Construction Journal for 2002, Part 2 of 6

3/12-14/02 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way up, I bought a hacksaw handle that exposes one end of a hacksaw blade, hoping this would work to cut that rebar spike. I arrived a 1:00. It was 36 degrees and there was 10 inches of heavy wet new snow on the ground. The driveway had not been cleared, but with a good run at it and two or three attempts, I was able to barge the pickup into the parking space without doing any shoveling.

After moving in, I shoveled a path through the big snowbank in front of the crawlspace door. Then I went to work on the rebar with my new hacksaw. I was able to reach the spike with the blade, but I could only make short strokes, and of course, I couldn't see what I was doing to the spike. After about an hour's worth of sawing, I thought I was through so I rigged up a come-along, double blocked with a snatch block between the building wall and the Grid G porch beam. The beam didn't budge, so I figured that I hadn't cut all the way through the spike after all. I tried hitting the joist from below with a sledge hammer, and luckily was able to move the joist up off the beam about a half inch. This allowed me to see in the crack and discover that indeed I hadn't cut all the way through the rebar. It also allowed me a better attack on the rebar with the saw.

With another few hundred short strokes with the hacksaw, I cut completely through the pin. Since I was already rigged up to pull on the beam, it was easy and gratifying to click the come-along until the beam and column moved into near perfect alignment. I was rigged to apply about two tons of force on that beam, but I think 40 or 50 pounds would have easily done the trick. Oh well. Nothing like making sure.

On Wednesday morning, I gwizzed the fourth and last log destined to be a porch joist. Then, since it looked like it was going to be a nice sunny day, I decided to take advantage of the sun and scribe the four logs that I had gwizzed. The scribing goes much faster using the sun than by sighting across the strings.

Now that I am almost done needing to scribe logs for flattening, I figured out a new way to speed up the process. I figured out a faster way to align the 1x2s that I nail on the ends of the log to hold the strings. These 1x2s need to be parallel and the way I did it before was to use a level to get one of the 1x2s level, block the log in place, and then use the level on the other end to align the other 1x2. The time consuming part is getting the log blocked up so the 1x2 is exactly level. Crooked logs like to make up their own minds about how they lie down.

My new method is to use a C-clamp to fasten a 4-foot 2x4 on top of the 1x2 that is already nailed in place. The top of the 2x4 is visible above the log all the way across when sighted from either the top or the bottom of either end of the other 1x2. By sighting in this way, the second 1x2 can be aligned as accurately as you can do it with a level, and it doesn't matter in what position the log is lying.

So, with this new technique, and with the bright sun shining, I was able to scribe all four logs before lunch. I remembered the first log I scribed for flattening and I think it took me an entire day. Too bad I didn't know these techniques then.

After lunch, I got Mother Sow out, flattened the four logs and fashioned the bearing ends. Then I lifted the two smaller ones up onto the deck.

On Thursday morning, I made a spike using Dr. Dick's rebar cutter, drilled a new hole, and spiked the joist log back down into the Grid G beam. This time, the column was nice and plumb. Then I rigged up two come-alongs and lifted the two big logs up on the porch deck. These were the last joist logs I would make, so I decided to clean up the chips from the gwizzing station. They were about 6 or 8 inches deep. I used my aluminum grain scoop for most of it, and a lawn rake for the final cleanup. It looks nice and neat on the roadway now.

Before I quit for the week, I made measurements of the porch structure so that I could begin designing the main outside staircase. I have decided to make it curve and widen out at the bottom. I think it will look grand. I left for home at about 1:00.

3/16/02 I drew the preliminary plans for the outside staircase.

3/19/02 I was unable to get over the pass due to avalanche closures so I skipped going to the property this week. I had to take Mom to the doctor for an 11:30 appointment, so I wasn't able to leave home until about 1:00. As soon as I had gassed up the pickup and was on my way, I heard on the radio that the pass was closed until 7 pm. I turned around and went back home to decide what to do. The official word was that the pass was closed, but Sky Towing in Skykomish told me that it was open and that people were getting across.

