Construction Journal for 2000, Part 7 of 7

10/31-11/2/00 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

It was raining all the way over the pass and there was some snow on the ground above 3500 feet. By the time I got to Coles Corner it was sunny and dry. But it was raining again at the property when I got there at 12:30. I found quite a few King Boletus mushrooms, but they were all bad except for a couple 2 inch ones. I also noticed some giant mushrooms of a type I never saw before. I took a couple pictures of them.

I noticed that an intruder had been in the building. The sheet metal I had nailed on the bedroom window is nailed on two sides only. It isn't quite big enough in either direction to cover the opening. The intruder had bent the corner of the metal down far enough to allow him to enter. There were little piles of black dirt here and there on the floor that weren't there before. There were also some boot tracks in that same kind of dirt that didn't match any tracks of mine. Fortunately, nothing else seemed to have been disturbed or taken. I think I had better install a bunch of cameras.

I sprayed a second treatment of Tim-bor on the corner log ends. Then I went up to the spring and cleaned out the leaves that had accumulated around it. When I inspected the hose, I found that it was broken and slightly leaking at the union where I had repaired the damage done by the bear, or whatever it was. It looked like I had squeezed the union too hard when I installed it. I still had another unused union, so I replaced the broken part. In the process, I noticed a black slimy scum on the inside of the hose. That convinced me that it was time to replace the hose with a new one. I had a new set of hoses in the building that I bought a long time ago but I had never replaced the old one. Now was the time.

I sauteed the two small mushrooms as an appetizer for dinner and they were delicious. When I went to bed that night, I could hear the water pipe gurgling all night. My repair job on the hose had not been air-tight, and since the damage was on the highest point of the siphon, the hose was sucking in air. The bubbles were then forced down the hose and I could hear them go through the valve 3 feet from the head of the bed all night. I slept pretty well in spite of it.

On Wednesday I stained the log ends with two coats of TWP. That makes the front of the building look much better. When I finished staining, I swept out the inside of the building, and then strung the new hose from the spring to the trailer. I didn't hook it up yet and I didn't disconnect the old one. It was getting too dark.

Thursday morning was devoted to plumbing. I decided to leave both hoses in place and keep water running in both of them. I also decided to run some bleach through both hoses to try to disinfect them.

First, I disconnected the old hose from the trailer plumbing and attached a nozzle to the end of the hose. Then I turned the nozzle off to stop the flow of water. It still flowed some because of the many leaks in the hose. I wanted it to run slowly so that the bleach would stay in the hose longer. I made a screen cover for the top end of the old hose, disconnected the old hose from the plumbing at the spring, put the screen on, poured in the bleach, and finally submerged the end in the spring pond. The siphon was still established so the water and bleach slowly went down the length of the hose.

Next, I hooked all the extra hoses I have together all coiled up under the trailer. I put the two way valve on the end of the new hose and connected one of the outlet ends to the coils of hose under the trailer. The hose at the end of the coils runs over to the creek alongside of the other one connected to the old hose.

Back up at the spring, I poured some bleach in the end of the new hose, poured a gallon and a half of water into the hose trying to establish a siphon, and found that the flow wouldn't start. I am sure it was because of those coils under the trailer. There was some water in some of those coils and it provided enough back pressure to prevent the siphon. I disconnected the new hose halfway down the hill and got the siphon going on the top section. I connected the top of the hose to the spring plumbing and went back down and reconnected it where I had opened it up. There was a good flow of water so after I reconnected it, there was a good flow through the entire hose. Finally, I took the nozzle off the end of the old hose and connected it to a hose going into the creek. The hoses were now all set for winter.

Next, I winterized the trailer. I still hadn't fixed the 12 volt power problem so I had to jury rig the wiring from the pickup battery to the 12 volt panel in order to power the pump. I need to save myself a lot of hassle by fixing that problem some day before the next winterizing.

I put everything away, had lunch, packed up and left for home at 1:30.

11/7-9/00 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

There had been some snow in the pass, but the road was clear and just a little snow on the ground above 3500 feet. I met Larry walking on the road near his home on the way in and I stopped and chatted with him for a while. I arrived at the property at 12:30. It was a pretty cold 40 degrees but there was no rain.

After moving in, I dismantled the corner scaffold rig and the top tier consisting of one frame and 4 braces.

