Sunday, April 30, 2006

Other business this week.

In addition to the work with Don constructing our new home, Terry and I will be spending Wednesday closing on the 7 acre parcel next to the 10 acres on which we are building. The expense of buying the extra land will strain our budget quite a bit but--well, you know what they say about land...they ain't making more of it. Besides, the driveway for that 7 acre parcel passes within thirty feet of the house. Purchasing that parcel creates a buffer behind the house that will make us (or at least me) feel more comfortable.

Of course, the sale of the NJ house would make some of the budget problems go away. We had an Open House today (while Terry and I were at the mall getting me some new eyeglasses). Our realtor says he only had two couples come through. *sigh*

I made a third attempt at growing grass in the rear of the NJ property. Twice last year a newly seeded lawn was snuffed out in its youth. First heat and drought killed the late spring planting. Then, heavy September rains drowned the fall planting. Four weeks ago, I sowed seed for a third time. We've been watering it faithfully and saying little prayers and it looks like the grass is going to make it. When I left for PA last Monday it had just started to fuzz up. When I got home on Friday it was over an inch tall. Some time this week it's going to need to be cut for the first time. (One part of the lawn survived the heavy rains last fall though it did so in a patchy sort of way and now, since it hasn't been cut, it looks like a jungle. At least it is thick and lush looking. Grass looks so much better to a prospective buyer than bare dirt.)

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho It’s Off to Work I Go

Okay. After a weekend home in NJ nursing sore muscles and lower back, I’m heading out early, early tomorrow morning for PA. Spending a couple of hours each evening with an ice pack on my lower back has made a difference. The back is feeling much, much better than it did last Friday. You can bet I’ll be throwing the ice pack in my back for this week.

We’ve got four walls in place, but we’ve got lots to do before the home is enclosed.

I’m not sure what Don has planned for this week but I believe we’ll be putting in the remaining 6” x 6” posts in the basement, the glu-lam support beams and 6” x 8” floor joists for the second floor. Once the floor joists are in we’ll lay plywood atop them for a temporary surface to work from.

Once we have a surface to work from, it will be time to frame out the gable ends and start on the roof beam and rafters. Working on the south end of the building where ther is a second floor won’t be too bad but I have no idea how we’ll be doing the gable end on the north end. On that end of the home we have a walkout basement and a cathedral ceiling. Even now, it’s a long way down from the top of the log wall to the ground in front of the walkout basement. Add about 14’ to the peak of the roof and it will be close to 35’ straight down. I believe I will stay on the ground (or at least on the first floor) and leave the climbing to the pros—unless Don has some scaffolding to put up.

Sometime soon (I hope) we’ll get a deck up on the north end and the drop to the ground will be interrupted by the deck’s surface. A continuation of the deck around the northwest corner of the house will give us another surface from which to work. Unfortunately, I think Don plans on doing the deck work later.

A.G.T. asked about the routed channel along the wall next to that doggy in the window. Two of those have been let into the logs 20 feet apart on this wall. The panelized, stick-framed laundryroom, foyer and garage will join the log walls of the living area at these slots. Beaver Mountain mills the slots for the joint as well as the slots in the fourteenth log row for the second floor floor joists that will rest upon the thirteenth row of logs and the slots for the glu-lam beams to support those joists. If you were to create these slots and notches in the field you would spend an awful lot of time with a chisel in hand.

Just in case anything in the post above looks strange: I broke my glasses this morning so Terry and I spent the afternoon at the Rockaway Mall get my eyes examined (it had been 2+ years) and a new pair of glasses at Lens Crafters. Unfortunately, they couldn’t provide me with the progressive bifocals I needed today. I did get a pair of distance glasses but working with anything as close as the computer screen will be a problem until they get me the bifocals. On the positive side, in the two years since I last had my eyes examined, they haven’t changed. The prescription remains the same as it was. And, at least they were able to provide me with a pair of distance glasses so I can drive, watch TV and do work at arms’ length.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 18
More logs on the walls

This has been a very, very busy week.

