Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mysterious Ways

This is the tree that fell on the house. It had mostly broken off at the bottom but Allen went ahead and cut it completely loose so we could move it. As you can see, it was very rotten and only a matter of time before it fell. I had been all around this tree, clearing brush and various things but had never noticed it's bad shape. But, it seems someone had. I had gotten very frustrated with how long it was taking to build that steel beam and get it set. It seemed like every weekend for a month, something would happen to slow me down. Of course now, I see why. As I stated in the previous post, if this tree had hit either the steel beam or the finished roof it would have been very bad monetarily and would have set me back a good period of time in getting moved in. I do not profess to be a very religious person but I do know which side my bread is buttered on, so to speak, and I do have great faith that things will work out. I guess some people would just see this as good luck or chance and that's fine if that's what the person wants to see but I just don't believe in luck or coincidence. I believe everything happens for a reason. The Giftee was looking out for us as has happened so many times in the past. I have tried to learn from experiences like this and now when things seemed to be unusually hard to get started or move on with, I try to step back and look at the situation. Maybe I should take another course or just let things move at their own pace, you know? Don't try to force it. We all get very impatient in life (me especially) but I believe sometimes the thing to do is just to relax and believe. For years I could never learn to float in water on my back. I just could not let go and relax. I can't do that! I'll sink! I have to be in control of my body; something bad will happen if you just flop out there in the water! But you know, the water will hold you up just fine and it feels so good.......
While looking around the tree and cleaning up, I spied this clump of mountain mint (pycnanthemum incanum) growing nearby. I love this stuff. It grows pretty prolifically in this area. It's also called horse mint. It's great for relieving congestion and opening up your sinuses. You can throw a big handful of leaves in a pot of boiling water and let it simmer for a few minutes, then either inhale the fumes or drain the leaves and make a poultice with them that you place on your chest for 20 minutes or so. You can also make a tea to act as an expectorant and to help relax you.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Oh, Happy Day

I think Allen and I were so happy to see this thing finally go up that he got a little trigger happy with the camera. Normally, I have to tell him, "make sure you get a photo" but he did all this on his own. Of course, then he said he wanted some topless but I told him that nobody would realize he didn't have his shirt on.
I am fastening the beam down here to the box beams with lag bolts and then later the framing for the roof etc. will fasten to the top of the steel beam and hold it more.

It's higher up than it looks! It took less than an hour I think to set this thing once we had rebuilt the rigging and stuff. I'm glad this part is over! Now, he says he is going to take me out for sushi to celebrate. We'll see. I still have alot of clean up on it to do also before it's completely done.

This photo should give you a better idea of how it sits in the house and how it will carry the rafters. I know up until now what I have shown didn't make alot of sense probably.
Here, all of the rigging is down and gone. Just have to start the framing again! YEA!!!! I am pleased with how it come out. I think it looks really cool! The architect will probably hate it even though it's his own design.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

This is the time of year down here in the South when severe thunderstorms can pop up within a matter of minutes, sometimes every day of the week. This is one of those weeks. We don't get too many tornadoes during the summer but can get very strong winds. I thought I was going to have a relaxing day after work and get caught up on a little project I am working on for the Big Fancy Architect. But you kow that old saying, "if its not one thing it's another or the same damn thing over and over". I came home from work and turned on the county road that leads to my property. I started noticing lots of limbs and things in the road. It had come a big storm on the job in Birmingham so I figured this was part of the same system. Then, as I got closer to my place, I started to see larger trees down in people's yards.......artificial flowers scattered in the road. What?... that one confused me for a minute and then I remembered that there is a small cemetary on the road. It was the arrangements that had been blown off of the graves. Then I got to the lady's land that lives across the road from me and she had 2 very large trees down. I had a sinking feeling. I called Allen and told him that I thought we needed to go check on the house. I went on up to where we are staying now and checked on Fred's place (it was OK) and headed down to the house. Allen had gotten there before me and I found his truck parked about halfway to the house. I climbed over the tree and started for the house; there were a few limbs down here and there. Then I saw this. If you look close you will notice the tree in the back in the unusual horizontal position. I thought to myself, well, it could have missed the house and just fallen in the back yard.
Nope.... Now, there are several silver linings to this that I keep repeating to myself. 1. It missed the framed and decked part of the roof. 2. the steel beam was not set yet and if it had been the force of the tree could have bent it and that would have REALLY been bad. 3. this area of the roof was not framed or decked, which would have been costly to repair. The rigging that we had put up to hoist the steel beam actually saved alot I think. It was destroyed but it slowed the tree down and so there was not alot of damage to the exterior wall of the house.
It did bust the top plates and the sheathing some and pushed the wall in several inches but it won't be too bad to fix.
The part of the tree that went in the house snapped off and fell in the kitchen area. It gauged the floor some but didn't hurt my beam! I don't know how much you can tell from this photo but it was a mess. I was hoping that the steel beam would be set this weekend and we would be framing shortly thereafter but now we have to get all this cleaned up and repaired. I did get all of the tree out of the house this morning but then another storm came and we had to quit. Allen can't get his chainsaw to run either today (which is very unusual) and so we still have the main bulk of the tree leaning on the house to get off. Well, that's the joys of country living. Sometimes stuff just happens so you just step back and take a running go at it again. It really could have been much worse.

