Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/19/20

1/24-26/20 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Friday through Sunday.

There was no answer when I tried to call Earl, so I skipped another visit. It rained cats and dogs all the way over the mountains and it was still raining hard when I arrived at 12:45. Fortunately the driveway had been plowed so I parked with no problem. The deep snow had been soaked in the rain, so it was now the consistency of mashed potatoes. I decided not to shovel the steps in the rain but instead just slog through the snow and up the stairs with my gear in one trip.

The back staircase was covered in deep snow, so I walked around to the front where there was a clear path up the inside of the staircase that wasn't covered with snow. There was enough firewood stockpiled on the back porch, so I was able to start a fire right away. I skipped hoisting the flag in the rain.

After having my lunch and a nap, I got a square-nose shovel from the crawlspace and used that to shovel off the back staircase and the stoop. By the time I finished, the rain had stopped so I used the square-nose shovel to shovel off the concrete staircase. When I got down to the truck, I got the aluminum scoop and brought it back to the cabin with me just as the rain started up again.

On Saturday there was a light rain alternating with a light snowfall all day. Since I was done working in the loft for a while, I put away all the tools that had accumulated up there. Then I vacuumed the loft and the loft staircase. It is really nice having the loft railings done and the loft nice and clean again.

Next, I removed the loft floor receptacle near the last section of railing I had installed. For some reason I couldn't plug my drill into that receptacle, so I took it apart to see what was wrong. I discovered that nothing was wrong. It was just so tight that you had to really force the plug into it to make it work. After sticking the plug into it several times, it loosened up and I put it back together again. That ended up being a waste of time, but at least I know the receptacle works.

The next project is the loft staircase railings. The plan is to have one handrail and one guard rail. The guard rail will be along the edge of the kitchen ceiling. The handrail will be the open span on the other side of the staircase. I figured that I don't need balusters or a guard rail above the kitchen floor because the railing on the loft edge there should do that job. So, I only need balusters and a rail below the kitchen ceiling.

I started laying out baluster locations for the guard rail on the lower treads. Instead of 4" spacing, in the stretch between the Grid B.5,2.5 column and the newel post, the spacing needs to be 4 1/16" which will still work. I marked the baluster locations with bits of blue masking tape.

After lunch and a nap, I used a plumb bob and a measuring tape to find and mark all the baluster locations on the treads for the entire guard rail. I marked these with masking tape too.

My plan is to anchor the bottoms of the balusters by bending the last two or three inches of the baluster about 45° and driving the bent ends into slanting holes in the end grain of the treads tangent to the top of the tread. The tops of the balusters for the upper treads will be anchored in the kitchen ceiling somehow. I wasn't sure exactly how that was going to work, but I spent quite a bit of time figuring out where they needed to penetrate the ceiling in order to be plumb when anchored the way I plan to do it. It turned out that the balusters need to be anchored in the fascia board. That is going to be unusual and I wondered if that was really the way I should do it. I went ahead and measured and marked the underside of the fascia board for the baluster holes.

Then I brought a bunch of power tools back down to the crawl space and put them away as I mulled over my unorthodox plan for the guard rail.

On Sunday morning, I did a lot more thinking and strategizing about the guard rail. I did some measurements and some testing with a scrap board of fascia material. I also calculated the requirements for the rebar I will need in addition to what I already have on hand. I need ten more 10-footers. I put them on the list for next week. I needed to be home a little early for a dinner engagement so I left for home a little after noon happy about being working on the last of the railing projects.

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