Since in my previous experience the official word has consistently been wrong, I decided to go for it. It was snowing starting at Baring, and it snowed very heavily from there on. By the time I got to Skykomish, there was about 3 inches on the road. I stopped at the Ranger Station and put on my chains. Then at about Deception Falls, all the traffic was stopped because a tractor trailer had jackknifed and run head on into a car. I sat from 4:00 until 4:30 waiting for that to clear.

We got going again, but a half hour later, up near Scenic, traffic was stopped again. At about 5:30, cars began turning around and the people told us that the Highway Patrol had decided not to open the pass until the next morning. I joined the rest of them -- except for the tractor trailers -- turned around and went back home.

I decided not to try to go up later because more snow was forecast for Thursday and Friday and there was a good chance I would get stuck on the other side. As it turned out, they didn't reopen the pass until mid afternoon the next day anyway.

3/26-28/02 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

It was 40 degrees when I arrived at 12:45. The new snow that had fallen had pretty much melted back to the old level. It just made it a little whiter on top. I found a note from Rik Neubauer in the door of the trailer. He said "We were in the neighborhood and the house looks great." He left his phone number and e-mail address.

After moving in, I laid out the remaining joists and moved the biggest one into position as the 9th one. I leveled it, scribed it, got Mother Sow out, and notched the beams to receive the joist.

On Wednesday, I spiked in joist number 9. Then I used a smaller log as joist number 10 and installed it. Then I chose another large log for joist number 11. I moved it into position and had just got it positioned and leveled when Larry and Sally stopped by. They looked things over and we had a nice chat. Sally left to continue her bike ride and Larry and I went down to the trailer and I showed him my outside staircase design. He agreed that it looked a lot better than the original plan. I had lunch after he left.

Again alternating smaller and bigger logs, I installed joists number 11 and 12 and I placed, scribed, and notched for joist number 13.

On Thursday morning, I saw that all the snow had slid off the roof during the night for the first time. A sure sign Spring is coming. I spiked in joist number 13 and installed number 14, the last one. It was very gratifying to finally get all the joists installed. I was very thankful for Dr. Dick's rebar cutter. I cut 18 half-inch pins for the joists with it this week. I took a bunch of pictures of the deck and left for home at about 1:00.

4/2-4/02 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I did a bunch of chores before I left including delivering my income tax and stopping in at the Social Security office. Then I stopped in and visited Marilyn and Rocky on the way through, so I didn't arrive until 2:00. It was a very pleasant 42 degrees out -- warm enough to stain.

All the snow was gone from the upper roadway in front of the building so Spring is almost here. After moving in, I went to work staining the last 5 1/2 logs on the northeast wall. I barely had enough stain to give them one coat.

On Wednesday, I spread some of the dirt on the roadway that I had piled up from excavating under the porch. The snow had melted back enough for me to spread quite a bit of it out. Next, I built a scaffold in order to reach the top of the Grid G3 column and the end of the Grid G purlin. I used the 20 foot extension ladder up against the purlin from the uphill side. It barely reached fully extended. Then I used a bracket hanging from the ladder to support one end of a plank.

To support the other end, I cantilevered a small log over the edge of the Grid F.5 porch beam and lashed the other end to the joist logs. I finished just before lunch.

After lunch, I used the Bosch planer and planed the entire G3 column. The log is pine and it had discolored quite a bit from the sun. After planing, it looked nice and white again. The purlin was pretty well protected from the sun and looked in good enough shape to stain without planing it. It would have also been pretty hard to do so that helped me decide.

I mixed up one gallon of Board Defense and treated the column and the end of the purlin with two applications.

On Thursday morning, I used up the remaining stain and stained the column and about 8 feet of the end of the purlin. Then I took the scaffold apart, put away the ladder and the rest of the tools, and went up and cleaned out the spring. There wasn't too much debris to clean out, but there is a lot of snow melt water flowing around the spring box. I left for home shortly after 1:00.

