Construction Journal Entry Week of 8/11/19

8/13-15/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way, I stopped and visited with Earl for a while. We did a little work on a broken lock on his motorcycle, but I left without fixing it. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:00. The temperature was 80 outside. It was 70 inside the cabin.

After carrying my gear up and hoisting the flag, I went directly into the woods to check on the ram pump. I was eager to see if it was still running. I was delighted, but not really surprised, to find that it was pumping steadily. I think it is finally working reliably.

I returned to the cabin had my lunch and took a nap. I woke up to the sounds of someone in the cabin and it was Dave. I knew he was coming for dinner, but he got there a little early. I got up and we began our usual series of long, interesting, discussions.

We took a break from our talking and went into the woods so he could see the ram pump in action. We started by going directly to the pump. Dave had been curious about what would happen if you shut the output valve completely off, so I told him to try it.

He shut the valve and the pressure started climbing with each cycle of the pump. He opened the valve when the pressure reached about 50 psi and it then dropped to 10 psi as the pump resumed pushing water up through the hose. The pump didn't miss a beat during the experiment.

From there we went up to the end of the pipe where we looked at the strainer over the intake end of the pipe and the dam that keeps the strainer submerged.

Then we proceeded on up past the springbox, over the ridge, and down to Andrew, the sequoia tree. There the end of the hose was in a 5-gallon bucket which was overflowing, forming a creek that was running downhill about a foot away from the tree. The tree looked happy.

Then we proceeded down to the rest of the sequoia grove where we looked at a few of them. From there we looped back and then went up on the bluff and looked at the cedar trees I had planted. They all looked healthy and thriving.

Then we went back to the cabin where we resumed our discussions, and had our dinner. Dave was still on east coast time and we were both tired, so we went to bed fairly early.

On Wednesday morning it was 50 outside. We had left the windows open with a fan running all night, so it was a nice cool 62 inside the cabin. Starting that low it keeps the temperature comfortable inside even though it heats up outside in the afternoon.

We had our breakfast and then Dave left at about 8:00 for business meetings he had scheduled in Wenatchee. After doing the breakfast dishes and my exercises, I went to work outside to get a rope all the way over the cabin.

The plan is to inspect the chimney as soon as I can and patch up the leak. To do that, I need to climb up there, and to do that, I need a stout rope over the building attached at each end, and which I can use to hang on to while I walk up there, as well as to anchor my safety rope and my tool bucket.

Getting the rope over is pretty tricky. I have a nice, flexible, braided, 3/8" rope that I use to start with. I tied a short stick to one end of the rope to serve as a weight, and then after a dozen or more attempts, I was finally successful in throwing the stick and the end of the rope over the ridge of the roof from right to left by standing on the high rock behind the cabin.

The stick was only a foot or so down from the ridge on the other side and it was far too small and light to be able to slide down the roof and pull the rope behind it. So, I stood on the high rock and gently flipped the rope so that the bend in the rope traveled from my hand up to the ridge. If I did it just right, it would raise the rope a couple inches above the ridge and then as it fell back, it provided enough slack to let the stick and the end of the rope slide down the roof a little.

Not all of the flips were executed well, and there were many times that the rope hopped off the ridge and tried to fall off the gable end of the roof and ruin my efforts. Fortunately, the plumbing vent stack is attached to the fascia right near the peak of the roof. So, when the rope would fall off the peak, the vent pipe would catch it.

Sometimes when that happened, I could do an energetic flip and get the rope back up over the ridge and undo the damage. But there were times when the rope got stuck and I couldn't flip it out. For these occasions, I went down to the cabin, got an 8-foot 1x2 and drove two long finish nails into one end of it to make a two-tined fork, which I used to reach up and push the rope back up over the ridge. By standing on the edge of the high rock, I could just barely reach the peak with the end of the 8-foot stick.

