Construction Journal for 1998 Part 1 of 5

1/6-9/98 I went up to the property for 4 days: Tuesday through Friday.

Because of a session with a counselor, and because I had to put the chains on to get over the pass, I arrived rather late at 1:45. There was 2 to 3 feet of rather wet snow on the ground. It took me an hour to shovel out the parking place, and another hour to break the trail to the trailer and get my gear inside.

Since there was less than an hour of daylight left, I skipped lunch and spent the rest of the day shoveling the snow off the snow shelter, which, to my delight, had held the snow load without any problem.

There was no new snow on Wednesday morning. I spent the entire day shoveling snow off the mixer, the winch shed, the ramps and scaffolds, tool boxes, and the upper roadway. I took a gamble and made a decision a couple of weeks ago to keep the upper roadway snow free all winter. If this were to be a winter like last year, that gamble would not pay off because I would spend all my time shoveling and not get any work done. But since this has been a very light snow year, and because of El Nino, I expect it to remain so, I decided to spend the time it takes to keep the roadway clear. This pays off in making it a lot easier to find and gwiz logs and to keep the chips dry and swept up. In spite of taking most of the day on Wednesday, I think this strategy will pay off in the long run.

I felt kind of sick, physically and emotionally all day, and I had quite a few bouts of diarrhea until quite a while after dark. Fortunately, I had to make only one trip to the privy during the night.

On Thursday morning, I felt better physically, although I was still emotionally down. My stomach distress was pretty much over by the end of the day.

The weather was beautiful; it was clear, cold, and partly sunny. I finished gwizzing log #54, swept up the chips, and lifted the log up and rested it atop the west corner of the building for the night. I didn't treat the log because it was too cold. I will have to treat it in place in the wall later.

On Friday, it was 20 degrees out. I used the new winch to move log #54 into place on the northwest wall and then spiked the log into place. This is the first log in the 14th course and I feel good about getting past that 13th course which seemed to be jinxed. I had to be home in time to pick up Andrew so I packed up and left by 2:30

1/13-16/98 I went up to the property for 4 days: Tuesday through Friday.

Chains were required going over the pass and I had to sit and wait an hour and a half for avalanche clearance, so I didn't arrive until 1:20. There was about a foot of new snow on the ground. It took me about 45 minutes to shovel the parking space, and another 45 minutes to move in. I spent the rest of the afternoon shoveling snow and breaking trails.

It snowed another foot overnight, so I spent Wednesday morning shoveling again. About 10 o'clock, a woman called to me from the road. She needed a telephone to get some help. Her car was disabled at the Cougar Inn and she wanted to get to Tall Timbers. The road hadn't been plowed yet, but I offered to drive her as far up the road as I could. I spent about a half hour shoveling the new snow away from the pickup but before I finished, the snowplow came by and agreed to take the woman up as far as they plowed. I went back to work.

I set up the guide boards in order to cut a notch for one of the living room windows. It was cold work. The temperature was about 18 degrees and it snowed all day. By the end of the day, another 10 inches or so had accumulated. I didn't get a lot of work done because my stomach was in distress all day, I didn't feel well, and I was cold and wet.

On Thursday it warmed up to 32 degrees, it stopped snowing, and there were a few beautiful sun breaks. I finished making the notch, made one window frame, and raised the frame up and set it into the notch. It was pitch dark by the time I finished this, but I was able to work with the light in the snow shelter and a flashlight.

On Friday morning, I trued up the frame and nailed it into place. Then I packed up and left for home about noon.

1/17/98 Rick Kogler and I went up to the property for a fun day of visiting and snowshoeing. Chains were required to get over the pass, so it was about 10:30 when we stopped in at the 59er Diner for cinnamon rolls. There was about a foot of new wet snow so it made the snowshoeing a vigorous exercise, but we toured the whole property and had a good time anyway.

1/19-22/98 I went up to the property for 4 days: Monday through Thursday.