4/9-11/02 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way up, I stopped at WoodCare Systems and bought 5 gallons of TWP. I arrived at the property at 1:00. It was 45 degrees out and the snow had melted back quite a bit. Making half a dozen good runs at it, I was able to barge the pickup about halfway up to the trailer. I high-centered on the snow for part of the way, but I got quite a ways anyway.

After moving in, I brought a steel scaffold frame, a come-along, and a short chain down and re-installed the log gate. By next week, and with the track I had just made, people will be able to drive up the driveway from now on if I don't close the gate.

I spent the rest of the afternoon applying the second coat of TWP to the bottom 5 1/2 logs on the northeast wall. After dinner, when it was dark, the frogs were croaking as loud as I have heard them for quite a few years. I hope they are making a comeback.

On Wednesday I set up the same scaffold rig as before with the ladder up against the end of the Grid G purlin and planks stretched from the deck to a bracket hanging from the ladder. Then I applied the second coat of TWP in the G3 column and the end of the Grid G purlin.

I dismantled that scaffold and moved the ladder to rest against the Grid G purlin about halfway between the G2 and G3 columns. Then with planks stretched from a bracket on the ladder to the deck, I was able to reach the rest of the entire Grid G purlin. I applied one coat on the entire purlin. By then it was lunch time.

After lunch, I dismantled that scaffold and built a scaffold platform at the level of the porch deck around the F3 column. I used four 16 foot 4x4s cantilevered off the end of the deck for support. First I chained one end of each of two 4x4s to a joist so the 4x4 stuck out about 3 feet beyond the deck. Then I chained a second 4x4 on top of each of these so they stuck out an additional 3 feet or so. The plan was to be able to reach the end of the Grid F purlin. I'm still not sure this will work because that purlin is pretty high and it sticks out 6 feet beyond the building.

But at least this rig supported planks that allowed me to easily reach the top F3 column. I brought out the scaffold steps that I had used on the wall scaffolding and set them on the platform so I could reach the top of the column. Then I planed, rasped, and sanded most of the top F3 column. Since it was in the direct sun, it had discolored quite a bit, so when I cleaned it up it made a world of difference. Those three tools are a good combination for a log with a lot of lumps. The plane can reach any part that is flat or convex. Then, the big heavy rasp, which I have named Rasputin, can reach the rest of the places and it removes material pretty fast. It leaves a very rough surface, but following up with 60 grit paper in the sander smooths that right out without much effort. When I get around to finishing the inside walls, that is probably the scheme I will use.

One jay visited me earlier when I was staining and he took one peanut from me. He flew off and a half hour later, he returned with a flock of 5 or 6 birds. For some reason though, none of them got up enough nerve to come and get a peanut and they all finally gave up and left. I think maybe they didn't like the smell of the new stain. Either that or my peanuts are stale and they have better pickings somewhere else.

On Thursday morning, I finished up planing, rasping, and sanding the top F3 column. I mixed up one can of Board Defense and sprayed two applications on the top F3m column. Then to give it time to dry, I put away most of the tools and had lunch. By that time, the column was dry to the touch so I applied two coats of TWP. I wanted to get it stained before I left so the sun wouldn't discolor it again before I got back. By the time I left for home at 2:30, the snow in the driveway had melted back so much that I was able to back right out with no problem. Next week I expect I will be able to drive all the way up to the trailer.

4/16-18/02 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I started getting a sore throat Monday but I decided to go up anyway. I arrived at 1:15 and was able to drive all the way up to the trailer. The temperature was 47 degrees. Dr. Dick had just cautioned me to be extra careful so I thought about my scaffold strategy on the drive up. I decided not to use my jury rigged cantilever scaffold and to set up a proper steel scaffold tower instead. I think the cantilever would have worked, but I know the steel tower is safe.

