Friday, August 31, 2007

The Manion Truss Company crew pulled into the field at the crack of dawn this morning with the replacement set of trusses. They added a temporary 2X4 cross tie at the bottom of each one to hold the width constant. This time they are the correct size, or at least close enough that we can make them fit. Apparently, it was a difficult job- the driver told me it took 3 guys 6 hours to fabricate the set (normally they crank out a job like this in 20-30 minutes)! I didn't ask if they would do it again....

Thursday, August 30, 2007

If I knew she could operate a nail gun...

...I would've asked her to marry me a lot sooner! After the brief rain delay, we started sheathing the framed walls while we waited for the next batch of trusses to arrive.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Rain delay.

After weeks(?) of near-ideal rain-free weather, a brief monsoon was in the forecast. My parents were thrilled, since that meant a couple days of much needed and greatly deserved rest. We braced the walls for potentially nasty weather and hermetically sealed the mini-trusses with poly, since they won't be put to use for a couple of decades at best. The folks went home and I put in a couple of hours until the rain became steady. Time to sleep. Eat. Sleep again.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I've got good news, and bad news, and good news.

The good news is that the trusses were delivered today. After working hard to come up with an arched-roof truss design, I was excited to see the truck finally crawling across the field. Thank you, Manion Truss Company, for being willing to do something your competitors said was impossible. The photo below shows the segmented truss, which forms a fairly nice arch as it is. I will touch-up the joint locations with a planer to round the corner smoother and get a nice curved shape before they are put up.
After the whole stack was unloaded, my dad had the brilliant idea of measuring the span with his tape measure. That brought the bad news that they were all too small by an inch or so. If they had been too wide, we might be able to compensate, but since we don't have a barn-shrinking tool, we are stuck! After conversations with the crew and phone calls to the company, they decided to make a new set (at their expense, since it was their mistake). They also decided to leave the originals laying in the field, since it was not worth their time to tear them apart for scrap. So now I have a full set of arched trusses for the next barn project. Good news!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Today, we put in the 2X10 floor joist in the silo, then covered it with a plywood subfloor. Eventually, it will be covered with reclaimed tile, but for now this will do. Next, we screwed another 10-foot 'ring' on top and started framing the 2nd story. We also wrapped the lower portion with 3/8" plywood to stiffen everything up before moving up. The sheathing made the curve with no problem. The project will slow down (more!) from here on, as working on scaffolding always takes at least twice as long.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Big Timber

Just as we started sheathing the silo, Glen came over with his boom and a trailer FULL of beams for the floor joists of the barn. They were freshly milled and very heavy (300 lbs each, until they dry out), so thankfully he stuck around for a few hours to set them in place with the crane. The 4X10 beams look great, and are about as 'sustainable' as you can get- they were all milled from locally-harvested blowdowns. No trees were killed for this project! Glen also left me with a pile of thick slabs that will be used to make tables, benches, countertops, etc. Okay, back to the silo..
My dad came over again and we framed in the first story of the silo. Figuring out the window openings was a bit tricky, but the rest of it was straightforward (no pun intended). So far, so good!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Perfect Circles.

Yesterday was spent fabricating 4 more circles for the silo to be built next. Since this was going to take awhile, I started by making a jig on the ground with some sheets of OSB and scrap blocks of framing lumber. After tracing and cutting the plywood arcs, I just laid the pieces down in the jig then glued and screwed them together. This worked quite well, and the finished discs are all within 1/4 inch in roundness. Tomorrow, we start erecting the silo.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The main barn structure is all framed, as well as the shed-roofed "milkhouse" off the back. Note the temporary cardboard window that i tacked into place (to be sure I had the correct window height and roof overhang). It's symbolic of all the sleepless nights I now endure as I lay awake obsessing about details, details, and more details. This project has every chance of removing 10 years off my life, and probably 5 lbs off my already too-small frame...but still worth it!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Uh, dad...

...did we nail these rafters up backwards??

