Construction Journal Entry Week of 6/13/21

6/14-18/21 I went up to Camp Serendipity for five days: Monday through Friday.

Just before I got there, I had to slow down for a fawn that was licking water off the road. I arrived at 10:50 in a light rain. I hoisted the flag, built a fire, had my lunch and a nap. Then I brought in the third scaffold bracket and a rope in preparation for setting up an extension to the scaffolding inside the cabin.

Next, I tackled the problem of hoisting and lowering scaffold brackets. I had lifted the previous brackets just using my arm and brute force up the ladder. But that wouldn't be quite safe in taking them down. What I needed was a block, or pulley, attached high enough so that I could run a rope through it and take the weight of the bracket. I could also use it to lift this third bracket. I figured the easiest way to make such a block would be to use a big screw-eye in a short 2x2 and then wedge the 2x2 between the log wall and a column. The RPSL and the PSL's are close enough to the log wall that a 2x2 can't slip past them.

I used the screw-eye block to hoist the bracket up and fasten it to the wall with a through bolt. One end of the rope was tied to the bracket. The other end was snubbed around the heavy dining room table leg and secured with a tautline hitch. That allowed me to easily and incrementally adjust the tension on the rope. I took a picture of the result but unfortunately the screw-eye block is barely visible behind the column. You can see the 2x2 and you can see the rope appearing on both sides of the column so you can get the idea.

On Tuesday morning I practiced the piano and then went outside to work on setting up the first tier of the tandem scaffold tower. The first job was to clear away the firewood pile so that the foot of the scaffold frame could be set in place. I figured out an easy way to move just part of the woodpile. I got a 4-foot length of #5 rebar and a big hammer. The rebar was going to be the retaining wall for the woodpile.

I snaked the rebar vertically down through the woodpile moving the top pieces aside as I went and using the hammer to drive it further when it encountered resistance. The rebar made a good lever to move wood one way or another so that I could drive it deeper. On the side of the rebar that was to be removed, I simply removed pieces as I went as long as it didn't allow the major woodpile to shift. In no time the rebar reached the ground and I proceeded to drive it in deep enough so that it would no longer move.

Then I got a rope and fastened it to the anchor hook on the Grid A3 corner of the foundation and tied a tautline hitch around the rebar to snug it against the woodpile. Then I removed all the wood on the other side of the rebar to get down to the ground in order to make a footing for the scaffold frame. It worked slick.

The cross braces were already in place for the new frame, so I simply set the frame in place and connected the cross braces. The other leg of the frame needed a much higher footing and after considering using concrete blocks or wood blocks, I decided to check on some scaffold jacks that someone had given me. I had two of them and one was in better condition than the other, so I tried it and discovered that it worked perfectly.

I inserted the jack into the leg of the frame and adjusted the screw to the height I needed to level the frame. It worked like a charm.

The next thing I wanted to do was to turn a nut onto the bolt that I had just installed through the wall to hold up the bracket on the inside of the cabin. I brought the extension ladder outside with the intention of climbing up and attaching the nut. I had completely miscalculated how high that bolt is. With the ladder fully extended there was no way I could reach that high. It was also going to be awhile before I could get the new tower erected in order to reach that bolt from it, so I decided that I would figure out another way to use that bracket without a nut outside.

After lunch and a nap and thinking about the problem of securing the bracket without using a nut on the outside, I figured out a way to do it. I took two short 1x2s and wedged them between the log wall and the Grid B3 PSL. These both wedged against the vertical 2x4 of the bracket. That would be enough because almost all the force on the bolt is vertical and in shear and hardly any is in tension perpendicular to the wall.

Next, I climbed to the existing platform and undid the handrail. I laid the handrail on the platform along with the other planks and removed a screw securing one of the planks to the bracket. Next, I shifted all of the deck planking from the left side of the scaffold to the right side so it was bearing on the new bracket. I started with a 12-foot 2x4 which was long enough to nearly span both platforms. With the middle bracket supporting most of the weight of the 2x4, it was easy to slide it over onto the new bracket even from my precarious position high up on the ladder.

Once that 2x4 was in place, it was easy to use it to slide the remaining planks across having access to only one end of each plank. Once all the planks had been transferred, I used my new screw-eye block to lower the first bracket to the floor.

I began by tying the rope to the bracket, running through the screw eye, and then down to a snubbing arrangement between the Grid D3 and C3 columns. I tightened the rigging with a tautline hitch which took the weight off the bolt going through the wall.

Then in an embarrassing waste of time, I tried to remove the bolt. Even though it was sort of loose in the hole, I couldn't pull it out. I decided to unscrew it to get it out of the log. I had hammered the end of the bolt when I had installed it and it was now riveted so that the nut on the inside couldn't be removed. But the nut allowed me to turn the bolt to unscrew it. I didn't want to have to unscrew that long bolt with a wrench, so I looked through my tools and fortunately found a socket that would fit and an adapter for the socket to allow me to use an impact driver.

I thought I was on my way with that impact driver when I began unscrewing the bolt. It came out about 6 inches and then stopped. At that point it simply spun, and I couldn't get it out. I also couldn't figure out why I couldn't get it out any further.

After being confounded for a while, it dawned on me that the bolt was secured by a nut on the outside that I had not removed. Very embarrassing.

After going outside, climbing the scaffold, and removing the nut and washer, I went back in the cabin and easily removed the bolt. While I was outside, I replaced the wood plug. Then I used the rigging I had set up inside to lower the bracket.

Next, I took the bracket down to the crawl space for permanent storage. I eventually want to empty the privy of the stuff that is stored there so this was a small start. Finally, I climbed the ladder for the last time in that position to retrieve my screw-eye block.

On Wednesday after practicing the piano I moved the dining room table to make room for the extension ladder which I set up giving me access to the new platform. I climbed onto the platform and installed the handrail. Unfortunately, while I was up there, another bird strike occurred behind me. I turned around immediately and caught a glimpse of the mangled bird falling onto the scaffold deck and then down to the ground. I went outside and sadly buried a beautiful red headed woodpecker.

With the new deck in place, I washed the inside of the high window. Then I removed the handrail and lowered all of the deck planks using a rope. Finally using my screw-eye block I lowered the right-hand bracket.

After lunch and a nap, I lowered the left-hand bracket, and I was done with scaffolding on the inside. I put the brackets and some other stuff away, and then went outside into the woods.

I checked on Paul and Runty, cleared some branches that were shading Cam, and brought 5 gallons of water to Andrew.

Back in the cabin I called Earl and we had a nice conversation.

On Thursday Robert called me first thing in the morning. Then after practicing the piano, I washed the windows inside the cabin and except for the big ones in front, I washed the windows on the outside too. They are now sparkling, and it makes a big difference in how the cabin looks.

After lunch and a nap, I went into the woods and had a look at all of the Sequoia trees. Then I came back inside and did some writing.

On Friday morning I practiced the piano, vacuumed the first floor, and left for home at 1:00 o'clock. It had been a productive and satisfying week.

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