Construction Journal Entry Week of 10/5/14

10/8-10/14 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Wednesday through Friday.

On Tuesday afternoon Robert called and told me that the log truck would be at Coles Corner at 6:30 AM the next day. I told him I would leave as early as I could. I left home at 6:30, skipped visiting anyone on the way, and arrived at Camp Serendipity at 8:45, just in time to see the log truck leaving my driveway with his second load of logs. Robert and Tim were on the job.

I moved my gear in, put on my boots, got my camera and went down to shoot some video. I also noticed that there were no mice in my traps. Robert and Tim rigged up a block and a cable on a big tree at the top of "Little Yosemite" in order to skid a big pine tree down the cliff. While they were rigging, the log truck returned for the third load.

I met the driver, Ken, from P 'n' D Logging in Maple Valley. I shot video of him loading up logs and driving away with them. Meanwhile, Robert and Tim yarded the pine tree down to the road and bucked it into two logs which topped off the fourth and final load for the log truck.

We started a fire and roasted some hot dogs for lunch and did some more grooming on the hillside. Once the grooming is finished and all the slash burned, Phase I of the logging operation will be completed. Phase II will involve setting up a skyline to yard logs down from up behind the cabin. The weather will pretty much determine when that will start.

Robert and Tim left at 1:00. I went to work digging the water pipe trench. I was able to move the big rock to one side of the trench so that the pipe could go past it. Then I had to dig about 7 feet of trench under the end of the copper pipe in order to get the pipe down deep enough. Once that was done, the trench was ready for the installation of the pipe.

On Thursday Robert and Tim showed up at 8:30. I helped them clear brush and pile it where the loader could reach it and in two burn piles. Robert told me that he was concerned about finances for the operation. Now that he has delivered and sold some logs, he can estimate better and he said that we will make little if any money on the entire job. The loggers left at 1:00.

I installed a 60 foot coil of 1" copper pipe in the water line trench. The installation went well, but when I turned the water back on at the spring, at 4:45, I was stunned to see that water only dribbled out the end of the new pipe. I couldn't understand why I wasn't able to get the water to flow. Near panic set in. The only thing I could think of was that the pipe hadn't filled with water so was unable to establish a siphon. I installed a valve on the end of the pipe and closed it hoping that overnight the pipe would fill with water and then flow normally in the morning. But that meant that I would have no water in the cabin for the night.

I took two one-gallon jugs and a drinking glass up to the spring. I drank a couple glasses of water and used the glass to fill the jugs from the spring overflow. Back in the cabin, I heated some water in the tea kettle and used that to have a sponge bath instead of a shower. It was like old times in the trailer when all my water was in jugs.

In the evening, I did a lot of thinking about why the water didn't flow. It made some sense to me that since there is such low pressure at the spring, the water flow down the pipe is not enough to push the air out. Instead, the water just runs down the bottom of the pipe in a stream so when it gets to the bottom, where the end of the pipe curves up, it forms a pool which then dribbles out the end of the pipe at the same rate the stream is running down the pipe. The pipe never fills with water so the pressure at the bottom never builds up. That made sense to me and I fully expected to see a geyser from the end of the pipe when I opened the valve in the morning.

On Friday morning, I had my breakfast using most of the remaining water in the last jug and hurried down to the pipe to open the valve. Again, I was stunned to find that it still only dribbled. Now I was at a loss as to what to do. I thought I might have to leave it that way and buy a suction pump over the weekend.

I tried sucking on the end of the pipe, but that did virtually nothing. Then I tried blowing into the end of the pipe. That would cause a good flow of water afterward, but it was only momentary. It went right back to a dribble. Finally I decided to try to establish a siphon with a hose to get it going.

I strung a long hose from the end of the pipe down the hill as far as it would go. The slope isn't very much there so I only got 4 or 5 feet of drop over the length of the hose. I put the valve on the end of the hose and tried filling the other end from the dribble coming out of the pipe. I couldn't fill the hose that way, so I got the two jugs and brought them down. I used them to fill the hose by holding the hose up in the air and pouring the water into it. When the hose was full, I joined it to the pipe that was still dribbling.

I was very happy when I opened the valve on the other end of the hose. The water squirted out. It was not a strong stream, but it was more than a dribble. But then the pressure slackened and only a weak stream was squirting out. It was squirting in an arc that reached about 8 inches from the nozzle.

I stood there watching the stream with a flood of thoughts going through my mind, trying to figure out what was happening and what to do about it.

As I watched, air bubbles would occasionally come out of the nozzle, and each time, the arc of the stream seemed to get bigger. That was the first encouraging sign so far. After a few minutes, the arc increased so that it was squirting two or three feet, periodically gurgling more air out. I was sure that in a few more minutes, full flow would be established.

On that optimistic note, I decided to do something useful while I waited so I got a shovel and began backfilling the trench to cover up the pipe. Having that shiny copper pipe exposed to view did not seem like a smart idea. It was actually fun shoveling dirt down into the trench because gravity was working with me instead of against me.

When the entire pipe was covered, I went back expecting to see a strong stream of water. Instead the arc was exactly the same as when I left it. After some more desperate thinking, I figured that the nozzle was too restrictive and that the flow rate through it was not enough to drag air down through the pipe and expel it. So I took the valve off and let the water run out the end of the hose.

That worked. The flow rate picked up and a lot of bubbles started gurgling out. As minutes went by, more air came out and the pressure continued to increase. Then with one last gurgle, it sounded like that was the last of the air and the stream of water was the full stream you would expect from about 50 feet of head. The flow had been restored and I was greatly relieved.

There was still about a 15 foot gap that needed to be filled with pipe to complete the line so I used one of the hoses to connect the two pipes together again. That worked fine and it restored the flow of water to the cabin. It also restored it to the hose we had been using for fire suppression at the burn sites. I spent an hour or more squirting water on both burn sites to make sure they were dead out and soaked. That also ran fresh water through that length of hose I had installed to clean it out if it needed it.

I packed up and left for home at 12:30 feeling very humbled from my lesson in fluid dynamics but happy that the logging project had reached the end of the first phase and delighted to have gotten that length of pipe installed before the weather turns bad. Soon I will be able to turn my attention back to getting the ceiling installed.

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