Construction Journal Entry Week of 4/26/20

4/27-5/1/20 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 5 days: Monday through Friday.

Before I left, I got a headlight repaired on the van. I arrived at noon and brought most of my gear up in one trip. Then I hoisted the flag, got a fire going in the stove, and brought the wheelbarrow back down to the truck. Then I loaded the electronic piano I had brought with me into the wheelbarrow and wheeled it up to the cabin. Getting that piano up there was an exiting development for me. It's going to make up for the recent long absences from the piano at home.

After having my lunch, I set up the piano in the loft and tried it out before I took my nap. The weather was damp and dreary outside, so when I got up, I started another fire in the stove. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon smoothing the 1/4-turn joints on the loft stair handrail using various rasps and scrapers.

On Tuesday, I spent the morning doing more smoothing of the 1/4-turn joints. Then, after lunch and a nap, I went outside to check on the trees. While I was up by Paul, a deer stepped out of the cedar thicket and stared at me from about 30 feet away. We both froze for several seconds before the deer slowly turned and walked away. Once it was headed down the trail, it broke into the typical mule deer four-legged bouncing gait and disappeared out of sight. This was a rare incident for me as I typically don't see the game although I know it is there.

From there I proceeded on to Andrew and gave it five gallons of water. Back at the cabin, I continued smoothing the 1/4-turn joints until they were ready for varnish. Then I wiped the sanding dust off with a clean cloth and applied the first coat of varnish. I also applied the final coat of varnish on the knuckle notch for the handrail.

On Wednesday, I overslept. I must have needed the sleep. When I finally got going, I used 120 grit paper to sand the 1/4-turn and its joints and then applied the second coat of varnish. I was pleased with how it turned out.

After lunch and a nap, I brought another five gallons of water up to Andrew. Back in the cabin, I made a modification to the new piano by gluing a wooden bead on the front of the music rack so that limp sheets of music wouldn't slide off. I'm surprised that the manufacturer didn't put a bead or some kind of lip on the rack to keep loose sheets from sliding off.

On Thursday, Dave called first thing and we had our usual delightful conversation. After breakfast, I sanded the 1/4-turn joints with 220 grit paper and applied the final coat of varnish to the joints. Then I went up to the loft and worked on drawings for the design of the over-easing and the two 1/4-turns that will terminate the handrail at the top. I had brought a bunch of my drawing instruments with me on this trip, so they made the drawing much easier.

After lunch and a nap, I got to thinking about the ram pump. I tried to figure out why it had worked so well last year and this year it wouldn't work. It seemed that nothing was different. Then it occurred to me that the compression chamber might have filled with water. If that were the case, it would be easy to unscrew the chamber and drain it.

I took a Stillson wrench with me up to the pump and unscrewed the compression chamber. I was surprised when the water started gushing out of the compression chamber. It had been completely full of water. After the water had drained out, I screwed it back onto the pump and started the pump. It started right up, and I was eager to see if it was now going to work.

The pressure gauge showed between 35 and 40 psi which is more than enough to get the water up over the ridge. But I wasn't sure how to open the output spigot. To figure that out, I decided to disconnect the hose and just watch how the water squirted out of the spigot as I turned the valve handle.

I was really surprised to see that opening the valve for the first 1 1/2 turns, nothing came out at all. The valve remained closed. But after that point, the valve opened, and the water came spurting out. That was a critical point. I figured that I should leave it cracked just enough to let some water squirt through but not open it all the way. It seemed that by opening the valve too much, the pump would stop cycling.

I hooked the hose back onto the spigot and then climbed the hill up to the first hose joint to see whether there was any water flow. There wasn't. By putting my mouth over the end of the hose, I could tell that the hose was filling, but very slowly. I waited a long time for the water to arrive, but it never did. Instead, I could tell by my mouth that the water level had stopped rising.

So, I went back down to the pump and cracked the valve open just a little more. Then back up to the hose joint, I was happy to see that water was now coming out of the end in a respectable stream. It seemed to me to be enough to drive the water up the rest of the way up the ridge and then downhill to Andrew from there.

I walked up over the ridge and down to Andrew to see what was happening and there was nothing. The hose was bone dry. I figured that the water just hadn't reached the ridge yet and instead of waiting for it, I decided to carry a bucket of water up to Andrew and check on the pump in the morning.

I went back to the cabin and worked on my plans for the over-easing. I learned from my drawings that there was going to be interference between the rail-bolt and a baluster where the over-easing joins the handrail, so to fix that, I modified the drawings to move the joint up 7/8". That would not only remove the interference, but it would slightly raise the terminating rail structure which would be good. It's going to be a little low the way it is.

On Friday morning, I went into the woods right after breakfast to see whether the pump had run all night. On the way, I dug out several thistles that were growing by the privy. Then I proceeded on to the pump.

To my great delight, I found the pump rhythmically cycling away. Then I climbed the hill to the first hose joint. I opened the joint and found that the water made it that far, but it was flowing at the rate of only one drip for each of my heartbeats. That was not enough.

Hoping to fix that, I went back to the pump and cracked the spigot open just another eighth of a turn. Back up at the hose joint, again, to my great delight I found that there was a nice steady flow of water. With my hopes up, I went up over the ridge and down to Andrew, and to my disappointment, I saw that the hose was bone dry. It didn't look like any water had flowed from it all night and it wasn't flowing yet. I decided to leave it alone and I went back to the cabin.

When I got back, I gave Earl a call and we had a nice conversation, mostly about woodpeckers and other wildlife. Then, up in the loft, I made some careful measurements, modified my drawings, and marked the rail where it needed to be cut for the interface with the over-easing. I thought about starting to make the cut, but after thinking about the measure twice cut once rule, I decided to put it off until next week to make sure it is absolutely right. I don't want to mess up that expensive piece of wood.

Before it was time to leave, I went back into the woods to check on Andrew. The pump was still going; there was a good flow at the first hose joint; and Andrew was still getting nothing from the hose. I gave Andrew another five gallons of water, and then packed up and left for home at 1:20. My progress is slow, but it is steady. It is great having these 5-day weeks and it is even better now with a piano. I am a happy old man.

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