Construction Journal for 1992

1/4/92 We bought a camper trailer from a guy in Black Diamond and used Leonard's pickup to tow the trailer to Charles and Frances's place. On the way, I tried to put air in the trailer tires and one of the valve stems started leaking so the tire went completely flat. It took a while to figure out that the problem was in a valve stem extender and not in the valve stem itself. Once I knew that, I simply removed the extender and pumped up the tire and we were on our way.

We will leave the trailer at Charles's over the winter for two reasons: 1. The snow could crush it if there is no protective roof over it, and 2. The roadway up to where we want to locate the trailer is not in good enough shape to pull a trailer over. This winter I plan to fix up the roadway. Next spring when the roadway is ready, we plan to move the trailer up there. And, next summer I plan to build a protective roof over the trailer.

1/6/92 We mailed in the Water Right Application form to the Department of Ecology.

1/9/92 I spent the day surveying and working on the roadway. The surveying took longer than I anticipated so I actually worked on the roadway for about two hours. I had previously calculated the elevations of the roadway every ten feet starting at the building site that would give a uniform 13 percent grade. That is, it dropped 26 feet in about 200 feet of road. This was following the new hairpin turn I had cleared the last time. Actually, I plan to move the center of the turn two feet downhill and increase the radius of the turn by 4 feet. This would leave the top relatively unchanged but move the bottom out by 4 feet. I have not yet done this clearing.

To bring the roadway up to this grade will require about four feet of fill at the deepest part. This is quite a bit and I probably will not bring it up that high. Nevertheless, I put grade stakes in every ten feet as a target.

I also spent quite a bit of time measuring the location of the spring with respect to the property corners. This took a while because of deep snow, heavy brush and timber, and me being a one person taping crew.

The work on the roadway was made easier because the ground was frozen on the top. I was able to clear off the organic debris by breaking it into frozen chunks with a pick and then using the shovel to throw the chunks over the side of the roadway. It mostly consisted of pine needles and rotten sticks and logs.

I dug the footing trench for the wall that was needed for the deepest part of the fill. In most places on the trench, I hit solid rock and stopped. In the rest of the places, I stopped when I hit solid dirt about 8 to 10 inches deep.

I moved a couple of big rocks in place to see how easy it was to maneuver them. I estimated that the biggest one was about 800 lbs. and I was able to move it pretty easily with a big steel bar.

My strategy is to always move material downhill. When I clear off the debris, I throw it over the side downhill. When I use big rocks from the roadway, I move them downhill to a place in the wall. The fill dirt I will get from the building site which is above the roadway so I will wheelbarrow it downhill. This way I think I can do the whole job by hand and have fun doing it.

I didn't get water samples because they must be delivered to the lab within 30 hours and the lab is not open from Thursday at 3:00 PM through Monday at 7:00 AM and today is Thursday.

2/4/92 I spent the day working on the roadway to the building site. I first rigged a 25' pole so that it was held at about a 45 degree angle by a block and tackle with another block and tackle attached to the top end of the pole. Then I hung about 80 lb. of rocks from the second block and tackle using an old cable type tire chain to hold the rocks and attach them to the hook. On the free end of this rope, I attached a hook that I attached to a rope bridle on the wheelbarrow.

The rocks provided a counterbalance to slow the wheelbarrow when I hauled dirt or rocks down from the building site to the roadway. It also helped pull the empty wheelbarrow up the hill. It worked OK but after half a dozen trips, the pole came out of the ground and fell over.

Since it took me from 10 AM until noon to rig the thing up, I decided to try wheeling rocks and dirt without it and discovered that it was pretty easy. I worked from about 1:00 until 4:00 using the wheelbarrow without the counterbalance.

At 4:00 I started picking up the stuff I had used for rigging the counterbalance and putting it in the car. I also took water sample bottles up to the spring to get samples. Unfortunately, I discovered that there was a rather large flow of snow melt water running directly into the spring. Since I was sure that this would contaminate any sample I might have taken, I didn't take any samples. It cost $30 for the sample kit and I didn't want to blow that. I will take the samples later, but next time, I will check the spring right away and if there is ground water flowing into it again, I will dig a ditch and divert it so that by the end of the day I should be able to get an uncontaminated sample.

I took pictures of the wall before I started and after I finished most of the work. I built the wall about one foot high over about 18 feet of length. I backfilled with dirt as I went. The big rocks I used came from the roadway and the dirt and some of the smaller rocks came from up on the building site.

