Construction Journal Entry Week of 4/27/08

4/28/08 Went to L&I in Bellevue and bought an electrical permit. Went to Verizon in Kirkland and picked up 200 feet of telephone wire. Tried to schedule the service installation with Brian Kemly, but didn't get ahold of him. Fixed the broken heater.

4/29-5/1/08 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

It snowed a little as I went over the pass and it even snowed a little at the property although none stuck to the ground. I arrived at 12:30 and decided to try to drive all the way to the trailer. There was still quite a bit of snow where Mike had piled it up, but I got a good run and barged into it. I got quite a ways and tried it again. I probably made 8 or 10 runs at it like that but then I got good and stuck. I had slid sideways enough to hit some branches that broke off my right mirror bracket. I ended up having to put chains on to get out. But I did get the pickup parked up at the trailer for the first time this year.

Bert and Ernie were on hand to watch the whole process and they got their share of dog biscuits while they watched.

After moving in and having lunch, I unloaded the 6x6 and I unloaded quite a bit of yard waste I had brought with me and put it on the compost pile. Then I got a shovel and scooped off a lot of dirt from some logs I have stacked in the old log pile location. Mike had scooped up a lot of dirt with the snow, and now that the snow has melted, the dirt had settled on the logs. I didn't want the dirt to start the logs rotting.

The heavy snow last winter had pushed a nice young tree over to about a 45 degree angle. The tree is right on the edge of the roadway above the hairpin turn and its roots were damaged when I had the utility trench dug. I have been watching the tree struggle to recover from that, and now it was a little disheartening to see the thing pushed over like that. Now that the snow has melted away, I decided to help the tree straighten up and see if it can make a complete recovery. I got a long rope, tied it to the tree about 8 feet above the ground, and then ran the rope around another nearby tree and then to a hitch around the front staircase. I tightened up on the hitch several times during the afternoon straightening the tree up a little more each time. The plan was to get it completely vertical before I left for the week.

It was a sunny 46 degrees so the cabin was nice and warm, especially in the loft. I went to work chiseling recesses for the baseboard receptacles in the loft. I want to have those ready for the electrical inspector when he is out to inspect the electric service. I got the second box installed and the EMT between it and the first box. I got the recess for the third box chiseled out before I quit for the day.

On Wednesday it snowed a little again, but none stuck to the ground. Since the snow had melted away quite a bit, I went looking for the sequoia trees to see how they fared over the winter. I found five out of the eleven. The other six are either still under the snow, or I missed them somehow. All five that I found looked like they made it OK. The protective sleeves had all been crushed almost flat so I straightened them all up and got the trees standing up. They are each about a foot tall. I have a bunch of new sleeves so one of these days I'll put a new sleeve around each one. Hopefully I'll find the other six trees and they will be OK too.

While I was in the woods, I did a little trail maintenance and I cleaned the debris out of the spring. It was a little chilly in the cabin, so I started a fire in the stove. That warmed the loft up almost right away so it was comfortable working up there. I installed the third box and the EMT and chiseled the fourth recess before lunch.

After lunch, I figured out how to feed the string of receptacles. I ran a length of EMT from the north corner to the fourth box in addition to the EMT connecting the third and fourth boxes. I'll run the supply wires through that extra conduit and down through the corner. The section that connects the third and fourth boxes had to be bent to fit around the corner. It was a little tricky because the logs on the two walls don't line up at that corner. I had to make a compound bend and I had to chisel a channel in one of the logs to accommodate the pipe. When I finished, the pipe fit snugly into the corner so that the chinking will easily and completely cover it. I was pleased with how it came out. Before I quit for the day, I installed the fourth and fifth boxes and the connecting EMT. I straightened the tree up a little more before I went in.

On Thursday I straightened the tree up to nearly vertical and then built another fire in the stove. I started chiseling the sixth recess and then decided to move a pile of lumber out of the way to make the chiseling easier. After doing that, I took a hard look at the Grid E1 corner of the loft trying to figure out how to run wires up through it. It turned out to be much better and easier than the Grid A1 corner had been. I won't have to drill holes through any of the logs except for maybe the cap log on top and the bottom log. There is plenty of space between the log ends to snake several Romex cables through. The only problem is getting into the rafter space.

Drilling up through the cap log on the Grid A1 corner had been such a hard job, I didn't want to have to do that again. After looking at it, it looked like I could drill up through the flat 2x6 above the gable logs to get into the space between the rafters, and then drill a hole in the web of the rafter on the inside. This introduced a couple problems.

One problem would be how to snake the wire from one hole to the other, which I suppose wouldn't be all that hard. But the other problem was that mice can get into that space between the rafters until all the ceiling boards are in place on the outside, and that would expose any wires to the mice and the holes would have to be made mouseproof.

It occurred to me that if I could get a 90 degree elbow of EMT through the holes, it would solve both problems. It would protect the cables from the mice, and it would plug up the holes so mice couldn't get into the building. The question was, could I do it?

First I made a 90 degree elbow of 3/4" EMT and used it to gauge where I needed holes to be bored. Then I got a long 3/4" augur and I was able to drill through the 2x6 almost exactly square to it. Next I drilled a starter hole in the rafter web. Then I got a tool that I had never found a use for before. It is a half-inch diameter rotating rasp head for mounting in a drill. It was mounted on a long shank so I was able to mount it in the drill and use it to enlarge the hole in the 2x6 so that it would take the 3/4" EMT.

I fed the elbow up through that hole and was delighted that I could feel the end of it with my finger through the hole in the web. Using my pocket knife I enlarged the hole in the web and angled it so that the end of the elbow snugly came through it. It worked exactly as I hoped. I put a plastic protective sleeve on each end of the elbow and it was ready for wire. There is room for one or two more elbows like that right next to it, so if I need the capacity, I can install one or two more. I felt good about getting that figured out and done.

Before I quit for the week, I measured the EMT runs between the boxes so that I can pre-fabricate the receptacles at home to make the installation quicker just like I did for the receptacles on the main floor. I straightened the tree up so it was vertical, and then left for home at 1:45 happy with what I had gotten done. I was also happy with my repair job on the heater. It had worked like a charm the whole time.

5/2/08 Called Brian Kemly and scheduled the electrical service installation for May 24.

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