Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/1/05

5/3-5/05 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

It was a balmy 66 degrees when I arrived at 1:00. After moving in and having lunch, I dewinterized the trailer. Then I went up to the cabin and checked to see how 3/4" EMT electrical conduit would fit in the space between the bottom two logs where I'll install the receptacle boxes. I decided that if it fits nicely, I would use it without checking whether or not the code requires it. It looks like it will fit nicely and be pretty easy to install, so I decided to over-engineer just in case. The 90 degree bends will also fit snugly in the corners.

I sanded the whole northwest wall of the utility room by hand so it is ready to varnish. I just didn't want to blow dust all over with the power sander.

On Wednesday it was nice and cool and I figured it was the perfect day to go up and fix the roof. I started by rigging a plank walkway to the roof from the big rock just below the east corner of the roof. I secured the bottom of the plank with a rope so it wouldn't slip off the rock.

Next, I got two big ropes strung completely over the building and tied to trees on each side. It took me till 11:00 to get this done. I had to stand on the high rock and throw one end of a light rope over the northwest roof, and then throw the rest of the rope up over the ridge and down on the southeast roof. It took me many attempts before I finally succeeded. Once I had that done, I tied the two big ropes to the light rope and pulled them up over the building.

A chipmunk came around for peanuts while I was working. I only saw one mosquito all day. I think the dry winter is going to make for a low mosquito year. At lunch time, I noticed that the water heater pilot had gone out. It could be because my propane tanks are pretty low, but it could also be that the pilot orifice is clogged, or the thermocouple needs replacing. It's always something. I lit it again to see if it might stay lit.

The roof was covered with green tree pollen dust so it was super slippery to walk on. I had to do the batman walk hanging on to the rope in order to be able to walk on it. That really stresses a lot of muscles all over your body. I went up to the ridge and discovered that the tree had flattened the ridge and caused two standing panel ribs to punch up through the ridge metal. It had to punch through two thicknesses because it first had to punch through the C-channel and then the ridge itself. One hole was only a pinhole but the other one was about a half inch long. Even at that, any water that would go through the holes would still be below the top of the panel so it couldn't get into the building. I'll caulk the holes shut anyway. There will be no need to replace the ridge metal.

I went down and got the camera and went back up to the ridge to take pictures of the damage. Then I batman walked down the northwest roof to see if there was any damage there. There was a 2-inch bend in one of the standing ribs that will not cause a problem, and there was a dent in the panel next to it. The paint was scraped a little there, but nothing that needs to be fixed. I took a picture of that spot also.

Since the roof was so slippery, I decided to make a chicken step platform to work from. I got a long skinny piece of plywood that would fit between the ribs on one roof panel, and screwed 1x2 slats on it every foot or so. Then I drilled a hole in one end of the plywood so I could tie a rope to it. The plan was to tie the other end of the rope to a tree on the other side of the building so the platform would be held in place and I could sit on it to work on the rake metal.

Next I prepared the new section of rake metal. I took the protective plastic off. Then I drilled pilot holes for the screws. I also got a tin snip and prepared one end to fit inside the next section. Then I tied a loop of rope around the middle of each of the two 10-foot sections of rake metal. The plan was to use these loops to lift the sections up onto the roof. I lay the sections on the ground on the upper roadway directly under the eave so I could hook the loops with a rope from up on the roof. I also loaded up the Trapper Nelson backpack with all the tools I thought I might need and set it down under the eaves. Finally, I tied a loop of rope to the chicken step assembly and put it under the eaves too.

Then I went up on the roof again, switched ropes at the ridge, and walked along the ridge on the other side to the southwest side where I had to work on the rake metal. To get there, I had to pass the chimney so I had to flip the rope up over the chimney. To do that, I had to slack the rope. That meant I had to have enough traction to stand on the roof without leaning against the rope. It was a little unnerving but I did it and I got down into position where the rake needed to be installed.

I lowered a long clothesline rope with a rebar hook on the end 30 feet down to the ground. The plan was to hook onto the things I had placed down there. I tried for quite a while, but I couldn't control the swing of that long rope well enough to be able to hook anything. So I went back down. Each of these trips was super tiring because you can't ever relax except when you are actually straddling and sitting on the ridge when you cross over to the other side.