2/9/92 Ellen and I worked on building the roadway for about 3 hours. Aziza and Krista were also along and they played in the snow.

3/9/92 Worked on the roadway for 6 hours. Hauled 23 wheelbarrows of dirt from the building site to the roadway. Runoff still contaminating the spring so I didn't take a water sample.

3/13/92 Worked on the roadway for about 5 hours. Hauled 17 wheelbarrows of dirt. Did some minor clearing of the trails. Found that I can divert the runoff stream around the large rock in the spring pool so that I can get a sample. I didn't take a sample because the testing lab isn't open until Monday and the sample needs to be less than 30 hours old. Toward the afternoon, I began to feel ill and ended up having diarrhea. I think it was the mayonnaise in my sandwiches. I didn't bring a cooler. Next time I will.

3/20/92 Ellen and I worked 5 and a half hours and got a lot done. We hauled 2 wheelbarrows of dirt to the roadway and then Ellen suggested that we make a place for the trailer on the lower part of the hairpin turn in the road. This was a great idea. The trailer will be completely hidden from the main road and we don't have to worry about how to get it down from above the building site where we had previously planned to locate it. Furthermore, all the work we did to prepare the trailer site was work we would have to do anyway to complete the road. We just did the lower part first. We were able to complete the preparation of the trailer site so that we can bring the trailer up there any time. Before we do, however, we need to do some work on it while it is still parked at Charles'. Ellen also found my sunglasses that I had dropped in the woods near the creek some weeks ago.

4/18/92 Bought a deep-cycle marine battery and a bunch of other stuff at the RV store to get the trailer ready to move to the property. We decided to mount the battery in the pickup and charge it with the pickup alternator using an isolator to prevent discharging the starter battery. The connection to the trailer would be through the trailer electrical connection plug.

4/19/92 Bought 450' of 5/8" hose to bring water from the spring to the trailer once we get it up to the site. We will just temporarily stick it in at the spring until we get permission to construct a proper spring box.

5/16/92 Ellen and I Worked on the trailer scraping and preparing the roof seams for sealer and sanding rust spots on the propane tanks and other metal parts. It started to rain before we were finished.

5/22/92 I went up and sealed the seams on the trailer roof and painted all the exterior metal parts white.

5/25/92 Ellen and I washed and waxed the exterior of the trailer and Ellen cleaned up the inside while I did some more work on wiring up the battery electrical system. We also tested the stove and the furnace. We forgot to leave the refrigerator door open but next week we plan to move the trailer to our property and we can rescue the refrigerator then.

6/6/92 D-Day. Today was the day we planned to move the trailer to the property. Ellen and I packed the pickup and got to Charles' and Frances' at about noon. We hooked up the trailer, pumped up all the tires, and took off. Everything was going great until we got to Monroe. At the stoplights, the pickup didn't seem to accelerate and ran jerky. About a mile east of Monroe, the pickup quit working.

Ellen walked back to Monroe and called AAA and then called Charles and then started walking back to the pickup. Before she got back, the AAA truck came but since we had a trailer in tow, he couldn't tow me. Ellen had told AAA we were pulling a trailer, but evidently the message didn't get to the tow truck guy. He told me to try to get it started and get the trailer pulled to a restaurant parking lot a quarter mile further on and he would go back to Monroe and try to find Ellen.

The pickup wouldn't run at all so I just sat and waited. Pretty soon, Charles showed up with Ellen in his pickup. He thought the problem was the fuel filter so we took it off, went to Monroe and got a new one, installed the new one and tried it. It didn't work. We then suspected the fuel pump but it looked too hard for us to replace with the tools we had.

We asked the people in Pops Restaurant if it would be OK to leave the trailer there for a few days and they said yes. Charles used a tow chain and towed the pickup back to a Ford garage in Monroe. The garage was open but there was no mechanic on duty. We left the pickup there to be fixed and next week sometime we will try again. I hope the trailer and pickup will be safe in the meantime.

6/7/92 In the morning, Ellen and I got to thinking that we didn't want to leave the trailer sitting out like that at the restaurant so we decided to rent a pickup and take the trailer up to the property right away. We found a rental place in Woodinville that was open on Sunday so we packed up another set of tools and took off. A lot of the tools we needed were in our pickup which was locked up in the garage in Monroe.

We rented the pickup, hooked up the trailer, and hauled it up to the property without incident. To keep intruders off our property, I had placed a log across the driveway and had driven a six foot length of half inch rebar through the log and all the way into the ground. Now I had to move it out of the way to get the trailer in. While I was removing the log barrier from the driveway, Earl Landin stopped by and chatted for a while. He said there was a big bear that has been seen in the area. He said bears were no problem unless people start trying to feed them or interact with them.

