Construction Journal Entry Week of 6/24/18

6/26-28/18 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

When I arrived and parked, at 12:30, the loggers just returned from lunch and drove in right behind me. They had felled a huge cottonwood tree, bucked it into logs, used two of them to form a base for the jammer, and they had the jammer assembled and mounted on top of the cottonwood logs.

While I brought my gear to the cabin and had my lunch, Robert and Tim continued working on getting the jammer ready to run. They finished up at about 2:00 and left. I went up to the cabin and took my usual nap.

When I got up, I went up to the bluff and checked on the cedar trees. They all looked good. Next, I strung a hose from the wye at Paul over to the big pine tree that the loggers will use for their tail tree. There will be a big pulley in that tree and the rules are that you need a fire hose near it and damp ground around it to prevent a fire if the pulley overheats.

Then I switched the valves to water Brian and cedar #12 and then went up and gave a bucket of water each to Earl and Andrew. I was pleased to see that most of the sequoias are growing nicely.

I am going to miss next week and another one a couple weeks later, so I plan to use one of those weeks to try to fix the springbox. A guy on YouTube gave me a suggestion that I think might work. He said to plug up all the outlets on the springbox, pour in the bentonite, and then let it set for a week. That way, the bentonite wouldn't get flushed out the outlets and would have time to work its way down into the gravel and hopefully plug up the leaks. There is quite a bit to do to get ready for that work and the first thing is to clear the trail to the spring so I have good access.

I know that there are a couple logs across the trail, so I gassed and oiled the chainsaw and took it up the trail toward the spring. I cleared the trail as I went and finally reached the first log across the trail. Then the troubles started.

The log was only 10 or 12 inches in diameter and I just absent-mindedly started cutting down through it without thinking it through. When the bar was about 3 or 4 inches in, the log sagged and pinched the bar so tight it wouldn't budge. That was really stupid and that's how I felt.

I only have one chainsaw, so the only option was to return to the cabin and get an axe. It was tricky, hard work, in the hordes of mosquitoes, chopping the wood away from the bar without hitting and ruining it. After a persistent struggle, I finally cut away enough wood to free the saw.

Then I proceeded on to my next mistake. Instead of trying to finish that cut, I decided to make another cut about 4 feet away on the other side of the trail. And, to avoid getting the saw stuck again, I decided to start with a plunge cut through the center of the log. That can't jam so I felt pretty confident. I made the cut all the way through with no problem.

The next part of the plan was to alternate small cuts first using the top of the bar and then using the bottom of the bar. I figured that whichever finished first, the kerf would open up and the saw would remain free. Wrong.

As I was cutting with the top of the bar, and the chain was only a half-inch away from breaking out the top, the log sagged, and my bar was once again stuck tighter than a drum inside the log. Fortunately, this time I had my axe. So, I started chopping the saw loose for the second time.

Unfortunately, when I was about three-quarters finished, I hit the log in just the wrong way so that my axe handle broke in two. It was a diagonal break from right near the head to almost all the way to the end of the handle. It was now useless, and it is the only axe I have up there.

I was sweating profusely, trying to catch my breath, and slapping the many mosquitoes while I tried to think of my next move. I decided to retrieve my sawzall from the truck with both batteries and use that. After the hike down and back, I used up one battery cutting wood away from the chainsaw bar. It isn't the right tool for that kind of work, but it did chew away at it, so I made some progress. Fortunately, I was able to free the bar before the second battery went dead.

With my tail between my legs, I carried the sawzall and its batteries, the chainsaw, and the broken axe back to the cabin and quit for the day.

On Wednesday, I was expecting a visitor so, after breakfast, I started out by sweeping the front porch and staircase. It had been covered with pollen dust, so it looked a whole lot better after I swept. Next, I took the starter rope assembly off the chainsaw and wrapped a few turns around the pully to get the rope retracted again. Then I took the saw down to the stack of cottonwood logs and bucked a four-foot length of 10-inch diameter log. My neighbor had told me that she wanted a log like that to decorate her yard. I wasn't exactly sure what she wanted so I had left a message for her to call me and tell me. She hadn't done so yet, so I made a guess. I loaded the four-foot log into the back of the truck.

Then I got Cindy out and lopped away more of the vine maples on the margin of the driveway that were now right up against the side of the jammer in its new position. During the work I got a call from the visitor I expected and learned that he wouldn't be up after all. I went back to grubbing the vine maples got most of them cleared away before Robert and Tim showed up about 9:00.