I arrived about noon and the temperature was about 38 degrees. After moving in, I built the last window frame for the front of the building, and started cutting the notch in the wall to hold it.

On Tuesday, I finished cutting the notch, and erected the window frame. Then I shoveled off the deck. Quite a bit of snow had accumulated so it took the rest of the day.

On Wednesday, I shoveled the snow from around the winch shed and then added a 40 foot extension to the winch remote control cord. This will allow me to control the winch from the high scaffolds and should save me quite a bit of time and a lot of trips up and down the ladder.

When I went in for lunch, I discovered that I was out of propane, so I drove to Parkside to get more. In the afternoon, I made three logs out of log #87. Larry Copenhaver stopped by for a visit while I was cutting them. When he left, I raised the 3 logs up and set them in place in the southwest wall. It snowed heavily while I was raising them so that by the time I finished, there was about 2 inches accumulated.

On Thursday morning, I spiked the three logs into the wall and then left for home.

1/24-25/98 Ellen and I went up to the property on Saturday, spent the night, and then went XC skiing at the Nordic Center on Sunday. While it was still light on Saturday, we snowshoed around the property a little and had a look at the building progress. After dinner, we walked to the Cougar Inn and had a couple drinks. It rained cats and dogs on the way there but I had my rain gear and Ellen had an umbrella. On the way back, the rain had almost stopped. It was cozy, dry, and warm in the trailer when we got back.

1/28-30/98 I went up to the property for 3 days: Wednesday through Friday.

There was only about an inch of new snow on the ground when I arrived at 12:30 so I didn't waste any time shoveling to park. After I moved in, I shoveled off the scaffolds and the upper roadway. Then I dug out the log pulling cable that was partially buried in the snow, and I dug and found log #19 which I rigged to pull up the hill.

On Thursday morning it was raining and it rained all day. I dug a 30 foot trench in the snow above log #19. The snow was about 4 feet deep and very wet and heavy. When I started to pull on log #19, the CBA broke. It wasn't a bad break, but it demonstrated the enormous forces that act on the thing. The part that failed was a 4x4 on the other side of the wall that anchored a 5/8 threaded rod that holds the main CBA log against the wall. The 4x4 had broken in half. The CBA was twisted and separated a little, but it was still more or less in place.

I straightened the CBA up, replaced the broken 4x4 with two 2x4s, and tightened the thing back up.

Back down at the log pile, I realized that I had chosen and rejected log #19 once before. It has a 1 1/2 inch ring of black wood around it and it is a very heavy log. I decided to reject it again and I dug out log #27 which was lying next to #19.

After thinking about it, I concluded that the CBA had failed because it was not designed to handle the way I had it rigged. Since I replaced the chain hoist with a winch, I had to run a cable from the winch through a block attached to the butt of the boom. This put a force of twice the weight of the load on the butt of the boom in the direction out away from the wall. The CBA was not designed for that. As a result of this analysis, I decided to anchor the block directly to the log wall and not the boom. I spent about an hour making such an anchor and finished by the end of the day.

On Friday morning, I pulled log #27 out of the pile and got it up against the lower rock cliff. The new rigging seems to work OK, although the weak point is the new boom; I could see it sharply bending at the top when the tension on the cable would get high. I am going to have to figure out a way of mitigating this or else be very careful or I am going to have another broken boom on my hands.

I left for home about 2:30.

2/3-6/98 I went up to the property for 4 days: Tuesday through Friday.

I arrived about noon after stopping for a big cinnamon roll at the 49er Diner. It was raining lightly but there was no new snow. I had the start of a sore throat, but I tried to keep dry and not work too hard. I was able to get log #27 pulled up on deck before the end of the day.

On Wednesday, it rained all day. I started by inspecting log #27. I ended up cutting 12 feet of rotten wood off the butt end. This made the log too short for what I needed, and the rest of the log didn't look all that good anyway. I decided to reject it and get another log.

