In October 2009, David Yeardley gave us the greenhouse that he had had years ago, and which
he had disassembled in about 1993. No instructions, of course, and some of the pieces were
missing, so assembling it was something between an adventure and a nightmare. It was
finally finished on 15 April 2011, after nearly 18
CJ and Sue along this morning to look at the greenhouse, and started trying to work out how
it fits together. Made surprising progress. Yvonne went
over to the Yeardleys to pick up the screws, but they had been lost in the course of the
years, so we'll have to get some new ones. Not much chance of starting tomorrow now.
Followed up on a label we found on the door of the greenhouse, and found the manufacturer,
Christie garden products in
Dunedin, NZ, on the web.
Unfortunately they don't have any online manuals for erecting the thing.
CJ and Sue along today. We had planned to put the greenhouse together, but we still don't
have the screws. Took one out as a sample. It's amazing how primitive the things look,
with straight slits and square nuts:
The problem is that a number of the brackets for the roof are broken, and I don't know where
to find replacements. I suppose I'll have to call up the manufacturer. They're made out of
plastic, and they don't look like an easy thing to fake:
Call from John Bram, the greenhouse man, about the missing parts for the greenhouse. He was
very helpful, but without seeing the parts, it was difficult for him to come up with any
ideas. Took some photos for him to make it easier to work out what replacements we can use:
We haven't had much progress with the greenhouse, and I hadn't head from John Bram, who only
works Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so decided to go to the Banksia Garden Centre in Melbourne,
where I found John Bram and discovered that he's really John Bramley, and that he had sent
me a reply. Presumably another damned false positive. He said that the new-style fittings
would work, but after looking at them, I'm not so sure. In particular, the middle roof beam
now looks very different:
The greenhouse has been on hold while we consider how to replace the missing parts. A call
from Doreen at the Banksia Garden Centre, left on the answering machine, helped:
they can supply the plastic plugs (which I think they
call Gussets). But I didn't get
round to calling back to confirm.
Winter's around the door, so it's time to finish erecting the greenhouse. Out to try to
puzzle out how the thing fits together, and took 30 minutes to screw down two rails which
hold the roof trusses (on an angle at the very left of the left-hand photo below). Why do
all these holes not quite fit? I'm fairly sure that I am putting the thing in the right
place, but some screws have to go through 3 holes that are up to 1 mm offset, and I needed a
fair amount of force (not to mention cursing and swearing) to get the screws in place. Then
we tried to put in the roof trusses:
We're missing about 20 cm length in the beams. How is that supposed to work? We also have
some kind of flap that I think is intended to open at the top to ventilate it, but I have no
idea how it is supposed to fit, and these gussets in the middle (the piece with the round
holes in it) came attached to one of the trusses, and there are holes on the other which
match. The only way that could work would be if the trusses started further up. But then
there would be a gap at the bottom, and the flaps wouldn't work. I wish I could find
erection instructions for this thing.
Today was supposed to be rainy, but we had bright sunshine, so out with Yvonne to try out my new idea about how to mount the roof of the
greenhouse. In exactly the second where I started to lift the roof section, the rain came
and quickly made it clear it didn't intend to stop. Something doesn't want me to finish
The current state of play was that we had four roof sections, each consisting of a
cross-member and two rafters, and we couldn't work out how to mount them. Clearly two of
these fitted on each side of the central arch, but the rafters weren't long enough to reach
the gussets at the top (thoughtfully mounted on two of the sections):
Since then I had taken another look at the parts and identified screw holes about 20 cm from
the bottom of the rafters forming the arch, and decided that they must fit there. The rain
let up enough for us to make another attempt. It didn't need to be very long: yes, there
were holes on the end rafters, but not on the middle one. Clearly that wasn't the way it
was intended either. Somehow the whole thing doesn't seem to fit. And just as we were
giving up, it started to rain again.
Did some more head-scratching and looking at the mounting holes. There's only one place on
all the rafters where the cross-member would fit, but it's close to the top, so the rafters
would have to point down, and the gussets would be at the bottom, where they don't fit. To
fit the things, we'd have to remove the gussets. But it turned out that that's the correct
way to assemble the roof. The gussets go on the other end of the rafters, close to the
Each flap has two gussets, which fit exactly into the holes at the (real) top of the
rafters. But that leaves a couple of questions unanswered: first, why were the gussets
attached to the wrong end of some of the rafters, and secondly, where do they fit at all? I
had already established that one gusset was missing, but now it's beginning to look as if we
have three too many. Has somebody (David?) already made an attempt to re-erect the
greenhouse, and didn't finish?