I also realized that I needed another rope up there to hold the chicken steps because the one I had up there I needed to use to traverse the roof. When I got down, I tied my clothesline rope to the chicken steps, and then tied another length of clothesline rope from the chicken steps to the end of another long big rope. Then I climbed back up onto the roof, traversed over to the gable end, and lowered myself down to where the rake was torn off.

I pulled up the chicken steps, placed it in the second panel from the end, and tied it to my safety rope. Then I hauled up on the second clothesline rope and got the end of the big rope. I untied the big rope and started feeding the end of it up over the ridge so that as I pulled up the rest of the rope, it all slid down the southeast roof. When I got to the other end of the rope, I tied it to the chicken step board. The plan was that the weight of the big rope down that 40 foot roof would hold the chicken steps in place while I went down and tied the other end of the rope to a tree. In the meantime, I could put my weight on the chicken steps because it was still tied to my safety rope. It was a relief to be able to sit on the chicken steps and be able to relax at least some muscles for a while.

I tried my rebar hook on the end of the clothesline again, and I was able to hook onto the backpack. That saved me one trip down and back up on the roof again. I hauled the backpack up onto the roof and started working on straightening the standing rib on the very edge. The tree had bent the rib straight out for about two feet. Using a C-clamp, I clamped a short 1x2 on either side of the rib and a third 1x2 perpendicular to them for use as a lever arm. I tightened the clamp and tried to use the lever arm to bend the rib back up. It bent up a little, but the more it bent, the more resistance it offered. I pulled until I broke the 1x2 lever arm and then decided to quit. At least I knew what I was up against and I would have to do some more thinking about how to straighten that rib.

About that time, it started to rain. I was exhausted and it was getting late so I figured it was time to get off of there. I lowered my backpack full of tools back down to the ground, untied the chicken steps from my safety rope, and started my batman walk up to the ridge. The rain on that pollen made it even slicker than before. It was tense going.

When I got to the ridge, I started traversing to the left and soon was at the chimney. I got my footing, slacked the rope and threw it over the chimney, and in an instant, my feet shot out from under me and I fell on the roof. My right knee hit a standing rib a sort of glancing blow, my left knee, all the knuckles of both hands, and my forehead fortunately all hit the flat part of a panel. They still whacked it pretty hard so I have sore knuckles and a bump on my forehead. I kept my grip on the rope, and I still had my safety belt tied to the rope so I wasn't in any danger of sliding off the roof. All the same, I could have hurt myself worse than I did.

I got up and finished the traverse to the other safety rope and my knees felt wobbly as I went. When I got to the other rope, I straddled the ridge and sat there to get my breath and relax a little. I started getting light headed and felt like I might pass out. I was glad I was on the ridge in a position where I could safely pass out. The lightheadedness passed in a couple minutes and I started down. Rather than doing my normal batman walk backward down the roof, I slid on my butt gradually letting out as I went, a half hitch on my safety rope which I had looped around my waist. My knees were still wobbly when I got down, but it was a great sense of relief.

I got my tools in out of the rain and tied the third big rope to a tree so My chicken steps will be held fast. I fed a chipmunk again before I went in for the night.

The water heater pilot had gone out again, so I had just enough hot water in the tank for a shower. The final rinse was getting pretty cool by the time I finished.

On Thursday morning my whole body was pretty sore. My knee was tender to the touch, but there was no significant bruise. There also wasn't much of a mark on my forehead. I did have a blister on my right hand from the ropes.

After breakfast, I took a toothbrush and brushed a lot of soot off the water heater pilot and lit it again to see if the cleaning would fix the problem. Then I went up and scraped the glue from both bedroom windows. Neither one had very much so it didn't take long. Then I mitered and installed the trim on the bathroom window. Finally I varnished the entire northwest utility room wall. It really looks nice. That was the final coat for most of it and I am happy with how it looks.

I fed a little chipmunk again before I went down for lunch. I found that the pilot light had gone out again. I left for home at 1:15.

5/6/05 I stopped in at CP Sheet Metals and told Curt about my experiences on the roof. He gave me a lot of good advice. He told me to hose off all the pollen and with that gone, clean tennis shoes on a wet metal roof gives you better traction than when it is dry. He also told me how to go about repairing the ridge and how to bend the rib back up. He lent me an expensive hand tool to use in bending the rib. That was a very noble gesture on his part and I am very grateful to him for it.

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