Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Construction update #14

Only one picture for the update today, although from what I'm told, a movie of the beam setting today would have been good entertainment. Maybe next time. Gene and Sam managed to get both laminated beams in place today. The first one was a challenge as they tried to muscle it into place, only to have it fall and break a sawhorse. Eventually number one submitted to their efforts.

The manipulations involved in putting beam number two in place would have made G. A. Henty proud. The guys used the truck as an intermediate resting place for the beam and as a fulcrum about which it could be pivoted until it was resting on top of the garage and easily dragged and pushed up on top. They seemed pretty pleased with themselves for getting the beam in position without putting themselves in too much danger. I wonder which of Henty's books gave Sam the inspiration for hoisting the beam?

At the end of the day on Tuesday all the beams are in place, and the OSB covers about half of the top surface of the beams. Don't forget to pray for safety for Gene and Sam!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Construction update #13

The laminated beams that we expected on Monday came in ahead of schedule so Gene picked them up Saturday morning with the intention that we would set them on the walls and proceed to lay the lay flooring sheets on top of the joists. I don't think the Ranger has ever carried anything quite as long as those four 28-foot beams!

Here are the beams after Gene glued and nailed them together. We were both pulled away to other activities on Saturday, so the beams never went any further than what you see here.

Gene added a few sheets of OSB to the west side of the building while I was gone.

I dug out a bit of dirt below our electric meter so we could identify where the conduit goes. That will be necessary as we move the electric meter and bury the wires.

At the end of the day on Saturday the site doesn't look a lot different, but here you have it anyway.

Monday's activities were rained out, but the weather forecast predicts sunny weather ahead.

Corn in the backyard, week 18

September 28

Friday, September 26, 2008

Construction update #12

On Thursday, Gene and Sam were able to complete the east wall and set one of the I-joists before Sam had to leave. Gene proceeded to set a few of the joists by himself, and saved the rest of them until I got there so I could join in the fun too.

Here's a short video composed of still images that gives you some idea of how the joists went into place. Notice the images of Gene carrying the second end of the joist up the ladder on his shoulder. I think he likes doing that kind of stuff that makes him feel like he could do some steer wrestling.

After all the I-joists were in place, Gene took a moment to claim dominion over the lumber.

And this was how the project looked at the end of the day Thursday.

Friday saw Gene straightening and bracing some of the walls so he could add the OSB sheathing and prepare the building for more beams on Monday.

Here's a shot from inside the garage illustrating some of the bracing.

I took this shot from down low so you could appreciate the pergola effect of the I-joists. They're only nailed to the south wall so we can adjust both the north and south walls before everything is nailed in place. The two gaps where the joists are missing are left open for laminated beams that will support more weight. Those beams should arrive Monday.

The end of the day photo for Friday.

Fishin' in the front yard

It wasn't Hurricane Ike that caused us to go fishing in the front yard, but rather the County Health Department. Because we are the proud owners of a surface discharge septic system, we get to fish in the sample port at least once a year.
Here's my "fishin' pole" fashioned from 1/2" electrical conduit, the bottom of a plastic bottle, and some 12 gauge copper wire (with insulation). This is not an original design, as the septic inspector had something similar when she came out last year. The reservoir can pivot at two places, so it's easier to collect the sample, and pour it into another container.

The fishin' hole.

It's seven feet to the water level in the hole, so it takes good eyes or a light touch to get a nice skim off the top. A flashlight can be helpful too.

That one looks like a keeper! Actually, they were all tossed back (on the ground) when these pictures were taken since I was testing the new pole and skimming off the extra floaties. Don't be too disgusted. Although there could be some bad bacteria that make their way through to the sample port, the water is intended to be clean enough to discharge at this spot.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Construction update #11

The big news this week is that we have lumber! Quite a bit of wood was delivered Monday morning, and Gene and Sam were champing at the bit to get their hands on it.
As you can see, they had a nice start at the end of the day Monday despite a later than expected lumber delivery and our first recordable injury of the project. Gene's hand got in the way of a ricocheting nail from the nail gun and his knuckle suffered a direct hit. Even though he's got a high pain threshold and strong pain killers, he took the day off Tuesday to let his hand recover.

