Construction Journal for 1997, Part 5 of 6

9/22-25/97 I went up to the property for 4 days: Monday through Thursday.

It was sunny and hot when I arrived at about 11:15, and it stayed hot the rest of the afternoon. I wired three rebar grids together and built one and a half forms.

On Tuesday, I finished building the second form, and started on preparing the hole for the third one. In the process, I discovered that a big rock that I previously thought was bedrock, was instead a loose boulder. I spent the rest of the day pulling it out of the ground. It is about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide. I had to use two scaffold frames chained together, a come-along with a snatch block, a steel bar, and a lot of hard work to get it out. I rigged a tarp overhead to provide shade, without which I don't think I would have been able to do it as hot as it was. Larry Copenhaver stopped by and visited just as I was starting to pull the rock out.

I spent all day Wednesday building a complicated form over this hole. With the removal of the big rock, it lowered the hole enough that I could combine two pads in one. This meant that I either finished 4 out of 10 forms, or 3 out of 9 forms depending on how you look at it.

On Thursday, I built one more form before noon. This one was much simpler and easier than the others and I think the rest of them will also be simple and easy. I took some time out when I heard sheep across the road, and walked over and greeted Jacinto Carhuaz. I hadn't seen him for a few years and it was good to see him. He told me he is going back to Peru next year. I took a picture of him and two of his dogs.

I packed up and left for home around 2:30.

9/29-10/2/97 I went up to the property for 4 days: Monday through Thursday.

I actually went up to the property late Sunday afternoon and got there at about 4:00 PM. Before I went in for the night, I had time to carry 8 CB88s, that I had brought with me, up to the site. I also had time to measure and record the locations of all the logs in the log pile. This will enable me to find logs under the snow much easier than last winter.

On Monday I built two more column pad forms. I also found a huge King Boletas mushroom that measured nine inches across. I was all excited because the top of it looked unblemished and I thought I had found it in time. No such luck. When I cut it open, I found that it was full of worms already. I kicked myself for not looking for mushrooms the day before. Maybe then it would have been all right.

Pete Persing called me the first thing Tuesday morning from his log home in Montana. He told me about a log finish that he thinks is good and he said he would send me a sample so I can try it out.

I called Gina at F T Crowe and asked about the owner's manual for my hoist. She said that it had come in and that she would send it to me right away.

It rained cats and dogs all day, so I hung a tarp over my work site and made one more form. Then I unrolled the copper water pipe so that it lay in the bottom of its trench. This pipe needs to go right where a column pad needs to go, so it has to be prepared before I build the forms for that pad.

On Wednesday, I could see that the water pipe had a slight dip in it and this needed to be fixed so that convection currents could flow uninterrupted in the pipe to keep it from freezing in the winter. In order to get the dip out of the pipe, I had to chisel a two inch wide by three inch deep channel for about four feet in the rock. Fortunately, the rock at that spot is the soft greenish rock and wasn't too hard to chisel. Next, I pushed two lengths of pipe insulation over the pipe and a plastic sleeve over the part that will be in contact with the concrete. Then I put the pipe back down into the channel, buried the end of it to hold it in place,and then built the form over the top of it.

I used pretty much the same construction technique for each of the forms. At home in Seattle, I had pre-built the top of each form from four six-inch old fence boards. These were nailed together like a pinwheel to form a square with one of the boards sticking out some distance from each corner. That way, I didn't have to cut any of the boards to length.

To construct a form, then, I took one of these pre-built squares, arranged it over the hole, and got it positioned, leveled, and clamped in place before nailing boards all around it to enclose the area between the square and the bedrock below.

I used a rubber band trick to position the square over the hole. There were two strings at right angles strung over the hole from the batterboards marking exactly where the center of the CB88 was to go. By dropping a plumb bob from a string which barely touched each of these two strings, I had a reference for the exact center.

The center of the form was marked by two rubber bands that I stretched diagonally across the top of the square. I hooked the rubber bands over the heads of the duplex nails that I used to assemble the square in the first place. I kept moving the square little by little until the tip of the plumb bob was aligned right on top of the intersection of the rubber bands. This technique didn't help any in getting the form square, but in this case, square was not critical and lining up by eyeball was close enough.

