Saturday, September 05, 2015

HEAVY work - just not PAID work

... if any reading were wondering why there has been a gap in postings lately?

Right now I am undertaking a major structural repair here at Wareham.

The original 'Wareham Church Shed' was converted from its original purpose (built late 1930's) into a residence from 1987 - 1989. I purchased the property in November of 1989. (At that point the residence interior was basically 'unfinished' - raw plywood floors and only primer on the drywall.)
View from SE corner - 2005.
For some reason that defies my understanding, the two main structural beams that span the interior of the workshop were being supported by lengths of rail tie - set directly on to the *bare earth*. These beams sit on top of the poured concrete walls, and basically help hold the roof up. This interior framing is made of hand hewn hardwood (hemlock I think) - timbers salvaged from a still older barn. As the residence conversion was new construction when it was done, and thus must have been inspected, I can not imagine how this ever passed a proper certification.

Since the workshop space is unheated, the ground freezes, expands, then shifts the base level of each of the eight upright supporting posts - every year. At this point some of the individual supports have effectively dropped as much as 8 - 10 inches *below* the timbers they are supposed to be supporting. I have been placing blocks and driving wedges in every spring in an attempt to at least keep those supports carrying some of the intended load.

Workshop interior - Winter 2015.
In the image above, you can see a heavy (8 x 8) wood block inserted on top of one of the vertical supports (look just right of the ladder, along the horizontal beam)

More importantly, the image above shows just *why* I have left this necessary (!) repair so long before attempting it. You are looking at 25 years of accumulated materials stacked up on the storage racks attached to those same support uprights. On this side are stored tent poles, tents & overheads, hardwoods, plus various extra forge equipment and other potential project pieces.

Clearing the shop floor for the work, then moving all that stuff out took almost a full week just on its own.
Shop floor and rack contents removed.
A day to clear away the existing shelving and flooring (rail ties & stone slabs). A day gathering the project materials. A final day replacing the existing supports with temporary ones and pulling the old ones out.

7 days later - with temporary supports in place.

The image above actually shows where the *new* supports are going to be placed. In the image I have greyed out the far left temporary support, which will be removed as the work is undertaken and completed. You can see the new right side is going to be placed directly under the upper support - and under the combined original timber and new 'sister' beam. (That mess is another story into itself!)
Next is hand digging holes for the concrete foundations - which should have been done in the first place during the 1980's construction. These need to be large and deep enough to contain the 14 inch diameter by three foot long metal cylindrical ducting I am using for a concrete form. Then each is filled with (by my estimate) about 500 + lbs of concrete mix. Then the new steel support pillar (which I will be custom cutting and fitting) is installed on the left side. On the right a wooden timber will be used.

So :
One day to dig the hole
Half day to set form, mix concrete, pour (small mixer, hand carry), then backfill around form.
(Concrete allowed to set for 48 hours)
While first concrete sets, repeat for second foundation.
Half day to construct steel post, set in place.
(An additional couple of hours at some point to set the second wooden beam support, remove temporaries)

Repeat that whole process for the second cross beam at the rear end of the workshop.

Figure out how to rig up a new set of storage shelves (figure a day's work is likely there).
Put everything *back* on to the new shelving.
Re-configure the interior workshop space - back into some version of a working floor plan.
(I did mention that I am using the dirt from the dug holes to fill in a 'vehicle work pit' I had installed 15 years back - and never used? An additional 1/2 day was spent clearing the concrete block framing of that. This leaves a roughly 4 x 6 x 2 foot deep pit to the rear centre of the workshop floor.)

I did mention that this is just *one half* of the required structural repair?

Oh - there is a deadline! I have a course to teach over September 11 - 13 weekend. Ideally all the structural parts need to be completed by then (at least in the front half of the workshop).
The space will need to be cleared, sorted and set up to allow two students to work in the front half of the space.

As you might guess, this all is physically exhausting. And taking up my entire working day (no 'paid' work possible)
So much for the 'carefree life of the artisan'

Believe it or not, I do have some material in rough shape for a posting related to Viking Age glass bead making furnaces - hope to get that up here over the next couple of days...

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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