On Wednesday morning, I awoke to about 2 inches of snow on the ground and it was still snowing. The eaves pretty much covered the scaffold tower, so it didn't bother my work at all. I dismantled the rest of the tower and stored the frames, braces, and planks inside the building. Then I took some pictures of the front of the building with the new stain on 2/3 of it and with no scaffolding in the picture.

After lunch, I rigged the winch up inside the building. I want to get the two half-logs that Chris and Joan gave me up under cover before winter plus it will be handy to have the winch rigged up to move the plywood and shower stall into the building later.

I started pulling one of the half-logs up and got it halfway up when John stopped by. He helped me get the log the rest of the way up and stored under the porch roof. He said he needed to get to Leavenworth in the morning to get his dog at the vet. He had had her spayed and he said he might not have a ride in the morning. I told him to stop by if he needed a ride.

On Thursday morning, John stopped by at 9:30 and I drove him to Leavenworth. We picked up Winky and I drove them both back to John's place. By the time I got back, it was time to put things away, pack up and head for home. I left at about 1:30. There was quite a bit of new snow on the ground going over the pass, but there was only a short stretch at the very top with compact snow on the roadway.

11/11/00 Dick and Diantha and I went up to the property just for the day. The weather was nice and clear, but cold. We walked up to the spring, looked over the building, and had a nice chat inside until we got cold. Then we went down to the trailer to warm up and they showed me pictures of their remodeling project. From there, we made a quick trip to Leavenworth and then to Index where we had dinner at the Bush House restaurant. I did not go up to the property for the rest of the week.

11/17/00 Bought 20 lb. of Board Defense at Wood Care Systems. This is essentially the same product as Tim-bor and Penetreat. I didn't learn exactly why they switched to this product.

11/21-22/00 I went up to the property for 2 days: Tuesday and Wednesday.

I arrived at about 1:00. The weather was cold but nice and sunny. Nothing seemed to be disturbed and there was no sign of an intruder or mischief. After moving in, I rigged up the winch and pulled the second half-log, that Chris and Joan had given me for stair runners, up the cliff and got it stowed under the porch roof. That way, if I get around to building the staircases this winter, I won't have to dig those logs out from under the snow.

On Wednesday morning, it was 22 degrees and sunny. It was a beautiful day without breath of wind. I dismantled the top half of the chip bin and stacked the boards. Then I started hauling the chips away in the wheelbarrow. I spread them out on the trail to the spring and by the end of the day, I had half the bin empty and had the trail covered from the woodshed to the bear-bitten tree.

The work was mindless, but very pleasant. It gave me lot of time to think about the meaning of life. There was not a breath of wind so except for me, there was no sound but the birds singing. I didn't see any other wildlife, but I did find two discarded snake skins in the chip bin under the tarps.

The chips make it easier to walk on the trails and will keep the plants from growing back so fast. Having the chips on the trails also makes the woods look more picturesque. I was going to take some pictures, but it started getting too dark. I left for home about 4:30.

11/28-29/00 I went up to the property for 2 days: Tuesday and Wednesday.

There was quite a bit of new snow in the pass but only compact snow and ice on the road so I didn't have to put on chains. There was snow on the road all the way to the property with about 18 inches on the ground. I dug out a parking place next to the gate and parked the pickup there. Then I moved in, made trails with the snowshoes, and had lunch. After lunch, I dug out the parking place inside the gate.

Just as I finished and started dismantling the gate, a snowplow stopped and the operator offered to help me clear the snow. I told him I was already done with that but that he could help me lift the log gate off the post. He agreed and the two of us got the log off and laid alongside the parking space.

After I parked the pickup, I had enough time left to set up some scaffolding inside the building for use in working on the loft floor.

In the evening, I learned from Ellen that our furnace was not working properly so I decided to cut my trip short so I could go home and deal with the problem.

On Wednesday, I called the furnace repair people and made arrangements to meet them at home late in the afternoon. I also called Mike Dickinson and left a message asking him to plow out my parking place each Monday if there was snow. That will give me a little more time each week to work on actual construction instead of snow shoveling.

I finally went to work, plumbed the south wall of the mud room and then measured and marked the joists over that wall for cutting. Then I decided that I didn't want to fasten those joists down until after I had moved all the loft plywood into the building; the joists would be in the way. I set up the rigging necessary to use the winch to pull the plywood into the building, and then had lunch and packed up to leave. I left at about 2:00.