Once again, I drove from NJ to the PA building site early Monday morning. We had left the site on Friday afternoon with four courses of logs and all the window and door bucks (rough openings) in place. When I arrived, I found only Adam and Don on site and already laying out the fifth course. (Jim had been called back to his regular, full time job and would not be with us for this week at all.) I jumped in and went to work. By the end of the day, we had three more courses of logs in place bringing the total to six.
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Don has devised “clips” from scrap lumber (actually the stickers from the palettes) to hold plastic sheeting on the tops of the logs so dew, frost or rain won’t soak the logs overnight making us wait until they dry off.

Tuesday was such a busy day I never even took the camera out. We were able to get three courses of logs down because we had prepped for the first course Monday afternoon. As we finished up, a cool breeze blew some drizzle in from the north.

Over night that cold front dropped the temperature to the 20s and the drizzle froze forming a thin sheet of ice that covered sizable areas of the working deck. As you might imagine, this made working an adventure. You’d be walking along and forget about the ice and the next thing you knew—zip! Your feet would slip and slide and your right foot is going one way and your left another. Luckily, no one fell but there were a couple of close calls.
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Even with the ice Wednesday morning, we were still able to get two more courses down before calling it a day. Adam and I did most of the raising of the logs in the afternoon while Don went to work on the Scapewell windows from the basement.
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Two of these large window wells on the west side of the basement will bring some natural light to the rooms downstairs.

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By the end of the work day, the sun had warmed and dried the site nicely. Only three rows of logs to go.

Thursday was another beautiful day. Don, Adam and I wrestled the logs up to the 12th and 13th rows. Everything had to be done from the ladders. (Although, Adam did find those gymnastics lessons coming in handy!)
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I forgot to mention the fourth member of our work crew—Simon. Simon, Don’s Springer Spaniel, lazed in the shade or on the front seat of the truck until someone (phone, electric or sewer) appeared. Then he would bark to attract our attention. He did a fine job and was regularly rewarded at lunch time.
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Simon peers out the window at the end of Thursday. Thirteen of fourteen courses are completed.

Yet another cloudless sky on Friday as we put the final row of logs up. By now, my back was killing me and Don and Adam did most of the heavy lifting.
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Don and Adam pose before the final log wall gets lagged down.

I left the site at this time to drive back to NJ but these two guys continued working. They were going to bolt this log down and then work on the second Scapewell window beofre calling it a week.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Light Posting

You may have noticed that posting has been nonexistant this week. I've been working with Don and Adam erecting the walls of the log home. Monday we got three courses of logs up; on Tuesday we got two more before the drizzle and cold winds ended our day; and than on Wednesday we got two more up despite the icy footing.

Altogether we have 11 of the 14 rows of logs up. Things have slowed down a bit because we're working on ladders now. We've one more course before we're above the doors and windows and working with long logs again.

Don and Adam installed one of the Scapewell doors in the basement while I cleaned up the deck after the final course of logs this afternoon.

I'll have pictures to post this weekend when I have access to high-speed hook-ups back in New Jersey. Check in again late Friday or early Saturday.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Foxy Returns

My buddy Mark, up in the Adirondacks, moved his wood’s camera to a new site earlier this week after several visits by a fisher (see the earlier post). He had been seeing a doe and her young and was hoping to get pictures of the family.

The new location is about a quarter of a mile from the old (from about two hundred yards behind my place to around the same distance behind his place across the road). Very early last Wednesday morning he had a visitor. A beautiful gray fox that has been around our places for over a year, came in to feed on the bait Mark put out. (Mark promises he intends to go looking for something a little more appropriate to the diet of a white-tail.)
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Foxy comes in to the bait.

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Foxy poses for the camera.

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Foxy finishes all the food.

