Construction Journal Entry Week of 3/1/15

3/3-5/15 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I waited to hear Benjamin Netanyahu's speech on TV before I left for the mountains. Then I stopped and dropped off another document for the tax accountant in Woodinville, and from there proceeded on to Monroe to visit with Uncle Charles for a short while.

When I got to the rest area, I stopped and called Plain Hardware to see if they had the tongue and groove 1x8s that I needed. Good thing I did because I saved a trip to Plain. They didn't have the boards.

Then I figured that I might as well go straight to Marson & Marson in Leavenworth since I was still on Highway 2. So that's what I did.

I needed four 16-footers but I was pleased to learn that it would be cheaper to buy eight 8-footers. I cut the long ones to 8-foot lengths anyway and the 8-footers are much easier to haul in my truck.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity with the lumber at 2:30. I built a fire in the wood stove, had my lunch, and then carried the boards up and stacked them on the front porch. I'm glad I got those boards before they get discontinued. I nearly bought them out of their 8-footers the way it was.

On Wednesday I resumed working on installing the new light fixture in the loft. First, I finished removing all the knockouts in the rafters that I needed to string the wire across the ceiling just below the Grid B purlin. I had to do the job blind because I couldn't see up behind the insulation without getting my head directly below and moving the 12-inch thick insulation out of the way. It was easier just to reach my hands up between the rafter and the insulation and feel for the knockouts.

In a couple cases I was able to remove the knockouts just with my fingernails and my fingers. Most of them were tougher and required a screwdriver to pry them out, and some were so tough that I had to push the insulation aside far enough so that I could hit the screwdriver with a hammer.

The whole job really scratched up my hands and left them full of slivers and cuts, but I got the knockouts all out and then strung the wire through all the holes. My shoulders and arms were sore and tired from reaching over my head for the whole time.

Next I got out my half-inch drill motor and a 4-inch hole saw and used them to bore the hole in the underside of the Grid B purlin where I want to install the fixture. When the saw would bottom out, I used a hammer and chisel to remove the wood on the inside of the hole so that the saw could go deeper. I stopped when it was deep enough to hold the octagon electrical box. I designated this as Box W in my electrical plans.

Next I used a 3/4" ship augur and the 1/2" drill motor to bore a hole from the center of the 4" hole up into and completely through the purlin. I slanted the hole a little toward the Grid A side to make it a little easier to reach the top of the hole so I could thread the wire down through the log.

It took some more work getting the box, the cable clamp, the green screw, and so forth to fit in the recess just right, and I didn't quite get it done. I used a 12-3 w/ground metal armored cable for the wire even though it has an extra red conductor that I don't need. I just happened to have a piece that was the right length and I'll just leave that red wire for a spare for some yet-unknown purpose.

The armored cable requires special plastic protective bushings to protect the wires from the cut end of the armor. I spent a lot of time looking through my electrical supplies trying to find those bushings but I couldn't find them anywhere. I might have used them all up when I wired up the heaters, but that seems unlikely. Anyway, I left the project unfinished and hanging there until I can get a couple of those bushings.

By that time, it was time for lunch and a nap. When I got up, the temperature outside had warmed up to 50 and I decided to work outside. Since the snow was gone and the leaves and bugs were not out yet, it is the perfect time to work in the woods. So after re-stacking the new boards so that they were under a tarp, I got a shovel and went to work backfilling the water line trench.

Since the trench had been dug through a vine maple thicket, the pile of dirt was laced with vine maples and their root balls. It was very hard digging. But at least gravity was on my side because it was downhill to get each shovelfull of dirt down into the trench.

It was fun but hard work and after an hour and a half I got about 10 or 12 feet of the trench filled. I'll make this job a priority, even over the ceiling, as long as the weather is good and the bugs aren't out yet. I may or may not finish the backfilling before summer. We'll see.

On Thursday morning I split some more firewood and lit a fire in the wood stove. The temperature outside was about 20. Rather than go out and dig again, I decided to work on the ceiling.

Because of an error I made long ago, the ceiling bulges up in the center over the Grid A wall. Yet I want the ceiling to mate with the existing 1x8 that is flat on the Grid A purlin and straight. That means that the first couple courses need to accommodate the difference. The same thing needed to be done on the outside under the eaves on the other side of the wall, so I have had experience solving the problem. I just need to make a shim that takes up the space for each rafter. The shims for the center need to be about an inch and a half thick and the shims on the ends need to be thin to nothing.

I spent a lot of time measuring for the thickness of the shim needed for each of the 22 rafters. The plan is to take these measurements home with me and make the shims in Seattle. That will save me a little work time at Camp Serendipity.

In the process of measuring for the shims, I found that the purlin needed some chiseling in some places in order for the first course of ceiling boards to mate with the tongue on the existing board above the purlin. I used a hammer, a 1 1/2" chisel, and my pocket knife to remove enough wood so that the boards would seat nicely. That was rather tedious work but I got it done before lunch. I left for home at 12:45 happy with my progress and glad that my injured arm was almost healed.

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