Construction Journal Entry Week of 12/15/19

12/20-22/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Friday through Sunday.

It was raining all the way to the pass and snowing from there down to Rayrock. Then it turned to rain again. There had been 16" of snow that night at Earl's place so when I stopped for a visit, I had to park in the street. I cut my visit short because I was in the way of the snowplow.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at about 12:15. There was 23" of snow on the ground and a huge berm that the county plows had thrown up that was now blocking my driveway. I parked in the road and then spent about an hour using my scoop shovel to shovel out a parking place.

After pulling the truck into the parking space, I proceeded to stamp out a trail to the concrete staircase. Snowshoes would not have helped because the snow was so deep, loose, and wet. Instead I packed down what I could in front of me with the scoop shovel and then stomped it down further with my boots. It was slow going.

When I got to the stairs, I started shoveling them off. I got above the middle landing when Josh showed up with his tractor. I went right down and moved the truck back out onto the road to get it out of his way. Then I went back to work on the stairs while Josh plowed out the entire driveway and parking area. When Josh finished, I drove the truck back in, turned it around, and parked at the foot of the stairs heading out.

When I finished clearing the stairs, I stomped out trails to the flagpole and the cabin. After having a very welcome glass of water, I started a fire in the stove, hoisted the flag, and went back down to the truck for my gear. I was finally ready for lunch at 3:15. Instead of taking a nap, I spent the rest of the day drying my clothes by the fire. They were soaked.

On Saturday morning the temperature was 25° but it was still raining. The snow on the ground had shrunk down considerably.

After breakfast, I decided that I couldn't stand the one newel post at the foot of the loft stairs being slightly out of plumb, so I took it apart and worked on straightening it again. When I finished, I was happy with it. It is as plumb as a slightly curved, tapered log can be.

Next, I did some detailed figuring for the 2x6 rails. I had made an error in ordering the 2x6s and had to reassign one of them. That left one 8-footer that I would use for the 7-foot balustrade between Grids C2 and D2, and a 10-footer to cover two sections, each of which was over 5 feet long. I didn't think it would work, but then I realized that it would work if I used butt joints on the corners instead of lap joints. About 6 inches is saved on each of the two corners that way.

The appearance of the joints from the top would be identical and the only difference would be visible looking at the ends of the rails. And that view would look better from one direction than a lap joint, and from the other direction it wouldn't look all that much less finished. I was really happy with this discovery because now I don't have to finish another 5-foot piece of 2x6 and I don't have to make lap joints.

Having disposed of those two concerns, I went to work constructing the Grid C2 - D2 balustrade. I got the lower 2x4 rail notched into the two columns before lunch and a nap.

When I got up, I discovered that the heater in the dining room was not working. It is evidently getting power because the control panel lights up and you can change the thermostat setting. But the heater just didn't heat no matter how high I set the thermostat. Now I am going to have to figure out what to do about it.

I went back to work on the balustrade and got the top 2x4 fitted into notches cut into the Grid C2 and D2 columns before I quit for the day.

On Sunday morning, I measured, marked, and drilled the two 2x4 rails for the balusters. Then I installed the eighteen balusters in the rails and seated the rails in the columns. I tried a new trick that I thought of that made the job much quicker and easier than it had been in previous balustrades I made. The problem is that after placing all the balusters in the bottom rail, you have to get them all to go into holes in the bottom of the top rail. When you get the balusters in on one end of the rail, then you find that the next one won't go in because one further down is longer and has to go in first. So, you lift the rail a little to put that one in and another one that you already had in pops out. The closer you get to the end, the more of them pop out and the harder it gets.

My new trick is once you get a baluster in its hole in the top rail, you lift it up a little, maybe a half-inch, and then stick a piece of tape to the baluster at the bottom so it can't fall back into the hole in the bottom rail. Now you can lift the top rail to put other ones in and the taped one doesn't come out. You tape every baluster after a certain point until they are all in. Then you seat the top rail down on all balusters and then seat the rail in the posts and remove the tape. It works slick.

I was very happy with the results. The balustrade was in its final position and was nice and plumb. It is not fastened yet, but I'll do that next week. For now, I took some pictures and left for home at 1:15 very happy about the week's work, except for the heater.

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