Construction Journal Entry Week of 3/19/17

3/20/17 (Monday) Prepared three copies of a new application for a Forest Practices permit.

3/21-23/17 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I stopped in for a brief visit with Marilyn and George on the way. They were doing well. There was a light rain when I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 12:10. The temperature was 36.

After moving in, building a fire, hoisting the flag and having my lunch, I had my usual nap. When I got up, I fastened the center rail bracket to the rail using two screws. Then I enlarged the knuckle notch to make sure it provided an inch and a half clearance all around the rail.

On Wednesday, I called Robert first thing and left a message saying that I had the application forms ready for him to sign. Then after breakfast, I decided that the holes I had made for the balusters were too tight. I chose a bigger bit and enlarged all the holes, both in the treads and in the rail. In the process, I figured out a way to plumb the holes better. I used a fairly short piece of rebar that I stuck in each hole before I enlarged it. By moving the rebar around I could easily see where it was pointed so I knew which way to move the drill when I reamed out the holes.

After enlarging and plumbing all the holes, I swept up the drill chips. Then I went to work choosing and placing balusters. The balusters were of slightly different lengths, so to make sure the shortest ones were going to work, I placed them first in the holes that were closest to the noses of the treads. Then I worked my way up to the longer ones and ended up with all 18 of the balusters stuck in the bottom 18 holes in the staircase. Except for a couple of them, they were all too long so they stood up against the railing.

Using a short beeping level up against each hole under the rail, I marked each baluster with the top of a piece of tape where the rebar needed to be cut. Since the tape didn't stick to the rebar very well, I wrapped it all the way around the baluster. Then using a sharpie, I wrote the serial number of the baluster on the tape. I took a picture when I finished.

Then I took all the balusters back out of their holes and brought them up onto the porch deck for cutting.

After lunch and a nap, I used Dr. Dick's rebar cutter/bender to cut all the balusters to length. Then I brought them back down and put them back into the holes in the treads, this time inverted from what they were before so the painted ends ended up at the bottom, and then took off the tape ID labels.

Next I removed the single screw holding the central bracket to the porch beam and I removed the lag screw holding the bottom of the rail to the Grid F3 column. The rail was then fastened only to the upper newel post so I could lift the bottom up and set it down on top of the balusters.

Starting at the bottom, I determined which baluster was bearing the most weight and moved that one into its hole in the rail. That made the next longest baluster hit the rail so I moved that one into its hole. By working my way along, baluster by baluster, I got all of them into their holes. Then I used a short 2x4 and a heavy hammer to seat the rail down firmly over the balusters.

That aligned the bottom of the rail back to where it was supposed to be. I re-attached it with the big lag screw. Then I aligned the center bracket and replaced the screw holding it to the porch beam. The first 18 balusters were in their final places. Hooray! Finally, I removed the ID tape and took a couple pictures of the work. I was very pleased with how it came out and how it looked.

It was 40 and raining. I spent the rest of the afternoon splitting and stacking firewood. At 11:30 I was awakened by the snap of a mouse trap so I got up to empty and reset the trap at the foot of the loft stairs.

On Thursday morning, I called Robert and told him about the application forms. He said he would come over to Camp Serendipity at 10:00 AM to sign them so I could mail them to DNR. After having my breakfast, I tidied the place up a little and then went out on the porch and began cutting the next batch of balusters. This time I decided to cut them to the proper lengths to start with. That meant that I needed to ID each one as I went so I would know where they go.

To measure the lengths, I stuck a short piece of rebar into the lower hole and then held a short piece of a broken yardstick against the rebar so that the end of the yardstick touched the upper hole in the rail. Then noticing the inch-mark on the yardstick at the end of the rebar, I slid the two apart an additional inch to allow for the penetration into the upper hole.

Then, holding the rebar and yardstick together in that position, I brought it up to Dr. Dick's rebar cutter and used the yardstick/rebar combination as a gauge for positioning the rebar stock into the cutter. Then, I simply cut the rebar to length and marked its ID on it with a piece of tape. The method worked well and was very efficient.

There were a couple special cases where the baluster needed to penetrate all the way through the porch beam and then make a 90 bend and then go into the stair stringer. That was a quick and dirty solution to the problem of making one of the stair treads too short on one end.

Robert showed up at about 10:00 and we talked about the second phase of the logging project. There were a lot of things to consider and after some discussion, we decided that unless the snow conditions permitted and other things fell into place, we would probably wait until September to begin logging in earnest up on top. At any rate, Robert signed the forms and I took them home to mail them to DNR. Robert left about noon. I left for home at 1:15 happy to have made some visible progress on the staircase railing and some official progress on the logging project.

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