Construction Journal for 1999 Part 5 of 6

9/4/99 Bought a 10" 1 Hp Craftsman table saw with tilting arbor for $175 at a garage sale from Ray Hovick, 12233 4th NW, 206-366-8840. Interesting guy. He rebuilds lever shock absorbers for vintage cars and is the national leader in that specialty.

9/7-9/99 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

It was a nice cool 55 degrees out when I arrived at 11:00. I hauled three bags of fiberglass insulation that I got at a garage sale, and 96 8 foot 1x2s up to the site. Then I hauled the table saw up. It was three pretty heavy loads in the wheelbarrow, but I got it up there OK.

I glued and screwed 1x2s just under the top flange on both sides of the web the full length of both of the last two rafters. This is to provide backing in order to nail on the fascia board which isn't wide enough to span both flanges and still drop below the ceiling boards. I figured it would be easier to install these on the ground rather than after the rafters are up - like I will have to do on the other side of the building.

I was afraid that these 1x2s would make the rafters too heavy for me to lift them, but it didn't. I got them both lifted up and lying on the ends of the purlins before I quit for the day. Instead of using the windlass to lift the long rafter, I re-routed the long rope so that it hung down from the ridge outside the building. I moved the remote-controlled cleat also in anticipation of using the windlass, but with this new rigging, I found that I could easily lift the rafter by hand. The short rafter was only somewhat heavier with its 1x2s, so with a little extra muscle, I was able to lift that one also with no problem.

On Wednesday, I aligned and nailed the 32nd, and final, pair of rafters out on the very ends of the purlins. It took until lunch time to get this done.

I had prepared a work plan of 11 items that had to be done before I could start nailing the roof sheeting (sheathing) on. Item number 1 was to finish installing the rafters. Item number 2 was to nail down all the ceiling boards on the purlins. When I put the boards up, I couldn't reach most of them, so I just tacked them down with a few nails. Now that all the rafters are in place, it is relatively easy to reach all of the boards and nail them to the purlins.

Tom Hammond had reassured me that there would be no loss of strength in nailing the rafters through these ceiling boards into the purlins, even though the nails would penetrate the purlins 3/4" less deep. He said that the pine actually holds the nails better than the logs, but it is important that the boards be nailed really well to the logs. So I decided to drive six 10d galvanized nails through the ceiling boards between each rafter pair. This multiplies out to over a thousand nails even skipping the ridgepole, which I had prepared on the ground and adequately nailed ahead of time.

Those thousand nails were a lot harder job than I had anticipated. It takes a lot of energy and attention just to hang on to those rafters, and then to drive each nail, I had to lean over as far as I could in order to reach down to the ceiling boards. I started feeling the tennis elbow symptoms in my right elbow, so I switched over to my left hand. This caused me a lot of extra, useless work making a lot of dents in the wood all around the nails. I finished all but one purlin before the end of the day.

Fortunately, the weather was nice and cool for this work. Just as I was going in for the night, a single gray jay showed up and I fed him (or her) a few peanuts. I haven't seen any of them for quite a while, and it was good to see at least one again.

On Thursday morning, I finished nailing down the ceiling boards on the last purlin.

The 3rd item on my work list was to trim off the end of the purlin at Grid F0. This log hadn't been cut quite square and it needed a little trimming so it wouldn't interfere with the fascia board. Fortunately, I could reach it from the ground with a chainsaw. Unfortunately, Mother Sow decided to act up and give me trouble starting. I finally prevailed, however, and trimmed the log.

On to the 4th item - to frame a chimney opening in the rafters. The plan was to cut a 1 " chunk out of the 20th (from the northeast side) rafter 32 inches from the ridgepole, and install a header through this gap that spanned the 19th and 21st rafters. These were all fastened with 4 joist hangers. I also sawed through the 20th rafter at the ridgepole so that when I want to make a masonry chimney, this section of the rafter can easily be removed. The joist hanger holding this short section of rafter is fastened with 4 screws that can be removed after the hole is cut in the roofing and sheeting. Larry Copenhaver stopped by just as I was finishing this framing job.