I dug log #80 out of the snow and got it pulled up to the cliff by the end of the day.

On Thursday, it was cloudy, but thank goodness, no rain. I pulled log #80 up on deck, but instead of using the boom, which is now the obvious weak link in my rigging, I used the RPSL and the PSL instead. I chained the block, that is normally at the end of the boom, to the top of each of these in turn. This made a lot stronger rigging with a lot less slack than using the boom. The only problem, aside from the additional rigging time, is that I don't have as much control over the direction of pull. With snow all over the cliff, this isn't much of a problem so the scheme worked very well.

Log #80 had a one inch ring of bad wood around it, but it is a nice clear white pine log underneath. It took me until 7:00 to gwiz it, but it is such a nice looking log, it was worth it. Larry Copenhaver stopped by during the gwizzing and we visited for a while in the trailer. I returned a couple books he had lent to me.

On Friday, it rained lightly all day. I cut #80 to length, treated it, and raised it up onto the southeast wall. The new extended remote control cable on the winch made the job easy and I think I have already recovered all the time I spent doing that wiring. I left for home about 3:00.

2/9-12/98 I went up to the property for 4 days: Monday through Thursday.

On the way, I stopped in at the 49er Diner again for a cinnamon roll. This might get to be a habit-they are so good! It was warm and sunny. A beautiful day. I arrived at 11:45 and went to work and spiked log #80 into the southeast wall. Then I treated all the logs currently in place in the 14th course since none of them had been treated yet. There was still time during the day to lag screw the two PSLs and the RPSL into the northeast wall. They had just been tied to the wall with ropes waiting for a nice sunny day. This was it.

I was glad to have that sunny day for those projects. On Tuesday, it snowed lightly all day with a couple of sun breaks. I dug out log #96, shoveled a pile of chips, that came from log #80, into the chip bin, and pulled #96 up onto the roadway. I cut about 5 feet of the butt off down at the log pile because it looked like the butt might be bad. It was pretty bad, but it looked like there was nice wood under about the first inch and a half for the rest of the log.

I was sort of developing a cold, and I felt a little sick and achy all day. I took a couple of aspirins and that seemed to fix it.

Wednesday was another nice day. I was working on enlarging the chip bin so it would hold all the chips that would come off log #96 when Earl Landin stopped by. We had a nice long visit in the trailer and solved quite a few of the world's problems. I spent the rest of the day gwizzing log #96 and got about 2/3 of it done. I reduced the diameter about 2 or 3 inches, but I think the log will be OK anyway. It takes a long time to gwiz that much wood off.

On Friday, it snowed pretty heavily, mixed with rain and I had forgotten my rain suit at home. I also had to leave rather early in order to make it to a counselor session and I was still feeling a little sick. Putting all these factors together, I decided to skip working, and leave early to make sure I would make it over the pass without a problem. I left for home about 12:30 and had no problem getting over the pass.

2/17-20/98 I went up to the property for 4 days: Tuesday through Friday.

On the way, I bought 25 lb. of Tim-Bor at Wood Care Systems. I chatted with them for a while about treating logs and one of the people recommended that after I get the roof on but before I apply the outside finish to spray on a solution of 1/3 bleach and 2/3 water. This will kill the organisms that might otherwise start growing under the finish coat. It sounds like good advice. They also gave me a sample of their interior finish product that they say is better than Verathane. Later on, I stopped in for a cinnamon roll at the 49er Diner.

I arrived at about 12:15 and gwizzed log #96. I decided to reject it because of too much rot.

On Wednesday, I dug log #121 out from under about 2 feet of snow and pulled it up on deck. I got about half of it gwizzed before I cleaned up the chips and quit for the day. My stomach was in distress and I didn't feel very well.

