The Big Roof ~ Part 6

Since my last post, we have covered quite a bit of ground. I completed the rafters over the roof deck and welded on a facia around the south and west. Like this:


This front elevation is in the ugly dinosaur stage. I can’t wait to see windows installed and some color applied…

And this:


The afternoon rains are now frequent and heavy, so Armando and I start our day at 6:00 or 6:30 a.m. Here is a video of a 12:30 rain running off the new roof on container #3. There will be even more after we finish installing the rest of the roof panels on the Big Roof:

Yesterday (Thursday) we got a delivery of a big stack of roofing metal. Armando and I climbed onto the roof early this morning and laid them out and screwed them down. I have to say, the Big Roof is really, really BIG! I mentioned to Armando that it might be fun to play soccer on the roof, although be careful of going off side… Here Armando is busy screwing in the last of about 2,000 screws (at eight cents each…):

I'm taking this picture from the carport roof.

I’m taking this picture from the carport roof. We’re leaving the undone corner as is for now because I still have to build a small section of roof over the walkway below.


We still have to cut the angle, but we are just about done. The sky changes minute to minute; you never know when the rain will pelt down…

We managed to get the front angle cut just before the rain started:


After two months of welding on the roof, I am very happy to see this photo! I really like the line of the house, now visible for the first time in three years of work on this project!

In the next picture you can see that there is an area of outside walkway that is not covered; one cannot walk from the house to the carport without getting wet. I’ll tackle that small section next week:


Here are a few more pictures of our progress:


From the front door.

From the living room:


From the front door into the living room:


The first doorway in the container wall goes into the kitchen. The second doorway goes from the kitchen into a half bath that will tuck under the yet-to-be-built staircase in the living room (going to the loft and roof deck).  And the big window wall in the living room… do I have a surprise for you (later)!

And here is the best overview of the project to date:

Panorama -- 21 June 2013 -003

It sure will be wonderful to pour the Big Floor and get those piles of sand and gravel out of the driveway…

In other news, while it rained the other day, I worked on the window in the second bedroom. Here’s a short video:

That’s pretty much it for this week. More next week including the last roof section and preparing the Big Floor for the Big Pour. Concrete that is, not rain… Thanks for stopping by.

The Big Roof ~ Part 5 ~ And Thank You Zach!

First, I want to shout out a big thank you to friend Zach. Zach reads my blog and saw that this site was having difficulty staying live. Zach, being the very good Geek that he is, volunteered to move my blog to another host and server where I might have better results. In the process of starting the move, he did a chat with the current host, DreamHost. During the chat, it was discovered that PageSpeed Optimization, whatever that is, was enabled, and that doesn’t work well with WordPress. They unchecked the box and this site has been up and stable for days now. So thank you Zach for speaking fluent Geek and helping me with this!

Now on to the big roof: In Part 4, we were left with something that looked like this:


It was time to weld that upper left corner of the roof (previous photo) that I have been putting off because of the swarm of bees in the trees. The bees were fewer, but still a threat, so I set up a tarp on a plank. I wormed my way under the tarp and made the weld. The bees didn’t even know I was there:


I thought I was in a B pirate movie; Arrrrrrrrrr, crawl the plank, matey!

Working at the very top of the ladders, I welded the rafters into place. Then Armando and I placed five more roofing panels. I used the sawzall to cut the panel on the angle:


Armando screwed the edge of the panel to the beam.

At this point the roof looks like this:


The next part of this Big Roof task is to frame the roof over the roof deck on container #1. This involves raising this long beam above the outside edge of container #1:


I decided to sit the beam on four 2″x2″ columns, and these 2x2s will be integrated into the railing that will go around the deck. You can see the columns welded into place in the next photo. You can also see that I have moved the beam closer to where it will go, set up a ladder at the right end of the container, and am assembling a scaffolding at the left end of the container:


Now we have arrived at an interesting (difficult, dangerous, and dumb-if-I-do-it-wrong) point. I have to balance the heavy beam on top of the 2×2 columns and weld it into place. Hmmmm. That’s not going to happen with just Armando and me. With metal against metal, the beam could too easily end up on the ground and I hate it when that happens. So what I decided to do was to cut four square 2″x2″ (plus a whisker) holes in the bottom of the beam; the beam will then just slip over the columns and give me all the time in the world to weld the beam to the columns.

I moved the beam a bit closer to its final resting point and called Armando into play. In the next photo I explain the process to him: we’ll lift the beam onto the top of the scaffold and the ladder and then onto the top of the columns. He, on the scaffolding, will slip the first column into the first hole, and I will keep my end high enough for him to then move and place the second and third columns into their sockets. Then I will drop the beam over the remaining column. Here we go:


Discussing the action plan…


Lifting the beam into the air…


Now my end…


Just a little more… 


Today, Armando…


One down…


And another…

And here we admire our handwork:


The beam sits about twelve-feet off the top of the container.