After moving in, I dismantled the cantilever rig, brought out four steel frames, and erected a two-tier tower under the end of the Grid F purlin. I used my handy dandy portable custom made crane to lift the upper frames and the tower went up like clockwork. I'm getting pretty good at it.

Then I set the two home-made scaffold steps on the deck and the tops of them were just about even with the top of the tower. I clamped the steps to the deck and clamped a 4x4 across the tops of both steps. Then I made a nice platform of planks resting on the top of the tower and on the 4x4. From that, I could easily, safely, and comfortably reach about 10 feet of the end of the Grid F purlin.

On Wednesday, I used the planer, Rasputin, and the sander to prepare the 10 foot end of the purlin. I debated on whether or not to go to that effort, but seeing how nice the wood looked I was glad I decided to do it. I sprayed on two applications of Board Defense before I stopped for lunch. It wasn't quite dry by the time I finished lunch, so I went to work planing, rasping, and sanding the lower F3 column and the F.5,3 column. I could reach them from the ground.

I sprayed two applications of Board Defense on the columns, and then painted two coats of TWP on the purlin. It looked so nice in the sun that I took some pictures of it.

On Thursday, I applied two coats of TWP on the two columns, the ends of the porch beams, and the first deck joist log. Now all the logwork on the front of the building is stained and it makes it look really nice. I am happy with how it is turning out. Next, I dismantled all the scaffolding and put everything away. I left for home at 1:30.

4/23-25/02 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

Before I left I brought Chuck to his driver's test and then stopped in at Priscilla's to look at her lawnmower, so I didn't arrive until 1:45. There had been some new snow the night before, but by the time I got there none was left on the ground. When I was moving in, I saw two gray jays by the compost pile. One of them took one peanut from me and the other one, after a long hesitation, took two. Then they disappeared. I really don't think they like those raw peanuts. I'll have to get some more roasted unsalted ones.

After moving in, I built a platform between the F2 and F3 columns. For support, I laid two 4x4s on the joists sort of like rails on ties. Then I laid four short 6x8s across them and set the two scaffold stairs on the 6x8s. I laid a 4x4 from the top of one of the stairs over to the living room window ledge, and another 4x4 from the top of the other stair over to a loop of tire chain hanging from a rebar pin in the log wall near the front door. Finally I laid planks on top of these 4x4s to form a 6 foot by 8 foot platform under the Grid F purlin.

Working on that platform, I planed, rasped, and sanded the second 8 or 10 feet of the purlin and I was able to spray on two applications of Board Defense before I quit for the day.

On Wednesday, I applied one coat of TWP to the section of the purlin, and while that was drying, I went up and checked the spring. There were lots of bear signs around. He had been busy tearing apart old rotten stumps and logs. I also went up to check on the little tree I had transplanted years ago, and which the deer kept nibbling down. The tomato trellis and the screen I had put around it had been broken and smashed down by the snow. I bent it up straight again and was pleased to see that the little tree was nice and green and bushy. I hope it can grow up without succumbing to the root rot that wiped the big trees out in that area.

I applied the second coat of TWP to the purlin, dismantled the platform, and reassembled another one under the center of the purlin. I used a tire chain hanging from the wall for each 4x4 this time. Then I planed, rasped, sanded, sprayed, and stained two coats of Board Defense and TWP on the middle section of the purlin and most of the top part of the Grid F2 column.

On Thursday, I moved the scaffold platform again, and from there, I planed, rasped, sanded and applied two coats of Board Defense to the purlin between F1 and F2. Then I made measurements of the elevation of the ground under the eaves on the south corner so that I can do some more designing of the outside staircase. I want a fairly big set of rock steps starting outside the drip line, a triangular landing, and a post for the handrail within the drip line and 4 or 5 feet from the Grid G3 column. That way you can approach the staircase as you come up the road and it will be nice and wide.