Larry Copenhaver and Ted Turner stopped by to inspect the work. Larry questioned whether the rubber bands crossed exactly in the center since the ends of the rubber bands didn't go exactly over the corners. I assured him that because of symmetry, and the fact that the rubber bands were off the same amount in each corner, that they did indeed cross at the center. He and Ted both seemed to agree. We ended up having an interesting chat in the trailer for a couple hours. After they left, I had some lunch and went back out and built the last of the forms.

On Thursday I finished up some loose ends on some of the forms, and did a lot of miscellaneous things to prepare for pouring concrete. It rained cats and dogs all morning but I wore a new rain suit that I got at REI and I stayed nice and dry even though most of the work I did was not under the tarp.

Among the things I did was to use a plumb bob and the batterboard strings to mark the center of each side of each form. Then I used a wooden gauge and these marks to locate and drive in two small nails in each form side. I will string four rubber bands across the form anchored by these nails to form a square for locating the CB88 after the form is filled with concrete.

I also did some clearing and minor construction to build a path to wheel the concrete over. And, I finished the last of shimming the scaffold on the building, and anchoring the ladder that goes up to it. I also measured each form so I can calculate the volume of concrete I need, and I strung hoses up to the site so we will have water to make the concrete. I talked to Dave last week and he said he would be up to help me pour on Wednesday of next week. I hope the rain stops and the roadway dries out so I can get a pickup load of gravel up to the site.

I left for home about 5:00 and when I got home, I calculated that it will take 1.32 yards of concrete. That will require about as much gravel as I dare haul in one pickup load and maybe even a little more. It will also mean that I will need 8 sacks of cement.

10/6-9/97 I went up to the property for 4 days: Monday through Thursday.

On the way up, I stopped at Two Rivers and paid for a pickup load of mixed sand and gravel. The weather was clear and dry but it had rained the night before and it had rained heavily all day on Saturday. I was concerned that the roadway would be too muddy to get a load of gravel up on top but since the weather was supposed to deteriorate for the rest of the week, this was the best, and probably the only day I could do it.

I arrived at the property at 11:30 and after moving my stuff in, I moved the cement mixer and cleared the roadway. Then I drove the pickup up on top, partly to deliver the 8 sacks of cement I had brought with me, but partly, also, to test the roadway to see if it would take a load of gravel. I figured that if I couldn't get up there with the cement, there was no way I could get up with the gravel.

I got up there OK, unloaded the cement and everything else from the back of the pickup, and then proceeded to get stuck coming back down. I had to put the chains on to get out.

From this, I figured that I would need the chains on for the gravel. I went to the gravel pit and got about a yard of really wet sand and gravel. The springs were only about an inch from bottoming out. When I got back, I put the chains back on and had no trouble driving the load up to the upper roadway.

I rigged two ramps from planks to raise the front end of the pickup. Then I arranged the mixer, water buckets, and cement pan so I could easily shovel the aggregate directly from the pickup into the mixer, so the tools and everything else was handy, and so that I had a natural path to push and park the wheelbarrow. By the time everything was set up and ready, it was time to quit for the day.

Tuesday was a perfect day to pour. It was cool, about 50 degrees, overcast, and dry. I got an early start, about 7:15, and worked until about 7:00 PM. I poured 8 of the pads, used seven and a half sacks of cement, and used up every bit of the aggregate. Since the weather was supposed to get bad, I moved the mixer out of the way and backed the pickup back down the hill before I went in for the night. I didn't get stuck this time.

I was pleased with how the pouring went. In particular, I was happy with how the rubber band trick worked out. The rubber bands formed a nine inch square above the form exactly over the spot where the eight inch square CB88 was supposed to go. This made it easy to place the CB88 exactly where it was supposed to be. To hold it in place, I ran a length of half inch copper tube through the bolt holes in the CB88 and nailed two small boards to the sides of the form to prop up the tube. That kept the CB88 in position, and most importantly, kept it from sinking into the concrete as I troweled the edges.

