Construction Journal Entry Week of 7/15/12

7/17-19/12 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I stopped in to visit with Uncle Charles on the way but he was out shopping with Mark at the time so I didn't see him. The drive over was pleasant with the air conditioning working in the truck. The temperature outside reached 90 at times so it would have been uncomfortable without it.

When I drove by Ron Sideritz' place I could see the trailer door open so I stopped in to chat. He is happy with the trailer and gives it a lot of tender loving care. It is really cleaned up and fixed up nice. Ron showed me a new mousetrap he had gotten from some guy. I got a real kick out of it and I took a picture of it.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:15, had my lunch, a nap, and then went to work on the porch ceiling. I nailed up the 8th course of ceiling boards. It was a little scary because it is getting pretty high. I have to work straight up over my head at the Grid 3 end. The scaffold tower set up there is a couple feet lower than the ones on the porch deck.

I used a lineman's belt that I hooked to the porch crane as a safety measure. But I decided not to nail any more boards on the Grid 3 end until I can raise that scaffold tower another tier. When I went in for the night my forearms were pretty sore from gripping and lifting those boards up over my head.

During the night I could hear rodents chewing in the walls from time to time. I'm sure they are in the bay between the rafters that straddle the Grid 1 gable wall. I don't think they can get into the cabin from there, but I don't like them in there at all. I'll be glad when all the ceiling boards are in place out there. That will keep them out.

On Wednesday I slept in. I must have needed the rest. After breakfast I went into the woods and watered all the giant sequoia trees. Then I nailed up the 9th course of ceiling boards except for at the Grid 3 end of the eaves. I had been nailing up 16-foot boards, but that was just too stressful for my forearms. Since each course was higher over my head, I decided to go back to using 8-foot and shorter boards. They are a lot easier to handle and by cutting two at once, there wasn't any extra scaffold climbing as a result. The 8-foot boards also made it a lot safer.

After lunch and a nap, I moved the porch scaffolds over against the log wall. This took a little doing because of the workbench on the left and the heavy log bench on the right.

The workbench wasn't too hard because it is shorter than the scaffold tower. I simply removed the brace from the tower on that side, centered the workbench so the frames cleared it, and then moved both frames of the tower over and against the wall. Then I moved the workbench out away from the wall far enough so that I could replace the cross brace and that part was done.

The big log bench was a little trickier. I used a big rope attached to the central frame on the tandem tower and some clever rigging tricks to lift the log bench up off its supports and set it on the porch deck out away from the wall. The log was shorter than the combined tandem tower so I centered it to allow the end frames to be moved over to the log wall.

But before I did that, I disconnected both cross braces from the central frame on the side toward the wall. That allowed me to lift one leg of the central frame up and over the log that was between it and the wall. After all three frames had been moved up against the cabin wall, I re-attached the two cross braces and the scaffolding was in its final configuration. I could now work on the ceiling all the way to the log wall.

With the scaffolding re-configured, I nailed up the 10th course and part of the 11th course of ceiling boards. At that point I ran out of stained boards.

Here was a stroke of a considerable amount of serendipity and a modest amount of foresight and planning. Before I moved the scaffolding it would have been very awkward, if not impossible, to stain any more boards. The scaffold frames were right up against my staining rack.

But with the scaffolds re-configured, there was now enough room in front of the staining racks to stain more boards. It also worked out very nicely that with all the stuff on the porch, there was just enough room to take a 16-foot board off the inventory pile and get it onto the staining rack. There was even enough room to spin a board 180 in case it was backwards on the pile. More serendipity.

A chipmunk was a constant visitor all throughout the day.

Since I didn't have any more stained boards and I didn't want to start staining boards until the next morning, I decided to do some work on the old drainage problem. I had made a sheet metal collector funnel to take the water from the rock cliff and get it into a pipe, but I had never taken the funnel down under the porch to see if it actually fit and would work. So I did that.

The funnel will work great so I got the Bosch Bulldog out and started drilling the first hole for the six anchors I will use to attach the funnel to the rock. Unfortunately my bit was so dull that it hardly cut. I decided to abandon that project until I can get a new, sharp bit. But at least I knew that my plan was going to work.

On Thursday morning I stained boards in earnest. I worked on improving the efficiency of my staining operation and got it to work very well. One major improvement was in the dipping of my brush into the stain bucket. I used to dip it in four or five times for one board, but I eventually got to the point where I dipped it in only once. That really saves time.

I dip the brush almost all the way in, leaving only about a half-inch of the bristles out. Then with this loaded brush, I bring it to about 18 inches from the right hand end of the board and just barely touch the bristles to the board.

Stain immediately runs out onto the board but at the same time I move the brush steadily to the left. This leaves a trace of dark stain about an inch wide on the center of the board. I continually adjust my speed and the pressure of the brush on the board as I walk to the left all the way to the other end of the board. I move at about a normal walking speed and leave a trace of stain about an inch wide all the way.

By the time I get to the end, I am applying quite a bit of pressure down on the brush and it is nearly empty of stain.

The board is lying on the rack with the milled pattern away from me. So when I get to the end of the board, I apply the tip of the brush to the chamfer on the side toward me and walk all the way back to the right end of the board. It took me a while to figure out how to keep the brush from dripping off the edge of the board but I did figure it out. I just paint about 2 feet of the chamfer at a time and then momentarily tap the corner of the brush on the flat of the board and then go right back to the chamfer and continue.

So again almost at walking speed, I make my way back to the right end of the board. There I stain the entire flat part of the board leaving the milled part unstained. There is enough stain in the brush to do the 18 inches at the end of the board, but as I work left, I run into the one inch trace of stain which supplies the brush with enough stain to cover the entire flat part of the board.

I continue this to the left at a normal side-stepping speed until I arrive at the left end of the board. Then I commence the final pass. I now stain the milled pattern as I move back to the right.

The problem with staining these boards is that the stain is so thin that it tends to run down and pool in the bottom of the milled grooves and valley. I used to stand the stained boards vertically on end up against the cabin wall so as to minimize this pooling. Other times I would wait a certain amount of time and then brush the pools out. But the new method is to apply the right amount of stain so that it wouldn't run and pool.

So on this last pass it is important to have the brush loaded with just the right amount of stain, and that means an almost dry brush. As I work back down to the right, I brush stain into the milled pattern and if it looks like there is too much stain in my brush, I simply brush for a longer distance along the milling. If I don't have enough stain in my brush, I simply brush the flat part of the board for a ways and pick up extra stain. Then I go back to the milling. By paying attention to the amount of stain in my brush, and the finish job on the whole board, I make that final pass down the board and I am done with it.

So to stain one board, I dip my brush once, walk up and down the board twice, set my brush down, lift the board off the rack and stack it on one of the drying stations, and go get another board. It is very efficient. I stained 25 boards before I cleaned up and quit shortly after noon.

I was very happy with how things worked out. I'll now be ready to finish the ceiling without much more fuss. I took some pictures of the porch with its stained boards on the rack and the scaffolding in the new position. I left for home at 1:45 very happy with the week's progress.

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