Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving yesterday.  Our neighbors, Dave & Jordan, invited us over for a hot shower and an excellent dinner, and we thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the company (and being clean for a change LOL).

The weather has been truly nasty this week. It warmed up to the low-mid 30's and proceeded to pelt us several inches of rain/ice. A lot of the snow melted or turned to slush, coupled with the rain-ice, making the roads and nearly everything super-slippery and treacherous.

So, after spending days scraping and shoveling snow, the cabin ended up flooded with rain :(  We did manage to get a temporary tarp on to help stop anymore from getting in and hopefully allow what had already gotten in to drain. We kept getting drenched and frozen to the bone trying to get the end walls up. Believe me, plain old cold is way better than sorta cold and bloody wet!!

Then temps started falling and dumped a bunch of snow on us. It's still snowing - so the expected sub-zero temps haven't arrived yet. Hopefully we can those end walls completed before I head into town (convoying with Dave & Jordan) on Sun/Mon if the roads cooperate. So far, lots of Fairbanks and most of the roads have been closed down with this freak weather, so going in any earlier was pointless.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 86 C-c-c-c-cold

It snowed on Saturday and Sunday, so we have about 3-4 more inches. At least it was a good test of the roof pitch... only mild accumulation on the upper rafters and completely clear on the lower rafters. Snow-shed will be even more improved when it isn't just naked sheathing up there. At least we only got a little bit of snow in through the upstairs end walls where it's still open, and a little downstairs where it blew in through the window and door holes. We'll have to staple some Visqueen up over those until we get some caulk and get them installed.

It's -20F today... at noon.  Needless to say we aren't getting much done at the cabin.  Yesterday G started fully nailing all the sheathing per manufacturer schedule. I started sweeping, shoveling and chipping ice from inside the cabin... that didn't get too far since the temps were dropping fast with this cold front coming in.

When I went out to start the truck this morning, all the breath got sucked out of my lungs and my nostrils immediately froze together, so I officially gave G the day off today to rest and recuperate, and bundled up to head down to the cabin to do some more clean up. In the two hours before I started getting too cold, I did manage to get most of the snow out of the downstairs except under the stove, around the stack of remaining sheathing and under the doors (stored in the pantry) because I couldn't move those wearing my big ol' arctic mittens even if they weren't too heavy for me to lift by myself. I also couldn't chip ice because I couldn't grip the scrapper in my mitties either. Seriously, it is so cold that even the dog's feet were freezing... she'd run around in the snow for awhile and then come sit on the black tarp in the sunbeam by the south window on her rump with her back feet raised up off the floor looking at me pathetically.

Good thing that this cold front is supposed to pass through by Thursday and we'll be returning to our regularly scheduled programming of highs around 15F with lows of 0F.

On a positive note, the sky is crystal clear and it's very sunny. Unfortunately, I can't take pics for you because the camera will only power on for a split-second at these temps LOL. But it's definitely nice and bright inside the cabin with those two 4'x3' windows on the south wall... so bright even that I was completely blinded whilst trying to brush the snow out of the soffit cavity above them!

If the weather can just hold out until we get the end walls framed and sheathed, all the nailing completed, the rafter tails blocked in, and all the ice and snow out then we can head into Fairbanks to pick up the caulk, expanding foam, and insulation blower. Once we can get the exterior air-sealed and the interior insulated, most of the remaining work that can be done this winter will be indoors with the lovely woodstove to keep us toasty!

At least I did manage to measure the "as-built" opening for the staircase so I can spend the rest of the day tweaking the SketchUp model so we can get those built and installed before we start the drywall upstairs. No more daredevil dogs on ladders, extreme rescue measures, and annoying whining freak outs :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 78-82 **Pictures**

Ok - so we finally got the camera to play nice with the computer so we could get these pics posted for you. Enjoy!!

Day 78 -- The Sheathing

First floor walls all sheathed - figuring out the loft sub-floor layout since we're a teeny-weensy bit out of square.
Looking in the "Front Door" on the west side - all the boxes are the stove, flue, & chimney assemblies. And another example of creative bush repurposing... a pretzel barrel for our 8d nails after the cardboard box exploded!
Looking in the "Front Door" - eventually we'll replace that ladder with an L-staircase. We did, finally, remove that lovely yellow ratchet strap once we got the subfloor down and everything stayed put - YAY!
With the walls done, the guys start on the loft floor.
Half our load of insulation. It was snowing that day, which is why G's butt is all white LOL!
Ripley hated being left on the ground while we were all up on the loft deck. After climbing 10 feet up the ladder, she suddenly realized how high up she was and lost her nerve.
Just look at that face!  "Mommy, you sadistic human, put down the camera and help me!!"
View out the "back window" - sorry for the blur, I was shivering!
View out the "front window".

