Construction Journal Entry Week of 6/5/11

6/5/11 (Sunday) I discussed the question of how to build the soffit with Brent Compton at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor. He was extremely helpful. He suggested a design that was much simpler than any that I had been thinking of. He told me that there was no need to use hurricane ties to achieve the strength I needed. He convinced me to use screws to fasten parallel 2x4s on the top and bottom with 16" OC 2x4 studs between them. The framework could be assembled on the floor and then raised and screwed directly to the undersides of the joist flanges. I was delighted with this advice. I now felt, for the first time, that I knew what I was doing and how to proceed with the soffit construction.

6/7-9/11 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way I stopped at Wendell's Licensing office and learned what I needed to do to transfer the ownership of the trailer to Ron Siderits. Then I proceeded on to Haight Carpet in Monroe and picked up the flooring material for the bath, utility, and front entry rooms.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:00 and was promptly greeted by Bert and Ernie who got their usual hugs and biscuits. I wheeled the flooring and my gear up to the cabin in two fairly heavy wheelbarrow loads, and stored it inside the cabin. A chipmunk greeted me on the porch so I fed him/her some peanuts while I stopped to catch my breath.

I had my lunch, and afterward I was awakened from my nap by Ron Siderits, whom I could hear on the lower roadway. I went down to greet him and then we both went up to the cabin to complete the paperwork for the transfer of ownership and the hand-over of the paperwork I had relating to the trailer.

Then we went down and prepared the trailer for him to tow away. We used my truck and my small air compressor to pump up the tires, which had only about 10 lb. in each of them after 19 years of sitting in one place. In order to reach the far tire, I nosed my truck up to the trailer hitch, strung my jumper cables from the battery up alongside the trailer, and then clamped the cigarette-lighter-adapter on the compressor to the jumper cables. It worked.

We cleared rocks, hoses, wires, phone pedestal, buckets, and other items out from under the trailer so it could be pulled out. I also went up and got my IV bottle that I had rigged up for winterizing the trailer plumbing with antifreeze and gave it to Ron. He said he had never seen anything like that before and seemed happy to get it.

When the trailer was hitched to Ron's pickup, he drove away as I took some pictures of the trailer for the last time. I was sad but happy to see it go.

With the trailer gone, the next thing to do was to collapse the snow shed. Since this promised to be an interesting operation, I set up a tripod and New video the effort.

I started by fastening a chain to the two downhill legs and pulling the chain with my truck. The two legs broke off halfway up, as I expected, but the two uphill legs remained intact, as I had not expected. I thought all four legs would break but they didn't.

With the two legs gone, the whole structure pivoted on the remaining inside leg and tipped over resting on the inside leg and with the fourth leg sticking up in the air.

After a little observation and thought, I fastened a come-along to the bottom of the middle leg, anchored it to a tree, and then cranked the come-along until the leg broke off halfway up.

This still did not do the job because the fourth leg remained intact. All four legs on the back side had broken off by this point. After attaching the come-along to the fourth leg and attempting to break it as I had the third one, I could see that the log was too sound and strong to break that way. So I got a chainsaw out and simply cut the log in two. That let the remainder of the structure down so that the eaves of the sheet-metal roof were on the ground all around and the thing looked like a big metal pup tent. It was now safe enough that I could leave the rest of the demolition for another day. I went in for the night happy about the progress on this momentous day. As it happened, June 7 is not only my sister Gayle's birthday, but it is Ron Siderits' birthday as well (he just turned 77). And, June 7, 1992 is the day Ellen and I first parked the trailer in that spot, 19 years ago to the day.

On Wednesday morning I started by giving Bill, the sequoia tree, a couple gallons of water and a dose of Superthrive. The rest of the sequoias were plenty moist. Then I installed the event counter in the septic pump control box.

I felt a little guilty not working on the soffit because Ron Scollard is eager to get going on the drywall and I am not ready for him yet. But I am really eager to know how often that pump goes on, and since I'm the boss, I decided to spend the time to install it. I didn't know, though, that it would take so long.

The instructions were general enough to be confusing so I didn't know exactly how to wire it up. It also came with sheet-metal mounting screws, and since I would prefer machine screws, I tapped the holes and used small machine screws. That took a little extra time.

I cut open the wire bundle inside the box so I could trace the wires, and I took out the switch so I could use my ohmmeter to learn exactly what the functions of the three wire terminals on the switch were for. After doing all this, I still wasn't sure how to connect the wires up, in particular to the motor contactor.

I called the manufacturer and learned from a technician that several different contactors were used in their control boxes, so that is why the instructions were vague. He helped me figure out exactly what to connect the counter leads to. Once I hooked it all up and buttoned the box back up, I was happy when I tested it and found that it worked correctly. My plan is to record the counter readings on the sheet I hung on the inside of my electrical distribution panel to record the monthly tests of the AFCI and GFCI breakers. Now, instead of just a check mark, I'll record a pump counter reading in each box.

A chipmunk had been visiting me regularly on the back porch throughout the morning as I worked on the control box. I finished almost exactly at noon.

After lunch and a nap, I restored the rope railing at the front porch that I had undone in order to get the drywall on the porch. Then I cut the four long 2x4s and 14 short ones needed for the soffit, brought them inside, and screwed them together to make the two sides of the soffit frame. Ron Scollard called and we set the date of Saturday, June 18 for him and his brother to hang the drywall board. That adds a little pressure, but it is good to have a firm date.

On Thursday morning I installed the ductwork for the kitchen hood. I did some more chiseling on the outside of the log wall, cleaned all the chips and sawdust from inside the hole, and stained the outside of the log. Then I assembled the stovepipe, cap, and elbow and installed it in the hole dry so I could measure it for length. I needed to trim away about 3 inches of the stovepipe so I took it all back out of the hole and cut off the three inches.

Then I gooped up the inside of the hole in the log real good with caulk. I covered the end of the stovepipe with masking tape so that the caulk wouldn't go inside the pipe when I pushed it into the hole in the log. I pushed the stovepipe all the way through so that it stuck out six or so inches on the outside. It had accumulated quite a bit of caulk as it went through the hole so I scooped this off and troweled it between the log and the pipe. Then I removed the masking tape and fitted the cap assembly over the end of the pipe. Finally, I shoved the whole thing back into the hole.

The caulk must have started to dry because it was very hard to shove the pipe all the way back in. The pipe didn't go all the way into the cap like it should; it was about an inch short. But since I couldn't shove the assembly into the log either it too was sticking out about an inch I figured that the two inches would cancel each other out and leave the pipe exactly where it should be on the inside. I measured it and saw that it was very close to being right on. It won't hurt anything for that cap to be sticking out like that because the seal around the pipe is as good as it could have been up against the flange, or maybe even better. Anyway I called it good.

Since I was working out on the back porch a lot, a chipmunk took many opportunities during the morning to visit me and take peanuts from me. I left for home at 1:45 feeling pretty good about what I had done this week.

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