Construction Journal Entry Week of 12/16/18

12/18-20/18 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I got a late start and drove through rain all the way over the pass, but the rain slowed down on the other side of the pass. I made some stops to deliver some of Ellen's jam to neighbors. When I was at Earl's, I shoveled three inches of snow off his driveway.

My driveway had not been plowed and there was about eight inches of heavy wet snow on the ground plus more in the berm thrown up by the county snowplow. I got a good run at it and was able to barge the truck into the driveway far enough to turn it around and park it heading out, at the foot of the concrete staircase. I had just bought four new tires for the truck and they worked like a charm in that snow.

It was already 2:00 by the time I got parked. Then I shoveled the snow off the concrete stairs in a light rain and tramped down the trails to the cabin and the flagpole. Then I opened the cabin, hoisted the flag, built a fire in the stove, and went back down to the truck and carried my gear up in two trips. By that time, it was 3:00. I had a late, light lunch and a short nap. By the time I got settled in and did some exercises, the day was over.

On Wednesday morning I was awakened at 4:30 by the chirping smoke detector in the bedroom. I couldn't sleep with the chirping, so I got up and changed the battery in the detector and went back to bed. When I got up a short time later, I replaced the batteries in the two other smoke detectors even though they weren't chirping. But to my dismay, one of them started chirping right away with the new battery.

I figured the new battery must be bad, so I got another one out of the brand-new package of about ten batteries. The thing chirped with the second new battery too. I tried five batteries from that pack and finally found one that didn't chirp. The date stamped on all the "new" batteries was 2017/02 so, after talking with Ellen about it, we decided that they were just too old and that we should change our strategy.

My records show that I have been replacing the batteries every 13 months. I have kept a supply of 9v batteries on hand all the while, but that meant that they were always going to be old. The new strategy is to pick a date—I picked December 20—and on or before that date, buy three new 9v batteries and then change them all. Hopefully there will be no more chirping in the early morning.

After breakfast I noticed and became fixated on a really curvy vine maple that was half buried in my firewood stack. I had collected a lot of vine maples that I thought might work as part of my railing systems. A particular problem is the handrail on the back-porch stairs. The building department is especially concerned that the railing can't accidentally catch the strap of a woman's purse. For example, it can't just stick out over the top of the newel post. They want the rail to curve down and go into the newel post lower down. I have been keeping my eye open for a curved vine maple that would work.

The one that was buried under the woodpile looked like it might work so I decided to pull it out and see. It was stuck too tight for me to pull it out so I got a come-along and a chain and rigged it to pull the wood out with the come-along anchored in the Grid A3 anchor hook in the foundation wall. It worked like a charm after one re-rigging. I brought the vine maple up and stored it on the front porch with the rest of the candidate railing material.

Next, I started executing on my new plan of knocking off the easier remaining items for the final inspection. The easiest one was to permanently anchor the small bench in the bedroom to the wall. In my last inspection the inspector told me that the ledge of the egress window in the bedroom was too high. He graciously told me that instead of requiring me to cut into the log wall and install a bigger window, that it would be OK if there were a permanent bench, or step, installed below the window. It just so happened that Ellen had a sort-of heirloom child's bench that she grew up with and we got it when we disposed of all the things in Priscilla's house. It made the perfect bench to meet the building department's requirement, but it just needed to be fastened to the wall permanently.

After looking to see how best to fasten the bench to the wall, it was easiest just to screw it directly to the log wall with an impact driver. In no time, I checked off the first remaining item.

The next item on the list is to install backer blocks behind the joist hangers in the floor. I went down into the crawlspace to count how many blocks I needed and to measure for the size of the blocks. Then I needed to find the material to use to make the blocks.

The blocks are installed on TJI joists behind joist hangers and they fill the space between the web and the hanger. They need to be exactly the thickness of half the difference between the width of the flange and the thickness of the web. That way, when they are flat against the web, they are flush with the flange, which is right up against the hanger.

I learned that they need to be 1/2" thick. After a lot of searching, I found some scraps of 1/2" plywood and brought them up onto the front porch which is where I will set up a saw shop to make the blocks.

Happy to have a good plan for making the blocks, I went outside and split up a big round of firewood as a supply for the week. Then I went in for lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I went down to the truck and drove off to make the last jam delivery. When I returned, I got the Skilsaw out and cut 18 backer blocks from the plywood I had. These blocks were 8.75"x7". I still need 40 or 50 smaller ones that I will make later.

While I was in the crawlspace counting and measuring, I discovered another puddle that I didn't know was there. This one is behind a tall, skinny, outcrop of rock so I am not sure how to go about draining it. It just gives me one more problem to ponder in my spare time.

On Thursday morning I found a mouse in a trap in the crawlspace. That was very disappointing because it has been just a little over two months since I caught a mouse, and that gave me time to hope that somehow the way they get in might have closed up. No such luck. I disposed of the mouse and reset the trap.

Robert called after breakfast and told me that he would be over later to give me a check for the timber we sold in the last delivery.

I took the 18 backer blocks down to the crawl space and placed them all in the joist system. These are the ones that go on the joist holding the hanger and they are wide enough to stick out both sides of the hanger. The smaller blocks will go on the joist that is in the hanger and will butt up against the bigger blocks.

I had to use a hammer to drive in some of the blocks because they were a little tight, but I got them all in. Now I just need to fasten them with screws. That will have to wait.

Robert showed up at about 11:00 and gave me a check for $750, my share of the timber sales. Neither of us is getting rich on this effort, but it makes the cabin a lot safer from fire and tree crashes.

I left for home at 12:40 just as Josh showed up to plow the driveway. Better late than never. At least it was easy to drive out onto the road after he plowed that section.

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