After making the measurements, I cleaned up a bunch of chips from the deck and from the ground. I left for home at 2:00.

4/30-5/2/02 I went up to the property for 3 days with Chuck K.: Tuesday through Thursday.

We arrived at about noon. Chuck hadn't seen the place for quite a while so we did the grand tour before we moved in. After having some lunch, Chuck went to work and felled one of the bowed trees I want to use for an outside staircase stringer. I couldn't find the second tree so I settled on a fallen tree instead for the second stringer. Chuck limbed, cut to length, and spudded the bark off both logs and then the two of us dragged the logs out of the woods and over to the gwizzing station. While Chuck was working in the woods, I stained the purlin between F1 and F2.

Before we quit for the night, I rigged up the gwiz sling and demonstrated the gwizzard to Chuck. That night, we put the screens back into the trailer windows.

On Wednesday, Chuck gwizzed the two logs, moved the rock pile I had made last winter from under the eaves. He separated the smaller rocks I would use on the foundation wall from the bigger ones that I will use for the lower outside staircase. He also strung a water hose from the trailer to the loft so I can mix mortar up there, he stained the rest of the Grid F purlin, and he moved a bunch of log ends out from under where the staircase will be and moved them up by the privy.

While he was doing that, I rebuilt the scaffold platform, planed, rasped, and sanded the tops of the F1, F2, G1, and G2 columns, and then sprayed them with Board Defense.

I helped Chuck move a bunch of tarps and vis-queen which I had used to cover the roof, up to a clearing by the drainfield so we could fold them up. There were two 40x40 foot tarps among them and they take a lot of room to fold up. I gave the tarps to Chuck because I had no further use for them and we loaded them into the pickup.

On Thursday, Chuck stained some joists, the F.5 beam, and about a third of the F beam. It really makes them look nice. I finished sanding the four columns and then Chuck sprayed them with Board Defense while I started putting things away and packing up. We left for home at 1:00.

5/7-9/02 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at 12:45. It was pretty cool; there was quite a bit of new snow in the pass, but none on the road. After moving in, I finished staining the F1, F2, G1, and G2 columns above the porch deck level. Then I sanded and stained the rough door opening of the front door. I decided to leave these exposed since they match and tie in well with the logs, and I can use a quarter round or cove molding to interface them nicely with the door jambs. The wood was very discolored but it brightened up nicely with the sander. It looks beautiful now that it is stained.

On Wednesday, I got Mother Sow out, cut the protruding ends off two of the deck joists that were too long, and used Rasputin to chamfer the ends of all the joists. Then I cleared all the planks and boards from the joists that hadn't been stained, which was about 2/3 or 3/4 of them, and I broomed off all the chips, sawdust, and dirt that had accumulated on them. Then, before I broke for lunch, I mixed up and sprayed two cans full of Board defense on the remaining joists and the bottom sections of the 4 columns that weren't yet stained.

I was visited by 3 or 4 gray jays who took some peanuts from me, but they didn't seem to like them. I have become convinced that they don't like the raw peanuts, so I will bring some roasted ones up next time.

Just as I was fixing my coffee after lunch, Earl stopped by and had a cup of coffee with me. Then we both went up to survey the work. While we were up in the loft, Larry stopped by and the three of us discussed alternatives for building the front entry staircase. Since Chuck moved all the debris out from that area, it is now a little easier to visualize what different alternatives might look like.

After Earl and Larry left, I stained all the remaining joists and columns. When I finished I had only about a cupful of stain left out of a total of 29 gallons that I used. It felt good to finally have all the staining done for everything that is built so far. I will need to stain the staircase when I build it, but I won't start that for a while.

On Thursday, I began preparing for the next project which will be chinking the outside of the northeast wall starting at the gable peak. I brought the scaffold frames I will use up to the loft as well as the bundle of PVC conduit that I will use as permanent penetrations in the log walls for holding the scaffold bolts whenever I need to set up scaffolding. I will be able to get at the upper part of the wall through the loft windows. I also removed the scaffold inside the gable.

