Big Metal In The Air ~ I Begin The Big Roof ~ Part 1

With the big wall upright, I can now start the Big Roof. There is still some welding to be done on the big wall, but I will get to that when the welder is again on the roof. I started by welding together 2x4s to make columns for the front wall of the house and 2x6s to make the first roof beam. Here are the 2x4s: P1020033 And here is the first pair of 40-foot 2x6s welded together:


I was getting a little tired at the end of the day and I burned a couple of holes in the metal. This won’t affect anything except my ego.

I sent Armando home early last Friday. He had a massive swelling of his right jaw, probably an abscessed tooth. Today is Tuesday and he still isn’t back to work, so I am on my own. My first task today was to raise the 40-foot beam into the air and rest it on the appropriate walls. I did this with pulleys where I could and my shoulder where I couldn’t use the pulleys. I figure that the beam weighs about 140 pounds, so it was slow but sure (I just learned the equivalent Spanish, “lento pero seguro”). Here’s a progress shot with the left end of the beam on a ladder and the right end up where it belongs:


At this point I took a break and had four of our delicious bananas. They are ripening rapidly and I can’t eat them fast enough!

Here is the two pulley arrangement that I used to lift the beam to the top of the big wall. It sure made life easier: P1020039 Here is the beam lifted and placed: P1020047 Metal on metal slides very easily, so I used clamps to hold the ends in place. And because the beams are on an angle relative to the 2×2 that they are sitting on, I had to use metal shims to straighten the beam. In the next photo you can see the beam before I placed the shims under the right edge of the beam: P1020049 I spent the rest of the day cutting to length and raising two of the columns that will form the framing for the front door and the windows on the front wall of the house. In the next photo you can see that the column on the left is all welded in place. The column on the right is welded at the bottom; a rope is holding the top of the column:


Yes, I know there is a splotch in a lot of my photos. I’ve tried to clean the lens, but it appears that the dust spot is on the inside of the lens. Welcome to the world of throw away electronics.

I made sure to make the column on the left plumb and square with the framing that it is sitting on. Then, before I welded the top of the right hand column, I cut a spacer from a piece of tubing. I moved the spacer up on the wall as high as I could reach and tacked it into place, thereby perfectly setting the width between the columns. Then I welded the top of the second column to the beam above. By the way, I felt really nervous welding at this height; my balance is distorted inside the welding helmet, so I got into my safety harness and tied myself to the beam. I just wasn’t up for a fall from eighteen feet:


You can see the spacer tubing about half way up the wall.

Along the way I kept checking for plumb and square. These openings have to be perfect because there is no trimming the big glass panels when they arrive on the job:


This collapsible 45- 90-degree square is one of my favorite tools.

On Wednesday, I walked to the house with Jabo. We played tug-a-rope all the way there, but when I went to open the front gate I realized that I was really tired. I decided to take some time off. Back at the rental house, I got a 45-minute nap before Armando arrived for work. He still has the bad tooth; the dentist is treating him with antibiotics to reduce the infection before he pulls the tooth. I gave the keys to Armando and instructed him to clean the drainage ditch on the other side of our back fence. I think that he likes it when I give him autonomy; he always tells me not to worry about him for the day and to go back to sleep. I went back to the hammock. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I was back to erecting columns and welding them in place. I had to curtail operations and cover the tools with a tarp a few times as thunderstorms rolled through in the afternoons. Here are progress photos: This is the alignment that I like to see:


Looking dead on at the wall and only one post can be seen.

But move a bit to the side and you can see that all the posts are in perfect alignment. This took a lot of time and a lot of fiddling to get it right: P1020063 Here is the end of the day on Friday:


Even though the columns are standing, I still have a bunch of welding to do to complete all the joints. Plus, I have to weld a line of double 2x4s at the same elevation as the header over the door.

And here is the front wall/first roof beam in place at the end of Saturday:


Here is the wall viewed from the living room. Yes, I have been welding between raindrops:


You can see where the front door will go. All the other panels will get glass. The door and the lower panels are all eight-feet tall.

In other news, the rainy season is coming and I have been wanting to seal the concrete roof on container #4. No appreciable amount of rain has hit the roof for nearly four months, so now is a perfect time to apply waterproofing. Looking at all the products at Cochez, I decided to use an elastomeric coating called Siliconizer. Over the course of two days, I applied the primer/sealer and two coats of Siliconizer. The primer is blue; in the next photo I am applying the first top coat:


I had a long pole attached to the roller, but the cheap imported crap of a pole broke off at the cheap plastic crappy threads. What is it about Marginally Engineered Products these days? A paint roller used to last years, but now they are cheap imported crap and you are lucky to get one use out of them. Rant rant rant.

