The great Oil Tank project of 2004

This is an interesting story about my desk, my office, a big oil tank ...

... and all the insanity surrounding them!

Sometime in the early 1970's the company that my father worked for in New Jersey decided to upgrade their office with a more modern look. They sold off all of the old furniture, desks, drafting tables, cabinets, etc to the employee's at deep discounts. So when I was nine or ten years old my father brought home a big desk for me and it has been a fixture in my life for over thirty years. Wherever I have moved the desk has always come along with me and has been the center piece of my office. The desk has been stripped and refinished twice, once back in the 70's when we first brought it home, and I just refinished the top again in 2002 to freshen up the well worn surface.

This is a photo of the desk from 2002 right after I cleaned the desk and refinished the top.

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In 1992 my father and I remodeled the two car garage for additional living space. A large section of one side of the garage became my office / radio room and that is where the original oil tank had been installed when we built our new house in Rhode Island back in 1984. I have always wanted to move that oil tank out of my office, over 12 plus years it has been discussed several times, but we were never really able to justify the cost involved with moving the tank.

This is a photo of the tank taken in 2002 while the desk was outside being cleaned and refinished.

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 There was a great deal of wasted space along the side and above the oil tank that were not accessible with the tank in the way. Then in the spring of 2004 my position at work changed with some new opportunities and additional responsibilities that included working from home more often...

Ah Ha! I now had my justification to finally get that darn oil tank OUT OF MY OFFICE!

(Thank you Darrell)

Before we could remove the oil tank from my office we had to prepare a new space to put the tank, we have a large deck on the back of the house with a closed in screen porch below that seemed like the best location. It was closer to the furnace, has easy access to refill the oil, and would be protected from the elements. The screen porch had evolved into a storage area over the years and it was necessary to do quite a bit of house cleaning before we could even consider the space as the new location for the oil tank.

(I suspect this was just an excuse Sandy used to get me to throw out lot's of "good" stuff)

As our work unfolded it spiraled out of control with one after another of the inevitable "Might as Well's" that always come up in a project like this. The first issue was the original oil thank itself. It was now 20 years old and it was recommended to us that we replace the tank for several reasons, one simply because of the age, also a new tank with a bladder inside would be environmentally safer, and installing a new tank would make the job easier.

With the new oil tank ordered we started preparing the space under the deck for the tank and found much of the original wood framing in need of repair. Time and the elements had taken their toll on the screen porch, and the discussion was made to remove all the old wood and replace it with a new closed in wall along the back of the deck to better protect the new oil tank.

Here are some photos after the initial demolition work to remove the old screen porch framing.

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After removing all the screens, along with the support framework, we cleaned up and started building the new wall. All of the beams along the bottom were replaced with new pressure treated wood and secured to the concrete with a power fastener that I borrowed from a friend at work.

(Thanks Don)

With the addition of a few studs and some plywood sheets we had a nice new wall built in no time.

These are some photos with the new wall in place.

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Now at this point I thought that we were almost finished but then yet another one of those "Might as Well's" showed up when my parents decided that it would be a good idea to remove some more of the screens and build a enclosed room for the new oil tank. The new "tank room" as my father likes to call it went together in the same way as the first wall, we removed all of the original screen and framing, then replaced them with new pressure treated wood, studs, and plywood.

These photos are the progress as the new "tank room" started to evolve.

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The project was a family affair with everyone pitching in...


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Those nasty "Might as Well" reared their ugly head yet again but this time I was at work. My parents decide the project was going so well that we should just continue replacing all of the original framing from the screen porch and replace all the screens. My father just kept moving along the porch wall tearing out the old framing, I came home to find all of the original screen porch had been complete removed.

The next morning we were off to Home Depot at 5:30 AM to pickup another load of building materials. We would install the new pressure treated wood and prepare for the new screens. At this point we decided to purchase a new power fastener so we could secure the new pressure treated sill plates to the concrete and we also picked up cider shingles to apply to the walls of the new "tank room" so it would match the rest of the house.

(This was an impulse purchase... Those shingles smelled too good to leave in the store)

These photos show the new frame work for the screen areas.

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We had not planned on shingling the new room but then we all figure... "Might as Well"

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Sandy and I were able to make quick work of the shingle installation, I would start each row matching with the rows of shingles on the house and then we would put a temporary beam in place so that Sandy could carefully layout each row of new shingles. I would follow along nailing the shingles in place and then we would just repeat the process... over and over and over again.

Over the next few days shingles had been installed on all of the new walls.