The net result was that all the CB88s are exactly straight, square, and where they should be.

On Wednesday morning, Dave called and told me that he and Mike Woods would be up later. I told him that the pouring had gone so well that I didn't need any help but that I would like them to come up anyway if they wanted to.

It was raining pretty steadily so I started out by rigging tarps over the work area. Since I had used up all of the aggregate, I moved the mixer back to its earlier spot because there was still more than enough sand and gravel in the bins to finish the last two forms.

Cement was another story. I only had half a sack and I was sure that wasn't enough. I checked the cement storage bin, and found nearly a full sack that was over a year old. The cement near the outside of the sack was stiff, but the inside felt soft. I decided to use part of the new cement and part of this softer part of the old and see if I had enough for the job. I started with the larger of the two remaining pads and using this plan, had just enough cement to finish pouring the pad before lunch.

Dave and Mike were still not there, so I fixed a lunch for myself and then went and bought a sack of cement at Two Rivers. This was more than enough to finish the last pad and I regretted using the old cement because now I had about half a sack of new cement left over. I hope that the old cement didn't weaken the concrete. I'm going to pay attention to the pad at grid G-3 since this is the only one where I used the old cement.

At about 2:30, just as I was wheeling the last load of concrete to the form, Dave and Mike showed up. They helped me place the last of the concrete, set up the CB88, and then they washed up the mixer and the tools while I troweled the tops of the last two pads.

It was still raining, but they toured and inspected the project anyway, including the privy which neither of them had seen. They seemed a little apprehensive climbing up and walking around my scaffolds since they weren't sure I had built them to handle such big guys as they. After giving the place a good inspection, we went into the trailer, washed up, and decided to go to the 49er Diner for dinner. We chatted in the trailer again after we got back and they left for home about 6:30.

On Thursday, it was still raining. I loaded the stuff back into the pickup, rolled up the 12 volt wire that I had strung from the trailer to the upper roadway, and I hauled all the rebar spikes from down by the trailer up to the building site. Then I stripped all the forms from the pads. This was fun and gratifying. The pads look extra sturdy and strong, especially knowing that each of them is cemented down to solid bedrock. In the process of cleaning up the forms, I peeked under the concrete block where the snake had been sleeping, and he was gone. Either he wasn't really hibernating quite yet, or I had disturbed his bed sufficiently that he decided to move.

I could see the snow level about half way down on Nason Ridge and I expected to be driving through snow on the way home. I left at 3:00 and found the road over the pass to be bare and wet. It had snowed probably four inches the night before, but that had all melted off the road by the time I went over.

10/13-16/97 I went up to the property for 4 days: Monday through Thursday.

I arrived at about 11:30. The weather was cool and dry and beautiful. Since the concrete work was done, I turned my attentions back to devising a method of lifting logs, now that Oscar was out of commission.

I strung a long cable I had through two blocks: one attached to the boom where Oscar used to hang, and the other attached to the butt of the boom. From the butt of the boom, there is a line-of-sight path out the doorway to the butt of a big tree down the hillside. I attached a long chain to this tree and attached the 12-volt winch to this chain. Then I paid out the winch cable and attached it to the cable coming through the doorway from the butt of the boom.

For power, I decided to try a heavy duty battery charger that I have. It was encouraging to see on the battery charger that it produces 30 Amps. This seemed like a lot to me and seemed that it should be plenty to run the winch even without a battery. Indeed, that turned out to be the case.

The cable and the chain were the perfect lengths, and everything else seemed to work out fine for this new rigging. To test it, I pulled log #65 up on deck with it. It worked fine. The winch had plenty of power. The only problem was that I had to stand by the winch to operate it and couldn't walk around as I could with Oscar. Anyway, I was encouraged and happy that I had a method of lifting logs without going to any extra expense at all.

Tuesday was another gorgeous Fall day. I gwizzed log #65, cut it to length, and treated it with Tim-bor. I had just started using the new rigging to move the log to the southeast side of the building when a honeymooning couple stopped by and asked if they could see my project. I spent about an hour giving them the tour and talking with them. They were quite impressed with what I had done. By the time they left, it was getting dark so I quit for the day.

