Construction Journal Entry Week of 4/6/14

4/9-11/14 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Wednesday through Friday.

On the way, I stopped and visited with Uncle Charles. Then I made the beautiful sunny drive over the pass. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 12:45. This was the first time this year I didn't put on my Sorel boots and was able to walk up to the cabin without having to walk on the snowbank. That is always a true marker of springtime.

After hoisting the flag, starting a fire in the wood stove, having my lunch and a nap, I went to work on the roof repair job. I started by going out to the woodshed and removing all but one of the roof panels that were stored there. I laid each one out on the ground in front of the privy so that I could have a good look at them. The one I left in the shed was too short for my needs.

These were all salvaged panels and they all had some damage. I selected the best three of them that I think I can straighten out and use. I carried those three up to the porch and put the others back in the woodshed. Since I will have to start installing the shortest ones first and work toward the longest one, I will be able to learn as I go whether or not these salvaged panels will work. That is because the shortest ones are the straightest so if I have trouble with them, I will probably have to buy new panels for the rest. We'll see as I go. I will also probably get better at straightening them as I go so maybe I will be able to use them all.

I stacked the panels on the porch and then went to work and cut the last sheet of OSB that I had marked for cutting last week. Then I dug the ABS vent pipe out of the pile of rubble so that I could measure it and make a plan for gluing it back in place. I'm not sure exactly when I will do that, but I think I will do it as soon as the roof panels and rake are on and before I go to work on the ceiling boards. It's a little unpleasant working under the eaves now because of the sewer gas coming out of that broken pipe.

On Thursday I went up on the scaffolds to inspect the seat for the OSB to make sure it is ready to receive. There were three nails sticking up out of the second rafter just under the C-channel that would be in the way of the OSB and they needed to come out. I was able to reach in far enough to pull out two of them, but I couldn't reach the third one. It was only going to interfere with the corner of the OSB about a half inch in, so I simply cut a 3/4x3/4" notch out of the OSB to allow for that nail. That notch will be far up under the ridge so it won't matter at all.

Next I prepared to work up on the roof. I strung a big long rope over the building by first hauling the coil of rope up onto the scaffold platform using another rope. Then I muscled the coil up onto the rafters and tied it down. Then I started with one end of the rope and lifted up each loop of the coil in turn to make sure there weren't any knots in the rope and that it would uncoil straight for about half of the coil.

When I was sure it would uncoil straight, I began to lift and release each loop and let the rope slide down the small roof until it went over the Grid A edge of the roof.

Then I checked the loops on the rest of the coil to make sure it was un-knotted as well. Then I went down and undid the yellow rope of Texas from where it was tied to the Grid G2 PSL and tied the end of the rope to the column instead. That gave me about 50 feet of slack in the rope.

Back up on the scaffold, I pulled the yellow rope of Texas up, taking out the 50 feet of slack, and at that point, I tied the yellow rope of Texas to the end of the big stiff coiled up rope. Then back on the ground, I pulled the yellow rope of Texas back down which dragged the big stiff rope with it.

Then I went around to the back of the cabin, retrieved the end of the big rope and dragged it over to a tree and tied it off. Then I went back to the front of the cabin and tied the other end of the big rope to a tree after pulling most of the slack out of it. Finally, I tied the yellow rope of Texas back up to the Grid G2 PSL. I now had two ropes going completely over the building, one for me and one to anchor my tool bucket.

Before stopping for lunch, I went down to the crawl space and dug out a special short ladder I had made specifically for my scaffold system. I brought it up and was happy to discover that it is perfect for providing access to the roof. I stood it up near the Grid G1 corner of the roof where the roof is only about 4 or 5 feet above the ground.

After lunch and a nap, I went down to the crawl space to get my safety rigging, which amounts to a lineman's belt and some short tether ropes. I wasn't sure I wanted to climb up on the roof because it had been a long time since I had done that and I was apprehensive and felt a little shaky. I was sort of looking for an excuse not to go up there.