After yesterday's success with the greenhouse, continued with the rest of the structure,
which went well. Got the remainder of the structure in place (I'll screw most things tight
later), including one door and rail. Now I only have a couple of things over: the flaps at
the top, which need straightening before I can mount them, and a few odds and ends which I
As I had noted, there are three gussets, engraved “arch gusset”, but which would
also fit between the rafter and the wall, explaining their position on one of the roof
sections when I started. But there are only three of them, and there's space for at least
eight. Have five been lost? Just about everything else seems to be there, and there are
the little plastic gussets to hold things in place as well. I think I'll attach them where
they seem to contribute most to the structural rigidity.
Apart from that, I have a couple of items that I really can't place. One is a U profile
as long as the greenhouse, which looks as if it should fit on top. But there's no obvious
way to attach it, and the flaps don't look as if they need anything on top. Wouldn't it be
nice to get the instructions, or at least a look at a correctly assembled example?
There are three arch gussets left over. It looks as if they might fit between the walls
and the rafters, but there are 8 positions and only 3 gussets. I could believe that one
gusset could get lost, but 5 sounds less probable.
The long one is just shorter than the greenhouse, and seems to be designed to fit
alongside. But there's only one of them, and the only place a single component that
would make sense would be along the top of the roof, and there's no place for it there.
It also has only three screw holes: one at one end, and two at an angle close to the
other end. That doesn't make much sense to me:
More thinking about the greenhouse. I still don't understand some of the details. We've
decided to leave the left-over components out for the moment, in the hope that they can be
attached later if necessary, and concentrate on getting the glass in. But we still have the
question of the roof. We've already established that things look wrong at the bottom of the
surface. In particular, there's nowhere to seat the glass:
David Yeardley should know, but he is currently in the Persian Gulf and unable to look for
himself—for some reason his company won't allow web access, or allow email of more
than 50 kB, which makes it difficult to send photos. But Chris contacted him, and he
replied that things looked correct, and that we should attach the glass at the bottom
cross-member with some of the metal S-strips that are used for the glass. Found a sheet of
glass (the rest is still at the Yeardley's) and put it in place, held by the
thicker-than-normal bolts we bought. Problem: the cross-member is bent down on the inside,
so the S-strips won't fit. And the thickness of the rafters means that there's an air gap
between the glass and the cross-member. Given that the sides have a rubber seal to keep the
air out, this seems wrong:
I still don't know what's wrong with the greenhouse, but finally got round to doing what I
should have done a long time ago and called up the manufacturer in Dunedin. Spoke to Grant,
who told me that they had had the assembly instructions online (locally, it seems) until
about a month ago, when the machine with the information on it died—implicitly, there
was no backup. Growl. If I had called them up at the beginning, I might now have the
assembly instructions. Sent him an email with more details. Hopefully they can find
Received the plans for my greenhouse today, or at least most of them. The original was
apparently on a single A2 sheet, and Grant had copied them onto A4, unfortunately missing
some of the details. Tried to stitch them together, but for that you need some kind of
overlap. At least I have a photo of what the finished result should look like. It's not
that different from what I have:
It's interesting to note that the greenhouse was not made by Christie garden products , but by a company
called H E Gardner. Also the one in the illustration doesn't have the corner braces, and
it does have arch gussets on every rafter, as I had suspected. That makes a total of
19 arch gussets, and I only have 5. How important are they? More studying needed.
These clips are made out of thin sheet metal, and it's fairly clear that I couldn't get the
exact component. But it should be relatively simple to cut a strip of metal to size. Went
looking for that all over town—nobody seemed even to have an idea where I could find
something to suit—and finally ended up at Skipton Street Sheet Metal, a rather dubious
looking place without a proper entrance. But the bloke I spoke to had exactly what I
wanted, and he cut me four strips each a little over a metre long in a matter of
minutes—$5. I have the feeling I should have asked for 5 strips.
Spent the time doing some weeding and attending to the greenhouse, which needs it. Finally
made the clips for the roof glass, and in principle we could now complete it, but somehow I
was feeling a little tired, and decided to take the afternoon off.
Now I just need to put in some of the last screws, in the processing changing some for
flatter-headed ones, tighten them up, glaze the greenhouse and we're done! I was spared the
work of looking for an excuse not to do it immediately by the arrival of yet more rain.