Friday, July 14, 2006


I had this collection of just nice little details I had noticed at the Big House I'm working on and thought I'd share. Lots of limestone all over the house and it all has little fossils or other evidence of its sedimentary origins. It's interesting that they cut and set all of the sediment lines vertically. I wonder if that was on purpose?
A small detail out of some large carved medallions on the back of the house.
Beautiful old craftsmanship. All being ripped down and replaced.
Neat shadows at noon time.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Come Together

The actual welding of the truss has begun!! Here I am putting on some stiffeners that will hold the flanges from pivoting. Not that they would anyway once they're welded but these things are handy to hold the webbing upright as we are positioning them.
Finished product. The 2 end pieces of webbing each got 2 pair of stiffeners and the 2 middle pieces of webbing just got 1 pair each. This took longer than I expected but then, everything does I think.
I'm just trying to show scale in this photo. We really don't have good room to get a shot of the whole truss at once. After it is in place we can though.
This is the other end. I was just placing the pieces on the flange about where they go as I finished them. We are going to have to do some measuring and see exactly how much space we can have in between each section of webbing. I'm afraid we are going to have to add either another small section of web or a solid piece to each end. I believe we have too much space within the truss and not enough webbing to cover it. We can't space the web out too much or it becomes a structural issue. That is the top flange laying on the floor behind this stuff. After all the web is in place and tacked we will place the top flange on and square it up etc. and then weld it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Oh, What a Tangled Web.....

OK! So it's all cut out! The webbing for the truss that is. I finally got it all cut out and polished and ready to start welding together yesterday ..... and then it started raining. So, next weekend maybe. These pieces are 18" tall and 1/4" thick. I just grouped them all together so I could get a good shot, so this photo may not make any more sense than the drawings. But soon you will see that I'm not crazy and that these pieces do actually make something. The big one in the middle has been darkened and oiled and the others had not, that's why you see shiny, silver places on them but they will all be dark when finished.
Here, Allen is building the box beam that will support the truss on top of the walls. A box beam is basically a stud wall with 2 layers of plywood on both sides, glued and nailed like crazy.
The plywood layers are staggered of course, to increase the strength. We are using a commercial construction adhesive for gluing.
This is the beam from the other side where the 2 layers have not yet been put on so you can see the framing. This one did get completely done and we have to build one more for the other side of the room.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Red, Hot and Blue

I thought this title would be good with the 4th a couple of days away and also, I've been in a Cole Porter kinda mood lately! Well, I have gotten all of the webbing sections cut out for the big truss and will start welding them together tomorrow if all goes well. I had a little trouble at first with these things because we just had one old, ragged tip for the cutting torch and it was too big for the size steel so I was getting alot of slag adhesion. We got a new tip though and now it cuts like a dream! Happiness is a warm cutting torch!
Here you can see most of one of the sections leaning up against the horses. Three of the sections are about that same size and then one that's real big. Anyway, not very exciting I know but it actually was to me. It's like a big sculpture. Made me remember why I got that art degree. Despite the incredible heat today I had a blast. It has been in the upper 90's here for several weeks now and there's nothing like being bent over molten steel to just add a little more heat to it all.
Allen started on the siphon today that will draw water up out of the spring and take it down to a reservoir where it will then go to a hydralic ram and be pumped to the house. Or that's the theory anyway. The spring here in this photo is about 9 feet deep. It has gone down some lately because of lack of rainfall but it seems to be putting out quite a bit of water still. Allen added a long run of pipe from this siphon down to the stream and it was putting out about 5 gallons a minute the last time we checked. We are going to monitor the flow and see if the spring can keep up. Of course, we don't need that much water flow but we want to see what we've got to work with and can adjust it down later. More about this later when we know more about what we are doing. This is something that we are just having to experiment with. We don't even know that the hydralic ram will work but at worst we will just have to pump the water from the reservoir to the house with an electric pump. I don't think we can use a solar pump because it's much too shady in that area.