The gray jay that visited me on Wednesday must have told his family because while I was working on the chimney framing, the whole family came and collected all the peanuts that I had shelled. Then as I sat on the pickup tailgate and shelled some more, they crowded around and took them from me as fast as I could shell them. There were at least six of them and some of them were obviously the youngsters. They had some mottling on their heads that the older birds don't have. They also weren't quite as clever about how to go after the peanuts. They learned pretty fast, though, and I think they all got all they wanted, or could handle.

I was disappointed that I didn't make it through my list of 11 things this week. There are still a couple of fairly big jobs left on the list, so I may not be able to get to the OSB even next week. Oh well, I have been thinking about a contingency plan for putting the metal roof on in the winter. If the snow is deep enough, I may be able to build snow ramps so I can slide the 40 foot metal panels around and install them by myself. Otherwise it takes two guys to handle one of those panels without kinking and destroying it. I do a lot of thinking about this problem.

I didn't finish the chimney hole framing until 1:30, but I was still able to have lunch, pack up, and leave for home by about 2:00.

9/14-16/99 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

It was pretty hot out when I arrived at 11:30. After moving in, I took the Skilsaw up onto the roof and cut ventilation notches in the 15 sections of blocking that didn't have them. These were the first ones installed, and at that time, I didn't know how the ventilation was supposed to be done, and I figured it could wait til later. Well, this is later. This was item number 5 on my list of 11 preparatory things.

Next I started on item number 6: glueing and screwing 1x2s on the northeast gable rafters. This was a hard job because the rafters were hard to reach. To reach them, I modified the scaffold hangers that I had used at the ridge to install rafters. I added a 21" extension to the bottom of each one made of #9 wire. This extension held one end of an 8' 2x6 and the other end rested on a purlin lower down. That made the 2x6 nearly level and spanning the distance between two purlins. Since I had two of these rigs, I used them to span both sides of a single purlin.

I started fastening 1x2s on the east corner of the roof, and as I moved up, I just leapfrogged the scaffold rigging up the roof. I had the scaffold between the second and third rafters so it was a comfortable working reach over to the first rafter. The installation went pretty smoothly once I got the scaffold rigging invented, built, and set up. It was just slow painstaking work hanging out in space like that. By 7:15 I had finished the long rafter and I quit for the day.

By 11:00 on Wednesday morning, I finished the short rafter. The end of that one was a little hairy because I couldn't reach the eave with my scaffold rigging. I set up an extension ladder against an eave rafter and standing on the ladder, I could barely reach the end of it with the drill in my left hand. Needless to say, I hung on pretty tight with my right hand while I fastened the 1x2s out on the end of this rafter.

Item number 7 is to build the gable-to-ceiling interface. Since most log houses don't have log gables, I couldn't find any information on how log gables connect to the roof. In addition, my method of nailing ceiling boards between the purlins and the rafters is a bit unusual and complicated the problem. After thinking about this for many months, and discussing it with my brother, John, on 9/24/98, I settled on a solution that I am confident will work. But I will feel a lot better once it is completely implemented and I KNOW it works.

The gable wall logs are cut to fit snugly up against the bottom of the ceiling boards which are in turn nailed up into the underside of the rafters. The problem is that the gable wall is right between two rafters and there is no way to get in between them to nail the ceiling boards down into the logs once the roof sheathing is in place. I guess it would have worked out better to have a rafter located over the middle of the wall, then you could nail the boards down on each side of the rafter. But I didn't design it that way and it's too late now.

To solve the problem, I will caulk and nail a 1x2 on top of the gable logs parallel to the rafters. Then, on top of this, spike in a 2x6 that has its lower edges chamfered. This will form a pocket on each side of the 1x2 that can receive the ends of the ceiling boards both from inside the building and from the eaves on the outside. The ends won't be nailed, but they will be snugly held down by the 2x6 and they will be nailed to a rafter only 8 inches away. They will also be caulked good before they are inserted so this should provide an ant-proof seal.