This fox, or one like it raised a slew of kits two summers ago. They lived behind my place and visited often. They also denned up under my garage and used both my campfire ring and garage floor as a toilet. Mark saw the adult often in his clearing and it ate all the stale bread and donuts he could put out.

Log Home Update: Part 17
Window and door bucks,
drilling for electricity and
laying logs

Friday, April 21st:
I forgot about the camera during the morning as Don and I got right to work laying out the electrical outlets and switches so we could drill through the first two courses of logs using a 1-1/2 inch auger bit. These holes will allow for the pulling of electric wires from the basement up through the logs. (A stud wall constructed of 2x4s or 2x6s would be easier to pull wires through once all walls were erected, but with logs you have to drill as you erect the walls. On the other hand, once you’ve erected the log wall, you’re done. With the 2x wall you’ve got to put up outside sheathing, shigles or siding, insulation, inside sheetrock or plaster…etc.) Holes for electric outlets would have to be drilled through the third row of logs to get the boxes placed at the correct height. Any switches or wall-mounted lights will have to have their chases drilled higher. Some will go all the way to the top row as they may have to control ceiling mounted fixtures.

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Here’s a shot of the completed third row of logs.

Window bucks had to be constructed and installed starting with the fourth row. As Adam and Jim put the window bucks together, I laid the fourth course of logs in place (with occasional help due to length/weight) and drilled the holes that needed to be continued.

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Once the tape, caulk and finally logs and bucks were lifted into place, we went around the walls and lagged the logs down.

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The final log of the day is ready for placement.

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The weather forecast had been for showers starting around 4 in the afternoon but they held off. At 4:30, after we had finished lagging down all of row 4, bracing all the window bucks and had started cleaning up, the sky was still just partly cloudy.

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A couple of more shots of the completed fourth row.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 16
The first row of logs
the most important row

On April 20th, we had technical assistance and instruction by Nick from Beaver Mountain Log Homes.

Nick checked the deck for square and snapped some chalk lines for our first course of logs. He then walked us through the instillation of the first two rows.

Here Nick (in black, gray and light gray stripped shirt), Don (inserting a lag bolt), Jim (in the stripped hat) and Adam (switching out a caulk tube) are placing the first wall. Although Don, Adam and Jim had worked on a Beaver Mountain Log Home previously—some two years ago—Nick was able to provide a refresher course on who to ensure a tight fit and make sure everything was being done correctly.

Nick is laying out the caulk for the second wall as Jim looks on.

Adam bolts down the first log as Nick checks that everything is aligned correctly. (And uses some “gentle persuasion” to line things up.)

Nick watches Adam bolt down the fourth wall. (The persuader was used on the logs, not Adam.) Jim marks the deck so we know where the lag screws are. Thus, when we drill for electricity we will choose our locations—wisely.

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With the first course of logs in place, the door bucks were installed so the next courses will fit around them. This one shows were the French doors and windows going out onto the deck will be located.

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This opening is from the foyer into the living area of the house.

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And this opening is for a sliding glass door out to a covered porch.

Log Home Update: Part 15
Delivery!—My First Day

Early morning on the 19th of April. The Deck is completed and We are awaiting delivery from Beaver Mountain of the log home package.

Adam puts the last nail into the AdvanTech sub-floor. While we await deliver from Beaver Mountain.

Rob uses the dozer to make some last minute alterations of the grade in preparation of the arrival of the tractor trailers.

The first truck arrived just around 8 AM, backed into the unloading area and Ron promptly attacked it with the LoadAll.

This is a sweet machine that looks like a scorpion. The forks are attached to a boom that can reach out almost 30 feet. The entire machine can also adjust port to starboard for level. All four wheels are involved in the steering so it can also turn on a dime—very important in our tight quarters on The Hill.
The first load consisted of some tongue and groove for the roof (the yellow, green and white wrapped stacks), the shingles (the blue and white stacks), and the doors, windows and various accoutrements such as grilles and screens (the boxes on the right of this shot).

