Construction Journal Entry Week of 8/18/19

8/20-22/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way I stopped and visited with Earl. Both Pam and Patty happened to be there, so we had a nice chat. I told them about my chimney leak and Pam said it will probably rain tomorrow. That meant that it might be a good idea to patch the leak today. I left with that in mind.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:05. The temperature was a fairly warm 79. I brought my gear up to the cabin, hoisted the flag, and had my lunch. Then I went into the woods to check on Andrew to see if the ram pump was still running. I was happy to see that it was and that there was a nice stream of water running down the hill next to the tree.

While I was out, I noticed that there was evidence of a recent fairly high wind. In particular, it had blown the tarp back from the stack of firewood rounds on the upper roadway. I replaced the tarp and then tied it down a little better than before.

Next I went on a search for some Vulkem caulk. According to Curt Pritchard, that is the only caulk to use on a metal roof. I was sure I had at least one tube of it, but I didn't know where it was. After a long search, I eventually found one tube that had been partially used.

Next, I got the 20-foot extension ladder out and set it up against the Grid G2 eaves. Then I lashed it to the Grid G2 column and tested it. It was very sturdy and ready to climb. But by that time, the sun was out, and the roof was getting too hot to work on. I decided to wait until morning. I did some exercises and then went in for a late nap.

On Wednesday morning the temperature outside was 52. I had left the windows open overnight and had a fan blowing in, so it was a nice cool 65 inside. After breakfast, I got my lineman's belt and a length of rope and rigged myself up for climbing up on the roof. I made one trip up to the chimney to inspect it and discovered two things: first, I could see where the old caulk had cracked and was the likely cause of the leak. Second, I discovered that a big colony of wasps was living in the chimney flashing.

On a second trip up to the chimney, I brought a can of wasp-killer spray and used it to wipe out the wasp colony.

Then back down on the ground, I discovered that the opened tube of Vulkem had dried in the spout and I figured the tube was too old to use. I called Plain Hardware to see if they carried Vulkem and learned that they did not. Rather than waiting another week, I decided to see if I couldn't make that tube work after all. The caulk in the spout was very stiff but the rest of the tube seemed soft, so I figured that it was usable.

I got a drill out and drilled through the end of the spout trying to remove the hardened caulk so the rest could flow. That didn't work so I cut the spout in half and tried that. The caulk moved a little, with a lot of pressure on the squeeze handle, so I figured it was going to work after I squeezed the stiff stuff out.

I took the caulk gun and the tube down to the crawlspace and squeezed the handle in the jaws of the vise. That worked as long as I went slowly. I didn't want to cause so much pressure that the tube would rupture and blast caulk all over me. Pretty soon with a little more than half of the tube left, the caulk was squeezing out at a usable rate.

Then I made my third trip up to the chimney. I brought a whisk broom, my caulk gun, and a putty knife. I started by sweeping off all the dead wasps and all the dirt around the caulk joint. Then I worked the Vulkem into the joint so that it really wetted and adhered to everything it touched. The big nozzle, formed by cutting the spout in half, worked well for the purpose. I spent quite a bit of time working on it in fairly uncomfortable positions, but I got the job done.

Just as I was finishing up it started to rain. This might have panicked some people, but I knew from experience that traction on a steel roof in gym shoes is actually better if the roof is wet. It doesn't get more slippery but less in the rain.

I didn't want to get soaking wet, though, so I was glad to climb back down in the rain, undo the lashing, put my harness and the ladder away, and go into the cabin feeling good about getting the leak patched. I called Earl and reported my success and reassured him that I was safe.

Next, I went to work on the new tread for the loft staircase. The tread blank is 14 inches wide with the nose formed. I decided that a 7-inch-radius semi-circle on each end was the shape I wanted. And, I decided to add an inch for good measure so that meant that the new tread would be 16 inches wider than the others: 8 inches on each end.

I placed the tread blank on the sawhorses on the porch and drew the semi-circles on the ends. Then I had to figure out how to cut the blank. My first thought was to use a jigsaw. I knew it couldn't make the entire cut, but at least I thought it could make a starting cut on each end. Wrong! On the nose side, the thing was too thick for the jigsaw to cut it at all and on the other side, the cut would only be an inch or so. I gave up on the jigsaw.

After considering a few more options, I settled on a bow saw. With its fairly thin, flexible, blade, I thought it just might be able to make a curved cut at 7-inch radius. So, I started sawing. I made a little progress before I took a break for lunch and a nap. I resumed sawing when I got up.

The saw could make a curved cut, but not quite at that short radius. So, I ended up making a 1" or 1 1/2" cut, and then making a vertical cut down to the end of the cut I just made and removing a block of wood above what I had just cut. That allowed me to resume the cut with a steeper angle and then repeat the process.

It was a tedious process, but eventually I got both ends roughly formed, and the blank cut to length in the process.

About the time I finished, Robert called and asked if I wanted to make a video of him cutting down a big, dangerous, Pine tree in Leavenworth. At first, I declined, but after thinking about it, I called him back and told him I would be there at around 8:30 AM.

On Thursday morning, I got up at 5:00, had my breakfast, and then packed up and closed up the cabin since I didn't plan to return after my trip to Leavenworth. I got to Robert's job site at about 8:40. He was already up the tree, so I shot video from then until 11:45, when I ended the video and left for home. I was happy about the week. It had been fun.

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