With the beam in place, we can now extend the long, angled beams. Here is the first one:


If you take a closer look you will see that I cut away the top and bottom of the beam so that it would slip into the end of the already-in-place beam and reduce to zero the time Armando would have had to hold it in place while I welded it:


Tab A into socket B, like this:


Here it is all placed in its socket and ready for me to weld it tight:


Now you can see that the roof continues to sweep up into the air. This beam is now 52-feet long!

Rinse and repeat three more times:


Next it is just a matter of welding the rafters into place just as I did on the rest of the roof. Here I have a good start:


I’m beginning to see the end of this Big Roof project. Now I need to weld in the rest of the rafters and then frame the far end of this part of the roof. When it is all framed, I will trim the ends of the beams that are sticking out on the left (above photo) and weld on a 2×6 facia. Armando and I are chomping at the bit to get the last of the roof panels in place. You know what that means? No rest for the weary; time to tackle the Big Floor!

In the mean time, Armando has been building a kitchen onto his house and he needed a door. Manufactured doors can be bought for around a hundred dollars, but that is out of his price range. So he bought three pine boards for fifteen dollars. I helped him cut them to size and assemble the door. Here is the outside of the door:


To take the warping power out of the wood, I made a cut (about one-third of the thickness of the board) down the middle of each of the three boards.

We assembled the three boards with bevel-edged cleats attached with drywall screws. The screws stuck through the other side a little bit so I had him grind them down with the angle grinder:


On this side of each board I made two cuts about a third of the way through the thickness of the board to further control any warpage. Armando was mighty happy and proud to take the door home for his wife’s kitchen. “Better than a store-bought door!” he proclaimed (even if the screw pattern isn’t quite perfect…).

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by and THANKS AGAIN ZACH!

The Big Roof ~ Part 4

The Big Roof isn’t done yet, but progress is perceivable. I like the next photo that Cynthia took of me welding an X brace onto the roof. I used 1/16″x1″ flat stock (called platina), welding it to each rafter as it crossed the roof. This will keep the roof “square” and keep it from wracking in the wind:


I’ve welded in a lot more of the rafters:


One nice day Armando, our neighbor Tomas, and I started at 6:00 a.m. and screwed down nine, twenty-foot roofing panels. Each panel is 42-inches wide. Although that’s a lot of sheets and square feet, you can see that there is still a lot to go. It’s a big roof!


Since I took this photo, I have completed the rafters in the little square area to the left of the sheets.

The next picture gives a better perspective on the size of the roof. I still have to weld in the rafters on the left section, plus I have to build the roof that will cover the roof deck:


The rains have been washing the tree blossoms away, so that means that the bees are almost gone too. I am going to try to get to that upper left corner of the roof (previous photo) tomorrow and see if I can weld without raising the ire of the remaining bees. Wish me luck. If I can, then I will start welding in the remaining rafters in that area that overhangs the front of the house. Then more panels, then the section over the roof deck. I figure that I have until the fifteenth of June to work on the roof, then I’ll have to start working on doors and windows so that we can move in the fifteenth of July. Maybe the end of July.

Here is what the place looks like from the front steps:


I took a short 360-degree panarama video from the Big Roof. I can’t believe that we live here:

In other news, Armando has been digging the fish pond. He is putting the dirt in the big gardens and also across the street to improve his yucca and guandu (wan-doo — pigeon pea) garden:


We have a pump to extract the water when it gets too deep.

And he has been cutting the grass and weeding the gardens, both growing rapidly with the arrival of the rains:


Where’s Armando?

The photo above reminds me of one of my favorite artists, Henri Rousseau (link):

Henri Rousseau 2

And when it has been too rainy for me to weld outside, I’ve been doing odds and ends inside, including preparing the stuccoed walls for paint by wet grinding them. This process uses an angle grinder with a diamond grinding/polishing pad. A garden hose is attached to the grinder to wash away the gritty debris. It is all a big mess and is quite scary — water and electricity is never a good idea — even though I have the tool plugged into a GFCI protector. Here are a few photos that Cynthia took:


I’m wearing the latest in fashion: rubber gloves, rubber boots, boxer skivvies, and a plastic trash bag cut for my head and arms.


Cyn insisted that I post this photo. She said I was “cute.” Go figure!

And then there is this NSFW atrocity:


I’ll leave you with that last photo to ponder. What I will do for art. That’s all for now.