Work on the greenhouse, replacing hex head bolts with screws and adding the glass clips for
the roof until I ran out of screws. I hate working on this greenhouse, and today it became
apparent why: it's all a kludge, and I'm continually repeating work and wondering whether
what I'm doing is right. I've had four attempts at putting up the roof trusses: the
first time the wrong way round (the top mounted at
the bottom), the second time with hex head nuts
that were too thick to put the glass on top, the third time to replace the nuts with thinner
screws, and now to put in the mounting clips for the roof glass. These screws are horrible!
Turn the (electric) screwdriver too fast and it tears the heads off. I had to drill one out
and replace it.
A nice, warm spring day today, so tried to do some more work on the greenhouse. Got all of
about 4 screws put in before I realised that I would have to go up on a ladder, not a thing
that I want to do with my leg in its current state, so gave up, somewhat frustrated.
It's been almost a year since we started
erecting the greenhouse. We haven't made much
progress: working on it is like pulling teeth. In fact, there wasn't much left to do before
we start glazing, but it's frustrating beyond belief.
When we started erecting the greenhouse, it was clear that we were going to need more
screws. The originals were very old-fashioned: straight slit screws and square nuts, not
very well suited to modern power tools:
The bolts I bought instead had hexagonal heads and nuts, and they fitted well. Then I
discovered that the heads were too thick: in many places, the glass lies just proud of the
screw heads, held away from the metal by plastic liners. It would press against the heads
of the bolts. So I had to buy some other screws more like the originals (on the right and
There are a number of problems here: I have to remove most of the bolts I put in (some
aren't near glass), the screws are of very poor quality, and the nuts are so thin that it's
difficult to get them on the thread (not helped by the poor quality of the thread). Today I
replaced the remainder of the bolts, and it seemed that every location had its own
particular trick to annoy me. But finally I have it done. The only thing we need to do
before glazing is to go over to Chris' place to pick up the glass.
My enthusiasm for working in the garden seems directly proportional to the quality of the
weather. It's getting better now, and I did some very little work in the veggie garden.
But I really need to start glazing the greenhouse. We're nearly there, but not quite.
Chris and Yvonne brought over the glass for the greenhouse
today, but the weather was a little varied, and we didn't actually put any glass in. It
looks as if most of the glass is there, and there are samples for the panes that are broken,
so we can take them in and hope for accurate replacements.
So I'll have to remove the glass, straighten the member, and then replace it. But at least
it shouldn't be that difficult any more. Fortunately, I've found the glazing plan for the
greenhouse, so I can be pretty sure what to do. There are strangenesses like having the
vertical panes abutting each other, but the roof panes overlapping (by how much? Suck it
and see, it seems). The clips look very flimsy, but somehow the pane I put in is nice and
snug. Here a view looking down at the top of the pane:
I'm really motivated (by my current standards, anyway) to finish this greenhouse, but
somehow the weather's never right. In the past the weather has been too cool, but today it
was too warm—the temperature was over 28°. Still managed to make some minor progress:
decided not to remove the pane I had already put in, but instead to bend the frame to shape
with a pair of clamps and a length of wood:
Spent some time fitting (rubber) glazing strip and (metal) clips to the end of the
greenhouse, in the process learning to make my own clips from the strip that I bought
a few months ago. For reference: the
strips should be 50 mm long before bending.
Finding the correct glazing strips is not easy, and I'm sure we've lost some. Hopefully I
can find a replacement: they're essential for protecting the glass from the screw heads. So
far there's not much to be seen, but it will make it a lot easier to put in the glass when
Spent some time in the garden looking at the greenhouse. This is so frustrating!
First loosened the clamps to see how well the rail had straightened—not at all. And
then, after finally putting in a few more panes of glass, discovered that I had
overlooked another bent rail:
That'll clearly have to come out, and I'm wondering about the other one. This continual
discovery that I have to revert all my work is really getting on my nerves, so gave up and
took a look at other work instead, and did a considerable amount of weeding.
I should be working on the greenhouse now, especially since David Yeardley is coming back
home later in the week, and it seems he expects to see it finished. I don't see that
happening, though I would like to make some more progress. Still, he had it in pieces for
decades, so I think I'm making comparatively fast progress.
Today's excuse was the weather: warm, sunny and little wind, just what I needed to spray the
weeds which are threatening to take over the garden.