This is moderately complicated, so item 7 is a big one consisting of steps a through l. Step 7c, planing down any gable logs that were too high, was particularly hard. Fortunately most of the logs were just right, or even a little low. There were some, though that were too high. I started out using an 18 inch block plane, and for the first ones that weren't too bad, this worked. Even though it worked, it was awfully hard work in the direct sun in an uncomfortable, precarious position. After planing down the first bumps, I ran into some that were even higher so I switched to a big heavy wood chisel and a 3 lb. hammer. This worked, but was also very hard work.

Finally I ran into one big log that was nearly 3/4" too high. Way too much to plane or chisel off. I decided to use the chainsaw even though I had to hold the saw upside down and at an awkward angle just to get the bar under the rafters and to the log. I was happy when Mother Sow started right up, but then true to form, it quit after running only a few seconds.

That was not what I wanted in that heat up there 25 feet in the air with no hand rail. After trying, and failing, to start it until the sweat was running off me, I discovered that I had accidently turned the ignition switch off with my boot. I felt a little foolish, turned the switch back on, and Mother Sow started right up and I was able to complete the job. You would think I'd learn.

Item 7d was to treat the ends of the gable logs with Tim-bor. This would be the last chance to treat them before they got covered up. I mixed up 4 gallons of the insecticide and loaded it into the sprayer. When I started pumping the sprayer up I noticed the liquid started running out onto the ground. I quickly de-pressurized the tank, and discovered that Packy, my friendly resident pack rat, had finally done some real damage in addition to his usual mischief. He had chewed through the sprayer hose. Fortunately, it was near the wand so by cutting off four inches of damaged hose and re-attaching it, I was able to fix the problem. It took me until almost the end of the day to soak the log ends good.

There was still time to chamfer all the 2x6s before I quit at 6:00. I used the Gwizzard which made the job relatively quick and easy even though I didn't have a sling to help me hold the saw. This completed item 7e.

On Thursday morning, I completed items 7f and 7g for the whole building, and items 7h through 7l for one quarter of the building. I decided to complete one part of it so I could see how those pockets looked and to get a better feeling for how they would work. I was pleased with the result. I think they will work great.

I quit at 12:30 because I wanted to stop at Charles' and Frances' to get some fresh vegetables and still get home in time to get Andrew. I left for home a little after 1:00.

9/21-23/99 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at 11:30. The weather was nice and about 75 degrees. I went right back to work on items 7h through 7l, which were to caulk and spike the 1x2s and 2x6s on top of the gable wall logs to form the ceiling pockets. I finished half of the building before I quit for the day at 6:30. Shirley Tutino stopped by just before I finished to return one of Ellen's jam jars and to check out the progress.

On Wednesday I woke up at 4:45 and couldn't stop thinking about strategies for moving the OSB up onto the roof, so I got up and was out working at first light at about 6:00. I finished items 7h through 7l for the rest of the building by about 9:00. All the while I continued thinking about OSB moving strategies.

Next, I started on item number 8, to build a ramp and walkway up onto the roof. This would be a key part of the OSB moving strategy. My experience with the rafters taught me that sometimes the simple, straightforward brute force approach is the best. I had tried to use the crane to lift rafters and found out it was easier to lift them one at a time by hand. Maybe that would be the best way to handle OSB also. In order to do that, I would need a nice wide, sturdy, uniform walkway from the ground up to the roof.

An alternative method, recommended by Vladimir on 7/1/99, would be to build a sort of railway using my old crane boom logs as the rails, and winch bundles of OSB up that.

Since the crane boom logs were ideal for both purposes, I decided to build the railway and then decide later whether to deck it over to form a walkway, or leave it as a railway as Vladimir had suggested. Marson and Marson had figured 7 extra sheets of OSB in my order, so I could use those for a considerable portion of the walkway decking if I did that. 7 sheets would stretch out 56 feet and the railway-walkway would be about 60 feet long.

I had three old crane booms and one crane mast that were each around 32 feet long. I moved these into position and they were perfect for what I wanted. I used the bends in the logs to form a gentle curve in the railway in order to go around a tree and over the top of a big rock. The railway has a nice uniform pitch going from the roadway up to the east corner of the roof. I had it pretty well completed by the time I quit for the day at 7:15.

