Sunday, September 30, 2007

If time is money, this is becoming very expensive real estate. Time to finish the barn roof. We started by installing the overhang on the gable ends. 2X4 "lookouts" have to be cut, notched, and spaced just right to mate with the sheathing that will eventually cover them. Since the fascia boards must follow the curve of the arched roof, they had to be custom-made by tracing and cutting a curved shape out of larger boards. Slow work! With the overhang finished, we started putting up sheets of 1/2" plywood, which were clamped and nailed to conform to the curved roof.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

With my dad back from his fishing trip, I had an extra set of hands to help bend the last piece of sheathing around the silo wall, to close it off over the walkway roofline I built last weekend. This last piece proved to be the toughest, since we were working from a difficult spot. Using an assortment of clamps, screws and stubbornness, we go in place. We also put on the last of the foamboard insulation, and finished the overhang of the barn roof where it meets the silo. We now have a watertight silo (except for the gaping holes where the windows will eventually go!).

Monday, September 24, 2007

With the silo up and the barn roof trusses in place, it was time to connect the two structures with a walkway on the second floor. I've been thinking about this part of the job for months- I hate to admit how many hours have passed by as I stared at a blank piece of graph paper, unable to put the pieces together. I wanted to make the short roof of the walkway in the same shape as the barn roof, which means I'd be building a scaled-down arched roof connected to the round silo wall on one end and projecting through the arched barn roof on the other end. How do you connect two curves with a curve? When working as an engineer, I could plop down in front of the CAD system and generate a 3-dimension model of what I wanted. A few keystrokes later, the printer would be spewing out drawings of all the component parts, dimensioned to the nearest thousandth-of-an-inch. Those were the days! Now there is no cheating. IBM is not here to bail me out- I've got a pile of tools, a larger pile of lumber, and a mushy brain. The silo stands less than two feet from the barn roof. Two feet! How hard can this be? I've had a year to figure this out and hadn't made an inch. My last resort strategy of "staring at it" finally paid off and I came up with a brilliant idea- take away one of the curves (without it showing, of course). So I started by building a mini-truss using 2X6 segments sandwiched between two pieces of plywood (I scaled down the dimensions of the barn roof trusses when cutting the plywood so that the walkway roof would have the same shape as the barn). My mini-truss would define the curved profile of the walkway roof and give me a flat surface to attach the other framing members to. Next, I mounted my mini-truss on top of the barn wall, placing it in just the right spot so that the remaining silo wall studs could be rested on top of it (This will conceal the flat truss once all the remaining framing is installed). With that done, I was able to complete the walkway roof framing by spanning the gap with 2x4s laid out to follow my arched truss profile. On the barn roof side, these short 'rafters' were attached to various nailers that I put in the opening of the walkway.

Next, I covered my handiwork with 2 layers of 1/4 inch plywood that had been soaked overnight to facilitate the extreme bending required. I glued the second layer to the first, and secured them with screws to the roof. Finally, I fininished the overhead studs of the curved silo wall by notching them out to fit over the walkway roof. That wasn't so bad, after all. To think I lost so much sleep over it!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What a great coffee shop

We just added a new link - if you are ever in the area this is a must stop. Big Timber is in Virginia, they have been here for just over a year and they have been our "office" since they opened. Drinks are great, the people are terrific, they have wireless internet and they are doing their part to encourage sustainable retailing (how many coffee shops compost their coffee grounds?). "Thanks" Big Timber for housing us! Lisa and Shawn

Taking shape.

Details, details, details. Over the past several days, we dressed the barn and silo with a skin of rigid foamboard to block any thermal bridging through the framing studs during the cold Minnesota winters. Once we get the roof done, the interior will be sprayed with expanding foam insulation. We also installed the overhanging roof 'kickers', leaving the rafter tails exposed to give it a barn look. Everything is being scaled from the dimensions of the old barn we deconstructed as well as the other barn that still stands nearby. With my dad leaving for a fishing trip, I have the next several days to figure out how to frame the 2nd story entryway that connects the barn roof to the silo....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What's happening here?

Its getting cooler. I haven't put on shorts in days. Green is becoming red, yellow and orange. The daylight is fading and so is my tan. And the barn doesn't have a roof yet, so we work on!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Capping it off...barely.

Glen had a 6 foot extension welded onto his boom to get the reach we needed for this lift. It wasn't enough. So he added another few feet onto the end, and we all hoped it would do the trick. After securing the dome to the boom with tie straps, up it went. and up... ...and up ...and up! We barely had enough reach to set it place. But barely is good enough. Once it was on top of the wall, we pulled out the timbers with pry bars then moved it into center and lag-screwed the roof ring to the wall ring. Thank you, Glen- you are the master!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Over the course of a day (and it would've taken 3 or 4, if even possible without Glen!), we lifted each truss into position... ...and braced them... ...working our way across the roof... ...until the last one was in place.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

While I was playing with the silo dome, my dad was here preparing the trusses. All of the intersections along the segmented truss needed to be rounded over with the planer to create a nice, smooth curve. Glen came over early and we got the first couple of trusses set onto the barn Friday night.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

After what we went through to build the silo walls, I was convinced that installing the domed roof while working 26 feet off the ground would be nearly impossible. So Glen (our sawmill buddy) agreed to hire out as a crane operator this weekend, to lift the trusses onto the barn and set the silo roof into position. All I needed to do ahead of time was assemble the silo roof on the ground. First, I built another 'ring' using leftover scraps of plywood and OSB, then bolted the sections of steel angle to it to form the base of the roof. I temporarily screwed the base ring assembly on a framework of old barn timbers to get a level work surface. The timbers will give us something to attach the hoist straps to when it is time to lift the roof off the ground. Lisa helped assemble the roof panels and they were bolted into position to form the dome shape. While all of this looks fairly straightforward, I ran into various 'issues' that spread the project across 3 days (and nights!). In the end, I was scrambling to finish before Glen showed up with the crane.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Well, that went quick.

By the end of the holiday weekend, we finished framing and sheathing the 2nd story of the silo (soon-to-be master bathroom). It looks so easy now that it's finished!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Goodbye, terra firma.

Having done as much as we could do from the ground, it was time to take the project to the next level. My parents came over for the labor day weekend and we spent almost an entire day getting scaffolding set up and braced for the task ahead. The top of the silo wall will be 21 feet off the ground, and once the roof is added it will be even taller than the barn. All of this looked really nice on the drafting table, but now the reality of what's required to build it starts to develop. Working on the scaffolding makes everything more difficult and SLOW. Fortunately we had two sets (thank you, Keith!) and my mom would be here to play 'gopher' and bring up supplies as needed.