Wednesday was another beautiful day. I think October is my favorite time of year up at the property. I raised log #65 up onto the southeast wall and spiked it in place. The new rigging worked OK, but it was more awkward and a lot slower than with Oscar because when I was operating the winch, I couldn't really see the log and I had to frequently stop and go over to see how the lift was progressing. I had mixed feelings about whether to put up with this awkwardness or to bite the bullet and cough up the money for a new chain hoist. I still haven't decided and I don't have to decide just yet.

Towards the end of the day, I was working on a scheme for raising the vertical crane pole when Earl Landin stopped by. He looked over the project and we chatted for a while.

On Thursday, I finished raising the vertical pole. Instead of moving it up the cliff, I attached it to the building wall. That way it will be in a more nearly vertical position which will make it stronger.

When that was done, I winterized the trailer. In order to help heat the trailer, I connected together all the hoses I have and have them coiled under the trailer. That way, the water will circulate through all those hoses before it discharges into the creek. Later I will skirt the trailer to keep the heat in. We'll see if that makes any difference when the temperature goes below zero.

10/20-23/97 I went up to the property for 4 days: Monday through Thursday.

When I arrived at 10:30, the weather was clear and cold. The temperature inside the trailer was 30 degrees. Good thing I winterized it last week. I found four nice mushrooms that I thought were a type of Boletas. I called Vladimir Gross and got his assurance that they were. I cooked and ate them for lunch.

In the middle of eating them, I got a call saying that my Mom had had a fall and they were taking her to the hospital. I kept hanging around the trailer and checking my answering machine for the next couple hours keeping in touch with the Home and with Gus. She got to the clinic, got examined, and got back home with no problem and except for a sore elbow, she is OK.

After that, I went to work and pulled log #89 up on deck. In the process, I tried to save a small amount of time, and I used the spud as a peavey to lever a log. I cracked the handle on the spud. I spent about a half hour or so gluing and clamping the spud and I think that will fix it. I learned my lesson and will try to remember to use the right tool for the job from now on.

I also had to spend some time repairing my cable. The hook in the middle of the cable was gone so I spent a lot of time looking through the brush and under the fallen leaves to try to find it. When I had given up looking, I went back out onto the roadway and spotted it laying on the ground. The cotter pin had evidently fallen out and thus let the clevis pin fall out. I looked for a while trying to find the clevis pin but gave up. I spent another half hour to an hour making a new clevis pin out of a scrap piece of 5/16" steel rod.

After I quit for the day, I walked over and visited Mike Tutino for a little while. He told me that it had frozen pretty hard the night before. I was extra glad that I had winterized.

On Tuesday morning I worked on the furnace. It didn't seem to be heating nearly as hot as it used to and I was afraid that it wouldn't work well enough to keep me warm in the real cold weather. I looked in the lighting port hole and could see a lot of red hot specks all across the burner just below the blue flame. That indicated an accumulation of dirt and rust and needed to be removed.

The port hole is only about a half inch in diameter and I didn't want to start taking the furnace apart so I figured out a way to clean the burner through this little hole. I made a small loop in the end of a coat hanger and wrapped duct tape around this loop with the sticky side out. Then I stuck the wire into the hole and tried to pick up the rust and dust with the tape. When I pulled it out, I could see that it worked so I wrapped more fresh tape around the loop and repeated it. I kept this up until the tape came back clean.

I relit the furnace and lo and behold, the red hot specks were gone and the furnace seems to be heating like it used to.

I gwizzed log #89 and cut it to length. The chainsaw was pretty hard to start, but once it did, it worked fine. Then I treated #89 and lifted it up onto the northeast wall using the new winch arrangement. It worked pretty well, but since I couldn't see the log as I was lifting it around the other side of the building, I had to spend a lot of extra time walking around to look at the log between numerous short lifts.

On Wednesday, I spiked log #89 into the northeast wall finally completing the 13th course. Next, I notched three logs in the northeast wall to make room for the Purlin Support Log (PSL) that is near the north corner. These three logs stuck out too far to allow the PSL to stand vertically so I cut the notches.