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With the new "tank room" almost completed, the new framing for the screen area, and the new oil tank in place waiting for be connected it was time to turn our attention to the office / radio room. My desk has been pushed up against the old oil tank for years and would have to be moved out of the way in order to remove the old tank.

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 This was not going to be a simple task, I have several amateur radios and computers installed both in and on the desk with a large cabinet for all the hardware; and don't even get me started on the spiders web of telephone, network, and antenna cables running in every direction. I carefully disconnected each of the various cables one at a time adding new labels so it would be easy to get everything working again once the tank had been removed and the space for the desk was prepared.

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 Once the office was cleared out and the desk was moved away from the old oil tank our heating contractor came out to pump the oil from the old tank right into the new tank. He setup a pump in the office window and while the oil was being pumped from old to new he ran the oil line from the new tank to the furnace.

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The new line was routed over to the furnace and a new oil filter was mounted at the feed point making it much easier to change the filter during the normal maintenance and cleaning of the furnace. Once the new tank was connected to the furnace and all the oil had been pumped out of the old tank it was easy to roll the old tank out of the house on a small dolly that I borrowed from a friend at work.

(Thanks Rick)

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Even with my office all torn apart for this oil tank project I still needed to work from home. I set up a temporary workspace ...

... PES duty can be fun when your working remote on a desk made of TV trays!

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Once the old tank had been removed I could start to prepare the area of the office where the tank used to be for my desk. I added some framing support to the shelf covering the knee wall and closed in the back corner with sheet rock. This area had been blocked by the oil tank when we built the office back in 1992 so we could never complete the wall. Sandy also used her expert crafting skills to patch the holes in the carpet from the feet of the old oil tank.

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After the shelf on the knee wall had been reinforced and the sheet rock was in place My father and I built a new matching book case for the area of reclaimed space that had been behind the oil tank. All this additional shelf space next to my desk with easy access had me dizzy with anticipation.

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 The next step was to build a strong storage shelf along the back wall of the office that would be above my desk, this is another area of the room that had been inaccessible with the large oil tank in the way all these years. Now I will be able to leverage this 36 square feet of space for document storage.


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With the new storage shelf and book case built my father cleaned and prepped the walls. Once the walls were dry he expertly applied the textured plaster to the areas that were behind the old oil tank. Then we installed the new book case, the storage shelf, and I connected all of the electrical, telephone, network, and antenna cables.

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The office has grown dramatically with just over 140 square feet of reclaimed space!

(Sandy's house cleaning and forcing me to throw away a whole bunch of "good" stuff help quite a bit too)

All that was left to complete in the office /radio room was to slide the desk into the new alcove we had created by removing the old oil tank then reconnect the UPS and power cords, all of the network cables to the computers, and antenna feed lines to the amateur radios. I still have a lot of cleanup and organizing to do but most of that should take care of itself over the next few weeks. With all of the addition book shelf space and storage there is no excuse for me NOT to cleanup the office.

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The Madness continues with another phase of the this never ending project...

The madness continued, just as my office started to go back together, my parents had yet another great "Might as Well" idea. Now that we had built the new tank room and rebuilt the screen room both under the deck my mother wanted a new roof built over the deck, and my father figured... Since all the tools are out and Steve is home on vacation we just "Might as Well" build a roof!

The next thing I knew they had me up at 5:30 in the morning on the way to Home Depot for the hundredth time...

These photos were taken on my first day of vacation, my father and I installed a layer of tar paper on top of the deck and put down a new plywood sub floor. We will install indoor / outdoor carpeting after the roof has been completed. Next we removed most of the railings around the outside of the deck, built our first support post for the new roof, and removed the first row of shingles along the top of the house where the new roof would be attached.

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Here are a few photos from the end of the second day of work on the roof, did I mention that I was on vacation? My parents believe that vacations are for working NOT for playing... *sigh*

I did however manage to get a nice 135 mile ride on the scooter under my belt all around Rhode Island on Sunday morning. After that it was right back to work when I got home from my adventure. We finished the rest of the support post and started on the beam that would connect the rafters to the posts.

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The third day started with another 5:30 AM trip to Home Depot for more lumber, we picked up the long 2X6 beams to run along the top of the house and for all the rafters. We also got some of the plywood for the roof deck, tarpaper, and lots of nails & screws. At the end of the day we had the 24 foot long beam secured to the house, we mounted the beam with long lag bolts at each stud location, this is where the rafters will attach to the side of the house. We also completed the beam along the top of the post and installed all the mounts for the rafters.