That bent horizontal rail was held in place by four screws. It took me half an hour to
remove it: the heads of the screws were completely worn out by one attempt at tightening
them, and I had to drill them out. CJ was using the power drill, so I used a battery drill,
getting through both battery packs in the process. The other (vertical) rail, which I had
tried to straighten with the length of wood, was even worse: the bottom was in a concrete
base. CJ brought a sledge hammer and managed to get it to shape, and we straightened the
other one. After my pain with Telstra (below) I returned and put things back in again. Now
we should be able to glaze; I'm just wondering whether we shouldn't clean the panes before
Now there's not much excuse for not finishing the greenhouse, so spent some time in the
afternoon glazing the end opposite the door. It's much slower work than assembling a new
greenhouse: in particular, the glass is dirty and needs to be cleaned, and finding the
correct glazing strip is also an issue. With a new greenhouse you get a roll of the strip
and cut it to size. Mine is already cut to size, and I need to find the correct piece.
Got the end almost completed. One of the panes has a corner broken out of it, so I'll leave
that until the end, when we'll have to go and get some more glass. And tomorrow one of the
On with a little work on the greenhouse today. It's pretty slow going, but I managed to get
the other (door) end finished, and also a couple of panes on one of the sides. It's now
enough to make it worthwhile moving plants there from the verandah.
Gradually the rain is subsiding. Last month we had 92.8 mm rain in Ballarat,
not that much more than the average 67.1 mm, but it seems wetter than usual. Today was
bearable, though, and I spent some more time on the greenhouse, finishing the glazing on one
side. I now have only the other side and the roof to go. 40% done? Still, it means that I
can put things in the greenhouse and they'll be out of the wind, so moved a lot of stuff
there from other places. The thing is already looking useful.
In the process, found a clue to the age of the greenhouse, and more particularly when it was
dismantled. A little over 17 years ago:
More work on the greenhouse: put some panes in the rear wall. I'm gradually getting to the
end of my materials: there are only 12 large panes left (we need about 18), and the rubber
seals are also running low.
I will have to get some new ones to finish the side. The “glass clips” that I
bought 3 months ago are also running low.
That annoys me particularly, since I probably only need one more, and I probably could have
got it for no additional price at the time. I've decided to put in everything that I can
first. Then I'll be in a better position to know what I need.
Spent most of the day in the garden today. More greenhouse work, and ran out of the metal
strip for the clips. It proves that my guess as to the amount of strip I needed was wildly
inaccurate. I had bought 4 lengths (of about 90 cm, a metric unit) in the assumption that
that would be enough, and even a couple of days ago I thought that another strip would be
enough. But today I calculated rather than guessed, and discovered I'd need another 4.
Yvonne was in town and picked them up for me. To be on the
safe side, we got 5—as I guessed, still for $5.
I now have all the side panes in that I can fit; I'm missing a couple of lengths of glazing
strip, so I can't do the last one. Also symbolically put in a roof pane, but I think now's
the time to count what I have and buy what I need.
Those were the new shelves I bought yesterday. I wouldn't have expected them to blow over.
Fortunately, the glass they landed on was broken already. That was about the only positive
side of things. Things kept blowing away in the wind, and my tools kept disappearing. I
wanted to mount the doors, and that needed some adjustment, but I couldn't find appropriate
spanners: the bolts were mounted in such an unfortunate place that I couldn't get normal
tools around them. Spent nearly an hour trying to mount the doors, and in the end gave up.
The only thing I really “achieved” was to wash the 5 panes of glass I needed to
complete the doors. I'll continue when there's less wind.
What do I do in the garden now? The greenhouse
needs glass and rubber “glazing strip”. Did some counting—I need a total
of 31 panes. Now I need to call around to see where I can get the cheapest supply. The
glazing strip is less obvious: I have some that doesn't fit anywhere, probably because I
used shorter ones where they should have gone. It looks as if I don't need very many,
There's so much to do in the garden! And I did so little. The weather was surprisingly
warm, with a maximum of 30.4°. In the greenhouse I measured 33.4°. I need to think of how
to attach shade cloth in front of it.
Put a few more panes in the greenhouse. I now have all the walls complete, though one of
the panes is cracked and needs to be replaced when I get the new glass cut. Also more
attention to the wire mesh in front of the garage, but still didn't get it finished.
