Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/1/17

1/4-6/17 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Wednesday through Friday.

After a cold sunny drive over the pass, I arrived at 12:20. There had been no new snow since I had been there earlier in the week so I turned the truck around and parked at the foot of the concrete staircase. Then I spent an hour shoveling the 29 inches of snow off the steps and packing down the trail to the cabin on both ends of the staircase.

At 1:20 I brought my gear up to the cabin, hoisted the flag, built a fire and then had my lunch and my usual nap.

When I got up, I made a solvent bath tank for cleaning the rebar balusters I plan to make. The tank is made from a 2-foot length of 1/2" copper tube with a cap sweated on one end and a 2" reducer sweated on the other end to form a funnel. The idea is to pour enough solvent into the tube so that it reaches the funnel when the rebar is in the tube. The rebar pieces will be a little under 40 inches long so by turning each one over and dipping each end, the whole length can be treated.

After dipping each end, the solvent along with the dirt and oil will be wiped off with a clean rag. This method was suggested to me by Dave for preparing the balusters for painting.

To hold the copper tank in an upright position, I screwed a 1" galvanized pipe flange to a circle of 3/4" plywood and then screwed a 1"x10" galvanized pipe nipple into the flange. The copper tank then just sits in the galvanized pipe. It so happened that I had a bunch of 3/4" plywood circles left over from cutting the holes in the subfloors for the columns. I just used one of them and it worked great.

On Thursday morning, it was -9 outside when I got up. That's about as cold as I can remember it being up there. Needless to say, I started a fire in the stove and warmed the place up to about 75 in a few minutes.

After breakfast, I used the dipping tank and paint thinner to clean the three balusters I had previously cut. It was sort of a proof of concept and it seemed to work well. I just left the thinner in the tank and covered the funnel with saran wrap. I guess I'll replace the thinner when it gets dirty.

Next I split a bunch of firewood. It is amazing how easy it is to split the wood when it is frozen like that. I remember my grandpa telling me when I was a kid about how he used to split wood in Lanesboro, MN when he was a kid and how the frozen wood just popped open when you hit it just once. That was my experience too.

After having my lunch and a nap, I made a rack for holding rebar for painting. I made it from a short 2x6 with 3/8" holes drilled in a line separated by about 1/4". The plan is to have the rebar spaced closely enough but separated enough so that you could spray them at a 45 angle from all four directions. A 3/8" hole is tight but a 7/16" hole is too loose. I went with the 3/8" holes and had to drive the rebar in a half inch or so with a hammer. That held them nice and rigid but I needed to use a vise-grip and a fulcrum to get them back out.

I primed and then painted the three balusters out on the front porch even though it was only 0 out there when I did it. The paint cans said that the temperature should be above 50 but I figured that since I had just brought the rebar and the paint outside they were still warm. And as soon as I had sprayed the rebar, I brought them, still in the rack, in to the utility room where I let them dry. It was well above 50 in there. I turned the exhaust fan on in the room and shut the door to keep the fumes out of the rest of the cabin. It worked well, even though it smelled like a paint shop in the utility room for a while.

On Friday morning, the temperature was up to 0 -- a whole nine degrees warmer than the morning before. I got up at 5:00, started a fire in the stove and fixed my breakfast. After breakfast, I felt sleepy so I took a nap. I didn't wake up until 10:00. It felt wonderful.

The paint was completely dry on the rebar and I was happy with the results. I wasn't so happy though when I went out on the front porch to pick up the cardboard that I thought was going to keep paint spray off the porch deck. It didn't work. There was now a 5 o'clock shadow on the deck outlining where the cardboard had been. Now I have to figure out whether and how to remove that paint. I should have used a tarp or a drop cloth. I will next time.

Next I took the big calipers down and measured the diameter of the Grid F3 column and the diameter of the short scab log that I will lag screw to the column as an abutment for the stair rail. The column is 11 inches in diameter and the scab log is 9 inches in diameter. I decided to fasten them together using two 1/2"x16" galvanized lag screws. I put the lag screws on my shopping list.

After having my lunch and packing up, I left for home at 12:40 feeling very happy.

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