After I pulled the log and rebar out of the ground with a cable and a come-along, we backed the trailer to within ten or twelve feet of where we wanted it. We couldn't back in any farther because the roadway was too steep and rocky. The pickup would just spin and dig in.

At this point, I connected two come-alongs to the trailer and connected them to cables which went around big trees. Then I sawed off two eighteen inch lengths of a fourteen inch diameter log. I put these log sections under the a-frame tongue of the trailer and unhitched the pickup. With the tongue resting on the logs, I winched the trailer uphill with the come-alongs.

When the logs had rolled as far as they could, I jacked the tongue up and repositioned the logs for another pull.

Finally the trailer was in place and with a little more work, it was level. We put black six mill plastic under the entire trailer to keep plants from growing up under the trailer. We felt good about getting this job done.

We forgot to bring the water sample kit with us so the water sampling will have to wait again.

6/10/92 Dave took me to Monroe to get the pickup (it was the fuel pump) and we took it on up to the property. We turned on the propane and lit a stove burner to make sure it was working. Then we started the refrigerator so we could tell if it was going to work.

We backed the pickup up to the trailer hitch and plugged the electrical connector in so the auxiliary battery in the pickup would supply electrical power for lights. It worked great.

After lunch, we walked all the trails and clipped away the new vegetation. There really wasn't too much new growth; hardly any in the woods where it is shady. We also cut away some of the bigger logs that were across the trails.

When that was done, we laid 450 feet of 5/8" hose from the spring down to the trailer. We camouflaged the hose to keep it out of sight from the trails. When it was hooked up, we flushed out the water system by turning on the faucets and letting the grey water discharge onto the ground.

I remembered to take the water sample bottles this time, so before we left, I got the water samples. I also put a few drops of Mazola oil on the stagnant water behind the building site rock. We'll see if this has any effect on the mosquito population. Dave suggested we build bat houses to attract bats which will eat some of the mosquitos. Dave and I both used Ben's mosquito repellant on our wrists and necks and it seemed to be very effective.

6/11/92 Took the water samples in to the health department lab in Seattle.

6/25/92 I went up to the property and worked just one day. I couldn't take two days off in a row and I wanted to get up and check the water system. I didn't think I drained it all the way when Dave and I went up the last time. It turned out OK. There was hardly any water in the pipes and when I let it dribble into a glass, it looked and smelled pure and clean.

The winch worked great. I worked almost all day on one 45 foot log. After I pulled it out of where it was lying, I cut it to 32 feet and I plan to use it as the boom for a crane that I will rig to set up the A frames.

I put one of the A frame logs in the stockpile and got another one almost ready to pull down from the woods. I got the 32 footer as far as the building site.

At 5:30, the battery acted like it was run down so I stopped working. When I was putting stuff away, I noticed that one of the battery post nuts was loose. Maybe the battery wasn't run down after all. From now on, I will try to remember to take the hydrometer along and keep track of the battery's charge.

6/27-28/92 Ellen and I went up to the property and stayed over night for the first time in our trailer. Except for a small demonstration of how I pull logs with my winch, we didn't work but played instead.

On Saturday, we dropped our bikes off at the bridge on the road to the quarry. Then we drove the pickup up to the next bridge (about 3 miles up river). Then we spent the next few hours floating down the river. It was great.

On Sunday we hiked the Twin Lakes trail. We only saw one other couple on the trail.

We hooked the water hose to the trailer but we didn't start the water heater. I took 3 cool showers, but I was so hot and sweaty it felt good. Mosquitos weren't as bad as earlier in the spring.

7/3/92 I made a privy seat out of plywood scraps. We decided not to use the trailer toilet because of the hassle. I will dig a privy hole somewhere and put the seat over it.

7/7/92 Ellen painted the first coat on the privy seat.

7/8-9/92 I went up to the property to work on the snow shed for two days. I forgot the electrical wires for the winch so I took out some wiring in the pickup and jury rigged the winch. It worked OK. The first day I got 3 more logs stockpiled and two more on the way. After dinner, I went looking for a good privy spot. The first spot I tried, I hit water about 2 feet down. Then it cleared up. There was also a big rock so I tried another spot.

The second spot seemed good but I was too tired to finish the hole. I started the water heater and it works fine. I took a nice warm shower and it felt great. The thermostat on the water heater also works great. The guy we bought the trailer said it didn't. I think he just had it set too high.