In the process, I opened one of the OSB bundles for the first time, and tried out my home-made OSB carrier. I was surprised, and dismayed, at how heavy those sheets are. I don't know how much they weigh, but they are 5/8" and they seem to be a lot heavier than 5/8" plywood. I think the wood is compressed and that there is a lot more glue. Anyway, after carrying one sheet up to the ramp, I could tell that my body would not be able to tolerate hauling 80 sheets that way. I also didn't want to force that on Dave and his partners if they came up and helped.

After mulling that new information over that night, I decided to use Vladimir's idea.

On Thursday morning, I decided to start moving OSB. I was curious as to how many sheets I could move at once, and what it would take to do it. The bundle I had broken open had 39 sheets left in it and I found that I could lift it off the ground with my big steel bar as a lever. I lifted it enough to get some short poles under it for rollers. Then I tried moving the bundle with a come-along. I was able to move it, but it had to make a sharp corner to get around the hairpin turn, so I rigged a snatch block up to double the pulling power. With this rig, I pulled the stack about 15 feet so that it was well up into the hairpin turn.

Then I rigged up the 110 volt winch to pull it from there another 25 feet to the base of my new log railway. I got the bundle moved up there by 12:30 and then quit for the day.

I feel a little better about moving OSB now. I need to get 64 full sheets and 37 partial sheets up onto the roof, so I think I will move it up the ramp in three bundles of 21, 21, and 22 full sheets respectively. I'll cut the partial sheets on the ground as they are needed and carry them up individually. The railway can be temporarily decked over with OSB when I am not moving bundles up so we can walk up and carry the partial sheets.

All of this seems very workable now. I have a good place to rig up the winch to pull the loads up the railway. The only hitch is that the winch is a little weak. I stressed it to the max pulling the OSB up the roadway and the new motor started smoking. It still works but some of the insulation on the inside may be cooked. There are clear warnings on the winch that you are not to run the motor for any more than 3 minutes or you will burn up the motor. To me, that is an unacceptably inferior design. It takes about 4 and a half minutes to wind all of the cable onto the drum, and according to the specs, if you wind up all the cable without pausing, you will destroy the winch. Having already burned up and replaced one motor, and after having discovered numerous other design flaws with the winch, I am very unimpressed with it and would not recommend Dayton products to anyone as a result.

9/28-30/99 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at 11:00. The weather was a beautiful, crisp 45 degrees. The leaves were starting to turn and the mosquitos were gone. Delightful.

After I moved in, I rigged the 110-volt winch up to pull the 50-sheet stack of OSB up around the hairpin turn. Just as I got it rigged and started pulling, Earl Landin stopped by. I told him my plan for winching bundles of OSB up the railway because I thought the sheets were too heavy to carry. He picked one up, carried it a ways, and said that he didn't think it was any heavier than plywood. So I picked one up and was surprised at how much lighter it seemed than when I tried it before.

Maybe I was feeling extra strong today, or maybe I was extra tired the other time. The main difference, though, was that the first time I tried, I used my OSB carrying invention, and this time I just lifted the sheet by hand. I tried the OSB carrying invention again and let Earl try it, and there was no doubt that the thing made the job a lot harder. You couldn't lean over and let your back hold up the sheet. Instead, you had to stand up straighter and let the sheet hang off your shoulder. Anyway it was a lot harder, and I tossed the infernal machine off to the side to be reused for something else. Another great invention that didn't pan out.

Right then and there, I changed my mind and decided to deck the railway over and carry all the OSB up by hand one sheet at a time. Earl helped me deck the railway and convert it to a walkway. It took seven sheets of OSB, plus a few other boards that I had already nailed across the rails. The walkway reached exactly to the edge of the roof and was very comfortable and easy to walk on.

After Earl left, I went back to the winch and pulled the second stack of OSB up around the hairpin turn and left it just behind the first stack.

