Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Cold Wind Blows...

The wind roared in last night. With a thunderous crash one of the scaffolding setups was dashed, destroying a sawhorse it landed on and flipping a 2x10x14 gangplank through the air like a pancake.

When the wind blows in from the north up here, it has a way of penetrating to your bones in a matter of seconds. It doesn't look like I've made much progress but I was thinking about it last night-I really have. The slab set me back time wise but way ahead in the finances department. That savings was critical.

This is the extent of the building at the close of the first year. I'll be working on shaping the timbers in the workshop for springtime installation. Lately I have been occupied by FIREWOOD processing and today I have to run around and prepare for the season's first winter snowstorm which may begin dropping up to a foot of snow in about 30 hours from now.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving, already.

About a week after the last post I had my excavator return. The first week of school I had Rich B. dredge out our 50 year old pond and he did a magnificent job, picking up where I had left off in the beginning of summer when I rented the D-5 Cat to clear it of decades of brush and undergrowth. He then came up to the top of the mountain (we live on a pretty big hill, actually)and worked on getting us some flat land to build a bank barn on. He gets 125 an hour so it was not cheap, considering the clock starts ticking the minute he leaves his driveway a town away from here. Figure $1250 a day and you are about right...but I'm glad it's done and so are the neighbors and the people who drive by the waterfalls everyday. On Election day at the polling place people were telling me it was nice to see it again. Some of these folks used to swim in the pond as kids.

The catalyst for having the pond cleaned was the fact that the trucking company that delivered my new Powermatic tablesaw the first week of September hooked the truck onto the culvert under the road and destroyed it as the truck got stuck in the ditch near it and had to be pulled out. I had to have Rich replace the 24" culvert pipe with a 30" one he had around, and the trucking company honored their obligation to pay for it.

I have not had the chance to cut one stick of wood with the Powermatic since setting it up. (Brother Drew got my trustworthy hybrid Ryobi saw, delivered to his house 5 miles away on his wedding day.) I think that I will be starting our new cherry kitchen with it soon.

Rich was back in late October and finished the flat spot up top and cleared some more land for me near the furnace pole barn, which Laura and I have decided to covert partially into a temporary stable as I can get both water and electricity to it. I hired Gordon and his son Dale to bring power and lights down there about 200 feet from the existing house. Gordon is pushing 80 years old but he is an icon in this town and also dispensed information about the candidates running for the town board, which was helpful. He feeds the puppies dog biscuits and they go nuts where he comes around.

So, it's time to get ready for the snowflakes to fly. I have been moving my timbers and lumber around with the tractor and forks, worth their weight in gold, to get this place snowplow ready. Firewood processing is also taking up time but that's part of the deal living up here in the winter.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Break in the Action

Well, school started again and so did a new project. Son Ned and I began working on a tree platform which evolved int0 a two story tree house with a third story observation post. Daughter Emma was a big help, too. It was a chance to spend more time with the kids, really... I finished framing and roofing it last week.

I have the sill plates down out back and six or seven posts up. Several of the anchor bolts had been set off center as I wound up using 7 1/2" p.t. sill plates. I discovered STRONG-BOLT™ Wedge Anchor bolts down at the local hardware store... about a buck each but worth it. Gibson's has just about everything you might need squirrelled away here and there in a creaky floor 19th century building. You just tell Dale what you need and off he goes on the hunt.
It would be awesome if I could get the downstairs framed posts and joists before snow. Ain't gonna happen. I still have a trailer load of timbers to unload from three weeks ago and have to pick up a final load maybe next weekend at Dick's sawmill in Fair Haven Vt.

Last night I finished digging the ditch for the radiant heat supply and return lines down to the furnace. Ray and Rob, the radiant installers, want to come soon, weather permitting.

What have I learned lately? Some new swear words at the sawmill to use artfully when snagging the existing underground heating supply lines with the backhoe as I dug through the rocky soil down to the furnace. No water spilled, though.

Still, nobody could have done it any better than me. Maybe faster, but not better.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Slab is Done

The fourth and last pour for this season was yesterday at 3pm. Another helpful driver as it was just me and my wife, my loyal helper. She's good with the rake. Anyway we poured 3 yards and the three children immortalized their names in it as this is the back porch region of the house. My big dilemma was whether or not to tie this unheated part of the slab in with the heated portions with rebar as I'm sure they will be expanding and contracting at different rates. I decided to do it as I had already spent several hours drilling the holes for it.
I spent the rest of the day and night removing forms and installing 3" foam around the perimeter and backfilling, trying to beat the rain forecast for all day tomorrow with will turn this area into mud soup for several days. I finally wrapped it up at 12:45 am, missing dinner at brother Drew's house in the process. After almost six weeks of this, it is time to make sawdust, but we did do it all ourselves and saved at least 7 grand in the process.

What did I learn today? No matter how sure you are, measure three times, cut once. An hour before the concrete was to arrive I "triple checked" my math for the pour and realized I was short a yard. I was on the phone in a hurry and disaster was narrowly averted (again).

