Construction Journal Entry Week of 4/12/15

4/14-16/15 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

This was a major-milestone week! I finally finished the ceiling installation job after four years of effort! I started out by getting beat at checkers by Uncle Charles. It's hard for me to admit that he has dementia, in fact sometimes I doubt it.

From Monroe, I drove over the pass and through a late snowstorm. It was snowing in Skykomish, and from Deception Falls on there was about 2 inches of unplowed, unsanded snow on the road. For that stretch I drove 35 mph in 4wd.

But a mile or so before the summit, the snow stopped, or at least I drove out of the storm. The pavement was bare and wet up to the pass and completely dry the rest of the way. The ski area was operating after being closed for several weeks due to a lack of snow. This has been a strange winter.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:08 and was promptly greeted by Ernie. He got his usual hugs and biscuits, and he followed me up to the cabin where he got a tray of gravy.

After moving in, I gathered a bunch of firewood left over from the scout camp and started a fire in the stove. Then I had my lunch and my customary nap. I didn't get any significant work done for the rest of the day.

On Wednesday I caulked the gap between the ceiling and the Grid A3-B3 gable wall logs. Then I cleaned all the wall logs that I could reach from the scaffold tower in that corner. With that done, I re-installed the dining room ceiling light fixture. I had lengthened the chain and the wire so that the fixture would hang a foot or two lower than before, and it took some fiddling around to get the chain to take the weight instead of the wire.

I also had a challenge getting the fixture fastened back up to the electrical box. The fixture base is held up by two small brass machine bolts that screw into a strap that goes across the center of the electrical box. I tried holding the fixture base up against the box with one hand and trying to get one of the screws started into the tapped hole with the other hand. Since I couldn't see where the hole was at all, and since the tips of my fingers are sort of numb, I was unable to get the screw started. I was also scared that I might drop the screw and since I was up on a pretty high scaffold, I was afraid that if I dropped the screw I would never find it.

But I came up with what I think is a pretty clever solution to the problem. I decided to use a long machine bolt to start with. I wasn't sure that I had the right bolts, but after checking my Bin Inventory, I found them very quickly.

The first question was what the thread size was on the brass bolts. They looked like #6 or #8 bolts, but I wasn't sure until I got some nuts out and discovered that they were #8. Then I looked in the Bin Inventory and found some #8x3" machine bolts. Exactly what I needed!

I took two of these bolts, spun a nut on each of them all the way down to the bolt head, and went back up on the scaffold. The bolts were long enough so that with the bolt in the hole in the fixture base, there was enough gap above so that I could see the hole in the strap so that I could get one bolt started in the hole.

I turned the bolt into the hole for a few turns, then I raised the fixture base up against the electrical box, and while holding it there, I spun the nut up so that it was finger tight against the fixture base. That held it in place so that I could take the second long bolt and use it to find the second hole in the strap. Once I found it, and the holes were lined up, then I carefully started one of the short brass bolts into the hole and tightened it up. Then I simply removed the first long bolt and replaced it with the second brass bolt, tightened them both up and the job was done.

At that point, there was no further need for the scaffold tower in the dining room, so I began dismantling it. That job is somewhat easier than setting it up in the first place because I am working with gravity instead of against it. I still had to be careful not to drop any of the pieces.

The process starts by installing a couple planks at the first tier level. Then, by standing on those planks, all of the planks on the top tier can be reached and lowered to enlarge the deck on the first tier. It gets more and more comfortable walking around as the deck gets bigger and bigger.

Once all the planks were lowered in this way, I realized that there was still one job to do from the higher level that I had forgotten. I needed to unfasten my safety rope which was fastened around the Grid B3 PSL way up high. Fortunately I could still climb up the high scaffold frame which was still braced, and unfasten the rope.

The next step is to unfasten the two cross braces and lower them to the floor. And then, each of the frames is lifted up out of its two sockets and lowered over the side of the tower so that they rest on the floor and lean up against the tower. That took just about all the muscle I have, but by moving slowly and deliberately, I did it without a problem and with not much risk. My old body came through.

After climbing down off the scaffold, and taking a break, I carried the two frames and the two cross braces down to the crawl space and put them away. It was a good feeling to know that each of the frames that I stored down there was going to stay there for the foreseeable future. There are no more projects at Camp Serendipity that will require scaffolding unless something unexpected happens.

To dismantle the remaining one-tier tower, the first thing is to remove the plank deck and store the planks. After thinking about where to store the planks, I decided to store them under the front porch. And after looking down there to see how I wanted to stack them, I decided that the first lumber to store should be the 10-foot 4x4s. There were a half-dozen of them in the loft, so I carried each of them down and stacked them under the porch. When I finished that, I started on the 2x10 planks on the scaffold deck. There was also one 2x12 and some 2x8s and 2x6s which I stacked as well.

With the planks stacked, I carried the two frames and two cross braces from the scaffold tower down to the crawl space and put them away. That left the dining room completely empty except for the mess on the floor.

I swept the dining room floor, then vacuumed it, and then since I wouldn't have this opportunity of a completely empty dining room again for a while, I got the mop out and really scrubbed the floor good. After I wrung out the mop and hung it out to dry, I moved the furniture back into the dining room. I got it all back in time to have my lunch in the dining room for the first time in a while, and hopefully it will start a trend that will last a long time.

After lunch I was very much ready for my nap. When I got up I felt like doing an easier job so I went out into the woods and measured and recorded the bushiness of the giant sequoia trees. I still have to make a decision on whether or not to water the trees this year and whether or not to fertilize them. I didn't water them (except for Brian) last year and they all lived, but I'm not sure they couldn't have done better had I watered them. I'll decide later.

Back up in the loft, I finished caulking the gap between the ceiling and the Grid A1-B1 gable logs. With that done, there was no longer any need for the scaffolding up in the loft.

On Thursday morning, I went through the same process as the day before and dismantled the scaffolding in the loft. I carried the four frames and four cross-braces down to the crawl space and put them away, and I carried the planks and pieces of plywood and OSB down and stored them under the porch. Then I took a few pictures and quit for the week. I left for home at 12:30 very happy to have crossed this major milestone.

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