12/5-6/00 I went up to the property for two days: Tuesday and Wednesday.

The weather was sunny and 33 degrees when I arrived at noon. I was pleased to find that Mike Dickinson had scooped out my parking place. Even though it had snowed quite a bit, it must have melted or got rained on because it had shrunk so there was only about three inches of crusty new snow on the trails. So I didn't have to break the trails with snowshoes either. It made moving in pretty easy. I was also pleased to find no evidence of mischief.

After I moved in, I un-barricaded the front door, rigged up the winch, and pulled 15 sheets of plywood for the loft floor up into the building. Then I set up some temporary ramps and used the winch to move the tub and shower stall into the building also. And then, since the winch was all rigged up and the door was open, I lifted the last three sheets of 3/4 inch OSB up into the building.

On Wednesday, I continued working on framing the loft floor over the mud room. I cut the joists to length, nailed the first five joist hangers down, and screwed the joists and the blocking down to the loft beam and the mud room wall.

I had to leave early again because the furnace was still not fixed and I needed to be home to meet the repair man. I left about 4:00.

12/13-14/00 I went up to the property for 2 days: Wednesday and Thursday.

My week was short again because we had Cub Scout meetings Tuesday night and Thursday night. I arrived at noon. It was snowing lightly and there was about 3 inches of new snow. The temperature was 17 degrees. After moving in, I made a rim board for the ends of the joists over the mud room out of a left over piece of cedar fascia. Then I screwed it onto the ends of the joists. This board, together with the blocking over the main loft joist made the 5 joists over the mud room sturdy enough so I could stack the loft floor plywood up there.

I rigged up the winch in order to lift the sheets of plywood up one at a time. By the end of the day, I had all 15 sheets lifted and stacked on top of the mud room. It will be easy to slide them into place for the floor when all the joists are in place.

There are three or four long roof panels that look like they might have slid down from a half inch to three quarters of an inch. I'm not sure if they were installed that way or if they slid. I will have to keep an eye on them to try to figure it out. If they slid, I am sure I can beat them back with a short 2x4 and a heavy hammer but I hope I don't have to do that. We'll see.

On Thursday morning it was 10 degrees out and there was only about an inch of new snow. A snowstorm was forecast for the middle of the day so I decided to leave early enough to avoid it. I used a big hammer and chisel to flatten the D2 column for a joist hanger. Then I installed the hanger and the joist. Then I nailed the first ten joist hangers on the northeast wall. They had only been partially nailed. When that was done, I swept the floor and packed up to leave. I left for home about 1:30.

12/19-21/00 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

There had been about two feet of new snow in the Lake Wenatchee area and there was still some on the roads. I delivered Christmas jam to Dickinsons, Earl and Dana, Copenhavers, and Tutinos on the way. I arrived at the property at about 12:30 and was pleased to find that Mike had plowed out my parking place. I needed to use the snowshoes, however, to make trails to the trailer, the compost pile, the cabin, and the privy. The snow was pretty deep and heavy so the trail making took a little effort. I also shoveled the snow off the cover of the mixer because the snow load was getting pretty heavy.

After moving in and having lunch, I made a bunch of measurements in order to begin designing the staircases. I measured enough treads to get the minimum and average dimensions; I measured the two log stringers I got from Chris and Joan; and I measured the loft beam size and position. Then I measured and marked the loft beam for the joist placements. Before it started getting dark, I nailed one more joist hanger for the loft floor.

Just as I finished that, the power failed. I went down to the power pole and found that the breaker had tripped. I was low on propane so I had the electric heater running ever since I moved in. I figured that might have contributed to the breaker tripping. Rather than risk another outage, I quit for the day and switched to propane to heat the trailer.

On Wednesday morning it was a pleasant 26 degrees out. I hauled a big garbage can of yard waste to the compost pile and then I measured and cut all the remaining loft joists to length, got them all placed, and got half of them fastened in place. All the while I was thinking about alternatives for constructing and finishing the edges of the loft. I did not reach any conclusions about exactly how to do it.

