Sunday, September 23, 2012

Refinishing Log Railings

Throughout the spring and summer seasons we've been incrementally and gradually cleaning and power washing various railings, decks and benches to get them ready to finish with Sikkens Log and Siding coating. I say finish rather then refinish because these railings, decks and benches etc... have never been given even a single coat of anything.  I see that quite a few people out in the country do not bother to coat their decks or railings or posts or whatever and they pretty quickly get a dull, old looking finish.  I guess they figure that since it's pressure treated, it doesn't need to be coated with anything.  I prefer to finish outdoor workmanship myself rather than wait for nature to give me that old dilapidated look.  So here is what we've been doing and the results are quite pleasing.

Below is the Birches Deck before we started the work.

The Birches Deck before we started the work.  This is pressure treated wood that has never been given a stain, finish or coating of any kind.  It looks old and dilapidated the way it is and not very inviting for guests to sit out on.  So we're going to turn it into a fresh new finished deck.

Looking up on to the deck

Birches Stairway and landing
The first thing to do is to apply a wood cleaner and brightener.  We use a product called TimberWash which we obtain from an online log home supplier called  This liquid concentrate is an oxidizing chemical which loosens the mold and dirt and allows the wood to be cleaned easily with the power washer. The liquid is applied liberally with a brush and worked into the wood grain and left for at least 20 minutes to do its work.

This what the landing looks like after being scrubbed power washed.

The deck itself before...

Here you can see how much is coming off the wood with the power washer.

...and after. The bench and railings have already been partially coated with the Sikkens Log and Siding product.

So the deck looks more like this now.  It still needs 2 more coats of Sikkens in order to have it looking its best and we hope to get there before the end of the year.  Otherwise it will have to wait until next spring.

Same process for the log railing at the back of the birches

The Tea house is also undergoing the cleaning and finishing process.

Here is some of the detailed woodwork at the Tea House as it is in the process of being cleaned.

And finally, we're doing the same thing in the entryway of the Log House

As we complete these projects I'll be updating this blog entry to show what it will look like when done.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Labor Day Musings

One thing that Mindy and I both enjoy about running the lodge is the slow but steady progress we make in solving the issues that confront us and gradually ironing out the kinks and creases in the smooth running of everything.  A lot of that involves getting the right personnel in place to carry out the myriad tasks involved with people who are dedicated, competent and reliable in their work.  And so that happens gradually as we find the right people and they become available over time to come and work for us.  But it is a process that is gradually creating a staff here that is very effective and great at making sure that guests get taken care of.
Another example is the two water purification systems we have; one in the Birches and one in the Ski Shop.  The systems are rather quirky and have been unreliable and costly to keep maintained, but gradually we're learning what the issues involved are and are taking the steps to remedy them so that maintenance and cost will not be such an issue in the future.  Again, it's just a matter of time.

Other examples are getting insurance costs and energy costs under better control.  We're getting quotes on insurance for next year that will save a lot of money, and we're going to change energy suppliers to a co-op where we can also save thousands along with more heat efficiency in winter.

These are just some of the major ways we're trying to create order from the chaos that constantly tries to take over.  Speaking of chaos, Mark and Dale continue to clean out and organize the maintenance and storage sheds.  One shed is on its way to becoming a pretty well equipped mechanical shop while another will be a very capable woodworking shop.
 The woodworking shop.  With this in place we'll be able to build our own custom furniture and finish work for rooms and common areas.

The mechanical shop.  Currently, we're working on a cub tractor to get it back up and running.  It's in two pieces here because the clutch assembly has been disconnected.

The new carpet cleaner has arrived and early indications point to a very effective cleaning machine that we'll be able to use multiple times throughout the year at virtually no further cost to keep the carpeting throughout the lodge really clean.  My sister Laura and her son Chris are here for the week helping out with the carpets and other various and sundry tasks.

People have often been asking Mindy and me about how things are going here and whether we are still enjoying ourselves or whether we have any regrets about taking things over here.  Well the answer is that we are enjoying ourselves.  If nothing else, our lives are very interesting and exciting.  But the best part really is when we talk with guests and they tell us why they've come here and how much they like it.  It starts to sink in how really special Garnet Hill Lodge is.  It's unique in ways that people are very  pleased about.  And it's not just a few people or a small percentage of guests, but it's the vast majority who sense that this is a place they want to come back to and bring their families and friends.  So that is very gratifying and it makes whatever unpleasant aspects that there are with this undertaking a lot more endurable.

Our Labor Day weekend was very busy and pleasant.  Guests were very happy enjoying the fine weather outside and the atmosphere and food inside. Here are the pictures:

 Folks are really enjoying the fire that we light each night.  Especially with the cool weather we're seeing more and more of these days.

A cool picture with the lodge lit up in the background and the bright moon illuminating the clouds above.

This photo is the same scene as above taken with a flash.  The dogs are  always happy to keep everybody company.

In the morning these children had a fine time doing arts and crafts outside on the patio.