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My forth day of vacation started a little later, my parents let me sleep until 7:30 when my Dad and I started installing the rafters from the house to the beam on top of the support posts. We filled in the small spaces along the very top of the house just above the new beam where the top row of shingles had been. I wanted to make sure that any little opening that might have been inviting to bees or other pest were sealed up with foam caulking before we install the new roof and no longer had access to that small space.

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We were able to get three of the rafters installed in the morning, then after lunch we installed seven more. Next we installed the first two 4X8 plywood sheets that will make the roof decking. Looks like tomorrow will be another one of those 5:30 AM trips to Home Depot for more building supplies.

These photos were taken and the end of the forth day, ten of the twelve rafters have been installed and part of the roof.

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On the fifth day it rained...

My father said "Rain is God's way of slowing us down so that we do not get hurt trying to finish the roof in just a few days."

Of course we could still head over to Home Depot for the building materials so off we went trying to drive between the left over rain drops of tropical storm Bonnie. If we are lucky we might get the last to rafters and some more of the roof decking installed while mother nature is not looking...

Going to Home Depot early in the morning does have some advantages, you get the store to yourself, most of the time all the materials have been restocked over night so you get to pick from new lumber, and the traffic on the highway is light.

These are some photos from our early morning trip on the fifth day. (Friday the 13th Yikes)

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We picked up the rest of the plywood sheathing for the roof deck, some pine boards to trim around the ends and sides of the rafters, then headed back home dogging the rain drops along the way. After getting home and unloading we were able to get some work completed before the rain started again.

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With rain on and off all morning we were not able to get much work done, but we did manage to get the last two rafters installed before the rain finally made us quit about 11:30 AM. Some time around 2:30 PM we got a break in the weather and were able to work for a few more hours putting up several more sheets of plywood for the roof decking.

These photos were take just as it started to rain again so we packed up the tools and covered the roof and deck with a large tarp that will hopefully keep the rain off the roof until we can finish the plywood and install the tar paper and roofing shingles.


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Bonnie & Charlie do their best to spoil our fun...

Surprisingly while Florida and the Carolinas were getting pounded by hurricane Charlie it was mild and clear here in Rhode Island. Tropical storm Bonnie had passed by quietly and we were able to get 90 percent of the roof decking installed before quitting for the day. All that was left is a small section about 8X6 feet of the roof decking to finish before we can start installing the shingles.

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We had to spend some extra time cleaning up and putting everything away with Charlie expected to reach New England soon. We covered the roof with the large tarp again and secured it as best we could in anticipation of the storm.

These photos were taken just hours before the bad weather was about to arrive.

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Vacation is over...

...Thank God I can go back to work!

With my vacation over and back to work I could finally get some rest. Dad continued on with the roof installation during the day while I was at work, then I would help in the evening when I got home. He finished the last two sections of the plywood sheathing, installed the trim pieces along the ends and sides of the rafters, then started in on the weather proof under-lament and roofing shingles.

I can not believe I took advise from Todd...

My father and I had planned on using tarpaper under the roofing shingles but after sharing the photos and project details with some friends at work several recommended that we use a different product that had an adhesive. This under-lament is made to protect against water and ice seeping under the shingles and causing damage. We also picked a lighter shade of shingle on this new roof while planning on replacing the roof on the house with the same new color!

The existing roof on the house is twenty years old now so we just figured... "We Might as Well!"

These photos were taken as my father nailed down the last roofing shingle.

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 As he was hammering in the last row the sky darkened and we could hear thunder rumbling in the distance. Not more than 15 minutes after my father came down the clouds opened up and we got to see the new roof in action...

Back to work...

With a very busy two weeks at the office we were not able to keep up the pace at home. The new roof has been keeping everything dry, we just got back to work completing the more of the trim work on the roof and support posts. We also started the new railings for the deck, my friend Charles helped us out cutting the 80+ blasters for the railings on his chop saw.

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There is a whole lot more work still under way...

Check back soon for additional photos as the office goes back together.


The final phase of this once simple weekend project...

Once we finish the exterior work on the new "Tank Room" and build the new roof over the deck I decide to turn my attention back to my radio room / office, I had been planning on rebuilding my computer network for some time, and I had some old equipment racks that I have been storing for years. I have always wanted to move the racks into the office so I could mount all my network and server hardware in one organized location and now seem to be the right time to start the project. I figured with all the work the past two months I "Might as Well"

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