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DIY Weekend(ish)

Last weekend turned out to be something of a DIY weekend, some of it expected, and some less welcome.

Door Lock

On Thursday night, Lizzie went out to see a friend. An hour or so later, I hear her key in the door, and a lot of rattling. After a couple of minutes I went to see what was wrong, to discover the yale type cylinder lock would no longer open. Uhoh.

A few minutes of fiddling later, I'd managed to adjust the lock enough that it would just open with my key (an original one), two hands, and a shoulder to the frame...

Unfortunately, it was too late to call the estate agent who we rent from, and we were away for the weekend, so we decided (with a bit of advice from my dad) that a quick trip to get a new lock would be in order. I measured up the lock, hoping to get something that would fit the existing holes in our door, then we went out to try and find something suitable.

Naturally, B&Q were pretty much useless, not helped by the fact that the lock on our door is a low profile one. This means the distance from the center of the lock (where the key goes) to the edge of the doorframe (called the backset) on ours is only 40mm. 60mm is much more common, and those were the only locks B&Q had in stock.

We went to the newly opened Canterbury Screwfix trade counter, who did have an appropriately sized lock, and we returned home. The old lock was an ancient union cylinder lock, and the new one a Yale. While the backset dimensions were the same, very little else was, and the catch on the door frame also needed to be replaced. I decided at this point that fitting the lock was best left until the morning when it was light and any chiselling wouldn't wake our neighbours.

After taking the old lock off the door, the problem was obvious - the hole in which the cylinder arm sits had a pair of metal fatigue fractures. Frustratingly the lock had been misbehaving for a week or so, and we had mentioned it to our landlord the previous Saturday. I suspect it'd been half broken for that time, and the second side had finally given way. In addition the cylinder was held in place with 2 very rusty screws which wouldn't have held for any decent amount of time, and the old keep (the hole in the doorframe) was partly supported by a scrunched up cigarette packet...

After removing the old lock, cylinder and keep, I fitted the new lock. In our case, we had a plate to fit to the door, which the cylinder is screwed into. The case (back part of the lock) then screws on to this plate, in such a way that each part reinforces the whole. This is a much better arrangement than the old lock, which was relying on a few old screws...

Fitting the keep was harder than the lock, as bits of the door frame needed to be removed, and there had obviously been a couple of different ones mounted there in the past. Fortunately, the screw holes were in a different place, so this didn't affect the placement too much, and being able to mount the keep on actual timber rather than a cigarette packet and wood filler was a serious improvement.

Properly closing the door once the new lock had been fitted was a bit of a relief, but it all lines up and works properly. I really owe my dad thanks, as he'd shown me how to replace door locks in the past, so I was fairly confident in what I was doing. The other major benefit of this replacement (aside from the obvious) is that the new lock can be deadlocked from the outside, so it's no longer possible for someone to open our door by smashing the glass. Bonus.

Structured Cabling

We'd already planned to go up to Lizzie's mums on Saturday, where foo would fit some laminate flooring in Phil's old room, and I'd run some structured CAT5 network cable round the house while the girls went to Greenwich Market.

I'd expected the long cable run from downstairs to be the most challenging because of the length and having to route it up the stairs, but I didn't realise just how much work. The distance is about 4m in a direct line, but I ended up putting in about 30m of cable to route round the living room, up the stairs, then all the way round the outside of the landing to the room where the cable router lives.

I'd got that bit of cable run as far as the right room, but as foo was still fitting flooring, I tucked the cable out of the way and went to start on a new run from another room. Unfortunately, a few minutes later an accident with a door meant my long cable run was sheared about 4m from the end - not close enough to just terminate and make do. I feared the best part of the day wasted and tried to think of ways around this. Fortunately, a few minutes of phone calls turned up an excellent little computer shop - Caterham Valley Computers who had a straight RJ45 coupler in stock (and remarkably, knew what I was talking about) for 3 quid, were still open, and around 20 minutes away.

It doesn't look too out of place as it's cable tied out of the way near the ceiling, and doesn't seem to have seriously affected the cable run. It's nice not having cables to trip over any more, and has meant that there's no longer a switch downstairs for just one computer. It looks pretty good, even if I do say so myself. Foo's flooring looks good too :)

I'm seriously looking forward to being able to do cabling properly when we have our own house.


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