At the end of the day Monday, this was the view from the roof.

On Wednesday the guys were back to work completing a couple more walls, and framing in the windows completely.

The view from the west.

This is the bundle of i-beams that will rest on top of the walls. They're 16 inches deep and 28 feet long. Pretty massive. Wrastling those things could be a bit of work.

Finally, here's the view from the roof of the house at the end of the day on Wednesday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Corn in the backyard, week 17

September 21
The corn has dried quite a bit over the last week. 112 days have passed since our first photo of the corn, and the corn had been in the ground a little while before that first picture. I'm not sure what variety of corn is planted, but I suspect it will be harvested in the next two weeks.

Here's a close-up that may not look very appetizing, but I'm sure it looks like yellow gold to Farmer Wagenbach who hopes to harvest it soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Construction update #10

While we're waiting for the concrete to cure it bit more, small preparations have been made for building walls next week.

Here's Gene fastening a sill plate to the top of the foundation wall.

This bit of craftsmanship almost looks like cabinetmaker quality. Actually, that's what Gene said about his own work, and who am I to disagree?

Finally, here's the view from the house roof early in the evening on Saturday, September 20.

Beef (and peppers): it's what's for dinner

We've been eating a lot of beef lately. Fortunately, we have a good bit of beef in the freezer. What has us increasing our consumption is the 1/4 cow due to hit our freezer in about a month. Consequently, the grill has seen lots of action. Tonight we had hamburgers and as a special treat we tried grilled jalapenos.
Our friends, the Anonymous family, dropped off a large bag of peppers today along with instructions on making tasty grilled stuffed peppers. Since the grill was already hot, why not give it a try? I guess I shouldn't be surprised that some of the peppers were pretty tame while others cleared your sinuses.

Thanks Anonymous for sharing the wonderful peppers, and the delightful idea for preparing them!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Corn in the backyard, week 16

September 14
This week's picture was taken while Hurricane Ike was rolling through our yard and delivering over 4 inches of rain. If it weren't for the low light you'd be able to tell that the corn has dried a bit more in spite of the rain, and may be ready for harvest in the next few weeks.

Construction update #9

Tuesday --
Now that the rain has passed and the gravel in the garage is leveled, Gene layed out the styrofoam and attached the heating system lines to the foam. In this picture from Tuesday, he's mounting the cement form boards to the foundation in preparation for the cement pouring scheduled for Thursday.

Here's a closer shot of the heater lines and the water supply line rising vertically from the floor near the north wall.

This is the way everything was left on Tuesday evening. The heater lines are all in place, and the forms are in place everywhere except the north side 3-foot door. Almost ready for cement.

Thursday --

Thursday was a beautiful cement pouring day with plenty of sun and a light breeze. Brett Kaiser and his crew showed up a little before the cement trunk arrived at about 9:45. If I knew anything about concrete, I'd say they are probably going to need to spread that cement pretty thin if they want to cover everything. Speaking of covering everything, yes, I did put some digitally-produced shirts on the guys so the ladies in the audience wouldn't be embarassed.

Now the crew's got a bit more cement. As you can tell, they finished the concrete in four sections so it was more managable to work with. They've done a primary float on the southwest corner, and they're moving on to the northwest. Do you think they're wearing sunscreen?

Brett and Nick wait for the truck chute to come into position so they can fill the last corner while Danny floats the west half.

Here's the finished product in the evening after several more iterations of troweling and floating.

