NZ Lifestyle Block - - The Good Life -

Af­ter in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­place­ment op­tions, own­ers Pleun and Anna de­cided it would be eas­ier to go the tun­nel-house route rather than try­ing to repli­cate the an­cient steel-work and glass, but to fit the foun­da­tions, it would have to be a one-off de­sign to fit the ex­ist­ing di­men­sions.

Pleun used his de­sign ex­pe­ri­ence to come up with a set of curved frames made from pairs of ply­wood strips held apart by wooden-block spac­ers. Two curves were used, one for com­ing off the waist-high southern wall, the other for com­ing off the lower north­ern one.

The couple cre­ated both shapes on their work­shop floor, built jigs, then went into pro­duc­tion mode, turn­ing out six­teen per­fect, painted pairs of grace­ful, light­weight arches.

Pleun’s back­ground in fine fur­ni­ture­mak­ing was also use­ful when it came to cre­at­ing out a wedge-tight­ened joint so that the long ridge could be as­sem­bled from shorter, more man­age­able lengths of tim­ber. Watch­ing th­ese joints go to­gether was poetry in mo­tion and they are so beau­ti­ful, it would have been a sac­ri­lege to cover them up.

At even spa­ces along the ridge, six­teen pairs of an­gled wooden blocks were preat­tached, ready to ac­cept the ends of the ply­wood frames. Four screws at the top, four at the bot­tom and bingo, an­other frame held firmly in place. The ini­tial ridge-and-frame as­sem­bly took three peo­ple about half a day.

mat­ter to insert a metal pole through the cen­tre of the roll, run a rope over each pul­ley and down to each end of the pole, then hoist the lot up past the blocks and lower it into the re­cesses. Two peo­ple did it eas­ily with­out hav­ing to leave the ground.

The lead­ing edge was clamped be­tween two short bat­tens and pulled along with a piece of rope. The plas­tic un­rolled al­most per­fectly and pulled so smoothly, de­spite it be­ing very long, that there was no need for a wind­lass even though the care­ful­ly­cho­sen day was. Wind­less, that is.

The folds were shaken out ei­ther side and the struc­ture was now cov­ered. It was time to an­chor the skin down and Red­paths also sup­plied a neat sys­tem for this called Du­ralock2. This is an alu­minium U-chan­nel which is preat­tached along the bot­tom tim­ber, over which the plas­tic film falls. You can then work along (it’s bet­ter to work out each way from the cen­tre so there’s less creep­age) in­sert­ing a smaller plas­tic U-chan­nel into the alu­minium one, trap­ping the film be­tween them in the process. A square plas­tic strip is pushed into the plas­tic U, spread­ing it and lock­ing ev­ery­thing up tight. It’s an easy mat­ter to re­move the lock­ing-strip one sec­tion at a time, re-ad­just the plas­tic so you can pull out wrin­kles, and then re­place it. This gives you all the time in the world to get it per­fect, with­out the in­ces­sant worry that the wind might get up and your last­ing mem­ory will be one of a translu­cent

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