Construction Journal Entry Week of 11/17/13

11/19-21/13 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way I stopped and visited with Uncle Charles. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at noon. After opening the gate and driving around the first turn in the driveway, I was surprised to see that my way was blocked by a windfall. A fairly respectable tree was lying across the driveway all the way from the edge of the property by the road up to the cliff below the cabin—probably over 100 feet long.

After carrying my gear up to the cabin using the concrete stairs, I went down to turn on the water. While I was there, Bert and Ernie eagerly joined me and after getting their usual hugs, we went back up to the cabin so they could get their usual biscuits.

Thinking about my last experience with my chainsaw, I brought it inside the cabin to warm it up. Then I started a fire in the wood stove, had my lunch, and my usual nap.

When I got up, I took the saw out on the porch and it started right up. I guess it just doesn't like being cold and damp. Unfortunately, the accelerator trigger stuck at full throttle. I shut the saw off by turning the switch off and then went to work trying to loosen up the trigger. I got it working and it seemed to work OK after that. The saw is probably due to go to the shop.

I took the wheelbarrow, the saw, and my home-made firewood picker-upper down and used up two tanks of gas limbing and bucking up that tree. I hauled two wheelbarrows full of firewood rounds up to the cabin which cleared the driveway enough so that I could park the truck in its usual place.

The wood is perfectly seasoned alder. It looked as if that tree had been dead for at least a couple years so it is nicely dried out. I was super happy to get a supply of good firewood that I can mix with all that smoky pine that I have so much of.

On Wednesday morning I hauled up three more wheelbarrows full of alder rounds and stacked them under the eaves. My body was telling me that those three loads were all I should do for a while. But before I went in, I used my handy dandy firewood picker-upper to fetch the rounds that were deep in the woods and throw them into a stack next to the driveway near to where I would park the wheelbarrow. I wasn't sure whether I already had enough wood up at the cabin or not and if the snow came before I could get the wood moved, at least I wanted it in a pile that was handy.

The next order of business was to move the scaffold tower in the cabin about 6 feet so that I could reach the next area of the ceiling. I had thought through the problem of moving the scaffolding and had decided to use two come-alongs anchored to columns to do the pulling. The question was whether or not the legs of the scaffold frames would stay on the small boards I had placed under them or whether they would slide off. By clicking the come-alongs slowly, I would be able to see what slipped before the legs would slide off.

I anchored the cable end of one come-along to the base of the Grid C2 RPSL and the other one to the Grid C3 RPSL. I attached the hook ends of the come-alongs to legs of the scaffold using rebar S-hooks which worked perfectly.

When I was all rigged up and started cranking, I was pleased that the small boards slid easily across the floor and the legs of the frames stayed right on the boards. It worked perfectly.

But, better than that, the tower was so easy to move that I tried to slide it by hand just by pulling on a frame. It was easy to move that way too, so I put away the come-alongs and S-hooks and simply pulled the scaffold tower over to where I wanted it.

Of course one of the boards under one leg ended up right against the marble hearth, so that trick of sliding the tower won't be so easy when it comes to moving the tower the next time. But I'll deal with that problem when the time comes.

With the scaffold tower in its new position, I reconfigured the deck that spanned from the tower deck over to the loft. I used the loft rail to support the platform after reinforcing it with a cripple that I cut for the purpose. In the loft itself, I pushed the bed out of the way and used two high stools and a sawhorse in order to reach the ceiling there.

With this access now set up, I proceeded to nail up a few more ceiling boards before stopping for lunch and a nap. Since the loft was cozy and warm, I decided to take my nap up there instead of down in the bedroom which was still a little chilly.

After my nap, I nailed up a few more ceiling boards. I quit when I started feeling tired and a little wobbly. I don't like working on high scaffolds unless I feel strong and steady. With the time I had left before my shower, I installed the knob on the utility room door. Installing knobs is nice filler work that I can do whenever I have a little extra time available. With the knob installed, it makes the place seem more finished and livable.

On Thursday morning it was 20º outside. It was about 58º inside so I started a fire right after raising the flag. That new alder firewood is wonderful and makes a really nice fire that starts quickly.

I noticed that there was a lot of cold air rising up out of the crack between the floor and the log walls all around the living room and bedroom. I decided that I should stuff insulation into all those cracks sometime soon to make it easier to heat the place. The baseboards which will go over the top of the insulation and seal up the cracks can wait a while longer.

When I went down to the crawlspace to get the wheelbarrow, I decided to plug up the six vent openings with the squares of Styrofoam that I use each year for that purpose. That should stem some of the flow of cold air coming up around the edges of the floor. Once all the floor insulation is installed, I won't have to do that anymore.

Since the weather was so nice, albeit cold, I decided to spend the morning hauling up all the rest of the alder firewood so it would be available to me during the winter. I used the firewood picker-upper to load up 5 or 6 wheelbarrow loads of wood which I wheeled up and stacked under the eaves. I was very pleased to have gotten that job done before any rain or snow fell on any of the downed wood.

There was still some time left before I had to leave but instead of nailing up ceiling boards, I decided to work on another door. But instead of installing another knob, I decided to work on a small problem that had been nagging me.

Most of the doors didn't seem to close right. If you swung them, they behaved perfectly neutral, just like they are supposed to. But as they approached and entered the jambs, it was as if you were pushing against a spring. If you closed them all the way, when you let go, the door would open back up a little. Some of them would open up enough to come completely out of the jambs. There wasn't much force pushing the door out, but it was enough to open the door. With a knob and latch installed, of course you could shut the door and it would stay shut, but it still wasn't quite right.

When I inspected the doors that had this problem, I could see that on each one, the flange of at least one hinge was not recessed flush into the jamb. All of them seemed to be recessed nicely in the doors if I remember right. I figured that if I removed the protruding flange and chiseled out the mortise so that the flange would be flush, it might fix the problem of the door springing open.

So that's what I did with the bathroom door. In the process of removing the hinge flange, it became evident that the three hinges were not perfectly aligned. That bothered me.

After deepening and truing up the mortise and after replacing the hinge flange, the flange was now flush but I was disappointed to find that it did not fix the problem. I concluded that it must be because of the misalignment of the hinge pins. There isn't much that I can reasonably do to fix that problem, so I guess I will have to live with the doors the way they are. The consolation is that probably nobody but me will notice that the doors aren't perfect. Except for Bill, that is. It was his old company that pre-hung the doors so I am sure he can shed some light on the problem and give me the correct explanation the next time he is up at Camp Serendipity.

I left for home at 1:30 feeling extra good about a lot of things, including getting that unexpected supply of excellent firewood.

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