The excuse showed up right about when I had gathered the equipment. I heard voices outside and when I opened the door I was greeted by Barb and Byron Williams. They hadn't visited for a while so I was happy to delay my roof climbing, show them the progress, and have a nice visit with them. I took a couple pictures of them with our brand new camera which I am just learning how to run.

After they left, I bit the bullet and went to work on the roof. First I fastened a C-clamp to one end of the sheet of OSB. Then I carried it up to the high rock and tied a long tether rope to the clamp. Then I climbed up to the scaffold platform and draped the tether rope over the fascia board and the first rafter so I could reach it from up on top.

Then I put a few tools in a 5-gallon bucket, put on my lineman's belt, and then tied a small rope with a wet washcloth on the end to my belt, and proceeded on to the ladder to make my first ascent for this expedition.

The ladder was perfect. One rung was just far enough below the edge of the roof so that I could stand on it, and there was only one rung above that which was easy to step over. The rails extended somewhat above that so that I had something to hang on to while I made that crucial first step from the ladder to the roof.

The metal roofing is a little unpredictable, but it is sort of predictable. If it is dry with a load of tree pollen, it is super slippery and you can't stand on it at all. But if it is clean, and even a little wet, you have super good traction with rubber soled shoes and you can stand and walk on the roof with no problem.

So I had that wet washcloth so that if the roof was slippery, I could wet it down and clean it off so that I would have good traction. I also wiped the dirt from my soles by rubbing them against my pants legs while I was still on the ladder.

To make that first step, I stand on the ladder and hang on to the big rope on the roof. Then by leaning back with my weight on the rope in a water-skiing posture, I step one foot on the roof and test the traction. If the traction is undependable, which I assume it is, my weight is held by the rope and the force of my shoe against the roof is perpendicular to the roof. That is completely safe but it is a lot of hard work supporting that much weight with my hands, arms, and back.

But after a couple tentative steps that way, I get the feel of the traction and as it turned out, the traction was excellent. I could stand pretty much vertical and walk up the roof with impunity.

My harness and the tool bucket were both fastened to the big rope with clove hitches. I decided not to use the yellow rope of Texas for the tools because it was out of reach and I didn't want to mess with it. So as I walked up, I pushed both clove hitches ahead of me sliding them along the big rope. By the time I reached the top, my confidence was restored and it was just like the old days when I was younger and working on the roof not giving it much thought. It was actually kind of fun.

When I reached the ridge, I had to transfer things to the other side which took a little doing but didn't take too long. Sitting on the exposed rafters reminded me of the installation of the rafters in the first place when I was climbing and crawling all over the rafters before there was any OSB on them at all. Some of those memories came back as I squeezed my body down between a pair of rafters so I could stand on my scaffold platform.

From there, I hauled the sheet of OSB up to the lower scaffold deck just as I had done for the first sheet. Then I tied the tether rope to a rafter and muscled the sheet up so that it was lying on top of the roof. That took all my strength but I got it up there.

But now it was hanging from that rope tied to the clamp and I didn't have much room on the previous sheet of OSB to work on it. I didn't have the strength to slide the entire sheet up into place because it would hang up on things like the steel straps at the peak. But I could move one side up a ways.

I figured that I could get it into place by screwing down one corner, then using that as a pivot to swing the other side up higher. Then I could screw down that side, remove the first screw, and use the second screw as a new pivot point. I figured that if I placed the pivot screws just right, I would be able to maneuver the sheet into position.

The problem was that the top of the sheet had to be tucked under the existing C-channel metal and under a screen that was under the C-channel. This might not have been too bad if I could lift the bottom edge of the entire sheet up and slide the whole thing under the metal. But there was no way I could lift that sheet up there. Then there was the problem of the clamp. It would be in the way of seating the sheet, but if I took the clamp off, nothing would be holding the sheet and it would slide off the roof.