Day 81 -- The Rafters

Stood the first 4 rafters we built the day before.
Running out of space to build trusses on the deck, so we started stacking them against the ones we'd already lifted and braced.
Ken counting rafters to make sure we had enough pieces cut -- ended up with two extra lower rafters OOPS! Note that Ken (6'1") can just squeeze under the pitch break. Our lower rafters are so steep so we only lost 16" of usable floor space in the loft.
There's the peak at 9'3" - or at least what it looks like from 5'6"  :)
Last one raised - and there's still some daylight left!!
Close up of our seat cut on the lower rafter (75°). The tail is angled to meet up with porch roof (15°) once it gets constructed.
Close up of the gambrel pitch break, where 75° lower rafter meets the 60° upper rafter. The angled joint is braced by a 4' gusset of 3/4" plywood, and a 4x11 tie plate bent over the rafter at the corners. This way, we avoided needing the support wall that you commonly find in gambrel roof construction.
Close up of the ridge braced by a 4' collar-tie/gusset from a 2x6, and 4x11 tie plate bent over the rafter at the corners. We'll come back later (after the sheathing) and add strapping over the outside of the ridge and pitch breaks to reinforce the bracing.
All up with the outside common rafters notched out for the 2x6 outriggers that will support the 2x6 barge rafters on the 2' overhang.
More pics out the "front window".
Sunset over the hills looking left out of the "front window".
And a very cool moonrise to end our day before climbing down off the roof.
The end of another snowy work day -- I'm hiding in the truck with the heater on because my hands were completely frozen!!
Day 81 - The Roof Deck

Here we are at lunch with the outriggers and barge rafters installed and the decking down on the east side. It was pretty windy that day, which made this job ever so much fun -- glad Ken was there to help because passing out the sheets and holding them in place definitely required 3 people on this steep a roof.
And finally, the decking down on the west side of the roof -- yes, the last 3 sheets went up by shop light because Ken is a crazy person!  :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 82 (Short Version)

Hello faithful followers! Just a very brief note to tell you that we now have a honest to goodness roof on our little cabin. With Ken's help and two days of solid hustling, we got the rafters up and it's all sheathed... up to and including Ken doing his Spider-Man thing on our 23/12 (75 °) - 7/12 (30 °) gambrel to put the final sheet of sheathing on the ridge while the last rays of sunlight were fading to indigo.

We has pics and the computer the camera likes has been fixed, but we're honestly too cold and tired to fidget with them right now. I promise that we'll post them soon, maybe even tomorrow if the big snow the Weather Liars have warned us about actually gets here.  (at least there won't be as much snow to shovel out of the house now!!!)

Until then, winter blessings to all of you, and thank you ever so much for your kind words and well wishes -- they keep us going when it's 3F with a windchill of -10F!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 79

Ken came to help :) It's been snowing off and on, and it's a tad chilly, so things are going a little slowly. We spend a lot of time warming up our hands on the generator exhaust and sweeping snow of the work surfaces and lumber.

Yesterday we got all the sheathing installed downstairs and the subfloor put up on the loft, as well as started cutting out the door & window holes from the sheathing until the batteries in the cordless SawzAll died on us (too cold to hold charge for long).

Today, used corded SawzAll to finishing cutting the holes. Made one rafter template, verified it worked, then begain cutting all the pieces. Got four trusses assembled, but ran out of daylight before we could stand those up.

Tomorrow is errand day, but hopefully we can get back from Manley in time to cut all the remaining rafter pieces and all the blocking for the roof. Then Ken can come back over on Thursday to stand the 4 completed trusses and we can build and stand the remaining 9, get all the blocking and the outriggers and barge/flying rafters installed so we can frame in the end walls and sheath the loft and roof on Friday.

Have pics, but the computer the camera works with is on the fritz until we get a replacement keyboard (coffee & computers don't mix!).  I'll try to shoot a video walkthrough tomorrow when we get back from Manley since that camera works with my computer. Only problem with vid (besides having to wait until the middle of the night to upload it!) is getting adequate lighting with the snow. Last time I tried to light a scene when it was snowing everything came out all white and grainy from the reflection... we'll see if it works better this time. Maybe it won't be snowing tomorrow or won't be as overcast. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Adventures with Trailers

Yes, we did finally get the last of the Lowes order loaded up onto the trailer, all wrapped up like a burrito in the tarp with the mother of all ratchet strap tie-downs.  Good thing, too, since we put her in the ditch about a mile down the road trying to do the turn around and loop back to enter our trail at a better angle.

So, normally, blipping off the side of the road right there wouldn't be too much of a problem. The shoulder is nice and wide since the old highway used to run there. But, um, with about 8" of snow, plus gully, plus drift and plowing, we couldn't get up the berm. The truck would make it up about halfway, then the trailer would start to slide slideways on the angle and drag the truck back down. And we couldn't keep driving forward until we reached some flat part because the trailer tongue got embedded on some stump or hill or something.

We finally had to unhitch the truck, go back to get the winch. Decided that maybe Ken would have some neat trailer tricks... since it is his after all... so we dropped by and dragged him away from the dinner table. He managed to get the semi running and we headed back to rehitch our truck to trailer. After surveying the scene, we tossed a few flares on the road (yes, it was already dark by dinnertime), ran out the winch and chained it to the semi. This the semi acting as a deadman anchor, we attempted to winch the truck plus trailer out of the ditch, but it kept doing the sideways slide. So, we tightened the winch slack and Ken started edging forward as slowly as possible (considering that the semi wouldn't idle in the cold so he had to feather the clutch and throttle to keep her running) with G gunning the truck trying to steer and me running alongside the truck on the icy road with the winch remote trying to keep the line tight.