I kept flipping and rescuing the rope like that for quite a while. A really good flip would advance the rope only a couple inches at most, so after several hundred flips, the stick had slid only 10 or 15 feet down the 40-foot roof. But that was enough. I figured I could modify my rope-picker by screwing another 1x2 to the end of it extending it to 15 feet. And I modified the fork on the end by adding a small block of wood which allowed me to drive the nails back in so they were 90 from the axis of the 1x2s.

With this new 15-foot rope picker, I was able to stand on the lower edge of the high rock and reach up and grab the rope and the stick on the end and pull it down the roof.

Before I did, I took the other, long, end of the rope down toward the other eave of the roof and got the rope to lie on the roof all the way from the ridge to the eave and then hang down from there.

I was able to use the long rope picker to pull the rope all the way down the roof so that I could retrieve the end of it and secure it to the guard rail on the front porch. Similarly, I tied the other, long, end of the rope to the guard rail on the back porch. In the process, I tried to work the rope across the ridge toward the chimney because that is where I needed the final rope to go. I got it about halfway there.

I was really pleased with the success because that is the most difficult part of getting the rigging in place that I need to get up onto the roof. I went in for lunch and a nap, hot, tired, and sweaty, but happy.

Once again, Dave showed up right at the end of my nap. He had finished his business a little early and there was enough time for him to help me get a big rope over the roof up against the chimney. First, I showed him my long rope picker and he watched me take it apart. Then we went to work getting the rope over the building. Having two people made the job a lot more efficient because it saved me many trips walking from one side of the building to the other.

I tied the end of a big 200-foot 3/4" Manilla rope to the end of the smaller rope that had been secured to the front porch rail while Dave went around to the other side of the cabin where he pulled the big rope up over the roof by heaving on the smaller rope. The knot between the two ropes got hung up on the ridge, but Dave was able to get it to hop up and over by tugging on it in jerks.

Once the knot was over the ridge, the rest of the rope went up and over pretty easily. Then we tied the back end of the big rope to a tree by the rock pile and old sand bins, and then around to the front, we tied the other end of the big rope to a stump 30 or 40 feet out from the front porch.

In the process of pulling the rope over, we had worked it over toward the chimney so that when we finished, the rope was right up against it. The job was done so we went back to the cabin for more discussions.

It was so pleasant out on the front porch, with no mosquitoes in sight, that we started our conversations out there. I showed Dave my mason bee blocks and told him about the bees. I don't think he knew about them before. Then we got talking about some alternatives for the railings on the loft stairs. I had told him about my plan of embedding the end of a 45 bend in a rebar baluster into the top edge of the end-grain of the treads. We had discussed this previously with Bill in Seattle when the three of us had breakfast. Dave had suggested a 90 bend instead, which I balked at. Then I suggested a compromise of 82 and that had been where we left it.

Well now, out on the porch, there were some left-over slabs of tread material, some rebar scraps, and Dr. Dick's rebar cutter-bender right at our fingertips. So, I bent three rebar scraps at various angles between 45 and 90 and brought them over to the tread blank for a test. Dave helped eyeball the angle of my drill as I drilled a slanted 3/8" hole into the end of a tread blank. Then I used a short 2x4 to drive the bent end of one of the test balusters into the hole.

When it was all the way in, I think we were both surprised at how easy it was to do and how satisfactory the result seemed to be. We stopped testing any more and I think we were both convinced that we had the solution of how to fasten the balusters to the treads. The only remaining question is whether epoxy is necessary to stabilize the joint. It really doesn't seem to need it.

After we had our dinner, we intended to get to bed early again, but we ended up talking until 11:00 before we finally hit the sack.

On Thursday morning, we got up at 6:00 to a beautiful 53 morning. Dave had a shower, we had coffee, and after more delightful conversation, I walked Dave down to his car where he left at about 8:45. It was the end of a delightful and wonderful visit.

I didn't do much more for the rest of the morning except take a shower, fix my breakfast, and go into the woods to make sure the ram pump was still working. It was. I left for home at 12:50 feeling very good about the week. I didn't build much but I have a much better idea about how to do some things when I actually go to work.

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