Construction Journal Entry Week of 7/24/11

7/24/11 (Sunday) I woke up at 5 AM with the solution to my drainage engineering problem in my head. It is a blend of an unworkable solution and an undesirable solution. The unworkable solution was to connect all the pipes with a concrete channel. It is unworkable because the elevation of the central pipe is higher than the other two, but lower than the Grid E end. The undesirable solution was to chisel a channel in the top of each pad next to the cliff wall and connect those channels with a new concrete channel. This is undesirable because it would make the water level only about an inch below the wood columns. As soon as any debris accumulated back there, the columns would be sitting in a pool of water, or at least in soaking wet leaves.

The new solution is to cut a channel in the top of only the Grid D pad and make that the watershed for the drainage channel. It will be downhill from this watershed to the Grid E end of the granite, and the elevations of the other pipes are successively lower so the channel can route water downhill in the other direction from the watershed through the other two pipes to the Grid A end. The granite at the Grid A corner might have to be chiseled down a little, but not an unreasonable amount.

I was very happy with this solution, and I went back to sleep.

7/25-27/11 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Monday through Wednesday.

On the way, I stopped at Canyon Creek Cabinet Company in Monroe and picked up a cabinet door sample. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:10 and was promptly met by Bert. Ernie must have had another engagement. I had my lunch and a nap, and since it was raining, I decided to skip watering the sequoia trees.

I spent the afternoon cleaning the rocks behind the cabin. I used a small garden trowel and a stiff whisk broom to clean the moss and dirt off the cliff face, and I used the "warthog", a narrow shovel ideal for digging trenches, to scoop dirt and debris out of the channel between the cliff base and the footing. It was hard, hot, dirty work and the mosquitoes were thick but I finished cleaning most of the cliff and the channel chamber between Grid D1 and E1.

Kevin called and told me that he would be up for a visit with his boys, along with Marielle and Marilyn, the next day for a visit.

On Tuesday I went back to work on the rocks. Bert and Ernie showed up early so I took a break and gave them biscuits and left-over gravy. They loved it, as usual.

I finished cleaning the cliff face and all four channel compartments. I hauled away all the dirt and debris using a 5-gallon bucket. If the bucket was heavy, it meant it had a lot of dirt so I dumped those on the road over the septic drain line. That area needs more fill. If the bucket was light, it meant it contained mostly leaves and organic debris, so I threw this over the edge of the back porch onto the drain line run. That saved a few steps.

By the time I finished, my poor little whisk broom was worn down to little more than a nub. I don't think many people wear out a whisk broom like that.

With the rocks all clean, I could better see what I had to do. It won't take as much concrete as I had thought previously, although I didn't measure for it so I still don't know how much I'll need. I could also see that I have to do quite a bit of chiseling at both ends. The Grid A end won't be too bad because I have good access and I don't have to cut much away. But the Grid E end is a different story.

If the water runs around the Grid E corner the way it is now, it will be above the level of a short 4x4 post holding up the corner of the porch deck. I would also like to route the water through a pipe once it turns the Grid E corner so that it doesn't run down the face of the cliff and pool next to the foundation. The bedrock profile forms a depression between Grid E1 and E2 and I would like to pipe the water over this and discharge it beyond the building.

To route the water through a pipe, I will have to embed the pipe into the top of the ledge somehow. This will require chiseling out some of the rock, which I want to do anyway to keep it lower than that 4x4. But the access is very limited. The only way to reach the rock that needs to be cut away is to go at it from under the porch. There is about 2 feet of space between the foundation and the side of the foundation trench, which lets me get in there but it is pretty cramped. But that's what I have so that's what I'll have to work with.

Kevin called at about 5 and said they would be there in an hour. I took a shower and was ready for them when they arrived. I had warned them to wear long sleeves and pants because of the mosquitoes. I watched Kevin, Marielle, Marilyn, and the two boys put on those garments after they parked. They were jumping around slapping mosquitoes with one hand while trying to put on their jackets and pants with the other. They really didn't like the mosquitoes at all.

They hurried up to the cabin and went through the front door in turn through my fan air-lock anti-mosquito system I have set up. I have a fan at the threshold blowing air up along the door. If you stand in that air stream for a few moments before opening the door, most of the mosquitoes that are following you will not get in the building. But some inevitably do anyway.

Once inside, it was a little more relaxing. The boys did venture outside a couple times to check out the cliff among other things, but mostly they stayed inside.

They all had a lot of questions for me about various aspects of the building project. Kevin asked whether the cabin came out close to the model or not, so I got the model out and explained that it came out almost exactly as planned, except for some deliberate design changes.

Kevin picked up one of the cross-section samples of the phony log I had built. I explained how I had made the log from 11 2x4s and finished it like all the other logs. We had a little guessing game trying to find where that log is in the building. I gave one of the boys credit for spotting it when he pointed up. But he was pointing at the Grid D2 PSL instead of the real phony log so I had to rescind the credit.

Time was short so we did not look at the bronze Mt. Rainier model. That will have to wait. We were all hungry and eager to get over to the '59er Diner for dinner. We took two vehicles so that they could continue on home after dinner and I could come back to the cabin. We had a delightful dinner and conversation at the diner. I got back to Camp Serendipity shortly before 9 PM.

On Wednesday morning I started the rock chiseling project under the porch at the Grid E end. I used the Bosch Bulldog alternating between a 1/4" bit and a bigger one, a 3/8" I think. Then I used a long star drill and a rock hammer to try to break the rock away after the holes were drilled. I had rigged up a trouble light in there so I could see what I was doing.

At first I was drilling through concrete which had been poured on the granite as part of the footing. This was pretty easy to cut through. But about four inches in, I hit the granite bedrock and the chiseling got a lot harder. Not only was the rock harder, but the access got more and more difficult as I went in.

In desperation, I went and got my 6-foot steel bar figuring I could use that as a battering ram to break away the rock after I had drilled the holes. It sort of worked, and I did break away some chunks that way, but it was exhausting work. I had to hold the bar up over my shoulder at ear level while kneeling on the rocks in that cramped, dirty space. My arms could only take a few minutes at a time before I had to set the bar down and rest.

I was cutting my notch about 5 inches in diameter and going uphill away from me. The top surface, of the concrete/granite that I was cutting into, sloped downhill away from me. I was trying to break through the surface and have a nice sloping 5-inch channel. That would keep the water nicely below the 4x4 and would allow me to grout a pipe in the channel somehow.

But I never did break through the back before it was time to quit. Next week I'll hit it again when I am fresh and hopefully make it all the way through. I may also be far enough in that I can approach it from the other side on top. I'll check that out next week.

I cleaned myself up, had lunch, and left for home at 2:00.

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