But I trusted my pivot-screw technique enough to remove the clamp. After screwing and pivoting the sheet a couple times, it looked like one more push and it should go right into place. I pushed and instead of going in, it hit something and stopped cold.

At that point I gave up. I decided to temporarily screw the sheet down where it was and quit for the night. I would have to give some thought to some new strategy for getting the sheet seated in place.

By Friday morning I had figured out a workable solution to my problem. I went down to the crawlspace and selected a scrap piece of 16 gauge steel strap about 18 inches long. Then with a big hammer and a vise, I fashioned the strap into a bracket by bending a semicircular bulge in the middle of it. I could screw the two ends down to the OSB and the bulge would allow me to tie a rope to it.

Then I got a length of rope and a pulley and took it all up on the roof in my bucket, along with my tools and my wet rag. Before reaching the ridge, I lashed the pulley to the big rope about six feet from the ridge and then threw both ends of the rope that ran through the pulley over the ridge so that it was on the new sheet of OSB.

Once my body and my tools had crossed over the ridge, I screwed my strap bracket down onto the sheet of OSB. Then I tied one end of the rope to the bulge in the bracket and hauled on the other end. When the slack was out, I fastened the hauling rope to the big rope with a half-hitch followed by a clove hitch just below it. That way I could pull on the rope while I moved the sheet of OSB up and then hold it in that position by sliding the hitches down to take out the slack.

When I was sure my rigging was trustworthy, I removed all the screws holding the OSB in place and let the rope rigging take over. It worked like a charm. I could push and pull the sheet anywhere I wanted and keep it in place with the rigging.

First I got the top edge of the OSB tucked under the screen and the C-channel at the top. That took some doing, but I eventually got it done. Then when I tried to slide the sheet to the right to close up about an inch and a half gap, I found that I couldn't move it. I figured that there was just too much friction and I didn't have a good place to push from. I decided I needed a hammer so that I could drive the sheet over. So I made another trip down and back up to get a hammer.

The sheet didn't move when I hammered on it either but I immediately discovered why. There was a screw I had driven into the upper left hand corner of the sheet that had missed the rafter. So when I tried to slide the sheet to the right, the protruding screw ran into the side of the rafter. As soon as I removed that screw, I was able to slide the sheet into position with no problem. I was happy.

Next it was a simple and routine matter to screw the sheet to the rafters. I had been clever enough to make marks on the C-channel with a Sharpie to mark the locations of the rafters. But I didn't have a straightedge. I had brought a yardstick up in my bucket for the purpose, but a 5-gallon bucket does not hold a yardstick very well so it had fallen out and slid down off the roof.

So to mark the lines for the screw, I tied the C-clamp, now no longer needed to hold the OSB, to the end of the rope from the pulley, now also no longer needed to hold the OSB. Using the clamp as a plumb bob on the end of the rope and holding the rope against the top mark for a rafter, the rope could be aligned with the screws on the lower sheet of OSB and I used it to make my lines with the sharpie.

The traction on OSB at the pitch of my roof is so good that you can stand and walk on it without worrying about slipping at all. So it was really fun to drive in all those screws. Of course I was still tied in but I didn't have to lean on my rigging.

I exhausted the battery in the cordless drill and had to climb down and back up with a fresh battery, but I completed the entire job of fastening the OSB down. That was a milestone because it meant that I had restored all of the damaged structural elements. I can now move on to roofing, then ceiling installation, then scaffold dismantling, and I will be completely done with roof repairs. The end is in sight.

Thinking that I would have the OSB and the tarpaper installed before I went home, I had let the tarp fall over the side because I didn't think I would need it. But I was out of time now and the tar paper was not on. I didn't want to take the time to get the tarp and put it back so I decided just to let the OSB sit out in the weather until next week. Even if it rains, it won't hurt it much.

I did take the time to make a short video describing the week's activities. I left for home at 1:20 feeling pretty good about the progress.

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