Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/1/12

1/3-5/12 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

This was the maiden trip for the 1996 GMC Sierra that Ellen and I bought to replace the totaled Ford on December 31, 2011. Before I left, I loaded the GMC up with all the gear and tools that I carry around in the truck with me. Then I drove to RD Auto in Kenmore where the old Ford had been towed. I talked with Dick and showed him my new truck. He said it was a good truck and that I got a good deal. I told him that the driver's power seat didn't work and that there were two disconnected wire cables under the seat. He suggested plugging them together to see what happened. I plugged them together and the power seat seemed to work fine.

From there I drove to Monroe and stopped in to visit Charles. When I signed in I noticed that Mark had gotten there just 5 minutes before I did. I went up to Charles' room where the three of us had a nice visit. They followed me out when I left so that they could see the truck.

Then I proceeded on to Skykomish where I stopped in and visited Marilyn and George and they also had a look at the truck. And, from there, I proceeded on to Camp Serendipity.

I arrived at 2:20 and saw that there was about 10 inches of new snow since the last time my driveway had been plowed. I put the truck in 4wd and had no trouble parking in my usual way. Bert and Ernie were right there to get their hugs and biscuits.

There was about a foot of snow on the concrete staircase, so I shoveled that off before I carried my gear up to the cabin. It was getting pretty late by the time I built a fire in the stove and had some lunch. I spent the rest of the afternoon splitting firewood and stockpiling it on the back porch. When I went in, I gathered up and packed up the things that the family had left last week. We didn't have room in Marilyn's small car to take it all with us. Then I had a nice shower and had my dinner. For dessert, I had one of the Spotted Dick puddings I had gotten as a Christmas gift from Marilyn and George. It was very tasty.

On Wednesday, Bert and Ernie came by for biscuits before I even had my breakfast. After breakfast and exercises I went to work preparing to install flooring in the kitchen and hall.

I had given a lot of thought to how I was going to interface the 10 log columns with the flooring. I had decided to cut a notch at the subfloor level all the way around the base of each column so that the flooring could be cut to fit inside the notch. I wasn't sure whether to leave the log surface vertical so that it would meet the floor at a right angle, or whether to chamfer the bottom of the log to match all the other exposed log ends inside the cabin. I decided against chamfering because you really couldn't see it all that well and it wasn't likely that people would match up the pattern at the bottoms of the columns with the tops. The main reason, though, was that chamfering would leave a place that would be harder to clean and would accumulate dirt.

Having made that decision, I got my tools out and cut the notches in the Grid B2 and C2 columns. I used a hand saw with a strip of tape on it as a guide so that I could make a 1/2-inch kerf all the way around. My plan was to cut the flooring so that it penetrated the notch 1/4 inch, leaving the 1/4 inch gap recommended by the manufacturer between the flooring and any vertical structure.

I made the notches by sawing two kerfs and then knocking out the wood chips between the kerfs. The first kerf was cut right at the level of the subfloor by keeping the handsaw flat on the subfloor as I cut.

The second kerf needed to be higher so that the net height of the notch would be 1/4 inch. Since the flooring is 3/16 inches thick, this leaves a sixteenth so the fit isn't tight. To get the second kerf at the right height, I planed down the end of a strip of masonite until it was the right thickness and then placed the strip under the handsaw and cut the kerf the same as the first one. To get the masonite the right thickness, I used a crescent wrench as a poor man's micrometer.

The only problem was that sawing the kerfs required that I be on my knees. Even though I used knee pads, the strain on my inner thigh muscles was something I was not used to and they got pretty stiff and sore for the next few days.

With the two notches cut, I swept and vacuumed the floor to get it ready for flooring. By that time it was lunch time. I woke up from my after-lunch nap to a pretty heavy rain. It rained off and on the rest of the day.

I started laying flooring along the kitchen wall by the refrigerator and then along the hallway wall. It was slow going because of all the cutting and fitting to accommodate all the doorways and the jogs in the wall. It was also critical to get this first course very straight so I took great pains to do so.

Once the first course was down, and the linen closet was covered, the rest went pretty fast because there was almost no cutting. I was happy with how it is turning out.

On Thursday morning, Bert and Ernie were back before breakfast. I carried a lot of stuff down to the truck that was left from last week. Then I went back up and resumed work on the flooring.

At one point, I heard a tractor down at the driveway and looked out and saw Mike starting to clear the snow. I got my coat and boots on and went down to move my truck for him but by the time I got there, he had gone. I decided to chase him down with the truck, but when I tried to start it I found that the battery was dead. I hooked up my big battery charger and plugged it into the receptacle that Brian had suggested I install on the power pole. I was thankful for that suggestion at that moment.

I let the battery charge while I went back to work on the flooring. Pretty soon, I heard Mike back with his tractor. I told him about my troubles and then I tried starting the truck. It started right up so I disconnected the charger and moved the truck out of the way while he finished plowing the driveway.

The ammeter showed that the battery was charging normally, so I left the truck running while I went up and got ready to leave. I left for home at 12:10. On the way, it dawned on me that plugging in that seat cable had discharged the battery. I disconnected it again and tested it with a volt/ohmmeter and sure enough, there was some problem with it and it was responsible for draining the battery.

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