Construction Journal Entry Week of 6/6/04

6/8-10/04 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at 1:05. There was no frog. While I was eating lunch, I wrapped Teflon tape around each joint of the brass fittings I brought with me to connect the water line to the spring box. Included in the fittings was a really nice stainless steel ball valve that I bought for cheap at some garage sale.

After lunch I went right to work on the ridgepole and Grid D purlin. I wanted to finish them so I could take the scaffolds down this week if possible. Bob Burton is planning to come up next week and I want to get the scaffolds out of the way so he will have a more enjoyable visit. It was pretty hot up against the roof so I put the fan in the loft window and that helped a lot. I sanded the ridgepole, the purlin, the top part of the C2 RPSL, and the top part of the D2 PSL. and then I varnished them all. The varnish is usually pretty thick, but it was so hot that the varnish went on like water. That made the job go faster and I think it made for a more even coat. Anyway there sure was a difference from what I was used to.

After I cleaned out my brush, I went up to the spring and sweated a hose adapter onto the downhill end of the waterline.

On Thursday morning, the varnish I had applied the day before was nice and dry. I think it set up fast being so hot. That was the final coat for the ridgepole and RPSL so I sanded the purlin and PSL again and applied another coat of varnish - the last coat for them. The varnish was its usual thickness this time since it was still in the cool of the morning.

I shut off the water valve at the trailer so the water wouldn't run out of the hose, and then I went up to the spring and installed the fittings to connect the water line to the spring box. First I disconnected the hose and then I took off the temporary ABS and galvanized plumbing that had connected the hose. Then I screwed on the 3" bell reducer, another reducer, a 1" nipple, and half of a 1" union. I forgot my Stillson wrench so I tightened it the best I could with a big vise-grip. Since there is almost no pressure in the line at that point, and it wouldn't matter if it leaked a little anyway, it is really not very important that the joints are super tight. I'll bring a wrench up later and tighten them some more.

Next I connected an assembly consisting of the other half of the union, a 1" nipple, the stainless valve, another nipple, and a sweat adapter, to the reducer assembly. This positioned the sweat adapter where it had to be. The next job was to bend the 1" copper water line so that it would lay in the bottom of the creek channel and come up and into the adapter at the correct angle. I had to bend some short turns in the pipe so that it would snake through the rocks lining the creek bed. The places where I could stand were limited so it was very awkward, hard work bending the pipe. I could see that I could hurt my back doing that so I went back to the cabin to get a 1" conduit bender. That worked much better and made the bending pretty easy. In no time I had bent the pipe so that it snaked through the creek bed and the concrete channel and came up alongside the adapter just right. Then I was able to mark it for length and cut it off.

Next I opened the union again and took off the valve assembly. Then I removed the sweat adapter from that and sweated it on the end of the water line pipe. Then after cooling the pipe so I could touch it, I screwed the valve assembly to the adapter and then reconnected the union. The water line was finally connected to the spring! I felt pretty proud and thought it looked good. I went back to the trailer, got the camera, and took some pictures of my work. I have had an image in my mind for 10 years as to how it would look and now it finally does.

The next thing to do was to get the water running through the new water line for the first time and hook it up to the trailer hose. I opened the valve and went to the end of the pipe to see the water gushing out. Nothing came out. After pondering the problem for a while, I slowly realized what was happening. It was what I call the Larry Loop Effect.

Some years ago, Larry Markegard asked me to help him figure out a problem he had with his water supply system. His pipe ran up and down over several ridges in its five-mile or so run. Air would accumulate in the pipe at the tops of the ridges and that would slow or even block his water flow even though all the ridges were lower than the supply. I figured out that the same thing happens with a coil of hose where the coils are upright. With each loop partly filled with water and partly with air, the pressure caused by a difference in the height of the two ends of a chunk of water is additive from loop to loop. So theoretically, you can build up any amount of pressure simply by adding enough loops.

Since my copper coil was upright, I knew that was why the water wouldn't flow. I simply pushed the coil over flat enough so that the water started flowing, and presently it blew out all the air. Then it gushed out in a strong stream. Another good feeling. Then in order to make sure that the air that was in the hose didn't get back up into my coil of pipe, I didn't connect the hose to the pipe right away. Instead, I put the open end of the hose under the stream of water coming out of the copper pipe. There was more than enough flow to fill the hose and I figured that when I opened the valve at the trailer, the siphon action would suck the water in, eject all the air, and I could then hook up the hose. I walked down to the trailer, opened the valve, and watched the water run out the end of the hose. Then I walked back up to the spring and to my surprise, there was no suction in the end of the hose. Then I went down to the first hose union, opened it, and there was no water flowing there at all. Puzzled, I went back down to the trailer and saw that there was no water coming out of the hose at all. I had a nagging suspicion that I had hooked up the wrong hose. There was an old hose laying alongside the new hose and I wasn't careful to note which was which after I had disconnected the new one.

Starting at the trailer, I followed the hoses up through the bushes keeping track of which one was the right one. Sure enough, when I got to the top I saw that I had hooked up the wrong one. The pride I had felt about my plumbing was now overshadowed by the stupidity of this time-consuming and messy mistake. I hooked the correct hose to the pipe and water again began flowing to the trailer.

It was running slow though, so I knew there was a lot of air in the pipes. I closed the valve at the trailer and then went up to the cabin and opened the spigot I had installed in the water line loop up there. Huge amounts of air belched out along with the water. I filled and then emptied two five gallon buckets of water this way until most of the air was out and the water was flowing up to speed again. In my final configuration I won't have this air problem because there will be no loops or traps for the air. It will either bubble up to my shower head to be blown out, or it will bubble all the way up to the spring box and come out there.

By the time I finished all that, the varnish was pretty dry so I started dismantling the scaffolding. I used a big rope I had left draped over the ridgepole to rig a block and a come-along and I used that to lift most of the scaffold frames up onto the loft floor. I'll need them up there when I do those walls and beams and I won't need them on the first floor any more. I stacked the four frames from the first tiers on the first floor because they were already down there and I may not need all the frames in the loft. It rained hard all the time I was working on the scaffolds and I felt lucky that it didn't start until after I was done working in the woods.

My back was pretty sore when I went in for the night, both from bending that pipe and from lifting scaffold frames and planks. I wasn't sure how I would be in the morning.

Fortunately, on Thursday morning my back felt okay. It hurt during the night, but was ok by morning. I spend the whole morning cleaning the trailer and doing some sweeping in the cabin. The cleaning was long overdue. There is nothing like guests coming to prompt me to do that every once in a while. I fed the jays a couple times while I was out beating carpets. I left for home at 12:50 feeling really good about what I got done this week.

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