David and Chris Yeardley came along this morning to take a look at plants that we can give
them. While they were here, David took a look at the greenhouse, which he gave me
over a year ago. Work has been on hold
while I try to work out how to attach shade cloth, but he found a few details I hadn't
recognized. He came back later with some more components, not without further surprises: a
number of screws and glazing strips that are now largely redundant, 13 of the missing 7 arch
gussets that I commented about in May, and also some
brackets for hanging up shade cloth, and another of the brackets that we had been puzzling
about since that time. It's a door track support. The second one was in better condition,
and the inscription is more clearly legible:
So, only one arch gusset to go on the greenhouse. But I knew why I didn't want to do it.
It proved even more of a problem than I had expected. The arch at the far end of the
greenhouse had a damaged plastic gusset, and the top was a couple of millimetres closer
together than it should be, so I couldn't get the screws into the metal gusset. I needed to
push the sides further apart. But how? Firstly, the end is completely glazed, and some of
the glazing strips and panes have come loose, possibly because of the instability:
In addition, the shade cloth roll is screwed onto the remains of the plastic gusset.
So I need to find a way to move the ends apart, then remove the panes and possibly the roll
(it might be sufficient to loosen the screws), put the metal gusset in, then replace everything.
What should be a 2 minute job looks like being 2 or 3 hours, and I didn't have time
today. WHAT a pain.
That wasn't enough, of course. The first thing that happened were that the roof bars bent
outwards, so I had to screw them down without the gusset. After that I was able to attach
them with two nuts, then remove the screws one at a time to remove the middle nut:
Back home, continued with the greenhouse. The one remaining structural component before the
glazing was the second door, itself mainly glazed. For once things went without much
difficulty. Now I can go and buy some glass.
So now I have no excuse not to glaze the greenhouse. Well, almost. I still don't have any
glass. Spent some time calling around looking for prices, which were higher than I
expected. The first place I called, W.J. Robson & Sons, quoted me $279. Others quoted much the same, and one walked
me through it. The larger panes (41×56 cm and 51×56 cm) cost $10, and the smaller (25.5×56
cm and 20.5×56 cm) cost $5. I needed 23 of the larger, or $230, and 11 of the smaller, or
$55, so this one quoted me $285.
One other quoted $407, and the last one, Menzel Glass, didn't call back until the
evening—$195! But the funny thing was, he gave his name as Nick Robson. It turns out
he's the brother of the Robson who quoted me $279, and the company name isn't Menzel any
more: the Yellow Pages seem to be 3 years out of date. Now it's W.J. Robson & Sons,
just a different location—and 30% cheaper. Interestingly, this isn't a fly-by-night
operation. I've been there before and found the facility to be so shiny that I was
expecting to have to pay above-average prices.
It was clear that I wouldn't get the greenhouse glazed today, but I made a start. The main
issue was the roof: unlike the rest of the greenhouse, the glass has to overlap here, and I
needed to make some S clips to hold it in place. In addition, there was the issue of just
putting in the panes at all: I can't lean over the greenhouse to put the top panes in.
The length of the S clips proved more critical than I thought; it seems that about 3.2 cm is
correct. In the space of 2 hours I managed to put in 3 panes, and in this case the lower
clips are longer than the upper ones:
When I continue, hopefully things will be more even and it'll go faster.
Also reseated the last slipped panes at the end. The seals had come undone, and everything
was loose. I didn't have seals for all the sides, so tried this new self-adhesive sealing
strip that I bought a while back. I had thought that 5 metres would be enough, but this one
window frame alone took nearly 2 metres, and there's plenty more to go:
Despite the continued rain, managed to make a little progress with the greenhouse.
Attaching the rubber seals is a pain, and I get glue all over my fingers. Managed to glaze
the doors, so now only the roof is over. Attached the remaining glass clips, so now all I
need are the seals, the clips between the panes (another 44 to be cut to size) and the glass
itself. And then I'll be done. Somehow it's all so slow. I've built a greenhouse before,
20 years ago. With my father's help we got it done in an afternoon.
Spent some time tidying it up and rearranging things, and also planted the tomato seedlings
that I had been holding back until the glazing was one. It's surprising how different
things are now that the glass is all in place; while tidying up, I caught myself about to
throw out something out of the roof, like I used to. And the glass really makes a big
temperature difference in the sun. The highest temperature outside today was 21.1°, but in
the greenhouse the maximum was 33.1°. It dropped rapidly in the evening, though. It'll
take me a while to get used to this, and to decide when to roll down the shade cloth.