To keep the scaffold bolts from bending under the load, I will make wooden supports that will fit in the crack between the logs on the outside where the bolt comes out. I did quite a bit of measuring and thinking about how these supports should be made and finally made up my mind.

At first I thought they should be wedge shaped so they would fit snugly into the crack between the logs. But since the surfaces of the logs are cylindrical, the wedge would only be in tangent contact with the logs unless I shaped the logs to fit. But then, there would be a sloping bearing surface and the load would tend to force the wedge out of place. So I abandoned that idea.

Instead, the supports will be completely rectangular with the wood grain going horizontally to minimize the chance of the bolt splitting the support. The hole for the pipe needs to be 7/8" in diameter so I have decided the support will be 3 3/8" wide. That leaves 1 1/4" of wood on each side of the hole. I will use 2x4 scraps to make the supports, so they will be 1 1/2 inches thick. To bring the face of the support out nearly flush with the outside of the wall, for a typical crack between the logs, the support needs to be 2 1/2" high.

To make the notch in the wall for a support, I will use a 2 or 3 lb. hammer and the big huge wood chisel. It should be very easy and quick to chisel the recess in the logs to receive the support block. With this method, the force of the bolt on the block bears on a horizontal surface chiseled into the bottom log so there will be no force tending to dislodge the support. It should work fine and should be easy to implement.

For the top position of the scaffold for reaching the gable peak, I will use 3 frames. So I need to install 3 of those support blocks. I decided that in order to install them, I needed to temporarily hang 3 scaffold frames a few feet lower. There happened to be a big crack between the logs at this level so it was easy to install the 3 frames. Then I brought up two planks and placed them on the frames. I did all of this through the loft windows. I could reach everything pretty easily from inside. I got out on to the temporary scaffold and found that by sitting on the planks it will be just right for working on installing the support blocks. I haven't decided whether or not to put handrails up on the temporary scaffold. I'll decide next week when I actually get out there to work.

With that done, I am ready to begin the chinking project. That is kind of exciting because it has been on my mind for many years. I am looking forward to starting on it next week. I left for home at 1:15.

5/13-15/02 I went up to the property for 3 days: Monday through Wednesday.

I had a Cub Scout meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening, so I moved my trip up one day. Now that Chuck is back and I don't have to pick Andrew up in the evenings, I plan to come up on the Monday through Wednesday schedule from now on.

I pulled a muscle in my back last week and it was still pretty stiff and sore. I arrived at the property at 12:45. It was 60 degrees and windy. I brought two 80 lb. sacks of mortar mix with me that I bought at Home Depot. They didn't have Quickcrete that I used before and the Sackcrete didn't look to be as white as the Quickcrete. I hope it is when it is dry, or I hope I can find another supplier of Quickcrete. I want the chinking to be as white as possible.

After moving in, I hauled the mortar mix up to the upper roadway in the wheelbarrow and then, one at a time, I used the Trapper Nelson backpack to carry the sacks from there up into the loft. With my back hurting the way it was, carrying the 80 lb. sacks seemed harder than when I used to carry 94 lb. sacks all the way up to the spring. I guess that's what I get for getting older.

The mice had been nesting in the backpack so it stunk to high Heaven. After hauling the mortar, I tied the backpack onto the gwizzing sling and hoisted it high up under the front eaves. I'll let it hang there in the sun and hopefully it will air out and not smell so bad. I'll try to keep it hung up where the mice can't get at it from now on.

I bought a set of spade drill bits so I would have the right size to make the scaffold bolt blocks. I made three of the blocks, and then I made a rack to hold the set of bits. Then I went out onto the temporary scaffold and installed the first of the blocks. I found that I didn't need a very big hammer or chisel after all. A 3/4 inch chisel and a 16 oz. hammer were plenty big enough. The notches didn't have to be very big.