On Thursday it was 25 degrees and snowing lightly off and on. The radio said that a snowstorm was due in the middle of the day, so in spite of Ellen being home so I didn't have to get Andrew, I decided to leave fairly early anyway. Before I started work, I filled the garbage can in the pickup with snow so Andrew and I could have a snowball fight when I got home. Then I fastened all the rest of the loft joists except for the two that are opposed to the staircase. I left for home at about 1:30.

12/21/00 Had a long phone conversation with Bill Edson talking about alternatives for the loft edge. He introduced me to the concept of knee walls among other things. I talked with Ellen later and found that she preferred wood rather than drywall on the vertical face of the loft edge. I decided to install the knee walls as Bill suggested. I went to Home Depot and got the 4x4s for the baluster posts. The knee walls will not only keep things from rolling off the loft floor, but they will make those baluster posts a lot more sturdy.

12/26-28/00 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at about 12:15. The temperature was about 33 degrees and there was about three inches of crusty, crunchy new snow on the ground. It was the obvious result of a deeper snowfall that had been rained on and then re-frozen. I didn't need the snowshoes in order to make the trails. It looked like there had been about two inches of new snow since the driveway had been scooped out. It is sure nice not having to shovel out the driveway in order to park. I should have had Mike do that a long time ago.

While the trailer was warming up, I carried up four 8 foot 4x4s that I had brought with me. These will make the posts for the railing around the edge of the loft. I also brought a bunch of 6 inch lengths of 3/8 allthread which I will use to bolt the bottoms of the posts to the floor joists. I am still mulling over ideas for attaching the 1x2 balusters to the railings. Bill Edson gave me some ideas which I am considering. I need to decide before I install the posts or else I run the risk of doing things in a less than efficient sequence. One more fun thing to think about.

I also carried up a supply of subfloor glue and screws. By that time the trailer was warmed up and I went in for lunch.

After lunch, I straightened the rim board over the kitchen. The ends of the joists weren't in line so the rim board was slightly bent. The bend was visible from the first floor so I decided that if I didn't fix it now when it was easy, I would always see the bend and regret not fixing it.

The problem was that the near-end joist was a little short. The second one was also short but not as much. I fixed the problem by taking out the screws into those joists, shimming the rim out to make it straight, and then replacing the screws. The rim now looks perfectly straight and I am glad I fixed it.

Next, I measured for, and cut the header for the top of the staircase. Then I re-bent four joist hangers so that they hang the TJIs flush with each other, and then used these to hang the header and two joists to form the top of the stairwell.

Since all the floor joists were now in place, I could easily reach the top of the rim joist on the northeast wall. I had left out the nails in the tops of the joist hangers on this wall because they would be a lot easier to install after I could walk on top of the joists. I counted the joists, figured out how many nails I would need, and then counted the number of joist hanger nails I had left. I figured I was short about 24 nails. During dinner, and before I went to sleep, I mulled over my alternatives: I could leave some holes without nails; I could use non specified nails; I could drive to Plain to buy some more; I could call Mike T. to see if he had some I could buy. I didn't like any of these alternatives so I didn't make a decision.

On Wednesday, it was a sunny 40 degrees. When I woke up, I thought of another alternative: I had used joist hanger nails to fasten the planks on the scaffold that was still in place on the northeast wall. With the loft floor in place, the lower part of the scaffold would be unnecessary so I could dismantle it and get enough nails to finish nailing the floor hangers.

So, I started right out and dismantled one plank from the scaffold and retrieved over 30 nails. Then I went to work nailing the hangers. To my surprise, I discovered that I had already nailed one of the two flanges of each hanger to the rim joist. I had done that before I installed the rim joist on the wall because that was the easiest. That meant that I had over twice the number of nails that I needed and I didn't have to take the scaffold apart yet after all. Oh well. I had to do it sooner or later anyway so the time was not wasted. It's another good lesson about how trustworthy my memory is though.

When the hangers were nailed down, I measured for the blocking between the joists over the main loft beam between the stairwell and the northwest wall. Then I took the measurements down and cut the 9 or so pieces. I was feeling very smart about keeping the stack of pieces in sequence so that when I brought them up to the loft I could lay them out in sequence so that I would have the right piece to fit between each pair of joists.