Rob was able to use the LoadAll to actually place some pallets inside the walk-out basement.

These crates of doors and windows had to be lifted off the truck and then emptied as the crates had to be returned. All I can say is French doors are heavy!

While we unloaded the first truck, two more stacked up out on the road. (So much for the staggered delivery times!) These contained the pallets of milled logs.

This truck was one that carried the logs. From the earlier picture you could see that Beaver Mountain insists in having the load covered while in transit (to keep off road grime) and has each pallet covered individually as well.

A fourth truck pulled up with the trusses for the garage wing. The LaodAll made quick work of offloading these and stacking them on the bank behind the garage.

Well, it made quick work of offloading them. When Rob tried to lay them down, they actually were perfectly balanced and needed some gentle nudging to go down on their side.

But down they eventually went.

Once all deliveries were made, we had piles of stuff all over the site. Most of it got covered with green tarps like the pallets of tongue and groove on the right.

Some just lay around. But not for long.

Don rented a tractor trailer for storage. We first loaded all the insulation and then started putting the windows and doors and the tongue and groove inside for sorting by size and use and lockable storage.

Thus ended my first day of work at the log home construction.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mr. Potato Head In the World of Art

The first time I watched the original Toy Story, I was amazed at the realistic animation. And of all the supporting characters, Mr. Potato Head was easily the most recognized.

One thing I never realized--until today--was the grand and glorious history Mr. Potato Head has had in the world of art. That shortcoming was corrected by this post by SobekPundit. Take a moment to go visit and learn.

Thanks to Ken S at It Comes In Pints? for the pointer.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 14
Floor joists

Don and Adam were back at work up on the hill today. They finished the floor joists, installed the bracing and lay out and installed the first sheet of sub-flooring. All on a very beautiful day!

A little ladder action
A little ladder action at the rear of the utility room. I’m not a professional, but the ladder here may simply be supplying additional support for the courses of logs that will be stacked atop this area.

A mystery foto! Looking straight down it appears to have details of the corner and how the ribbon boards are overlapped. Or, maybe, it's just to show the PVC pipes that will be the entrance of the electrical wires? I'm not sure.
But I can speculate that there’s a ladder along this edge too. This would be the back of the main portion of the house. So this ladder action may very well be to support the walls to be laid next Thursday.

From back to front
Looking from the back to the front. Notice how straight the metal cross braces are positioned.

And, look at that view!

Construction adhesive (glue)
Adam applies some adhesive to the floor joists. Combined with the nails to hold it down, this sub-floor should never squeak! The tongue and groove AdvanTech that we are using is superior to the usual OSB in that it will withstand moisture and even rain without absorbing any of it. Normal OSB will show raised wood chips and swell, plywood will delaminate, but AdvanTech will do neither.

What a view!
With a work site like ain't work!
This is what we will see from the front deck when the house is finished.

End of Monday, 4/17
End of the day on Monday, 4/17.
One sheet of sub flooring in place, all the joists and their bracing in place...looks like its quitting time.

How about that view!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Log Home Update: Part 13
Beams and floor joists
backfilling the foundation

After getting rained out on Friday, Don and Adam went back up the hill today and worked in the glorious sunshine. They got a great deal done.

Don & Adam at work.
Placing a shorter glu-lam over the entrance to the utility room.

Don & Adam at work
Securing floor joists to the main beam.

Using hangers to attach floor joists to the beam over the utility room opening.

Something's up
Way up high is a hawk/buzzard soaring above the Aerie.

End of Saturday's work
Nearly all the floor joists are in; only a few over the utility room still to be placed.
There’s a good view of the backfilling that Ron did the other day. Lots of fill is still needed inside the garage, though.

9 Things I Hate About Everyone

My little sis must have gotten out of bed on the wrong side this morning. She forwarded me this E-mail:

1. People who point at their wrist while asking for the time.... I know where my watch is pal, where the hell is yours? Do I point at my crotch when I ask where the toilet is?