I made quite a few mistakes installing that first block, which wasted a lot of time. First, I installed it too close to the B1 column, so that I couldn't hang the scaffold frame on it. When I moved it out further, there was a rebar spike right in the way. I positioned the block so that the PVC pipe would miss the rebar, and I marked the block for a notch that would accommodate the rebar. Then, I used the drill, a chisel, and a pocket knife to make the notch in the block, only to discover that I had made the mirror image of what I needed. The notch was on the wrong side of the block. So, I started over again and made a notch on the correct side of the block. I finally got it installed before I quit for the day.

On Tuesday morning, my back hurt pretty much, but after a while, it sort of worked loose. I started out by de-winterizing the trailer. Things went pretty smoothly, and the water heater started right up. Then I went up and installed the other two scaffold bolt blocks. These went in fast because I didn't make any stupid mistakes with them.

With the three blocks in place, I moved the scaffolding up to hang from bolts through these blocks. I can see that they are going to work exactly as planned and even a little better. I was a little surprised at how short the PVC pipes ended up being. I had imagined they would be 8 to 10 inches or so, but they turned out to be only 5 inches or so. This means that the bolts won't have to be exactly straight in order to go through them. That will make them even more useful.

Finally, after all these years, I got started on the chinking. I was pretty excited. I started at the peak of the gable where there was a triangular shaped hole on each side of the ridgepole. I cut cardboard templates that just fit in these holes, and used them to cut out thick Styrofoam plugs to wedge into the holes. Then, I cut some yellow fiberglass insulation into strips and stuffed the strips into the spaces between the logs at the top of the gable. Then, I drove 7d galvanized nails in the bottom log every two inches or so along the crack and bent them up straight to provide anchors for the mortar chinking. After preparing the first 4 or 5 courses this way, I mixed up my first batch of mortar.

It was getting late in the day and I mixed a small batch of half of a coffee can of mix to start with. I had bought two pointing trowels, one a little smaller than the other, and I wanted to see which one worked best for the job. The smaller one was clearly the best, and it turned out that the bigger one worked perfectly as a hawk. I would cut a slice of mortar and hold it on the trowel as a hawk, hold that up against the crack in the logs, and use the small trowel to press the mortar into the crack. I only filled about three feet of chinking, but in that short time, I got the hang of chinking with mortar. I felt really good and confident about being able to do the job this way. It should be pretty easy and work out nice. After cleaning up the tools, I went down to the trailer feeling pretty good.

That mood changed, though, when I got down there. I discovered that I had a water leak in the trailer. The water was dripping from an area behind the water heater that was all enclosed in sheet metal. I didn't see any access to inside the trailer at that spot from the outside. I went in and took the cushion off the seat over the water heater, and everything inside looked dry. I felt sick about it. I figured that some pipe didn't have antifreeze in it, or something, and had cracked during the winter. I went to bed realizing that I had to fix the leak and that it would probably take a lot of time and delay the start of chinking. I didn't feel good about it.

On Wednesday morning, I went back up to do some more chinking and had fun doing it. It went very well and I finished chinking the four or five courses that I had prepared with insulation and nails. Chinking is going to be a fun job. One gray jay came in the loft and got a couple peanuts. These were the roasted kind so we'll see if they get him to come back more often or not.

Back down at the trailer, I had another look at the water leak, and I was delighted to discover that it was coming from the joints in the pipe that I had messed with when I disconnected the water tank from the piping last fall. It looked like at least two of the couplings were leaking. I had used Teflon tape in them, but since they are compression fittings, that might have been a mistake. At any rate, I was relieved to know that I didn't have any broken pipes and that I only need to tighten up these fittings.

I turned off the valve to cut off the water to the trailer, and opened the valve to allow the water to run full blast into the creek. Then I disconnected the hose that runs up to the building. That way there is no pressure on the leaky fittings, and things can dry out until next week. I left for home at 1:00.

2002: Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

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