The Big Roof ~ Part Two

Monday I moved the welder back onto the top of container #1. Although the welder is really heavy, I pretty much lifted it with just one finger:

Once the welder was on the roof, I wanted to move it to the other side of the wall. How? Cut the doorway between the roof deck and the loft, of course. I felt my anxiety level rise because if I spent time cutting the doorway, I wasn’t working on the big roof. And if I wasn’t working on the roof, I was losing the race against the rain.

But as I have said elsewhere in this blog, I don’t run the job, the job runs the job. It takes the time it takes; you have to do things in the order that makes sense. Otherwise, you will work a lot harder to accomplish the same results.

Here is the doorway opening completed:


I made a video of me cutting part of the doorway. Notice how I let the heavy angle grinder and gravity do the work. You may also notice that I take breaks to gasp for air; I hold my breath as I cut. I would wear a mask, but I am allergic to latex:

Ever wonder what a latex respirator allergy looks like? Check this awkward mug shot of me taken about six years ago:


Yes, it is painful and burns like a bad sunburn. Itches like crazy too. My eyes are watering. It took a good three or four days to go away.

Now back to the roof… Um, not yet. First I needed to weld more of the big wall to the containers below; when I raised the wall I had only tacked it at the floor in a few places. That took about a day of welding on my hands and knees. This was a hot job with the sun beating down and the heat from the metal roof reflecting up at me.

Finally it was on to the roof. Armando and I lifted the three beams that I had previously welded together, onto the roof. Armando went back to cleaning the drainage ditches, and one by one I nudged two of the beams into place, each ten-feet from the previous one. I temporarily affixed them with clamps and ratchet-straps. But before I welded the beam to the 2×2 frames under the beams, I had to make the wall plumb. I used a tow strap and a come-along to ratchet the wall to be perfectly vertical. The next photo is a panorama composite; the beams really aren’t curved. But you can see the first of the three up in the air, as well as the come-along and the yellow tow strap connected all the way over to container #3:

Panorama -- Roof Rafters

When I was happy with the plumb of the wall, I spent an hour or two welding the ends of the beams to the supports below. I paid quite a bit of attention to this task. I would look darn silly if a strong wind sent the roof flying; this is a big roof and the lift on it will be substantial. Here is how it looks with the front wall done and the two new beams in place:


I find it hard to believe, but plumbing the wall and affixing the two beams took an entire day. Much of the time was eaten up playing the Up-The-Ladder-Down-The-Ladder game. There went Wednesday!

Thursday was taken up with other business. Friday morning I noticed that the two new beams were bouncing and swaying in the wind. Here is a video of how much a 40-foot, unsupported double carriola bounces. The birds in the nearby trees are my constant companions:

I decided that this was the appropriate time to install a previously-planned-for column, at the edge of the loft, for each of the two beams. Again I paid a lot of attention to detail making good thick welds, difficult to do without burning holes in the thin metal carriolas. For each weld, I welded for a while, then ground the weld with the angle grinder to make sure the weld was sound, then welded and ground some more. I’m not a stress engineer, but I am sure that thin, wimpy welds wouldn’t stand the test of time; metal fatigue, generated by any roof flexing in the wind, would tear inferior joints apart. These welds took a lot of time. Here are the two columns in place:


That’s where the roof stands as of Saturday afternoon. Next week I’ll be welding the roof rafters in place.

In other news, Armando is nearly done cleaning the drainage ditches (cunetas [coo-net-ahs])We are adding one new ditch; when it rains, all the water has to drain from the hills behind us, past our lot, flow under the road, and work its way to the main road where it goes under the road and starts a new river.

One of the several bottlenecks is where the water crosses the dirt road in front of our house; the water backs up into our yard. Our neighbor to the east and I replaced the twelve-inch under-the-road drainage pipes at our adjoining lot line with eighteen-inch pipes; better, but the water still backs up. Much of the water comes through the lot to the west of us, so Armando and I decided it would be a good idea to put another under-the-road drainage pipe at our west lot line. Here’s Armando hard at it:


Photo taken from the roof deck on container #1. By the way, that square of concrete is the top of our well.

Mango season has started. Down at the lower elevations, the mangoes are already in. These are big mangoes and cost a dollar and a half to two dollars if you buy them at the market. Better prices can be had by buying from small roadside stands. Mangoes at our elevation of about 2,200 feet (670 meters) will be ready closer to June. Here is one of the super-sweet beauties I bought the other day. Made a great breakfast:


These mangoes are big. How big? So big that the mango can’t fit through the mango slicer!


One mango fills a soup bowl. Ripe, sweet, and juicy. Delicious!

That’s all for now, more next week.