And this is the view from the roof of the house on Thursday, September 18. After the concrete sets up for a few days, we'll be ready to start working with wood!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Remnants of Ike

We went for a short drive tonight to find swollen rivers and flooded fields and we weren't disappointed. This shot is taken about a half mile from the Mackinaw River where it appears the water is receding back across the road. I suppose after the level falls a few more inches the recession will be impeded by the crown of the road, but this evening the water was flowing so fast it was scary. We did not try to ford the stream.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hurricane Ike comes to town

It's not often that a hurricane visits our part of the country, so we don't often see the huge rains that the Gulf and Atlantic states get to enjoy this time of year. On Sunday, we had an exception. The remnants of hurricane Ike roared through the Midwest dumping quite a bit of rain in less than a day. We've only been in this house for a year, but our neighbors said this is the most rain they've seen in the 50+ years they've been here.

This spot in the yard collects standing water in any heavy rainfall, but this is a bigger puddle than most. I don't think we should locate the pool quite so close to the house...

The rain is still coming down in this shot taken before 8:30 AM. Kinda reminds me of a rice paddy...

The garage site was not ignored by the rainfall either. I've got a better shot below of the rain inside the foundation. It's a good thing styrofoam doesn't mind being wet.

If only our downspout were this efficient. As it is, the gutter typically overflows more water than what goes down the downspot. Hopefully that will change when we replace the gutter.

We even had standing water in the front yard and on the side between our house and the neighbor's. I don't recall seeing standing water in the front before.

Having trouble seeing how much rain is in the gauge? That's because the gauge is full! The gauge had 2.5 inches the day before when I looked at it, but I didn't empty it at the time because the rain was still coming down. As of 8:30 Sunday morning, we had over 4.5 inches more. Only the Lord knows how much rain we actually received...

Here's a better shot of the new garage with the rain helping to compact the gravel. Notice how easy it is to see how level the concrete blocks are...

One more shot of the lake in the backyard with something unusual in the background... our neighbors have their back door open while it's raining. After taking this picture, I went to their house and found all three of them bailing water out of the basement. We quickly got our family in action, and spent the day removing the water. Since the water was as much as 4 inches deep in places we employed buckets and pumps initially, and finally worked our way down to squeegees and vacuum cleaners. Carpet covers the floor in most of the rooms, including a thick shag with a pad underneath in the largest room. The other rooms cleaned up pretty well, but it was a lot of work to get the water out of the shag carpet. The video below illustrates why Karen (and the rest of us) were tired at the end of the day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Porch post project

This is the way our house looked before we moved in last summer. Of particular interest in this image is the support for the roof near the front door. The white decorative steel support was probably very fashionable in the 1950s when the house was built, but in our opinion it is not one of the house's stronger assets.

Last fall Karen gave the support a couple coats of paint to match the trim color we used around the doors. This picture was taken when we progressed with the soffit project to the front entry and realized that if we were ever going to do something with the roof support, the time to act would be before we enclosed it with new soffit.

Since this picture was taken, we've progressed with the soffit a little closer to the support, but stopped long enough to decide that now is the time for the old post to go!

Since we've been attracted to craftsman/prairie style home features lately, we thought a tapered wood post would look more attractive on the front of the house than the old steel one. After agonizing over how to best construct the tapered post, we finally purchased some wood and found a friend knowledgable enough to help us build the thing.

This picture was taken in my friend Ken's garage/workshop where he demonstrated how knowledgable woodworkers do tricky things. Sitting on the table saw in this picture is a couple of pieces of pine scrap wood that Ken used to convince me that not only could he produce this post with tapered sides, but the corners could be mitered as well.

After measuring, and checking, and measuring again, and adjusting, we succeeded in cutting the first side of all four red oak boards. Here Ken is removing the guide board we used to cut the taper to the correct dimensions. Bob Vila also did something similar on a tapered porch column project he recorded.

The second side required more measuring and discussing to ensure we produced trapezoidal pieces instead of parallelograms!

Here's Ken preparing the cut boards so that we can nail three of them together. These oak boards are merely decorative as they will simply surround a 4x4 wood post that will do all the heavy roof lifting.

Three-fourths of the finished product! The taper is a little hard to discern in this photo, but it should show up nicely when the post is in place. Ken did a wonderful job cutting the pieces with nice sharp edges so the mitered corners went together great and look stunning. Stay tuned for future reports on the staining and installation of the post, as well as a before and after shot or two.