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Have you noticed almost every construction photo shows clear blue skies? I think it has only rained once in the past month! In our continued drought, we framed the windows along the south-facing wall.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rebirth of the shoebox

After the concrete cured for a day or two, the parents came over and we started framing the 'new' old barn. If the walls look unusually tall, they are- I am using "balloon-framing" methods to provide a 3 foot kneewall in the hayloft of the barn and support the lateral forces of the roof trusses. Thus, the framing shown is with 12 foot high walls instead of the usual 8 footers....

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ahhh, the smell of concrete at dawn.... It was like the moments leading up to a big race: Stayed up late going over last minute details. Couldn't sleep, as I worried all night about how tomorrow would turn out. Get up at 4:30am with butterflies in my stomach. Head outside at dawn to do a few final prep tasks and clear the area around the slab. Keith and crew showed up around 6:30am and the first of two cement truck pulled in at 7am. The mud starts flowing shortly thereafter. I tried to help out as much as possible, but was mostly just staying out of their way since the guys have this process pretty well choreographed from years of experience. I was praying that the pathway form didn't break and that the hydronic system held pressure during the pour. Everything went well and by 9am we had a foundation. A couple of the guys stayed until lunchtime to trowel the slab smooth while I removed the spreaders from the pathway form so they could get inside and work. Nice job, guys!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Read my mind.

"Stand back ladies, I've got this COMPLETELY under control." or, "Do we really need in-floor heat?" or, "Has anyone seen the other end of this tubing?" or, "This stopped being fun about 4 days ago..." What I was really thinking was, "Good thing I have Lisa and Tammy here to help figure this out!" Thanks to them, we laid down 600 feet of 7/8" PEX tubing throughout the slab in just a few short hours. Sliding it under the pathway form was a little tricky, but it worked out okay. (Photo by Claire Schotzko) I spent the rest of the day zip-tying the PEX to the rebar and making sure everything was kosher since we will be pouring concrete in the morning! I also connected the PEX to the distribution manifold (where all the strands are bunched up in lower right corner) and pressurized the system to 50psi to check for leaks. It held pressure all night, so that was a relief.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The pathway form now occupying a large portion of the slab made the remaining tasks difficult- I had to figure out how to provide continuous reinforcement across the building in both directions, and the PEX tubing needed to be put down over and around it. For reinforcement, I used #4 rebar in an 18" grid pattern. Keith borrowed one of his rebar benders so that I could shape the pieces to drop down under the pathway form wherever needed. I could've spanned the whole barn with a single piece of rebar, if I were talented enough to put the required 4 bends in precisely the right spots to curl under and back out of the pathway recess- impossible! So I cut each piece of rebar in half and lapped the joints under the pathway. Working around the pathway form made an otherwise easy task become another dawn-till-dark affair. But eventually my stubborn persistence won out and the grid pattern was done.

Now for the PEX tubing....

Monday, August 06, 2007

Shopping Locally.

Glen, our local sawmill pal stopped over to pick up some red pine logs that I cut down last winter (several large trees were dead or dying around the Homestead, so it was time to harvest them). He will cut them into 4x10 beams to use as floor joists in the barn. I think that finding your building materials in the front yard counts as 'shopping locally' doesn't it?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

This may not be the easiest way...

...but it was the only way I could think of to build the form for the brick pathway. First, I used some of the FSC lumber purchased for the wall framing (yes, someday I hope to actually put up walls!) to make 20 ft long temporary 'joists'. These were rested on the perimeter of the foundation form, spaced apart about 18" or so. I then attached strips of scrap plywood vertically down from the joists and resting on the foundation bed, following the desired outline of the pathway. Next I ripped more of that Masonite siding (the same stuff used to build the silo form) into 3" strips and attached them to the verticals to make the rounded edge for the pathway. The Masonite wants to break when bent into a tight radius, so I had to make hundreds of shallow kerf cuts in it wherever a sharp corner was made. This took some experimentation, but it worked out okay. Once it was shaped just right, I installed 'spreaders' across the inside to hold everything together (I was able to use old barn board scraps for this), then removed those joists to reveal the pathway form. Voila- all this took another couple of days to fabricate. The lengths I will go to just to salvage the old barn bricks!