Wow, that was … horrific. Judging by the stench most of the dust you see malingering about in the second photo above was probably dessicated animal crap. It did not improve with shoveling. Nevertheless a couple of trips to the landfill, a couple to the salvage yard (which, somewhat inexplicably, was willing to purchase the empty chemical cans that the landfill refused as hazardous waste despite the fact that the landfill sells just such scrap metal to that selfsame salvage yard … go figure) and we arrived at this:
The thought of sweeping the remaining stuff out was making me a bit nauseous and my poor little shop vac would probably have picked half of it up while putting the other half in the air. Luckily I was able to borrow a better vac up the road. Ladies & gentlemen, the Wallinga 6614 agri-vac, minimum 100 HP power source required & featuring your choice of 5 or 6 inch flexible steel tubing. It will suck the chrome off a proverbial trailer hitch or the tin patches on the floor of an old rail car right off the nails holding them down:
It also proved most excellent for sucking a half century worth of nasty crud from between old floor timbers. What would have taken an entire day with my shop vac took less than ten minutes. With the floor looking spiffier it was time to do something about the few dozen insect nests along the ceiling. Here is a shot of me employing a most excellent method for taking 'em down (luckily the little critters aren’t as aggressive this time of year):
I may patent that, ‘An Improved Method for Removing the Nests of Flying Stinging Insects.’ Folks don’t try that at home, at least not early in the year. The next morning brought a bit of disappointment when, upon opening the car, I discovered that the stench of rat was quite a bit stronger than it had been before anything in the car had been disturbed. Apparently the thick layer of dust had been holding the really offensive stuff down.
Luckily a friend who’d been helping me with this project immediately had one of those ideas. There are good ideas, bad ideas and those other ideas; you know the ones, the ones that immediately seem like a good idea, present an easily identifiable peril that doesn’t seem too bad and yet keep nagging at you subconsciously, prodding you to recognize what terrible ideas they really are. Why yes, a pressure washer and a few gallons of bleach to load in the detergent bottle seem like really good ideas! And they really did a nice job cleaning the old timbers up and almost completely neutralizing the rat:
Said cleaning action was clearly visible in the prodigious amounts of white foam that were extant as soon as the bleach hit the floor. Tip for those of you playing along at home: when bleach initiates a very visible chemical reaction you should probably walk away rather than thinking, ‘Oh yeah, that’s really cleaning the place up!’ because bleach plus anything will not produce things healthy for the human body.
I assume the culprits reacting with the bleach were either ammonia from decades of animal urine soaked into the floor of the car or residues of ammonium nitrate and other nitrogen based fertilizers once stored there. The best bad scenario was the diluted bleach aerosol from the power washer itself, next up the chlorine gas from the reaction with the nitrogen-based stuff on / in the floor and from there it could have gotten really bad but based on the facts that: a) I’m not dead; and b) no explosion or fire occurred; I’m guessing that the really nasty stuff like nitrogen trichloride, hydrazine, etc. that could have been produced weren’t or at least not in significant quantities.
Never again will I bitch about cleaning the bathroom.
Next up: acquiring some equipment & setting up!