On Wednesday morning, I made the final decision on placement of the first course of OSB on the porch roof. I had previously planned to have the sheets extend 2 and 1/4 inches beyond the end of the rafters to allow for the 1 and inch TJI and 3/4 inch fascia that would be nailed on the rafter ends. This would bring the OSB right out over the fascia. The problem, however, that I had been thinking about for several weeks was that since the rafters are 40 feet long, a nice even multiple of 4 feet, that would mean that the top course would be 2 and 1/4 inches short of the ridge. That would mean that there would be a 4 inch, or so, considering the roof pitch, gap at the ridge. Curt Pritchard had told me that this was too much of a gap; he said that it should only be an inch or so. He also said that the eave edge isn't all that critical because the metal edge can cover 4 inches on the roof deck and also down the fascia.

I had mentioned this problem to Curt and suggested that I could leave gaps between each course of OSB to close up the gap at the ridge. He said that he didn't think anyone left gaps between OSB sheets, so I gave up on that idea.

Now I had to decide what to do. I decided to split the difference and let the sheets hang over 1 and 1/4 inches, and leave a gap at the top which would only be a little wider than Curt recommended.

I crawled along the Grid G purlin and marked the top of each rafter 46 and 3/4 inches from the end. Then using a nail at each of these marks on the first and last rafters, I strung a tight string across the tops of the rafters. I also measured from these nails to the ridge. I found that the distance to the ridge on the south side was 3/8" longer than on the north side. I also noticed that the string was about 3/8" lower than most of the rafter marks on the south side. To compensate, I moved the nail on the south side 3/8" higher and then measured the diagonal distance from each nail to the opposite ridge corner. These came out to differ by 1/4".

I figured that was close enough so I went back over the purlin and made a 'V' mark on each rafter with the point of the 'V' exactly under the string. This would be where I would align the top edge of the first course of OSB.

Since it was going to be a little awkward to nail up those first sheets by myself, with not much place to stand, I devised a couple of aids.

To hold the sheets, and help maneuver them into place, I fastened a pulley to a c-clamp and clamped it on a rafter about 4 feet above where the center of the sheet of OSB was to go. One end of the rope that went through the pulley had a hook on it, and the other end was loosely tied to another c-clamp which I fastened, first to my walkway, but later to the previously installed sheet.

Next, I carried a sheet up the walkway and stood it on its edge when I got to the roof. I fastened a third c-clamp to the top edge of the sheet and hooked the rope to it with the hook. Then I lowered the sheet onto the rafters using this rope and as it went down, I took up the slack on the other side of the pulley. By pulling on the rope with one hand, I pushed the sheet into position with the other hand. I deliberately positioned the sheet 6 or 8 inches high and then tied a tautline hitch around the second c-clamp to hold the sheet fast. By slipping the tautline hitch down, I could lower the sheet by small degrees until the top edge lined up exactly with my 'V' marks and then I nailed the sheet to the rafters.

I could stand on my walkway to nail in the first sheet, but to provide a place to stand, and keep me from falling off the roof, I made a bracket for the rest of them. I nailed two 4-foot1x6s perpendicular to the ends of an 8-foot 2x4 and made a hook on the end of each 1x6. The hooks grabbed the top edge of the new sheet of OSB and held the 2x4 near the bottom and parallel to the bottom edge of the sheet. This gave me something for my feet to hang on to to keep me from falling off. Once a new sheet was nailed enough to hold, I placed this contraption on top of it and finished nailing it in.

By the end of the day, I finished nailing on the first course and one sheet on the second course.

Somewhere along the line, I read what was stamped on each sheet of OSB and discovered that the manufacturer recommended spacing the sheets 1/8 inch on all sides. This was a surprise to me and I regretted not having read this before I decided where to position the first course. I could have stuck to my original plan because that much spacing would have closed the roof gap just about right. I had left no gap at all placing the first course, but I had a choice to make on spacing the sheets vertically. I decided to space them the diameter of my 7d nails. So when I placed the sheet on the second course, I stuck two nails between the new sheet and the one under it before I nailed it down.

On Thursday morning, I finished nailing on the second course which went a lot faster and easier than the first course. Just after I finished, Larry Copenhaver stopped by and we chatted about problems and techniques in building roofs. After he left, I took some pictures, secured things, had lunch, and left for home shortly after 2:00.