On Thursday it rained all day and I felt sick. I spent the morning putting vis-queen up under my snow shelter roof to keep it from dripping. The roof works great for the snow, but it leaks like a sieve and makes it miserable trying to work under it if it is raining or if the snow on it is melting. This vis-queen will make it a lot more pleasant to work under there. Since I wasn't feeling well and it was raining cats and dogs, I decided to take the rest of the day off and read.

On Friday morning I wasn't feeling any better and it was still raining cats and dogs, so I gave up on getting any work done, packed up, and left for home about 1:00.

2/25-27/98 I went up to the property for 3 days: Wednesday through Friday.

After stopping for another cinnamon roll, I arrived at the property at about 11:30. There was about 2 inches of new snow on the ground and it was snowing lightly. I didn't do any shoveling in order to park. The falling snow gave way to sunshine and it turned out to be a beautiful afternoon.

I finished gwizzing log #121 and decided to reject it because it had a lot of rot and was full of deep worm holes.

I was still feeling pretty sick, so that night I slept 12 hours, from 7 to 7. I still felt sick in the morning.

I gwizzed the last half of log #55. I had worked on this log on 4/22/97 and rejected it because of too many worm holes. My standards seem to be a little lower now and this log will be very high up on the wall so I decided to use it. Most of the bad part of the log is in one spot and I will put this on the inside of the building so it won't be exposed to the weather, and I can cut it away if I don't like it.

I have been feeding peanuts to a pair of Stellar Jays all winter, but today, a couple of Gray Jays, or Camp Robbers, stopped by and had lunch. They are a lot bolder than the Stellar Jays and they flew down and ate right in front of me. I hope they keep coming back and maybe I can get them to eat out of my hand.

In order to place the next log, I needed to straighten up the vertical crane pole. It was leaning too far over the wall. I took the long ladder up to the big tree on the high rock and tightened up the guy rope tied to it. This straightened the pole enough to accommodate another 4 courses or so.

Next I treated log #55 and then got it lifted up so that it was leaning up against the building before I quit for the day.

On Friday, after sleeping 10 hours, I woke up still feeling really crummy. It was a beautiful sunny day and I got log #55 raised into position on the northeast wall. I rigged a snatch block on top of the northeast RPSL and used it and the winch to move the log into its final position. This, together with my long remote control cable made the job very easy.

After taking a little walk on the property to enjoy the nice day, I packed up and left for home about 12:30.

3/2-5/98 I went up to the property for 4 days: Monday through thursday.

I found about 2 inches of new slush on the ground when I arrived at 12:30. I shoveled off the scaffolds and the snow shelter roof right away so they would dry out in the sunshine and quit dripping so much when I went up to work. After I moved in, I spiked in log #55.

Tuesday, was another beautiful sunny day. I pulled up log #42. For the first time, I didn't use the crane boom at all. Instead, I used a block high up on the PSLs. This worked a lot better because there isn't near as much slack in the rigging that way (because no ropes are involved) and I don't have to worry about overloading and breaking the boom. It was also the first time I didn't pivot the log on the top of the log chute. Instead, I rested the center of the log on the rock cliff edge 6 or 8 feet west of the chute, and then, with the high end of the log fastened to the foundation wall, I pulled the other end of the log up sort of sliding it crosswise up the chute. #42 was a 39 foot log and this method worked very well.

The log has a lot of worm holes so gwizzing was slow. I got about a third of it done before the end of the day.

On Wednesday, another beautiful sunny day, I finished gwizzing log #42. There are a lot of worm holes the entire length of the log, but the wood seems to be sound, so in spite of some misgivings, I decided to use the log. It will be high up under the eaves so it should always stay very dry, and I planned to put it in the northwest wall, where most of it will probably be hidden behind a closet. Next, I treated the log with Tim-bor taking a lot of pains to completely fill each and every worm hole.

