[Home]WireTracks Installation

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With the sheetrock all cut away, I was ready for the actual installation of the WireTracks channel. However, I painted first, sort of. I painted three of the four walls, so I could paint with abandon and not worry about avoiding contact with the WireTracks. The painting went basically without event, although it was pretty boring. I'm not looking forward to painting the last wall, because that involves moving bookshelves full of books and CDs.

Left (long) wall painted.
View is toward front of the HT room.

After painting, I set to work on installing the WireTracks, which would prove to be challenging. Even with all the work I put in, there were still some compromises that may come back to bite me. Specifically, I worried a bit about actually re-fitting the baseboards, due to the wavy nature of our basement walls and due to the floating framing done on the outside walls. Below is a picture of one particular corner that I'm sure will be "interesting" when I get to putting the baseboards back on.

Challenging corner. Note the leftward curve.

Another challenge in installing the channel was the lack of availability of reliable studs and footers on the outside walls. The minimalist studs and footers that were there were often cracked, and the studs themselves were seldom extended down to a point where they could be support for the channel. The problem with this is that there was often little support for the upper part of the channel back, and it would flex so much that it was hard to snap the front on. It just didn't seem secure.

After I rounded the first corner, I was faced with a really horrible footer with a big gap, and no studs at all to be seen. This is when I put my thinking cap on and came up with a reasonably good solution to the stud problem: I made my own "studs".

Outside wall framing

I made the stud stand-ins out of a 3/4" dowel, cut into 3/4" lengths which I then glued to the top of the footer in appropriate places. They don't take a screw or anything, they just act as a backing to keep the upper part of the channel back stiff. This approach worked out pretty well, although it was no replacement for real studs and a well-anchored footer.

Outside wall, solution for lack of studs

It was very slow going, on the outside walls. This was partially due to the stud/footer problem, but also due to the fact that these walls were the first from which I cut sheetrock. I did this without the benefit of having the WireTracks to use as a template (in my defense, I was cutting out the sheetrock before I'd committed to WireTracks). Often, I hadn't cut out enough sheetrock, so I had to nibble away at the bottom of the existing cut to make room for the WireTracks. This was slow going, and no fun after having already spent hours on my side cutting it out in the first place.

Once I got to the front right corner, things went a little more smoothly. I had cut the rest of the walls out using the WireTracks as a template, and thus they fit right in. Also, once I rounded the front right corner onto the right wall, I was on internal walls for the remainder of the installation. This was a godsend, with good studs and solid footers available everywhere. The only real challenge here was that I had to round an outside corner, which was a pain to cut with the miter box.

Front wall. Gap is where wires will lead up to box.

Speaking of the miter box, I bought a cheesy one just for this project. Of course, the saw wasn't very good for cutting floppy plastic! I finally figured out that it was easier to miter inside corners with my utility knife. Heck, the corners aren't square to begin with, so what difference does it make whether the miter cut is a perfect 45 degrees? However, the outside corner was a different matter, and I did a bit of sweating to get those cuts done with the miter box. Maybe you'll have better luck finding a plastic-cutting back saw.

Pretty decent corner!

It's a three drill job!

I finally got to the last wall, which has a couple of wrinkles in the form of wire routing (but this sort of thing is the whole reason I bought the WireTracks to begin with).

When we moved into this house, the downstairs CATV outlet didn't work. When we called the cable company to fix it, the serviceman refused to find a way to route a working cable to the front of the room where the old, broken one was located. So, we ended up with a cable outlet on the right side wall, two doors and two corners away from the TV. My quick hack, way back then, was to route a cable around the corners and doors using plastic "staples". It sucked, but got the signal to where it needed to be. It's a different story now, with the WireTracks installed. I'll be able to route the CATV cable to my desired location invisibly.

Longer shot, showing where cable originally came out of the right side wall.
I re-routed the cable back to the under-the-stairs closet and through the
WireTracks channel to the front wall.

I did have to improvise one final solution to an installation problem. The very last piece of channel on my right wall terminates at a stud, that for whatever reason, recedes by about 1/8". So, I cut a "biscuit" of dowel and glued it onto the stud face. I'm hoping I can drill into this without cracking it too badly.

Stud muffin. I mean biscuit.

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Last edited October 24, 2011 9:10 pm by Mike (diff)

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