The next day I finished the privy hole - 3'8" deep. I also discovered that I hadn't hit water in the other hole. I hit some kind of soft mica-bearing rock that looked like water in the dim light. I also cut more logs so now the stockpile has 9 20 footers and one 32 footer.

I checked the propane tanks and they were both full (80%). I also began logging the specific gravity of all the cells in the deep cycle battery before and after each use and charge.

7/23-24/92 Bob Burton and I went up for two days and harvested a few more logs. We also installed the privy and built a rock patio for the trailer. The stockpile now has about 15 logs in it. We saw a deer on the property on two different occasions; it was probably the same doe both times.

7/30-31/92 I went up to the property by myself for two days. On the first day, I cut down a 50 foot cedar that had been beetle killed the year or so before. The tree was at about the highest point on the property, just above the spring. I pulled the 40 foot log down through the woods using a log chain. It worked pretty well because it was all down hill.

I peeled the log and rigged it up for a crane boom. I did some measurements and determined that the best crane for lifting the A-frames could be made using a big tree that is about 15 feet directly behind the trailer. I fastened the butt of the boom log to the base of this tree, and then the next morning, I climbed up and fastened a block and tackle 32 feet up on the trunk. The other end of the block and tackle was fastened to the boom log 32 feet out.

I used this crane to lift two of my logs into position so I could make an A-frame out of them. I measured and marked the logs and mitred the peak. I lashed the crossbar pole in place while I fastened the peak joint with sheet metal and roofing nails. That was as far as I got on this trip.

8/2/92 Ellen and I painted the 15 sheets of metal roofing with the metal primer coat.

8/12/92 Made 4 bat houses. Painted the 15 sheets of roofing green.

8/15-16/92 Ellen, Kalimba, Aziza and I spent two days at the property. On the 15th we floated down the White River in one rubber boat and two river rats. The river was low and it took a long time. The next morning, Ellen and I walked back to the bridge to get a jug of water I had forgotten and we watched 5 deer walk and run up the valley. Later, Ellen and the girls went to the beach and I stayed and finished making the first "A". I spent about two hours on it.

8/20-21/92 I went up to the property alone and on the first day, I made the footings for the first "A" and using the crane, put it into place. I figured out a rigging scheme that allowed me to change the attitude of the "A" while it is hanging from the crane's hook. In one attitude, it hangs straight up and down in the normal position. In the other attitude, one of the legs of the "A" hangs vertically. This allows me to maneuver the "A" between the trailer and a tree that is about two feet away from the trailer. Once the "A" is past this point, I change it to the normal attitude to lower it onto its footings.

On the second day, I made another "A", prepared the footings, and moved it into place.

8/27-28/92 Bob Burton and I went up and made and installed the third "A". We determined that we couldn't fit 5 "A's" in because of the door. In order to avoid the door hitting the log, we decided to use only 4 "A's". This worked out better anyway because some of the logs in the pile were starting to rot and also because I made a mistake and cut the biggest log we had a foot too short.

The second day, we decided to use the log I had cut too short and another fairly stout log that was also too short. We built a false peak on the "A" using two-by-fours. While we were making this "A", Dave showed up and he helped us finish the "A" and put it into place.

We made two deadmen by digging holes next to the two corner logs. We put a cross of two pieces of rebar with a cable attached to the intersection at the bottom of each hole. The holes were then filled up with rocks. These cables will be fastened to the corner logs to hold the structure down in high wind. The other two corners will be fastened to nearby trees.

8/30/92 Made the parts to fasten the tie-down cables to the "A" logs. They are made of threaded rods, angle iron, and cable clamps. I also measured all the nail holes in the roofing and figured out how to match them up the way they were on Charles' barn so that the nail holes will line up. This way I can put the nails through the same holes.

9/10-11/92 On this Thursday and Friday, I got the corrugated metal roofing all nailed in place and two tie-downs fastened to the two deadmen.

I started by lashing the longer section of Leonard's long ladder horizontally about 6 feet up on the A-frames. I lashed the shorter section vertically to it and used it to climb up on. I nailed the horizontal boards to the A-frames to fit the nail hole spacing on the metal. As each board got nailed up, I could use it to climb and stand on for the next one.

I used 1x8 tongue and grooved cedar boards that we salvaged from Will's house. Since the A-frames are not in a straight line, these boards worked very well because they were easy to bend to fit the contour of the A-frames. Each board is doubled so there is plenty of strength to hold the roof and to climb on.