10/5-7/99 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at about 11:30. The weather was nice and dry and the temperature was 60 degrees. Before I got started working, a couple of electricians from Dorsey Electric in Wenatchee drove up in their pickup. They had been working up the road and stopped in to see what was going on at my place. We chatted for a while, and I told them I would give them a call if I decided I wanted help with the wiring.

I started nailing up OSB and got the 3rd course and one and a half sheets of the 4th course nailed on before I quit for the day.

On Wednesday, I nailed up the 4th and 5th courses. That covers exactly half of the big side of the roof, and a little less than a third of the total job.

The weather seemed a little threatening and I didn't like the idea of all that OSB exposed, so I started 6 rolls of 30 lb. felt paper and covered most of the OSB. I left the part that I walk on above the walkway uncovered. I'm not sure if there is enough traction to be safe walking on the felt, or if it can stand up to the traffic without being damaged. Since I didn't know, I decided not to test it right now.

Just about the time I finished with the tar paper, it started raining and I was glad I did what I did. There was still a 4 or 5 foot strip of exposed OSB at the top, and a lot of exposed OSB where I walk up, so I scrambled in the rain to cover these areas with tarps before it got too dark to see. It was pretty dark when I finished at about 7:00.

On Thursday morning I was going to put up another roll of tar paper, but it rained all morning so I decided against it. Instead, I spent the morning screening the tops of the gable walls so that ants and mice can't get up into the space between those rafters. I need to do this and also place insulation in there before I can nail up any more OSB. The wood was treacherously slippery in that rain and it was hard to get the screen stapled in place under those conditions. I got three out of the four done before I had to pack up and leave. I left for home at 1:30.

10/14/99 I skipped working at the property this week because of Frances' funeral on Wednesday. On Thursday, I drove up there just for the day and brought along Gus, Priscilla, Herb, and Vera. They wanted to see the property, the progress and the fall color so this was a good opportunity for a day trip. I was a little afraid of the weather and so I took the opportunity to winterize the trailer while we were there. There was just a little snow in the air as we crossed the pass, but otherwise, the weather was as beautiful as the leaves. We took a lot of pictures and had a nice time.

10/19-21/99 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

The leaves were beautiful and the temperature outside was 45 degrees when I arrived at 10:50. The temperature inside the trailer was 35 degrees so I was glad I got it winterized.

I started out by screening the holes and cracks in the rafters over the gable walls on the southeast side. I wanted to make the cavity between the rafters as ant-proof as I could. I caulked any spots on the screen where I thought an ant might be able to slip through.

Next I measured and cut pieces of fiberglass insulation and placed it between the rafters over the gable walls. I needed to get that done before I could nail any more OSB on the roof.

After that, I had time to nail on 2 and sheets to start course number 6. It was getting pretty dark when I drove the last nail. It was 6:55 and very dark by the time I put the tools away and went in for the night.

On Wednesday morning, I started nailing at about 7:00 when it was almost as dark as when I quit the night before. It was nice and cool and foggy out so it was nice working. It got lighter and warmer as the morning progressed.

Ellen had the day off and so she drove up to check out the progress, see the leaves, and to help nail. She got there at about 2:00 and started right in nailing down OSB. I took a few pictures of her to prove it.

At about 4:00, Earl stopped by with his hammer and with the three of us nailing and carrying OSB we got quite a lot done. By the time we quit at 5:00, we had completed the 8th course and had 4 sheets down on the 9th course. Ellen and I went to the Squirrel Tree for dinner; Earl had some work to do at home so he decided not to join us.

Ellen drove back home from the Squirrel Tree. I was so tired when I got back to the trailer that I went to bed at 8:00. I woke up Thursday morning with a splitting headache and feeling really crummy. I took some aspirin and did my back exercises. Then I laid back down at about 5:00 and went back to sleep. When I woke up at 7:30, my headache was gone. I felt a lot better and got out to work by 8:00.

I had a choice of working on tar papering what we had installed the day before, or to continue nailing up OSB. I chose the latter, and got the entire big side of the roof sheathed by about noon. Larry stopped by and watched me carry and nail one of the sheets.

I covered all the exposed OSB on the roof with tarps by 1:30, then I packed up, had lunch, and left for home at about 2:00.

1999: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 6

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