Construction Journal Entry Week of 3/4/18

3/6-8/18 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at 11:30. Robert and Tim were already working up above. I could hear their chainsaws when I got out of my truck. The weather was warm, and the snow had shrunk back quite a bit, although there was still four or five inches of packed snow in the parking area.

After moving my gear up to the cabin, I went up and talked with the loggers. Then the three of us went into the cabin and had our lunch and talked some more. The skidder was out of action because of a leaky hydraulic hose and Robert needed to get some parts. The three of us went out after lunch and worked without the skidder.

Robert felled trees, Tim limbed them, and I helped the two of them burn the slash in the burn pile. The two of them left at about 2:30. I continued burning brush and tidied up the skid trail that now had a half-dozen bucked logs lying on it waiting for the skidder.

Next, I decided to try to straighten up the privy. In addition to being slightly out of plumb because of the timbers not being level, one of the timbers had actually started to fail. It was sagging a couple inches and looked like it might break altogether. I thought I should shore it up as soon as I could.

I placed Robert's 10-ton jack under the corner of the privy floor that was hanging out over the broken timber. I started jacking it up to see what would happen. The privy straightened up a little and I thought that if I jacked it up enough to get a couple inches of shims under the timber, I could solve the problem.

It just so happened that there was a huge boulder directly under where the timber was failing, and I considered that to be a stroke of luck. I placed a stack of small pieces of plywood on the boulder with the intention of filling the space once the building was jacked up high enough.

Unfortunately, I made a huge error in judgment by not providing a stable base for the jack. Instead, the bottom of the jack was resting on a small, round log, of all things. So, after the jack had lifted the privy about an inch or two, the whole building lurched toward me a couple of inches. That was a little scary.

I looked the situation over to see how dangerous it was, and I saw that even though the privy had moved a couple inches, it was still securely resting on both timbers and wasn't out of plumb much more than when I started. That was good.

But worse than that, I saw that the concrete blocks that were supporting the ends of the broken timber were now slanted. There was a second concrete block next to the one on the right that had stopped it from tipping over, and the one on the left was not out of kilter enough to be in danger of tipping over. And, the jack was still tight and was holding up some weight.

I gingerly turned the valve on the jack just a little to relax it and see what happened. As soon as I did, the privy started to move a little, so I quickly closed the valve again.

Then I started adding new abutments under the timber that would take the load if the privy tried to move any more. I built one under the right end of the timber, and another on the boulder under the break in the timber. Then I relaxed the jack and got it out. The privy stayed where it was.

Next, I got a thick, short, wide plank and used it as a platform for the jack and then started jacking up the same corner as I had before. This time I was ready to drive shims into both of the new abutments I had built each time the jack opened the space up. I used Stihl timber-falling wedges to open up the spaces wide enough to take another scrap of plywood. I didn't try to get the building all the way to plumb, but I did get it stable enough so that I was convinced it was safe. I left it that way and went in for the night feeling pretty stupid and very tired.

On Wednesday morning, Robert showed up alone at 8:00. He brought a new hydraulic hose with him and went to work replacing it. He also needed to start the skidder engine. And, since he had accidently left the ignition key on after the last time he used it, the battery was dead and needed to be charged up. I brought out my 30-Amp charger which he hooked up and let it charge while he worked on the hydraulic hose.

In the meantime, I went back up to the burn pile and started burning more brush. Pretty soon I heard an angry holler from Robert, so I went down to see him. He had discovered that the part he bought had the wrong fitting on one end. He had no option other than drive to Leavenworth to get the correct hose. I went back to burning brush.

Around 10:30, Tim showed up and the two of us burned brush until Robert came back with the proper hose. That one worked and after it was installed, the battery was charged enough to get the skidder started. Now we were back in business.

Robert used the skidder to skid the waiting logs over to the log pile and then to push the logs up onto the pile. Tim and I picked up all the branches that had been under the logs and put them on the burn pile. Then Robert went back into the woods and felled a couple more trees. By then it was noon and the three of us went into the cabin and had lunch.

After lunch, we went back out and continued falling, limbing, bucking, and burning until about 2:30 when we all went into the cabin for a visit until 4:00 when they left. I started a fire in the wood stove to warm the place up a little for my shower and then I took a very welcome nap until 5:00 when I took a nice relaxing shower.

On Thursday morning, Robert and Tim both showed up at 8:00 and the three of us went right to work falling, limbing, bucking, skidding, and stacking logs as well as burning brush. It had started snowing and it snowed quite heavily the whole morning. Robert and Tim quit at about 11:00 and came in for coffee before they left for home. Then I had my lunch and left for home at 12:15. It was a very productive three days considering the setbacks.

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