We did eventually make it up and out of the ditch and back down our trail to the tent.  And not a damned thing in that load even shifted :)  Tarps - check! Bungees - check! Ratchet straps - check! Winch - check! Tow strap - check! Big brass balls - check! 

Ken will be over at 0'dark-thirty tommorow (sunrise is at 9:48, so that's not really early or anything), and we'll get the the trailer unloaded and the sheathing knocked out. Maybe even get the doors & windows in... and if we're really lucky, get a little headstart on the rafters... at least one built so we know my design works so the roof will go lickety-split on Tuesday.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cabin Building - Day 76

Just a quick update -- we still haven't moved in yet :)

The trailer with all the sheathing and flooring on it was so heavy that it sank into the ground a little, then we got about 6 inches of snow which effectively froze the tires into the depression. Well, we used the jack to break the tires free, but the snow precluded the truck from getting enough traction to pull the trailer tires out of their little ice pockets. Of course, the chains for our truck were actually about 2" too short for our tires -- no help there! So we had to offload all the sheathing and T&G flooring and take it back to the cabin in small loads in the back of the truck... all while we were getting another 6 or so inches of snow.

An G had to rebuild the Kipor generator and we had to do the firewood thing during all that as well... never a dull moment.

So, anyway, today we hooked our winch up to the back of the empty trailer and pulled it out of the depression until we were able to hitch it up to the truck and drive over to Ken & Sarah's to finally load up some of our Lowe's order. Luckily it's mostly insulation which is big & bulky, but not very heavy so we shouldn;t have the sinking problem again although hauling a trailer through the woods on snowpack is really fun. We managed to get that first load down the trail only losing 3 bags of insulation along the way... as far as we can tell all the glass in the doors and windows is still intact and undamaged.

G-man ran back up to help Ken remove the transmission on his truck before we lost the remaining daylight, so we'll end up taking all this stuff down to the cabin and off-loading it tomorrow. Then back up to get (hopefully) the last load, unload all that at the cabin, and then take the trailer back to Ken & Sarah where it can spend the winter parked on a nice gravel driveway rather than in the tundra ROFL.  There's no way I'm even going to think about taking it into Fairbanks on our very late winter stocking run so we can get everthing in one trip. Nope, not with a 20' trailer and no chains! If G & Ken want to try that trick (Ken with trailer experience but minimal winter driving experience, G with winter driving experience but minimal trailer experience) they can do it without me... and since I'm the master at combat shopping, I doubt that's going to happen!! Looks like we either make multiple trips in Sonja, or we manage to help unload one of Ken's big box trailers and hook up his semi properly to get everything for both families all in one go with all the right safety gear and appropriately-sized vehicles for the job.  (You know my vote, right?!)

As for the cabin, we now have all the lumber down there, but I needed to make a modification to the rafter truss design after talking things out with Ken and doing a little more research online. No biggy, the new design may actually be a little simpler and use slightly less materials, with the added benefit of allowing us to raise the truss in half's and marry them with a gusset at the peak once they're up since we don't have a lot of room to work up there. That'll certainly be lighter than trying to lift the whole truss up at once. We also need to double-up two of the loft joists and cut out the one in between to add trimmers so that we have enough clearance for the flue pipe where it goes through the loft floor -- I swear the manual said 4" clearance, but it's actually 8" darnit!! So, hopefully, on Monday (after the final hauling tomorrow -- please please) we can fix those joists, sand down the top of the header beams so the rafter tails will sit flush & even, put the subfloor on the loft, and get the sheathing on downstairs.

If Ken helps, we may get all that done, plus the doors and windows installed (temporarily for the winter because it's too cold to seal and caulk them properly now) all on Monday. If we button up the downstairs, we can stop shoveling snow out of it all the time and can put our little kerosene heater in there so we (and the generator!) can warm up a bit while we're doing the rafters and roof. Then Tuesday I can construct and dry fit the first rafter truss so we know it actually works, and start cutting and assembling the pieces for the remaining 12 trusses so we can lift them and get the sheathing on (with Ken's help again, hopefully) on Wednesday.  If we have time on Wed, we can frame in the end walls, get them sheathed and install the windows. Otherwise we'll have to do that on Thursday. Of course, everything is subject to weather, injuries, illness, technical difficulties and mechanical failures LOL!

We can't do the porches until we go into Fairbanks to get the piers, but we need to go in to get the insulation blower and the stove hearth anyway... so that's not an extra trip or anything. When we get back, we can do the insulation and drywall, fire up the woodstove and see how things go, maybe get the front porch & stairs on at least. Then it's back into Fairbanks to get our kitchen cabinets and shelving. Once those are installed and the drywall has been taped and floated... THEN we can move :)