Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/24/16

1/26-28/16 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

After packing up and getting ready to go, I had to sit and wait for a FedEx delivery that was promised to be made before 10:30 AM. They showed up at 10:28. After receiving the package and locking up the house, I left for the mountains. Since I left so late, and planned to have lunch with Marilyn and George, I skipped my usual visit with Uncle Charles.

After having a nice lunch with Marilyn and George, and after buying a beautiful watercolor painting from her, I headed up over the pass. It rained all the way over but the rain started slacking off after I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:15.

The driveway and parking area had recently been plowed but there was about 2 inches of new, wet, snow on top. I had no trouble driving in and parking in my usual spot.

I built a fire in the wood stove, then fetched and stowed my gear. I skipped my usual nap and went outside to work on the front stoop. I decided to make a video of the project so I shot the opening scenes. Then I went to work dragging the third slab out from under the porch.

I had given a lot of thought to that problem during the past week and now I was eager to learn whether or not my imagined solutions to the problem were going to work. I had figured that the easiest way to do it would be to use the porch crane pulling on a rope that would pass around the Grid F2 column under the porch. At the end of the rope would be a rebar S-hook that would be hooked on the right-hand end of the 10-foot slab that was lying crosswise under the porch behind the column.

I happened to have a rope with such a hook already attached, so I paid out the crane cable, hooked the rebar hook to the end of the slab, which I discovered I could easily reach, and then fastened the rope to the cable.

The real question was how the slab was going to behave when I ran the winch. I was delighted when, after the slack was taken out, the slab jerked and slid nicely to the left. The concept was proved.

The only problem was that there was a second slab resting on the one I wanted and it started sliding too. I fixed that by propping the second slab up with a couple of short boards and then proceeded to pull my slab out with the winch.

When the slab had moved to the left about as much as it could, I re-rigged by simply choking the left-hand end of the slab with the rope and pulling it the rest of the way using that choker.

Since the crane cable went up and rode under the first joist in the porch, the further it went, the higher the lifting angle was. That made it easy for the slab to ride up and over the big stack of planks that are stored under the porch. It was also easy to maneuver the end of the slab over so that it rested on the lower steps of the staircase.

Then by making a 2x4 chute from the top of the plank stack to the staircase, I was able to slide the top of the slab over and onto the staircase by brute force and awkwardness. The slab was now in the same position as the other two slabs had been before I pulled them up onto the porch deck using a come-along. I left the slab ready to go like that and went in for the night.

On Wednesday, I started out by rigging the come-along and pulling the slab up onto the porch. I shot some video scenes of that activity that I may use later. Then I made some measurements and did a lot of thinking about what the width of the stoop should be. I had earlier decided that it needed to be more than 5 feet wide, so that is why I needed a third slab. But now, since I was about to cut the slabs, I wanted to make sure the length was exactly right.

Once I decided on a length of 6 feet 6 inches, I marked the slabs for cutting, got out the chainsaw, propped the slabs in turn up on a concrete block and my riser, and cut the three of them to length. I shot some video of that activity.

During the logging activity a couple years ago, I had pulled a log up to the upper roadway and stored it under the gable eave of the cabin. I had intended to use the log as the support stringers for the stoop deck and step.

After lunch and a nap, I decided to buck the log to length and bring the two pieces up on the porch deck before I started planing the slabs. I was a little apprehensive about that log because it had some rot in it and I wasnít sure how much.

I cut the two 44-inch pieces I needed from the log and then I bucked the remainder of the log into firewood rounds. That gave me a look at the inside of the log and I was disappointed. There was quite a bit of rot on the inside. I decided that I could use them anyway, so I rigged up the crane and lifted them up onto the porch deck.

Next, I got out the power planer and planed the bottom of one of the slabs. I decided that the top surface did not need to be planed. I might use a hand scraper on it, but the surface is almost suitable for the stoop step the way it is. I can decide that later.

After the slab was planed, I used a big hammer and a big chisel to chamfer the curved edges of the slab to match the motif of the other log ends visible in the cabin. All the while, I was disturbed by my misgivings about those rotten logs. I stopped planing and went down to split up some of the new firewood rounds I had cut from that log, and while I was splitting them, I could see the condition of the log on the inside. I liked it even less as a result. I went in for the night pretty much decided not to use the rotten logs.

On Thursday morning, I called Robert and told him that I would like to use the log that had crashed through the roof of the cabin for my stoop but I wasnít sure if it would be safe for me to try to cut it. He advised me to wait until the weather was better and he would come over and cut it for me. That sounded good to me.

It was raining cats and dogs outside, I had a nice cozy fire going in the wood stove, and I just didnít feel like going out and working. So I goofed off the rest of the morning and just enjoyed the solitude by working on my jigsaw puzzle. I left for home at 12:45 feeling a little guilty, but rejuvenated.

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