While I was treating the log, there was the strangest snowfall. It was bright and sunny, but all of a sudden there was this snow flurry that lasted about 10 minutes and covered about 10 percent of the ground. The strange thing was that all of the snowflakes were little balls. They were all about a quarter of an inch in diameter and looked sort of like hailstones, but instead of ice, they were soft white snow. Even stranger was that all of them were shaped the same; they looked like cut diamonds, or like miniature Apollo space reentry vehicles, or like squat ice cream cones with the ice cream licked down to a short round mound. I tried to collect come samples, but they were too fragile for me to pick up without destroying them. I don't know whether that shape is a natural way in which the crystals grow, or whether the balls were shaped that way by aerodynamic forces in their trip through the air. Something to ponder.

On Thursday, I raised log #42 and placed it into position on the northwest wall. I have learned how to rig the crane to make the job easy, and with the long remote control cord, I was able to smoothly raise the log quickly, safely, and efficiently. I had lunch, packed up, and left for home about 2:00.

3/10-13/98 I went up to the property for 4 days: Tuesday through Friday.

I stopped in at Chainsaws Plus to pick up my saw, but it wasn't ready. It had a broken handle mount and one of the bar studs was almost stripped. I finally brought it in when I heard an unusual noise coming out of it. I left without it.

I also stopped in for the customary cinnamon roll on the way. I arrived about noon. It was raining lightly and there was about one inch of new slush on the ground. Before the end of the day, I spiked log #42 into the northwest wall and pulled log #79 halfway up the hill.

On Wednesday it was beautiful and sunny. I finished pulling #79 up the hill and fed a little chipmunk. Usually I see a bunch of new little chipmunks in the spring, but this one seems to be an only child. The owls probably got the rest of the brood. I gwizzed about half of log #79 before the end of the day and in the process, I noticed a noise coming out of the gwizzard. It sounds like a bearing might be going bad. It just now occurred to me that maybe the thing sounded different because it was on the other saw. I had to use the .031 because the .032 was in the shop. I hope that's all it is.

On Thursday, I finished gwizzing #79. This log is sound with no checks or worm holes, but it has a 2 inch ring of brown wood and doesn't look very nice. I decided to earmark it for the main deck girder, since it won't matter too much how it looks under the deck. Then I measured log #96, which I had previously gwizzed and set aside because of a lot of rot and worm holes, and discovered that there was enough good wood to make the three pieces I need for the southwest wall. I made these pieces, treated them, and got one of them up onto the wall before the end of the day. The weather was nice and warm again and the snow melted a lot. I switched from wearing my Sorel boots to regular leather work shoes.

On Friday morning, I saw the tracks of a lone coyote who had come out of the woods and crossed the property during the night. Before I left for home at 2:00, I got the other two pieces of log #96 spiked into on the southwest wall. 3/17-20/98 I went up to the property for 4 days: Tuesday through Friday.

I bought a tail light for the station wagon in Duval on my way up to the property, and I also stopped in for a cinnamon roll. As a result, I didn't arrive until about 1:30. It was a beautiful sunny day and a lot of the snow had melted. There was a note in the trailer door from Vladimir and Joyce saying that they had been there on Monday and were sorry they missed me. I called Vladimir when I got moved in and had a nice chat with him. He said he wanted the left over Penta that I have so I will give it to him instead of returning it to Dal Hope as I had planned.

Earl Landin stopped by for a visit and helped me measure the heights of the walls. It was a lot easier with him holding the tape at the bottom.

Wednesday was sunny again and I pulled log #68 up on deck. Larry Copenhaver stopped by in the process and delivered some junk mail for us that he had gotten. I got about a quarter of log #68 gwizzed before the end of the day.

On Thursday morning, Rick Morrison and Sally VanDeusen stopped by to look over the progress and they invited me to dinner for that evening. After they left, I finished gwizzing #68 and then enlarged the chip bin again and cleaned up the chips. I rejected log #68 because it had a big rotten spot near the middle of it.