Then I selected, pulled up on deck, and gwizzed log #46 that will be the PSL. #46 is a nice straight, sound Doug Fir but it looks bad because there is about a half inch of brown wood around it. I could have gwizzed this off, but it is a lot of work and this PSL will be around the back of the building and will be completely out of sight, so I just left it.

That night, I started feeling sick to my stomach. I had a basin ready while I slept, but I never did get sick. I felt a lot better in the morning.

On Thursday, I prepared the end of #46 so it will fit into the CB88, and then treated it. I didn't treat the bottom foot of the log because I will treat that with Penta later after I get it hanging vertically. I started feeling a little sick again around noon, but it didn't get very bad and I kept working.

I started lifting log #46 up onto the building, but in the process, I dropped one end of the log from the top of the building down onto the ground. The crane was still holding the other end of the log up in the air about a third of the way in, but it still hit with quite a bang. Fortunately, the log landed in dirt and nothing was harmed. I learned that I need to be extra careful since I can't see what is happening while I am operating the winch. It took me a while to get the log back up to where it was, and by that time, it was time to quit and go home. I secured the log in position, leaning up against the building, and left for home.

10/27-30/97 I went up to the property for 4 days: Monday through Thursday.

I arrived at 11:45 and finished lifting log #46 onto the northeast wall. Then with two come-alongs, tipped it over the wall, and stood it on end over the CB88. Then, after going down and checking the alignment, I went back up on the wall and with a come-along handle in each hand, lowered the log onto the CB88. I felt elated that it fit and went into place so nicely.

The real test, however, would be to get the holes in the CB88 to line up with the hole in the end of the log so I could get a 5/8ths inch threaded rod through it. Anticipating that I would have to do some jiggling and forcing, I brought a crowbar and some other tools with me to help get the holes lined up. Before I did anything, I decided to try putting the threaded rod into the holes just to see how far off it was and which way the log would have to be moved.

To my utter delight and amazement, the holes were lined up perfectly so that using only my thumb and forefinger, I ran the threaded rod all the way through the log with no effort whatsoever. As I was walking back with all the tools, I was literally laughing out loud with elation. This was one of the many positive feedback strokes that this project gives me that keeps my enthusiasm up.

Since I intended to soak the bottom of this pole in Penta, I cranked the log back up above the CB88, put a 6 gallon bucket under it, laid a short 2x6 across the tops of the CB88 flanges, and lowered the log back down to rest on the 2x6. Then I poured Penta into the bucket until it was full. Then I wrapped visqueen and duct tape around the log so it draped over the bucket to keep rainwater and other stuff out of the bucket. I will let this soak for two weeks or so.

On Tuesday, I pulled Log #64 up on deck. In the process, Larry Copenhaver stopped by with a couple of friends named George and Barbara. We had a nice chat while they looked over the project. After they left, I cut about 5 feet off the butt end of #64 and found rot all that way. I decided to reject this log for use as the RPSL, which I planned to set up next.

It started raining at about 2:30 when I started pulling up log #21. It rained the rest of the day but I got #21 up on deck. I started feeling a little sick again about the time I quit for the day.

I slept about 10 hours and felt a lot better on Wednesday morning. It was still raining cats and dogs and kept raining all day. It gave my new rain gear a good test. I gwizzed log #21, cut it to length, and formed the bottom of it to fit into the CB88. I drilled the hole horizontally this time using the 3/8ths drill and a 3/4 inch spade bit. By levelling the log and using the leveling bubble on the drill, it seemed to make it easier to drill the hole more exactly.

It was still raining, but a little lighter, when I treated log #21. I hope the chemical didn't all get washed away.

On Thursday it rained off and on but I was able to raise log #21 into position as the Northeast RPSL. I was hoping for a repeat of Monday's success when I lowered the log down onto the CB88, but when I went down to look, I found that 4 or 5 wall logs need to be notched about two inches in order for the RPSL to seat correctly in the CB88. I decided to leave the notching for next week so I collected a bag of pine cones for Priscilla and left for home.

1997: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 6

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