I cleaned the joint where the metal 2×3 meets the roof. If you look at the photo above you can see where some concrete had spilled during the pour. Here it is cleaned and ready for sealing: P1020031 I ran a bead of urethane caulk in the seam. When the caulk is fully cured, I’ll continue the Siliconizer over the edge of the roof:


I used the pneumatic caulking gun; it sure made dispensing the thick urethane effortless. I used high quality Sikaflex urethane caulk, now being stocked at Cochez.

That’s all for now. Next week… the roof begins in earnest!

8 thoughts on “Big Metal In The Air ~ I Begin The Big Roof ~ Part 1

  1. Was getting antsy for your next blog Fred , mind , well worth the wait , great pics of a job well done. House lines really progressing to final outcome , bet you are racing the weather to get that roof on and close the place up so as to do work undercover , as to products made these days , bean counters rule and no one seems to take pride in making a product that your kids will pass on to their kids because it is still a better quality tool than whats available in the shops currently , a throw away mentality that has to end . ps , regards to the missus and hope Armandos on road to recovery , have a couple of visits to dentist in near future myself , not a favourite pastime. pps falling off roof is not recommended as a good idea , stay safe , regards mike

    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks very much. Yes, the lines of the house are almost completely visible. Once the roof is on and the west wall, sibling of the east wall that I just framed is built, then all will be known. Add to that more windows and the right color house paint and we’ll be almost Home.

      I do have some experience in the falling-off-the-roof category. Way back, ’72 I think it was, I was building a prefabricated house. We had a crane on site placing the main ridge at the top of the roof. It was a hot day, over 100 degrees F. (38 C.). We had just taken a quick break; I drank a couple glasses of ice cold lemonade. Bad move. I climbed right back up to the ridge, missed my footing, and went crashing down on top of a three-foot stepladder. I bent my right hand back against my arm, breaking a couple bones in my wrist. One of the bones never healed so I have the constant pain of a broken wrist. Several doctors have suggested that I have the wrist fused, but I have grown accustomed to being able to bend my wrist. The pain is just pain, but not being able to bend it would not be acceptable.

      So yes, now I am hyper-vigilant when it comes to working off the floor. It is amazing how fast gravity kicks in. Shouldn’t we be able to hover?

      Thanks again for your interest and moral support! Fred

  2. As they say here in Panama, HAY CARAMBA!!! What an awesome job you are doing and the SCALE of it boggles the mind, all with one helper named Armando! I confess to holding my breath when I saw that wall being hauled up onto the roof and then to see it standing upright at last … but now, well supported and the work progressing in leaps and bounds — yeah I know … feels slow, but hoo boy, I’d be interested to know how many hours per day you put in, and then start again the following day….Yes the rains are coming and we wish you well in your efforts to close up as much as possible, as soon as possible…. with so few hours in a day!!! All the best to both of you intrepid dream builders…

    • Hi Patricia,

      Wow indeed. I’m really happy about how this is coming together but it’s not fast enough to beat the rain I’m afraid.

      My work schedule: Not Enough Hours! Monday through Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. I really don’t have energy beyond that or I raise the risk of sloppy work or accidents. I take a few banana/water breaks but I rarely sit a whole half hour for lunch, which I usually don’t eat. Armando takes the full half hour and eats lunch. Something is wrong with this picture.

      Cynthia and I eat an early dinner, 5:00 or so, because I am often in bed, exhausted, by 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. to give my body time to heal from the day’s work. Sometimes don’t work Thursdays if we have to go to the city or get supplies; Armando works for another couple on Thursdays so this is a good day to do off-site things. Cynthia won’t let me work on Sundays when I usually take a big dose of the hammock. I’m sure that I’ll be a lot more fun after the house is done, but right now I am focused like a laser. She would like to do “something fun” but we both have the primary goal of getting moved in ASAP.

      So all in all my work day is short but it is all I can do at my advanced age and decrapitation. I try to focus and produce and give it my all when I do work because that is the only way a project of this magnitude will ever get done. In one of my early talks with Cynthia, I made the mistake of telling her that even though my then house was ripped down to the studs, “I finish projects.” Now she is holding me to it!

      I’ll try to keep the caramba factor going for your benefit. Thanks for your animated comments! Fred

  3. great deal.I really enjoyed reading this post as I am beginning our own project here in Pahrump Nv …Our will not be as nice as yours but I am trying to take some of your ideas .Siliconizer will be a must with our heat for sure.Any chance you get this way >??I d love to pick your brain.Thanks and keep the project going …

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