When the boards were all up on the North side, I nailed up the metal roofing. I started with the center sheet and worked both ways from that.

I fastened the two Northern corners to the deadmen cables with the hardware I had prepared. It worked great.

That was the end of Thursday. On Friday morning, I moved the scaffold to the other side and did the same thing on that side. I left all the boards stick out past the building and decided to cut them off after I had put the ridge on. They were useful for climbing on because once the metal roofing was on, there was nothing but these ends to climb on.

I put up one section of flashing metal on the ridge. I bolted the two sections of Leonard's long ladder together and used it to reach the ridge. I found that I could not lift the ladder up by myself so I used the crane to do it. The problem was that with the ladder laying flat against the roof, there was only the skinny little rung for my feet. It wasn't very comfortable working. I tried sitting astride the ridge but that was pretty scary. That was all I got done on this trip.

9/24-25/92 On this Thursday, I started by lashing two long poles crosswise under the part of the long ladder that would be resting on the roof. I also rigged a harness that was fastened to the lower of these poles and also to a rung higher up. This harness held the ladder in a 60 degree position when it was hanging from the crane hook. This made it easy to manipulate the ladder to any point on the roof. The poles also held the ladder away from the roof so my feet had room to stand on the rungs with my toes pointing straight ahead.

I finished putting the ridge on and then I painted the ridge with metal primer paint. I did this by sitting astride the ridge and working my way to the end of the building and then painting as I worked my way back to the ladder at the other end.

Late in the afternoon, I experimented with a 200 foot rope that Dave had bought for me. I rigged a 6-way block and tackle chained to a tree on one end and a big rock on the other end. The rock is a big one on the building site that I want to pull down to a low spot on the lip of the building site plateau. I used a come-along to pull the free end of the rope and I was able to move the rock with no problem. I moved it about a third of the way to its destination before I quit for the day.

After dinner, I put up the last of the curtains that Ellen had made. They look great. I also installed a new stove top that we had bought. We weren't sure if it would fit, but it fit perfectly and looks real good.

That night it was pretty cold so I started the heater for the first time. I set the dial to 2 but that made it too warm so I backed it off to 1. That kept it cozy warm all night long.

The next morning, it had rained and the ridge was wet. I wanted to paint it right away so I climbed up and dried it off with a rag by scooting along the length of the ridge as I had done to paint it.

Then for the third time, I scooted along the ridge and painted it green to match the roofing. On the way down the ladder, I painted all the nail heads I could reach as well as all the scrapes and places that needed touching up. Then, using the crane, I moved the ladder to different places on the roof so I could paint all the nail heads and dings on the whole north side of the building.

The next thing I did was to disassemble the ladder and use just the longer section to go up and saw off the ends of all the boards on the roof. This took a while because some of them were a little tough to reach.

Next, I disassembled the crane itself. I had to climb up 32 feet into the big grand fir to take down the block that was holding up the boom.

Next, I made a tie-down for the southeast corner by using the hardware I had made and wrapping the cable around the trunk of a tree. It was getting late in the afternoon and I still needed to winterize the trailer, so I didn't start on the last tie-down.

It took me quite a while to install a bypass on the water heater because I didn't have the right tools and the plumbing had to be modified to accept the bypass. When I finished, I turned the valves to the bypass position, poured two gallons of antifreeze into the water tank, and turned on each faucet until antifreeze ran out. I had already disconnected the hose from the spring and the trailer and I had drained the water out of the pipes and the hot water heater.

By the time I got everything packed up to go, it was 7:00. I took the cushions from the table home to get them recovered.

9/26/92 Ellen and I brought the cushions in to Sure-Fit to get them recovered. It will cost a couple hundred dollars and they will be ready in a week or so.

10/12/92 I went up to the property for the day with my mother, Peg, and Doug. Got a water sample with a turkey baster, put the newly upholstered cushions back in the trailer, and picked colored leaves. We talked to Dick Tutino and he said he had gotten some questions from the Department of Ecology and it looked like his water use request would be granted.

10/24/92 We received notice from the Department of Ecology that our request to use water from our spring was approved. Hooray!!!

10/25/92 Started making forms for the spring box.

11/10/92 We received the Water Right from the Department of Ecology. We have permission to use .011 cubic feet of water per second from our spring for domestic household use.

12/27/92 Ellen, Aziza, Stella, and I stayed one night at the trailer. Snow was about a foot deep. Ellen and I saw a bobcat about a mile up the road from our property and we got seven pictures of it.

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