I got the camera out so I could shoot video of Robert as he proceeded to climb the big fir tree and make a spar tree out of it. He cut all the limbs off for about 50 feet. Later, he will hang two big pulleys up there with big cables running through them.

Next, we went to work getting the jammer operating. The first thing was to get the engine started which included getting the radiator hoses hooked up, filling the radiator with water, hooking up a battery charger, rigging a temporary fuel line up and sticking the end into a gas tank, tightening up a few bolts, and then getting it started.

The next job, which was hard and messy, was to install the big drive chain. It was pretty well seized up from disuse, but Robert had had it soaking in solvent for a week or so, so most of it would flex, sort of. To straighten it out, we draped it over the big sprocket that it will drive and hammered the kinks out of it. After a lot of messy work, it opened up enough so that we could get it over both the big sprocket on the drums and the smaller sprocket at the end of the engine driveline. Then after a lot of alignment, the bolts on the various brackets were replaced and tightened and we were ready to fire up the engine and turn the drums.

Once the machine was working and the drums were turning, the loggers put things away and left for the day at about 1:30. I went in for a very welcome late lunch and a nap. It was about 3:30 when I got up and I decided that there was not enough time to work on clearing the trail to the spring. It was clear that I was not going to be ready to try to fix the leak in the springbox this week.

Instead, I decided to make some more progress on the porch rail. I had bought a 2" hole saw and brought it with me, so I used that to make the mortise hole in the Grid G1 PSL.

Early in the evening my neighbor called and gave me some more detailed specifications for what she wanted in the way of decorative logs. I learned that I could give her what she wanted by bucking the log I had already prepared in half, and then bucking four more short sections from a bigger diameter log. That would be a short, fairly easy job for the morning.

On Thursday morning, Dave called, and we had a delightful conversation until I saw the loggers arrive. We hung up and I scrambled to get my work clothes on. Tim came in for a cup of coffee and I gave him a mosquito net that he thinks he can use at his place.

When I told the loggers about the logs for my neighbor, Tim grabbed a chainsaw and cut the pieces in no time. They are able to buck a log absolutely square where I have a heck of a time, and if I am not extremely careful, I can't get a square cut at all. We loaded the pieces into my truck and then went to work winding cable onto the mainline drum of the jammer. That is a big cable and it was an involved process.

The cable was lying on the ground near the driveway entrance. Robert used his truck as a drag to keep the cable taut as it got wound onto the drum. The truck was parked at the driveway entrance and a log chain was wrapped around the cable and looped over the trailer hitch of the truck. As the winch took up cable, it slowly dragged the truck backwards up the driveway.

The real objective was to get the first layer, or winding, of the cable on the drum to be tightly spaced over the full width of the drum. That meant taking up just a couple inches of cable, and then using a big hammer to drive the cable up snug against the previous winding. It was a slow process, but eventually, that first winding was complete and then the second, third, and part of the fourth winding were done. That was as much as we needed to do until the rigging in the spar tree is ready.

To get that big heavy cable up to the bluff, we will use what they call "haywire". That is a much smaller cable, maybe 3/8" or so, and will be four sections connected together by mollies. A molly is a small loop of cable that is made by winding just a single strand around itself six turns. And, while making the molly, the strand is reeved through whatever it is supposed to go through when it is finished. In our case it will be two loops, one on each end of the cable sections that the molly will join.

I unwound the strands we will use to make 3 mollies while Robert and Tim were working on the jammer.

Tim and I each carried a coil of haywire up to the bluff and while we were up there, I told him about the fire hose I had rigged and turned the valves to demonstrate it. It didn't work.

After fiddling around with it, I discovered that a hose fitting up at Paul, the sequoia tree, had broken apart. I went down to the cabin and got a male fitting and brought it back up to install. I discovered that the fitting was made for a 5/8" or 3/4" hose and the hose I needed to fix was 1/2", or smaller. After fiddling with it for a while, I discovered that the hose fit tightly inside the fitting instead of on the outside like it was supposed to. So, I jammed the hose into the fitting and then got some super Flex-tape to hold the joint together. Then I hooked the hoses back up and the fire hose worked again. I'm glad I fixed it in time.

During the work, I noticed that Paul was starting to look dry, so I punched a small hole in the hose behind the fitting I had just installed, and then partially closed the valve to the cedar irrigation hoses so that a slow, steady drip watered Paul. In two weeks when I return, we'll see if that makes a difference. I hope it does.

I left for home at 1:10 after a fairly eventful week. I have to skip next week because of a granddaughter who will be visiting from Hawaii. The loggers will be working without me.

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