Joe's Garage Adventure Page

I am building a detached garage to restore some rare Trans Ams. Most of the cars have been picked out, but I can't really get any work done on them in my basement for various reasons. My garage is going to be very elaborate as these things go.

My back yard is very steep, and is home to an unusual social event where we build a huge waterslide. As you can see, this slope would not really lend itself to a normal shop building.
The sloping lot really lends itself to a multi-level building with a basement. Also, my house is a cape cod, so my garage needs to have a steep pitched roof to look right with my house. This means the garage will have an upper half story. I'm going to be the only guy in town with a 3-story shop. It'll look small, but with the basement I'll have enough room for a small car collection.

I'm getting too old to roll around on the floor, so I'm putting a lift in the restoration shop on the 2nd floor. I am grateful to Steve Wilson for structural engineering to figure out how to support my cars and equipment on the second floor.

The sketch below gives a basic idea of what the garage will look like from the street. What you see above grade looks like a modest shop building. Inside I hope it'll be like what they use to film hot rod bolt-on TV shows, but with a higer-class audience (you!)

We started construction around September 1 and this shows the state of excavation after one day with a Bobcat model 864. This stuff is typical Tennessee clay, which is partly red and partly yellow. It didn't rain for a month before this excavation. When it's dry, you can dig in the red stuff, but the yellow is so hard you could lay blocks on it without a concrete foundation. The structural design requires 2000 pounds per square foot, but this clay will probably support 10 times that. There was not a rock anywhere in this hole as big as my thumb.

After we dug it out, it rained every 3rd day for 2 weeks, which slowed down the blocks.

Well, hurricane Isadore slowed us down a bit, with many cave-ins, but we are finally on our way.

According to by bill of lading from General Shale, this building has 41,000 lbs of blocks in it. The dead load of the steel and concrete 2nd floor won't be as heavy as the blocks are. I had to take a few blocks back and get some extras, and then I had to move some around. I figure I've picked up about 8,000 lbs of them. I don't see how people can do this kind of work.

One week later. The open blocks on the top are for a bond beam. I have to put steel in this and pour it full of concrete.

Note the dwindling block supply. Long objects in the middle of the building are 12 foot long lintels for over the garage door. These suckers are heavy.

Only 3 blocks to go in this view from my back deck.

And It's Done!

Well, the blocks at least. We had a big day on October 9 and ended it. There is some heavy hardware over those garage doors, and I am going to pour it full on concrete and make it even heavier. Split face blocks sure make for a pretty foundation in my opinion.

On another note, my auto lift has come in. If it hadn't been for the rain, I might actually be ready for it right now. As it is, we've lost about a month.

Concrete and Steel

Friendly folks from Henard Metal Fabricators delivered my steel on October 24. Can you tell it's dark? They start early. I'm feeling like a one-man economic stimulus program right now.
It's time to quit for the winter. While I had hoped to be finished by now, the weather just didn't cooperate. We'll be parting out a few Trans Ams in the winter while the garage waits.

The concrete is now poured, and I was amazed at how much they put on top of the structure. Based on the bills of lading I have, it appears this structure weighs about 60 tons above the foundation (the foundation weighs another 18 tons). I'm just amazed at what I have built. The dead load is so high that the weight of cars on top of the slab is of no consequence. If there's a tornado, this is going to be the place to be. At one time I was a little bit worried about putting the lift on top of this. What was I thinking?

Steel and Concrete

My son took this picture, and I like the way it looks, so I am using it show show the view from below. This steel holds everything up.

The beam is the kind of thing you'd rather not pay for new, if you know what I mean. Just to the right of the post you may be able to see three trusses close together. This structure will hold up the lift.

We had what's known as an "old-fashioned cold winter", which put construction on hold. Can you guess the color of this snow jeep? It's 77 Trans Am Engine Block Blue.

We're back....

Well, winter's over, and I guess some of you are wondering what took me so long to get started working again. At the end of may, we've got our landscaping in order around the garage, and some grass is growing. Here a 1978 Formula finds itself temporarily stranded behind wet concrete. This was the first car to actually make it up on top of the garage. We are going to erect the garage mainly in June, so stay tuned.
Walls going up on May 30. See the white stuff? I decide to investigate the insulation they use in steel buildings. It comes in big sheets and you put it over the framing and then the steel sheeting goes over it. It looks white on the inside, which is good if you're not planning to sheetrock (I'm not). This particular material I decided to buy is from Silvercote. It's thin enough to use in a frame building, but it may not be enough insulation. I'm going to try it like this on the walls. I'll probably add some regular insulation between the rafters and then cover it with this stuff.
Is it starting to look cute yet? The staggered front wall is supposed to be cute. Whenever we find something out of plumb I always say "Hey, we're getting a 1/4" bigger garage that way".

There's good news and bad news. The good news is the walls are up. The bad news is that everything left laying in my driveway has to be lifted up on top of this building.

This is basically the result of a week of hammering. I'm starting to really see the shape now, but I really wish I had the extra gable on it to show you. If you compare this to the original sketch you can now see that I have moved the gas pump space to between the garage doors. In this area, with the setback, I can put a little overhang on it and keep the weather off it.

The guy who delivered the shingles lifted the sheeting for us. What a relief...

Well, at least it doesn't rain inside the garage any more. Mostly...
The final shape of the front is done. This is what it's really going to look like. I should assemble these into an animated gif, shouldn't I?
It's starting to get hot around here..... The sun is baking us! I've got to get that roof finished...
Now we see it with some siding going on. It's going to look too plain in the front, and it needs some decoration. I have a 6' Texaco sign but it's too big for the building. I'd like a 42" Pontiac Service sign, but they cost about $1000 or more. I'm going to think about that, and in the meantime I'm going to put a boring round vent on there. On the small gable I'd like to have a 1950's style gas station light fixture, and it turns out Lowes sells the exact item I need. I'll get a picture of that on here later.

Firebird takes to the air

It's been a while since I posted anything. It was a big day when I got the lift working and picked up this junk Firebird. The inside of the garage sports a partial third floor with open space for the lift to raise tall vehicles.

I haven't crashed through the floor yet, but then this car only weighs about 2500 pounds in its current state. The lift is good for *gulp* 8000.

It's been one year since I dug the basement for the garage. It almost looks like civilized people have moved into my house, but of course we know better. I still don't have that gas station light fixture up, but it's looking pretty good anyway. Go back tok the "artist's rendition" and see how I did.