Shortly after posting the "We Have Touchdown" entry, our tent platform completely collapsed! Yes, folks, we had our own little private earthquake out here in the Bush. Everyone was fine, and nothing serious was broken, although we did spend quite a few hours picking up shelving units and cans of food, etc. After careful inspection, and putting things back to right, it appears that only a jar of olives and a few candle holders were sacrificed to Murphy that day!
So here's what happened... When the Spring thaw started, one of the posts on the back of the deck started to jack and twist. We really didn't think that was particularly concerning since there were several other posts that still seemed to be reasonably plumb. In fact, we were planning to jack up the deck and fix the twisty post the day following, now that we'd finally finished clearing the darned trail. But Murphy was afoot again, and beat us to the punch line. It just HAD to be a really hot couple of days before we could get to the releveling, and that melting completely destabilized a few of the other piers & posts, soooooo.....
Anyway, we're just standing around, making dinner after a grueling 3-day push to finish the trail when everything sort of slid to the southeast and then *thump* *crash* *boom*!!!
We spent the rest of the night surveying the damage and cleaning up the mess inside. The entire following day was spent rescuing a few items that I'd crammed under the deck the day before (figures!), cutting out the kicked out posts and releveling the deck directly onto the concrete piers with the hand jack for our pickup in about 6 inches of squishy, spongy, meltwater-laden tundra moss goop . Then the following day was consumed trying to get the satellite dish realigned, and enough trees cleared, to get a strong enough signal now that we're 3 feet lower than before!
One day of rest and then back out to clearing the building site since our first load of lumber is coming tomorrow! Never a dull moment!
Here's some pics of the damage so you can appreciate the fun. The platform itself held up reasonably well, although there is a decided slant to the floor to the center since we couldn't get far enough under the deck *safely* to jack up and fix the center beam.
You can see that the force of the collapse actually sheared off some of the metal connectors, bent others and also blew out some of the wooden posts. Hurray for the metal trash can, that surprisingly suffered only minimal damage, as it took the brunt of the drop load and the lateral load as the deck was in motion.
So, what have we learned from this little fiasco?
1. Never alter your design based on the salesperson's word if they don't have the parts you're looking for in stock!
2. Always prepare the proper foundation, even if you know the building is only going to be temporary!
3. It doesn't matter if winter is setting in and you need to get your shelter up quickly, DO NOT build anything on top of an ice lens if you aren't going to move it before Breakup in the Spring!
4. Two exhausted people can accomplish a lot of work as long as they don't say *anything* to each other except the barest minimum to get the job done... anything else will result in arguments and mud flinging (both literally and figuratively).
5. Rubbermaid totes might stand up to getting hit by a car, but they don't stand up too well to an entire platform dropping on them!
6. And last, but certainly not least, if you're going to have a floating surface foundation then your building can't be 3 feet off the ground. If you want the height, you have to sink the piers. And that means finding a site not on ice or permafrost. Which, luckily, the cabin site has neither of; so we're sinking the concrete piers this time! Yes, I said CONCRETE piers, nice 10" diameter concrete pillars sunk 4' deep. I'm not trusting my shelter to wimpy wooden posts again unless they are so fat that I couldn't afford them, or they're from whole trees I cut personally from our lot -- there's just too much crap lumber coming out of home improvement warehouses these days!
But HEY - we survived intact and relatively unscathed, so we can laugh about it now :D