The Big Roof ~ Part 3

The roof shows progress, but not enough, not fast enough. Whenever you work off the ground, multiply the time times two. Or three. For every rafter that I weld into place, I have to move the scaffolding, advancing two feet at a time. So it is up the scaffolding, down the scaffolding; I’m getting more-than-enough Jungle Jim Fred time in on this project! And sometimes I get to the top of the scaffolding and find that I have forgotten to turn on the welder. Down the scaffolding, up the scaffolding.

And the rain is making its debut. Friday and Saturday I lost much of the day to huge downpours that lasted several hours. But I am not complaining, we need the rain; Panama is currently in a drought because of the several-week delay in the seasonal rains. We get 50% of our electric power from hydroelectric dams, and the reservoirs are perilously low. School has been cancelled and government offices have shortened work hours. Air conditioning in businesses has been restricted, fish are dying in rivers because of low water and/or warmer water than usual, and cattle are dying due to the lack of water and grass. If we all don’t cut back enough, there will be rolling 4-hour electrical blackouts. So I won’t complain about losing time; the greater good is much more important.

In my last post, I had three of the main beams in place. In the next photo I have a lot of the rafters welded in place and I am in the process of sliding the east beam into place:


Looking down, you can see the welder on the top of container #2 — the future loft. Yes, I’ve been wearing my safety harness!

I had difficulty getting the eastern-most beam into place. There are a lot of bees in the trees at the front of the house, and all bees in Panama are Africanized. They were paying a bit more attention to me than I would like, darting rapidly closer and closer to me; they even swarmed at the end of the carriola where I had placed my hands. So I moved the beam the last few feet with a long 2×4, then tied the beam into place. I’ll weld it later when/if the bees go away. Here is a photo taken from the carport roof:


The yellow tow strap and the come-along are holding the roof “square.”

Because of the bees, I decided to work at the far end of the roof. I welded together two more 40-foot 2x6s to make the last beam, plus I welded together two, 8-foot 2x4s for a column on top of container #2. Armando and I raised the beam to its perch and I clamped it, then welded it into place:


Here is the last beam, ready to receive columns below to create the west wall of the living room:


Because there isn’t much Armando can do on the roof while I weld, he has been busy digging the fish pond that will be near the hydroponic greenhouse. No photos yet, it’s just a hole in the ground.

In other news, I couldn’t sleep last night (Saturday) so I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood from midnight to about 3:00 a.m. With the recent rains, the frogs and toads and other water-loving night creatures have come alive. Here is a video of the raucous sounds of nighttime in the tropics just a few steps from our rental house. Actually, it was too dark to make a video but the audio came through loud and clear. Turn up your speakers:

And by the way, Ramiro (with the head injury) just came to our house with a big bag of star fruit (fruta de china [chee-na]). I gave him an extra hardhat that I had. The wound is healing very well and he plans to be back to work soon.

It is now 2:00 Sunday afternoon and the sky has just opened to a downpour. I guess that Armando and I will have to switch to our rainy-season start time of 6:00 or 7:00 a.m.

That’s all for now. More welding next week.