At 6:00, I went and had a delicious duck dinner with Rick and Sally. I was really impressed with their house and we had a nice visit.

On Friday, I pulled log #45 up on deck. It is a 41 footer and I had a little trouble getting it up over the ledge of the cliff. I wasn't feeling very well so I took a nap before leaving for home about 4:00.

3/23-26/98 I went up to the property for 4 days: Monday through Thursday.

I arrived about noon after the customary cinnamon roll. It rained cats and dogs all afternoon and I was still pretty sick so after I set up the rigging to gwiz, I spent the rest of the afternoon reading.

On Tuesday morning, I was still feeling sick and it took me all day to gwiz log #45.

On Wednesday, I cut log #45 to length, treated it, and raised it up onto the northeast wall. #45 is a 33 foot douglas fir and it was too heavy to lift with the crane boom, so to avoid the risk of breaking the boom, I used the PSLs and the RPSL instead. This ended up being a hard job that took the rest of the day. I started getting a pretty bad headache in the middle of the afternoon.

On Thursday, I felt a lot better. There was a light rain but I spiked log #45 into place and then rolled and spudded some of the logs in the log pile. The snow had just melted off and exposed all of them. I left for home about 1:00 because a heavy snow was predicted for the pass that afternoon. It was snowing when I drove over but I was safely ahead of most of it.

3/28-29/98 Ellen and I spent Saturday night in the trailer. We went on the spur of the moment after seeing a movie in Seattle, and we arrived at 1:30 AM on Sunday.

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day and was a perfect time for Ellen to review my progress. She also did a lot of spring cleaning which the trailer sorely needed. We heard a strange noise in the bathroom that puzzled us. There was a series of clicks followed by a sort of squealing. We thought it might be an insect or a small animal of some kind. Ellen went outside to listen and I searched the bathroom. It turned out to be a plastic bottle we use as a urinal that I had rinsed out in cold water. The lid wasn't on tight, so as the bottle warmed up, the escaping air made the noise. The mystery was solved.

When the cleaning was done, we went for a hike up to the viewpoint. The road was still completely covered with snow, but it was firm enough that we had no trouble walking up and back. No trouble except that Ellen had to wear an extra pair of work boots of mine and they rubbed one of her feet until it bled.

3/31-4/3/98 I went up to the property for 4 days: Tuesday through Friday.

I arrived at about noon after my usual cinnamon roll and for the first time this year, drove the pickup right up to the trailer. Since the weather was supposed to be dry for the next two days, I decided then and there that I would get rid of the wood chips that had accumulated over the winter and were now about 7 feet high in the bin.

I started by moving the logs that were on the roadway so I could park the pickup there. There were a lot of big logs so this took a while. I put the chains on the pickup and had no trouble driving it up on top. Before the day was out, I had assembled the chip box on the pickup and rigged the crane so I could move the chips using a blue tarp sling.

On Wednesday, I loaded and delivered to Dal Hope one load of chips and got a start on a second load. One exasperating problem was that after working fine for a while, the winch started to consistently blow the GFI breaker whenever I tried to run it backward. Out of frustration, I rigged a system of ropes, pulleys and a hanging rock weight to allow me to remotely control the manual clutch on the winch so that I didn't need to depend on reversing the motor to lower the loads into the pickup. This was a little awkward and took time to set up, but it did the job. Some day, I need to take the time to diagnose the problem with the winch and see if I can't fix it.

On Thursday I finished the second load which more or less emptied my chip bin, and delivered it. I had to empty it by myself because Richard, Dal's hired man, wasn't there when I got there. After disassembling the chip box and putting all the stuff back in the pickup, I pulled log #57 up onto the roadway.

On Friday, I gwizzed log #57 before lunch. During lunch, Larry Copenhaver stopped in for a visit. After he left, I packed up and left for home. I brought the leftover bucket of Penta to Vladimir on the way and he seemed happy to get it. I was glad to get rid of it.

1998: Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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