2. People who are willing to get off their ass to search the entire room for the T.V. remote because they refuse to walk to the T.V. and change the channel manually.

3. When people say, "Oh you just want to have your cake and eat it too." Damn right! What good is cake if you can't eat it?

4. When people say, "It's always the last place you look." Of course it is. Why the hell would you keep looking after you've found it? Do people do this? Who and where are they? Gonna Kick their asses!

5. People who say, while watching a film, , "Did you see that?" No Loser, I paid $12 to come to the cinema and stare at the damn floor.

6. People who ask, "Can I ask you a question?".... Didn't really give me a choice there, did ya sunshine?

7. When something is 'new and improved!' Which is it? If it's new, then there has never been anything before it. If it's an improvement, then there must have been something before it, couldn't be new.

8. When people say, "life is short". What the hell?? Life is the longest damn thing anyone ever does!! What can you do that's longer?

9. When you are waiting for the bus and someone asks, "Has the bus come yet?" If the bus came would I be standing here, dumbass?

Friday, April 14, 2006

April 15

Traditionally it’s Income Tax Day (although this year’s filing date has been moved to Monday, the 17th) but to many firearms advocates, April 15th is Buy A Gun Day in celebration of our Second Amendment rights.

Last year I convinced my wife that I needed to purchase a flintlock muzzleloader to take advantage of the special season for primitive weapons for deer in PA. (Of course, I never got my PA license last year spending most of my time in NY, but I am ready for this fall.)

This year I will forego the purchase of any new weaponry. With the need to sell our New Jersey home and build or PA log home, I’ve not time nor inclination to add to my collection. Besides, with the purchase of the adjacent lot in PA, I’ve got 17 acres to explore there. And in New York there’s 34 acres with 10,000 state acres adjacent I’ve yet to learn as well as I should.

But next year….

Tenn. Black Bear Kills Girl, Age 6

The next time one of those folks speak about how we have to learn to live with black bears here in New Jersey, I think I’ll just hand them a copy of this.
Black bears generally avoid humans, animal experts said. Rangers at the Cherokee National Forest, where the attack took place Thursday, said a disease, tumor or parasite might have made the animal more aggressive.

The 350- to 400-pound bear attacked the family at a waterfall near a campground after several adult visitors tried to drive it off the trail, Hicks said.

The bear bit the boy's head, then went after the child's mother after she tried to fend off the attack with rocks and sticks, Hicks said. The animal picked up the woman with its mouth and dragged her off the trail.

The girl apparently ran away, and about an hour later was found with the bear hovering over her body, Hicks said. A rescuer fired a shot that scared the animal off, Hicks said. Authorities said they did not know whether it was wounded.
The girl’s 2-year-old brother has a puncture wound to his skull. Their mother remains in critical condition with eight puncture wounds to her neck and “too many claw and tooth injuries to count.”

In Northern New Jersey, we’re told to keep our trash secure and keep our eyes open when outside. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Rogers, the bear expert, said there have been only 56 documented killings of humans by black bears in North America in the past 100 years. Rogers said the current population of black bears in North America is around 750,000, and there is generally fewer than one killing a year.
But of course, when it’s only one human life a year, the bear lovers will argue in favor of the bear.

Log Home Update: Part 12b: Tonka Toy Time

The pictures Deb sent were of Rob back filling the foundation and grading the driveway leading up to the garage. He needed to get some of the dirt out of the way so we will have room for the materials that will be shipped from Beaver Mountain Log Homes on Wednesday. There should be three or four more truckloads of stuff coming then. Not just the logs, but the panels that form the garage, the insulation, the roofing materials, the tongue and groove planks that from the second floor, the second floor floor joists, and much, much more.

Rob at work
Rob is backfilling around the garage and the south wall of the basement.

Rob at work
Here, Rob is grading the driveway up to the garage as well as filling around the front of the garage’s foundation. The two green bundles behind him are materials to be used in the first floor decking.