Big Wall Upright

Whew! I can finally cross this project off the list. The 40-foot long wall that we removed from container #2 and dragged onto the roof is finally standing upright. Here’s my stand up routine:

In order to strengthen the floppy wet noodle wall section I needed to weld a frame of 2″x2″ square steel tubing onto the two ends and onto the top of the wall. At the same time, I needed to make a way for the under-the-roof heat to escape. I decided to make a seven-inch-high space that would remain always open, always venting. Why seven inches? It’s big enough to move a lot of air but small enough that an enterprising thief can’t climb through. I can make and attach some window screens to keep the bugs and bats out. The next photo shows this framework in process:


To start I needed to weld two, 20-foot lengths of tubing together end to end. I clamped other pieces of tubing onto these two to keep the line straight.

Here’s a close up of the butt joint just before welding:


The next photo shows the assembly a day later as I welded the seven-inch uprights between two 40-foot lengths of tubing:


There really is no way to do this without putting in the time and effort. With the work on saw horses (burros in Spanish) I made a total of 72, two-inch welds and then ground them all flat with the angle grinder. This part of the project, including cutting, welding, and grinding, took me about two-and-a-half days.

With the tubing assembly completed but still up on the horses, the last piece of the puzzle before welding the framework to the wall section was to deal with the bottom of the wall where it will touch the floor. I needed some way to keep the bottom of the wall straight and well-attached to the container below. There must be eleven different ways to do this; I settled on welding 2″x2″ angle iron to the roof of container #2. Then, when I finally lift the wall I can weld the wall to the angle iron. The angle iron will also keep the bottom of the wall right where I want it while I raise the wall. Here’s a photo of the angle iron as I weld it to the roof of #2:


After the wall is up and welded to the angle iron, I’ll paint everything really well. The angle iron will disappear under the concrete floor slab

Finally it was time to weld the square tubing framework to the container wall. Here I clamp the frame to the wall in preparation for welding:


In the next photo I have the frame all welded to the wall, a come-along connected to the 4″x4″ (4×4) steel post that I welded to the container, and we are ready to raise the wall. You can also see a piece of 5/8-inch rebar (near Armando) that I welded to the top of the wall. When the wall is vertical, I will weld the free end of the rebar to the 4×4 post:


I started cranking on the come-along. The top of the wall raised a few inches off the floor, but then the pipe that I was bracing the 4×4 with bent in the middle. It snapped up pretty fast and belted me in the chin. Some ice and some homeopathic Arnica and all is well. Still no serious injuries on the job.

So I let the wall back down and spent about an hour welding some rebar braces between the bottom of the 4×4 and the pipe. The braces look like this:


Back to the come-along, I managed to lift the top of the wall a couple feet, but then the cranking got difficult. So I connected another come-along, this one at the center of the top of the wall. A few cranks on one, then a few cranks on the other. Back and forth and the wall lifted almost effortlessly.


We had to stop midway to adjust one of the come-alongs, so we put a couple supports under the wall:


It was anticlimactic after that until we got the wall almost vertical. Armando was really nervous that a gust of wind would catch the wall and send it too far, but I was cranking the come-alongs with one hand and had the rebar aligning with the 4×4 post with the other hand. As the rebar touched the 4×4 I gave one final crank on the come-along and then welded the rebar to the post. We supported the ends of the wall with planks, then we welded the wall to the angle iron at five points to secure the bottom of the wall. Here’s the final product standing proud:


In the photo above, the far side of the wall will be a roof deck. The near side of the wall will be a loft. My next task will be to cut two, eight-foot long sections from the wall in container #1, and move them up on the roof to make end walls in the loft. And of course I will have to cut windows and a door in the wall too. The fun never ends!

In other news, Armando has been working on cleaning the drainage ditches. The rainy season is on its way; the sky is cloudier in general, black clouds are gathering in the south-east in the afternoons, and passing sprinkles are becoming more common. One day I welded all day in a persistent light mist, called bajareque (ba-ha-RAY-kay). I’ve got to get the roof on soon! Here’s Armando’s current project:





Armando has been putting most of the extra dirt on the other side of the road by his yucca plants. The plants have been too low and too wet to produce a good crop.

Armando has a lot more digging to do, but by the time he is done I may be ready to have him help screw down a few roof panels on The Big Roof.

And here’s something you don’t see every day; a white frog hung out for a day on one of the container doors:


That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.