First Light: Installation

Those who have been visiting this blog for several years, or who have taken the time to plow through older posts, may recall a series from 2009 entitled First Light (← link)

Following construction of the piece, I went on a lecture tour of sorts, taking the lantern to various public libraries in Massachusetts and Connecticut, where I attempted, however inelegantly, to tell the audiences about Japanese carpentry while at the same time I assembled first the splayed sawhorse then the lantern, step-by-step. The audiences who attended, which varied in size from a dozen people to more than eighty, seemed to greatly enjoy the presentations, and I had some hope I might meet a client along the way, but after some 15 gigs like that no such luck came my way. I moved on to other projects, and the lantern went into storage, where it has been sitting ever since collecting dust in my shop, though well-wrapped and protected.

I decided the lantern should be placed where intended, as an outdoor structure to provide illumination along a pathway. Now that my wife and I have bought a house, we have such a pathway and after some humming and hawing, decided I would put the lantern in my front yard. It will be what the designers call an ‘accent’ piece I guess.

I live in a community of sorts so first I had to write up a proposal for a ‘modification’ and that took about two months to come to approval, without issue. Then about 6 weeks ago I dug a 48″ deep hole in the front yard and put a 12″ sonotube onto a plastic conical footing, aka ‘bigfoot’ and poured some 400lbs of concrete in there, shovelful by shovelful. In the middle of the pour I added some rebar for reincforcement and crack protection. I have left the concrete to cure for weeks as it takes that long to come to full hardness.

I omitted any picture taking at that time, so all you can see now is the top of the footing poking out of the ground:

Over to the upper left you can see the river boulder which I laboriously hand chiseled three 3/8″ holes through, lacking a hammer drill at that time. That was a distinct memory, but not a good one. The central hole allows the electrical wires to pass through, and the two others are for mounting rods which will be attached to the contrete.

Here’s a closer look at the top surface of the fitting, where you can also see the top of the 1/2″ PVC conduit and 14g. wires coming through:

The conduit was routed under an asphalted pathway through some judicious boring work with a modified piece of PVC, the ground being fairly sandy so this was not as onerous a task as it may seem. The conduit runs over to the house wall and pops up to a junction box, in which I have wired in a photoelectric switch:

The switch routes power through to the lantern when light levels have dropped, at dusk, and then interrupts the circuit in the early morning after day has broken. From the junction box the conduit heads back underground and then through the basement wall and over to a power source.

Here’s a look back from the photoelectric switch over to the lantern foundation where you can see the trench scar starting to heal:

I’ve obtained some Simpson Titen™ rod hanger bolts which I will mount into the concrete in a few days – these will allow the lantern to be firmly locked down to the concrete and will provide a means of accurately plumbing the lantern post. It’s a new idea I have for this type of connection, after having tried several other methods, so we’ll see how it goes.

More posts to follow – thanks for coming by. On to part II.

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