When I got up in position to fasten down the first piece, I found that it was about a half inch too long. I couldn't believe that my measurement was off by so much, but since I hadn't written them down, but relied on my memory for the nine or so numbers, I figured I had remembered the number wrong. I tried the second one. It was closer, but was about a quarter inch short. My confidence was shattered. I decided to try to find any piece that fit any space and screw it in, and then re-cut pieces to fit the rest of the spaces. I didn't feel so smart at that point.

After finding a couple pieces that fit, and screwing them in, it dawned on me that I might have laid the pieces out in the backward sequence. I checked it out, and sure enough, that is what I had done. Now I really felt dumb. I'm glad no one was watching me. But then again, here I am writing about it in this journal so the whole world can know. There is so much mystery in life.

After all the blocking was in place, it was time to begin glueing and screwing down the plywood subfloor. That is kind of exciting because progress seems to be so fast. With each sheet fastened down, there is that much more floor space to walk around on and to store things on.

Before I started, I strung a tight string over the joists four feet from the wall and marked where the edge of the first course of sheets should be. Then I figured out a strategy for sheet placement and cut and installed the first sheet. I was very proud of that first sheet, and by about 5:00 I had a good start on the second sheet. Then, in a careless moment, the screw I was bearing down on, tipped over and the spinning screwdriver bit went right into my left thumbnail and tore about half of it off.

It happened so fast that it didn't hurt and I didn't realize I was injured until I thought about it. I looked at my thumb, and sure enough, I had done exactly the same thing Doctor Dick had told me he had done to his left thumb. I guess his lesson was not good enough for me; I had to learn the hard way by doing the same thing to myself.

Half of the nail was swinging up, like a swinging chad, so I used my left index finger to push it back down and hold it in place. This stopped the bleeding. Since it still didn't hurt very much, and since I had wet glue under the sheet that wasn't screwed down yet, I decided to finish screwing the sheet down. I spaced the screws twice as far apart as usual with the intention of putting the rest of them in later. When the sheet was fastened down in that manner, I decided to quit for the day.

I bandaged my thumb up in the trailer and had dinner. Then at 7:00, since my thumb was still not hurting, I decided to go back and finish screwing that sheet in. That went very well so I decided to install a third sheet. Ellen called me in the middle of that sheet, and after we hung up, I finished screwing that one down. I finally called it a night and went in at about 9:30.

On Thursday morning, I cut and installed the fourth and last sheet in that course. I was pleased with the result and figured that now that the straight edge of the first course was established, the rest of the sheets would go faster because I didn't have to worry about alignment.

I decided to install a full sheet near the middle of the second course. I got it positioned so I could flip it into place, I spread glue over all the joists it would touch, and then flipped the sheet over onto the glued joists. The next thing was to get the tongue on the sheet to enter the groove on the sheets of the first course. This sheet was curved so that both tongue corners were bent up. I stood on one corner and pushed the tongue of that corner into the groove and then put one screw into the corner to hold it. Then I went over to the other corner and stood on it to bend it down flat and found that I didn't have any way of pushing the sheet into the groove. If I stepped off the sheet so I could push it, then the corner lifted up and the tongue couldn't go into the groove.

I tried a dozen different things. Different ways of holding the corners down, different ways of trying to force the sheet over, trying to figure out where the hang-up was, starting with the other corner, jumping on the sheet, getting a big hammer and a 2x4 and pounding on the other edge, and nothing worked. All the time, the glue is drying and I am getting exasperated and exhausted. I figured that these are the conditions where I am likely to make a bigger mistake than drilling into my thumb, so I decided to give up.

I pulled the sheet up and flipped it over. Then with a couple chisels, I scraped the glue off the sheet before it hardened. By the time I finished that, I realized that the glue still hadn't started to harden, probably because of the cold temperature. I also realized that I couldn't scrape the glue off the joists without crawling out onto the glued joists on my hands and knees. I didn't want to do that.

Instead, I decided to try a new sheet to see if I couldn't get it seated into the groove. I got a new sheet, and was very relieved to be able to get it seated properly. I figured there was enough glue left on the joists to do the job and I screwed the sheet in place whether there was enough glue or not. In the worst case, there might be one place where the loft floor might develop a creak. If that happens, it will just have to be one more addition to the charm of the cabin. For my part, I was happy to have that sheet in place and since it was about noon, I decided to quit for the week. Maybe next week I will find installing the sheets to be as easy as I had imagined they would be. I had lunch and left for home about 1:30.

2000: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

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