but I know that with a simple layout like this, it’ll be easy to go back and re-do things as my skills improve. It might even be fun. And knowing that I’ve managed to build the layout before I get too many of those aches, pains and inconveniences that are brought on by aging makes a huge difference, too.

    So, I’d actually like to enjoy this layout – for many years, I hope! – before a plumber says “You have to tear all this out”. As Marty McGuirk notes about the drain problems that forced Jim Hediger to tear out his Ohio Southern, “It’s downright demoralizing”.

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