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Back porch pour

Had more stone delivered for the porch area(s) that will need to be poured on Monday...while I was in town returning the rotary hammer, the driver dumped 22 tons of coarse rubble crusher run stone a little off target and right into the path that the last cement truck will need to take to reach the back porch area...I built up the 19'x6' porch area with several inches of stone and built the forms. It's tough to drive stakes into rock, the rotary hammer would have been handy, but I did it with the tamper bar instead.

What did I learn today? You have to be on site no matter what for deliveries unless you want to make more work for yourself.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Chip Away at the Stone, Part Two

"Even a rock will crumble, if you strike it night and day, if hammer I must, I'm gonna get through your crust, gonna chip that stone away ..." -that Aerosmith song was playing in my head all day long! I continued with the rotary hammer. I chipped away for hours down at the concrete furnace pad to get prepped for the new hot water supply and return lines that will run underground from the outside wood furnace to the house addition. When I started Sat. afternoon, with 45 minutes left on the clock before returning the rental, I had assumed that the concrete pad was the standard 4' thick with no rebar. (It was poured in 2000 and I found no reference to thickness in my notes from then..) Pretty soon it was clear that I'd be keeping the hammer for the next day.

The pad was 6 to 8 inches thick, fibermesh cement reinforced with 2 layers of wire mesh!

Today I learned that the rotary hammer is helpful in busting up the HUGE sedimentary rocks that keep the backhoe from doing its job properly and this total chip job will be over $100. Maybe an excuse to invest in of the benefits of doing it yourself-you can blow a lot of cash on cool tools...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Chip Away at the Stone

Rented a rotary hammer for $40 per day-they are over $500 bucks new- and got to work on the side where we nearly had the blow out with the concrete. Every day you learn something new and I suppose that's a lot of the upside of doing it yourself.
Today's lesson: Today I learned that a 7" diamond blade for scoring and cutting the concrete with the circular saw is close to fifty bucks and creates a ton of dust. Made four passes, each 1/2 inch, 35 feet along the east side of the slab where the forms bowed out. Unfortunately the rental place did not provide a wider chisel to finish the edges but I'll be covering them with 3" foam anyway.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Concrete- Day Three

Today the trucks arrived right on schedule at 10:00 am and 10:30. I ordered 12 yards this time and it was just enough, maybe 10 gallons leftover, for the 4.5 thick 10.75 foot wide and 54 foot long pour with 16" deep angled haunches. The Concrete Slab Pour Calculator was a huge help. I had carefully backfilled the forms on this west side with dirt and oiled the screedboard, which made life a whole lot easier. Charity and I screeded, Drew and Laura raked and hoed. Having an experienced driver, pourer makes a HUGE difference as well-try pushing a mountain of concrete with a screedboard. I started to get the hang of bullfloating today as well- jumped on it after our was completed. Then the magnesium hand float for the areas around obstacles like protruding pipes, then finish tamping and troweling the edges as the concrete began to slowly set up. After that it was about time to finish the outside edges with the edger, which left a nice 3 inch edge that was helpful in layout for setting the 6" anchor bolts (Today's lesson:I had found that marking the forms with blue painters tape made it easier and faster to find the marks I had made to set the bolts-crayon is hard to see with dripping screedoff running down the form). By 1 pm I was cleaning up. I went to bed at 8pm. We pulled it off, now just the back porch to pour, then it's time to make sawdust. Drew, Laura, and Charity were a big help.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Concrete- Day Two

Today we poured the east side of the building, the second of three 54' long strips. Brother Drew, wife Laura and friend Charity helped out in withering heat, sun and humidity, well into the 90s.

The truck arrived early at 1:40 with 10.5 yards and we were pouring by 2 pm. Where the forms became 10' 8" wide we began to have some problems and narrowly averted a blowout as the forms were not backfilled enough along that edge. Tractor tire saved the day but I'll have some cutting and chiseling ahead of me where the form bowed out in a couple of places. Also the finishing was a disappointment as the form repair sucked up time and and not allow me to get on the concrete with the float as soon as I could have. We had another helpful driver who even helped rake and screed as I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

Later I cooled down the body core temperature submerged in the kiddy pool. From 8 to 11:30pm in the mercifully cooler evening I added more bracing for the west side as our two daughters practiced their skating steps and dance moves on the hardening slab. Today I learned that concrete sucks.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Concrete Arrives-Day One

The concrete truck arrived at 1 pm with the 8.25 yards that I ordered... Brother Drew and wife Laura were on hand for the pour. Good thing. The driver was really helpful and an excellent pourer. It took a while but we pulled it off, me and Drew screeding and Laura helping out with the rake. Son Ned took some photos and video. I built a quick form for the overflow just before the truck arrived and used some of the extra to pour a stoop off the back door. This pour was about 15 minutes long. (It seemed a lot longer!)
I started bull floating a little late but it went pretty well for the first try. The surface is level and has just enough roughness or "tooth" to provide an excellent surface for tile adhesion.